Adieu Sir Richard Attenborough !


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           AUGUST 26, 2014           11.55 P.M.

Sir Richard Attenborough

Sir Richard Attenborough

Richard Samuel Attenborough

29 August 1923 – 24 August 2014

Last night when I was watching the evening news, I came to know about the demise of Richard Attenborough at the age of 90. Though it was expected because of his failing health and advancing age, still I felt sad when I saw the news of his death.

Long before he became famous in India and became a household name among cinema lovers of our country, I became a fan of Richard Attenborough, the actor, after watching Satyajit Ray directed first Hindi film ” Shatranj Ke Khilari  ” [ 1977 ]. He played Lt. General Outram in that film and played it so beautifully and with such elan that even a novice like me could not miss the finer points.

Then came Gandhi  ” [ 1982 ] and it permanently changed the scenario for him. From a little-known actor of ” Shatranj Ke Khilari  ” [ 1977 ], Richard Attenborough, as I have already written , became a household name in India. He produced and directed the Academy Award winning film  Gandhi  ” [ 1982 ]

Richard Attenborough with Oscars

Richard Attenborough with Oscars

Later on I watched him as an actor in Steven Spielberg‘s Jurassic Park ” [ 1993 ] and the film’s sequel, The Lost World : Jurassic Park ” [ 1997 ]. In Jurassic Park ” [ 1993 ] and ” The Lost World : Jurassic Park ” [ 1997 ] he appeared as the eccentric developer John Hammond.

As a film director and producer, he won two Academy Awards for Gandhi in 1983. He also won four BAFTA Awards and four Golden Globe Awards. As an actor, he is perhaps best known for his roles in ” Brighton Rock “, ” The Great Escape “, ” 10 Rillington Place “, ” Miracle on 34th Street ” and ” Jurassic Park “.

He was the President of the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art (RADA).

In the late 1950s, Attenborough formed a production company, Beaver Films, with Bryan Forbes and began to build a profile as a producer on projects including ” The League of Gentlemen ” [ 1959 ] , The Angry Silence ” [ 1960] and ”  Whistle Down the Wind ” [ 1961 ], appearing in the cast of the first two films.

His feature film directorial debut was the all-star screen version of the hit musical Oh! What a Lovely War ” [ 1969 ] . He later directed two epic period films : Young Winston ” [ 1972 ], based on the early life of Winston Churchill, and A Bridge Too Far ” [ 1977 ], an all-star account of Operation Market Garden in World War II.

Richard Attenborough also directed the screen version of the musical A Chorus Line ” [ 1985 ] and the anti-apartheid drama Cry Freedom ” [ 1987 ], based on the life and death of prominent anti-apartheid activist Steve Biko and the experiences of Donald Woods. He was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Director for both films.

His most recent films as director and producer include Chaplin ” [ 1992 ] starring Robert Downey, Jr., as Charlie Chaplin and Shadowlands ” [ 1993 ], based on the relationship between C. S. Lewis and Joy Gresham , the star of the latter was Anthony Hopkins.

Between 2006-07, he spent time in Belfast, working on his last film as director and producer, Closing the Ring ” [ 2007 ] , a love story set in Belfast during the Second World War and starring Shirley MacLaine, Christopher Plummer and Pete Postlethwaite.

His acting career started with ” In Which We Serve ” [ 1942 ] and it ended with Closing the Ring ” [ 2007 ] . He was an actor in his first film and a producer and director in his last film. It was a fascinating 65 year-long career.

 

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Merchandise, I offer my condolences.

Farewell sir! India will always remember you as the maker of a masterpiece film called Gandhi  ” [ 1982 ] .

[ Information about Sir Richard Attenborough and the list of his films is taken from Wikipedia. I express my gratitude. ]

 

VIDUR

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Crimea in Turmoil : The February Jinx


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           MARCH 04 , 2014           00.30 A.M.

Never in my wildest dreams I had imagined that one day , I would be sitting in Mumbai and writing a blog about Crimea. I know this name ” Crimea ” will not ring a familiar bell for majority of my countrymen. But students of world history know about Crimea . I , as a student of history , have read about Crimean War [ 1853 – 1856 ] in detail . Much before World war I [ 1914 – 1918 ] , French Empire , Ottoman Empire , British Empire and Kingdom of Sardinia fought a bloody and fierce battle with Russian Empire over the right of Christians in Holy Land . Allied forces fought for Roman Catholics and Russian Empire fought for Orthodox Church . Crimean war , fought between October 1853 to February 1856 , resulted in the victory for Allied Forces and finally Treaty of Paris was signed between the victors and the vanquished .

Crimean War had far-reaching effect in the history of mankind. It will aways be remembered for Florence Nightingale and her pioneering service for the wounded in the war . Her work heralded the modern nursing methods . It is a little known fact that Mahatma Gandhi won Victoria Cross for his services for the British Empire during Crimean War . It is also a fact that in the aftermath of Crimean War , because of heavy financial crisis and huge debt , which he was unable to pay , Alexander II , the Czar of Russia sold Alaska region of Russian Empire to U.S.A. Alaska was admitted as the 49th state of USA on January 3, 1959 .

As a student of history I have read about Yalta Conference of February 1945 , a.k.a. Crimea Conference , and many more pages of Crimean history during World War II . By strange quirk of history and unlike Crimean War , British Empire and Russian Empire were not at loggerheads during World War II but they were fighting together as the Allied Forces along with United States of America . Franklin D. Roosevelt of U.S.A. , Winston Churchill of Great Britain and Joseph Stalin of Russia assembled at Yalta , a port city of Crimea and discussed and decided Europe’s Post – War reorganization .

Yalta Summit-1

Yalta Summit-2

Churchill , Roosevelt & Stalin at Yalta Conference

So when I read about the recent turmoil in Crimea , I was alarmed and concerned . I just wrote and posted a blog about Ukraine . I was celebrating the success of nationalist forces of Ukraine and the fall of pro – Russian Ukrainian President and a tyrant Viktor Yanukovich . But alas , it was short – lived . Viktor Yanukovich took refuge in Moscow and Russian forces slyly entered into the Simferopol , the capital of Crimea , and took control of the airport and other vital government installations .

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Map of Crimea

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Map of Crimea

Crimea is a peninsula and is attached to Ukraine by a narrow stretch of land which is at places not more than 5 km in width. For centuries Russian Empire was struggling to have a foothold in the warm water of Black Sea for her navy. With the decline of Ottoman Empire , and after the end of Crimean War , Russian Empire annexed Ukraine and Crimea and these regions first became part of Russian Empire and later on a Soviet Republic of USSR [ Union of Soviet Socialist Republic ] . Ukrainian Cossacks and Ukrainian Tatars [ Muslims ] resented the Russian sovereignty but to no avail . From 1922 to 1945 Crimea remained a part of USSR as the Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic . On February 19 , 1954 , the Presidium of Supreme Soviet of USSR transferred Crimean region to the Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic . And thus from 1945 to 1991 , Crimea remained a part of Ukraine .

As I have stated in my earlier blog about Ukraine , in 1991 USSR was disintegrated and Ukraine , along with 14 other republics became independent country . In 1991 Crimea became a part of Ukraine as the Autonomous Republic of Crimea .

This is the brief history of Crimea . Things started changing fast and situation became fluid after the fall of pro – Russian president of Ukraine , Viktor Yanukovich . On February 26 , 2014 pro – Russia and pro – Ukraine protesters clashed in front of the parliament building in Simferopol .

Protesters with Russian Tricolour in Crimea

Protesters with Russian Tricolour in Crimea

Russian parliament granted President Vladimir Putin the authority to use military force in Ukraine . And because of his unbridled ambition to regain the lost glory of Russian Empire , President Vladimir Putin wants to exercise this new-found authority . He simply forgets that in 1994 Russia backed the legal status of Crimea as part of Ukraine and signed a treaty with United States of America , United Kingdom and France and pledged to uphold the territorial integrity of Ukraine . This treaty was ratified in May 1997 and Russia finally accepted Ukraine’s present borders and Ukraine’s sovereignty over Crimea and Sevastopol .

He is emboldened by the fact that Ethnic Ukrainians make up only 24 % of the population , Ethnic Russian 58 % and Ethnic Tatar Muslims 12 % . And this 58 % Russian population is urging Russia to intervene and take control of Crimea and govern Crimea . They was to secede from Ukraine . And Vladimir Putin is more than willing to oblige .

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin

Ukraine is in trouble . Crimea is in turmoil . Jinx of February seems to be working again in the troubled history of Crimea . Have a look :

Crimean War : February 1856

Yalta Conference : February 1945

Crimea Became Part of Ukraine : February 1954

Crimean Occupation by Russia : February 2014

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On behalf of all the students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , I express my solidarity with the Ukrainian people , with the Crimean people .

VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre would also like to wish them well and pray for their glorious future ahead .

[ All the dates and certain historical facts about Crimea and Ukraine have been taken from Wikipedia and are quoted here in this blog . I express my gratitude . ]

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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When Even Insult Had Class


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MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA           JULY 17 , 2013           00.15 A.M.
Since past 8 / 9 months , for no fault of mine , I have become target of abuse on various social micro-blogging sites . There are only 2 / 3 people but they do it with religious fervour and with crusader’s zeal .
When you strive to do something worthwhile and chart a different path , insecure and inferior people become jealous . They feel threatened and so they try to belittle you . They attack you with all the squalor at their command . They threaten you with all the venom accumulated since ages . They try to put you down so that they can claim , ” look , he is down and out . He is nothing . He is insignificant .”
These uncouth zombies resort to unparliamentary language and behaviour at slightest pretext . Abuse becomes their most potent weapon . Filth becomes their armour . Cuss words become their shield . And aggression becomes their war strategy .
I have only one weapon to counter such people and their innuendoes . It is silence . And silence is golden . I have remained silent despite gravest provocations . Even my son was attacked and abused recently. If I have to fight someone , I would never ever attack their sons , daughters , parents or relatives . But those , who were not taught or seen decent behaviour in their entire life , can do this with impunity . They can use cuss words . They can use filthy language . They can resort to falsehood to remain relevant . They can spread canards for self-interest . They can gang up with equally despicable cohorts to denigrate you . They can stoop to any level because there is no level .
Suddenly one day I came across this posting of Major Retd. Pravin Singh on the facebook . I knew some of these incidents earlier but I had forgotten them . I am reproducing them with gratitude .
When Even Insult Had Class
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These glorious insults are from an era before the English language became boiled down to 4-letter words.
A member of Parliament to Disraeli: “Sir, you will either die on the gallows or of some unspeakable disease.” “That depends, Sir,” said Disraeli, “whether I embrace your policies or your mistress.”
“He has all the virtues I dislike and none of the vices I admire.” – Winston Churchill
I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with great pleasure.” Clarence Darrow
“He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to the dictionary.” – William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)
“Thank you for sending me a copy of your book; I’ll waste no time reading it.” – Moses Hadas
I didn’t attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I approved of it.” Mark Twain”He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends..” – Oscar Wilde“I am enclosing two tickets to the first night of my new play; bring a friend, if you have one.” – George Bernard Shaw to Winston Churchill.

“Cannot possibly attend first night, will attend second … if there is one.” – Winston Churchill, in response.

“I feel so miserable without you; it’s almost like having you here.” -Stephen Bishop

“I’ve just learned about his illness. Let’s hope it’s nothing trivial.” –Irvin S. Cobb

“He is not only dull himself; he is the cause of dullness in others.” -Samuel Johnson

“He is simply a shiver looking for a spine to run up.” – Paul Keating (MY favorite, MJ)

“In order to avoid being called a flirt, she always yielded easily.” – Charles, Count Talleyrand

“His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork..” – Mae West

“Some cause happiness wherever they go; others, whenever they go.” – Oscar Wilde

“He uses statistics as a drunken man uses lamp-posts… for support rather than illumination.” – Andrew Lang (1844-1912)

“I’ve had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn’t it.” – Groucho

Alas , these days the above mentioned parliamentary taunts and sarcasm is missing in people . An uncouth sycophant , who works as a factotum for his equally uncultured master, when reprimanded by some students for abusing me , said with his abominable toothy grin , ”  I don’t care for age . If someone was born 20/30/40 years before my birth , its none of my fault . “

Yes , it is none of their fault . They were not trained in civilized behaviour either by their family or by their teachers . They are not accustomed to decent behaviour . May be they have never ever respected their elders in their entire life . Yes , they are not cultured by tradition . May be it is in their blood . May be it is in the family . May be it is the trait which they have inherited .

I pity them . I try to ignore them . They should be avoided like Biblical Satan . They should be quarantined in some remote corner of this terra firma . They should be banished from our existence because their knowledge of English is questionable . Their vocabulary is limited . Their upbringing is doubtful . Their decency is untraceable . Their behaviour is crass . And their education is peripheral . They need sympathy and not anger . They should be pardoned because they are yet to evolve as human beings . For them I must quote Jesus Christ . When he was being crucified by Roman soldiers , he famously said , ” Father , forgive them , for they do not know what they do . “

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I take care that students and staff of VIDUR Acting Institute , which is known as Vidur’s Kreating Charakters  , should learn to respect their elders . They should be cultured and civilized . VIDUR Editing Studio , VIDUR Club and VIDUR Theatre would also like to affirm that uncouth and indecent behaviour is not going to be our trait ever .

For those who are abusive , who are uncouth , who are not civilized enough and who are not so decent , I again quote Jesus Christ , ” Father , forgive them , for they do not know what they do . “

One must remember famous saying of Tomas Eloy Martinez of Argentina – ” Whenever there is a hero , there is a traitor.”

VIDUR

MUMBAI – MAHARASHTRA – INDIA

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