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Movie review : Moon

September 23, 2010 Leave a comment

The moon has been an object of fascination for human beings since time unknown. So near, but yet so far. So beautiful but yet full of craters. So barren, but yet so resourceful. Resourceful? Indeed, the moon has millions of tones of Helium-3 embedded in the soil blown in by lunar winds. Helium-3 is one of the potential raw materials for a nuclear fusion reaction. With natural resources on earth fast dwindling and nuclear energy fast picking up popularity, helium-3 harvesting is one of the best available options available.

The moon has been a part of almost all ancient cultures and has had an important role to play in the calendars, poetry, mythological stories and also deity worshipping. In the past century, after the advent of feature films, outer space has gained great importance and films like 2001: A space odyssey, Solaris and Alien have been hugely popular. The post is about the 2009 film MOON, a British sci-fi film starring Sam Rockwell. The film has been chosen over scores of other sci-fi films simply because it shows both advantages and moral hazards of modern technology.

The film revolves around a single character Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell) who is stationed at moon whose main responsibility is to send helium-3 canisters to earth in a space module. His 3 year contract at moon is nearing its end. The process of helium harvesting is almost fully automated and Sam has a robotic assistant GERTY to help him with his day to day activities. He is in constant touch with his wife and (now almost 3-year old) daughter. One day while going for his regular round of Helium harvesting, he meets with an accident and while he is recovering, he is not allowed to venture outside by GERTY. But realizing that there was something fishy, Sam tricks GERTY and somehow goes out of the Lunar base and finds a look alike of him injured in an accident. The audience is made to realize at this moment that the Sam recovering right now is someone else and the one injured in the accident has never been rescued. The new Sam seems to realize gradually that all of them could be clones. But it becomes quite difficult for the original Sam to come to terms with the truth. The rest of the film is about how the two Sams take control of the situation and how they fight back.

The film is a technological marvel. Though the film does not reveal much about when the story is taking place, it can be reasonably assumed that it is set somewhere in 2050s. Let us start with the idea of ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE. The robot GERTY (voiced by Kevin Spacey) is highly intelligent and can converse with Sam on any topic under the sun. Not only that, it can also show emotions. Though it has a monotonous voice, it has a graphical display to show smileys by which it is able to communicate a number of feelings with Sam. The film also shows that GERTY has been programmed to take good care of Sam; it is not reluctant to take Sam’s life whenever required. Thus in a way GERTY almost symbolizes the present day human beings who develop relationships and can emote with fellow human beings but are smart enough to sacrifice these emotions when required.

The idea of parallel computing and co-operative robots has been captured well by the film. GERTY, physically is not a single robot but many different robots, the nearest physical unit to Sam communicating with him as and when required. At the same time, GERTY is sharing the same memory resources and probably a single core – processor. The film also has shown a very realistic picture of robotics. Instead of showing high flying robots like in films like Star wars, it has shown a simple 6-axis or 7-axis robot which is quite adept at simple mechanical tasks.

Space technology has really evolved and the film paints a very true picture of things to happen. A Lunar base has been set up on the moon, where an earth like environment is being maintained for Sam. The space modules which frequently transfer the Helium-3 between earth and moon also seem a highly realistic proposition.

And finally, let’s get into the main subject of the movie- CLONING. Man is being used by Lunar industries as a commodity and with the help of his so called wife and daughter, it has become very easy to play with his emotions and keep him under control. In fact, the ultimate aim of ‘getting back to earth’ is shown as the main incentive to Sam because of which he is bearing the pain of solitude. The cloning technology has not evolved to the extent that the same clone can be used for years together. Every three years, the clone requires a replacement as his body becomes weak and succumbs to the regular wear and tear of the highly demanding job performed in adverse conditions. Also, the inhuman way in which the clone is treated in the end also shows how inhuman man can get for earning a few dollars. Every clone is asked to sit in a module (supposed to take him to earth) and there he is incinerated.

The film thus is one of its kind capturing various human emotions and technological evolution at the same time. The film also shows the ultimate victory of human mind over technology, ironically, though the latter is a result of human mind itself. The film was a limited release but nevertheless picked up two BAFTAs. It features in the 39th position in the top 50 sci-fi flicks on imdb.

Hopefully, my article was able to TAKE YOU TO THE MOON AND BACK.

I had written the above post for the System Consulting Club blog. You can find it here as well…

http://sysconclub.blogspot.com/2010/07/high-on-sci-fi-moon.html

Be-imaan Munni 2

September 21, 2010 1 comment

CONTINUED from BE-IMAAN MUNNI

……..and while John was out shopping, drank the whole bottle of the rat-poison.

He waited for an hour. Then Another

Nothing happened. Later he came to know that John had actually used up the whole rat-poison and the bitter liquid which Sid had drunk was actually vinegar. It did not take long for John to understand that Sid was contemplating suicide. Sid too became wary of John. He realized that as long as John is living with him, he would not be successful in his suicide-bid.

One day, he called John and told him.

Sid: “John, I no more need your services. I am happy with whatever you have done for me, but now I think I can handle everything on my own.”

John:“But….”

Sid:“No John, I can look after myself. Take 15000 rupees from the almirah as your next 2 months salary and also, you can take my bike. I can write a letter saying I am giving you this bike lest someone suspect you of stealing it. Just write down the letter on a piece of paper and I shall sign it.”

 

John was hesitant to leave and did not give in, especially since he knew that Sid would try to commit suicide. They had never discussed this earlier and finally John gathered courage to speak up

John: “I don’t want you to go away from this world. Please Mr.Siddharth, don’t do this. In army, many a times, some of us lose limbs, and we reach a stage where we start hating ourselves, but none of us ever commits suicide.”

Sid laughed at him.

Sid : “What? Go away from this world? I am not going anywhere”

John: “You are lying; I know you tried to commit suicide. Please don’t do it “

Sid: “You have been mistaken, John. How could you even think like that? Why should I suicide? See, I am so happy and content with my life.”

 

Eventually, John was convinced and Sid was all alone in his house. He started revisiting his suicide plans. This time he wanted a fail-proof plan. So he decided to visualize each and every detail of his plan before executing it. He went about collecting information about various possibilities. By this time, he had a number of options enlisted – jumping into a water body, hanging from the fan, or lying on the railway tracks for a train to come and end his life.  He liked the last option very much.

On a dark and stormy night, when most people would be in their homes, he planned to complete his plan of action. He covered a lot of distance to reach a place which was not at all crowded.  The storm and the rain and the muddy place made his task even more difficult.  He finally reached the railway tracks and lied down on the tracks. It was raining intermittently and he had become all wet. The storm had grown fierce and he started shivering. There was no sign of any oncoming train. He patiently waited for an hour and he could now hear the vibrations of an oncoming train. He was relieved and thought, “Finally, the end is near”. The sound grew stronger and stronger, but then nothing happened. The train went and passed by the other track. Sid was heartbroken. He started crying but nevertheless continued waiting for some other train. By this time, he had almost given up hope, when suddenly the sound of another approaching train gave him a ray of hope. When the train came nearer, he felt someone shove him off the track.

Sid:”Who are you? Why don’t you just let me die?”.

The other man:”I am Pritesh. Come on man, say thanks. I saved your life”

Sid:”Do you know I got this opportunity after such a long time. You ruined it.”

Pritesh:”Ruined what? ”

Sid: “ I was waiting for that train to take my life and you came in between”

Pritesh:”Goodness me. I thought you got stuck in the mud or something. “

Then he laughed a lot.

Sid: “what are you laughing at?”

Pritesh: “Nothing. Was wondering why you would do such a thing”

Sid:”Can’t you see? I can’t see. I am blind”

Pritesh:”Oh, so that’s the reason. Come on, suicide is not an option. Did you consult a doctor?”

Sid: “Yes of course, an eye replacement will help but I am not getting any donor. The near-by eye bank is running empty. And then of course, I don’t have the money to pay for the operation”

Pritesh: Come with me. You are already very wet. Come to my home. We will find out a solution”

Then Pritesh took Sid in his car to his home. It was a huge bungalow. Sid dried himself and Pritesh offered him a fresh set of clothes. Sid changed and they sat on the dinner table.

Pritesh:”So what if I promise you a pair of eyes within a week and also I pay for the operation?”

Sid:”You are kidding. Why would you help me?”

Pritesh :”You must have realized the size of my home and also may be how rich I am. I could easily get you a pair of eyes through my contacts and also easily pay for your operation. You can pay back the money in due time as we are now good friends”

Sid: “I can’t believe it” And he started crying.

Pritesh and Sid talked a lot.

Pritesh later on dropped Sid home when the storm subsided. While getting into his car Pritesh said, “We will meet at ‘Tomahawk’s bar’, a month later when you would be having your vision back”.

A week later, Sid got a call from Appollo hospital saying arrangements had been made for his surgery and an ambulance would come to pick him up.

The operation was successful. Two weeks after the operation, Sid was discharged. Doctor had advised Sid not to strain his eyes much but nevertheless he started painting and sketching. He was getting restless as he wanted to meet Pritesh urgently. He tried calling his number but no one would pick the call. Finally the D-day came and he reached Tomahawk’s bar.

He was waiting near the bartender expecting Pritesh to come up any time and talk to him. After some time, the bartender approached him and asked him”Sir, are you Mr. Siddharth?”

Sid:”Yes”

The bartender handed him a sealed envelope. Sid opened the envelop, there was a letter inside. The contents were as follows:-

“Hi Sid,

Hope this letter finds you in good health. Hope my eyes are serving you well. Ok, now let me tell you a story. The day I met you at the railway tracks, i had come to the tracks for the same reason – suicide. My reasons were a bit different – I was actually reasonably rich but recently had suffered heavy losses in the business and was under heavy debt.  Because of this, my wife Munni Lakhani had lost interest in me and had started going out with other people. Because of this, I was depressed as I used to think that her love for me was true and had planned to commit suicide. But that stormy night, I frankly had no idea you were planning to suicide and thought of saving you before my death. But your story gave me a new idea. I could indeed help you with my eyes and also pay for the operation by selling off my bungalow – my only property left, which otherwise would go to Munni. I pledged my eyes and personally for you and soon I will suicide and of course to take care that no damage happens to the eyes- I would cut my veins.

Now, you have been restored your eyesight and Munni is left with nothing. Let her find someone else!!”

Sid folded the letter and put into his pocket. He shed a tear for Pritesh and smiled wryly thinking about Munni who would never know what true love is.

He quietly walked away thinking about how fate was playing different games with all of them.

Be-imaan Munni

September 18, 2010 5 comments

Guys, This is another one of my short stories. Only the title is in hindi. Its an english story 😛 .

The usual disclaimers ….

Disclaimer  : The below story is a work of fiction and the characters including the character names in the story are all fictitious. Any resemblance in name etc to any person living or dead is a matter of sheer coincidence.

———–Story Begins————

“Don’t move! Stay still. Gimme 5 more minutes.”

“Come on, Sid. Finish it fast. My neck is aching!!!”

“Patience, darling, patience. You are posing for Siddharth– the world renowned artist”

“Not yet. You are…”

“And you, darling would be as famous as ….lets say, Mona Lisa”

“Stop building castles in the air, my Leonardo Da Vinci”

“Oh, You don’t have faith in me…”

“Of course Sid, I was just talking about the Mona Lisa part”

10 minutes later….

“Yes Munni. We are done. Now put on your clothes and get going!!”

“What? No other plans?”

“Plans? Plans as in…”

“Don’t act smart! Just look at me. Are you in no mood?”

“Munni, I gotta give the finishing touches to the painting! The dinner is kept on the table. You can leave after having the dinner. Bye!”

“How Rude!!!!”

Siddharth or Sid is an upcoming artist and Munni is his girl friend of three years. Munni belongs to an affluent family. Sid is quite well-to-do and Munni is happy with him. Siddharth leads a very simple life and spends all his time painting. The relationship started with Sid finding a special interest in Munni and she had instantly become his ‘inspiration’ for most paintings. In due course of time they had fallen in love with each other.

 

It has been two years since that evening. Sid has put in a lot of hard work and has put his paintings on exhibit at as many venues as possible. He also earned a contract with the police department to draw sketches of crime suspects. Creating new and innovative designs for book-covers of a famous publishing house earned him a reasonable amount of money and respect.  Now he had enough money saved away and with generous support of bank loans, he could open an art gallery of his own. He did open a gallery, though it was a modest one in terms of size, location and facilities.

Sid and Munni had planned to get married a week after the inauguration of the gallery. The inauguration was attended by heavyweights of Mumbai art culture and also some lesser-known bollywood stars. The event also got decent page 3 coverage. It was a life Munni had dreamt of even while she used to go around with a poor Sid. Now she was happy that she had made a good choice and she was genuinely happy for Sid, for whom, so much hype and media coverage was getting quite difficult to handle.

29 Feb 2008: Mumbai:

Both the bride and bridegroom were very happy as they were going to start their life anew.

Munni: “Sid, almost none of your relatives came to the wedding”

Sid: “It’s ok darling, anyhow I don’t have many of them and none of them bothered to talk to me when I wasn’t this famous.”

Munni: “Still !!! They are your relatives. I was feeling kinda embarrassed with almost no one to introduce as your relative”

Sid: “Forget it! It’s such an important day of our life, such an important moment and darling, you are spoiling my mood by continuing with this boring discussion about my so-called relatives”

Munni: “ “Ok fine !!! Forget it. What are tonight’s plans?”

Sid: “Lets see. Nothing special as such. Your dad said he had a suite reserved for us at the Taj”

Munni: “ “Yup. That my dad’s wedding gift for both of us. Didn’t you like it?”

Sid: “Oh, I loved it. So nice of your dad that he booked us a room. An innovative idea. It would have never crossed my mind”

But fate had other plans for Munni and Sid. Their car met with an accident even before they could reach the Taj and both of them were critically injured.

After a few days, both of them were discharged from the hospital, though Munni could fully recover from her injuries, Sid lost his eyesight forever. The glass pieces from the windscreen had done permanent damage to his retina. It took some time for Sid to come out of his state of shock. He lost not only his eyesight but also his means for daily bread and butter.

When Sid would get up in the morning, he would miss the rising sun. He could hear the birds chirping but could never ever see them. The various colors and hues with which he would give life to his painting were now mere strangers – they were all in his mind, but could ne’er see them. Munni took care of him in the two months following their marriage. But soon she started getting irritable. It became clear now that she had married him for the sole purpose of money and her love for him was secondary. She started neglecting him and asked him to hire a household help for assisting him with daily activities. Fate had worse things in store for him.

Sid wanted someone to look after him. After consulting his friends, he availed the services of John – a war veteran who was quite impoverished and as a result used to work as domestic help at blind peoples’ homes. He had taken special training for the same.

 

One day Munni did not return home from a kitty-party she had gone to attend. Sid called up her dad and was told that Munni no more wanted to stay with him and he would soon be getting a divorce notice. Sid was crest-fallen. Soon, he took to drinking. He spent hours together in the near-by bar. Slowly his mental condition deteriorated. He visited a psychiatrist and was prescribed some anti-depressants. The drugs were not of much use as he was unable to overcome the grief.

Suicide had now become an option for Sid. He made up his mind to end his life with a bottle of rat-kill. One day, he complained to John that there were rats in his room and asked him to get rat poison. He somehow, made himself aware of the location of the rat poison, and while John was out shopping, drank the whole bottle of the rat-poison.

He waited for an hour. Then Another. Nothing happened.

TO BE CONTINUED……….

What do you think? What will happen to Sid? Take a guess…..leave your comments….

Next part at BE-IMAAN MUNNI 2

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