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The most irritating thing about Dasavatharam was seeing Kamal Hassan in every frame. It being his magnum opus film in no way justifies the fact that the whole film is Kamal, Kamal and nothing but Kamal.

The irritating things about the movie:

Kamal‘s ego. The scene in which social activist Vincent Poovaraghan replies, “Yes. I am a world-class actor” to the villain’s “Who do you think you are? Are you a world actor?” is too irritating for words. K S Ravikumar films have the trademark of K S Ravikumar appearing in at least one shot. But K S Ravikumar crooning about Kamal in the last song Ulaga Nayagane….”You have to be a UN member…You have to get an Oscar award…You have acted in thousands of roles….You are a world actor, world actor, ” Shucks! And K S Ravikumar trying to dance with scantily-clad girls! Too ignominious!
Missing links. Where did Kamal get his cellphone? How did the villains get the number and call Kamal in that scene when Kamal is standing in front of the police station? And containing a bio-weapon with plain NaCl or common salt is plain stupid for a movie that’s trying to be scientific (but fails nevertheless)? And how does a scientist (Govind), who spent most of his adult years creating a bio-weapon for the US so that it can kill millions of Innocent civilians, suddenly develop a conscience and want to save people in India (which he left for a well-paying job in the US)? And many people feel the US itself is a terrorist nation, so why protest the sale of the bio-weapon to a terrorist nation? As if the US is spending billions of dollars on bio-weapons for peaceful purposes.
Pathetic make-up. Kamal is a great actor and without any make-up in Michael Madana KamaRajan we were able to differentiate between the four Kamals. Here the make-up artist didn’t too a good job (Try watching Nutty Professor, you can’t recognise Eddie Murphy in any of the five characters). The faces looked artificial and kind of mummified.
Manmohan Singh, George Bush & Karunanidhi on the same stage? I don’t think so! Donning the role of George Bush and trying to outdo Sivaji Ganesan’s Navarathiri was such an immature attempt at the Oscars. I think Kamal would be better off, if he followed Aamir Khan’s non-special effects style.
Ten roles & a haywire script. Kamal had decided he’d do 10 roles. He decided he’d play a Hindu, Christian, Buddhist, Sikh, Muslim & atheist. He also decided he’d be a tall guy and a short, old lady. So the script is just plain confusion, with the director and script writer trying to fit in all of Kamal egomanical demands.
Too many issues. Kamal Hassan tried to talk about bio-warfare, globalisation, imperialism, terrorism, Shivites vs Vaishnavites, religion, the butterfly effect, chaos theory, discrimination against Dalits, caste feelings, lethargic functioning of the bureaucracy, sycophant government officials, corruption in the govt ranks, the tsunami, ….its just too much packed in three hours.
The Indian anthem being played when Govind lands in India with the bio-weapon. Why the national anthem? When nothing in the film has anything remotely to do with patriotism.
Hiroshima, Nagasaki vs Pearl Harbour. Its so stupid when Christian Fletcher tells Shingen Narahashi “Remember Hiroshima, Nagasaki?” and he retorts with “Remember Pearl Harbour?”. Its so stupid and doesn’t make sense.

What I did like about the movie despite all this, was the subtle criticism he dared make about the present system:

  • He says that both God and science betrayed human beings during the tsunami. In his own words in the last scene, “I didn’t say I don’t believe in God. I only said it will be nice if there was one” (Meaning that God is not there. Why quibble about it?). And that the stone (Vishnu statue) is just powerless. As it didn’t save Vishnu followers (including, the skeletal Ranagaraja Nambi) and got cast up on the beach due to the tsunami not its own powers.
  • He says that people have always killed and got killed in the name of the God in India. Even before Christianity or Islam made its entry to India, people were killing each over communal riots.in this case Shivites vs Vaishnavites.
  • When he’s protesting the sale of “bio-weapons to venture capitalists,” his boss tells him not act like a unionist. I liked how he showed that industrialists try to buy off people with unionist tendencies; when his boss tells Govind he will be paid hundred thousand dollars to go with the tide; and when Vincent’s men are bought off by the sand-mining industrialists here.
  • When he hugs the sanitary workers (most probably Dalits with no offense, but only empathy for that community) and the sanitary workers are surprised that he’s touching a person, who works in the drains.
  • When the old, mad woman hugs the dead Vincent and they tell her not to touch him because he’s from another caste. But the old woman rejects what he says, leaving us with the question who is really mad? The old woman who embraces a stranger as her son or the Hindu fundamentalist, who thinks touching someone from another caste is sinful?
  • when he shows the rampant sand mining taking place on the Palar river bed. He has imitated real-life activists in portraying the anti-sand mining group
  • when he shows the blind faith and prejudices people have due to religion
  • when he makes a hit at Vaiko and Vijaykanth. In the interrogation scene, Balram Naidu questions Govind’s loyalty towards promoting the Tamil language, to which Kamal replies “Telegu people (Vaiko/Vijaykanath) like you will promote the language for their own benefit.”
  • when he criticises Jayendra Saraswathi. When Balram Naidu wants to interrogate people in the Hindu religious mutt, he asks “Are there not criminals in mutt?” (A hit at the recent murder case in which the acharya was arrested and many brahmins protested the move)
  • when Kalif’s dad tells the govt officers not to think “every Muslim is a terrorist”. Kamal of course phrases it in his roundabout way as “don’t think everyone who prays to Mecca is a terrorist.” I feel there’s too much of branding going on. Just because the US govt, UK and other European countries didn’t like Communists; Communists were bad and terrorists. Now the new villains are Muslims. Because the US would love to occupy the oil-rich lands of the Middle-East, the natives or Muslims become evil and terrorists. Even the BJP and RSS get votes using the same platform that “Hindu Rajaya must be born, after killing all the Muslim terrorists in India.” In Gujarat, I guess the Modi govt was partially successful, but it was interesting to note the subtle criticism the film makes of the Gujarat riots and the more than 2,000 Muslims killed in the riots.

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Coming from an ultra-Christian family, I found my views would often come into direct conflict with everyone I interacted.

Even now as an atheist, I still have to rethink my attitude, prejudices and discontent that 21 years of religion taught me (I’m now 23). A religion, that I once believed….A religion I tried hard to follow, as I was brought up in the faith that one day I would have to become a Christian missionary.

When I was a kid, I remember reading the Bible and asking “How Cain got his wife? How did Noah keep his ark clean, if he didn’t open doors when there were animals that shit? How did Balaam’s ass speak? Can Achu (my dog) speak?”

You can be sure, I didn’t get answers which satisfied me.

Being a dog-lover, my bitterest moment came when my grandmother told me, “Animals don’t go to heaven.” Since my church pastors also felt that way, I was inconsolable.

My first reading of the sexual act did not come from the TV or magazines, but from the Bible. The short accounts of rape, incest and violence was in a way an eye-opener.

And also as a kid, I was taught in school that there were no caste; Everyone is equal. Even my mother taught me Mahakavi Bharathiar’s songs and instilled in me the belief that all human beings are equal. The same person and a host of other relatives, however, opposed my decision to love a Hindu 10 years later. If discriminating against a Dalit Christian is bad, How come discriminating against a person (my hubby’s also an atheist) just because he was born a Hindu is ok?

As a kid, the Bible was the gospel truth to me. So I was shocked when I read in the Bible that the punishment for a slave was death, while the punishment for a free man was an “eye for an eye; and a tooth for a tooth.” First and foremost I was shocked because the slavery system was being upheld in the Bible and secondly because there was discrimination even when it came to punishments.

I used to wonder at the preaching that non-Christians go to hell. I couldn’t believe that my best friends and the larger population of India was going to hell. And secondly many Christian pastors preach that Hindu gods are demons. Now some Hindu mythological stories are not exemplary, but there were other really nice ones I read in Tamil literature. I used to like Karnan a lot, from the accounts I read of him in Bharathiar’s Panchali Sapatham.

I used to ask, “If you say the stone idols have no life as they are created by human hands, when did devils and demons take possession of them?”

When I asked questions in school and college, I was encouraged to do so. Science was in many ways a comfort as facts were facts. They were not going to change because a different pastor took over in church. I used to score high marks in Maths and badly in religious studies only because of this…Questions were discouraged in Sunday school, Vacation Bible school and in church.

Many Christians support Israel in the Israel-Palestine war. They feel they have to support the atrocities of Israel, because the Jews are God’s chosen people and because Jerusalem should belong to Jews or Christians not Muslims (I’m not anti-semitism, but anti-war and anti-religious hegemony). I felt as most secular Indians do

  • that Palestine should belong to the Palestinians and not to Israel, backed by the imperialist US
  • that the US’s motives were purely mercenary in getting the Jews to occupy their native land after more than 2000 years through military aggression
  • that India’s condemnation of the US and Israel militant tactics in this issue was correct
  • that Palestinians were the underdogs not the Israelites

I also found myself in strong opposition to the church’s stand when it came to the Iraq war. I felt betrayed that no one in the Church was condemning the US. Instead many wholeheartedly supported George.W.Bush, because he claimed he was a Christian, because he was anti-abortion, anti-homosexuals, anti-gay rights and pro-war.

After the Gujarat pogroms, I expected Christians to come out in support of Muslims and condemn the state sponsored genocide in Gujarat. But No! The Christians in Tamil Nadu were more interested in protesting against the anti-conversion law. I felt they should not demand for justice, when they didn’t want justice for all minorities in India.

I have heard many Christians say horrible things like “All Muslims are terrorists.” How are they different from the RSS, Sangh Parivar and Bajrang Dal, whom they oppose?

With regard to women also, the Bible fares poorly. I found the verses “wives should submit to their husbands, women are the weaker vessel, they must be protected, women should obey their husbands, women must not speak in church,” in direct contradiction to what my secular school taught me; “that women were equal to men, women can work in all profession, women are not weak; there are trained women commandos, women army cadets, women doctors, women astronauts and women writers.”

It was the Iraq war, which came as the lat straw. I was around 16 at that time and I got fed up of the church and its hypocrisies. But it took me five more years to completely get out of the lies that religion taught me.

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I have always thought women who worshipped their husbands as demi-gods and devoted themselves slavishly to his whims and fancies were plain crazy and did it out of sheer ignorance. Through the World Wide Web, now I’m finding that these crazy females have grouped together and have many communities in support of the noble maniliness of men.

Why I’m interested? They seem so identical with the minority crazy Indian women Ive met in India.

Following are images of the t-shirts they have on sale on their anti-feminist, pro-patriarchy, pro-homeschooling, pro-housewives websites like Vision Forum, Monstrous Regiment of Women, Visionary Daughters, & Prairie Muffin

1) These American women are Anti-feminists as they strongly believe that feminism has deprived them of their rights to be a biblical woman (Now I can’t figure that and five brownie points for you, if you can)

In India, starting from so-called progressive Left parties like the SUCI down to the Sangh Parivar, RSS and the ‘homely’ Indian wife, many women don’t want to associate themselves with feminism. Though they would like to enjoy all the benefits of feminism like voting rights, education, jobs, etc

I have always wondered how these homeschooling, large (really large), anti-feminist families, who take the bible as the gospel truth and have a dozen children, manage? …But then it shouldn’t really be a cause for wonder, as most of our Indian ancestors also followed the same policy with great success for different reasons

In India, luckily thanks to government propoganda for population control, not even Christian pastors are not advocating following the Biblical command to “Be Fruitful and to Multiply.”

In America, Christian conservatives have ruled out dating, sex, meeting the opposite sex, engagements, etc. Good Christian boys and girls will have to follow the family-approved courtship model

In India, non-Christian conservatives also strongly believe in the courtship model. Only difference is they call it Arranged Marriages here!

This is on the premise that women were created for the sole reason of being a helpmates to men.

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I have recieved a number of nasty comments when I posted on certain aspects I did’nt like about the Dinakaran Ministry. The comments, which did not have *$&^#* filthy words, I have approved and posted.

Let me clarify. I am not a Hindu. Neither do I belong to the RSS, Bajrang Dal or Sangh Parivar.

Long long ago, when I was reading “Death of a Guru” by Rabi Maharaj, I came upon a passage. In that Rabi talks about how he became disgusted with one Hindu guru, who became richer and richer with his “Get rich” mantra. He used to tell his followers: “I will pray for you. Look how God has blessed me. He will bless you also if you do such and such pooja.” The people used to pay him huge sums for the pooja or the prayer. The net result was: The yogi became richer and richer, while his followers became poorer and poorer.

Moral of the story: Preachers are getting richers day by day. And it is no longer considered shameful if a preacher is a millionaire. He is apparently ‘blessed by God.’

This list contains details of property and money in the individual preacher’s name. It does not include the net asset worth of his/her ministry or churches.

A list of the millionaire preachers:

John Wesley – (As per today’s economy $ 1.4 million a year)

Benny Hinn – (multi-millionaire. Net assets worth $ 705 million)

Joyce Meyer – ($ 4.28 million corporate jet + $ 1.7 million worth houses. She also pays herself a salary of $ 2, 08,200 from the Joyce Meyer Ministry account)

Pat Robinson – ($ 11 billion net assets worth. He’s well known for his rabid and nasty attacks on homosexuals, Russians, Communists, feminists and the tax collectors)

Bill Creflo Dollar – (Like his name, Creflo preaches the “Get Rich” Chrisitian policy. His current earnings are $ 48 million)

Rory and Wendy – (The wonder couple on God TV, who weasle out donations for themselves and the other preachers on air. Net asset worth $ 36.5 million)

And since the details of the property of pastors in India is not made available to the public. We can only make surmises.

In India, politicians, film stars, industrialists or the sons of industrialists get kidnapped and a ransom is demanded.

Joining this elite league are our christian pastors. The last we heard, Pastor R Mohan’s junior-pastor-son Sam got kidnapped. When the kidnappers wanted money they took him straight to the nearest ATM centre. He withdrew 5 lakhs and got it back in a day’s time. A few strings were pulled, police took action and nabbed the culprits after seeing the ATM’s video footage.

There is also another story about people closely related to this pastor:

The story goes… junior-pastor does’nt believe in caste. His father does. So when junior fell in love with a Dalit Christian girl, the family steps up pressure and tells him his Christian duty as a son is to follow his father’s commandments. After 7 years of resisting, junior finally gives up. He said goodbye to his sweetheart and married a chaste girl from his caste that his parents had chosen for him.

Even now in Nagercoil, there are churches in which Dalits sit in the last rows, while the upper-caste Christians sit in front. When a Dailt pastor was buried in a church cemetry in Nagercoil in 1997, upper-caste people dug out his body and threw it on the road. They also conducted a ceremony later, to purify the graveyard off the Dailt pastor’s presence.

Where is Christ in all this? Christ- the friend of the prostitutes, tax collectors, Samaritans (untouchables in those days) & Romans?

Recently, Deccan Chronicle had carried a report in which 70 Dalit Christians converted back to Hinduism, because of the caste discrimination they were facing from upper-caste Christians. What hopes, those people would have had when they converted to Christianity. They must have read about Christ’s life and felt the Christian way of life meant equality for all. When they learnt the theory and the practise are different …I guess they decided to go back to Hinduism.

Rachel Chitra

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