Filmy Weather (29): “Monsoon” Review by Padmaja Ritu Luther

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monsoon poster  

I was extremely fortunate to be present at the premiere screening of the movie “Monsoon” at the Toronto International Film Festival on September 7, 2014. The movie depicts how the vast Indian sub-continent is so deeply dependent on the monsoons and rain, and how every aspect of life is affected by its arrival …. or non-arrival, whether in the cities or in the villages of India.

From the very onset of the monsoon clouds originating in the Arabian Sea and the start of the monsoons in Kerala, the director, Sturla Gunnarsson and his crew follow the journey of the monsoons from Kerala, to Maharashtra, Kolkata and other areas of India, including Cherrapunji, in the state of Meghalaya, the “wettest place on the earth”.

Along with the crew, the audience follows the lives of different families and personalities, whose existences are deeply affected by the arrival of the rains, as well as the drought areas which receive very little or no rain at all.

There is Akila and her family in Kerala, who wait eagerly for the rains to arrive, and eventually end up losing everything because of the floods. In sharp contrast, farmers in drought affected villages in Maharashtra state lose everything because of the lack of rain in their areas for several years. While the big cities of Mumbai welcome the onset of the monsoons, and Bollywood superstars sing and dance to a romantic rain-song, Sturla and his crew show vividly how animals in the Kaziranga National Park in Assam are affected by the rain and require protection against floods and poachers.

Interviews with meteorologists portray how the onset of the monsoons is predicted, and the importance of declaring their arrival at the right time. Timing is of the essence, failing which, the government fears a decline in the stock market, and public confidence and retail sales could be very adversely affected.

Shot in high resolution 4K, the photography in the movie is absolutely breath taking, ….every single detail is visible as though it were happening right in front of your eyes. The music is soulfully penetrating and resonating, almost haunting!

On a personal note, I felt so connected to so many of the scenes in the movie. Especially the scenes shot in Mumbai, Mahabaleshwar and Kolkata. On the other hand I did feel a few scenes could have had a bit less detail or could have not been included in the film.

Although the movie is 108 minutes in length, apparently more than 200 hours were filmed before being edited. I learned that CBC plans to air some of the edited hours of the movie later this fall, and I cannot wait to see what else Sturla and his crew had filmed along their journey to capture the Indian monsoon.

All in all, a must see film!
Thank you Sturla for MONSOON!

- Padmaja Ritu Luther, Toronto, Canada

Climate Change and the New Generation

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“Climate Change and the New Generation” – 13th V G Kulkarni Memorial Lecture
Speaker: Prof R R Kelkar
Venue: Homi Bhabha Centre for Science Education, Mankhurd, Mumbai
Date: 18 September 2014
Time: 4:30 pm

VGK Lecture Poster

Filmy Weather (28) “Monsoon”, A Love Letter to India

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Kelkar and Sturla at Alipore

Sturla Gunnarsson’s documentary “Monsoon” is about how the immense weather system affects India’s one billion residents. It is premiering at the Toronto International Film Festival, with screenings on 7 and 9 September 2014. The prolific Canadian filmmaker says that the film is his “love letter to India”.

Read more about the movie at http://www.bramptonguardian.com/whatson-story/4806469-sturla-gunnarsson-s-love-letter-to-india-/

Picture shows R R Kelkar and Sturla Gunnarsson sitting under the banyan tree at Alipore Observatory, Kolkata, during the film’s shooting on 6 July 2013.

Lecture by Prof R R Kelkar

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I will be delivering a lecture in Marathi on “Spirituality and Science” (Adhyatma ani Vidnyan) on Saturday 23 August 2014 at 5:30 pm at S. P. College, Pune.
It is a part of a lecture series organized by Sant Dnyandev Adhyasan, University of Pune, Shukla Yajurvediya Madhyandin Maharashtriya Brahman Madhyavarti Mandal, and other organizations.
Those interested are welcome.

Filmy Weather (27): “Into the Storm” but Mostly Outside



The movie “Into the Storm” was released worldwide on 6 August 2014 and I just saw it, more out of curiosity than anything else. It is a disaster movie, in the genre of “Twister” (1996) and “The Day After Tomorrow” (2004). The film is full of thunder, rain, hail, wind and fire, as one twister after another keeps appearing on the screen and disappearing. There are of course some good shots, to be fair. But besides showing the destruction that the storms cause, the film gives us little insight into the meteorological processes that go into the formation of a tornado.

Whenever a weather- or environment-related disaster occurs in India, it is fashionable to ask critical questions, for example, is obsolete technology being used, whether people were warned in advance, or whether our disaster management efforts fell short. Usually, media and environmental activists cite the U.S. as a role model in these respects and tell how backward India is in comparison.

“Into the Storm” is a movie that these critics should watch. Although it is a work of fiction, it shows TV viewers in the U.S. receiving only general information that a tornado watch is in effect. A school goes ahead with its graduation ceremony as scheduled. The function is arranged in the open, and the storm catches everybody unawares. People are led into a storm shelter, which is woefully inadequate for the purpose. So they are taken out of the shelter in violent weather in school buses hopefully to a safer area.

The storm chasers are themselves caught in the fury of the storm. The only safe place they can find is through a manhole of a water drain.

Most of the time, and in most places, the mobile network is shown to be functioning erratically or not at all.

Airplanes parked at airports are shown tossed up into the sky (like a ‘rumali roti’). Apparently they had not been moored properly.

The meteorologist, a mother of a 5-year old girl, is travelling in a van equipped with all kinds of gadgets including a Doppler radar and she can gather all kinds of data. But she is shown to be relying more on her instinct than the data.

Is this fiction or does it happen this way in the U.S.?

Filmy Weather (26): Sturla Gunnarsson’s Monsoon

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Monsoon TIFF

Watch the trailer of Sturla Gunnarsson’s “Monsoon” at

To find out more about the movie, visit http://www.monsoonmovie.com

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