Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Kaaka Muttai - 1

After 5 years we went for a movie, mainly because because because of our choices, our daughter has hardly been to a theatre. And what a movie ! I would request every person who can to see Kaaka Muttai - our deepest angst has been addressed in a way that I could only gasp at. It does not matter if it is in Tamil - just see it.

The slum children, their zest for life, their chutzpah, their intense determination, their character. And the way their soul is bought by the intense consumerism they see all around. As represented by the Pizza ! The portals of the glass walled palaces where the rich-and-beautiful eat, and where they may never enter. And the malls where one child gasps, 'oh, they will never let us enter'. And the grandmother explaining to them that the well dressed alone are allowed in because they have money. This one rich child they talk to across the gated fence, which at one stroke show the two world which can never meet. And the mother struggling to raise money to release the father from jail, and this child showing them a pug that cost 25,000/-.

With any moralising, the facts are starkly placed. And one is close to tears many times. The strength of the poor child juxtaposed with the heartbreak in unattainable desires that he is forced to face. This will change some hearts, if anything can. A movie for the times. And a box office hit.


... My daughter was asking about village justice versus legal justice. I tried to explain to her that in the village madhyasthams for 40 sensitive judgements, there have been 4 clearly biased ones. And that the local community decisions factor in many nuances that are lost in court. And that her Naren Thatha, with his million works including land issues and dalit issues, used to make sure he was there in every village madhyastham as an elder, as he beleived in the system of madhyasthams. This was in the bus as we were going to see the movie 'Kaaka Muttai'.

The movie answered her in ways I could not have. The protogonist, a 14 year old boy, was determined to have the widely advertised pizza that leers down every other hoarding at the poor. He and his brother slave carrying coal to make the money, and then finally when 10/- by 10/- they raise the 300/- they get thrown out of the shop because their shirts are frayed. Then starts the effort to save to buy the shirts. Finally at one point the boy takes up a stick to steal a cell phone towards this end, and there is a tense moment when he stands on the knife edge of chooseing criminality or not. Then in a act of frustration he throws down the stick, and makes the choice of not stealing. And proceeds to carry more headloads of coal.

I asked my daughter that if he had stolen, and a just judge had condemned him into a juvenile home, what that would mean. And as this boy was stealing for a pizza and not for hunger, a sensitive judge also would have only condemned him. A community that knows and understands the frustrations and immense pressures of consumerism on those beyond the pale of it can respond with more realism.
It is for my daughter to decide in cases of the poor children stealing and indulging in criminal activities for those consumer items that the better off children in our society use so carelessly who is implicated. The poor children for succumbing to the immense assault on them by ads, and by over cosuming children, Or the 'better off children' for such irresponsible consumeing in a society of the poor.

There are questions for each person, even at the age of fifteen, to figure out in the solitude of their soul.

Sanjay Maharishi To be able to reflect in solitude is itself great education. Always a pleasure to read your posts.

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28 June 2015 at 20:24
Aparna Krishnan Well. Only questions and more questions as age gets on. Fewer and fewer certianities, or answers ...

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28 June 2015 at 20:26
Aparna Krishnan It should not need a movie to show urban children that to eat pizzas behind glass walls in a country where there are poor children on the streets is perverted. But if even post movie those glass walled restaurants lie empty, I will be glad.

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28 June 2015 at 20:34
Rajesh Pandey You have written it so well Aparna Krishnan, that the essence is captured and it makes one sit up and reflect. Thanks.

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28 June 2015 at 21:17
Aparna Krishnan I and Nagesh see two worlds, and our own compromises. We have our village children facing droughts and dead ends. And we have a daughter who is caught between her two worlds - a rather idealistic parenting, and a peer group that lives in another world.

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28 June 2015 at 21:44
Rajesh Pandey Yes, your daughter has a much difficult task to grapple with such conflicting worldviews. Even we find it difficult to keep kids rooted in values of conservation and compassion in this fiercely competitive (cannibalistic) race which tends to segregate individuals into useful and useless.
Aparna Krishnan to go against the current takes its toll in many ways. it also gives a scenery that one otherwise would miss !
Aparna Krishnan one reason we stepped out of formal schooling for our child was that. marks do get compromised, as that 'killer instinct' to score is developed only within the school. but anyway we gave 0 marks for marks ! and in that killer instinct is embedded the roots of selfishness, as to see the other person do worse is what gives the 'first rank'. and then compassion in a real way becomes so much harder in the deepest senses.
Aparna Krishnan its a deeply distorted world, and bringing up a child with good values is a very difficult task. because a child is not brought up by parents and their values alone, but by a whole society and its values.
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy A must watch movie! Was sad to see kids queuing up in Dominos stores and spending dollar rates on junk food in a rather graceful city like Salem and this movie is like a perfect reality check for them. And btw, this post needs a *spoiler alert*.

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28 June 2015 at 21:44

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Reply28 June 2015 at 21:44
Aparna Krishnan does it now ?
Aparna Krishnan and this movie has said it like nothing else can. wish it coulod be 'compulsory' !
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy It is already a top grosser in the theaters. Wish big movie directors of other regional languages show interest in remaking movies like this rather than the tasteless and repetitive action, drama genres.
Aparna Krishnan yes, its a classic. and says much for the taste of the 'common man'. just that they are only offerred rubbish mostly to choose from.
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy About making it compulsory(to school children?) I wonder if the social message in the movie will appeal to the posh sensibilities of westernized school instructors more than the fear of exposing their wards to slum language and mannerisms. Btw, checkout '36 vayathinile' - Another good movie with a equally relevant societal issue that you might be interest in.
Aparna Krishnan never saw it that way. i thought this simply had universal appeal - the pathos and the innate strength of caracter of the children. is it possible that some adults miss the message ?
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy If the mindless TV debates are any indication, there is no issue on which there is a universal agreement between 'eminent thinkers'. There will always be group that believes that the movie is an PR assassination attempt on the honest Pizza industry, as was the case with the Maggi noodles controversy.
Padmini Natarajan Ironic that the same pizza without all the hoopla is sold at Rs 35 or so in McRennett and Saravan Bhavan Bakery!!

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28 June 2015 at 22:30
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy McRennett is so ironically named. Wondering if rennet from calves is really used in cheese production in India and if so does it come with any labeling, given that cow protection is a sensitive issue?

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29 June 2015 at 00:04Edited
Monika Sethuraman Reddy I so loved the innocence of the lil brothers . 

This is Chennai's " Salaam Bombay " / slumdog story

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29 June 2015 at 03:08

Aparna Krishnan and also how the immense damage is done to this innocence by the mindless feasting of the well-do-do all around.

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29 June 2015 at 06:35


... Kaaka Muttai is a box office hit movie, which most sensitively places the angst of the slum children yearning for a pizza they see advertised everywhere, and working themselves to the bone towards the 300/-, nearly tempted into theft, and lying at home. A commentry on the city, and on the thoughtless display and consumerism. As epitomised by glass walled restaurants with hungry faces outside the walls watching. I thought it would change hearts and habits.

Today two teenagers went with an adult, saw the movie, and then 'for the heck' went to a Pizza Hut to eat pizzas.
I have nothing to say anymore.




Chitra Sharan I always think of it - once again the psychological make up of each individual is different - in the movie English Vinglish the heroine asks - everything can be taught , how do you teach compassion and empathy. If we can do that this world will be a better place.
Aparna Krishnan Village children - at least in the Dalit village I know - are empathetic. They all give easily, even when they have very little. Of course, some more than others - but its generally so. I think there are some answers there.
Aparna Krishnan A small community. A simple religion that anchors 'dharmam'. Some common values. No rampant consumerism, or shops. A mall means a community is dying imo. - in a country of the poor like India. After that its simply some soulless corpses that are walking around.

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3 July 2015 at 20:54Edited
Aparna Krishnan I had taken my daughter to a mall City Centre - simply to show her one ! And I told her that her village friends could probably never enter it. She argued and said that they could come maybe. In the movie the same mall is shown, and the small boy from the slum gasps and tells his brother, 'They will never let us in'. That is the reality. These are the exclusive clubs of the White, where the Natives are not allowed in.
Chitra Sharan The village you love and live in is amazing in every sense Aparna, I was talking to the boy who drives our car about villages and his response was the other extreme - he has lived in a village in UP and he says people are terrible there always looking for an opportunity to fight and not caring for the other person - in my humble opinion good and bad everywhere . Wish all places were like Palaguttapalle ....
Aparna Krishnan i think it depends on perspective also. i know only some tribal villages in narmada, and my village. but what i read in vinoba's and gandhi's writings match my experience. at the same time nehru scorned them. its also needing the 'divya chakshu' !!

Chitra Sharan Desensitization is a process and I totally agree that the city life has desensitized us to a large extent - like the way you say it the soul gets killed little by little


Chitra Sharan What is Divya chakshu?
Aparna Krishnan Krishna gave divine sight to Arjuna - and he could see the vishwaroopam only after that on the battlefield. ('divine eyes;)
Chitra Sharan Thanks for the explanation - on a similar vein I have heard a kalatchepam in which the story teller shared a story from Mahabharat - Arjun came to earth and said everyone is nice, honest and good, duryodana came to earth and said the place was filled w...See more
Naveen Manikandan Periasamy Can't help it. They're hooked to it. Blame the MSGs or whatever these restaurants add to the food to keep the customers coming and the poor standards of food monitoring that emboldens them to continue with these practices. People have been sufficiently desensitized to ensure that no amount earthshaking movies/revelations can change their way of life. Like the land which popularized the Pizza and a host of other junk foods for recreational eating, India has become a place of contradictions where the homeless and those who are afflicted with Binge Eating Disorder co-exist in city spaces.
Aparna Krishnan I see. So you also feel a sensitive movie cannot shake them. OK - then what do we do ? Because unless the consuming class starts the long route to self enquiry, the poor of the country and the country itsellf are finished,. No, MSGs do not impress me - the human mind has greater strength were it to get convinced.
Vijayalaxmi Jeyasingh Oh!! So do you know that kakka muttai is 'just' a 'children's movie'? And that it's a movie that won a 'national award'- so how else will it be? Or that there is no story in the movie- it's just a 'simple thing' dragged on for 2.5 hours. And that it's 'just about ' two 'kids' wanting a pizza. I am ashamed at the insensitivity of this society. I feel sorry for the director- he did not preach and some didn't get it. For me it was a tight slap on my face and I wouldn't watch it again cos my heart went heavy.
Aparna Krishnan but what has been the reactions of people across the board ? would you know ? have a small percentage decided they cannot step into those glass walled hotels again ever ? even if its 5% i would consider the movie worth it. even if its 1%.
Vijayalaxmi Jeyasingh No way Aparna Krishnan . Most of the multiplex audience snack on pizza while watching kakka muttai 😜and I heard parents tell the kids 'see, we should not eat pizza. It's not good for health and even the pasanga did not like it. Now that's the moral of the story. 😳 😪😱 seriously ?? Poor director, pityful society 😡



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kaaka_Muttai

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