Reviewing The Short Film: ALIVE, by Jimmy Olsson.

Victoria watches as Ida (her carer) opens up a Tinder profile for her (clip from the film)

A movie that puts under-represented groups in the forefront is hard to come by, but Swedish Writer and Director, Jimmy Olsson brings an emotional (but not melodramatic) tale of the little human needs that exist in us all through the eyes of his lead, Victoria, who is in a wheelchair, in his short film Alive. In the same breadth, we get the perspective of her caretaker, Ida, who as an able-bodied woman, has assumptions about her own about the disabled. I had the pleasure of experiencing this film and finding myself enthralled by these two female characters and their relationship that continuously play-off each other in the story.

(Warning – Spoilers Ahead)

In Alive, we are introduced to Ida taking care of Victoria with every day tasks. It’s not until Victoria meets Ida’s boyfriend that she starts to crave affection herself. When she confines her desires with Ida, the latter opens a Tinder profile for her. Ida wants the best for Victoria, but she doesn’t believe she will have luck getting a match due to her disability. It isn’t until Victoria mentions she has found someone through the dating app that Ida gets curious, concerned, and rather, protective.

Ida and Victoria have a session (clip from the film)

This was a great and impactful film overall, centering the conversation between two different women and a perception that those outside of the disabled community often take for granted. I found myself wondering how Victoria’s needs would be fulfilled throughout, and how Ida’s assumptions would impact her relationship with her caree. The suspense with Victoria’s mysterious Tinder suitor and whether he was real or her own ruse kept me on edge. The ending served as a surprise, but for the sake of not spoiling the end, I will just leave it at that.

Visual-wise, the scenes were tasteful, using the benefit of close-ups and perspective shots to paint each of their inner desires and communication very well. There is a great juxtaposition scene that I thought was brilliant. The two actresses – Eva Johansson (Victoria) and Madeleine Martin (Ida) – captured their individual character’s spirits and emotion perfectly. In the end, those like Ida are forced to reevaluate what they deems as a sensitive topic — That the disabled are no different in wanting love and closeness just like any neurotypical. In these social-distancing times, we can all collectively agree how it’s like when access to intimacy is temporarily taken away from us. Olsson brilliantly captured the heart of a well-delivered story under 30 minutes.

Alive was set to premiere in the Cleveland International Film Festival this year, but due to the Covid-19 crisis, it will be screened online.

My Hindu Deity With A Modern Twist Collection

When we think about getting in touch with religion, it’s not always about reimagining our relationship with the deity (or deities) we serve.  The great thing about being a Hindu is that our relationship with our gods stems from mythologies and stories, which is pretty awesome considering that you get to pray to a Goddess of Birth and Destruction once a year. The somewhat-unfortunate thing is that nowadays, Hindu kids in the U.S, or even outside of India, don’t really get exposed to these myths and tales of the divine.

I will continuously point out that most school curriculums (In the Western world) teach way too much Greek and Roman mythologies, and not enough about Asian or other lesser-known pagan ones. Of course, there is nothing wrong with Ancient Greek and Roman epics (heck, I was a big fan of those and Egyptian mythologies in particular. Still kind of am), but leaving out one of the oldest and still vastly-practiced polytheistic religions from a social studies textbook is a big fat shame.

So I decide to start at phase one, asking myself the question: How can I make some of the gods I know more familiar (and fun) to not only those kids, but anyone who wants to learn about them? Continue reading

Sunset Mania

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Unity through technology is a fascinating thing.

I don’t mean the way people come together in the digital landscape to represent a cause or fascination, but how people get the same, unified, idea to capture a moment – a sort of herd mentality – through the digital tools they are bestowed with in hand. As a result, we get something like the above, different smart-phones taking the same picture of the same phenomenon.

It’s something wholly contemporary and representative of our era in a nutshell. Some might say that’s a bad thing, you know, using a smartphone for everything. But it also has it’s strengths — the innate ability to follow patterns. Before I even thought about clicking this picture on top of the One World Observatory in New York, there was a scrambling of hands and voices trying to find the best way to record the sunset. Naturally the experience alone is not enough when there’s something to help you remember it later on. So then a young man asked to have his phone set against the glass. And his two friends asked the same. Then my three friends. After I placed them neatly in a row, we all began to laugh. It wasn’t because it was ridiculous that all of us were jumping on the chance to record a sunset at once, but that our method of madness looked pretty awesome. It showed that we can get creative, that we can recognize smart ideas. When one person notices that the view is better against the glass, the others follow suit. New incentives are born, different people end up having a different pixelated version of the same sunset on their phones (depending on the model of course), and a row of devices on an arbitrary corner on the highest level of a famous tower look aesthetically pleasing.

Human beings are quite something, and this is one example of that for sure. 

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Garba Dance With Falguni Pathak – A Highlight

Autumn is the season for the holy festival of Navaratri for many Hindu Indian communities. Navaratri honors the Hindu goddess of victory, Durga, and her stories told in various forms across different regions of India, but with the common theme – the triumph of good over evil. For the Gujarati Indian community, Navaratri brings one of the most popular celebratory folk dances into the spotlight – Garba and Dandiya Raas.

 

Back in 2016, I had the pleasure of attending one of such dances at a concert in New Jersey, with the appearance of a popular Gujarati folk and Bollywood singer, Falguni Pathak. Let me first say that as a full-blooded Indian who is not Gujarati ( I identify as a Bengali Indian), dancing to Garba was like taking on a whole new cultural experience that I barely knew. That comes to show how diverse Indian cultures can really be – A Bengali like me who hails from the East of India has little knowledge of the ways of the West, where Gujaratis are from.

Nevertheless, after some effort and a lot of patience, I was able to pick up some moves and join in as many circles I could find. Let me also add that there is a certain degree of movements that you have to become familiar with before doing Garba, especially when the circle starts moving in one direction and then completely changing the next! It is an extremely fast-paced and energetic dance style that can leave you losing five pounds by the end (I highly recommend this as a work-out. Really, why aren’t Zumba people picking up on this?), and yet the rhythms and beats will take you on a ride of a lifetime.

If anyone gets the chance to attend one of these events, whether for the festival of Navaratri or even Holi, the festival of colors in the Spring, please go for it! It’s worth being on the bucket list, plus you get to wear glittery authentic outfits!

This was my experience. I hope you have yours too!

 

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