Disappointing clash between tradition and modernity

Catering to the discerning class of audience, legendary film maker M S Sathyu makes a comeback after 12-years through Ijjodu. Revolving around an evil practice of Devadasi system prevalent in North Karnatka, Ijjodu chronicles the clash between modernity and tradition.

Anand (Anirudh) a photographer with modern thoughts capturing various rituals and customs of historic times meets Chenni (Meera Jasmine) a devadasi (sex worker at the altar of the village deity) and soon gets obsessed by her way of life. Determined to explore more details about her condition, Anand stumbles upon the fact that Chenni was made a victim of blind faith by her father Bhyrappa (Ramakrishna) to save the village from an epidemic.

When Chenni offers to treat Anand as part of her seva, Anand resists and confronts Chenni saying that the practice is an ancient evil and nothing less than prostitution. He further makers her understand that she has been used by the people of the village on the pretext of custom and ritual. But the question that will traditional belief give up before modernity, remains unanswered with Sathyu choosing over an anti-climax. Parallel to the theme of taking on the tradition, portrayal of village people allowing a war widow Kempi (Arundhati) to remarry a person younger to her unfolds the satiric tale.

Though Sathyu, holding onto the crisp script and tight narration achieves to capture the attention of the audience till the end, several elements like the language of devadasi, the locale- a village in Southern Karnataka while the problem is seen in Northern Karnataka and sudden overnight transformation within Chenni to accommodate modern thoughts, lead to incongruity.

While Anirudh sets up a brilliant performance, Meera Jasmine lacks homework in donning the role of a devadasi. However it is Sathya portrayed as soldier Balarama steals the show with his superb performance. The mellifluous music by Manikanth Kadri along with the splendid camera work by G S Bhaskar casts magic on the viewers.


May 2, 2010 at 8:45 am Leave a comment

When Bangalore went nuts!

All roads lead to Basavanagudi this week end for the much awaited ‘Kadalekayi Parishe’ as it’s time to go nuts! The annual groundnut fare at the historic Bull Temple provided a rare opportunity for Bangaloreans to relish upon various varieties of groundnut grown around Bangalore. With the recession falling into oblivion, the signs of prosperity appear to be abundant. If you do not believe, take a walk into the ongoing ‘Kadalekayi Parishe’ at Basavanagudi. The annual groundnut fare besides opening to a grand opening on Monday is expected to be attended by more than five lakh people.
The annual event, coinciding with the last Monday of the traditional Karthika month of the Hindu Calender witnessed a grand opening at the South Bangalore’s historic Bull Temple in Basavanagudi. The two day event which was celebrated all these years as a low key affair is expected to fetch a whopping amount this time for both the organizers as well as traders. According to Ravi Subramanya, MLA, Basavanagudi, “The auction of festival related works including the decorations, entertainment facilities and others has fetched close to 10 lakhs this time. The auction used to fetch just Rs 1 to 2 lakhs all these years. This in fact indicates the upward acclivity in the market. Besides, more number of farmers and traders are taking part in the event than last year.”
As part of the festival, the entire stretch starting from Ramakrishna Ashram to BMS College of Engineering is flooded with groundnuts. Hundreds of visitors from different parts of the city flocked the heaps of groundnuts either raw or roasted on either sides of the road. A litre of groundnuts was sold between Rs 15 to 25 while the roasted nuts were sold between Rs 25 to 30 per litre.

Kadalekayi Parishe

As the whole event is not just about groundnut, the ‘Parishe’ also takes a peck at the history of South Bangalore. “Every tourist or new to the city would come to Basavanagudi. But except for the Bull Temple they would see nothing. From this time, keeping this in mind we are starting Kempe Gowda Heritage Memorial Trail covering close to four kms of distance in and around Bangalore,” Subramanya explained.
According to him, the trail in the morning starting from the historic Bull Temple would cover as many as 10 temples in the locality including Gavi Gangadhareshwara, Mallikarjuna, two lakes, parks and historic sites that stand till today as a testimony to Bangalore’s past glory. “There is a belief that the valley of Vrishabhavati where Bangalore has flourished over the years starts from Bull Temple. Further, Basavanagudi was earlier the heart of old Bangalore and needs to be introduced meticulously to a new comer,” he explains.

Kadalekayi Parishe at Basavanagudi

Though several legends surround the fair, the popular legend has it that the present Basavanagudi was surrounded by villages like Guttahalli, Mavalli, Sunkenahalli which grew groundnuts on large scale often encountered problems. On every full moon day a bull would charge into the groundnut fields and damage the standing crop. Hoping for the respite, the farmers offered prayers to the Basava (Nandi) and pledged to offer their first crop on every season. Later with the finding of a bull statue nearby, the subsequent rulers built a temple atop the hillock and named it after the bull.

Pictures: Rahul K N

November 16, 2009 at 5:59 pm Leave a comment

Dwindling Blackbucks put Mowgli’s brothers at peril

Even as Mowgli, immortalised by Kipling in his Jungle Books lives on, the Indian Wolf is perilously close to extinction in Karnataka especially after the recent survey which put total number of Blackbucks-the major prey of the wolves at 458.

BlackbuckThe Free People once ran across the entire subcontinent, and were subject to none but the wisest of their own kind. That’s how they could take in the man-cub Mowgli even though Sher Khan demanded his pelt. That’s also why they were called the Free People. Today, there are less than 500 of them in Karnatka.

Remember how quickly Sher Khan, the lame tiger stepped back when faced with an angry mother wolf protecting her cubs in her lair. She was not called Raksha, the Demon, for nothing. Today, tragically, both the tiger and the wolf are on the verge of extinction.

The magnificent wolf packs that once roamed across the vast plains of Karnataka, have almost vanished. Very few are spotted these days, and a survey by Mysore University (scientists) a couple of years ago, found that their population was down to less than 500 across the state, thanks to the moral turpitude of the people and their leaders over centuries.

Indian Grey Wolf (Canis lupus pallipes), belongs to the same breed as the German Shepherd, and two species are native to India – the Grey Wolf which dens in the Deccan Plateau and Tibetan Wolf which lives across the Shivaliks and Greater Himalayas. Karnataka’s vast plains and dry grasslands, spanning 1,23,330 sq km stretch from Bangalore rural, Tumkur, Chitradurga, Davangere, Haveri, Bijapur to Belgaum district, and wolves once occupied the entire plains land.

Hunting for their meal and killing anyone who threatened their young, wolves were delicately balanced with the ecology of the region, the population rising and falling in tune with the cyclic periods of famine and plenty that crisscrossed the Deccan Plateau. However, with the coming of British, the scales tilted and the wolves never roamed freely again.

Wolf photographed by Abi Tamam VanakThrough the 1980s, wolves were killed whenever they were spotted as they were believed to be baby lifters. According to Sanjay Gubbi, each wolf requires about 225 sq km of area to live and in the midst of exploding population it is hardly possible to find such a vast stretch. “Even though the government has created a sanctuary for wolves at Melkote in Mandya district, the habitat of the sanctuary filled with dry deciduous forest is not conducive for them and they need thorny, bushy and rocky area. Hence they are more visible in Tumkur, Chitradurga and Ranibennur which has a considerable amount of black buck and grassland,” explains a conservationist.

“Known for ferociousness and hunting skills, wolves were declared vermin by British and mass slaughter of wolves were ordered between 1875 and 1925 and nearly 2,00,000 wolves were killed during the 50-year period,” according to a study by Mahesh Rangarajan. After independence, increase of agricultural lands, urbanisation, mining and stone quarrying took its toll on their habitats along the plains, says Mohan Pai, a wildlife researcher.

Adding to their woes, their prey density has dwindled considerably. The shrinking habitat and decreasing prey density led to wolves preying on sheep, goats and other livestock. This has lead to increased conflict with humans. “As an act of revenge, many villagers have resorted to mass slaughtering of wolves by covering their dens with grass and thorns and putting fire to it. This not only kills the adults, but also pups and thus the entire species,” laments Sanjay Gubbi, a practising wildlife conservationist.

Blackbuck Photo: Wikipedia

Wolf Photo: Abi Tamim Vanak

March 2, 2009 at 6:46 pm 1 comment

Patriotic Central College turns political cauldron!

Congress Activists gaining entry into Central CollegeProtests and dharnas are not new to the Central College located in the heart of Bangalore. It used to be a hub of activity for freedom fighters. On Wednesday, the college saw police ordering a ‘lathi charge’ on the Congress activists protesting against the government’s ‘Anti-Terrorism Awareness Campaign’.
The college, which had seen the fight between freedom fighters and the British, was witness to a battle between the ruling BJP and the opposition Congress. The college principals held a meeting at the place to discuss the campaign. Congress workers, protesting that the government was trying to ‘saffronise’ aducation, asked the police to allow them inside so they could submit a memorandum. When the police refused, another group entered the premises through the rear entrance and started shouting slogans against the government.
In a bid to quell the protesters, police ordered a lathi charge. Tension gripped the campus for over an hour following the scuffle between the party workers and the police. Later, police arrested 20 activists who illegally entered the college premises.
Saffronisation charge
Congress Working President D K Shivakumar said, “It is not anti-terrorism awareness but saffronisation of education. The government, instead of giving saffron flags, should give tricolour to students. There isn’t much terrorism. The material they are distributing is anti-Manmohan Singh and anti-Sonia.”

Police order 'Lathi-Charge' on protesting activistsWhy campus?
Byatarayanapura MLA and Congress Youth Wing President Krishna Byregowda said, “They (BJP) have been ruling the state and the administrative machinery. Be it home or education, it is in their hands. They could have tackled the problem of terrorism legally. Why do they want to go to the campus?”

February 5, 2009 at 8:38 am Leave a comment

The second Green Revolution?

Farmers taking oath

After a hiatus of more than four decades, the historic green revolution, which once made India self reliant in food production, appears to be unfolding yet again. It almost appeared as if the day is not too far when all of us use vegetables and fruits that are free from pesticides or chemicals in our kitchen.
More than 20,000 farmers from different parts of the state assembled in the IT city on Monday, just to pledge that they would not commit suicide and take to organic farming and spread the same message among other farmers of the state too. The programme- ‘Krishi Chiatanya Samavesha’ considered to be first of its kind in the country, organised in front of Vidhana Soudha, witnessed the prescence of more than 20,000 farmers who pledged their support to the government in popularising organic farming.
meeratayi2Farmers, in prescence of former President A P J Abdul Kalam and harbinger of organic farming in the state, Meeratayi Koppikar who has been practising organic farming for the last 20 years, promissed that they will not poison the mother earth and will not pollute it from pesticides, chemical fertilizers and  create awareness among farmers to use organic methods of agriculture.
Overwhelmed by the stupendous response from the farming community of the state who had come to the city in their own money, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa who swore in the name of farmers at the same venue eight months ago, announced that he will visit the house of every organic farmer once in a month and draw inspiration from them. “Every month I will spend couple of hours with the family of the farmers practising organic farming and share their experiences. On seeing all of you in huge numbers, I am convinced that together we can change the picture of agriculture in the state,” CM said.
Recalling the support of farmers at the time of withstanding the global sanctions against the nuclear test, former President A P J Abdul Kalam said, “We have already made inroads into global organic market with the production of Coffee, Tea, fruits, vegetables and Cotton and a change is fast sweeping over in many states where farmers are cutting down on pesticide usage.”
Illustrating the inventions by National Innovation Foundation, Kalam said, “By adopting multicroping under organic farming farmers can fight plant diseases. Growing of Lady’s-finger would prevent diseases in Cotton. In Kerala farmers have grown paddy in wetland areas in organic method and got increased yield. Similarly, farmers in Karnataka too achieve success.”

Decision by the farmers
I shall not poison the Earth and I shall not pollute its gifts from chemical fertilizers
I shall love the life of farming and never resort to suicide
I shall not look to others for seeds and remain self dependent
I shall not create non-degradable waste, preserve and enrich nature.

Organic meet turns inorganic!
It was a sheer Irony that the Vidhana Soudha which was reverberated on Monday evening with the slogans and loud talk on organic farming, the same venue turned ‘inorganic’ within a few minutes of the function. With more than 20,000 farmers flooding the Ambedkar Veedhi between Vidhana Soudha and High Court, the gardens and boulevard, literally became the garbage dump yard. In-organic and non-biodegradable materials like plastic water bottles, buttermilk packets, sweet packets were found littered all around. A pledge to safeguard the earth went in vain within a few minutes of swearing-in. Later for the civic workers it took more than three hours to clean the entire area.

Inorganic Garbage

January 27, 2009 at 6:32 pm Leave a comment

A trek to DOODH SAGAR between Karnataka and Goa

Away from the pristine beaches, Gothic churches that unfold the grandiose of erstwhile Portuguese era, not all are aware of Goa’s rich and bounteous flora and fauna. Predominately relegated to lesser  ranks during the rainy season, many tourists debunk places around Goa stating ‘off season’. But for any adventure  freak, the touted ‘off season’ in Goa unfolds a sequence of destinations which would test their endurance on par with any other adventure locations in India.
A beautiful Goa
Gifted with the bounteous wealth of nature, Goa boasts of rich natural vegetation. Sandwiched between the  Arabian sea and lofty Western Ghats, the eastern areas of Goa within the jurisdiction of Sanguem, Ponda, Canacona  are often compared with the tropical forest of Amazon and Cango for their rich biodiversity. The rainy season or the  sidelined ‘off season’ unveils the sylvan beauty of Goan forests. Though not easy to explore, the forest areas with  steep valleys, thick fog and heavy rains sets up a perfect ambiance for the seasoned rain trek for trekkers.

Beginning of the Journey from Kulem Station
Rain trek, even though not as popular as any other packages of Goan tourism, is a refreshing experience to  encounter the wilderness from a close quarter and the cheapest means of enjoying the nature in Goa. Trekking along  the Konkan railway lane cutting might hills and thick vegetation, offers you the guided way to a certain level. Pitch  dark railway tunnels spanning several kilometers, pounding rains all through the trek, chilling weather, unique  wildlife and bewitching beauty of water falls will charge you with an utmost energy level.

Get down at the Sonaleum station
Perched amidst the Bhagwan Mahaveer wildlife sanctuary the Doodh Sagar water falls, which is around 60 kms  from the Goan capital Panaji and 30 kms from Margao. Cascading from a height of 600 ft in three different phases,  the Doodh Sagar falls is said to be the boundary between Karnataka and Goa. Like any other falls in the Southern  plateau, Doodh Sagar too treats you with exquisite charms in its full flux especially during monsoon and post  monsoon. The beauty of the falls, similar to the idyllic Eden basking atop lofty mountain cliffs, appears like a stream  of milk converging deep inside the earth amidst lush green forest from a distance.

Doodh Sagar at its best
Provided with relatively good infrastructure, the falls is well linked by road and rail network. However, for any trekkers,  the rail lane offers a memorable experience. People often trek to the falls in two different routes. A few find it easy to  trek from Madgaon (Goa) side while a few wish to trek from the Castle Rock (Karnataka) the last railway station from Karnataka side.  But trekkers starting from Madgaon will have better advantage over others in capturing the beauty of the falls as they trek parallel to the falls from a distance spanning a few kilometers. Be prepared to save yourself from leeches and sliding hillocks.

A rare chance of seeing a train cutting across the falls
Frequent trains plying between Belgaum and Madgaon will drop you close to the trek route. Starting from  Madgaon side, trekkers begin their ardous trek from the Sonalim station which is around 15 km before the Doodh Sagar station and 10 km before the falls. The  stretch interspersed with railway tunnels, passing by streams, tall trees of evergreen rain forest and heavy rains will  make you run for the cover. Braving the odds till a considerable distance will lead you to makeshift huts of railway  gang men. Hailing from the native hamlets around by, these workers will explain you the ‘folk tale’ which lent the  name ‘Doodh Sagar’ to the falls.

Passing through one of the several tunnels
According to these men, a powerful king lived atop the mountains of Western Ghats along the Goan frontier. His  palace was built with pure ivory and embellished with precious stones and beautiful gardens of exotic flowers.  Towards the end of the forest which marked the boundary of his palace, there was a huge lake used by the princess  for bathing. The princess while bathing had the habit of sipping sugared milk served to her in a golden kettle. Once,  while she was bathing in the lake a prince of the neighbouring kingdom passed by and stopped at the lake after  hearing chuckling voices. Noticing his presence the princess poured the entire milk into the lake to shield her body  from the glances of the stranger! The lake water mixed with the Sugared milk by the humble princess till falling  down as a cascading stream of milk or Doodh Sagar!

From one tunnel to another, still a long way to go
Whether you believe it or not. But the tale by the locals will take you to a different world and thus further enriching   your trek. A few people will also introduce you to medicinal herbs and plants available around. A few species of  aromatic plants and creeps will catch you by surprise. But for nature’s sake do not pluck them but enjoy the aroma  and beauty. Further, an hour trek from the shelters of gang men will bring you right under the falls! But all along the  way whenever the forest canopy opens you to broad daylight, the view of the falls transforms to be a large canvas for  the shutterbugs. Click as much as you want, till your camera card goes full! If you are lucky enough the passing by  trains on the backdrop of falls atop the tall bridge will get you the frame of your life.

On seeing the Daylight after a dark tunnel
But once you reach the falls, keep away all the optical instruments, accessories etc safely wrapped in polythene.  Because your enjoyment and ecstasy should not inflict you with huge losses. Two watch towers one in front of the falls  and another next to the falls will cover you from getting drenched. However, if you are determined to get drenched  then be careful and stand on the tracks while keep your ears open to the chugging sound of train from either side. Get  drenched till you are satisfied. Once you are done with water exercises, sit at a crucial point enjoy the cascading  beauty and unknowingly your mind will be engulfed in the myth you had listened to initially.

Relax in between-A short break from tunnel to tunnel
Though there is no hospitality services around, the station master house at the Doodh Sagar station will offer you  some respite. You will get a few cups of tea and crispy local cookies with which you could ward off the chilling cold  for a while. Catch a train towards either the Castle Rock or Madgaon and board the train without any ticket as the Doodh Sagar station does not have ticketing facility. Travel free of cost upto Kulem towards Goa or Castle Rock towards Belgaum and then buy a ticket. Despite the single conectivity through rail lanes, the popularity of the falls especially during rainy season, has spread across just by the teams of trekkers who visit every year.

Photos: Manjunatha Swamy M and Niranjan Kaggere

December 21, 2008 at 5:23 pm 34 comments

Search for chairs!

In power or out of power, the scramble for chairs does not stop for the JD(S) Well, that’s precisely what unfolded again for the party ahead of its public meeting to be held at the Palace Grounds in the city on Monday when party workers literally went in search of chairs.
The meeting, which has been organised to mark JD(S) supremo H D Deve Gowda’s son and former chief minister Kumaraswamy’s coronation as the party’s state president, is expected to witness a large turnout of party supporters from different parts of the state. The meeting also marks the beginning of the campaign for the by-polls to eight assembly constituencies in the state and the Lok Sabha. “We expect more than three lakh people to converge on the Palace Grounds, but the problem is ensuring seating for all as there is a shortage of chairs,” a senior JD(S) leader told reporters.

The JD(S) head-honchos has instructed the party workers at the grassroot level in the city and the outskirts to source more chairs for the meeting, which is touted to reflect the growing popularity of the JD(S). The non-availability of chairs for the massive rally comes as an irony for the JD(S) which has been criticised by many when it was in power for giving a chance to its loyalists who were eyeing the chairperson’s post in the government corporations and boards. Even though the previous governments run by Congress and BJP appointed candidates for the apex posts at various corporations and boards, the JD(S) had deferred its decision to make appointments to these bodies. But on Sunday, the lack of chairs for its massive rally at Palace grounds miffed the senior leaders.
Speaking to journalists, party MLC and spokesperson Y S V Datta said the rally is going to be the largest ever in the political history of the state. “The length of the entire pandal measures one kilometre and we have taken four grounds for the rally unlike the past where just one ground was used. Though we are expecting a crowd of more than three lakh, we could arrange only two lakh chairs. Had we got more chairs, we could have arranged for more,” Datta explained.
Spread across four different grounds, the formal function will be held at the Palace ground while the adjacent Gayatri Vihar ground, Mango Market ground and Amanulla Khan Storehouse ground will host dining facility as well as parking facility for the party supporters. “Since the pandal is one kilometer long, not many can actually see the stage. So for their sake, we are setting up 200 CCTVs at different locations. Breakfast facility has been arranged at entry points on the outskirts of the city at different locations,” Datta added.

November 17, 2008 at 6:24 am Leave a comment

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