Decoding the myth of dark side

Every year on auspicious eve of Dussehra, the gigantic effigy of demon Ravana is burnt to celebrate the victory of good over evil. In the battle between good and evil, goodness is victorious while the evil is vanquished. What if the existence of evil perished? We will never acknowledge the value of peace, goodness and harmony. To maintain the significance of goodness, evil must exist. Despite all these theories we learn in ancient scriptures, why do we crave for the darker side? Why people love evilness? There is a dark side to every individual on this earth. Though science and technology has made tremendous development, there are some sects of people who still crave for super natural powers from God or demonic forces. Human sacrifices are made to please God. Isn’t that absurd? In rural side, such practices are carried out by tantriks, Aghoris and God men.

If we read literature, writers like Shakespeare, H.G.Well and Oscar Wilde have explained about the passion of people for dark powers. Bewitched by the predictions of witches, Macbeth unleashes his dark side by slaying the king Duncan of Scotland and declares himself the emperor of Scotland. But his passion for power becomes the cause of his downfall and his ultimate death. Even the dark moor Othello who is so obsessively in love with his wife Desdemona ends up killing his own wife. His insecurity and suspicious thoughts unleashes his dark side.

In the novel ‘The strange case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’, Dr. Henry Jekyll creates a potion to bring out a scientific miracle. But the results are adverse and horrifying. Jekyll transforms into a deformed, evil personality named ‘Mr. Hyde’ who goes on committing crimes in dark of night. Hyde is the alter-ego & the darker side of Dr. Henry Jekyll. Even the novel – Invisible man was about the dark side of invisibility where a maniac scientist creates havoc in a town with invisible powers only to die later in the climax. Oscar Wilde’s character – Dorian Gray craves for youthfulness and makes a deal by selling his soul. For every crime Dorian commits, his portrait becomes disfigured but he stays youthful as ever. He is so obsessed for this evil youthfulness that he fails to realize that he is heading for path of doom. Whether it is the vampire Dracula or the Frankenstein monster, evil has taken several forms to make its presence felt.

In the Hollywood motion picture – Dracula untold, a knight makes a deal with a devil to save his city from invaders. Though the knight gains super natural powers to beat the enemies, he also realizes his dark side – The Dracula, a blood sucking vampire that survives on blood of humans, especially beautiful damsels. When our desires and dreams aren’t fulfilled through noble ways, the mind starts getting corrupted and begins scheming evil plans. Even the superheroes have a darker side to them. In Spiderman 3, Peter Parker gets affected by the presence of an extra-terrestrial force which brings grey shades to his personality both as Parker and Spiderman. The radiation has such an adverse impact on Dr. Bruce Banner that he can’t resist turning into a green monster called Hulk. People idolize dark forces. The incomplete desires sometimes unleash the monster in us. Especially in unrequited love affairs, people have turned into psychopath/serial killers. Whether it is Jack the Ripper or the deadly psychotic Poison Ivy (seductress from Poison Ivy movie series), people have idolized such dark characters. According to psychology, our mind thinks from both views – positive as well as negative. It is the negative view that corrupts our mind and brings out the evil in us. It is up to us to tame our mind towards good thoughts.

Evil will persist as long as goodness survives.

Bahubali – The Rise of Sivagami (Novel Preview)

Novel – Bahubali: Rise of Sivagami
Author – Anand Neelkantan
Publishers – Westland Books
Release date – 7th March 2017

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Director S.S.Rajamouli’s magnum opus blockbuster – Bahubali will soon be adapted for novel. This spectacular fantasy movie’s prequel will be authored by writer Anand Neelkantan, the famed author of best sellers like Ajaya & Asura. Unlike the movie, this novel will be more detailed and trace the story of Amarendra Bahubali, Bhallaldeva, Kattappa and the fierce queen Sivagami. The first part in this series will be titled – Rise of Sivagami and will be based on Sivagami, the mother of Bhallaldeva and foster guardian of Amarendra Bahubali. The movie Bahubali: The beginning began with the wounded Sivagami protecting an infant child from the soldiers and her death by drowning in the sea. The book will throw a light on her rise as a courageous queen and her journey to seek vengeance with her sworn enemy, the king of Mahishmati.

Prior to starting the project on Bahubali, director S.S.Rajamouli had conceptualized a character called ‘Sivagami’ and was planning to make a sole movie on her. As the story further developed, it evolved into an epic storyline – Bahubali. Sivagami is a fusion of several strong mythological characters like Amba, Kunti, Sita and Draupadi. The Rise of Sivagami is first book in the Bahubali trilogy and it will be really intriguing to read the story of Amarendra Bahubali and why he was slain by Kattappa? As for now the storyline of the book is kept in wraps.

The cover of this upcoming novel was unveiled by actor Rana Duggubatti and director S.S.Rajamouli at Jaipur literary festival 2017 in presence of writer Anand Neelkantan.

The role of Sivagami was played by actress Ramya Krishna in the movie – Bahubali

The cover of this upcoming book has generated lot of curiosity among readers on social networks. For the readers who love fantasy and mythology genre, the Bahubali series will be a literary treat. The movie Bahubali had created a buzz even before its release and was much searched movie on Google. Bahubali: The conclusion is set for release in April 2017, the final chapter in the movie series.

Actress Ramya Krishna as Sivagami in the movie - Bahubali : The beginning

Actress Ramya Krishna as Sivagami in the movie – Bahubali : The beginning

Fantasy books like Harry Potter and Game of thrones have created curiosity even before their release in foreign nations. With the release of Bahubali in book stores, I hope that readers as well as the fans of Bahubali movie will definitely queue up in bookstores to read the origins of Mahishmati.

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If you have enjoyed reading King Arthur, Lord of the rings, Percy Jackson, you will definitely like the Bahubali novel series authored by Anand Neelkantan.

The last comrades of Chittagong Uprising

‘War never ends quietly’ – Quote

History has been biased towards the revolutionaries and their daring feats for freedom struggle. India has witnessed several uprisings and Chittagong Uprising was one of them. No one knows the heroism of Surya Sen, the mastermind behind this revolt nor does anyone care to know about the young boys who gave a tough fight to British soldiers in Jalalabad hills. Several young boys were killed in that skirmish. Their only dream was to see the nation free. Joining hands with Surya Sen, the young boys had dared to defy the colonial rule by carrying out the Chittagong Armoury raid. Except Kalpana Datta, Subodh Roy and Binod Bihari Chowdhury, no one survived. These 3 young comrades probably survived to tell the forgotten story of Chittagong Uprising to the coming generation.

A rare photograph of Surya Sen fondly known as 'Masterda'

A rare photograph of Surya Sen fondly known as ‘Masterda’

The only source of information about Chittagong Uprising was the Amar Chitra Katha comics – ‘Saga of Indian revolutionaries’ which was published by India Book House in 1980’s. It was this comic book that introduced me to Surya Sen. Later in 2010; Amar Chitra Katha comics came up with a fresh new comic book on Surya Sen. As I turned the pages of the book, I came to know more Masterda and his comrades – Pritilata Waddedar, Ganesh Ghosh, Ambika Chakravarti, Anant Singh, Lokenath Bal and Kalpana Datta.

Binod Bihari Chowdhury was the last comrade who lived up to 103 years. He passed away in 2013

Binod Bihari Chowdhury was the last comrade who lived up to 103 years. He passed away in 2013

Among the 3 survivors of Chittagong Uprising, veteran comrade Binod Bihari Chowdhury (100 years old) was the last sole comrade whose narrated details on lesser known facts of Chittagong revolt were source of information for the 2010 periodic movie – Khelein Hum Jee Jaan Sey which was based on Surya Sen and his comrades. Sadly Binod Bihari Chowdhury passed away in 2013. His demise brought an end to the legacy of brave hearts of 1930’s Chittagong. In an interview, he mentioned about his first meeting with Masterda when he was a teenager. The young Binod in his teens was waiting in dark night at a cemetery to meet Surya Sen. After a long wait of two hours Surya Sen arrived.

Initially Surya Sen was reluctant to enrol Binod in his revolutionary group but finally agreed after seeing the zeal of Binod to participate in freedom struggle. From that moment, Binod Bihari Chowdhury fought shoulder to shoulder along Surya Sen during the Chittagong armoury raid and the bloody encounter at Jalalabad hills. Binod and other teens fought valiantly in every action, witnessing the destruction of telegraph office, raiding of armouries and disruption of railway lines.

The house of Binod Bihari Choudhry is adorned with photographs of Surya Sen and Pritilata

After the armoury raid, Surya Sen and the teenagers went into hideout and took refuge in Jalalabad hills. Unfortunately the luck was not in side of Surya Sen and his comrades. In the gun battle between Surya Sen’s comrades and the police, there was heavy casualty on Surya Sen’s side. Lots of boys lost their life in this encounter. Tegra, the young brother of Lokenath Bal was also killed in this encounter. For the ruthless British Police, these innocent teenagers were nothing but terrorists. Even Binod Bihari Chowdhury was hit in the throat. The bullet hole in Binod’s throat was causing lot of blood loss. Binod even considered ending his life with a bullet as the wound was too painful to tolerate. But Binod survived that fatal wound and lived on to 100 years to tell the story of forgotten heroes of Chittagong Uprising. For Binod Bihari Chowdhury, it seemed like yesterday when he had joined the revolutionary group of Masterda and participated in the most memorable uprising for Chittagong. If you ever visit the house of Binod Bihari Chowdhury, you will find the abode adorned with photographs of Surya Sen and Pritilata Waddedar.

In the book ‘Do and Die: Chittagong uprising’, Author Manini Chatterjee has penned down the untold story of the heroes of Chittagong armoury raid which was a tribute to their dare devilry. Manini’s mother-in-law was the famed patriot Kalpana Datta who had seen Surya Sen and Pritilata Waddedar closely. Pritilata and Kalpana were only the girls in Surya Sen’s group. According to historical sources, Surya Sen had once mentioned about his late wife ‘Pushpa Kuntala’ to Kalpana Datta. Apart from having respect for Surya Sen, Kalpana Datta had a soft, emotional corner for him which she had once expressed to him. Though Surya Sen respected the feelings of Kalpana, he never reciprocated to her affections. Surya Sen had sacrificed his marital life for sake of nation and he couldn’t dare to accept the emotions of the young Kalpana. Kalpana was Pritilata’s close friend and they both shared their ideas and feelings to each other. Pritilata had also mentioned about her love for Nirmal Sen who was one of the comrades in Masterda’s team. Kalpana was the only member who had closely interacted with Surya Sen and Pritilata.

A rare photo of young Kalpana Datta

A rare photo of young Kalpana Datta

Kalpana Datta passed away in 1995 at age of 81. Some of the memories narrated by Kalpana became a source of inspiration for Manini to pen down the book – Do and die. Even Manini’s uncle Subodh Roy was one of the teens who had participated in Chittagong armoury raid.

Photo of Subodh Roy fondly called as Jhunku

Photo of Subodh Roy fondly called as Jhunku

Fondly called ‘Jhunku’, Subodh was only 14 years old when he had joined Surya Sen in Chittagong armory raid. He was the one who had closely seen Surya Sen. Born and raised in an aristocratic family in Chittagong, Subodh chose the struggle-some path of revolution. He had once sneaked in his father’s room and stolen a .303 gun which was used later while fighting the British police in Jalalabad Hills. Jhunku was later arrested and subjected to physical torture in jail. He was later sent to Andaman to undergo a hard life of imprisonment. Subodh Roy passed away in 2006.

The 2012 movie – Chittagong was based on Subodh roy’s role in Chittagong revolt

His story was inspiration for director Bedrata Pain to make a movie on Chittagong uprising. The 2012 movie – Chittagong was based on Subodh Roy.

Though these three heroes of Chittagong revolt are no longer anymore, they were the one who had closely witness the Chittagong armory raid, a biggest uprising in history of India. Through the stories of Kalpana Datta, Subodh Roy and Binod Bihari Chowdhury, I have taken an effort to go back to bygone era where a school master named Surya Sen along with his comrades and band of boys struck a terror in hearts of British on April 18, 1930.

In memories, love always lives forever

‘In love there are no boundaries’ – quote from movie ‘The English patient’

There are two types of lovers in this world. First one is the flamboyant, optimistic guy who is ready to go till the end of the world to win back his love. Second one is the melancholic, introvert lover who is deeply in love but is too shy to express his feelings to her. Some people stay with their love till their last breath while some live in their memories of their beloved. The 1996 movie – The English patient was a timeless love story of a Cartographer (Map maker) named Almasy, now a disfigured patient recollects the memory of a doomed affair which not only left him for dead, but also claimed the life of his beloved. A painful tragedy, The English Patient was about encountering love in the most unusual places and situations. They say it is the heart that does the choosing, not you. Sometimes I connect myself with Almasy – the character from The English patient’ because for a lone lover like me, memory is only the safe place where I can meet my love without any fear of restrictions of world. It is not that a one-sided lover doesn’t have guts to express his love. His courage is boundless. It takes courage to see sweet heart in someone’s arms happily. It takes courage to swallow your disappointments and move away from her life.

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‘Ek tarfa pyar ki taqat hi kuch aur hoti hai … auron ke rishton ki tarah yeh do logon mein nahi bat’ti … sirf mera haq hai ispe – lines from movie ‘Ae Dil hai mushkil’

Ranbir’s character ‘Ayan’ in movie ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’ is really relatable to every melancholic lover. His love for Alizeh (played by Anushka Sharma) is so intense that he stays with her as a friend till the last moments of her life. The life’s most irony is that we love the person who ignores the most and ignore the person who loves us the most. Love lands us in awkward situations where expressing emotions is more difficult than taking a leap from a high cliff. O. Henry’s last leaf became a source of inspiration for the 2013 movie – Lootera. Again a story of star crossed lovers separated by fate and situations. The winning aspect of the movie Lootera was its climax when Varun (played by Ranvir Singh) creates a leaf out a paper and ties it on a branch of a tree. As long as the leaves are on the tree, his beloved will live till that period. The hero creates a fake leaf with a view so that his beloved will live a longer age, gazing at that leaf. Though he is not a painter, he creates a masterpiece that will increase the life span of his love.

Based on O Henry's last leaf, Lootera was a timeless love story

Based on O Henry’s last leaf, Lootera was a timeless love story

Someday I too want to create a masterpiece for my love. A painting that Rose cherished in her heart, a masterpiece that Pakhi gazed every day from the window (reference to the movie Lootera), after all love is all about living in memories. As for now, I have to live in memories of my love, recounting every beautiful moment of her presence that unknowingly glowed up my face and made me feel younger regardless of my age.

‘Mohabbat karna hamare bas mein nahin. Uss mohabbat se door chale jaana woh hamare bas mein hai’ – lines from movie ‘Ae Dil Hai Mushkil’

The Legend of Bhagat Singh – A biopic of an unsung hero

On 23rd March 1931, three bodies of young revolutionaries were smuggled out of prison in midnight. The bodies were secretly cremated to avoid public outrage. The British were clearly aware that handing down the bodies of these 3 revolutionaries to the families will definitely agitate the Indian masses. The dead patriots were not any ordinary people. They were the bold young patriots who shook the British Empire through their revolutionary actions. The patriots were Rajguru, Sukhdev and Sardar Bhagat Singh. Among the three, Bhagat Singh’s name became synonymous with patriotism, sacrifice, courage and dare devilry. What was such fear in minds of British that they had to cremate the body of this brave heart in dark of night? The opening scene of the 2002 biopic – The legend of Bhagat Singh starts with the brutal cremation of these young revolutionaries. The movie then goes in flashback where Bhagat Singh’s father Kishen Singh remembers every event that transformed his son into a brave revolutionary.

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I still feel patriotic goosebumps whenever I see this patriotic biopic which gives a stiff competition to Richard Attenborough’s biopic on Mahatma Gandhi. From collecting blood soaked earth from Jallianwala Baugh, killing British officer Saunders to hurling bombs at legislative assembly and undergoing hunger strike in jail, the patriotic journey of Bhagat Singh has really been a path of rocks. The titular role of Bhagat Singh is played by Ajay Devgan who fully justifies the role with his realistic, convincing performance which makes him stand apart from the crowd. Though Ajay Devgan didn’t resemble Bhagat Singh completely, it was his power house performance that gave teeth to his words.

The legend of Bhagat is a brilliant biopic on Bhagat Singh

The legend of Bhagat is a brilliant biopic on Bhagat Singh

In 2002, there were five movies on Bhagat Singh lined up for release in June. Out of five movies, only three movies were released in that period. Extensively researched and superbly directed by ace director Raj Kumar Santoshi, The Legend of Bhagat Singh throws a light on various untold facts which were not answered in earlier biopics on Bhagat Singh. His decision of becoming atheist, his opposition to Gandhian views and his far sightedness on situation of India post-independence are the major highlights of this movie. Though he could have preferred to live a comfortable life by running a dairy farm, he selected the hard life of patriotism. The climax scene will break you into tears when the jailor comes to take Bhagat Singh to gallows and Bhagat Singh replies by telling – ‘aaj ek krantikari doosre krantikari se mil raha hai’. These lines were actually spoken by Bhagat Singh in reference to Lenin’s book which he was reading in his final hours before getting executed.

From his childhood, Bhagat Singh had taken a oath to fight against British  Empire

From his childhood, Bhagat Singh had taken a oath to fight against British Empire

What really appealed was the convincing performance of actor Sushant Singh as Sukhdev. Sadly, history never gave Sukhdev the recognition and due which he really deserved. If Sukhdev hadn’t insisted Bhagat Singh to throw bomb in legislative assembly to protest against the public safety bill, then Bhagat Singh wouldn’t have got the recognition and political spotlight. It is very sad to know that today Sukhdev’s family is managing day to day living by selling lotteries. The courtroom scenes, jail torture and debate of Bhagat Singh against the barbaric British government make you applause with pride. The movie not only showcases on Bhagat Singh’s struggle but also highlights the sacrifice of Jatin Das, Rajguru and Chandrashekhar Azad. Though it is very difficult to showcase every single detail of Bhagat Singh’s life in a 2 hour movie, Rajkumar Santoshi has nearly succeeded to highlight all the facts that were related to Bhagat Singh. The popularity of Bhagat Singh was so high that even British women visited jail to get a glimpse of this brave patriot. His hunger strike in jail and growing popularity in a short span overshadowed Gandhi.

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A.R.Rahman’s music infuses more patriotism in the song – Mera rang de Basanti chola which was sung by Bhagat Singh while marching to the gallows. I feel that this biopic on Bhagat Singh is as brilliant as Mel Gibson’s movie – Braveheart which was based on Scottish patriot William Wallace. Whatever we read in history textbooks about Bhagat Singh is not even 1 % of the actual facts mentioned in the biographies based on his life. On 23rd March 1931 Bhagat Singh smilingly stepped on to the gallows. That day a patriot died and a legend was born. Bhagat Singh’s photo in a hat is as popular as the picture of Che Guevera of Cuba. Even though biopics on patriots of being made, the harsh truth is that we have really forgotten the sacrifice of this brave hero whose teachings are just limited to books, stage plays and movies.
Through this article, I have to revive the memories of Bhagat Singh and his great comrades who were fighting a war they were not going to win.

References – Without Fear: The life and trial of Bhagat Singh by Kuldip Nayar is a highly recommended book on the untold facts of Bhagat Singh’s life.

The hunger strike of revolutionary Jatin Das

‘Every man dies, not everyone really lives – lines from movie ‘Braveheart’

Photograph of revolutionary Jatin Das

Photograph of revolutionary Jatin Das

The hunger strike of a young Bengali revolutionary shook the British empire and the impact was so great that it overshadowed prominent leaders of freedom struggle and compelled the British government to take up notice of the demands of Indian prison mates who were subjected to unhygienic food and poor living conditions. It was Jatin Das, the great revolutionary who fasted for 63 days in jail and stood up for Bhagat Singh’s ideologies till the last breath of his life. Sadly, today people either know very less or nothing about this young revolutionary who breathed his last after undergoing a hunger strike of 63 days. Who is to blame for this? The history textbooks or the corrupt politicians of the pre-independent India who termed Jatin Das, Bhagat Singh and Chandrashekhar Azad as trigger happy outlaws.

During the freedom struggle, many Bengali youngsters plunged themselves in revolutionary activities and Jatindranath Das (27th October 1904-13 September 1929) was one of them. Bengali revolutionary Khudiram Bose’s sacrifice was an inspiration for several Indians to revolt against the barbaric British government. Jatin Das joined Anushilan Samiti, an active revolutionary group based in Bengal.

Jatin Das had also participated in Gandhi’s non-co-operation movement because he respected the ideologies of Mahatma Gandhi. The withdrawal of non-co-operation movement by Gandhiji shattered the hopes of several youngsters like Bhagat Singh and Jatin Das. The youngsters realized that freedom can’t be solely achieved by peaceful means. Slowly revolutionary groups started forming in all parts of India. Jatin Das had also been arrested for his political actions against the British in November 1925. Jatin Das went on a hunger strike of 20 days to protest against the biased behaviour of British police against the Indian prisoners. After his release, Jatin Das joined hands with HRA (Hindustan Republic Association) and learnt to make bombs through help of revolutionary Sachindranath Sanyal.

It was Jatin Das whose support in bomb making helped Bhagat Singh to hurl low powered bombs in legislative assembly and protest against the trade dispute bill and public safety bill. Later after the arrest of Bhagat Singh, all the revolutionaries including Jatin Das were arrested in Lahore conspiracy case.

The news featuring the death of patriot Jatin Das

The news featuring the death of patriot Jatin Das

Hunger strike and final martyrdom – The facilities for Indian prisoners were horrible in comparison to the aristocratic facilities provided to British prisoners. Bhagat Singh decided to undergo hunger strike to protest against the unhygienic conditions (unwashed clothes, kitchen infested with cockroaches) and demanded that they should be too given the same treatment as provided to British prisoners. Jatin Das also went on hunger strike on 15th June 1929 and this pain-staking hunger strike went on for 63 days. In this period, the British authorities used various methods to feed Jatin Das but he didn’t deter away from his hunger strike.

The conditions under which revolutionaries were undergoing hunger strike were in sharp contrast to the lavish feasts enjoyed by royal Maharajas and British officers. The impact of Jatin Das and his comrades’ hunger strike compelled the British government to bow and provide every facility demanded by Indian prisoners. Unfortunately the health of Jatin Das worsened due to this hunger strike. The beatings, torture and the long hunger strike of 63 days had taken a toll on health of Jatin Das. Jatin Das breathed his last on 13th September 1929. Though the demands of revolutionaries were fulfilled, Jatin Das didn’t live to see the success of hunger strike. Bhagat Singh had lost a great comrade and friend who had supported him in freedom struggle till the last breath of his life.

Durga Bhabhi (the widow of late revolutionary Bhagwati Charan Vohra) participated in the funeral procession which started from Lahore to Calcutta by train. Thousands of people were present to pay their last respect to this young revolutionary. Though Gandhi acknowledged the sacrifice of Jatin Das, he was completely against the ideologies of Bhagat Singh and his comrades.

Sadly there is no full-fledged biography or comic book based on this revolutionary that would tell the younger masses about the struggle and pain he underwent. It is an injustice that history has done on Jatin Das by not giving him the due, respect and honour he deserved for. Through this article, I have taken a small effort to circulate the story of this brave son of India who never bothered about worldly comforts and got perished for honour of nation.

In 2002 Hindi biopic – The legend of Bhagat Singh, the role of Jatin Das was played by Amitabh Bhattacharjee.

‘Another name has been added to the long and splendid roll of Indian martyrs. Let us bow our heads and pray for strength to carry on the struggle, however long it may be and whatever consequences, till the victory is ours’ – Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru’s praise for Jatin Das on his martyrdom.

Nation hasn’t forgotten you Jatin Das. Your sacrifice will always be an inspiration to us.