Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Hindu Deities Get Muscular Makeovers; A Ripped Vishnu

By Shefali Anand
Hindu deity Shiva is shown as a warrior chieftain in a graphic novel. Vimanika Comics
INDIA---India's Hindu gods and goddesses are getting a superhero makeover. In new comics, paintings and popular books, depictions of Vishnu, Rama and other greats in the Hindu pantheon are being reimagined to give the deities broad shoulders, six-pack abs, flashy get-ups and smoldering good looks. The changes are part of a reimagining of Hindu stories that supporters say makes them more relevant to India's middle-class youth, who are navigating a far different world than the one in which their parents lived. [link]

‘The Leftovers’ Recap: What Kind of Despair Drives Self-Inflicted Pain?

By Michael M. Brynbaum
Ann Dowd as Patti Levin on “The Leftovers.”Credit Paul Schiraldi/HBO
BROADCASTING---Season 1, Episode 4 Question: Religious themes and literary ambitions aside, is “The Leftovers” actually just an exercise in high-brow horror? Freaky, disembodied heads of baby dolls; plastic cadavers strewn across a highway; an infant Jesus sprinkled with gasoline and set adrift on a makeshift Viking funeral barge. I did not enjoy watching those a whole lot, but on the other hand I appreciated the effort. Days later, the visuals were still hard to shake — they had an uncanny, ineffable twistedness, and some were just plain bizarre in the best kind of way, like something out of “Blade Runner,” or Cronenberg. “The Leftovers,” for all of its narrative flaws, is quickly developing a unique and memorable aesthetic, even by premium television standards. Tune in to be weirded out. [link]

Movie Review: Making the Spiritually Skeptical Believe, and the Blind Worms See

By A.O. Scott

HOLLYWOOD---The eyes are windows to the soul. That fuzzy bit of wisdom is repeated several times, with both reverence and skepticism, in “I Origins,” Mike Cahill’s new film. Whatever that may mean, there’s no doubt that eyes are also the portals through which movies, good and bad, enter our consciousness. Considered strictly as a visual experience, this one, which might be described as a faith-based emo-science romance-thriller, is often quite beguiling. [link]

Theatre Review: ‘The Pianist of Willesden Lane,’ a Jewish Girl’s War Story

By Charles Isherwood
Mona Golabek as a Jewish teenager who escapes the Nazis in “The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” at 59E59 Theaters.
NEW YORK---“The Pianist of Willesden Lane,” which opened on Tuesday at the 59E59 Theaters, tells the remarkable story of Lisa’s years in wartime London with an economy of means and a simplicity that only enhance the emotional effect. Packed with startling setbacks (the house at Willesden Lane is destroyed during the Blitz) and equally dramatic triumphs (against all odds, Mrs. Cohen has it rebuilt), it’s the kind of tale that would probably seem melodramatic if it were fiction. “Never stop playing,” her mother told her just before she boarded the train in Vienna, “and I will be with you every step of the way.” Lisa took the words to heart. Spiritually speaking, her fingers never left the keys, because only through her music could she maintain a connection to the vanished happiness of her Vienna childhood and the love of the family she feared lost forever. [link]

First Lady Michelle Obama Pushes for Arts in Schools

By Randy Lewis
First Lady Michelle Obama gave the keynote speech at a Grammy Museum event to salute teachers who use music in innovative ways as part of their lessons at Club Nokia in Los Angeles. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
CALIFORNIA---First Lady Michelle Obama took to an entertainment-industry pulpit in Los Angeles to stump for expanding the role of arts in education, saying that 6 million children in the U.S. have no exposure to any form of arts in school. Speaking before an audience of several hundred including L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti and California Sen. Holly Mitchell (D-Los Angeles), Mrs. Obama stressed that music and other forms of art often connect with students and enhance their interest in core subjects such as math, science and history. [link]

India Aims to Make Forlorn City a Model for Revival

By Stephanie Strom
Graham Crouch for The New York Times
INDIA---The big question on many minds here is: How long will the electricity last? Since Narendra Modi was elected prime minister in May, residents in this forlorn city on the Ganges — at least those with wiring — have had near constant electricity, compared with the failures totaling as much as eight to 10 hours a day in the past. Mr. Modi has promised to tackle Varanasi’s legion of problems and turn this holiest — and one of the dirtiest — of Hindu cities into a showcase of Indian culture and small business undergirded by better infrastructure. The city also should benefit from other budget goals, including 1 billion rupees designated for repairing historic ghats, 2 billion rupees to support craft textile manufacturing and a 5 billion rupee package aimed at enhancing the so-called tourist circuit that encompasses Sarnath, Varanasi and Gaya, cities holy to Hindus and Buddhists. [link]

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

London's Heritage Art Gallery Pays Homage to World War I Sikh Soldiers

UNITED KINGDOM---The UK Punjab Heritage Association (UKPHA) paid homage to World War I Sikh soldiers through an art exhibition organized in London commemorating their remarkable but largely forgotten contribution. The story of Sikh soldiers volunteered in World War I (WWI) is being showcased through original artefacts that include unpublished photographs, drawings, newspapers, comics, postcards, stunning works of art, uniforms, gallantry medals, and folk songs sung by the wives left at home. The exhibition titled “Empire, Faith and War: The Sikhs and World War One” is being held at the Brunei Gallery in London. Project Historian of the UK Punjab Heritage Association, Parmjit Singh, said the exhibition puts together the tales of Sikhs soldiers who fought in Great War and the stories of families they left behind. [link]