Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Indian science fiction -What's the deal?

This post is partly due to the Tamil movie 'Endhiran'(Translation: Mechanical man. Robot will not be a proper translation as the word Robot originally referred to a bonded labourer) releasing in theaters around the world(And I'm currently located in one of the places it isn't :( ).It has been marketed from its pre-production as one of India's first science fiction flicks.I wondered about the veracity of this claim as I recall having seen a number of Tamil movies on TV that fit into the genre,when I was smaller.After some intense Googling, I made the following discoveries about the genre:
The earliest Science fiction Indian movie was a Tamil movie, 'Kaadu'(The forest) and was released in 1952.It was about a group of researchers investigating the abnormal behaviour of animals in a jungle,who eventually stumble upon a land where woolly mammoths are still alive.The plot seems very similar to Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost world and the producers were probably inspired by the same,as Conan Doyle was a very popular author in India in the 1940s.The producers must have decided to use Mammoths instead of Dinosaurs,to limit production costs.The move was a moderate critical success but failed to make high earnings from the box office.

In 1962,Kalai Arasi(Queen of the arts) starring MGR,Bhanumathi and Nambiar was released.The film's storyline involved Aliens abducting the lead actress with the intention of learning the performing arts from her.MGR ,in his role as the protagonist,brings her back to Earth,after rescuing her from a rogue alien(Nambiar).The movie can be found on this webpage:

'The Alien' was a planned Satyajith Ray production which was eventually cancelled.The script was based on a story by Ray which was inspired from Spielberg's ET and involved a friendly alien who become's a young boy's best friend.The project eventually resurfaced recently as 'Koi Mil Gaya'.

Mr.India ,starring Anil Kapoor and Sri Devi was released in 1987 and was about a man who could make himself invisible.One can also say that this was Bollywood's first foray into the Superhero genre as well.The movie is still considered a classic in India.

Dasavatharam,released in 2008,had many science fiction elements in it,and the main plot involved the butterfly effect.

Apart from these,there are a lot of other Indian movies that can be categorized as Science fiction and / or as Science fantasy and I'l post a followup to this post later.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

You? Yes? Yay!

Discalimer: This post is intended only as a work of humour (If you agree) and is not meant to offend anyone,alive,dead or otherwise.

Binomial nomenclature is a system of naming and classifying different species and was developed by Carolus Linnaeus when he attempted to describe the natural world by giving all plants,animals and minerals a two-part name(eg Homo Sapiens , Cannabis Sativa , Canis Lupus etc). In this post,The author(Namely,me) will use BN to categorize the common types of Indian students in the US.

1. Expediticus Patrioticus : (Contrary to what the name sounds like ,these are not 'cus' words.) The ones who belong to this category are beset with a sudden bout of (Unhealthy) patriotism and denounce the place around them as a concentric locus to one of the nine circles of hell.This category of students can be seen asking an attendants at Walmart about why the place doesn't stock 'Imli' Paste.Favourite Catchphrase of this category: "Yaar! Most Americans can't even speak Hindi!"

2. Camouflagicus Automaticus : The ones in this category are the ones who are completely awed by all that they see and experience around them,that they start believing themselves to have lived here all their lives so far,in the hope that their belief will make it true.This category can be seen at all major sporting events,cheering for the team of their choice,without realizing that it was the other team that scored a touchdown. Favourite catchphrase of this category: "The Pizza in the US is waayy better than the one I had in Italy!"

3. Economicus Imbalancicus : This category hasn't yet comprehended the difference between American Dollars and Indian Rupees and is divided into two subcategories,based on their affiliation with either of the two categories mentioned above : "A packet of Chips costed me as much as Rs.10 in India while the same packet costs me only USD 2 here!I'm paying lesser!" OR "A bottle of Juice(Made in India) costs me upto USD 3 here while it costed me only Rs.20 back home!I'm paying extra!"

There are many more categories but the author is forced to conclude this post without listing them all out as a result of the still incomplete assignment that he just remembered.On a concluding note,he would like to say this : " “All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it. - Samuel Johnson”

Tuesday, September 14, 2010


There are many books,movies and video games that deal with cyborgs(Cybernetic Organisms) in some form.A cyborg,by definition is an effective amalgamation of biological organisms with artificial/non-biological parts to augment certain traits .By the strictest of classifications,everyone who uses spectacles or hearing aids or even a mobile phone phonebook for storing data is a cyborg.Of course,when someone refers to a 'Cyborg',they usually are referring to an organism(Mostly human) who has been grafted with electronics/mechanical additions and is superior in some way to a normal human being,either with an increased range and/or functionality of an existing sense organ ,or having a completely new ,almost preternatural ability(Such as telepathy or the ability to see in infra-red or the ability to generate electricity etc) that is not usually observed in 'normal' human beings.

The latter definition of a cybernetic organism does not seem to be very far away in the future,with developments on the integration of human nervous systems to computers and with breakthroughs in the understanding of the human brain ,specifically and the human body,in general,happening rapidly.

Dr.Kevin Warwick of the University of Reading in the United Kingdom,in 1998,succefully had an RFID chip implanted in his hand ,with the aim of controlling nearby devices such as heaters etc,with the aim of finding out the extent to which the human body can accept foriegn bodies.Later,he had a more complex neural array implanted in him which had an array of over 100 electrodes that could send wireless signals to devices.A later implant in his wife made possible the first wireless signal between two humans which can be categorized as a 'rudimentary' form of telepathy.
Other breakthroughs in the field are being made,especially with a focus on orthotics and prosthetics.Notable contributions have been made by Dr.Herr of MIT and others.
The day is not far off when cyborgs might be commonplace in society and the definition of 'Human' has to be changed permanently.