Two pieces on two heroes who are the stuff of legends. One was entirely ignored, the other got me all sorts of love and hate.
Review of Percy Jackson: Sea of Monsters:
Although Thor Freudenthal has a name that seems like a match made in heaven for a director of a film that blends myths with pop fiction, his storytelling isn’t anywhere as clever as Riordan’s writing. The dialogues aren’t as zippy, the locations don’t feel as smartly-imagined and the build-up isn’t well-paced. Most of the film meanders, bogged down as it is by bad acting. Then suddenly, it’s time for a climax and neither the audience nor the actors feel prepared for it. It doesn’t help that Camp Half-Blood seems remarkably like a Survivor for models – godspawn look good and are about as memorable as the interchangeable faces on billboards. Logan Lerman and Alexandra Daddario as Percy and Annabeth lack charisma, though Lerman looks a little less out of place than he did in the first Percy Jackson film. There are a couple of stars in the cast as Greek gods in Sea of Monsters. Stanley Tucci, as Dionysus in rehab, makes more of an impression in two scenes than Daddario’s Annabeth manages despite being in almost every frame. Nathan Fillion is charming as Hermes and you can’t help wishing he had more than a cameo.
The full review is here.
And a piece I wrote on the Hindu god, Krishna:
Today, if a boy grew up with thousands of female companions, we’d probably think he’s weird or gay. Krishna, however, is depicted as neither. He has his male friends, but (smartly) seems to prefer the company of women. Not just that, while traditionally the male companions establish a human as divine — Ram had Hanuman; Jesus had his apostles; Muhammad had the men who would become the first caliphs — in Krishna’s case, it isn’t Sudama who completes him, but Radha.
… Krishna’s veneration of Radha flouts a variety of conventions — she’s another man’s wife, she’s older, she orders him around — but remains enshrined in Vaishnav mantras and practices even today. Yes, she thinks he’s divine, but he quite cheerfully worships her too, to the extent of drinking her charanamrit (the water in which her feet were washed), supposedly to cure a headache.
Even after he grows up and leaves Vrindavan, one of the constants in Krishna is his fondness for strong women. This is amply evident in how he and Rukmini elope. He’s quite happy to be depicted as the man who is effectively kidnapped by the woman, rather than the alpha male who rescues the princess. Despite all the attempts to assert and reassert Krishna’s divine status in the narration, it is the worship-worthy Rukmini who is the mastermind behind the elopement.
And then there’s Krishna’s special relationship with Draupadi, mythical evidence that a man and woman can be friends after all. It’s quite obvious from the Kaurava taunts in different episodes of Mahabharata that the unusual situation of Draupadi being wife to five husbands did nothing for her respectability. This didn’t stop Krishna from favouring her. When Dusshasana attempts to rape Draupadi, her husbands are silent and still. To them, she is a possession who has been lost in a game and since they don’t own her, there is nothing they can do when she is being manhandled. It’s Krishna — a man who has no claim upon Draupadi and technically, no responsibility towards her — who protects her dignity with that unending supply of sari. In this poetic description of a miracle lies a man’s ability to see a woman as a human being rather than an object or possession; as a person who isn’t sullied by what is inflicted upon her. Afterwards, in stark contrast to how we react even today, Krishna doesn’t blame Draupadi. The fault lies with the men — the Kauravas for thinking of and attempting rape; the Pandavas for witnessing it without a protest.
If only some of Krishna’s contrariness had made an impression upon Hindu society, instead of his boyhood love for fatty milk products.
You can read the whole thing here.