Category: Bio’s


Today happens to be the 101st Birth Anniversary of my all time favourite cinematographer, Jack Cardiff. His uniquely brilliant, colourful aesthetics, in movies like. Powell&Pressburger’s Black Narcissus (1947) and The Red Shoes (1948), Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn (1949), and King Vidor’s War and Peace (1956), are stunningly splendid, with it’s vivid spectrum of striking colours. His creations on the big screen, are pure art. A massive canvas filled with moving pictures.

Jack CardiffJack Cardiff was born on the 18th of September, 1914, to a couple of music hall performers. By the age of four, he was already a child artiste, who’d worked in music hall productions as well as a few silent movies. As a child actor he starred in My Son, My Son (1918), Billy’s Rose (1922), The Loves of Mary, Queen of Scots (1923) and Tiptoes (1927). By 15 he started working as a camera assistant, clapper boy and production runner. By 21, Cardiff had graduated to camera operator and occasional cinematographer. Having already worked with Alfred Hitchcock, in The Skin Game (1931), as a clapper boy; soon he got a chance to work with Powell&Pressburger, as a second unit cameraman. Powell&Pressburger were so impressed that they hired him as a cinematographer, and the rest is history.

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Amy Irving in The Far Pavilions (1984)

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

Ben Cross and Omar Sharif in a scene from The Far Pavilions

As a little kid, back in the mid-1980’s, I watched The Far Pavilions (1984), a beautiful mini-series, set in India, in the 1800’s. Back then, I had no idea who Jack Cardiff was, but was amazed by the superbly, epic scale, picturesque, television show, which has been tagged as, “Gone With The Wind (1939), of the north-west frontier of India.” I got to re-watch it in my teens, back in the early 1990’s. Thus, even though unaware at the time, this was my very first Cardiff involved show, that I witnessed. And I’ll end up watching quite a few Cardiff’s aesthetic brilliance of the big screen (on the small screen), before I learn the cinematographer responsible for the visual beauty of these great movies.

The Red Shoes (2)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Moira Shearer in The Red Shoes (1948)

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Scenes from The Red Shoes

Still as a kid, towards late 80’s, when I watched The Red Shoes, I was spellbound. The beautiful colour combination, costumes, the respectable art form of the ballet, the story, the movie as a whole, I fell in love with it almost instantaneously. And at the time I didn’t even realise it was an old movie. Especially ’cause I had no idea who the actors were. By then I knew quite a few classic stars, from Charles Chaplin, Laurence Olivier, Cary Grant, Ingrid Bergman, Audrey Hepburn, Elizabeth Taylor, Sophia Loren, Julie Andrews, Henry Fonda, Jane Fonda, Al Pacino et al; so I felt these must be very new actors, who aren’t famous yet. In fact, even now, besides The Red Shoes, am not familiar with the work of Moira Shearer (who was actually a renowned ballet dancer, and had appeared in very few films), Austrian actor, Anton Walbrook, and Marius Goring. The story follows the life of a young ballerina, who becomes the lead dancer in a new ballet called, The Red Shoes, a fairy tale. The movie tells a story within a story. One through the ballet, and the other, the movie plot. I remember this scene, where the lead male character, asks the ballerina, “Why do you want to dance?”, she fearlessly quickly answers with another question, “Why do you want to live?”
I only saw The Red Shoes, once, less than 30 years ago, but I still remember, that scene so well, as if I saw it yesterday. That was the scene, that changes the lead character, played by Moira Shearer, Victoria Page’s, life, in the movie. The ballet sequences were mesmerising, telling a beautifully epic tale of it’s own, and filmed so beautifully. My personal favourite was the one with raggedy clothes, portraying an exhausted ballerina, complimenting the frighteningly beautiful visual effects of the time. Eons before the evolution of CGI.

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace (1956)

Scenes from War and Peace

Scenes from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

Audrey Hepburn in a scene from War and Peace

The next, was War and Peace, which I watched around the same time, more ‘cause I was already a great fan of Audrey Hepburn by then. A brilliant epic, adapted from Leo Tolstoy’s celebrated novel, War & Peace. With a stellar star cast, including Mel Ferrer, Henry Fonda, Audrey Hepburn, Jeremy Brett, May Britt and Anita Ekberg, this Hollywood adaptation, of a novel based on Napoleonic Wars, especially Napoleon’s invasion of Russia in 1812, happens to be amongst my favourite of epic scale war movies. And again, I recall, how brilliant the cinematography was. Of course the movie mainly focuses on complex relationship and personal maturation, of the three lead characters, and two aristocratic families, on the backdrop of the historical events of the Napoleonic invasion. I got to re-watch War and Peace, as an adult, just over a decade ago, whilst living in London. ’Twas  really worth it.

In the 90’s, as a teen, I watched Paul Czinner’s, As You Like It (1936). A pretty good movie adaptation of Shakespeare’s famed comedy. Jack Cardiff worked as a camera operator for this film, starring Laurence Olivier and Elisabeth Bergner. I enjoyed the movie, but I don’t recall much greatness, cinematography wise. Anyway, Cardiff wasn’t responsible for cinematography. Plus this happens to be a Black & White film, and Cardiff was famous for excelling in colourful epics.

Whilst living in Portsmouth, UK, 11 years ago, around this time, most probably to celebrate Jack Cardiff’s 90th Birthday (he was still alive then), one of the British channels, telecast, two of his movies. I already knew about both these films, and had heard about Cardiff. But it was that particular day, 11 years ago, that I got to know who Jack Cardiff was, after seeing these two films, which were shown one after another, that day. Black Narcissus and Under Capricorn. I loved the movie, and learnt a lot more about Cardiff, once I googled him out, back in 2004. And to see he was responsible for the magnificent cinematography, of my childhood films, The Red Shoes and War and Peace as well, was an added bonus. Since then, Cardiff happens to be my all time favourite cinematographer, of yesteryear.

Black Narcissus (3)

Scenes from Black Narcissus

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Scenes from Black Narcissus (1947)

Cardiff’s work, on Black Narcissus, is undeniably the best I’ve seen till date. Set in the foothills of the Himalayas, near Darjeeling, India, and made as India was on the verge of getting their Independence from the British Raj, it’s another excellent movie, in every way possible, from the narrative, the brilliant cast, the setting, the cinematography, you name it. Starring Deborah Kerr, Jean Simmons (playing an Indian girl named ‘Kanchi’), Flora Robson, Kathleen Byron, David Farrar, Esmond Knight, Nancy Roberts and Sabu Dastagir, it’s a touching story of a group of Anglican nuns living in isolation, who have to ultimately, after being tragic victims of jealousy and lust, have to leave their peaceful life in India, under the British Empire. Jack Cardiff won his very first Oscar, for his beautiful creation of Black Narcissus, under the category, ‘Best Cinematography, Colour’. He was nominated for three more Oscars, twice for colour cinematography, and once for film direction, but never won. In 2001, he was awarded an honorary Oscar, as the ‘Master of light and colour’. Prior to that, in 1995, he was honoured with a lifetime achievement award, by the British Society of Cinematographers. And in Year 2000, Jack Cardiff was also awarded the OBE (Order of the British Empire).

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under.

Scene from Under Capricorn (1949), Down Under!

Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is set Down Under, in the depths of the heat and dust of the Australian outback, i.e. Sydney of 1831, a town full of ex-convicts. Starring Joseph Cotten, Ingrid Bergman and Michael Wilding, the movie tells the story of how an Irish gentleman, who visits Australia, comes across his childhood friend, now a married woman, who’s suffering from alcohol abuse, and helplessly watches her decent into madness. Amazingly George Cukor’s Gaslight (1944), a superb piece of noir, too dealt with a married woman’s (played by Bergman as well) decent into madness, and Cotton played, a sympathiser, who saves her from her murderous husband, the man responsible for driving her insane. Under Capricorn, was Hitchcock’s second film made in Technicolor, after Rope (1948).

Death on the Nile (2)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Peter Ustinov as Hercule Poirot, with the Sphinx in the background, in Death on the Nile (1978)

Back then I also got to watch, Death on the Nile (1978), a very good adaptation of crime writer, Agatha Christie’s novel. Which was a really good movie, though not great. But again the cinematography capturing ancient Egyptian monuments was simply brilliant.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India

Scenes from Delhi (1938), in Connaught Place, New Delhi, India.

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Scenes from Delhi (1938)

Five years ago, I saw the documentary short film, Delhi (1938), online, on the BFI (British Film Institute) page, on the Youtube website. Another colourfully breathtaking insight of Old and New Delhi, of the 1930’s, showcasing the beautiful historic architecture, the modern wide roads, and Indian attire, of the period under the British Raj, and captured to perfection by Jack Cardiff. One of the best short documentaries I’ve seen, and this 10 minutes of reel is definitely worth checking out.

Caesar and Cleopatra (1)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Scenes from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945)

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger in a scene from Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), based on a play by George Bernard Shaw.

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Black & White still, with Claude Rains and Vivien Leigh, in the technicolor film, Caesar and Cleopatra

Then there was Caesar and Cleopatra (1945), starring Claude Rains, Vivien Leigh and Stewart Granger. Another classic film with breathtaking cinematography, based on an acclaimed play by George Bernard Shaw. Yet, Caesar and Cleopatra, is no where near as great, as some of the other movies mentioned above (cinematography wise), but still it’s another excellent cinematic experience, altogether. I watched this online as well, on Youtube, a few years ago. Sadly that’s the last of Cardiff’s films I saw, and I don’t own a single. All these movies of his, in which he worked as a cinematographer, is no doubt worth, adding to my home library, collection of movies.

Cameraman - The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010)

A documentary titled, Cameraman: The Life and Work of Jack Cardiff (2010), was released, five years ago. Being a great fan of Cardiff, am really keen on checking it out. It chronicles his career of over seventy years, as a cinematographer, reviews his magnificent work, and details how he ended up mastering the process of Technicolor in Cinema of a bygone era.

Besides being a maestro in cinematography, Cardiff was also a film director. But from his directorial ventures, I’ve only watched, to my memory, My Geisha (1962), starring Shirley MacLaine, Yves Montand, Edward G. Robinson and Robert Cummings. That too, I watched, back in the 1980’s. My Geisha, was a hilarious comedy about an actress, Lucy Dell (MacLaine), who disguises herself as a Japanese Geisha, to bag the lead role, unaware to her husband (Montand), in her husbands new directorial venture, inspired by Giacomo Puccini’s, renowned Opera, Madame Butterfly.

Some of Jack Cardiff's directorial ventures, Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Some of Jack Cardiff’s directorial ventures: Sons and Lovers (1960), My Geisha (1962) and The Girl on a Motorcycle (1968).

Being a fan of D.H. Lawrence, I’d really love to watch Cardiff’s adaptation of Sons and Lovers (1960), starring Trevor Howard, Dean Stockwell, Wendy Hiller and Mary Ure. Sons and Lovers, was Cardiff ’s very first nomination, for the ‘Best Director’ Oscar. Ironically it won one Oscar, for ‘Best Cinematography, Black-and-White’, for which he wasn’t responsible for. From Cardiff’s other works as a cinematographer, am really keen on watching, The African Queen (1951), Humphrey Bogart and Katharine Hepburn, The Prince and the Showgirl (1957), with Laurence Olivier and Marilyn Monroe, and Crossed Swords (1977), with Oliver Reed, George C. Scott, Rex Harrison, David Hemmings and Mark Lester, to name a few.

All of Cardiff’s works I mentioned here as a cinematographer, are excellent films as a whole, except for Under Capricorn and Death in the Nile. Alfred Hitchcock’s Under Capricorn, is not necessarily Hitchcock’s best film, yet it’s still a near excellent noir flick. And John Guillermin’s adaptation of Agatha Christie’s famed novel, Death in the Nile, though not the best adaptation of one of her novels, is still a very good crime movie.

In memory of Jack Cardiff (1914 – 2009), who shall forever be remembered for his masterworks in colour, especially at a time, when colour movies were a rarity, back in the 1930’s & 40’s. I’d love to watch more of his cinematic wonders, be it as a cinematographer, or a film director.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Nuwan Sen’s ART Sense

Today is World Dog Day, or rather National Dog Day (Why not international? No Idea!!!!!)
World Dog Day Above TitleFounded in 2004; by Colleen Paige, ‘Pet & Family’ lifestyle expert and animal advocate; National Dog Day was initiated to make people aware about dogs that needed to, and still need to, be rescued and to spread an understanding of how much dogs do for society, selflessly jumping in to save lives, keeping humans safe from harm and also bringing comfort to people. No dog deserves to be killed. No matter what the circumstances.

So what better way to commemorate this day, with a post dedicated to my dearest little Gingy (Gingerella Sen). She too was a rescued little innocent puppy. Naughty as ever, she’s a real sweetheart.
J’adore Gingy!!!
She’s my Baby!!

Pictures from Today: 26 Août 2015
World Dog Day Aug (Year 2015) 1World Dog Day Aug (Year 2015) 2World Dog Day Aug (Year 2015) 3World Dog Day Aug (Year 2015) 4World Dog Day Aug (Year 2015) 5World Dog Day Aug (Year 2015) 6World Dog Day Aug (Year 2015) 7World Dog Day Aug (Year 2015) 8
Pictures from December 2014, till date.

First Evening at 56,Siripura (7th December 2014) The day I adopted this little puppy, and named her Gingerella

First Evening at her new home – 56, Siripura (7th December 2014). The day I adopted this little puppy, and named her Gingerella. She’s biting my shoe, on my foot.

The Next Day (8th December 2014) Pulling at the hem, on my mum's trouser. Already feeling well settled and at home.

The Next Day (8th December 2014)
Pulling at the hem, of my mum’s trouser. Already feeling well settled and at home.

Mum & Gingy (Granny to Gingerella) at Home ((9th December 2014)

My Mum & Gingy (Granny to Gingerella) at Home, back porch (9th December 2014)

Gingy & I (Papa Nuwan to Gingerella) in my Bedroom (11th December 2014)

Gingy & I (Papa Nuwan to Gingerella) in my Bedroom (11th December 2014)

Gingy with my Mum (Granny to Gingy) At Home, in the Pantry (11th December 2014)

Gingy with my Mum (Granny to Gingy) At Home, in the Dinning/Pantry (11th December 2014)

Smelling the yellow Orchids, in our back yard (12th December 2014)

Flower Power: Smelling the Yellow Orchids, in our back yard (12th December 2014)

Gingy enjoying her Milk (14th December 2014)

Gingy enjoying her Milk (14th December 2014), in the morning, in the back portico.

My little sister, Sachi, & her husband, visit Gingerella (14th December 2014). The first day they met Gingy.

My little sister, Sachi, & her husband, visit Gingerella (14th December 2014). The first day they met Gingy, in the afternoon, back porch. Aunt & Uncle to Gingy.

Gingy & I, in the front yard (14th December 2014)

Gingy & I, in the front yard (14th December 2014). Same Evening!

My sister, Sachi (Aunty Sachi to Gingy) & me (Papa Nuwan to Gingy), with little Gingerella. Same evening (14th December 2014). First day the aunt (Sachi) & niece (Gingy) met.

Me (Papa Nuwan to Gingy) with my sister, Sachi (Aunty Sachi to Gingy) and little Gingerella. Same evening (14th December 2014). First day the aunt (Sachi) & niece (Gingy) met.

Mum (Granny to Gingy) with baby Gingerella (15th December 2014)

Mum (Granny to Gingy) with baby Gingerella, in the living room (15th of December, 2014)

Gingy trying to bite her Granny (my mum), in the sitting room (15th December 2014).

Gingy trying to bite her Granny (my mom), in the sitting room (15th December 2014).

Gingy, in the sitting room, with a friend of mine, Saki (Uncle Saki to Gingerella) on the 16th of December, 2014.

Gingy, in the sitting room, with a friend of mine, Saki (Uncle Saki to Gingerella) on the 16th of December, 2014.

My mother (Granny to Gingy) with baby Gingerella, in the back portico (17th of December, 2014)

My mother (Granny to Gingy) with baby Gingerella, in the back portico (17th December 2014)

My Mom with Gingy (Granny to Gingy), on the 17th of December, 2014.

My Mom with Gingy (Granny to Gingy), on the 17th of December, 2014.

Gingerella, in our front yard (22nd December 2014)

Gingerella, playing in our front yard (22nd December 2014)

Gingerella, enjoying my mum's Light Mauve Hydrangeas in our front yard (22nd December 2014)

Flower Power: Gingerella, enjoying my mum’s Light Mauve Hydrangeas in our front yard (22nd December 2014)

Puppy Love Bites Gingy biting my fingers (22nd December 2014). She still loves doing that.

Puppy Love Bites: Gingy biting my fingers (22nd December 2014). She still loves doing that.

Gingy with her new shoe/chew toy (23rd December 2014)

Gingy with her new shoe/chew toy (23rd December 2014)

New Years Day 2015: Little Gingy with my sister, Sachinta (Aunt Sachi to Gingerella), at our place, on the the 1st of January, 2015. Nu Ears Day Visit for Gingy!!!

New Years Day 2015: Little Gingy with my sister, Sachinta (Aunt Sachi to Gingerella), at our place, on the the 1st of January, 2015. Nu Ears Day Guests Visit Gingy!!!

Sachi & Gingy, in the entrance/lobby, with a hand me down toy from Chabba (Sachi's Dog), on the 17th of January 2015.

Sachi & Gingy, at the main entrance/lobby (56, Siripura), avec a hand me down toy from Chabba (Sachi’s Dog), on the 17th of January 2015.

Little Gingy & I (Papa Nuwan to Gingerella), relaxing at home (56, Siripura), in the living/sitting room (21st January 2015)

Little Gingy & I (Papa Nuwan to Gingerella), relaxing at home (56, Siripura), in the living/sitting room (21st January 2015)

Cousins Meet: Chabba (my sister, Sachi's, dog) visits Gingerella. PIX: Me, Gingy & Chabba on the 24th of January, 2015 (Chabba is a bit of a snob. This was her first visit here, after I adopted Gingerella (Prior to that Chabba visited our place once). Gingy keeps following her older cousin, where ever she goes. Chabba is 3½ years older than Gingy.)

Cousins Meet: Chabba (my sister, Sachi’s, dog) visits Gingerella.
PIX: Me, Gingy & Chabba on the 24th of January, 2015 (Chabba is a bit of a snob. This was her first visit here, after I adopted Gingerella (Prior to that Chabba visited our place once). Gingy keeps following her older cousin, where ever she goes, but Chabba is far from amused. of course Chabba is 3½ years older than Gingy.)

What Love: Gingy & I (Nuwan Sen), in the living room (26th February 2015)

What Love: Angry Gingy & I (Nuwan Sen), in the living room (26th February 2015)

What Love: "Let me down!! Am not in the mood for pictures!!!!", is what Gingerella seems to be telling her Papa Nuwan (i.e. Me), in our living room, on the 26th of February, 2015. " ""

What Love 2: LET ME DOWN!! Am not in the mood for pictures!!!!”, is what Gingerella seems to be telling her Papa Nuwan (i.e. Me), in our living room, on the 26th of February, 2015.

Keeping Watch: Gingerella loves looking out of our main gate, standing up, carrying an invisible handbag (Very Lady Like). Picture taken  on 25th March 2015.

Keeping Watch: Gingerella loves looking out of our main gate, standing up on tip toes, carrying an invisible handbag (Very Lady Like). Picture taken on 25th March 2015.

Gingy explores her new polka dotted bed (7th May 2015). She soon grew out of it. Now she's too big to fit in it.

Gingy explores her new polka dotted bed (7th May 2015). She soon grew out of it. Now she’s too big to fit in it.

Playing the Piano: Gingy is till date slightly confused, yet curious. where the sound comes from. PIX: In our living room (26th May 2015).

Playing the Piano: Gingy is, till date, slightly confused, yet curious, as to where the sound comes from, on the Piano.
PIX: In our living room (26th May 2015).

"I'll always have your back, whatever you do" Papa Nuwan (Me) sportingly lets little Gingy know. PIX: In the Front Yard, on the 18th of June, 2015.

I’ll always have your back, whatever you do
Papa Nuwan (Me) sportingly lets little Gingy know.
PIX: In our Front Yard (Side/Garage Entrance), on the 18th of June, 2015.

Turning 40: Gingy & I (Papa Nuwan to Gingerella), on my 40th Birthday  PIX: In our Living Room (22nd June 2015)

Turning 40: Gingy & I (Papa Nuwan to Gingerella), on my 40th Birthday.
PIX: In our Living Room (22nd June 2015).

Gingerella with my mother (Granny to Gingy) & my father (Seeya to Gingy), in our Front Yard, at the Side/Garage entrance (12th July 2015).

Gingerella, with my mother (Granny to Gingy) & my father (Seeya to Gingy), in our Front Yard, at the Side/Garage entrance (12th July 2015).

Gingy & I, in our Front Yard (22nd July 2015)

Gingy & I, in our Front Yard (22nd July 2015)

Gingy & I, in our Front Yard (14th August 2015)

Gingy & I, in our Front Yard (14th August 2015)

My mother (Granny to Gingerella) & Gingy, in our front yard, in front of the Main Gate (Saturday, the 22nd of August, 2015)

My mother (Granny to Gingerella) & Gingy, in our front yard, in front of the Main Gate (Saturday, the 22nd of August, 2015)

My mum with Gingy (22nd August 2015)

My mum, having fun with Gingy (22nd August 2015), in the Living Room.

Gingerella playing with my mom (Granny to Gingy), in our living/sitting room (22nd August 2015)

Gingerella playing with my mom (Granny to Gingy), in our living/sitting room (22nd August 2015).

Gingy in the Front Yard, below my Bedroom Window (on Sunday, 23rd August 2015).

Gingy in the Front Yard, below my Bedroom Window (on Sunday, 23rd August 2015).

Gingy resting outside, below my Bedroom Window last Sunday (the 23rd of August 2015).

Gingy resting outside, below my Bedroom Window last Sunday (the 23rd of August 2015).

Sunday Holiday: Gingerella rests outside my Bedroom Window (23rd August 2015).

Sunday Holiday: Gingerella rests outside my Bedroom Window (23rd August 2015).

Sunday Rest-Day: Gingerella relaxes, while she cleans herself, just below my Bedroom Window. Picture taken from my bedroom window (23rd August 2015).

Sunday Rest-Day: Gingerella relaxes, while she cleans herself, just below my Bedroom Window. Picture taken from my bedroom window (23rd August 2015).

Gingy cleaning herself, just below my Bedroom Window (23rd August 2015).

Gingy, cleaning herself, just below my bedroom window (23rd August 2015).

Gingerella, on her Sunday break, just outside my bedroom window, in our front yard (23rd August 2015).

Gingerella, on her Sunday break, just outside my bedroom window, in our front yard (23rd August 2015).

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WORLD DOG DAY Picture of me carrying (not so) little Gingy, taken today morning, on National Dog Day itself (26th of August, Year 2015). Gingerella is almost 10 months old now.

WORLD DOG DAY
Picture of me carrying (a not so) little Gingy, taken today morning, on National Dog Day itself (26th of August, 2015). Gingerella is almost 10 months old now.

All the pictures of Gingerella were taken at home (56, Siripura).

Doggy Love
Nuwan Sen

(#NationalDogDay/#DogDayCutestDog)

Kill Your Darlings (2013) is based on the real life account, involving some of the famed poets from the Beat Generation, including Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and Allen Ginsberg, before they became famous.
Kill Your Darlings Blog HeaderThe Beats before The Beats
Before Allen Ginsberg became one of the greatest literary geniuses to have existed in America, in the previous century, he was just a geeky young student at Colombia University. Yet appearances aside, young Ginsberg got into all kinds of mischief, along with his group of friends, during his university years, in the 1940’s. Set a decade before the literary revolution of the Beat Generation, this group of misfits included his contemporaries, fellow poets, Jack Kerouac and William Burroughs. Unfortunately, all three of them were roped into, being indirectly involved in, a murder of a poet (a college Professor), who never got a chance to become famous for his intellect, but rather for the way he was killed, and made infamous as a sexual predator, just because he was gay. The murderer was released after two years, on the grounds that it was an ‘‘Honour Slaying’’, from forced homosexual advances, and that the murderer acted upon self-defence.

Kill Your Darlings, reminded me of some great films based on rebellious students, set in strict institutes. The likes of, A Yank at Oxford (1938), Mona Lisa Smile (2003), 3 Idiots (2009); and coming-of-age films like; To Sir, with Love (1967), Dead Poets Society (1989); which was actually set during the height of the Beat Generation, i.e. the 1950’s; School Ties (1992); which too was set in 50’s; Dangerous Minds (1995), The Dangerous Lives of Altar Boys (2002) and The History Boys (2006), to name some, out of many. While, like Kill Your Darlings; A Yank at Oxford, Mona Lisa Smile and 3 Idiots; are to do with college students, the rest of the films mentioned here are set in high school. But what’s common about these movies; either based on actual events, or out and out fiction; is the fact that it deals with anti-establishment, and ironically, as well as trying to fit in. These films are about youngsters (and sometimes adults/teachers as well), who can think for themselves; with a brain of their own; yet sometimes shy intellects take time to come out of their shell. And when they do, they fear nothing.

But that’s where the similarities end. For none of these films mentioned above, has a violent crime taking place. This is where Kill Your Darlings differs, and it’s based on an actual real life incident. While tragic deaths are seen in a few of movies mentioned here; either through suicide or accident; none of them result in murder. Thus this movie, ends up being a fusion of very varied genres, including, a crime drama, a love story (love triangle), a thriller, plus a biographical film, all roped into one. Yet the movie is less of a historical film, about the poets, that made them the famed Beats, and more to do with the love-triangle, that leads to a notorious tragedy the Beats unfortunately were associated with, during their college years.

LEFT: Allen Ginsberg  RIGHT: Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in the movie

LEFT: Allen Ginsberg
RIGHT: Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg in the movie

Daniel Radcliffe as Allen Ginsberg, leads the cast, with Dane DeHaan (as Lucien Carr), Jack Huston (as Jack Kerouac), Ben Foster (as William Burroughs) and Michael C. Hall (as David Kammerer); making up the group of friends (and two secret lovers within) and academics, living in New York, far away from the battle fields of Europe, during the Second World War. Three of the friends from this group are students at Columbia University. The whole cast is superb in their respective roles. Interesting to note that the lead character here, portraying the famous American poet of the 20th Century, was actually played by a British born actor. And he did a remarkable job of it.

Radcliffe was spot-on, as Ginsberg. On the home front; we see his troubled life as a youngster, taking care of his deranged mother suffering from a mental illness that was never properly diagnosed; and his father’s indifference to it, and later dealing with his father’s new girlfriend while his mother is being treated at a mental hospital. In college, his seduction and psychological manipulation, at the hands of Lucien Carr, who uses Ginsberg, as he uses everyone in his life, including his secret, older, lover, David Kammerer. Kammerer was in his late 20’s when he met Carr, and Carr was still a young boy aged 14. Soon they started having an affair. Though, Kammerer was wrong to do so, as it would seem as a paedophiliac act on his part; he was genuinely in love with Carr. Carr too was in love with Kammerer, but couldn’t accept it himself, for the older he got, he used men who fell in love with him, to get things done for himself. In his college years, Carr got Kammerer to do his homework for him, and later Carr did the same with Ginsberg. Young Ginsberg was really innocent, thus suffered due to his affection towards Carr. And Kammerer suffered because he could not let go of his love for a man (by the now an adult Carr) who felt the same, but was ashamed to admit it. This shame Carr felt, resulted in him committing a crime in one of the most unspeakable ways possible. The movie begins with this said crime, filmed beautifully, by director John Krokidas, in his debut feature film. The camera zooms onto a half-naked, bloodstained body of actor Dane DeHaan, submerged to the waist in water, carrying a bloodied dead body in his arms. The scene is pure artistic, poetic (in)justice, depicting love, sex and death; a hint of what’s to come; intercut with a verbal clash between DeHaan and Radcliffe, on either side of the prison bars. And the title thrown, one word at a time, in quick succession, onto the screen – ‘KILL’ ‘YOUR’ ‘DARLINGS’. Beautifully made, by a director, whose future creations, am really looking forward to watching.

A superb representation of, 3 Conflicted Souls (Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr and David Kammerer); among 4 Poets (Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and David Kammerer), who made up a group of 5 friends, (Allen Ginsberg, Lucien Carr, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs and David Kammerer), including a love triangle, Ginsberg was part of, among 2 secret lovers (Lucien Carr and David Kammerer).

A Love Story with India: The real-life Allen Ginsberg in India, with friends, during his various visits to India.

A Love Story with India: The real-life Allen Ginsberg in India, with friends, during his various visits to India.

Allen Ginsberg, among the famed giants of modern American literature; coined in as The Beat Generation, of the 1950’s; has been portrayed by many a actors, from George Netesky (in 1970), to Ron Rifkin (1987), to David Markey (89’), to John Turturro (99’), to Ron Livingston (00’), to David Cross in I’m Not There. (2007); and more recently; James Franco (10’), Tom Sturridge (12’) & now of course Radcliffe. Besides Radcliffe’s brilliant performance, the only other cinematic version of Ginsberg I’ve seen, is that of Cross in I’m Not There., and that too, I hardly remember Cross’ role, in that excellent Bob Dylan bio-pic, where varied incarnations of Dylan were portrayed by a potpourri of six different actors. Incidentally, David Cross, who starred as Allen Ginsberg in I’m Not There., also appears in Kill Your Darlings, this time as Ginsberg’s father, Louis Ginsberg (a published poet himself, though not a renowned one, like his son ended up being).

Interesting fact: Ginsberg was a practicing Jewish Buddhist (Jubu) by choice, since 1950 (in his early 20’s), until his death in 1997. A Jubu, is a Jewish person who practices Buddhism, without denouncing ones own faith.

Radcliffe & I
Back 2007, whilst living in Sydney, I managed to watch most of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (2001), when it was telecast in a local channel down under. Prior to that, when Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone was released in 2001, I wasn’t that keen on the ‘Harry Potter’ series of films, as it was a series of children’s fantasy films. But since living in England (2002 – 2005), I had heard such good things about it, that when it was shown on the small screen, in Sydney, in 07’; as a true film buff; I decided to give it go. Though I didn’t get to see the finalé of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I felt it was a superb children’s movie, to come out in the 21st century. Around the same time, Daniel Radcliffe actually came to Sydney, to star in the Oz movie, December Boys (2007). And he came on the TV show, Rove (2007 – 2009), hosted by Rove McManus. I don’t remember whether I saw Radcliffe live on Rove first, or on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, whilst living in Australia. Most probably on Rove. I automatically liked Radcliffe’s, down to earth, friendly persona; ‘twas a fun interview. When Radcliffe was asked who he’d turn gay for (a question Rove McManus asks all the celebs he interviews, including when he interviewed, Kevin Rudd, the then, soon to be, Prime Minister of Australia), Radcliffe answered ‘Albert Einstein’. Smart answer! Nobody on Rove had ever come up with a non-sex-appeal, intellectual, personality’s name; as a person he/she would go gay for; at least not in the episodes I ever saw. In the same episode, Nikki Blonsky and Zac Efron appeared as well, to promote the musical, Hairspray (2007). Although I don’t recall, Nikki Blonsky’s answer, I remember that Efron didn’t answer the, ‘who he’d turn gay for ’, question, and sat there tight lipped. Which seemed pretty rude. But none the less, an interesting show; with Radcliffe’s knee length socks (discovered when he was asked about his hairy legs), contrasting to Efron’s sockless feet, and Radcliffe’s well timed gulp, all roped into the show’s jokes; making that episode of Rove, a very jovial experience. I never got to watch December Boys, but did enjoy watching Hairspray back then (guilty pleasure  😉 ).

The Cast of Kill Your Darlings (2013), with the Director of the film. (L-R)  Jack Huston, Michael C. Hall, Dane DeHaan, Daniel Radcliffe & Ben Foster; carrying Film Director, John Krokidas, in their arms.

The Cast of Kill Your Darlings (2013), with the Director of the film.
(L-R) Jack Huston, Michael C. Hall, Dane DeHaan, Daniel Radcliffe & Ben Foster; carrying Film Director, John Krokidas, in their arms.

Some years prior to my brush with Rove & Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (in Sydney 07’), I had actually watched The Tailor of Panama (2001); a pretty good movie, with Pierce Brosnan, Geoffrey Rush and Jamie Lee Curtis; which apparently also starred the little Radcliffe. But to be quite honest I don’t remember him in it at all. In 2007, he also came in the latest stage adaptation of the famous play by Peter Shaffer, Equus. It was all over the newspapers, Down Under. I’d have loved to watch that. I’ve seen the excellent, 1977, Sidney Lumet directed, movie adaptation of Equus, starring Richard Burton and Peter Firth. One of my favourite Lumet creations of the Big Screen (see my post Sidney Lumet & His Films from last year, June 2014, plus my Set of Seven on IMDB, from April 2011).

Post that, back in SL, around five years ago, I rented the DVD (unfortunately a pirated copy, pretty bad quality, and the only kind of DVD’s that can be found all over here; and I hate pirated DVD’s, thus I do buy good original films, when and if, I do go abroad – Europe, India & Australia) of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince (2009). Thus that’s the only complete ‘Harry Potter’ film I’ve seen till date, and I felt it was a pretty good movie, though not as great as the hype surrounding the franchise. Then in February/March 2012, I was in New Delhi, India, and saw The Woman in Black (2012), starring Daniel Radcliffe, on the Big Screen there. The film was pretty pathetic (see my list of critiques titled Oscar Winners … and then some 2012 from March 2012, on IMDB), with the only saving grace being Radcliffe’s superb performance. He was brilliant, in such a mature role, as a father and a widower. I already liked his personality, when I saw him on Rove, back in 2007, and when I saw him in The Woman in Black; though a pretty bad movie; by now I had even greater respect for him, as an actor. Since then, I haven’t seen any of his films, until I saw Kill Your Darlings.

Kill Your Darlings Blog Bottom - Poster

I watched Kill Your Darlings, last week, on the 22nd of July, 2015, when it was shown at the Goethe Institute (German Cultural Centre), here. Daniel Radcliffe celebrated his 26th Birthday on the 23rd of July, 2015.

Kill Your Darlings (2013) – A Must Watch!!!!!
My Rating: Near Excellence!!!! 9/10!!!!!

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Turning 40

Millennium Year: Me aged 24 (From my Modeling Portfolio  (February 2000)) New Delhi, India

Millennium Year: Me aged 24 (From my Modeling Portfolio (Winter of February 2000)) New Delhi, India

Staring off with me me me (moi, mé) & I .
I turned 40 on the 22nd of June, 2015!!!!!

A look back, at me myself, through pictures
(40 photographs from my life, till now, including the one above).
Pure Vanity eh!!  🙂

Me aged 2 (February 1978) Garden belonging to our residential  complex (Asia House Flats) New Delhi, India

Me aged 2 (Winter of February 1978), In the Garden belonging to our residential complex (Asia House Flats) New Delhi, India

On my 3rd Birthday (22nd June 1978), At Home (Asia House Flats) New Delhi, India Celebrating/Birthday Party!!!

On my 3rd Birthday (Summer: 22nd June 1978), At Home (Asia House Flats) New Delhi, India
Celebrating/Birthday Party!!!

On my 5th Birthday (Summer: 22nd June 1980) at Home, Asia House Flats, New Delhi, India Celebrating/Birthday Party

On my 5th Birthday (Summer: 22nd June 1980), At Home, Asia House Flats, New Delhi, India
Celebrating/Birthday Party

Aged 9 (January 1985) On Holiday in Sri Lanka (for my maternal Uncle's wedding)

Aged 9 (January 1985), On Holiday in Sri Lanka (for my maternal Uncle’s wedding)

Me aged 12 (June 1987) Bombay, India (On Holiday - My first holiday away from my parents & baby sister)

Me aged 12 (School Summer Holidays: June 1987), In Bombay, India (On Holiday – My first holiday away from my parents & baby sister) Visited Bombay soon after my 12th Birthday

SWEET SIXTEEN: On my 16th Birthday (22nd JUNE 1991), At home 56, Siripura (SL) Just a  Family Gathering.

SWEET SIXTEEN: On my 16th Birthday (22nd JUNE 1991), At home 56, Siripura (SL) Just a
Family Gathering

Me aged 17 (92') At Home, 56,Siripura (SL)

Me aged 17 (92′), At Home, 56, Siripura (SL)

Me aged 18 (December 1993), At Home - 56 Siripura (SL)

Me aged 18 (December 1993), At Home – 56, Siripura (SL)

Me aged 18 (January 1994, B/W (SL) & the Winter of February 1994, Colour (in New Delhi, India)

Me aged 18 (January 1994, B/W (SL) & the Winter of February 1994, Colour (in New Delhi, India))

On my 20th Birthday (22nd June 1995), At Home 56, Siripura (SL) Just an ordinary day!!!!!

On my 20th Birthday (22nd June 1995), At Home 56, Siripura (SL)
Just an ordinary day!!!!!

Aged 20 (95'), At Home, 56, Siripura (SL)

Aged 20 (95′), At Home, 56, Siripura (SL)

Me aged 20 (1995), At Home, 56, Siripura (SL)

Me aged 20 (1995), At Home, 56, Siripura (SL)

Aged 21 (October 1996) Pokhara, Nepal (On Holiday - During the short Autumn break (Delhi University years))

Aged 21 (October 1996), In Pokhara, Nepal (On Holiday – During the short Autumn break (Delhi University years))

Aged 21 (October 1996) Sarangkot, Pokhara, Nepal - with Sunrise falling on Mount Machhapuchchhre (a.k.a. Mt. Fishtail) in the background, early morning (On Holiday in Nepal during the University Autumn break)

Me aged 21 (October 1996), At Sarangkot, Pokhara, Nepal – with Sunrise falling on Mount Machhapuchchhre (a.k.a. Mt. Fishtail) in the background, early morning (On Holiday in Nepal during the University Autumn break (DU years))

Aged 21 (Winter of November 1996), At Home away from home - the co-rented two-room student flatlet, during my Delhi University years, at Hudson Lines (New Delhi, India)

Aged 21 (Winter of November 1996), At Home – away from home – the co-rented two-room student flatlet, during my Delhi University years, at Hudson Lines (New Delhi, India)

Me aged 21 (Winter of January 1997), In front of Rashtrapati Bhavan (Official Presidential Residence), New Delhi, India (DU years)

Me aged 21 (During the Winter Vacation of January 1997), In front of the main entrance to the Rashtrapati Bhavan (Official Presidential Residence), New Delhi, India (DU years)

Me aged 22 (October 1997) Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad district of the state of Maharashtra, India (During the short Autumn break DU years)

Me aged 22 (October 1997), At Ajanta Caves, Aurangabad district of the state of Maharashtra, India (During the short Autumn break – DU years)

Me aged 22 (October 1997), In Goa (During the Autumn break - DU years)

Me aged 22 (October 1997), In Goa, India (During the Autumn break – DU years)

Aged 22 (October 1997), In Goa, India (During the Autumn break - DU years)

Aged 22 (October 1997), In Goa, India (During the University Autumn break – DU years)

Me aged 24 - From my Modeling Portfolio (Winter of February 2000) New Delhi, India

Me aged 24 (From my Modeling Portfolio (Winter of February 2000)) New Delhi, India

Me aged 24 (From my Modeling Portfolio (Winter of February 2000)) New Delhi, India

Me aged 24 (From my Modeling Portfolio (Winter of February 2000)) New Delhi, India

Aged 24 (From my Modeling Portfolio (Winter of February 2000)) New Delhi, India

Aged 24 (From my Modeling Portfolio (Winter of February 2000)) New Delhi, India

Fashion n' Style: Me aged 24 (From my Modeling Portfolio (Winter of February 2000)) New Delhi, India

Fashion n’ Style: Me aged 24 (From my Modeling Portfolio (Winter of February 2000)) New Delhi, India

Me Aged 27 (Winter of January 2003) On Holiday in Nottingham, England, UK (During my University of Luton (UK) days)

Me Aged 27 (Winter of January 2003), On Holiday in Nottingham, England, UK (During my University of Luton (UK) days)

Spider-Man: Me Aged 27 (Spring break of April 2003), On Holiday in Copenhagen, Denmark (During my University of Luton days)

Spider-Man: Me Aged 27 (Spring break of April 2003), On Holiday in Copenhagen, Denmark (During my University of Luton (UK) days)

English Summer: Aged 27, just days before my 28th Birthday (June 2003), on the Salisbury Plains of England, UK (During University of Luton days)

English Summer: Aged 27, just days before my 28th Birthday (June 2003), on the Salisbury Plains of England, UK (During my University of Luton days)

Me aged 28 (Winter of January 2004), In front of (opposite) our house, in Oslo, Norway

Me aged 28 (Winter of January 2004), In front of (opposite) our house, in Oslo, Norway

Eurotrip (Spring of 2005) The Sound of Music Tour: Aged 29 (April 2005), In Salzburg, Austria  (Tulip Season)

Eurotrip (Spring of 2005) The Sound of Music Tour: Aged 29 (April 2005), In Salzburg, Austria
(Tulip Season)

Eurotrip (Spring of 2005) Going Dutch: Aged 29 (April 2005), In the surrounding areas of Den Haag (a.k.a. The Hague), The Netherlands (Tulip Season)

Eurotrip (Spring of 2005) Going Dutch: Me aged 29 (April 2005), In the surrounding areas of Den Haag (a.k.a. The Hague), The Netherlands (Tulip Season)

Aged 30 (August 2005), At Home, 56 Siripura (SL)

Aged 30 (August 2005), At Home, 56 Siripura (SL)

Me aged 30 (September 2005), At Home, 56 Siripura (SL)

Me aged 30 (September 2005), At Home, 56 Siripura (SL)

Aged 31 (Summer of December 2006), In Front of COFA (College of Fine Arts), UNSW (University of New South Wales), In Sydney, Australia (During my COFA (UNSW) days)

Aged 31 (Summer vacation of December 2006), In Front of COFA (College of Fine Arts), UNSW (University of New South Wales), In Sydney, Australia (During my COFA (UNSW) days)

Winter Down Under (But warmer in Northeastern Australia): Me aged 32 (May 2008), At the Great Barrier Reef, Queensland, Australia

Winter Down Under (But warmer in Northeastern Australia): Me aged 32 (May 2008), At the Great Barrier Reef, off the coast of Queensland, Australia

Me aged 33 (July 2008) Paris, France

Me aged 33 (Summer of July 2008), In Paris, France

Côte d'Azur (French Riviera): Me aged 34 (July 2009), In Monaco

Côte d’Azur (French Riviera): Me aged 34 (Summer of July 2009), In Monaco

Me aged 34 (September 2009), At the Champs-Élysées, Paris, France

Me aged 34 (Autumn of September 2009), At the Champs-Élysées, Paris, France

Me aged 36 (Late Summer of September 2011), In front of India Gate, New Delhi, India (On Holiday)

Me aged 36 (Late Summer of September 2011), In front of India Gate, New Delhi, India (On Holiday)

Me aged 39 (November 2014) In Hahndorf (Adelaide Hills region of South Australia), Australia (On Holiday)  This is my profile picture on my Facebook page! But, Of course I added the rainbow colours only a couple of days ago (In favour of The U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide) One Step for the United States, a Giant Leap for Mankind, Worldwide (with apologies to Neil Armstrong  ;) )

Me aged 39 (November 2014), In Hahndorf (Adelaide Hills region of South Australia), Australia (On Holiday)
This is my profile picture on my Facebook page! But, Of course I added the rainbow colours only a couple of days ago
(In favour of The U.S. Supreme Court legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide)
One Step for the United States, a Giant Leap for Mankind, Worldwide (with apologies to Neil Armstrong 😉 )

Today Morning: Me aged 40 (June 2015), At Home, 56, Siripura (SL)

Today Morning: Me aged 40 (June 2015), At Home, 56, Siripura (SL)

Tweets:
Posted about me, on my 40th Birthday

Some Others (Celebrities) who turned 40 this month, of June 2015!!!!!

Sexy Brit turns 40

Hot Woman turns 40

Nuwan Sen
Nuwan Sen n’ Style
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
Born in the Year: 1975!!!!!
()

Turning 40

So it’s finally here. The day I dreaded, within the last decade. The day I turn into, thus earn the tag of being, the infamous, real life, 40 year old virgin. It’s here at last, and there is nothing I can do about it.
AH B-Day CakeJust prior to my 30th Birthday, I rented the movie, The 40 Year Old Virgin (2005), and joked that it’s the story of my life. Little did I know then, that 10 years later, it would end up being a reality.

Leading a sexless life, has been partially my own choice. I never had anyone in my life, and I never felt that desperate, to have sex with just any Tom, Dick or Hariendre walking down the street. It had to be with some one I care about, who’d feel the same way about me. Alas!! My standards being a tad bit high (so I’ve been told by many a friends), and with my pretty decent upbringing, it’s been somewhat difficult for me. I’ve fallen in love quite a few times, but ‘twas always unrequited love. And if anyone’s felt anything for me (apparently some have, so I’ve been told, from friends/acquaintances), they’ve never come forward, at least not directly.

Though I’ve had some really good friendships in my life, both male and female, from around the globe, I’ve been a loner (and total loser – for many a sex obsessed, judgmental, individuals), when it comes to Love, Romance & Sex.

Fallen in Love many a times, but never had a Lover. A total Romantic personality, at heart, but never experienced Romance. And a Sexual desire that still exists, but have never acted upon it. Still, I don’t want to completely lose hope either. As always, I’d like to hope for best, and be ready for the worst. But I never really seem ready for the worst. The pain is unbearable, but I do  have an inner strength to go on. Hope gets lesser as I age, and especially being stuck in this narrow minded country, constantly surrounded by negative energy, for the last (almost) six years, where I never really belonged, it just feels an impossible task, of ever finding anyone. It’s unfortunate that I came back to the country of my miserable roots, though not of my birth (I’ll always have a soft corner for the country of my birth). Roots are meant to stay buried, at least in my case, being a person who likes to branch out, and experience the fresh new challenges in the wide pleasant openness, out there. Yet, these horrible roots; along with it’s greenishly jealous venomous varmints, who are quite happily stuck in their hellishly dark confines of the underbelly underneath; are constantly tiring to drag me down, to be stuck among the roots, and their filthy, hypocritical, conniving mentality, full of a fake sense of patriotism, and false pride. But still, hope is something that keeps me going. Hope that someday, my branches shall stem away, and would venture forth, back into the future, where I belong; leaving my unfortunate roots, under the ocean, where they definitely belong.

I can never love my roots, not anymore. And nothing, and no one, can force me to do so. Not even me. A country that has given me so much of unhappiness, misery, stress and depression. And Shoving this country on to face constantly, only makes me dislike it further. Yet, I have no real desire to hate it. But circumstances, always gets my blood boiling. At the same time, I wish no one any harm. I just wish to lead a life of contentment, hopefully with someone someday.

Out of the last 40 years of my life, I’ve spent majority of my teenage years (12½ to 18½), and then the whole latter half of my 30’s (34¼ till date), in this country. And I’ve had to associate many a local, brain-dead and crude, pests, across the globe. Home is where the heart is, and my heart is wherever I feel welcomed and at home, thus far away from this country of my roots, unnecessary stress and uncalled for misery.

The best thing that happened to my life, is the adoption of a puppy, I named (a.k.a Gingy), back in December 2014. She’s the naughtiest little thing ever. Yet, full of pure innocence and torrent of non-judgemental love.

Today is my 40th Birthday.
Born on the 22nd of June, 1975

Pouring my heart out
Nuwan Sen

One of the classiest British celebrities, and one of my favourites, especially among the suave and sophisticated actors, with eloquent command of the English language, has finally hit the Big 4&O.
Hugh Dancy, born on the 19th of June, 1975; in Stoke-on-Trent, in the county of Staffordshire, in the United Kingdom; to a University Professor (in Philosophy); though a student of literature, had no desire to follow the academic route, like his father. Yet, acting was something he got into, by fluke; ‘twas luck by a chance conversation in a café.

Hugh Dancy is a graduate from the University of Oxford, with a degree in English Literature & Language.

I’ve been a fan of his, since I first saw him in the television mini-series, Daniel Deronda (2002), 11½ years ago (I taped the show, and have watched it a couple of times since then). Post which, I’ve watched, and loved, his work in; the two television mini-series’, David Copperfield (2000) & Elizabeth I (2005); and films like; The Sleeping Dictionary (2003), Evening (2007); from which, one of his co-stars, ended up being his future wife; The Jane Austen Book Club (2007), Adam (2009) and Confessions of a Shopaholic (2009); whether the films were great, good or just average fare.

He’s a superbly qualified, yet somewhat underrated, example, of terrific talent; who definitely deserves more of a recognition, internationally. The fact that he’s got charming good looks, is just an added bonus. One of the best thing about Dancy is, that he hasn’t fallen prey to the franchise, like many a credible actors, in recent times. And I hope he never does. This kind gentlemanly genius, with a reputation to match, no doubt, has really good taste.

Only role of his, that I wasn’t that crazy about, was from, Martha Marcy May Marlene (2011). In which, though it was a pretty good movie, he hardly had much of a role.

From his movies, I haven’t seen yet, am really keen on seeing; Black Hawk Down (2001), Shooting Dogs (2005), Hysteria (2011) and the television mini-series, Deadline Gallipoli (2015). Hugh Dancy is currently involved in the long running, American television series, Hannibal (2013-till date).

Hugh Dancy is married to Claire Danes, whom he met on the sets of Evening (as mentioned above). Another favourite star of mine, especially love her nutcracker (with apologies to Tchaikovsky) role of ‘Carrie Mathison’ in the political, spy-thriller (TV series), Homeland (2011-till date).

Love the Handsomely Dashing, Hugh Dancy.

Wishing Hugh Dancy, all the best, with his great acting career ahead. And life as it is. Happy 40th Birthday!!!!

Nuwan Sen
Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense
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Born on the 12th of June, 1929, little did Anne Frank know, that one day, her personal diary would, end up being among, the greatest pieces of historical literature, ever.
Anne FrankOn her 13th Birthday, a young, German born, Jewish girl; residing in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, during the German occupation; Anne Frank, receives a diary. Thus she begins to chronicle her life experiences, from the 12th of June, 1942; exactly 73 years ago today; until she was arrested, along with her family and friends in hiding, by the SS (Nazi’s), in August 1944. After being interrogated, and suffering in concentration camps, first separated from her father, and later from her mother, Anne Frank, died, aged 15, in February 1945. The exact date of Anne’s, and her elder sister Margot’s, death, haven’t been recorded.

The diary was found by Miep Gies, who later gave it to Otto Frank, Anne Frank’s father, who luckily had survived the Auschwitz. Anne’s mother, Edith Frank-Holländer, had died, sometime after being separated from her two daughters. Otto Frank had no idea, about such a well kept diary, written by his young daughter. He gave it to Dutch historian, Annie Romein-Verschoor. Impressed as to how well it was written, she tried to get it published, unsuccessfully. Romein-Verschoor, then gave it to her husband, a journalist, Jan Romein, who wrote an article about it, which was published in a Dutch newspaper, under the heading, Kinderstem (A Child’s Voice). Soon this article attracted attention of publishers, and the diary was finally published in the Netherlands as Het Achterhuis in 1947. In 1952, the English translation was published. And the rest is history.

I had known about this book, ever since I was kid, in the 1980’s. But I read this book, the English translation of course (the diary was originally written in Dutch), only somewhere in the early 90’s, over 20 years ago now. Pure innocence, natural, realistic, honest and personal, Anne Frank’s Diary, touched me deeply. It’s one of the most inspiring non-fiction books I’ve ever read. Today among the greatest pieces of literature, Anne Frank’s Diary, is no doubt among my favourite, and one of the best, non-fiction books, I have in my personal library.

It’s really tragic, not just what happened to Anne Frank, but to over 6 million Jews, that were tortured and killed, during the holocaust, under the tyrannical dictator, Adolf Hitler’s, Nazi regime, during the second World War. Not to forget the non-Jewish victims, including, gypsies, communists, homosexuals, Polish people, Soviet Union – prisoners of war, the mentally and physically disabled, et al. One of the most inhumane periods in modern history.

Fortunately, Anne Frank’s diary, didn’t come into the hands of the Nazi’s. They’d have destroyed it, for certain. And thanks to the survival of this, beautifully penned down, diary; she lives on. And the world shall never forget the brutality, the victims of the holocaust, faced.

Bookish Nuwan (Literature & History)
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense
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On the Ides of March (15th March), 2015, my maternal grandmother, known simply as Attammi to us (among all her grandkids), passed away. She was 93 years old.

Attammi in a wheelchair. This was the last Picture I took of Attammi (24th June 2014)

Attammi in a wheelchair. This was the last Picture I took of Attammi (24th June 2014)

Was it a shock? A sad surprise? Not really, we were sort of prepared for it, as she had been ill for sometime now. But still, is anyone ever really ready, no matter how anticipated. It’s still sad. When I heard mum that morning, on the phone, speaking about a peaceful death, a chill ran through my spine. I felt it was my beloved Attammi. Still I preferred to believe I might be mistaken. Then mum told me the news. I wasn’t shocked, I had felt it a minute or so ago. We spoke about her for a little while. Neither of us shed a tear, but the pain of her loss was within us. Then Suddenly mum said she needed to cry. I told her to please do. She did, reducing her pain a little, but I still couldn’t. Mum & sis left that day itself, on Sunday. It was the next morning, I finally shed a few tears, before leaving. Dad & I, left for Veyangoda, on Monday morning, the day of the funeral. Once I saw Attammi lying there, peaceful in her coffin, I felt a bit better. I haven’t cried till now. But have been pensively reflecting on all the great memories I shared with her, and planning on working on this tribute to her long journey from an angelic little girl, to her great love marriage, to her philanthropic work for the Kegalle hospital, to letting her two elder daughters travel abroad, to travelling abroad herself, to becoming a mischievous Grandmamma, to accepting the changing modern world through her grandchildren, to losing the great love of her life (her husband) to an accident, to witnessing her grandkids marriages, to turning into a Great Grandmother. She had a beautiful long life, full of ups and downs and survival.

Attammi & I On Attammi's 90th Birthday (18 Jan 2012)

Attammi & I
On Attammi’s 90th Birthday (18 January 2012)

Mini-Bio, Memories & Timeline
(avec excerpts from Atta’s personal ‘Diary of Events’)

Attammi made her entrance into this world, in the Roaring 20’s, in Ceylon, under the British Raj, as Leelawathie (Leela) Dissanayake, to James and Julie Dissanayake, on the 18th of January, 1922. Much loved as a baby, unlike most little ones, she was considered a, non-mischievous, saint of a child. Growing up surrounded by eight siblings, she was the second child and the elder daughter.

Attammi’s parents having eloped, they were estranged from Attammi’s mother’s relatives for a period of time. The first time Attammi met her cousin, my maternal grandfather (Atta to us), was when she was just beginning her teens. Attammi’s mother, was the younger sister, of Atta’s father. But since Attammi’s mother, Julie, had run off and married in secret, Atta’s father had cut her off from his life. It’s hard to say whether the brother and sister ever reconciled, but it took more than a decade or so for Atta’s father to soften down enough to allow any interaction among the cousins (after all blood is thicker than water), and thanks to which my grandparents finally met. For Atta and Attammi, it was love at first sight. Sounds cheesy in today’s non-romantic, digital age, cyber sexed, universe, but it’s true. My maternal grandparents were the most romantic couple I ever knew in real life.

– Silent Love Story

Atta met his first cousin, Wije (Attammi’s elder brother), for the very first time, in 1935. Soon a friendship developed and one day on a visit to Bandarawella, Wije’s family home, Atta was introduced to Wije’s sister (Atta’s future wife). Atta was just 15, and Attammi just 13. A Ceylonese Romeo and Juliet. On the 14th of January 1936, Atta (aged 16) wrote on his diary how madly he was in love with her, but never mentioned it, as he felt they were too young. A couple of years later, when he was 18, he told his father. His father asked him to abandon this insanity. Thus Atta decided not to pursue it any further, but, in his heart, he always held a “soft corner for this girl”, as he stated in his diary (See excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events). In 1939, Atta was recruited into the Army (British controlled Armed forces of Ceylon), with advent of the Second World War.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Meanwhile, Attammi, waited to hear from Atta, but kept her love for him to herself. Almost a decade went by without her mentioning anything to anyone, but secretly pined for the young man she fell madly in love with, as a 14 year old, her first and only love. In her early 20’s, as proposals started to come her way of fine young suitors, she rebuffed them all. Finally she told her younger brother, Pragne, about her secret crush. Pragne wrote to Atta, letting him know, that my grandmother was still holding on to hope for a future with him. And that if Atta is not interested, to let her know, so that she can move on. Atta was pleasantly surprised, for though he had been in love with her, he never knew she had felt the same. He had barely spoken to her. In January 1944, Atta let his father know, that he truly loved this girl, he barely knew, and was finally granted permission to woo her. My grandparents briefly courted, for a few years, whenever they could meet (as they lived quite a distance to each other, and travel within the island was comparatively more of a hassle, and was slower in speed). Atta lived in Mayfield, and Attammi in Bandarawella. Soon ‘D-Day’ was here, and the long awaited romantics, finally got married on the 10th of July, 1947. And thanks to this beautiful union, my mum is in existence today, and in turn us.

Atta & Attammi on their wedding day.  (10th  July 1947)

Atta & Attammi on their wedding day.
(10th July 1947)

Being a couple of modernists, in their day and age, Attammi was one of the rare brides, to incorporate the traditional Kandyan saree, along with a western veil. And back then it wasn’t a controversy, thanks to the open-minded elite, of that day and age. But in more recent times, in the late 1990’s and the early noughties, to be more specific, with the increasing rate of hypocrisy in this country, along with a fake sense patriotism that exists today, and false pride of being Sri Lankan, a lot of Lankan’s seem  horrified that anyone could dare to wear the traditional Kandyan with an English inspired veil, and that too back in 1940’s. My Grandfather wore a three-piece suit, but that’s acceptable, in this sexist minded country, of the 21st century. I, for one, am proud, to be a descendant of such an intelligent Grandfather, and such a kind-hearted Grandmother (I have never met a gentler soul), and their rare perfect union, with a modern outlook towards life. In a way, though sad, am glad they are no more, to experience, this inhumane extremist society, of racial and religious divisions, and jealousy (after all it’s considered a GREEN country, and not necessarily due to the environment), narrow minded attitudes, with the kind of Hitler mentality (minus the power, thank god) that exists today, in a country that my Grandparents use to hold in such high regard once. They had a peaceful co-existence of a near perfect companionship of contentment, living happily, through majority of the 20th century, and being able to witness the start of the 21st.

– Atta

The year 1920 began, with the birth of my maternal grandfather (Atta). Atta was born as Ekanayake Mudiyanselage Ariyachandra Ekanayake (later simply known as Ariya Ekanayake), in British Ceylon, on the 1st of January, 1920, to James and Agnes Ekanayake. Atta’s mother was a widow with a daughter, when James Ekanayake fell in love with her. James and Agnes married on 4th December 1912. Yet it would be seven years, and almost a month, later, that James would finally become a father for the first time, with Atta’s birth. Atta hardly got to know his mother, as on the 8th of March, 1922, when Atta was just two years old, his mother died, due to postnatal complications, four days after giving birth to a baby girl. Atta’s father later re-married, and the Atta’s step-mother lived up to her status of a being a real ‘stepmother’. She deeply disliked all three of her stepchildren. Besides Atta’s elder half-sister, from his mother’s first marriage, Atta had quite a few younger half-siblings from his father’s second marriage. Some, not all, of his half-siblings, were pretty much like their mother. Atta as the eldest son was obliged to help and make his younger siblings happy in every way possible, and spent majority of his life taking care of every single need of his ungrateful half-siblings, who never seemed satisfied. Relatives sure can be poisonous sometimes. I personally don’t believe in  associating family just for namesake. If there is no genuine friendship within the family, such family members are definitely not worth it. I had a great rapport with both Atta & Attammi, more than any other grandchild of theirs shared with them.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

In April 1932, when Atta was 12 years old, his paternal grandfather died, at the Kandy hospital. It was at his grandfather’s funeral that Atta met his aunt (his father’s estranged younger sister, Attammi’s mother) for the very first time. In August 1932, Atta’s “father took up billet at Mayfield” estate. It’s in Mayfield that Atta would later meet his first cousin (Attammi’s elder brother) in April 1935. Atta’s unkind stepmother, started to suffer mentally in the early 1930’s, and soon was admitted to a Metal hospital in April 1933.

– WW-II & post

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Aged 19, Atta joined the Army, and with the start WW-II, his “battery took charge of Hoodstower and Ostenburg at Trincomalee”. Atta describes this time of his life as the “worst period” of his “army life”. In October 1943, he was sent to Bombay (now Mumbai), in India, for Coast Artillery training. This is a period he loved, and has told me personally, how much he enjoyed his stay in Bombay, befriending a lot of foreigners. He competed with many Indians, Anglo-Indians and Burmese, and beating them all, was ranked 1st in his course. After he left the army, Atta temporally worked as a clerk, and later trained in the Health Unit’s sanitary department, and took up a job as a Sanitary Inspector. As he disliked this job, he resigned a couple of months after he got married. And in October 1947, he “took up appointment in the CGR” (Ceylon Government Railway). For which he worked for the rest of his life till he retired.

(All lines within double quotes, are straight from Atta’s ‘Diary of Events’.)

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

– Independence & post   

On the 15th of August, 1947, the neighbouring country, India gained independence from the British (see my post Sixty Six years of Indian Independence from August 2013), making India the first British colony to do so. As a result of which, various other British colonies started to gain independence as well. And Ceylon became an independent country the following year, in 1948.

Whilst working for the CGR, Atta was transferred many a times to various locations in Ceylon. My grandparents and mother, have oft spoken about the great times they had, their wonderful experiences, living in beautiful bungalows, making newer friends, from various parts of the country, as they travelled around. ’twas almost like working for a diplomatic mission, but instead of travelling around the globe, they got to travel around the country.

Yet, in October 1948, when Atta was transferred to Colombo, his wife couldn’t accompany him. Attammi was in her first trimester of her pregnancy, expecting their first child, my mother. Atta had written in his diary, as how difficult it had been for him, to leave his pregnant wife. Luckily he was in Colombo for only a very short period of four months. Soon he was transferred to Nawalapitiya, on the 1st of February, 1949, and Attammi joined him on the 7th of February, 1949. Thus on the 24th of May, 1949, my mother came into this world, as Lalitha Damayanthi Ekanayake (a.k.a. Lala, Lala-Damayanthi & Dammi) in Nawalapitiya, and Ariya & Leela Ekanayake’s life as devoted parents began.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Throughout the 1950’s, wherever Atta was based, his whole family travelled,  living in various locations around the island, from Nawalapitiya To Haputale to Induruwa to Kosgoda. But as the children started to grow older, Atta felt they should have one base, especially as not to break their education, by changing schools. Thus he built a house, and on 3rd January, 1961, they moved into their new permanent home, in Kegalle. So throughout the 60’s and 70’s, the family lived in Kegalle, along with their family pet, or rather my mother’s dog, whom she named ‘Tiny’. Since then, Atta travelled alone wherever he was required to do so. And therefore my mother studied at St. Josephs Convent, in Kegalle, along with her two younger sisters.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

India became a Republic on 26th January 1950. Yet it took another 22 years for Ceylon to become a republic, and the island did so, on 22nd May 1972, and was renamed as Sri Lanka. Yet Sri Lankans have not much of a regard for it’s republic day, as they have for their day of independence.

– History repeats itself.  

Like Atta & Attammi, my parents met for the first time, when they were teenagers. Mum was about 15, and dad was a couple of years older than her. Mum had fallen madly in love with him. She didn’t see him again, as a teen, except for briefly coming across him once more in the 60’s. In her early 20’s, the two older sisters (my mum and her younger sister) overheard Atta mention that they were of marriageable age. My mum having no desire to marry; as she wanted to do a job, and higher studies, plus she had a secret crush on my dad, whom she hadn’t seen in ages; wasn’t too happy about it. My mother’s sister, wrote to my father, who was residing in New Delhi, India, with his family by then, letting him know, and apologised in advance if he had someone else in his life. My father in the meantime, had broken up with his Indian girlfriend. And he accepted. My parents didn’t really court, as they were residing in two different countries, but wrote to each other regularly. It would be a couple of years later, that they would see each other, all set to marry. When my mum first saw him as an adult, in 1973, she was shocked. He had long floppy hair, long sideburns, wearing a tight shirt, and bellbottoms. He looked like a hippie and definitely not, the man she had fallen in love with. Atta told my father, that if my father wishes to marry Atta’s daughter, he ought to cut his hair. He did so. And thus on the 10th of December, 1973, my parents wed. And my mum was Mrs. Senadhira now.

Atta & Attammi, with My Parents :- Top: On my Parents wedding day (10th December 1973)  Below: On my Parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (December 1998)

Atta & Attammi, with My Parents :-
Top: On my Parents wedding day (10th December 1973)
Below: On my Parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (December 1998)

– Bharat Darshan  

Soon after the wedding, my parents left for New Delhi, India, in December 1973 itself.

On the night of 21st June 1975, Lala-Damayanthi went into labour, and 26 minutes past midnight (thus 22nd June early morning), with my birth, Atta & Attammi became grandparents, for the first time; ‘twas the longest day of the year. I was born in New Delhi, India.

Little ME: With my maternal Grandparents on my first Trip to Sri Lanka in 1976 (Me aged One)

Little ME: With my maternal Grandparents on my first Trip to Sri Lanka in 1976 (Me aged One)

Whilst, living in Delhi, we use to travel to Sri Lanka a lot, especially during the Indian Summer holidays (May-June-July), or, during Delhi’s Winter Vacation (December-January). I travelled to Sri Lanka for the first time, during the Winter Vacation of 1976, aged one. Atta & Attammi, however visited India twice in the 70’s. First time was before I was born, and next was in 1978, when I was three years old. Being Buddhists, we all travelled to all the Buddhist destinations in India and Nepal.

My maternal Grandparents Second trip to India. Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, in New Delhi, India, in 1978.

My maternal Grandparent’s Second trip to India. Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, in New Delhi, India, in 1978.

Attammi has often reminisced about her two trips to India. Atta had been so proud of my mum. My mother was working at All India Radio (A.I.R), at the time, as a Newsreader, Announcer & Translator, as did my father, who was also in charge of the Sinhala service at A.I.R. Attammi told me how happy she felt, when my mum took her to see the red bricked round offices, and Attammi described the circular stairway, inside the building. I envy her, for I haven’t seen the inside of A.I.R. It’s a stylish Office building. Added to which my parents had a very international group of friends, including Indians, Chinese, Burmese, Thai, Russian, French, Tanzanians, et al, who worked for their respective stations at A.I.R. We lived at Asia House Flats at the time. My mum has always maintained, that those were the best years of her life.

My maternal Grandparents, Mum & I (a three year old me seated on our first car and shielding the sun from my eyes) in front of India Gate, New Delhi, India in 1978.

My maternal Grandparents, Mum & I (a three year old me seated on our first car and shielding the sun from my eyes) in front of India Gate, in New Delhi, India, in 1978.

Attammi also told me once, how when one day Attammi and I were alone at home, I had asked for Pani (water in Hindi). She had no idea what I needed, and kept showing me various stuff, toys, clothes et al. I just kept asking for Pani. A little while later, the cleaning woman had come, and when I asked for Pani, had poured me a glass of water. Attammi said that she felt so bad, that she had assumed the three year old little innocent kid was desperately in want of some materialistic object, and never guessed he was just thirsty. Due to this incident she would remember the term Pani, for the rest of her life.

India had been Attammi’s first trip abroad, and she was one of the few people I know, who held beautiful memories of her two trips there, and being able to see my mum happily settled in New Delhi, was an added bonus, for both Atta & Attammi.

On the 20th of October, 1980, my pretty little baby sister was born, in New Delhi, India. She was a tiny pink baby, named Sachinta (Sachi) Senadhira. Atta & Attammi became grandparents for a second time, and this was their first granddaughter.

Two Mothers & Two Daughters L-R: Attammi, my sister Sachi, and my mum, at Mum's home (PIX: October 2011)

Two Mothers & Two Daughters
L-R: Attammi, my sister Sachi, and my mum, at Mum’s home (PIX: October 2011)

In 1983, as all of Atta & Attammi’s children (except for mum, who was in Delhi) were moving towards Colombo, Atta decided to move to a closer proximity to Colombo, themselves, yet live in a place, they could enjoy the relaxation of country life. Thus he sold off their house in Kegalle, and all the land, including Paddy fields, he owned in Uttuwangkanda, for a very minimal fee, to the workers of the fields, and he had already, in the past, let the caretaker, build a house for himself, in a plot of land, for free. Atta got a earful, for doing so, from certain half-sisters, who felt he should have given it to them instead of doing the poor workers a favour. Ahg!! Toxic relatives!!! Atta never condemned their behaviour, and let his step-mother, and her kids, treat him badly all his life. Of course, all of Atta & Attammi’s parents, were dead and gone by the 1980’s, including Atta’s Step-mom.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

Having left their beautiful home in Kegalle, on the 4th of February, 1983, Atta purchased a nice looking property, in Veyangoda. Almost two weeks later, on the 17th of February, 1983, my grandparents, along with their son, moved into their new home, where Atta & Attammi, lived for the rest of their lives. Their son, and his family, are the current occupants of the Veyangoda house.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

In the same year, 1983, in the month of September, my father joined the mission (the Sri Lankan High Commission, in New Delhi, India), as a Third Secretary, which was the beginning of his diplomatic career.

– Getting to know my Grandparents better

As a child, my maternal grandparents, like my paternal grandparents, were Achchi & Seeya. Achchi meaning Grandmother, and Seeya meaning Grandfather, in Sinhala. In 1988, we came to live in Sri Lanka, from New Delhi, India, for good. Soon, my sister and I were admonished against calling our maternal grandparents Achchi & Seeya anymore, as all our younger cousins called them Attammi & Atta. We obliged and loved calling them Attammi & Atta. So for the first 12½ years who were Achchi & Seeya, to me, their eldest grandchild, were now Atta (Grandpa) & Attammi (Grandma). We didn’t mind, and thought it cool, to be able differentiate the two pairs of grandparents, like it’s done in India. In the Hindi language, Dadaji & Dadima, are paternal grandparents, and Nanaji & Nanima, are maternal grandparents. So our Nana & Nani, were Atta & Attammi, since 1988 to eternity.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

In 1988, my parents bought a plot of land, and built a house, and we moved in January 1990. And have been living here, on no.56, Siripura, since then (except whenever we lived abroad). The day we moved into our new house was one of the happiest days of Atta’s life, as he felt we were settled down. My mother having her own house to her name, was a relief for Atta. And it is my mother who has lived in this house the most. The rest of us have lived abroad on and off, while, except for in 1994 (when we all – my parents, sister & I – went back to live in New Delhi, India, together as a family, for a year), she only travelled abroad on holiday.

As I was coming of age, these crucial years were unfortunately spent mainly in Sri Lanka (12½  to 18½ years of age), yet on the plus side, it was during this period of my life I really got to know both pairs of grandparents, and other relatives. A few nice relatives, and many many ‘green’ ones, and very Sri Lankan (and definitely not in a good way). Today I have an allergic reaction to such people.

When I was 15 (a month away from turning 16), in May 1991, I sat for my GCE London O/Levels. Atta’s gift to me, for completing my O/L’s, was letting me read his massive personal Diary. That was the first time I came across this biographical work of his, and I really enjoyed his romantically penned down poetic prose. He had never let anyone touch this book till then, not even his children. Atta had two diaries; one massive one, written so eloquently; and another ‘Diary of Events’, in point form, marking essential events in his life. I have kept a few diaries, but not so systematically as he did. But I generally too, do, tend to mark down essential events, and being a film buff, all the movies I watch, on my calendar at least. I guess I get it from him. But I haven’t necessarily saved them all up. Today, I haven’t the faintest idea, as to what happened to the massive, very informative diary of Atta’s. But luckily, my mother did manage to locate, and save, Atta’s less descriptive ‘Diary of Events’, after his death, from which I have a few excerpts here, in this post. Of course I caught the writing bug from both sides of my family. My fathers side happens to be a family with a journalistic background, while my mother and her father (Atta), happen to be skilled in the aesthetic form of penning down their thoughts.

Excerpt from My Calender (March 2015)  Although not as systematically as Atta, in my own way, I too tend to mark down essential events in my life.

Excerpt from My Calender (March 2015)
Although not as systematically as Atta did, in my own way, I too tend to mark down essential events in my life, in my calendar at least.

In 1995; exactly 73 years after the death of Atta’s mother, due to complications relating to childbirth; on 8th March, 1995, my paternal Grandmother (Achchi) died at the Bangkok airport. She was residing in Australia by then, both my paternal grandparents having migrated down under, in the early 1990’s. Achchi came to Sri Lanka, on her own, for a holiday, and after spending a month with us, en route to Sydney, whilst on transit in Bangkok, Thailand, she suffered a heart attack. It took practically a week to get her body back to Sri Lanka. This was the loss of my very first  grandparent. It was on Attammi’s shoulder, 19½  year old me, cried on.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events

By June 1996, I had got into Delhi University, in New Delhi, India. Atta and Attammi were delighted. Being their eldest grandchild (I happen to be the eldest grandchild, on both sides of my family), I was the first grandkid to get into college (University). I left in July 1996.

As I mentioned earlier, I was very close to my maternal grandparents. We shared very similar interests. Atta & I had a lot in common. Atta & I shared a love for English Literature (my mother too was a student of English Literature), classic cinema (Atta mostly loved Westerns, and since childhood, besides being a fan of films, I always had a thing for the cowboy look, with the cowboy hat, checked shirts, tight jeans, and boots, and I till date love to dress up like an American cowboy of the Old West, or try to come as close to it as possible (also see my post Holidaying in South Australia from November 2014) ), and we shared a love for old English songs like; She’ll be coming ‘round the mountain, Oh! Susanna, My Bonnie lies over the Ocean, Isle of Capri, Wooden Heart, Welcome to my world and What a Wonderful World; to name a few, and ballroom dance. As a young gentleman, he was member of an elite club, where he use to go ballroom dancing. He spoke about it often, how it was a form tap dance (not the metallic heel & toe styles of Fred Astaire/Ginger Rogers, Gene Kelly/Debbie Reynolds/Donald O’Connor, Sammy Davis Jr. and/or  Gregory Hines). It was a form of dance, where the male would tap on the shoulder of another male on the dance floor, and step in as the next lead dance partner, to the female follower. Atta had danced with quite a few fair ladies back in the day, but he had a reputation of being a real gentleman. Attammi knew about his love for dance, and after marriage he took her with him. But Attammi wasn’t much of a dancer. Thus Atta stopped going to club altogether. If he couldn’t dance with his wife, he had no interest in dancing with anyone else. But he did dance, whenever there was a family get together. Though Atta & I shared a lot more in common, than Attammi & I, it was Attammi, I was closest to among all my relatives. I loved her dearly, and anyone who knew her even briefly, adored her almost as much.

Atta & Attammi, my sister & I, at Home (56, Siripura). Picture taken on my 20th B'day (22nd June 1995)

Atta & Attammi, my sister & I, at Home (56, Siripura). Picture taken on my 20th B’day (22nd June 1995)

– Attammi & I

Attammi was the kindest person I ever knew personally, and everyone who knew her, adored her, and she adored everyone she met. I don’t think she ever disliked anyone. She was one the most non-judgemental persons I knew. She was a great fan of, and had great respect for, the British monarchy, especially the late Queen mother (wife of King George VI, and the mother of Queen Elizabeth II & Princess Margaret), the reining Queen Elizabeth II and the late Princess Diana. She was also a fan of local actresses Rukmani Devi and Iranganie Serasinghe, lace, embroidery, Edwardian white lace dresses and colonial designs. Yet she knew how to move along with the times. She had her own fashion statement, which involved her trademark long necklace. She never liked to leave the house in the way she was dressed at home, though she was always neatly attired. She didn’t accept all changes, yet she was curious to learn of new trends. She liked the bouffant hairstyles of the 60’s, but wasn’t a fan of the mini-skirts, which was a craze in Sri Lanka in the 70’s. Except for my mum, practically every youngster Attammi knew wore mini-skirts in that decade (graceful or not), including her other two daughters. She didn’t like it, but she didn’t speak against it. She accepted women wearing pants though, and didn’t mind my mum wearing bellbottoms in the 70’s. She felt it was both fashionable and practical, and pretty decent at the same time. In fact once she told me she actually liked my mother’s trademark (casual) attire, with her short tunic style Indian Chikan Kurta’s with trousers/Jeans, that my mum has been wearing since the 70’s till date. A perfect blend of the east and west. Yet Attammi herself, never left her traditional Kandyan saree, her Malaysian inspired lungi’s and long gowns. The only thing she added to her wardrobe, was the Kaftan, in the early 80’s, for it was similar to her long gowns. Then the 1990’s came, she accepted the styles of her grandchildren. I remember, when I was 17, I ripped a pair of corduroy jeans, and I asked Attammi to stitch a few patches (on non-ripped areas, of course!). While mum was horrified at me ripping my pants, like a hippie, my grandmother was really excited with the project. She watched in awe, as I cut the two kneecaps, and below one butt, on the pants, slowly removing the horizontal threads, neatly loosening the vertical threads. Not only did she enjoy it, she gave me her own tips. She told me we could add bottle caps, make my pants look really flashy and cool. She was fun, and a great friend. In fact, as a teenager, I use to jokingly call her my ‘girlfriend’. She was no doubt my favourite grandparent.

We were so different, yet so alike. We had really interesting conversations. Of course we didn’t agree all the time. I wasn’t exactly a granny’s boy. After all I have my own brain. Yet we’d discuss and debate. She learnt to accept modernity. She didn’t understand modern art, especially my art, but understood there has to be something deeper and conceptual. She’d listen to reason, and not dismiss anything just because it’s new, yet she was very nostalgic of the good old days. Of course with the 21st century, she wasn’t a great fan of the kind of noisy music, jumping up and down kind of dance popular in this country today, nor did the digital age interest her. She definitely wasn’t a fan of rap, crap and hip-hop. A craze here today. She was a calm and peaceful person in general, and not a fan noise pollution. In fact her voice was hardly audible. We use to joke, what she might sound like when she needed to wisper. She was a person who loved to speak of the way she use to travel in tram cars and double-decker buses (both of which cease to exist here before I came into existence), and the old train journey. Yet in her old age, about a decade or so ago, she even rode on the back seat of a motorbike for the first time, with a helmet, and thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tongue-in-Cheek: Attammi goes French, in a Beret, I brought from Paris (26th October 2008)

Tongue-in-Cheek: Attammi goes French, in a Beret, I brought from Paris (26th October 2008)

Attammi always enjoyed my blunt directness, especially when directed to narrow minded, hypocritical comments by Sri Lankans. I remember once when a woman in hippie style skirt & blouse (a terrible fad here), was talking nonsense as to women wearing pants, being indecent, and not being a Sri Lankan outfit et al. I mentioned that the skirt & blouse wasn’t a Sri Lankan outfit either. Attammi cracked up laughing. She was so glad I wasn’t like the present generation of Sri Lankans. Once I remember, standing in queue, in front of the Dalada Maligawa (Buddhist Temple of the Sacred Tooth Relic), in Kandy. There was a board asking people not to wear pants inside the temple. I joked that maybe we should remove are trousers before we go in. Attammi started laughing. Though a very silent person, Attammi’s beautiful laughter was audible and very supportive. Of course the pants statement was directed at women. But the hypocrisy of it all, women are seen walking in bikini tops, and short skirts, inside the temple, and even the traditional Kandyan saree, some people wear it, with plenty of cleavage, open backs, belly popping, tops. And the traditional cloth & jacket, don’t even let me start. And the more conservative pant suits are considered indecent. That’s Sri Lanka. Thank God, that was never my grandparents. Though very traditional in attire (in a more decent fashion, than most so called traditionalist of this country), Attammi was very open-minded.

– Philanthropic acts of kindness

At Attammi's place, on the day of the  Veyangoda Dané (December 2008). A Dané she gives on every December Full Moon Day, since the 1980's. She is seen here with two of her creations. The table cloth, and the patchwork seat cover, all made by Attammi. She was superb in needle work craftsmanship.

At Attammi’s place, on the day of the Veyangoda Dané (December 2008). A Dané she use to give on every December Full Moon Day, since the 1980’s. She is seen here with two of her creations. The table cloth, and the patchwork seat cover, all made by Attammi. She was superb in needle work craftsmanship.

Since the early 1980’s, on (Unduvap Poya) full moon day, every December, she gave a Dané (Alms Giving), to about a 100 Síl attained laymen/laywomen, at a Buddhist temple, in Veyangoda, to commemorate Bhikkhuni Sangamitta’s arrival in Ancient Ceylon, in the 3rd century BC, along with a sampling of the Bo-tree, in Bodh Gaya, India, under which Prince Siddhartha Gautama is said to have attained enlightenment, and thus later known as Lord (Gautama) Buddha, whose teachings were the foundation of Buddhism. Bhikkhuni Sangamitta, daughter of Emperor Ashoka of India (304 BC – 232 BC), was the first Buddhist nun to visit this island. She was sent here, along with several other nuns, by the Indian Emperor, to start a lineage of nuns or Bhikkhunis (fully ordained female Buddhists). So Attammi was a feminist of sorts in her own right. Back in the 1960’s she helped patients at the Kegalle Hospital, by taking them meals and stitching clothes for the maternity ward, all by herself, and not for money. She helped the poor with food and clothing. She even gave up her own valuable time, along with Atta by her side, inserting herself, to help needy relatives. She was a practicing Buddhist. Though pretty devout, she accepted the fact that I am a free thinker, and that I didn’t blindly accept anything and everything, just because it was tradition, or stated in religion. But I never put down anyone’s religious beliefs either. She actually liked, I had a mind of my own, and my blend of practicality from the west, and sentimentality of the east. She liked the fact that I am very honest and direct, yet my capability to be diplomatic at the same time. She liked the fact I showed her respect, as my grandmother, at the same time, I could be open with her, as if she were a peer. A true friend.

– Atta’s Demise

The last time I saw Atta alive, was about a month before he died. I was working as a journalist (editorial staff), for a local newspaper then. I mentioned to him that I had applied to a University, in England, to do a Masters. He was pleased, but he gave me a worried look, and said that he was getting too old to worry now. I asked him, “what is there to worry, Atta?”. But that’s Atta, always worried for everyone he cares about. He was worried when my mother went to India in the 70’s , worried when his second daughter went to the middle east in the 70’s, worried when I went to India in the 90’s, worried when my sister went to India in the 90’s. He could never stop worrying.

On 15th May 2002, Atta paid a visit to someone who had taken ill. On his way back, a speeding car ran over him, killing Atta instantly. Atta was a very healthy, 82 year old, when he died. It was tragic, and a sudden shock for all of us. Although; as Atta was so dependant on Attammi; Attammi use to worry, if she were to die before he did, how he would manage on his own, she felt lost without him. And it would be sometime, before she could get on with her life again. Atta and Attammi, were one of those rare couples, that loved each other so much, that it was difficult to think of them, being able to go on living, without one another. Unfortunately for my sister, who was studying for her Bachelors in Delhi University, and had her final year exams at the time, could not attend Atta’s funeral. It was very difficult for her at the time. We let her know he passed away, but didn’t tell her how he died, until she got back.

Atta renewed his handwritten will, a numerous times, practically each decade. The first was in the 60's, and the last was closer to his death.

Atta renewed his handwritten will, a numerous times, practically each decade. The first was in the 60’s, and the last was closer to his death.

About the speeding car that killed my grandfather, that same vehicle had been involved in another accident, killing a young pedestrian, sometime before it killed my grandfather. The driver was a young man, who was a pilot trainee, at the time. Most Sri Lankans excused him, saying he must have been driving the car as if he were flying a plane. What a foolishly idiotic thing to say. If this man can’t handle driving a car carefully, how can he take the responsibility of flying a passenger jet, where the safety of hundreds of passengers is concerned. The man’s family offered us money, but we refused. What good was that. His pilot licence and driving licence should have been revoked. But no such thing has ever happened. In fact, he is still speeding along the streets, with a legal licence that allows him to do so. Welcome to Sri Lanka!!!!

But at least I get to write about it now. The pen is mightier than the sword. Or is it?? Definitely not in this country. A month after Atta’s death, I got my conditional offer letter, from the University of Luton. Even if he wasn’t alive to hear about it, at least I managed to tell him, I had applied for it. I left for England in September 2002.

– Moving along and finding newer reasons to rejoice

Few years after Atta’s death, Attammi finally learnt to let go, there were upcoming events, that would provide her with another reason to continue living. In May 2005, I came back to Sri Lanka, by now a post-graduate, having completed my first Masters, an MA in International Cinema (2002-2003), from the University of Luton, Luton, United Kingdom. Plus my sister was getting married.

Sachi’s wedding took place in our house, at 56, Siripura, on 19th May, 2005. Subsequently, Attammi’s various other grandchildren followed suit, and got married, within the next seven years. Unlike Atta, Attammi had the luck of seeing five of her grandchildren, out of eight, get married. Meanwhile, I went and lived in Sydney, Australia, for a couple of years, where I did a second masters, MA in Painting (2006-2007), at the College of Fine Arts, University of New South Wales. And later resided in Paris, France for almost a year. With new found happiness in Attammi’s life, and giving another shot at a will to live, till she was meant to go, Attammi even did a cataract operation, on both her eyes, in the latter half of her 80’s. She ended up being able to see better than any of her descendants. In fact we had to squint to see, what she could see afar. She spent her widowed life, dividing her time, staying at her various children’s homes for short periods of time. But she could never stay too long in one location. Soon she was to reach another milestone in her life.

Attammi & I at a cousin's (One of Attammi's granddaughter's) wedding (August 2010)

Attammi & I at a cousin’s (Attammi’s fifth grandchild’s/third eldest granddaughter’s) wedding (August 2010)

On the 10th of August, 2010, Attammi became a Great-Grandmother, for the first time. My first cousin (Attammi’s fourth grandchild, and second eldest granddaughter), gave birth to a baby girl. This is the first significant event in her life; from becoming a mother, to an in-law, to a grandparent, to a grandmother-in-law, to a great grandparent; that wasn’t related to our family, Lala Damayanthi’s husband and kids.

– Attammi, after turning 90.

On, 18th January 2012, Attammi celebrated her 90th Birthday. Year 2012, would be the last year, she’d be fit travel around.

It was really sad, when she fell ill. Back in December 2012, she fell down, near her bed, while trying to wear her slipper. She was rushed to the hospital, having broken her hip and leg. When I went to see her, she was delirious. She was lying in her ward bed, with a massive plaster on her leg, plucking imaginary flowers. She had no idea where she was, and of her surroundings. I walked up to her, bent down close to her ear, and slowly whispered “Attammi”. She suddenly jerked, stopping what she was doing, and looked at me, and a happy smile came over her tired face. She had recognised me. She asked me something pointing to the roof, and then lost herself to her imaginary world again. We stayed all night as her leg was being operated on, fitted with a metal plate on her thigh.

She soon recovered, and started walking with the help of a walker. I visited her as regularly as possible, which made her really happy, yet sad when we left. Ironically, on the Ides of March (15th of March), 2013, I wrote a blog post, in which I spoke of Atta as well, in regard to Shakespeare’s play on Julius Caesar, Caesar was killed on the Ides of March (see my post Beware, The Ides of March are upon us from a couple of years ago). Atta had been dead for 10 years and 10 months exactly, on 15th March 2013. I even read it to Attammi, back then. Who knew then, that a couple of years later, she’d die on the very same day.

She fell down several times, within the last two years. I saw her grow weaker, and this was the first time I witnessed a person deteriorate with age. She was just skin and bones, and mostly bedridden. Yet, she could manage to briefly sit up with great difficulty. The last time I took a photograph of hers, was in June 2014 (see PIX right at the top). The last time I saw her alive, was when I visited her in December 2014, on Unduvap Poya day, the day of the Dané that Attammi’s been giving since the 1980’s. That day I didn’t go with the others to the temple, but stayed behind with her, as did my mother and aunt. We (my parents, sister, her husband, & I) had travelled to Australia, back in November 2014. I showed Attammi the photographs of the trip on my blog, and spoke about Pam Achchi, Attammi’s sister-in-law (Pragne’s wife), who resides down there (see my post Holidaying in Australia, comes to an end from November 2014) et al. She even asked me about my blonde highlights, on my hair (for I have never tinted my hair prior to this). We had a nice chat, and a nice pleasant day. I never got to see her alive after that.

Atta & Attammi, in Good ol' days.

Atta & Attammi, in the Good ol’ days.

Coincidentally, both Atta & Attammi, died on a 15th day of a month, that too a month of which, the first two letters spell ‘Ma’. Atta died on 15th May 2002, and Attammi on 15th March 2015. 12 years and 10 months apart, exactly.

Attammi was one of the most selfless people I knew. She helped everyone and anyone she could, without expecting anything in return. It’s hard to believe she is no more. She didn’t leave us at once. She helped us get ready for her death. Instead of easing her pain, by dying suddenly, she suffered for about a year, bed ridden, lending us time to prepare. Even in death, this was a selfless act, on her part. It’s already been over 15 days, since her demise. I guess I have been dragging this blog post, ‘cause I wasn’t ready to let go. Once I finish this post, it feels as if it might be over. But I have to let go now. Can’t just sit here typing away. It’s time for me to say Goodbye to my darling Grandmother. She’s no more………………………………………….……………………………………………………………

With Attammi’s passing, now I have One Less reason to visit sri lanka, let alone live here, and Zero reason to ever go to veyangoda.

Attammi might have left this world, but her memories shall stay alive, within our hearts, till the end of our days, and maybe more.

With lots of love
A tribute to my most beloved Attammi, a true friend & confidant.
Your eldest Grandchild,
Nuwan Senadhira (a.k.a. Nuwan Sen)

Atta & Attammi’s Life through pictures

My Great Grandparents On the Left, Atta's parents. I'm not sure who the little girl, in front of Atta's mother,  in the picture is, or the Gent & Lady in the middle, nor the Gent standing on the right. The Lady seated, on the right, in an Edwardian attire,  is Attammi's Mother (Atta's father's sister), before she got married.

My Great Grandparents
On the Left, Atta’s parents.
I’m not sure who the little girl (squatting on the floor), in front of Atta’s mother, in the picture, is, or the Gent (standing) & Lady (seated) in the middle are, nor do I have any inkling, as to who, the Gent standing on the far right, is. The Lady seated, on the right, in an Edwardian lace attire, is Attammi’s Mother (Atta’s father’s sister), before she got married.

Attammi, in her younger days, in saree (Indian Style), before she got married.

Attammi, in her younger days, in a saree (Indian Style), before she got married.

Excerpt from Atta's Diary of Events, from the latter the part of the 40's decade, leading up to his marriage, and post.

Excerpt from Atta’s Diary of Events, mostly from the latter the part of the 40’s decade, leading up to his marriage, and post.

An invitation, from Attammi's parents, for an AT HOME, an informal social gathering, prior to my grandparents wedding.

An invitation, from Attammi’s parents, for an AT HOME, an informal social gathering, prior to my grandparents wedding.

My (maternal) Grandparents, on their wedding day (10th JULY 1947)

My (maternal) Grandparents, on their wedding day (10th JULY 1947)

Ariya & Leela get married (10th July 1947)

Ariya & Leela tie the knot (10th July 1947)

Atta & Attammi on their Wedding Day (10th July 1947)

Atta & Attammi on their Wedding Day (10th July 1947)

The newly married couple (my grandparents seated), with Attammi's younger brother, Pragne, standing behind.

The newly married couple (my grandparents – seated), with Attammi’s younger brother, Pragne, standing behind.

My Grandparents with my mum.

My Grandparents with my mum.

Mother & Daughter Attammi with her first child (my mom), when she was a baby.

Mother & Daughter
Attammi with her first child (my mom), when she was a baby.

Atta & Attammi. with their eldest daughter (my mom).

Atta & Attammi with their eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi (my mom).

Attammi with her two eldest children (my mum & her sister), in the early 50's.

Attammi with her two eldest children (my mum & her sister), in the early 50’s.

Atta & Attammi travelling with their two elder daughters (my mother & her younger sister), in the early 50's.

Atta & Attammi travelling around Ceylon, with their two elder daughters (my mother & her younger sister), in the early 50’s.

Brothers & Sisters : Attammi avec her siblings.

Brothers & Sisters
Attammi avec her siblings (She is seated, in a chair, on the right hand side).

Atta & Attammi, with all four of their children, in Kegalle.  My mum being the eldest, is seen standing in the middle in the back row, flanked by her two younger sisters, and her younger brother (the youngest in the family), standing in front of my mum.

Atta & Attammi, with all four of their children, in Kegalle (in Ceylon), in 1966.
My mum being the eldest, is seen standing in the middle in the back row, flanked by her two younger sisters, and her younger brother (the youngest in the family), standing in front of my mum.

Atta's entry in his Diary, the first time he became a proud Father-in-law (10th December 1973).  The Day his eldest daughter Lala-Damayanthi took the plunge.

Atta’s entry in his Diary of Events, the first time he became a proud Father-in-law (10th December 1973). The Day his eldest daughter Lala-Damayanthi took the plunge.

The Proud Parents, now turn In-Laws. My (maternal) Grandparents @ my parents wedding, in Kegalle (10th December 1973)

The Proud Parents, now turn In-Laws.
My (maternal) Grandparents @ my parents wedding, in Kegalle (10th December 1973)

Attammi, with her back turned, on her eldest daughter's wedding day.

Attammi, with her back turned, on her eldest daughter’s wedding day. The Ceremony took place in their home, in Kegalle.

Atta, with his back turned towards the couple, walking in the opposite direction, during his daughter & new son-in-law, Sugi's, wedding ceremony (10th December 1973).

Atta, with his back turned towards the couple, walking in the opposite direction, during his daughter & new son-in-law, Sugi’s, wedding ceremony (10th December 1973).

Atta & Attammi, with their first grandchild (Me aged one), on my first trip to Sri Lanka (1976).

Atta & Attammi, with their first grandchild (Me aged one), on my first trip to Sri Lanka (1976).

My Grandparents, parents & me (aged three), in New Delhi, India (when Atta & attammi came there for a holiday), in 1978.

My Grandparents, parents & me (aged three), in New Delhi, Capital of India, located in Northern India (when Atta & attammi came there for a holiday), in 1978.

Buddhist Pilgrimage Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, at Lord Buddha's birthplace, next to the base of the Ashoka Pillar, in Lumbini, Nepal (1978).

Buddhist Pilgrimage
Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, at Lord Buddha’s birthplace, next to the base of the Ashoka Pillar, in Lumbini, Nepal (1978).

Buddhist Pilgrimage Atta & Attammi, my parents & I, in Sarnath, a suburb of Varanasi (where Gautama Buddha is said to have given his first sermon about the fundamental principles of Buddhism), in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), in Northern India, in 1978.

Buddhist Pilgrimage
Atta & Attammi, my mother & I, in Sarnath, a suburb of Varanasi (where Gautama Buddha is said to have given his first sermon about the fundamental principles of Buddhism), in the state of Uttar Pradesh (UP), in Northern India, in 1978.

Buddhist Pilgrimage My Grandparents, mom & I, in Shravasti (where the Buddha, is said to have spent 24 Chaturmases (a holy period of four months), in UP state, in Northern India (1978).

Buddhist Pilgrimage
My Grandparents, mom & I, in Shravasti (where the Buddha, is said to have spent 24 Chaturmases (a holy period of four months), in UP state, in Northern India (1978).

Atta & Attammi at their second child/daughter's wedding (22nd January 1980), in Kegalle.

Atta & Attammi at their second child/daughter’s wedding (22nd January 1980), in their home, in Kegalle.

My Sister, Sachi, & I, on holiday in Sri Lanka. With my grandparent at their new home, in Veyangoda (Early 80's).

My Sister, Sachi, & I, on holiday in Sri Lanka. With my grandparent at their new home, in Veyangoda.

Above: An exactly, 11 years, and 11 month, old  me, with Atta & Attammi, at my Uncle's (my father's youngest brother's) wedding ceremony, on the 22nd of May, 1987 (Exactly 15 years after SL became a republic, and exactly one month prior to my 12th Birthday). This was my first holiday, without my parents, I stayed in Sri Lanka for over a month during my summer holidays. It was my worst holiday ever. I don't personally know the short kid, standing next to me, who was about the same age as me, at the time. We were both Page Boys, at the wedding, and I was also the Ring Bearer (this was the second time I was a Page Boy, the first was (aged 4) at my mother's youngest sister's wedding, in March 1980 .  Below: My maternal Grandparents, congratulating, my father's Brother and his new Bride. The professional cameraman afar, is the 11 years, 11 months, old me, with my first very own camera. I loved that camera back then.

Above: An exactly, 11 years, and 11 month, old me, with Atta & Attammi, at my Uncle’s (my father’s youngest brother’s) wedding ceremony, on the 22nd of May, 1987 (Exactly 15 years after SL became a republic, and exactly one month prior to my 12th Birthday). This was my first holiday, without my family (parents n’ sister). I stayed in Sri Lanka for over a month during my summer holidays. It was my worst childhood holiday ever.
P.S. I don’t personally know the short kid, standing next to me, who was about the same age as me, at the time. We were both Page Boys, at the wedding, and I was also the Ring Bearer (this was the second time I was a Page Boy, the first was (aged 4) at my mother’s youngest sister’s wedding, in March 1980 .
Below: My maternal Grandparents, congratulating, my father’s Brother and his new Bride. The professional cameraman afar, is the 11 years, 11 months, old me, with my first very own camera. I loved that camera back then.

Before laying the foundation stone, @ 56, Siripura  The new plot of land, my parents bought, before we built a house. On my sister's 8th Birthday (20th October 1988) Our family came to live in SL, for good, in January 1988. We bought this land, built a house, and moved in, in January 1990. In this picture: we all took turns cleaning the land, before laying the foundation stone, on Sachi's 8th Birthday. Attammi is seen .. Behind her is Achchi (my paternal grandmother). Dressed in a blue frock, is the B'day girl. In a pink dress, a cousin of mine (my mother's niece). A lanky tall 13 year old me. And my mother (far right).

Before laying the foundation stone, @ 56, Siripura
The new plot of land, my parents bought, before we built a house. PIX: On my sister’s 8th Birthday (20th October 1988)
Our family came to live in SL, for good, in January 1988. Later, the same year, we bought this land, built a house, and moved in, in January 1990.
In this picture: We all took turns, on Sachi’s 8th Birthday, cleaning the land, before laying the foundation stone.
Attammi is seen with the mamotie. Behind her is Achchi (my paternal grandmother). Dressed in a blue frock, is the B’day girl. In a pink dress, a cousin of mine (my mother’s niece). A lanky tall 13 year old me, in really short shorts (very 80’s). And my mother (far right).

Two Mothers & Two Daughters My grandmother, mother & sister (22nd October 1989).

Two Mothers & Two Daughters
My grandmother, mother & sister (October 1989).

(L to R) Atta, my mum, Mum's cousin (Attammi's niece), My younger mum's sister, and Attammi @ a function (1990)

(L to R) Atta, my mum, Mum’s first cousin (Attammi’s niece), My mum’s younger sister, and Attammi @ a function (in 1990)

Attammi with her eldest granddaughter, my sister, Sachi.

Attammi with her eldest granddaughter, my sister, Sachi.

On Attammi's 70th Birthday (18th January 1992).

On Attammi’s 70th Birthday (18th January 1992).

Atta &Attammi's 45th Wedding Anniversary, celebrated at our place (56 Siripura) 1992.

Atta & Attammi’s 45th Wedding Anniversary, celebrated at our place (@ 56 Siripura) in JULY 1992.

At my maternal Grandparents 45th Wedding Anniversary celebration. Atta & Attammi avec some of their grandchildren. 17 year old me, being oldest (and tallest) grandchild/grandson, is standing right behind the elderly couple. My 11 year old sister (the second oldest grandchild, and eldest granddaughter), in white, is standing, on the right side of the picture. Sachi is actually wearing our mother's bridal attire, minus the shawl/fall (July 1992)

At my maternal Grandparents 45th Wedding Anniversary celebration.
Atta & Attammi avec some of their grandchildren. 17 year old me, being the oldest (and tallest) grandchild/grandson, is standing right behind the elderly couple. My 11 year old sister (the second oldest grandchild, and eldest granddaughter), in white, is standing, on the right side of the picture. Sachi is actually wearing our mother’s bridal attire, minus the shawl/fall (July 1992)

Attammi avec her two eldest grandchildren (Sachi & I).

Attammi avec her two eldest grandchildren (Sachi & I). Me-aged 17.

YEAR: 1994 Atta & Attammi, with their eldest grandchild/grandson (Me, aged 19, on holiday in SL), and their youngest grandchild/granddaughter (aged One).

YEAR: 1994
Atta & Attammi, with their eldest grandchild/grandson (Me, aged 19, on holiday in SL), and their youngest grandchild/granddaughter (Kasini – aged One).

(L to R) My Grandmother, my aunt (my father's youngest brother's wife), and Mom (@ Mom's home - 56, Siripura), at my 21st Birthday Party (22nd June 1996). That was the last birthday I celebrated with a party.

(L to R) My Maternal Grandmother, my Aunt (my father’s youngest brother’s wife), and Mom (@ Mom’s home – 56, Siripura), at my 21st Birthday Party (22nd June 1996). That was the last birthday I celebrated with a party.

Attammi celebrates her 75th Birthday, with the love of her life, Atta (January 1997)

Attammi celebrates her 75th Birthday, with the love of her life, Atta (January 1997)

Golden Jubilee Atta & Attammi celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary (JULY 1997) On the floor, left side of the photograph, is a painting I did & gifted my grandparents with. 50 years of marital bliss ( a rarity today).

Golden Jubilee
Atta & Attammi celebrate their 50th Wedding Anniversary (JULY 1997), in Veyangoda
On the floor, left side of the photograph, is a painting I did & gifted my grandparents with.
50 years of marital bliss (a rarity today).

Golden Jubilee Atta & Attammi, with their eldest daughter's family. Seated My mother, My Grandfather, My Grandmother, and My father. Standing: My Sister & I This was the first time, Sachi (aged 16), wore a sari. Attammi was so pleased, it touched her heart. Such a pleasant surprise to see  her eldest granddaughter, in a sari (that too in the kandyian style). JULY 1997

Golden Jubilee
Atta & Attammi, with their eldest daughter’s family.
Seated: My mother, My Grandfather, My Grandmother, and My father.
Standing: My Sister & I
This was the first time, Sachi (aged 16), wore a sari. Attammi was so pleased, it touched her heart. Such a pleasant surprise to see her eldest granddaughter, in a sari (that too in the kandyian style). JULY 1997

Attammi, with her two elder daughters, at my aunt's place. My mom's seated in the middle (21st June 1998).

Attammi, with her two elder daughters, at my aunt’s place. My mom’s seated in the middle (21st June 1998).

Mum & Attammi, at a dinner party (at our place, 56, Siripura), hosting Sachi's completion of her A/levels (4th July 1998).

Mum & Attammi, at a dinner party (at our place, 56, Siripura), hosting Sachi’s completion of her A/levels (4th of July, 1998).

Silver Jubilee  My Grandparents, with my parents, at my parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (at our place - 56, Siripura). DECEMBER 1998

Silver Jubilee
My Grandparents, with my parents, at my parents 25th Wedding Anniversary (at our place – 56, Siripura).
DECEMBER 1998

Father-Daughter Dance Ballroom genius, Atta, waltzes with his eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi, during the celebration of her, 25 years of marriage, to Sugi (December 1998)

Father-Daughter Dance
Ballroom genius, Atta, waltzes with his eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi, during the celebration of her, 25 years of marriage, to Sugi (December 1998)

At my mum's 50th Birthday party, at mums (@ 56, Siripura). Sachi & I, seen in the background. My parents & my grandmother in the foreground. Behind Attammi, is her youngest grandchild (my youngest cousin, from my mother's side).  MAY 2009

At my mum’s 50th Birthday party, at mums (@ 56, Siripura).
Sachi & I, seen in the background. My parents & my grandmother in the foreground. Behind Attammi, is her youngest grandchild (my youngest cousin, from my mother’s side).
MAY 1999

At my mum's 50th B'day Celebration (L to R) My Great Aunt (Attammi's younger sister), Ammi (my mother), and Attammi (my maternal Grand-mum).  MAY 1999

At my mum’s 50th B’day Celebration (@ our home).
(L to R) My Great Aunt (Attammi’s younger sister), Ammi (my mother), and Attammi (my maternal Grand-mum).
MAY 1999

On my sister (Sachi's) 21st Birthday celebration. Atta & Attammi, with their eldest, now 21 year old) Granddaughter (October 2001)

On my sister (Sachi’s) 21st Birthday celebration(at our place @ 56, Siripura).
Atta & Attammi, with their eldest (now 21 year old) Granddaughter (October 2001).

Attammi with her three elder granddaughter's, at Mum's (56, Siripura). My grandmother is resting her head on my sister.

Attammi with her three elder granddaughter’s, at Mum’s (@ 56, Siripura).
My grandmother is resting her head on my sister, Sachi.

Attammi (September 2005)

Attammi (September 2005) @ 56, Siripura.

Attammi with her eldest Grandchild (Me aged 33) at my Aunt's (October 2008)

Attammi with her eldest Grandchild/Grandson (Me aged 33) at my Aunt’s (October 2008)

On Attammi's 87th B'day (18th of January 2009)

On Attammi’s 87th B’day (18th of January 2009)

Attammi & I, at a Reception. December 2009

Attammi & I, at a Reception.
December 2009

Attammi (with back turned), with me, at a function. December 2009

Attammi (with her back turned), and I, @ a Reception.
December 2009

My Grandmother (with her back turned), with her daughter (my mom), at her daughter's (@ 56, Siripura). OCTOBER 2010

My Grandmother (with her back turned), with her daughter (my mom), at her daughter’s (@ 56, Siripura).
OCTOBER 2010

My (maternal) grandmother, with my sister, Sachi, at Sachi's 30th B'day Party (October 2010). This was the last grand scale function we had at our home. And Attammi was present for all the family functions we had at 56, Siripura.  Who knew back then that this (her eldest Granddaughter's Birthday celebration, would be Attammi's last party at her eldest daughter's house.

My (maternal) grandmother, with my sister, Sachi, at Sachi’s 30th B’day Party (October 2010). This was the last grand scale function we had at our home. And Attammi was present for almost all the family functions we had at 56, Siripura.
Who knew back then that this (her eldest Granddaughter’s Birthday celebration), would be Attammi’s last party at her eldest daughter, Lala-Damayanthi’s, house, she’d be able to attend.

Attammi, my sister & my mum, at our place (56, Siripura).  This most probably was the last time she could visited us. October 2011

Attammi, my sister & my mum, at our place (56, Siripura).
This most probably was the last time she visited us.
October 2011

The Great Grandmother (L-R), My Aunt (Attammi's second daughter, my mum's younger sister), with her eldest grandchild/granddaughter, on her lap (her younger grandchild/granddaughter is seen in the crib), my mum, me, & Attammi, at my Aunt's (April 2012).

The Great Grandmother
(L-R), My Aunt (Attammi’s second daughter, my mum’s younger sister), with her eldest grandchild/granddaughter, on her lap (her younger grandchild/granddaughter is seen in the crib), my mum, me, & Attammi, at my Aunt’s (April 2012).

Nuwan Sen’s Roots
Nuwan Sen’s Family Album
Nuwan Sen’s Historical Sense

Aamir Khan turns 50 today, and the other two famed Khans shall soon follow suit. The trio of Khans, Aamir Khan, Shah Rukh Khan and Salman Khan, dictated the 90’s decade. They were the crème de la crème, of Bollywood in the last decade of the 20th century, and still going strong. Of course acting wise, Aamir Khan is the most evolved of the three.

Khan 50 - Aamir Khan celebrates, his 50th Birthday, a day earlier (on Friday the 13th). INSET - Aamir Khan as a kid in the 1970's.

Khan 50 – Aamir Khan celebrates, his 50th Birthday, a day earlier (on Friday the 13th).
INSET – Aamir Khan as a kid in the 1970’s.

Aamir Khan °  Shah Rukh Khan °  Salman Khan & The Nineteen Nineties
They Came * They Saw * They Conquered (and never looked back)

Aamir Khan – The Actor

Born on the 14th of March, 1965, Aamir Khan began his career, back in 70’s, as a child artiste, starring in Yaadon Ki Baaraat (1973). Then as a teenager he appeared in Holi (1984). As an adult, his first lead role was in, a modern day ‘Romeo and Juliet’ styled, Bollywood tragedy, titled, Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988), along side Juhi Chawla. Winning the very first Filmfare award for ‘Best Debut’ (a genderless award that was introduced that year), for this  tragic love story, and nicknamed ‘QSQT-pie’ (taking a cue from the initials of the above mentioned popular love story), Aamir Khan had made it, as one of the top heartthrobs of the Indian film fraternity. And the rest is history.

LEFT: Aamir Khan in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988) RIGHT: Aamir Khan, seen here in his 'Birthday suit', in a scene from his latest film, PK (2014)

LEFT: Aamir Khan in Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak (1988)
RIGHT: Aamir Khan, seen here in his Birthday suit, in a scene from his latest film, PK (2014)

As a kid, when I saw him first in QSQT, I really liked him. But soon started to lose interest. As I grew into a teenager, in the early-mid 90’s, I felt he was just a pretty face, that my baby sister had a crush on. I happened to like Salman Khan more back then. Soon Shah Rukh Khan appeared, and Aamir Khan fell down even further, among my favourites. But in the late 90’s, while I was studying in Delhi University, Deepa Mehta’s 1947Earth (1998) was released, and voilà, Aamir Khan, proved (to me) he was more than just a pretty face. I’ve been a fan of his since, and soon, in the late 90’s itself I got to see Raakh (1989), young Aamir Khan was superb in that. The 21st century came, the Khans still ruled, but not to the same level as they did in the 1990’s. Today Aamir Khan is not just an actor, but a social activist as well.

My favourite Aamir Khan roles, include movies like, 1947Earth, Hum Hain Rahi Pyar Ke (1993), Raakh, Lagaan: Once Upon a Time in India (2001) and PK (2014), to name a few. The best role he has done so far is, no doubt, that of the ‘Ice Candy man’, in 1947Earth, which is based on the novel, The Ice Candy Man by Pakistan born author, Bapsi Sidhwa (I actually bought the book back in 2012, when I last visited New Delhi, India, but I still didn’t get a chance to read it). Bapsi Sidhwa’s The Ice Candy Man is based on a true incident that occurred when the polio affected Sidhwa was a child. Sidhwa appears in the end of the movie, as the older version, of herself. 1947Earth is not just my favourite Aamir Khan film, but happens to be one of my favourite films ever.

Aamir Khan, supposedly mentioned that he still thinks of himself as being a ‘‘18 year old’’ in his mind. But he is no doubt the most mature of the Khans, so far as acting roles, and film choices are concerned (Also see my post on P.K. Are you DRUNK ????? from January 2015 (and Jalal: Caine – Khan & Bell from a couple years ago)). I have great respect for him as an actor, as well as, for his Humanitarian causes. Wish him all the best, for the next 50 years, of his life and work.

Shah Rukh Khan – Star Power   

Shah Rukh Khan, who’ll turn 50 later this year, was a virtual unknown, a television actor, whom actress Hema Malini signed in, for her Big Screen directorial debut, Dil Aashna Hai (1992). Shah Rukh’s first feature films were Dil Aashna Hai and Deewana (1992), in which he starred opposite Divya Bharti, Chamatkar (1992) and Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman (1992). Then, along side Kajol and Shilpa Shetty, he appeared in Baazigar (1993), his first anti-hero role. He soon started a trend playing the villain, who’s also the lead star. With his psychotic characters in movies like, Darr (1993), Anjaam (1994) and Ram Jaane (1995), he became a star everyone loved to hate, and loved to watch. He was a superstar. A superstar that rose in cinematic power, making the other two adored Khans, secondary to him. Shah Rukh Khan, till date, is the second most popular star, Bollywood has ever had. Second only to the Big B, the angry young man of the 1970’s & 80’s, the superstar of the millennium, Amitabh Bachchan. The Big B, is the most popular celebrity, with such a unique idolisation, that the world has ever witnessed, so far, that’s spanned five decades. No star in the world has had Mr. Bachchan’s kind of star power, for this length of time. Not Elvis Presley, not The Beatles, not Barack Obama, nobody.

LEFT: Shah Rukh Khan, during his anti-hero phase, in the early 1990's. RIGHT: Shah Rukh Khan today, all muscled up and bleached.

LEFT: Shah Rukh Khan, during his anti-hero phase, in the early 1990’s.
RIGHT: Shah Rukh Khan today, all muscled up and bleached.

I’ve been a fan of Amitabh Bachchan since I was a kid. Yet, as a teenager, in the 1990’s, Shah Rukh Khan was my favourite Bollywood actor. After all, he brought in something different. He wasn’t conventionally good looking. He had dark skin (and was still loved, besides modern Indians unfair obsession with fairness and whiter skin tones). And he was the first actor, after the Big B, to succeed, to almost that level, of hero worship, in India.

Shah Rukh Khan soon started appearing in romantic roles in movies like, Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (1995), Yes Boss (1997), Dil To Pagal Hai (1997), Pardes (1997) and Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). By the noughties, I had grown up, and grown out, of the Shah Rukh Khan phase. His taste in film and film roles have deteriorated since. And I find it difficult to sit through most of his films anymore. With exception of a few good movies like, Veer-Zaara (2004), Swades (2004), Paheli (2005), Billu Barber (2009) and My Name Is Khan (2010), majority of his films and roles are practically the same, Shah Rukh being Shah Rukh. Post 2010, I haven’t seen anything of his that’s even worth mentioning. He is still very popular though, but the kind of star power he yielded, both as an actor and a famous personality, back in the 90’s, has blown away, no more in existence. I lost interest, in the beginning of noughties, and have not been part of the Shah Rukh craze, for the last one and half decades. He’s lost that oozing star power, and is definitely not much of an actor anymore. While even an averagely good Big B film, I might still enjoy, unless Shah Rukh, is in something really good, it will feel like a waste of time, for me.

As a Film Critic/Film Buff, I can say, that there is only one really exceptional film Shah Rukh Khan has done till date. That is, Kundan Shah’s excellent venture, Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa (1994), with Suchitra Krishnamoorthi and Deepak Tijori, for which Shah Rukh Khan won the Filmfare Critics Award. This was no doubt, his best performance ever. Of course I also enjoyed his other movie choices back in the 90’s, like, Raju Ban Gaya Gentleman, Maya Memsaab (1993), Baazigar, Darr, King Uncle (1993), DDLJ, Yes Boss, Dil Sé (1998), Hey Ram (2000), et al.

Salman Khan – Sex Appeal

Before Shah Rukh Khan, took over the lime light in the 1990’s, Salman Khan was my favourite Khan. As a kid I had watched him in Biwi Ho To Aisi (1988) and Maine Pyar Kiya (1989). He too had great star power, and back in the 90’s I liked him more than Aamir Khan as well, and Salman Khan was second only to Shah Rukh Khan. He had some really interesting comical/romantic roles, in movies like, Saajan (1991) and Hum Aapke Hain Koun…! (1994) with Madhuri Dixit, Ek Ladka Ek Ladki (1992) with Neelam, Andaz Apna Apna (1994) along side Aamir Khan, Khamoshi (1996) with Manisha Koirala, and Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kya (1998) with Kajol, to name a few.

LEFT: Salman Khan  in hey days. The hottest of the Khan's back then. RIGHT: Salman Khan today, not so cool.

LEFT: Salman Khan in hey days. The hottest of the Khan’s back then.
RIGHT: Salman Khan today, not so cool.

Yet, more than Salman Khan’s acting talent, it was his striking good looks, that made him a Bollywood superhero, idolised by many Indians till date. With his bulging muscular physique, in skin-tight jeans, and droopy dreamy eyelids, he was Bollywood’s answer Hollywood’s Sylvester Stallone. Oozing with sexuality, and nicknamed the ‘shirtless wonder’, he ruled the 90’s with his star power. But like Shah Rukh Khan, he started to fall down, both in looks and star power. His films today are unwatchable, at least a rare Shah Rukh Khan film, I might be able to sit through. Salman Khan, once a superhero, with super sex appeal, today is a total bore. Yet, he too has a great fan following in India. He’s an action hero, not an acting one.

Salman, the youngest among the trio of Khan’s, shall be the last to turn 50, towards the end of this year (in December 2015).

Amazingly ironic, back in the 90’s Aamir Khan was the actor that least interested me, with his boyish charm and chocolate hero looks. But today, Aamir Khan is one of the few actors, when it comes to Bollywood commercial films, that I happen to like the most. As I grew up, Aamir Khan too grew as an actor.

The three Khans are still going strong, but it was the 1990’s that they ruled. Aamir Khan with his chocolate boy good looks, Shah Rukh Khan with his star power and Salman Khan with his great sex appeal. Whatever happed to the 1990’s?? Can’t believe the Khans are completing their 50th year in Year 2015.

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense

Eddie Redmayne completely encompasses Hawking’s characteristics, in the new bio-pic on Stephen Hawking, The Theory of Everything (2014).
Theory Everything 3Based on the real life story of the famed, theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking; the movie deals with; his success as a theoretical physicist, his struggle with the motor neuron disease, and of course his relationship with his wife, Jane Wilde Hawking, who stood by him through thick and thin, even when they fell out of love with each other. Without Jane Hawking’s strength backing him, he might have given up on life completely, and might not have achieved as much as he has today. Just as much as how great Stephen Hawking is, his first wife deserves acknowledgement too, for constantly encouraging him, and never letting him be disheartened, due to his disability. James Marsh’s directorial bio-pic, The Theory of Everything (2014), is based on the memoir, Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen, by Jane Wilde Hawking.

The film begins with, when Stephen Hawking (Redmayne); aged 21, a PhD student of astrophysics; first set eyes on his future bride, Jane Wilde (Felicity Jones), in 1963. Their subsequent courtship, Hawking excelling in mathematics and physics, his keen interest in creation of the universe, Hawking’s indecisiveness, as to what his final thesis should be on, et al. This early segment of The Theory of Everything, had me a tad bored, especially the romantic angle. I still felt it was a pretty good ‘love story’, but didn’t feel that it was that great. But then Hawking is diagnosed with the motor neuron disease, and the movie starts to ascend into being one of the best movies ever made. The Theory of Everything, is a very touching portrayal of Hawking’s struggle with this disease, throughout his life, the deterioration of his health, his rise to fame, and the support of his wife and close friends, who constantly encourage him, never letting him give up or feel dejected.

Left: The real Hawking's on their wedding day. Right: The lead actors playing the Hawking's in the movie.

Left: The real Hawking’s on their wedding day.
Right: The lead actors playing the Hawking’s in the movie.

Initially, when Hawking first hears that he’s been diagnosed with the motor neuron disease, it makes him fall into a deep depression and completely lose hope, especially since he was given only two years to live. Yet, it’s Jane, as shown in the movie, who pulls him up, telling him if he has only two years to live to ‘lets make the best of it’ (or something on those lines), and marries him, despite being aware that there might not be a future for them together. That’s true determination, especially from Jane. Instead of the initial diagnosis, of only a couple of years of married life, they end up creating three kids, Stephen Hawking achieves recognition in the field of popular science, with 50 years of ongoing success, till date, and ends up being one the most celebrated theoretical physicists, of the 20th and 21st century. Of course, their life together hasn’t been easy. As much as it has been hard for Stephen Hawking, it’s been just as much a struggle for Jane. We also see how she suffered herself, sacrificing her whole life, taking care of him, falling out of love, not being able to get her own PhD thesis done; yet she never easily backs down; i.e. until he falls for a nurse, who can take care of him, Elaine Mason (Maxine Peake). Even after the couple separate, they remain good friends, and she continued to support him through his health problems and work.

James Marsh has brought out an incredible bio-pic, spanning approximately 25 years, about a great individual, who has achieved so much, despite going through such a grave disability. Stephen Hawking truly lived, defying death, and doing something really brilliant with his brain, the only part of his system not affected by the motor neuron disease. Eddie Redmayne does an exceptional job, that he practically becomes Hawking, in fact Redmayne is Hawking. Felicity Jones brings out an exemplary performance as the strength behind Hawking’s survival. David Thewlis is a perfect fit as Hawking’s professor, Dr. Dennis W. Sciama, one of the fathers of modern cosmology. Charlie Cox is really likable as the kindly gentleman, a choirmaster, who selflessly helps the Hawking family, and meanwhile falls for Jane Hawking, but yet is decent enough not pursue it. Harry Lloyd is really good as Hawking’s roommate at Cambridge, and best friend, who proves to be a truly good buddy to Hawking, supporting him throughout. And Maxine Peake fits in perfectly as Elaine Mason, Hawking’s future second wife.

Of course the movie is also very aesthetically filmed. I especially love the scene at the spring ball, Cambridge May Ball, where Hawking explains to the love of his life, the reason why the whites of the gents shirts tend to glow in the dark. And they sure do glow. Love the cinematography capturing the beautiful locations of the historically significant architectural landscapes of Cambridge, United Kingdom.

Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde Hawking with actors Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

Stephen Hawking and Jane Wilde Hawking with actors Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones.

Though an excellent movie, the film does have less to do with Hawking’s accomplishments, his theory on space and time, the black holes emitting radiation, general relativity and quantum mechanics. The Theory of Everything focuses less on his theoretical predictions, and more to do with his disease and life with his wife. Though I don’t really mind that, I would like to see a movie which incorporates his theoretical assessments. Maybe a surreal film, merging reality with his scientific brainchild. That would make for a spectacular viewing. Yet, I did love this biographical drama as well.

I roughly went through Stephen Hawking’s book, A Brief History of Time, back in 1996, as a Freshman, in Delhi University. It was a hit back in New Delhi, India, those days. It explained Hawking’s theory on the Big Bang, Black Holes et al. Though I found it intriguing, I was a bit too young, at the time, to get in too deeply into the book. Nor did I get to complete it. I enjoyed it more, because I was aware of who Hawking’s was, rather than an actual interest in cosmology, itself.

The Theory of Everything has been nominated for five Oscars, at 87th Annual Academy Awards, to be held later this month, including for ‘Best Picture’, ‘Best Actor’ and ‘Best Actress’. When it comes to the ‘Best Picture’, I feel Richard Linklater’s Boyhood (2014) should take home the trophy. Boyhood was a uniquely excellent movie, that took 12 years to make (See my post In-flight Entertainment from November 2014). But when it comes to ‘Best Actor’, nothing could compare to Eddie Redmayne’s powerful performance. I haven’t heard of any prosthetic makeup being used to make Eddie Redmayne look more like Stephen Hawking, yet Redmayne felt every bit the famed theoretical physicist. That how great an actor Redmayne has proved to be. Stephen Hawking provided his ‘Equalizer Computerized Voice Synthesizer’, to be used in the movie.

The Theory of Everything, is also nominated for ‘Best Original Musical Score’ to composer Jóhann Jóhannsson. Though brilliant, I believe Hans Zimmer (who too is nominated), should bag this award, for his superb score, for Interstellar (2014). Also see my post The Big Screen – Films Down Under from November 2014.

Never Give Up: Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde Hawking in a scene from The Theory of Everything (2014)

Never Give Up: Felicity Jones as Jane Wilde Hawking in a scene from The Theory of Everything (2014)

Jane Hawking was initially apprehensive, about letting them make a movie, based on her book. After three years of convincing the ex-Mrs. Hawking, she finally gave in. Yet Jane Hawking requested that there be no love making scenes between them, shown on screen. Her request was honoured. At a screening of the film, Stephen Hawking, had a nurse wipe off a tear from his cheek.

I luckily got to watch The Theory of Everything on the Big Screen, on the 1st of February, 2015. Such movies are never really shown here, they don’t have a market for it. Luckily it was shown in a new cinema here, a rarity. Of course it was one of those luxurious film halls (luxurious by here’s standards that is), with comfortable reclining seats, with very few seats, and fewer people, even on a Sunday afternoon. The niche market for this particular movie, in this country (this cinema was the only place, in the whole country, this movie was shown, and for a limited amount of time), consisted of only five people, including me and a friend of mine. That Sunday afternoon at least.

The Theory of Everything (2014) Excellent !!!!! 10/10!!!!!  

Nuwan Sen’s Film Sense