Category: Film/TV Show Review

Why Money Heist (La casa de Papel) is so popular ?

“This is about Resistance and love”

I always enjoyed watching crime shows because it allowed me to see the evil side of human beings. One of my friends suggested me to watch Money heist. This quarantine period gave me enough time to binge-watch this series in 3-4 days. It was so addictive that I don’t even remember anything doing except watching this series. Now my phone ringtone is the intro song( I don’t care at all) of this series. And for Bella ciao theme song, I have no words. Despite not knowing the meaning of the song, I am not able to get over this song. I listen to this song everyday and possibly listened it more than 100 times till now, researched about it, found out its meaning and what has been the history behind this song. What was the purpose behind using this song in the La casa de Papel. This song needs a separate blog post altogether.

La casa de Papel aka Money Heist has achieved many milestones. It is the most-watched non-English series of the Netflix and 3rd most popular show on IMDB . There is also a documentary on Netflix exploring the phenomenon of Money Heist. I did a lot of research to understand why it has become so popular in the world? Many protests around the world are influenced by this series where people used Dali masks and protested against their governments. For instance- students protested against new financial reform in the year 2018 in Italy.

People can have different interpretations of this series. However, I see this series purely as resistance against the establishment/system which made it extremely popular. As the creator of the series Alex Pina also adds that the idea of rising against the system is ingrained in the series.

“To rise up against the system is reckless and idealistic – [it’s] Don Quixote! -Alex Pina

The conversation between our favourite El Professor, the leader of the band of robbers code-named after major cities and police inspector Raquel Murillo about “printing money” at the Royal Mint of Spain shows the aversion towards the capitalistic system. He tells that they are only printing money and not stealing, which is also done by the governments around the world that is called “liquidity injections”. No one questions the system on what basis they are printing more money? This is so true. Various Central Banks around the world do this in the name of “Quantitative Easing” to increase money supply thereby encouraging lending and investment. And then comes the “robin-hood” role played by these robbers who want to emerge as the messiah to the poor and subalterns by dropping some money from the sky.

Symbols used in the series are real-life symbols used as the ‘symbol of resistance’ at some point in history. Red jumpsuit, Dali mask, and Bella ciao have historical significance. The red color is a symbol of revolution and its also a colour of Marxist ideology. Dali mask was created by a famous Spanish artist Salvador Dali. A lot of his work was emerged during Zurich’s Dada movement that was about rejecting the modern capitalist system. Masks have been used around the world to show solidarity with others. As per Aidan Mac Garry, political scientist, “the masks have become anti-establishment trope wielded by ordinary people to register their dissatisfaction with the ideas and policies of the political elite”.

Bella ciao(Goodbye Beautiful) is an Italian folk song that was used as an anthem against fascist resistance during the second world war. But the beautiful thing about this song is that it has been used by migrants while crossing Mediterranean and protesters against the capitalistic governments. Recently Italians started singing Bella Ciao to show solidarity with corona warriors fighting to save the lives of the people in this deadliest pandemic.

According to me, the most important reason for this series’ popularity is the feeling of love among its flawed characters. Either it was love between Tokyo and Rio or between El Professor and Inspector Raquel (later renamed as Lisbon when she joins the band) or Nairobi and Helsinki or Denver and Monica or Palmero and Berlin. As Nairobi says, to love you need courage,the attachment between Nairobi and Helsinki was very touching as it was not a physical but psychological bonding. In a way it was courageous as Helsinki plays a gay character. That moment, when Helsinki plays the mouth organ when Nairobi’s coffin is moving out of the Royal Bank of Spain, breaks my heart.

All the characters are strong and powerful. They have so many good qualities but they are also flawed which is the one thing audiences like, as people see themselves in different characters whenever they watch any series. It’s very difficult to talk about all the characters in one blog as there is so much there to understand why any character of the series is behaving in a way and what point the creator of the series wants to make through that particular character? That’s why I decided to write about my favorite characters from this series. I liked the El Professor, Inspector Alicia Sierra and Nairobi. Though Tokyo was the narrator of the series, I never liked her because she is too reckless.

I liked El Professor because he is intelligent which makes me a sapiophile . He is weird and quite manipulative. But he also falls in love which was not in his plan and that was the sweetest part which made him flawed character. His meticulous planning of the heist, understanding the core competencies of each robber, displaying emotion and fraternity with all his band members, making origami to keep himself calm and immense knowledge about each and everything made everyone to fall in love with him. Nairobi is a flawed character but somewhere I felt that she is a strong feminist. When she takes charge from Berlin during the heist and says this dialogue, “matriarchy begins”, then she wins my heart. Since she dies in season 4 so we can say Bella ciao to this beautiful and strong lady. Inspector Alicia Sierra is a fierce lady and I want to be like her. While working as a police officer- she is fearless, ruthless, strong, confident, truthful and ready to go to any extent to find the culprits. Even though she is pregnant, she is seen as the most powerful official in the tent, who has the same acumen and capability as El Professor has.

I feel like going back and watching some conversations again as it gives you those lessons of life, about politics, ideology, protest, ethics, morality, love, emotions, everyday living, carpe diem and right or wrong. Carpe diem is so important currently since the whole world is struggling because of coronavirus pandemic and how our life has become unpredictable and having very little value as we all are confined to our homes. Though Berlin’s character is too controversial, he is the one after Professor and Tokyo, who delivers some of the best dialogues of the series and he is also one of the most liked characters of the series. I will end my blog with one of his dialogues: “Love can’t be timed, it has to be lived”. So, this is the moment to realize and start living your life as if there will be no tomorrow.

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How “SACRED GAMES” is all about Indian Politics?

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I became a lot more interested in the series when I saw Rahul Gandhi’s tweet regarding the controversy this series created for his father and our former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. It was in the news when one Congres member from West Bengal filed a petition in the court against the series for disrespecting the then Prime Minister because the protagonist used cuss words to criticize the decision on Shah Bano Case and Bofors scam.

Rahul Gandhi's tweet on Sacred Games

Not only this many articles and reviews came in the national newspapers like The Hindu about this TV series saying that this series reflects ‘the coming of age for Indian Television’. Then I decided that I will certainly watch this series. On one weekend, when I started watching this series, I didn’t even realize when I finished four episodes and the impact(as I get so much involved into whatever I watch) was so intense that I couldn’t sleep for few hours. I was constantly thinking about it and what will happen in the next episodes. Next day came, I again got glued to my cell phone and finished all the next four episodes as if the world is going to end before I need to know what will happen in the next episodes.

This whole series also reminded me of the Gangs of Wasseypur 1 and 2 which was also directed by Anurag Kashyap. These movies are also very intense and show you the real picture of our society. It makes you see things from a very objective perspective as we all know that human beings are flawed and no one can be perfect. On similar lines, “Sacred Games” is mind blowing, intense, gripping and shows the reality and pinches you at every scene to think about the issues present in our society and polity and how these issues shape our thinking, decisions and are the basis of our politics. It is an adaptation of a book of the same name by Vikram Chandra.

There are two main characters- Sartaj Singh(Played by Saif Ali Khan) and Ganesh Gaitonde(Nawazzudin Sidique). Sartaj Singh is an honest police officer who chases the underworld don Ganesh Gaitonde. Sartaj Singh’s  part was directed by Vikramaditya Motwane. Their stories are going on parallel in the series. I am not here to tell anyone the story of the series. The most interesting thing about this series was to link the scenes with the then political situation of India. This interconnection with politics, I also noticed, was present in Gangs of Wasseypur. The description of major political events provide you the linkage and compels you to relate political events with the social happenings and it also compels you to think that how much a decision taken by the political leaders can impact the society in various unpredictable ways. That is why I say that the “SACRED GAMES” is all about Indian politics” You take out the politics from the series, it has nothing to narrate.

Religion is one of the important themes of this series. The name of the series- “sacred” means related to God. The first episode starts with dialogue by Nawazuddin-“Do you believe in God?, “God does not give….F………” In fact, in every prominent scene is somehow linked to religion and the life of the protagonist Gaitonde also moves around religion. He questions everything related to religion and provokes you at every moment. It teaches you how “religion” is used as a manipulative tool to control people and ultimately mobilize and polarize people to exercise their franchise in election. How ‘caste’ and ‘concept of pollution and purity’ are two important tools which are so inherent in our mindsets and in our daily lives that we don’t even realize that we are biased towards it. Here I remember the quote by Swami Vivekananda- “There is a danger of our religion getting into the kitchen” and unfortunately this is what has happened. The menace of “untouchability” has divided our society till today even after the abolition of it, under Article 17 of Indian Constitution.

The series also tells about the “god-men” present in our society and how do these worthless people brainwash young people towards inactivity, self-doubt, and destruction. I really get irritated whenever these people come to the limelight. They are the most hypocritical people in our society. Here I remember a story –An Astrologers Day of R K Narayan, where a person is unemployed and has nothing to do then, he becomes a baba who has only one work, to manipulate people for his own benefit.

It was really ironic when the directors try to unfurl the whole Kamandalisation of Indian politics” starting with the then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi’s decision of Shah Bano Case and he denied the benefits of this decision to Muslim Women by passing Muslim Women Benefit Bill in 1986. It is also written in various books that he was the one who ordered for opening the lock of controversial Ram temple. However, the most interesting observation was the decision to allow the show of “Ramayana” by Ramanand Sagar which started in 1987 exactly at the same time that created the image of “Rama” in the psyche of every citizen of the country.

In fact, one of the hilarious scenes where ‘Gaitonde’ is talking to ‘Trivedi’, he cuts him short by telling that he has come from the generation where Ramayana was created by Ramananda Sagar and not Valmiki. Here I would like to share an incident- Every Dasherra, we witness “Ramleela” at Ramleela Maidan in Delhi.  It’s not the people who play Raam, Lakshman and Sita who are important but the people  in power. Basically the people who are in power kill Ravan in the Ramleela. It also shows that how the then Prime Minister used “appeasement politics” for both the communities which finally led to the catastrophe of Babri-Masjid Demolition and subsequent riots in various cities.

Hindu-Muslim riots happen in our country with a consistency and it destroys the innocent lives. Series also showed that how innocents are like “collateral damage” in the war between two communities. When Gaitonde’s wife “Subhadra” is killed and he goes on a spree killing thousands of people from other communities just to take the revenge is a grim reminder to the philosophy of ‘an eye for an eye will make the whole world blind’. Through the role of Katekar(Police Constable), series also shows the inherent bias in the system towards minority community. But it also shows honesty and commitment to service by the same constable and how he is feeling guilty when he didn’t work for that particular case.

There is so much to write about this series that in every scene it is forcing you to think and relate to the pressing issues of the society and politics. In fact, the role of Cuckoo( Kubbra Sai) was very bold and it tells you that it is high time that Section 377 must be decriminalized because those people are also human beings and we must give them space to live as we all agree that this is an era where “human rights” are the most important. You need to accept those people as they are.

However, on a critical side, the series is loaded with pessimism with a “ray of hope” here and there. It also reminds me of the book-Homo sapiens by Harari where he convinces us that we have created  religion and it is one of the most successful myth which binds the people in one or the other community and if we want to get out of this myth, we have to create another ‘myth’ to survive. Here, I also remember the conversation between Gaitonde and his wife Subhadra where they talk about religion and Subhadra tells that ” religion gives hope to the poor”.

This series is a powerful depiction of the reality of the society and it forces you to think about various issues prevailing in our society. It successfully portrays the nexus among politicians, businessmen, crime, and religion through godmen and I was flabbergasted when Sartaj Singh’s  mother watches the same godmen who is the main villain in coming episodes played by Pankaj Tripathi. Things are so much connected and are part of our daily routines that it is very difficult for us to unlearn it. It’s up to us to create awareness among others and understand the issues in an objective manner and make others aware of their biases. As Sartaj Singh’s father Dilbag Singh practiced goodness without discriminating between people as criminal or innocent, we should also practice the same. The scene where he gives ‘roti’ to Gaitonde when he is locked up in ‘anda cell’, tells me to be hopeful and positive even if there is so much manipulation, cheating, lies, etc in this world.

Watching Person Of Interest

I started watching this TV show recently. I didn’t know about it. I found it very interesting as well as thought provoking. It is a kind of crime thriller initially. However, the best part of the show is “THE MACHINE”. It was built by Mr. Finch as he says in the starting of every new episode. This machine is watching everyone at every moment of the time. Mr. Finch and Mr. Reese are the two most important characters of this show. Mr. Finch is software engineer and Mr. Reese is an ex-CIA agent. Both are trying to save people as the”irrelevant list” given by the “machine”. There is so much secrecy and suspense in this show that you will never know who is going to become the next perpetrator/victim. Sometimes, victim and perpetrator are both same.

In fact, this show was designed in the wake of 9/11 attack on twin towers in New York(USA). The Wikileaks saga provides a chilling reminder of government’s massive surveillance on the people of the country.

I can relate the whole surveillance debate to our own country also. We are going through the debate of “AADHAR CARD” as voluntary or mandatory. Is it against our “right to privacy”? Do we really have right to privacy? As government of India recently said that right of a person to his or her body is not absolute. State has the power to take the life of a person. After watching this show, you will get goosebumps just realizing that someone is watching you at every moment. By the way, we are getting controlled by the government what to eat, what to wear and what to say.

However, I also found some bright sides of watching this show:

  • We get ideas to think in a deep and discreet manner.
  • How to react when you are in a difficult situation?
  • How to read people in an effective manner?
  • Why some soldiers do behave in a weird manner?
  • How government policies should not breach the limit of ethics?
  • Right to privacy of citizens vs Right of the government for surveillance. What is more important privacy or security?
  • Limits of the power.
  • I remember one line by Mr.Finch, “when we become predictable, we become vulnerable”. So, try not to become predictable.

How can I forget Detective Fusco and Detective Carter. Detective Carter is an upright police officer. She also helps the Mr. Finch team. Detective Fusco was initially bad cop but now he is a good cop working with the team of Mr.Finch and Mr. Reese. Detective Fusco is really funny. In one scene, someone addresses him as “fiasco”.

This show is worth watching for those who want to use your brain and logic to think about the upcoming events.

The Mentalist

I was always fond of studying the psyche of the people. I wanted to understand why do people do something whatever they do. In fact, that is why I like the subject of Ethics under the General Studies. And I believe that is the reason I like watching detective serials and movies. For instance,  I like CID, Byomkesh Bakshy and of course the latest interest in the tv show The Mentalist. We have finished one season and more than 20 episodes in one week or so.

I really enjoyed watching this show because it stimulates my brain. It also provides me knowledge about the People’s behaviour. Most importantly, I learnt observational skills from it. The main character played by Patrick Jane (Simon Baker) is awesome. He tells about the person by observing it. In fact, what I learn from this is that we must have some understandings of other people so that we can be safe. It is so because there are all kinds of people present in our society. Some are very nice and affable. Some are crooked and pathetic. We should observe the behaviours of others to understand them because nobody can hundred percent hide oneself from others.

In the show, we were able to recognize who is the criminal before the cops can recognize. It was interesting and tied us to the situations and events. However,  there were various episodes in which we were not able to guess who is the culprit.

One more thing I wanted to understand as well as tell to others that people say that behaviors change and so people also change. However, I think that people change but not always. Sometimes people just change on surface but not in substance.

Basically, the people who commits crime are those who have troubled background and psychic problem. They are inspired the evil qualities. They don’t have faith in others. They are kind of sociopath or psychopath.

Understanding the psyche or mind which is intimately connected with the emotions of human beings is also necessary for general well being. Sometimes diseases do not exist in organs but in minds. It means that our minds have created those diseases but they don’t exist physically. In fact, that is why some people suffer from horrific diseases even after living a good life. We have also seen that many people suffering from incurable diseases get cure without any medical help. I think that the power of human mind is infinite. It can do impossible.  That is why, people become successful not because they do different things but they have strong will power and a powerful mind. Even Gandhiji has said that the ” strength comes from indomitable spirit not from the physical strength”.  Therefore we should always think positive and keep faith in one’s ability.

Hey Ram!

Today I watched this movie titled – Hey Ram (2000) and I am totally moved by the movie. Why we have so much hatred still in our heart for others. Why do we divide people on the basis of religion, caste, race etc? Why don’t we live peacefully? Losing your dear ones is the most painful experience of anyone’s life. I did not know this till I lost my loved ones. I had very few people in my life but I lost some. I can never forget the pain it brought to me. Why don’t people understand that there is no end to hatred and violence? Violence can only bring more pain and nothing else. When anyone looses her/his near and dear ones due to violence and fighting, they can never come back by killing others or harming others and how long they think that it will continue. Only revenge is born from revenge.

Even after so many years of existence of life and more than six decades of our independence, we are still fighting in the name of religion, caste, sex etc. Every religion talks about peace and harmony. In fact, I should not even talk about religion because sometimes I think that religion has become a tool in the hands of few to terrorize and to serve its own selfish motives. Why don’t we only talk about humanity and love? Isn’t love a religion?  I think that there have always been two kinds of people everywhere- one who wants to live peacefully and one who doesn’t. Some people will say that I am talking about an utopia where everyone is equal and peace-loving. However, It is very hard to accept the fact that everyone wants to live peacefully and happily.

It is very hard to walk on the path of peace, patience and accepting the mistakes of others. But one who does this is the real master of life. We should never lose hope because it is my firm belief that HOPE IS FAITH. We always salute the courage of someone who had overcome his/her hardships and blossoms into the new world. Many people live their lives in abject poverty, which is a form of violence, in areas where people are dying because of war, violence etc. But the real hero is the one who passes through it peacefully. Why don’t we understand the value of life? It is very short and we had less time to love and no time to hate and we must devote all time towards love and peace because time is running out for everyone. We only realize the value of life when we had no life to live more. Whatever we do and have done in our life, our conscience is aware of all and we can’t hide anything from that. Until and unless, our conscience and our action actions are same, there will never be peace. The guilt will never let us sleep. So, I can only hope that people’s conscience should get awake and love and happiness should spread.

Disclaimer: These thoughts are only creation of mind and my readings. In any manner, I don’t want to preach or hurt anyone.