I'm a Goan woman, working in Mumbai as the founder of a studio called Totem Creative. I try to make the world happier, safer and more meaningful. I believe education, knowledge and awareness, art, writing and creating Social Impact are my means to achieve that end.

Sunday, January 28, 2018

An Insignificant Man - Review

Tonight after a weeks of slogging, I made some time off to watch a documentary I’d been meaning to watch since I first saw the trailer. The film ‘An Insignificant Man’ has been released on ‘Vice’ – a film directed by two young independent film makers – Khushboo Ranka and Vinay Shukla. The film was largely crowdfunded, and was shot during the period of 2012 - 2015. The film covers the establishment of the AAP right until its massive victory in the 2014 Delhi Elections. 

The thing I liked the most about the film is how neutral it is in its political stand, how it focuses on Kejriwal’s journey, and provokes discussion on idealism VS politics. In India we are always surrounded by politics, but one doesn’t get to see it first hand in its entirety and truth. It is always seen through the lens of the media – which comes from mostly unreliable and biased sources. It was amazing to be able to see it presented as what it was. During the course of the film I learnt the many issues that an amateur honest party would face. 

I would often hear my parents discuss the AAP. They would talk about how they don’t have any political experience, and how they were like an unrealistic NGO. Many times during the course of the film, I realised what they were talking about. AAP neither had the money to campaign, nor the experience. They didn’t think through how the country would be run if they won the election. They didn’t even have a solid agenda. All they had was a sincere drive to do good. It was really inspiring to see how this worked out in their favour. 

Another question that came to mind whilst watching the film was the very concept of democracy. The party’s inability to follow internal democracy made me question the concept of democracy itself. Back in college during the Ganesh festival, the majority of students would celebrate with 11 days of loud drums and persistent noisy celebration. According to them, the feeling of community and devotion preceded the few students who chose to work in peace during those 11 days. We were amongst those few students, and in this case, democracy had worked against us.

In India, where the masses are uneducated, struggling for basic needs like water, electricity and food, everything else would secondary. What kind of sound decisions would you trust this majority to make? Be it on wastage, energy, animal cruelty, gender equality or global warming? Yes, that’s why we developed a system wherein we could vote for leaders who would be in a better position to make those decisions for us. But even that system has failed us with the corruption of power and lack of a worthy candidate to represent the people.

I love how the film strikes conversation, especially considering how polarized we have become in our opinion of modern day Indian politics. We have become bitter and resentful, with an ounce of hope left.

I applaud Khushboo and Vinay for their efforts, their perspective and resilience in getting the film out. And I was so glad to hear that they received full support from international film associations like the International Documentary Film Association and Sundance. Hats off to them, and the people who generously crowd funded this story. I hope that with this film’s success, there is lots more to come from India. You can watch the documentary HERE and a conversation with the directors HERE.

You won’t regret it.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Every Frame a Painting

7th Dec 2017

I have been thinking of making video essays for a while now, but hadn’t thought of it through fully because of work. Today I found out that ‘Every Frame a Painting’, one of my favourite channels on youtube that does video essays on Cinema - is officially dead.

It was extremely saddening to hear that they have decided that this was the end for them, and that they had to move on to other endeavours. EFAP taught me a lot about film, about art, and about making video essays as well. Their article covers their journey so far, along with their learnings, challenges and rewards. I thought to myself - if they couldn’t do it, who can? But I’m so glad that something so great has been put out there that will be available to anyone anywhere - forever.

I wish them good fortune and all the best the world has to offer, and a big thank-you for all the learning and inspiration. :) You can read their overwhelming article here > https://medium.com/@tonyszhou/postmortem-1b338537fabc and subscribe and watch their channel here > https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCjFqcJQXGZ6T6sxyFB-5i6A. If you want to make sure they continue getting paid for all this awesome stuff, here’s their pattern channel > https://www.patreon.com/everyframeapainting

Thursday, July 27, 2017

The Circle Review

27th July 2017

When I saw the trailer for Circle something like a year ago, it seemed pretty interesting, something similar on the lines of Black Mirror. As the film progressed I only noticed how bad the writing, direction and acting was (despite the renowned cast). There was an obvious, in your face message of the dangers of a world surrounded by surveillance and a lack of ‘privacy’ in a futuristic digital world.

The main character Mae’s decisions are so contradictory to her established personality, she feels very superficial and unrelatable. Her actions seem to be without motive or any prior driving force. 

The very apparent difference between a series like Black Mirror and a film like Circle, is that the former allows room for question of ethics and basic human rights. It provokes deep thought and discussion. I guess they intended to present a larger-than-life social commentary on the ‘dangers of technology’ but instead leave you absolutely disappointed with the poor writing and constant plot holes. Overall lazy writing, acting and direction.

Monday, January 23, 2017

La La Land Review

23rd Jan 2016

I watched La La Land today. 

I’m not really one for musicals, but the story completely overpowered the ‘genre’ of the film. The trailer didn’t excite me much, but I was curious to know why it won SO many Golden Globes, and besides – it was directed and written by Damien Chazelle, the same man who made ‘Whiplash’; another film I was awed by. 

I still have first-screening frenzy, but I’ll try to look at this as clearly as I can. This was not just a musical. It is an honest and heartfelt film about dreamers; a subject which is very relatable to us all. Emma and Ryan are so cute and charismatic, and it’s lovely to see how their ambitions unfold and how one makes the other push forward and become someone more. I don’t think it’s a love story, but a story about the honesty and drive with which the characters dream. However you do root for the two of them, and the love story is beautiful to watch at parallel. I was left speechless choked up by the end. 

Wonderful writing, music, choreography, cinematography (that one-take opening!! O_O), acting and direction. Maybe I can’t justify all the Oscars, but it’s definitely delightful, refreshing and emotionally driven cinema. Please go see it in a good theatre before it’s gone!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Arrival, Moana and Westworld Reviews

Hey guys! Some quick TV and Film Reviews of this week: Arrival, Moana, Westworld


I went into this movie blind. Akshay was super excited for it since he was anticipating it for a long time, and I was advised to go without watching any trailers! I was pleasantly surprised to watch such a kickass film. The direction is so good, so subtle and smooth. I watched this last week and since then have been trying to figure what the story of the film is – I’m still not sure, but I like how it showed the concept of time in such a beautiful unconventional way. Most films involving time definitely have some loopholes – it is indeed a difficult subject to tackle in film; but Arrival conveys it smoothly with the help of SciFi devices fitting well in the world of the film.
I especially loved the colour key of and pace of the film. It made it look so simple, effortless and void of distraction. Amy Adams as always was brilliant, and all the supporting cast did great too. The writing I imagine must have taken very very long – time being such a sensitive subject. The emphasis on language and typography was really impressive; a must watch and one of the best films of 2016 according to me. I’m hoping to give this a second watch in theatres before it’s gone to notice the finer details.


I wasn’t that excited to watch Moana but it was really entertaining! The visual effects and animation is top-notch as expected from an animation giant like Disney, and the story is simple yet engaging and exciting. I really liked how Moana is put in a role where her gender wouldn’t make a difference – such films are truly feministic. It also had some subtle jokes mocking previous Disney films which I guess only the adults would notice. It’s a good watch, but maybe the concept of a protagonist being the chosen one and fulfilling her destiny against set challenges is a bit monotonous for me now, and isn’t one of those films that I can carry home. A super entertaining film nonetheless, and a fun watch for kids too.


Thanks Lakshmi, Sumoh and Arvind for insisting I watch this one!! I have only watched the first episode, and it’s absolutely KICKASS. Glad I didn’t watch any trailers for this either. If there are any fans of Black Mirror here, this is something on the same lines with more drama. Westworld is a sci-fi series which constantly makes you question how far we can ethically push the boundaries with AI, humanity and conscience. Its writers have assumed that their audience is intelligent enough to not spoon-feed them, which I really really appreciate. It’s written well, and I’m so excited to see where it’s gonna go from here!
Please let me know if there's something you'd like to recommend! Have a good weekend. :)

Friday, December 2, 2016

Sad Rescue Attempt

      I had a really disappointing day today. Shraddha had come over to discuss Totem taxes and accounts. In the middle of our meeting, I got a call from the ambulance guy from yesterday. The day before around late evening, Arvind and I saw a puppy get run over by a biker. The biker and his pillion stopped for a second, turned back and saw the puppy on the road, yelping in pain whilst hurriedly trying to cross the road to safety, and rode away. I had a surge of anger, and we ran to the pup to see him.

      Under the weight and speed of the bike, his hind leg was absolutely crushed. Arvind felt his femur – limp and loose. It was broken. We called Taronish from World For All, who forwarded us to another NGO owner – Sonal. Sonal said an ambulance would be sent the next day.

      Yesterday after constant pressure and following up, the ambulance was sent with 4 men. A handler somehow got the puppy out of his safe shelter with great difficulty and the vet inspected his leg, rendering it severely fractured, requiring possible amputation if not treated soon. I shook my head in disappointment. “Pehle X-ray lena padega, aur jaldi se, nahin toh internal bleeding ho sakti hai. Lekin aap unse baat karo, phir hum dog ko leke ja sakte hain”, he said. I called Sonal again. She said she needed to ask her management and would send the men again the next morning. I was quite irritated, but I decided to follow up the next morning.

      Today after around 10 calls and explaining the address, puppy and his situation all over again to an entirely new set of people, the ambulance arrived with one handler who was supposed to take the pup. As soon as the pup saw him he started growling, yelping and shrieking drawing a lot of attention. He went deeper into the safe shelter and got inaccessible. The handler couldn’t manage to get him out without risking further injury, and gave up. By now I was out of patience, physically and emotionally.

      I got back to work with Shraddha and Arvind. When Arvind asked what happened there, I said, “I wish I had never interfered in this whole thing”. “Ptch! Arre yaar..” he said, about to explain to me that we did whatever we could and we couldn’t have possibly invested more time or energy. "Just call Sonal and tell her to drop the whole thing. We also don't have time to follow up everyday and the puppy will also be separated from his family and habitat".

      Because of us, the pup was traumatized and scared of anyone and everyone and in more pain than before due to inadequate rest and anxiety. I was so terribly upset. It’s also my first day of period, so I’m not sure if it were the chums or if I was genuinely so so upset. I regretted taking any steps to help the puppy. This isn’t the first time this has happened. I have always been the kind of person who goes out of her way to help animals, but sometimes the NGO I call for help takes me, my time and my emotional availability for granted. Agreed they need my help too to help this dog – but there’s only so much a bystander can do. I don’t own this pup, I don’t do this professionally, and I don’t even live near him! Yet I am supposed to be responsible for this animal. If an animal rescue centre cannot help me then who can?? If an animal handler can’t transport an aggressive puppy then who can? Of course I have huge respect and admiration for any and all people who work in animal NGOs; but for common people, such experiences would discourage them from ever helping an animal again.

      I’m trying to stay the same and isolate this experience (and past such experiences) from my ideals and continue helping out as far as I can. It’s hard to not bully myself; sometimes I feel selfish if I am called to take the puppy to the vet, pay for its medication, foster it etc. if I don’t have the time to do it, even though I don’t own the animal. But if I was so selfish, I would have not called for help in the first place.

      I hope anyone else having such experiences approach this the same way. We may not make a huge difference, and we may not be the heroes that save them, but we definitely make the world a better place for animals.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Documentaries on the issue of Climate Change

21 Nov 2016
I loved Before the Flood​. It definitely focused most Coal Consumption, but I thought it could still be much more holistic covering all major sources of global warming. It seemed a bit biased, and gave little or no emphasis on other major causes of climate change like cattle consumption.

I just came across Nat Geo's first episode of Years of Living Dangerously​. It covers the US energy situation where the powerful and corrupt utility monopolies are making it impossible for their solar to succeed. On the other hand, David Letterman covers India's energy consumption as an emerging economic power, and the decisions India has taken to switch to cleaner energy.
The US situation got me so depressed, just like I felt with Before the Flood, but India's situation only felt positive. I was so relieved to see that we're actually taking steps and have energy goals to accomplish by only 2019!

I always thought we were backward, and hated India's government for being so morally unsound - but luckily literate and scientific voices are being heard here; and our country has shown the willpower it has through it's actions. US always criticizes us on consuming so much coal, but look at NY offices at 2am, when the entire building is empty. That's called wastage. US on the other hand, has just proven to be shamelessly ignorant, and increasingly greedy for profit. The world has such a long way to go, and like LOTR, or any epic, you tend to wonder if anything good can happen in the end when so much bad is happening now.

Urge you guys to watch these documentaries, and feel educated, inspired and positive.


https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RnaBB7lTyjk - Ep. 1
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8kpIPNkCglk - Cochin Airport - the world's FIRST fully solar powered airport
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=65hKrLGGybg - Before the Flood