Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Rewards for Jailbirds: A Pre-Independence Hangover

(Published in Sify.com, on 30 November, 2011, retrieved from http://www.sify.com/news/kanimozhi-anna-hazare-and-the-rewards-of-a-jail-term-news-columns-ll4piNefaaf.html)




(Photo Courtesy: Sify.com. Unauthorised use of this image is prohibited.)



Soon after 2G accused Kanimozhi was granted bail, someone posed a rather ridiculous question to her father and DMK patriarch Karunanidhi – would his daughter be given a meatier post, in recognition of her jail time? And the octogenarian came up with an even more bizarre response – that he was no autocrat, and the party would decide.
Huh?! So, someone who’s spent 193 days in jail, on charges of abusing her influential position, and who’s been denied bail on the grounds that she may pull strings, may be elevated to a higher rank in recognition of her behind-the-bars time?
Perhaps because of our struggle for Independence, which turned many of our freedom fighters – including Jawaharlal Nehru – into prolific writers, motivating the public from their cells, there is a certain sense of heroism associated with being herded off to jail.
And now, it appears it matters very little what the means to the end are. Once you’ve been in jail, and come out, a little thinner and a little larger, you deserve to be honoured, to be rewarded for the feat of surviving mosquitoes, summers, winters and non-gourmet meals.
It’s been just over a decade since Karunanidhi himself was carted off to jail on television – and how. A camera in his bedroom – yes, it makes one shudder every time, doesn’t it? – happened to switch on as police stormed the room, Karunanidhi’s partner and Kanimozhi’s mother Rajathi Ammal screamed as she rushed to find a stole to throw over her nightie, and the Kollywood-scriptwriter-turned-politician howled that he was being murdered. The next time elections were held, in 2006, the video was used extensively for propaganda, and Jayalalithaa was shunted out of power.
However, the sanctifying effect of a jail term, however short, was best illustrated earlier this year, when the government goofed up by arresting Anna Hazare. A Gandhian, even more Gandhian in fact than Gandhi himself – never married, no progeny, soldier-turned-activist – fasting in jail, refusing to leave even after being released, protesting against his unjust arrest, gave hungry television cameras the perfect start to a perfect drama. The smiling man at the centre of all the fury had the nation swooning in feverish support of a Bill most hadn’t read, and far fewer had understood. It was an excellent marketing strategy, with a transparent booby trap the Centre obligingly stepped into.
Don’t get me wrong – there’s no comparison between the uncalled-for, preventive arrest of a man who had set out to start a peaceful hunger strike, and the much-delayed arrest of a woman accused of criminal conspiracy, forgery, accepting a bribe, abetting bribery, and conspiring to cause breach of trust by a public servant.
Hazare’s imprisonment came close enough, especially seen through the rather hyperbolic lens of media focus, to detentions of national leaders seven decades ago.  
Kanimozhi’s court appearances were marked by sympathy from a judge who spoke of her dignified demeanour, of appeals for her release on the grounds of being a woman, mother, poet, and well, less-accused-than-the-other-accused. But it was quite clear that the arrest, coming nearly four months after that of Raja, was warranted.
Yet, there’s a thread of similarity in their release from jail – plates of sweets being passed around, a sense of justice served at last, and expectation of reward.
Shouldn’t we learn to separate activists from criminals, people fighting for a cause from people subverting norms? While the difference seems quite clear in the minds of the public, and understandably blurred in those of the politicians involved, it’s rather disturbing when a press conference churns out a question about Kanimozhi being rewarded, and the answer makes it clear that the question was anticipated.
It reminds one of an even more troubling appeal a few weeks ago – for the commutation of the death sentence against the accused in the Rajiv Gandhi assassination case. So what if one of the convicts has written a book in jail? Does that undo the horrific crime he was convicted of? And do decades spent in jail, and the trauma of wondering whether one will live or die, even out the cold-blooded killing of a politician, leave alone that of tens of curious citizens who had come to hear a political speech?
We may be a land where prospective heroes were once jailed; but the hallowing effect of a jail term is outdated. Criminals and terrorists cannot and should not be hailed for serving jail time.

FDI: What's All the Fuss About?

(Published in The New Indian Express, School Edition, dated 30 November, 2011, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/school/fdi-what%E2%80%99s-all-the-fuss-about/338407.html)


NOTE: This contains no opinion. It's a summary of the FDI regulation and what it means, and is probably more useful than it's interesting.



On Thursday, India’s Cabinet approved the long-proposed reform allowing 51 percent Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in its retail sector. This means international brands can invest in India’s $450 billion retail market.
While this would draw in much-needed foreign capital and ease supply bottlenecks, and could come in handy in checking inflation, it is also a blow for small traders and family-owned businesses. India is one of the last large economies where such businesses haven’t been wiped out by supermarkets.
The government has announced it will allow 51 percent FDI in multi-brand retail – supermarkets – and raise FDI from 51 to 100 percent in single-brand retail. This means brands like Starbucks, Zara, Gucci and Costa Coffee can have full ownership of their businesses in India.
Though the new rules outline local sourcing requirements, and minimum investment levels to protect jobs, and Union Minister for Commerce and Industry, Anand Sharma, has emphasised that FDI will increase job opportunities, the move has caused furore in Parliament. It has united the Left and the BJP, and even raised objections from Congress allies DMK and Trinamool Congress. Tamil Nadu Chief Minister Jayalalithaa has slammed the move.
What does 51 percent FDI mean?
FDI refers to an investment abroad, usually where the foreign corporation that is providing capital controls the company it is investing in.
Until now, India allowed 51 percent FDI only in single-brand retail and 100 percent for wholesale operations. The first term that the UPA was in power, a Bill extending FDI to multi-brand retail was not passed because the Left, which supported the government from outside, was against it.
Now, with multi-brand FDI being allowed, global giants like Wal-Mart, Tesco, and Carrefour can open mega stores in your city.
This move has been welcomed by the corporate industry in India, which has had to backtrack expansion plans after protests earlier. For example, in 2007, Reliance Industries had planned to open Western-style supermarkets in Uttar Pradesh, but small traders and political parties put paid to that ambition.
The government’s policy change comes with certain riders:
  • Minimum investment of $100 million by the foreign investor.
  • 50 per cent of the total FDI to be invested in “back-end infrastructure”, i.e., processing, manufacturing, distribution, design improvement, quality control, warehouses and packaging.
  • 30 per cent of the products to be procured from small scale industries, i.e., units that have a total investment not exceeding $250,000 at the time of installation.
  • Fresh agricultural produce, including fruits, vegetables, flowers, grains, pulses, fresh poultry, fishery and meat products, should be unbranded.
  •  Retail chains will be allowed only in cities with a population of more than 10 lakh (1 million) as per the 2011 census – there are 51 in total.
  •  The investor must have approval from the Foreign Investment Promotion Board (FIPB).

Why is There So Much Opposition to the FDI?  
The retail sector is the largest source of employment after agriculture in India. Foreign brands with deep pockets could put small traders out of business, and may also have an impact on the manufacturing and service sectors.
However, this is not a given – it means smaller retailers, who buy from wholesalers and sell at a good profit, will have to dock down their prices to stay in competition. An enterprising retailer, who offers home delivery, stays open at odd hours, or offers any other benefit that a customer will not get from a supermarket, will likely stay in business.
Another, more worrying, rider has to do with the sourcing requirements. While 30 percent has to be sourced from Micro and Small Enterprises (MSEs), it does not state that these must be MSEs from India.  They can be from anywhere in the world, and experts are worried that this may be more useful to China than India. India already has a trade deficit of $20 billion with China, and Chinese goods are predominant in the Indian markets.
The government has defended the clause, saying it should not violate India’s obligations to the WTO (World Trade Organisation).
Who is Against FDI?
The Opposition BJP has said the services sector accounts for 58 percent of the country’s GDP, and the approval for 51 percent FDI could have an “adverse impact” on the growing domestic retail sector, and also affect consumer choices. Uma Bharti, who was recently re-inducted into the BJP camp, has threatened to burn Wal-Mart stores, once they crop up.
Jayalalithaa has said Tamil Nadu won’t allow multi-brand global players to set up supermarkets in the state. On Sunday, she accused the Centre of “overweening arrogance”, and fumed that the state governments had not been consulted. She said it would not bring down inflation, and would only hit the domestic manufacturing and service sectors, in addition to endangering the livelihood of small traders.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati said the move had been made to help “Rahul Gandhi’s foreign friends” and denounced it.
The Parliament was adjourned both on Monday and Tuesday, as members of opposition parties demanded a rollback of the decision on FDI.
An all-party meet, presided over by Pranab Mukherjee, was held on Tuesday morning. The government claimed it was not about the FDI, but all issues that were keeping the Parliament from running. However, that failed to break the deadlock, as the government asked for more time to think and could not give the other parties any assurance.

STATES AGAINST FDI

STATES IN FAVOUR OF FDI

Tamil Nadu (AIADMK)
Rajasthan (Congress)
Uttar Pradesh (BSP)
Maharashtra (Congress)
Madhya Pradesh (BJP)
Andhra Pradesh (Congress)
Gujarat (BJP)
Delhi (Congress)
Karnataka (BJP)
Punjab (SAD)
Bihar (JD-U)
Haryana (Congress)
Jharkhand (BJP)

Chhattisgarh (BJP)

West Bengal (TMC)

Orissa (BJD)

Himachal Pradesh (BJP)



WHAT MULTI-BRAND FDI MEANS FOR YOU
You buy products at MRP rates from local stores; but at retail chain stores, you will get them at a discounted rate.
You won't have to ask your NRI aunts and uncles to buy you those chocolates that are so overpriced here!
It will encourage healthy competition between chains, which will mean you'll have a bigger and better range of products to choose from, and you won’t have to settle for goods that are nearing the expiry date!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Right to Education: A Controversial Act

(Published in The New Indian Express, School Edition, on 29 November, 2011, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/school/right-to-education-a-controversial-act/338041.html)


NOTE: This contains no opinion. It's a round-up of the controversy over the RTE, only useful for schoolkids and journalists. So, if you're here for entertainment, skip.






The Right of Children to Free and Compulsory Education Act or Right to Education Act (RTE), which came into effect last year, has made education a fundamental right for all children aged between 6 and 14. Passed by Parliament on 4 August 2009, it came into effect on 1 April 2010.
Now, the right to education had already been accommodated in the Constitution, but it was a directive principle which could not be enforced. However, in 2009, it was included in Article 21A, of Chapter 3, as an enforceable, fundamental right.
In order for this Constitutional Amendment to take place, an Education Bill had to be passed, specifying how the Act would be implemented. When it was drafted in 2005, it stirred several controversies, which have finally been resolved.
An autonomous body, the National Commission for the Protection of Child Rights, was set up in 2007 to monitor the implementation of the Act, aided by state commissions.
What does the Act do?
The Act makes it the duty of the State to ensure that all children between the ages of 6 and 14 get a good education. Surveys will be conducted in neighbourhoods across the country, and children requiring education will be identified and enrolled in schools.
Schools are not allowed to hold admission tests or interviews, collect donations or capitation fees, turn away students who apply after the admission cycle is over, hold back students, expel students, or require them to pass board exams until elementary education is complete. There is provision for school drop-outs to undergo special training, so that they’re brought on par with the rest of their class.
All private schools will have to apply for recognition. Unrecognised schools continuing to operate will be fined Rs 1 lakh, and if they continue to function after this, they will have to pay Rs 10,000 per day as fine.
However, the most controversial provision of the act is that all private schools to reserve 25% of seats for children from disadvantaged families.
Why is the Act Controversial?
Some of the criticisms against the Act are:
·         It excludes children below 6 years of age
·         Educationists and groups involved in education were not consulted
·         It infringes on the rights of private and religious minority schools
·         It puts the financial burden of implementation on the states
·         It mandates that 25% of seats should be given to poor children
·         It does not address problems such as poor management, absenteeism, shortage of teachers, lack of infrastructure and quality of education in government schools
The government said it would compensate private schools for enrolling students who could not afford the fees. However, the states are only required to pay the average per learner costs in government schools, unless the fees are lower in the private school. Schools immediately protested, saying they would have to pass the burden on to the parents of other students.
At the moment, several cases in this regard are pending in the courts, but no stay has been granted on the provisions of the Act. This means, schools will have to keep 25% of seats for children from low income families.
In some cases, the courts have ordered that children whose education needs to be subsidised by the government must go to private schools only if there are no government or government-aided schools in the area, and that the government must reimburse the schools fully.
How Much Does the RTE Cost?
Initially, it was thought that a sum of Rs 1.71 lakh crore would be required for the implementation fo the Act. However, around the time the Act became effective, this figure was increased to Rs 2.31 lakh crore.
The Centre had initially agreed to split the costs with the states in the ratio 65:35 for all states except the North Eastern ones, where the ratio would be 90:10. Later, it agreed to increase its share for the rest of India to 68%.
How Successful Has it Been so Far?
A report on the status of implementation of the Act, released by the Ministry of Human Resource Development on April 1 this year, found that 8.1 million children in the 6-14 age group remain out of school. There was a shortage of more than half a million teachers.

TIMELINE

2 July, 2009
Bill approved by Cabinet
20 July, 2009
Bill passed in the Rajya Sabha
4 August, 2009
Bill passed in the Lok Sabha
3 September, 2009
Bill notified as a Law after receiving Presidential assent
1 April, 2010
Act effective throughout India, except in Jammu and Kashmir
2011
Committee exploring ways in which to extend the Act to cover students up to age 16.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

Jack and Jill: Saved by Pacino and the Fringe





Cast: Adam Sandler, Al Pacino, Katie Holmes

Director: Dennis Dugan

“Umm, so which was the last Adam Sandler movie I found funny, and how old was I when I watched it? Don’t remember, and that’s so scary, I don’t want to think about it.”

“Do I really want to see Adam Sandler do an Eddie Murphy? Well, more importantly, do I want to see him hug himself? Like, literally?”

Every time I find myself in a conundrum, those questions are usually followed by a rather more pertinent one: “Do I have a couple of hours to spare, and am I getting paid to spend them?”

And so, that’s how I found myself at Jack and Jill. Well, that, and I’ve had a crush on Al Pacino since I saw Michael bite into an orange when I was six years old. Michael Corleone, you know. Yeah. There was something about him. No one eats oranges that way, or something. I was glad every time he got single. Moving on. 


Okay, so this movie’s about a successful dude, Jack Sadelstein (Adam Sandler), with a pretty-if-aging wife Erin (Katie Holmes), two little kids (Rohan Chand and Elodie Tougne), and a spinster sister Jill (Adam Sandler), who’s visiting.

When a guy plays his own twin sister, you know there’ll be gags about armpit hair, body odour, and digestive processes. Sure enough, there’s a plethora of toilet humour in Jack and Jill, augmented by crotch-scratches, sweat stains, and farts. You sense most of the jokes in the dialogue from a mile away, but you laugh every now and then – sort of like watching a stand-up show by an enterprising comedian, the original of whose plagiarised material you’ve already caught on YouTube.

The humour is mostly juvenile – yes, the non-toilet humour too. When Jack suggests Jill Skype them, instead of visiting, she comes up with, I don’t even know what that is, it sounds anti-Semitic”. When he explains, she whines, “You know I don’t have a calculator.”

So, what saves Jack and Jill from being a run-of-the-mill comedy with a lisping uggo for its star? Well, nothing. What makes it a run-of-the-mill comedy you won’t regret watching?

Al Pacino for one. He clearly loves his lighter roles, and he’s almost always made them click. This one is replete with in-jokes about his own life and career, including fans’ tendencies to mix up his and Marlon Brando’s hobbies and habits.

A smart-arse gardener for another, complete with his Mexican family. Eugenio Derbez, also in a double role, pulls off his gags – clichéd as they are – by getting so into his character you don’t find it amiss.

And the third factor is something that has become rather a common trend in Hollywood – guest appearances by celebrities playing themselves, exaggerating their quirks. The surprise and timing in context are what make those work, so I’ll keep mum about who does what.

There are several episodes involving fauna that made me go, “What the hell kind of animals are these? Trained (in which case PETA would have been all over the shooting spot)? Or animated (in which case the guy handling the CG knows his job rather well)?”

One can hardly hope for subtlety in Adam Sandler’s brand of comedy. To his credit, though, he’s found good enough actors to pull off hints. To his detriment, he doesn’t seem to realise it, and neither does Dennis Dugan. The kids – one of whom is an adopted Indian-origin boy – have quirky penchants, but they’re only funny when they aren’t rubbed in. However, the filmmakers focus their cameras rather too often on these, as if to make sure everyone gets it.

Suggestions of an almost incestuous connection between twins are, again, emphasised rather than implicit, but fortunately, are offset by a series of bites by pairs of real-life twins, which – though predictable – fit in quite nicely.

The last few minutes turn rather too maudlin, and the comic relief at the end isn’t quite enough to make up.

The Verdict: If you’re bored and have an afternoon to spare, this movie’s a pretty good idea, but don’t expect too much.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Desi Boyz: Masala on the Rocks with a Twist


(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, dated 26 November, 2011, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/entertainment/reviews/desi-boyz/337471.html)

Cast: Akshay Kumar, John Abraham, Deepika Padukone, Chitrangda Singh, Anupam Kher, Sanjay Dutt
Director: Rohit Dhawan
Rating: 4 stars
When the male Rekha and male Mallika Sherawat of Bollywood – the ageless Akshay Kumar, and the topless John Abraham – get together for a bro flick in a foreign locale, all the ingredients are in place for a full-on entertainer. And Desi Boyz is that rare thing in an ambitious industry – an out-and-out masala movie that never pretends to be anything else.
The illogical storyline is apparent when The Daily Mail, arguably for the first time in its history, is more concerned about the recession than the Diana inquest. Amid some awful graphics, we meet Jignesh “Jerry” Patel (Akshay Kumar) scooting to work – he’s a security guard at a mall, who regularly gets fired – and his brother-from-a-hotter-mother Nikhil “Nick” Mathur (John Abraham) biking to work – he’s an investment banker, who regularly gets bonuses. The two are old college buddies, current roomies, and soon-to-be business partners.
Riding a high, Nick is all set to marry Radhika Awasthi (Deepika Padukone), when a twist deals him a blow in the solar plexus. Jerry has a larger commitment – an orphaned nephew Veer (Virej Dasani), whom the folks from Social Services are rather keen on putting in a foster home. The two are forced to throw themselves into the one profession that remains recession proof.
Jerry turns into Rocco, and Nick becomes Hunter, under the mentorship of the Boss (Sanjay Dutt), who runs ‘Desi Boyz’ - oh, you'll figure out what that is when you watch the movie. Throw in a haughty girlfriend, a hot classmate-turned-teacher, a racist professor, an adorable kid, a Gujju Mummyji, a nutty Daddy, a self-assured pimp, a goofy suitor, and a randy judge, and you’ve got a winner.
Complete with cracking dialogues, excellent timing, and catchy songs, this comedy will have you clutching your sides for the better part of two hours. The dance sequences are imaginatively choreographed, and there are times when the scenes seem straight out of a stage musical. Two in particular are reminiscent of The Producers. From cricket to Top Gun, the spoofs spare nothing. Hell, they don't even spare Rajnikanth, with Nick tossing in a snide reference to his 'dialogue'. 
In a film like this, incongruity doesn’t seem out of place, and sundry subplots fan out cheerfully. Akshay Kumar finds the space to bring in a patriotic diatribe on the achievements of Indians, finds the money to put himself through college, and finds a job faster than his super-educated friend. Somewhere along the way, he finds Tanya Sharma (Chitrangda Singh), who is happy to flunk him in an exam to give herself the opportunity to strip for him and salsa with him. And John Abraham, for all his attempts at squeezing the navrasa into every frame, is so often the target of a nasty joke that the script seems to preempt the audience's reactions.
Desi Boyz is the sort of movie that will make you want to dance, well up, and snort with laughter in the space of a few minutes. It’s a callback to Akshay Kumar’s khiladi days, and the hilarity is enhanced by comic-relief-within-comic-relief by Anupam Kher and Omi Vaidya.
The Verdict: The movie’s more than paisa vasool, so go and make some noise for the Desi Boyz!

Breaking Dawn: Straight out of a Vestal Virgin’s Wet Dreams


(Published in City Express, The New Indian Express, dated 26 November, 2011, retrieved from http://expressbuzz.com/entertainment/reviews/the-breaking-dawn-part-1/336996.html)



Cast: Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart, Taylor Lautner

Director: Bill Condon

Rating: 2 stars

By the time the director’s name flashed ahead of the end credits, my legs were crossed so firmly and my uterus was screaming “Not available” so loudly that I misread his surname. Long story.

You see, two hours earlier, I’d sat down in the midst of a crowd that was about a decade younger than I, and I couldn’t help wondering what the hell I was doing at the premiere of the fourth edition of a franchise that proudly labels itself “vampire romance fantasy”.

All I knew about vampires and werewolves was how to kill them – the first with a stake through the heart (my mother told me when I was six), and the latter with a silver bullet (my uncle told me when I was seven).  All I knew about the vampires of The Twilight Saga is that they shimmer and sparkle in the sun (a friend told me last year), and that you ward them off with garlic (that was one of the questions at Sathyam Cinemas’ trivia contest; I didn’t win.)

Before I sat down to write this, I tried to research the series to sound a little more authoritative, but aside from wondering how long a 100-year-old vampire that looks 17 has to attend high school in order to graduate, my only takeaway is that there’s this chick who likes other-worldly, dangerous creatures, and chooses the more viable option of the two.

But the movie seems to have very little to do with the choice of partner 18-year-old Bella Swan (Kristen Stewart) makes, with the blessings of her cop pop (Billy Burke) and mom-who’s-giving-a-minor-league-player-home-runs (Sarah Clarke). It has strong political messages about abstinence and abortion. I mean, forget awareness campaigns – you want your teen kids to stay off sex, just take them to this movie.

First, there’s a wedding invitation. Aww. Then, Jacob Black (Taylor Lautner) goes bounding off into the forest, changing into a werewolf along the way. He does this rather often, which begs the question, “Where does he pick up his branded jeans and close-fitting tees after casting off his clothes every time he turns into a wolf?!” For a movie with so much nudity, the filmmakers ought to have spared a thought for the hormones of an audience that largely comprises teen girls.

The dude can’t take the thought of losing the love of his life to Edward Cullen (Robert Pattinson). But he shows up anyway, and the vampire groom’s kind enough to give his human bride a few moments alone in the forest with a werewolf. No naughty-naughty; we follow the bro code here.

The wedding and reception stretch on, with a bunch of meant-to-be-funny-because-they’re-not-very-funny-but-they’re-simply-not-very-funny toasts eating through the reels. And then some vampire cousins face off with werewolf friends, before the newlyweds traipse off on a no-expenses-spared Brazilian honeymoon, which culminates in a gorgeous island gifted to Edward by his foster father Carlisle Cullen (Peter Facinelli).

After losing his virginity on the much-anticipated first night at the cost of his wife’s flawless skin and the bedroom furniture’s durability, Edward decides to abstain and play chess.

But his wife’s too horny. So they try it again – several times. Never mind the contraception, they say, because there’s no historical record of vampires and humans making babies. Really, now? Well, whaddyaknow, she’s preggers. And the foetus/baby/it – nomenclature becomes a subplot by itself – is growing really fast, and breaking Bella’s bones, and making her drink blood that Edward thoughtfully serves up in a milkshake container.

For some reason, this makes the werewolves want to kill Bella, and it falls to Jacob to save her. After an interlude that turns into something of a talking-animal-movie, where there’s talk of Alpha and other constituents of the Greek alphabet as well as an evidently important grandfather, Jacob has to choose between his kind and his love. 

However, this werewolf seems to have more of a hold on the situation than the vampires. They’re busy researching the internet to predict the fate of the bun in Bella’s oven, but since they only come up with Henry Fuseli’s The Nightmare, one must imagine their brains are not quite as sharp as their teeth.

The dialogues trawl through transpositions of idiom in the creature world – “You’ve got my flank?”, “It wants something to sink its teeth into”, “You’re not going to have too many restful nights” – aided ably by bizarre vocabulary, such as “imprint” for “mark out for mating”, and contextual humour – “They say the first year of marriage is the hardest”.

This beautifully-shot movie has its moments. The opening scene of a flashback – the terror of Elsa Lanchester at the sight of Boris Karloff in The Bride of Frankenstein – may appear to be kitsch of the lowest order to some; but to others who delight in pseudo-intellectuality, as I do, or rate Bill Condon, as I do, it comes across as a marvellous in-joke: a salute to James Whale, an apology to the discerning monster buff, a jibe at Twilighters.

As if to heckle the high morals it has embraced all through, what with suggesting sex across species is a bad idea, the movie has a dubious lesson for boys too – if you can’t win Momma, gun for the daughter. What vampire romance isn’t boosted by incest and paedophilia? Of course, it helps if no one ages beyond a point.

However, one wonders why the movie has to be broken up into two parts, when it could have been a lot shorter than it was, and when the most intriguing sub-plots – the encounters with the sinister Volturi, the feud between a pack of werewolves and a branch of the vampire family – are trailers to the second part. There appears to be no good reason other than to milk this cash cow dry.

The Verdict: If you had the time and inclination to read the books, you probably do to watch the movies; otherwise, only go if you crave strange lessons in anatomy, and disturbing images of blood consumption and childbirth.
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