'Super 30,' an exhilarating sketch of life and times of mathematician to the poor

Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan plays the role of an educationist and mathematician. (Supplied)
Updated 16 July 2019

'Super 30,' an exhilarating sketch of life and times of mathematician to the poor

CHENNAI: Indian cinema has fallen passionately in love with biopics, and in recent times there has been a glut of films in the genre.

Sports stars such as sprinter Milkha Singh and boxer Mary Kom, mathematician Srinivasa Ramanujan and politician Bal Thackeray among others have lent themselves to some gripping movies, although not always with the right choice of actor for the lead role.

The latest in this line has been director Vikas Bahl’s “Super 30,” an exhilarating sketch of the life and times of educationist and mathematician, Anand Kumar, from the Indian state of Bihar.

Son of a poor postman, academically brilliant Kumar had to throw away his Cambridge scholarship because he could not afford the passage, and later finds himself in a center coaching students to meet the tough entrance requirements of the prestigious Indian Institutes of Technology.

But the boys and girls are all from rich backgrounds, and Kumar despairs about the many who cannot afford such expensive tuition. So, he leaves a well-paid job and begins teaching impoverished children for free. His class has 30 pupils at a time, hence the title.

Bollywood star Hrithik Roshan plays Kumar and takes viewers through a journey fraught with excruciating suffering and physical harm from rich businessmen who see him as a threat to their own prosperity through coaching institutions for the well-to-do teenagers.

Bahl takes artistic liberties. While the real Kumar also ran an institute for the rich to fund his tutoring of the poor, “Super 30” sidesteps this to heighten the dramatic effect, emotionally enslaving the viewer.

While “Super 30” underplays the Indian caste angle, which has been a perennial impediment to higher education for the country’s poorer sections, the wishy-washy romance between Kumar and Ritu Rashmi (Mrunal Thakur, who after an excellent performance in “Love Sonia” disappoints in this latest outing) adds just about a zero to the narrative.id Glanzer, Comic-Con’s marketing chief, told AFP.

The MENA fashion designers dressing up social causes

Updated 11 min 40 sec ago

The MENA fashion designers dressing up social causes

  • How designers in the MENA region are making a different kind of fashion statement
  • The ethical fashion movement is spreading to the Middle East and North Africa

CAIRO: Fashion is about far more than just trendy outfits. The growing demand for ethical clothing is one example of how designers are seeking to leave a legacy beyond the runway.

The ethical fashion movement is spreading to the Middle East and North Africa. Recent initiatives include Talahum by UAE-based designer Aiisha Ramadan, who created coats that transform into sleeping bags for disadvantaged and refugee communities living without proper shelter.

In 2016, Cairo hosted ICanSurvive, an event to commemorate World Cancer Day. As part of the project, 32 cancer survivors were paired with fashion designers to help them create the outfit of
a lifetime.

“I consider this to be one of my biggest achievements,” said Egyptian couturier Ahmed Nabil, 28, one of the volunteers at ICanSurvive. “I still can’t let go of the moment I saw her crying from happiness when she got to wear her outfit at the event.”

Though a transformational experience for Nabil, this was not his first attempt at thought-provoking designs. He was only 23 when he launched his company, Nob Designs, in 2014 to begin a journey of exploration by designing clothes for unconventional causes and experimental concepts.

The company sells a diverse set of fashion pieces with designs that aim to inspire conversation. Nabil’s creations are much like art pieces at a gallery, but instead of being displayed on canvas, they are exhibited on t-shirts, tops, dresses and abayas.

His latest collection combines street fashion inspired by underground culture with Arabic calligraphy. The Halal Project endeavors to blur the lines between conservative and edgy to demonstrate that fashion designs can be accessible to anyone.

“It’s all about the idea of accepting one another regardless of differences,” Nabil said. “My main aim for this project is a call for all people to peacefully coexist.”

Nabil added that the shift towards tolerance is not something that just the general public needs to work on. Fashion designers themselves are sometimes biased in their perceptions.

Many millennial designers, particularly in Egypt, remain wary of exploring modest fashion, despite the trend’s rising popularity. Sometimes it is because they want to avoid defining themselves as conservative instead of being considered modern and trendy.

Fellow Egyptian designer Sara Elemary, who has been running her Sara Elemary Designs label for nearly a decade, agrees.

“Modesty is a big thing in Egypt. I can’t understand why they are neglecting it,” she said. “A woman doesn’t have to be in a headscarf to wear modest clothing. There are so many famous designers for whom modesty plays a big role in
their work.”

Meanwhile, events such as Dubai Modest Fashion Week have been promoting the concept and encouraging budding designers in the region to consider this trending domain.

“I believe that there’s a problem with modest fashion, but over the past two years, that issue has started to diminish as designers have incorporated more modest designs in their collections,” Nabil said.

The next step for him is getting into the couture domain with his long-awaited project, Nob Couture. The look of the new collection is still a mystery, but he seems determined to continue sending messages and starting discussions through his designs, which he said are inspired by his life experiences.

As for designers in the region, the time is ripe for them to start supporting the causes they believe in through their work. Whatever topic or fashion style they decide to pursue, they need to be fearless in triggering conversation in the Arab world with their creations.