Monday, 9 May 2011

Rabindranath Tagore: On Science, God and Truth

It’s really a great day for florists here. It’s 25 Boiśākh, 1418 today! Rabindranath Tagore turns 150 today according to the Bengali calendar. So it’s a moment for all of us to feel proud about the man who won Asia its first Nobel, who composed songs which we cannot stop listening to, wrote poetry we never forget and the man who gave the country our national anthem. But should we? Last year, on this day, I expressed my feelings about the celebration of his 150th birth anniversary. (Why do we have such fondness for multiples of twenty-five?) We have decorated the statue of Tagore with endless garlands to feel good and have only added to the halo that surrounds the “image” of Tagore. Making Tagore a divinity to worship and not a human being to discover (and re-discover and re-re-discover) is, I believe, something Tagore himself might have considered an insult.

Today, in this post, I’ll explore an aspect of Rabindranath which is rarely discussed about him, except, perhaps, in academic circles. (I had another topic on mind which is almost never in limelight, but let’s keep that for another day.) I wish to ignore all the titles, prefixes and suffixes that surround Rabindranath’s name and cut right to the heart of his ideas. It goes without saying that I am writing this also because it’s a very personal topic to me – a topic that always stirs up my thoughts. I am absolutely unqualified and incompetent to offer any conclusive viewpoint. At best, my aim is to explain why the topic matters so much to me and I don’t think I can do that very well because some of these ideas are way beyond my comprehension.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Thoughts on Inception

I start my film-reviewing session of 2011 with two sci-fi movies which couldn’t be more different from each other. Released in two consecutive summers, both movies were admired by the critics and audiences alike. Enthusiasts on the Internet (to be polite) greeted the films words like “awesome”, “masterpiece”. However, what I feel about these movies has nothing to do with the general reaction to the movies or the backlashes and counter-backlashes or the publicity machinery behind these movies. (I dislike the word “overrated”.) I wish to describe my thoughts and emotions based only on the images and sounds that appeared before me. Here's the review of one of the movies. Needless to say, this review most likely contains important plot points i.e. SPOILERS, if such things matter to you. So read them only if you wish to.

Inception (2010)
Written and directed by: Christopher Nolan

Most detractors of Inception pin down the film on an essentially wrong note. They want Inception to be a dream movie in the surrealistic traditions of European films like , Last Year at Marienbad, Wild Strawberries, The Andalusian Dog. It’s unfair on my part to expect a film which must submit to my preconceived notions of a dream-movie and not allow it to become what it wants to be. So Inception unfolded before me exactly the way the film wanted to.

Thursday, 21 April 2011

The Last IYA2009 Event

(Last year, I promised to myself not to write any more blogposts after the Avatar review, although I had a lot to write about, including this one. As I resume regular blogging once again, this is first post I could think of. It's sixteen months too late , but as they say, it's never too late.)

As you all know, we had taken part in the 100 Hours of Astronomy and Galilean Nights as part of the International Year of Astronomy 2009. We also did other events to observe the IYA2009. The efforts of our organisation, Prof. Dhirananda Roy Study & Research Centre, were extensively covered in the press. So we were invited to various parts of West Bengal to hold events to popularise astronomy.

The last event we did in 2009 was particularly noteworthy because of its extent and the number of people it reached. It was one of the most popular events we held as a part of the IYA2009. It was held at a book fair on a public holiday. More than a thousand people were part of our event that evening