Darshana V. Nadkarni, Ph.D.

Recruitment for Biotech & Medical Device companies Training & Consulting in Diversity and Inclusion

Homepage: https://darshanavnadkarni.wordpress.com

Ashadh ka ek din (on Kalidasa): Naatak Play Review


Ashadh ka ek din (on Kalidas) : Naatak Play Review – June, 2019

Found on principles of bringing on stage intelligent and entertaining shows pertaining to East Asian literature and arts in San Francisco bay area, Naatak has consistently surpassed expectations from a demanding audience.

In Naatak’s 69th production, writer Mohan Rakesh’s “Ashadh ka ek din”, the focus is on young love, simple and lyrical as a poem, pure and unspoilt as nature, passionate and brimming with hope as the drop of first rain, in the month of ashadh. It depicts the story of Kalidasa, classical Sanskrit writer and poet who is presumed to have created his works in the 4th century, and was a royal poet during the reigns of kings Chandragupta II and Yasodharman. Kudos to Naatak for fantastic staging. How they manage it, despite low ticket prices is a mystery. 

It is as true today as it was then that stupendous achievements often come from heart-wrenching personal sacrifices. Kalidas (Anush Moorthy) was ahead of his times and his talents went unnoticed, in his little village. However the king in Ujjain was impressed by his work and sent him royal invitation to go to the capital, Ujjain and adorn the royal court as a national poet. Kalidas is reluctant to leave his beloved, Mallika (Preeti Bhat) who is the inspiration behind many of his works. But Mallika insists that he should not pass up this opportunity which will help bloom his talent.

Kalidas: nayi bhumi sukhi bhi to ho sakto hai

Mallika: koi bhumi aisi nahi jiske antar me komalta na ho, tumhari pratibha us komalta ka sparsh awashya pa legi.

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At the insistence of Mallika, Kalidas leaves his village, not to return for several years. With the force of royal sponsorship, Kalidas writes many epics like medghdootam, kumarsambhawa and raghuwans, all the while his beloved Mallika continues to be his muse. While Mallika pines for Kalidasa in the village. Mallika’s mother Ambika (Anshu Johri) curses Kalidasa and refuses to be drawn into the flow of emotions that have gripped her young daughter.  

Ambika: “ma ka jivan bhavna nahi, karm hai”.

Behind every successful man, there is a great sacrifice of a woman (of course, in the present times, opposite is also true). Produced by Alka Sippy and directed by brilliant, Manish Sabu, “ashadh ka ek din” is a story of love that is eternal, of time which stops for noone, and of sacrifice from which are born great works of art. One thing the play is not and I would have loved more of is Kalidasa’s work itself. The play does not focus as much on his poetry. Kalidasa had written Rutusamhara before he went to Ujjain. If the play included many lyrics from there which spoke of the beauty of the mountains, clouds and rains that appeared even more beautiful to the poet, in the company of his beloved, then it would have enhanced our joy. Nonetheless, it is a tender love story, with beautiful prose and heart-touching dialogues.

 

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JOBS: June, 2019


Image result for jobsPlease see some of my current opportunities below. All opportunities are for local candidates with valid work visa and require deep industry experience.  If you have an interest then please send an email (resume as an attachment) at wd underscore darshana at hot mail or find me on Linkedin.

Manufacturing Engineer – San Jose, CA

Summary: Supports the manufacturing of high volume disposable device. Works with engineering and clinical to make sure device specifications conform to device requirements. Works with assemblers and technicians to make sure devices are built to desired specifications.

Responsibilities

  • Evaluate manufacturing processes by designing and conducting research; apply knowledge of product design, fabrication, assembly, tooling, and materials; solicit observations from operators.
  • Evaluate manufacturing processes by studying product requirements; researching, designing, modifying, and testing manufacturing methods and equipment; conferring with equipment vendors.
  • Improve manufacturing efficiency by analyzing and planning work flow, space requirements, and equipment layout.
  • Assure product and process quality by designing test methods; establishing standards; testing finished product and process capabilities.
  • Provide manufacturing decision-making information by calculating production, labor, and material costs; reviewing production schedules; estimating future requirements.
  • Prepare product and process reports by collecting, analyzing, and summarizing information and trends.
  • Work with Development Engineers to effectively transfer new products to Manufacturing.
  • Maintain product and process data.
  • Complete design and development projects by training and guiding technicians and assemblers.

Requirements:

  • Proficient in process validations and its execution
  • Contribute to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.

Education and/or Job Experience

  • Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering Field or equivalent
  • Minimum 15 years in Medical Device Industry

Skills and Specifications

  • A proven track record with Medical Device Manufacturing Methods and Procedures and FDA QSR 21 CFR Part 820 and ISO 13485 Quality Systems
  • Capable of generating parts, assemblies and drawings using Solidworks
  • Comfortable dealing with complexity and flexibility
  • Experience working under Change Control policies of FDA regulated devices and /or drugs.
  • Ability to proactively identify and solve manufacturing issues.

Senior Manufacturing Equipment Engineer – San Jose, CA

Summary: Supports the manufacturing equipment and tooling used to manufacture company’s proprietary high volume disposable device. Works with Calibration and Preventive Maintenance personnel to ensure equipment is kept in optimal conditions. Works with equipment suppliers/vendors to purchase equipment/parts under our or equipment specifications.

Responsibilities

  • Assures that equipment integration projects are performed under the required timelines and budgets.
  • Develops manufacturing equipment by designing and conducting research; applying knowledge of product design, fabrication, assembly, tooling, and materials; soliciting observations from operators.
  • Identify Capacity and Quality Issues with Manufacturing Equipment. Recommend and Implement Solutions to revolve issue.
  • Provides support and oversees maintenance on Production Molding Machines
  • Design and fabricate of tools and fixtures with In house Machine Shop Equipment
  • Keeps equipment operational by coordinating maintenance and repair services; following manufacturer’s instructions and established procedures.
  • Proficient in developing IQ/OQ/PQ documentation and its execution
  • Maintains product and company reputation by complying with government regulations.
  • Contributes to team effort by accomplishing related results as needed.

Education and/or Job Experience

  • Bachelor Degree in Engineering Field or equivalent
  • Minimum 15 years in Medical Device Industry
  • Experience in plastic molding and material analysis

Skills and Specifications

  • A proven track record with Medical Device Manufacturing Methods and Procedures and FDA QSR 21 CFR Part 820 and ISO 13485 Quality Systems
  • Capable of generating parts, assemblies, and drawings using Solidworks
  • Comfortable dealing with complexity and flexibility
  • Experience working under Change Control policies of FDA regulated devices and /or drugs.

 

Business Analyst – Pleasanton, CA
Requires 2+ years experience. Company offers 100% healthcare coverage & other benefits like 401K and there is potential for bonus.

Associate Scientist  – Pleasanton, CA
Requires 10+ years pharma R&D experience with 
expertise in cell biology and should be able to translate it into business. Must know industry well and have a good network. 

Regulatory Manager – San Jose, CA
Requires 8+ years of experience in pharma, ideally experience in biologics.

Clinical Trial Manager – San Jose, CA
Ideal experience: 8+ years experience in medical devices, ideal in neuromodulation,  running clinical trials, working with clinicians and medical centers.

Clinical Trial Manager – San Jose, CA
Ideal experience – 8+ years of hands on experience in running pharma trials at manager level. Running clinical studies in biologics is a major plus.

Director of Manufacturing Automation – San Jose, CA

This position requires a dynamic, energetic, self-driven, engineering leader with broad manufacturing engineering and automation experience & will report to VP of Manufacturing Operations. The Director of Manufacturing Automation will lead the development of fully automated manufacturing systems for all aspects of company’s disposable drug tablet manufacturing. This individual will be responsible for defining system requirements, developing proof of principle systems, developing timelines and managing budgets and providing direct oversight and management of automation suppliers as well as driving the implementation and validation of manufacturing lines. This individual will work closely with product development, manufacturing engineering and quality in order to ensure manufacturability, achievement of targets, and develop processes for optimum manufacturability.

Responsibilities: Define functional & detailed requirements & specifications for manu automation, including quality & regulatory requirements; Manage internal & external process automation programs, project schedules & budgets; Develop facility plans & specifications for manufacturing scale-up; Oversee installation & qualification of automated manu systems; Comply with USFDA cGMP regulations, (ISO), Company policies, operating procedures, processes & task assignments.

Requirements: Experience managing and leading complex cross functional projects involving, electrical, mechanical, quality aspects; Experience with mechatronics or automation engineering including machine, mechanism and fixture design; Strong problem solving and analytical skills; experience with use of statistical analysis & design of experiments for product optimization & validation activities; Experience with lean manufacturing, design for manufacturing, design for test & test implementation. This position requires interface throughout all levels and functions of the organization; requires a cooperative team-balanced perspective for appropriate output and task outcome.  BS/MS in Mechanical, Electrical or Industrial Engineering & 15+ years’ experience managing an engineering group responsible for medical device development and manufacturing engineering with a strong history of hands-on experience is required. Also required Deep expertise in manufacturing automation for large scale manufacturing.

Director of Pilot Manufacturing – San Jose, CA

Innovative medical device company located in San Jose, CA has an immediate opening for Director of Pilot Manufacturing.  This position will report to VP of Manufacturing Operations. This low volume production line is crucial to the company’s several ongoing preclinical studies.

Duties and Responsibilities
Lead day to day operations including injection molding, aseptic processing, capsule assembly, supply chain and other related activities; Develop detailed production planning, resource allocation, equipment maintenance, operator training etc.; work closely with product development, pre-clinical & clinical groups and quality in order to ensure achievement of targets & develop manufacturing plans & detailed production schedules; Manage inventory of raw materials & injection molded components; Manage human resources in pilot manufacturing; Maintain a strong commitment to quality; Comply with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cGMP regulations, other regulatory requirements (ISO), Company policies, operating procedures, processes, and task assignments.

Requirements
Strong problem solving & analytical skills; Experience with use of statistical analysis & design of experiments for product optimization and validation activities; Experience with lean manufacturing, design for manufacturing, design for test & test implementation; Experience working with ERP systems & Broad GMP manufacturing background with Class III medical devices. Requires BS/MS in Mechanical, Electrical or Industrial Engineering and 15+ years’ experience managing & supervising manufacturing with a strong history of hands-on experience successfully transferring new products into manufacturing & Deep technical experience with manufacturing processes, design control and quality systems. Also required, strong problem solving and analytical skills; Experience with use of statistical analysis and design of experiments for product optimization & validation activities; Experience with lean manufacturing, design for manufacturing, design for test and test implementation; Experience working with ERP systems. Also essential is proven ability to coach & develop employees & develop effective cross functional relationships. This position requires interface throughout all levels & functions of the organization.

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De De Pyar De – Bollywood Movie Review


In Akiv Ali’s Bollywood film, “De De Pyar De”, finally we have a chick flick for men. Fret not; you will see the reason behind this oxymoron very soon.  Movie starts off as a romantic sex comedy between 50 something calm and confident alpha man, Ashish (Ajay Devgn) and about half his age hottie, Ayesha (Rakul Preet Singh). Ashish and Ayesha confidently flirt with each other, then fall in love, and then briefly discuss that gossipers in the community will judge that she is into him for his bottomless wealth (he is an investor in London) and he is into her for her youth and beauty (yes, she is hot) and thus the issue is put to rest.

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Lest we still become judgmental, their flirty tête-à-tête includes sweet caring (she makes dal for him, he says he does not like dal so as to not hurt her feelings) that indicates they are truly into each other and despite deciding to stay away from one another, they just could not. Singh is sexy but also expressive and caring. But that’s not where the film ends with 50 something guy romping with a young hottie. That is just the beginning. The movie wants us to give a stamp of moral approval on this relationship. And that is where the film takes a turn from romantic comedy to family drama. Ashish takes Ayesha from London to India to meet his ex wife and kids and parents.

The problem is —- ok there are many problems that can’t but make us feel a tad judgmental.  First of all, the problem is the girl. She drinks hard, parties hard, doesn’t blink an eye when she passes out and finds herself (undressed) in the morning, in a man’s house. In fact, she is incredulous (perhaps also mildly disappointed) that he passed up on rape and did not take advantage of her. While it is supposed to make the audience look with awe at Devgn’s character, one wonders about Singh’s character and her lack of readiness for a serious relationship with a man with a past. Then the problem is the boy. He does no planning and shows no confidence in any of his past or present relationship decisions and they are all marked by irresponsibility, half truths, hypocrisy and deceit. He takes a girl the age of his daughter to India, without adequately preparing everyone, embarrassing them all.

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The beauty of the movie that makes it all worthwhile emerges in the few short scenes with Tabu (Ashish’s ex-wife). I am sure her dialogs touch the heart of every woman, when she speaks of being tired of always having to be the responsible one and mend relationships. Tabu as a mature mom who listens to all sides and resolves key issues with her daughter’s in-laws, the glue that keeps the family together, admonishing her kids when they get bratty are all beautiful knockout scenes. But it is Tabu’s short speech to her family to stop being judgmental and take responsibility for their decisions, asking them to stop blaming her ex-husband, is phenomenal.  And finally, Tabu’s dialog with Ayesha, her rival for her ex’s attentions, is an absolute gem; although one wonders how realistic it is to expect a wife who is still into her husband, to be so very generous and understanding and go out of her way literally, to bring them together; especially a husband who has been so irresponsible and his girl-friend who is simply too young to grasp all the complexities of a blended family with children her age. But in this movie, after a few speeches, such familial complexities are quickly and conveniently resolved, so Ashish can have his cake and eat it too, without any repercussions. So here it is, finally a chick flick for guys.

De De Pyaar De reviews

If you are willing to ignore complex realities of stormy, messy relationships, simplistic moralizing, and long term lack of wisdom of the characters, overall the film is entertaining and fun.  Tabu and Singh both put on stellar acts. I rate the movie 3.2 on a scale of 1 to 5 (with 5 being excellent).

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JOBS: May, 2019


Please see some of my current opportunities below. All opportunities are for local candidates with valid work visa and require deep industry experience.  If you have an interest then please send an email (resume as an attachment) at wd underscore darshana at hot mail dot com.

Job Search Human Resources Recruitment Career ConceptRegulatory Manager – San Jose, CA
Requires 8+ years of experience in pharma, ideally experience in biologics.

Clinical Trial Manager – San Jose, CA
Ideal experience: 8+ years experience in medical devices, ideal in neuromodulation,  running clinical trials, working with clinicians and medical centers.

Clinical Trial Manager – San Jose, CA
Ideal experience – 8+ years of hands on experience in running pharma trials at manager level. Running clinical studies in biologics is a major plus.

Manufacturing Engineer – San Jose, CA
Requires 8+ years of experience in medical device manufacturing.

Director of Manufacturing Automation – San Jose, CA

This position requires a dynamic, energetic, self-driven, engineering leader with broad manufacturing engineering and automation experience & will report to VP of Manufacturing Operations. The Director of Manufacturing Automation will lead the development of fully automated manufacturing systems for all aspects of company’s disposable drug tablet manufacturing. This individual will be responsible for defining system requirements, developing proof of principle systems, developing timelines and managing budgets and providing direct oversight and management of automation suppliers as well as driving the implementation and validation of manufacturing lines. This individual will work closely with product development, manufacturing engineering and quality in order to ensure manufacturability, achievement of targets, and develop processes for optimum manufacturability.

Responsibilities: Define functional & detailed requirements & specifications for manu automation, including quality & regulatory requirements; Manage internal & external process automation programs, project schedules & budgets; Develop facility plans & specifications for manufacturing scale-up; Oversee installation & qualification of automated manu systems; Comply with USFDA cGMP regulations, (ISO), Company policies, operating procedures, processes & task assignments.

Requirements: Experience managing and leading complex cross functional projects involving, electrical, mechanical, quality aspects; Experience with mechatronics or automation engineering including machine, mechanism and fixture design; Strong problem solving and analytical skills; experience with use of statistical analysis & design of experiments for product optimization & validation activities; Experience with lean manufacturing, design for manufacturing, design for test & test implementation. This position requires interface throughout all levels and functions of the organization; requires a cooperative team-balanced perspective for appropriate output and task outcome.  BS/MS in Mechanical, Electrical or Industrial Engineering & 15+ years’ experience managing an engineering group responsible for medical device development and manufacturing engineering with a strong history of hands-on experience is required. Also required Deep expertise in manufacturing automation for large scale manufacturing.

Director of Pilot Manufacturing – San Jose, CA

Innovative medical device company located in San Jose, CA has an immediate opening for Director of Pilot Manufacturing.  This position will report to VP of Manufacturing Operations. This low volume production line is crucial to the company’s several ongoing preclinical studies.

Duties and Responsibilities
Lead day to day operations including injection molding, aseptic processing, capsule assembly, supply chain and other related activities; Develop detailed production planning, resource allocation, equipment maintenance, operator training etc.; work closely with product development, pre-clinical & clinical groups and quality in order to ensure achievement of targets & develop manufacturing plans & detailed production schedules; Manage inventory of raw materials & injection molded components; Manage human resources in pilot manufacturing; Maintain a strong commitment to quality; Comply with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cGMP regulations, other regulatory requirements (ISO), Company policies, operating procedures, processes, and task assignments.

Requirements
Strong problem solving & analytical skills; Experience with use of statistical analysis & design of experiments for product optimization and validation activities; Experience with lean manufacturing, design for manufacturing, design for test & test implementation; Experience working with ERP systems & Broad GMP manufacturing background with Class III medical devices. Requires BS/MS in Mechanical, Electrical or Industrial Engineering and 15+ years’ experience managing & supervising manufacturing with a strong history of hands-on experience successfully transferring new products into manufacturing & Deep technical experience with manufacturing processes, design control and quality systems. Also required, strong problem solving and analytical skills; Experience with use of statistical analysis and design of experiments for product optimization & validation activities; Experience with lean manufacturing, design for manufacturing, design for test and test implementation; Experience working with ERP systems. Also essential is proven ability to coach & develop employees & develop effective cross functional relationships. This position requires interface throughout all levels & functions of the organization.

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JOBS: April, 2019


Job search. Loupe with jobs classified ad newspapers isolated on white. 3d illustrationPlease see some of my current opportunities below. All opportunities are for local candidates with valid work visa and require deep industry experience.  If you have an interest then please send an email (resume as an attachment) at wd underscore darshana at hot mail dot com.

Director of Pilot Manufacturing – San Jose, CA

Innovative medical device company located in San Jose, CA has an immediate opening for Director of Pilot Manufacturing.  This position will report to VP of Manufacturing Operations. This low volume production line is crucial to the company’s several ongoing preclinical studies.

Duties and Responsibilities
Lead day to day operations including injection molding, aseptic processing, capsule assembly, supply chain and other related activities; Develop detailed production planning, resource allocation, equipment maintenance, operator training etc.; work closely with product development, pre-clinical & clinical groups and quality in order to ensure achievement of targets & develop manufacturing plans & detailed production schedules; Manage inventory of raw materials & injection molded components; Manage human resources in pilot manufacturing; Maintain a strong commitment to quality; Comply with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) cGMP regulations, other regulatory requirements (ISO), Company policies, operating procedures, processes, and task assignments.

Requirements
Strong problem solving & analytical skills; Experience with use of statistical analysis & design of experiments for product optimization and validation activities; Experience with lean manufacturing, design for manufacturing, design for test & test implementation; Experience working with ERP systems & Broad GMP manufacturing background with Class III medical devices. Requires BS/MS in Mechanical, Electrical or Industrial Engineering and 15+ years’ experience managing & supervising manufacturing with a strong history of hands-on experience successfully transferring new products into manufacturing & Deep technical experience with manufacturing processes, design control and quality systems. Also required, strong problem solving and analytical skills; Experience with use of statistical analysis and design of experiments for product optimization & validation activities; Experience with lean manufacturing, design for manufacturing, design for test and test implementation; Experience working with ERP systems. Also essential is proven ability to coach & develop employees & develop effective cross functional relationships. This position requires interface throughout all levels & functions of the organization.

Director of Manufacturing Automation – San Jose, CA

This position requires a dynamic, energetic, self-driven, engineering leader with broad manufacturing engineering and automation experience & will report to VP of Manufacturing Operations. The Director of Manufacturing Automation will lead the development of fully automated manufacturing systems for all aspects of company’s disposable drug tablet manufacturing. This individual will be responsible for defining system requirements, developing proof of principle systems, developing timelines and managing budgets and providing direct oversight and management of automation suppliers as well as driving the implementation and validation of manufacturing lines. This individual will work closely with product development, manufacturing engineering and quality in order to ensure manufacturability, achievement of targets, and develop processes for optimum manufacturability.

Responsibilities: Define functional & detailed requirements & specifications for manu automation, including quality & regulatory requirements; Manage internal & external process automation programs, project schedules & budgets; Develop facility plans & specifications for manufacturing scale-up; Oversee installation & qualification of automated manu systems; Comply with USFDA cGMP regulations, (ISO), Company policies, operating procedures, processes & task assignments.

Requirements: Experience managing and leading complex cross functional projects involving, electrical, mechanical, quality aspects; Experience with mechatronics or automation engineering including machine, mechanism and fixture design; Strong problem solving and analytical skills; experience with use of statistical analysis & design of experiments for product optimization & validation activities; Experience with lean manufacturing, design for manufacturing, design for test & test implementation. This position requires interface throughout all levels and functions of the organization; requires a cooperative team-balanced perspective for appropriate output and task outcome.  BS/MS in Mechanical, Electrical or Industrial Engineering & 15+ years’ experience managing an engineering group responsible for medical device development and manufacturing engineering with a strong history of hands-on experience is required. Also required Deep expertise in manufacturing automation for large scale manufacturing

 

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FROSTNIXON – Play Review


Tony and Olivier Award nominated drama, Frost/Nixon is currently playing at www.theatreworks.org in Mountain View, CA. Written by Golden Globe winner Peter Morgan, the play focuses on 1977 television interviews between British journalist, David Frost (Jeremy Webb) and former President Richard Nixon (Allen McCullough).   

Even in 2019, the events surrounding the Presidency and resignation of Richard Nixon, stories of Watergate cover-up and Spiro Agnew’s criminal conduct, still holds the fascination and gets a great deal of attention in the media. At the time Nixon sat down for a series of interviews with David Frost, the Watergate scandal was still fresh in everyone’s minds and public was thirsty to hear from Nixon himself. There was a great deal of curiosity on whether contrition and guilt would find its way in his expression but Nixon continued to remain tight-lipped and when he did speak, he stayed short of admitting guilt.

Image result for frost/nixon, theatreworksTheatreworks production switches between on-camera Nixon, glib and defiant and off-camera Nixon, haunted by his own imagined ghosts, skeptical of everyone, socially inept and obsessed with money. The production also switches rapidly between on-camera Frost, also glib, confident, entertaining and at ease on camera and off-camera Frost, obsessing over the single most crucial and defining event of his life, his series of interviews with the defiant President of America, who had thus far managed to evade taking any responsibility.

Some of the most memorable and poignant moments of Nixon presidency were indeed marked by Television, like him defending himself in he “Checkers” speech, him protesting “I am not a crook”, and his resignation speech, to mention a few. But given his silence, it was hard to get Nixon to admit to the people, how he led and participated in one of the biggest scandals at the uppermost level in the American government. If it seemed reasonable to expect that when the moment come to nail down Nixon on his crimes, it must be a public moment where people may be watching him live on TV, sweating and all, David Frost did not seem to be a reasonable interviewer for such a high profile interview.  David Front won the interview for two simple reasons: He paid Nixon $600,000 from mostly his own money, and he was viewed by Nixon and his advisers as a pushover.

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Although David Frost was witty, insightful, entertaining and brought an informal touch to the interview, Nixon was a formidable adversary who was certain that he could hold his own. Having never testified or stood trial, Nixon was pardoned by Ford, and he never had to admit to or apologize for his deceitful conduct. So will Frost manage to nail Nixon on his favorite media, not Twitter but Television?!!  Frost’s team of producers and impassioned journalists, (Adam Shonkwiler, Patrick Russell, Stephen Muterspaugh) are all on edge, almost certain that Frost will mess it up and Nixon will just get a free pass. And Nixon’s team (Kenny Toll, Craig Marker, Adam J. Saucedo) were ready to bail the boss.

The showdown is imminent between these two men with their own private agenda. The stakes couldn’t be higher when these two ambitious men come face to face on camera, one who tried to undermine America’s democracy and the other trying to use the best weapon available in a democracy. What follows is a game of chess and a contest of wits. Even though many of us have lived through this history, this is a non-to-miss show of this theater season, certain to keep you riveted to the satisfying and portending, very end. Frost/Nixon is running at Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts and tickets can be purchased at www.theatreworks.org .

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Mothers and Sons – Play Review


Image result for citylights, mothers and sonsThe play “Mothers and Sons” by playwright, Terrence McNally and directed by Jeffrey Bracco is a funny and poignant tale of loss and love.  When Katharine (Lillian Bogovich), Andre’s mother shows up unexpectedly on the doorstep of Andre’s former boyfriend, Cal (Damian Vega), 20 some years after losing her son to AIDS, she is bitter, angry, hurt and in search of a target. Cal has also gone through deep loss but has found love again, in his husband Will (Max Tachis), and they have a son Bud (Izaiah Gutierrez), they deeply love. Still mourning and reeling from the loss of her son, Katharine sinks deeper into gloom at seeing Cal’s life. She asks, “why did your life got better after Andre and why did mine get worst”?

Image result for citylights, mothers and sonsAs per my observation however, this story is less about mothers and sons and more about one mother and her son. It is Katharine’s nature and temperament that has put her into an indefinite period of gloom and bitterness. She describes herself as “I am not a joiner, I did not like to cook, I am a widow”. Katherine could not cultivate intimacy and closeness with either her husband or her son, Andre.  She recalls Andre being “remote” and observes with some contempt that she was relegated to being a mere chauffeur. Many mothers might have experiences of similar moments but they put aside those moments and find more enduring closeness and love with their children.

While Katharine’s temperament may have precluded her from enjoying a close relationship with her son, this story is also wrapped in time when gays did not find acceptance in society and were subjected to biases and stereotypes. Katharine, found it hard to reconcile her preconceived notions about gays. She says, “I hate that word. It could be something nice, joyful. But we lost that battle too”. Sadly, her life is an endless series of battles she has brought onto herself.  And sadly, reeling in her own misery, she misses completely how an entire young generation of her son’s age was lost to AIDS epidemic, “a living, breathing generation, not a footnote in history”. Image result for citylights, mothers and sonsJust when it seems, there would be no hope for Katharine, then in the midst of sorrow, the characters find moments of compassion and glimmer of hope, and even love.  Mothers and Sons is a heartbreaking, emotionally nuanced story of unending mourning and loss and it is also a tale of human compassion where it is never too late to reconcile with one’s loss, only to stumble onto enduring nature of love. Lillian Bogovich as Katharine is absolutely amazing. This is a must-see play if only to watch the brilliant cast playing out the complex human drama with all the emotional nuances and with deep sensitivity. Mothers and Sons is running at the CityLights Theater in San Jose, till February 17, 2019 and tickets can be obtained at www.cltc.org .

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Happy Lohri/ Makar Sankranti


Today is the Indian festival of Lohri also known in parts of India as Makar Sankranti. For many reasons I love this festival, one of them being that it falls right around my birthday!! Makar Sankranti is celebrated with prayers to Surya or Sun God and it marks the first day of sun’s transit or winter solstice and the start of longer days. It is one of the few Indian festivals observed according to solar cycle, while most festivals are set my lunar cycle of the Hindu calendar.

It is celebrated as Lohri in North India to mark the end of peak winter season and also farmers in Punjab begin their financial year on this day.  Like most Hindu festivals, this one also is celebrated with delicious array of sweets that are different in different parts of India.

In Gujarat where I come from, we celebrate Makar Sankarnti by flying kites. It is the biggest kite flying day when everyone is on the terraces of their homes or apartments and flying kites and trying to bring down other kites. As preparation, for days vendors are busy selling colorful kites to the buyers who go home and soak the string with glass powder so they can cut the strings of other kites.
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Here’s my little #Gujarati poem

સર સર સર સર ઉડે મારી પતંગ
એ ઊંચે ઊડતી જાય ને હરખાય
ઘડીક નીચે ડૂબકી મારે મારી પતંગ
ફરી ઉડે, જાણે હવામાં તરતી જાય
લીલા લાલ રંગે ચગતી મારી પતંગ
પાનખર આજે આભ ને મળવા જાય

Loosely translated in English as

Sir sir sir sir flies my kite
Higher it goes out of site
For a second, dives down my kite
And flies as if swimming in flight
In red green orange colors, my kite
As if autumn is falling upward to meet the Gods

 

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A Piece of History of WWII at The Marsh, SF – Review


Marsh Theater at 1062 Valencia in San Francisco is a friendly, laid back, 110 seat theater attached to a community art center, and is surrounded by stunning shops, cafes, lovely fusion food places, and avant garde artistic shops. The theater itself  is a lovely place for writers and performers to easily develop no-frill performances.

In a recent performance that I attended, “A History of WWII: The D-Day Invasion to the Fall of Berlin”, multi award-winning actor and playwright, John Fisher took the audience on a whirlwind journey of or the WWII from the period between allied invasion of Normandy to the Fall of Berlin. Much happened during the short time period between June, 1944 and May, 1945 that finally marked the end of Hitler and the fall of Berlin.  

This is a fascinating 85 minutes performance that takes the audience through the final year of the war, when some of the most fateful battles were fought. Fisher is recipient of several awards and in this fast paced solo performance, he does an incredible job of taking the audience through many of the war’s most crucial battles, generals, decisions and throws in information about books and movies that have memorialized these key battles.  I will highly recommend this performance for World War II buffs.

Tickets for this show can be obtained at www.themarsh.org .

I was so fascinated by Fisher’s show that afterwards I went through my notes and learned more details about all the fascinating stories he shared in the show.  I have attempted to summarize some of that history below for anyone wanting a ready reference of the crucial final year of the war.

History of WWI: The D-Day Invasion to the Fall of Berlin

Image result for battle of dunkirkThe Battle of Dunkirk, fought in France, in 1940s had shown that the British had great air force and navy but lacked superior army power to win the war. Fortunately, Hitler’s army halted their advance at the time and it gave the Allies sufficient time to organize the Dunkirk Evacuation where more than 330,000 troops were rescued and it allowed the Allies to build a defensive line. United States was sitting on the side lines. On December 7, 1942, Japanese bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. US continued to maintain formal neutrality, mostly supplying ammunition. Japanese forces pursuing territorial expansionism, bombed the American fleet in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. That woke the sleeping giant. The day after Pearl Harbor, the US Congress officially declared war on Japan, and was followed by Britain. Three days later, Germany declared war on the United States. In the end, the US involvement changed the course of the War.

After referring to the history that led to United States joining the war, Fisher goes on play act scenes from the war, as shown in many war movies. In one of the final battles, the allied forces from US, Britain, Canada and Free French forces (later joined by contingents from Belgium, Czechoslovakia, Greece and the Netherlands joined the ground campaign and landed on the beaches of Normandy on June 6, 1944 through parachutes, supported by massive air attacks and naval bombardments. Hitler then made a fateful strategic decision. In the aftermath of a failed coup, he recalled General Van Kluge General Kluge feared Hitler’s wrath and killed himself and that was German army’s great loss. Fisher’s description of the failed coup on Hitler, provided much comic relief, in this war story. It is amazing that his dissenting generals made multiple errors in carrying out one of the most impactful acts of their lives.

Image result for Operation market gardenFisher goes on to tell the story of Operation Market Garden, an unsuccessful military operation fought in the Netherlands, planned and led by the British Army, with an objective to seize a series of nine key bridges that could provide the Allies with an invasion route into Germany. While the Allies succeeded in the liberation of several bridges, they failed to secure the last bridge, over the Rhine and thus failed to cross the Rhine. This failed attempt is memorialized in the film, “A Bridge Too Far”. Fisher also gives out names of several reference books on the subject. Germans were still losing but they had not lost the will.

Image result for battle of the bulgeLaunched through the densely forested region in Belgium and Luxembourg, The Battle of the Bulge, was the last major German campaign against the Allies. Germans intended to split the Allied lines.  Due to allied overconfidence and negligence of this region, American forces manned by division of 16 and 17 year olds, bore the greatest brunt of the attack and American forces incurred their highest casualties of any operation during the war. This has been memorialized in the book, “The Ghost Front” written by twin brothers who survived the attack. Fortunately for the Allies, the battle also severely depleted Germany’s armored forces. The “Bulge” was the largest and bloodiest single battle fought by the United States in World War II and the second deadliest battle in American history.

However, until the Battle of the Bulge, America mostly provided resources and fire power. It was Russia that provided the blood, swet, and tears. Stalin was completely oblivious to the suffering and decimation of his troops. Despite significant losses, he continued to provide an inexhaustible supply of troops and ordered Soviet forces to “fight to the last man”, although women also participated in the battle. He also issues, “Not One Step Backward!” rule, which decreed that cowards were to be “liquidated on the spot.” In the end, while America lost slightly more than 400,000 soldiers (killed or missing) and almost no civilians during World War II, the USSR is believed to have lost at least 11,000,000 soldiers (killed and missing) as well as somewhere between 7,000,000 and 20,000,000 million of its civilians. While growing up, Fisher was fascinated by the war and by German generals speaking in interesting accent. But as the story gets closer to the end, the huge cost of war in terms of the lives lost, hangs in the air like a crude reality.Image result for russian army in wwII

Image result for Race to BerlinDespite enormous payout in terms of lives lost, Stalin’s ambitions were not contained and in the final stages of the fall of Berlin, there was a “Race to Berlin”, a sort of competition to enter Berlin between two Soviet marshals who separately commanded their armies to drive their men as fast as they could. Meanwhile American generals Montomery, Patton and even the Brits wanted to continue the advance into Berlin. But Eisenhower made a different choice. He wished to avoid further American casualties which were estimated to be around 100,000 American men, if they were to compete for Berlin. Eisenhower also wished to honor the agreement made with the Soviets at the Yalta Conference and allow Stalin to exert control over Berlin. The Americans leaving Berlin for the Soviets, enabled the Soviets to take the lead, and after the bloody “Battle of Berlin” (where the Soviets engaged in many atrocities and war crimes), the Soviets prevailed.  This forever changed the course of history. Soviets implemented The Iron Curtain, both sides began the race for nuclear arms, and the ensuing Cold War lasted nearly 45 years.

 

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VICE: Movie Review with some History recap


Producer Adam McKay’s VICE explores the epic story about how a bureaucratic Washington insider, Dick Cheney (Christian Bale), quietly rises to become the most powerful man in the world as Vice-President to George W. Bush (Sam Rockwell), reshaping the country and the globe with far reaching and long lasting impact to future generations. VICE is a film that matches McKay’s wildly original “The Big Short” about three years back.

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While VICE is both angry and informative like it’s predecessor “The Big Short”, unlike the predecessor, VICE does not share implementable insights for ordinary folks. VICE has opened to some mixed reviews and so I will mention and acquiese to the criticisms first. At times VICE feels disjointed as it jumps between time periods, interspersed with wacky methaphors. It also becomes apparent very early that McKay’s concern with telling Cheney’s story or the story of the country and the world that Cheney impacted, pales in comparison to McKay’s anger towards us, the audience. We, the citizens are reproached for having greater interest in entertainment than in the affairs of the government, things that “really” matter. This is where he begins the story and that is where he ends and given what is happening in the country today, I would forgive McKay for blaming the citizens.

Image result for Rumsfeld, Vice, carellIn VICE, McKay has a formidable challenge. As the film shows Cheney’s rise to power, it also weaves in years’ of political history of the country.  The forces that shaped the climate and allowed Cheney to consolidate his power, began long before Cheney came on the political scene in any serious manner.  In fact, McKay traces the conservative forces shaping the political climate in the country, all the way to 1980s. And as he goes through Reagan and Senior G.H.W. Bush years, Cheney is shown to be going through his own transformation. At first, a good for nothing “dirtbag”, aided and supported by his ambitions wife, Lynne (Amy Adams), Cheney focus on amassing power and fortune.  It is from Donald Rumsfeld (Steve Carell), Cheney got earlier lessons in looking at Washington as a ruthless, zero sum political place where winners displace losers and policy takes a backseat to power.

Image result for , cheney, rumsfeld VICECheney began his political career as an intern to a Congressman and then worked his way into the White House during Nixon and Ford administrations. He served as Secretary of Defense to George H.W. Bush. He was out of the political scene during Clinton years, when he assumed the role of Chairman and CEO of Halliburton Company. In 2000, Cheney was chosen by George W. Bush,  as his running mate and has been cited as the most powerful Vice President in American history. McKay telling the story of how Cheney rises to this level and then consolidates his power is nothing short of amazing.  Using the fly fishing metaphor, McKay shows how Cheney put a small hook and then gradually draws in his prey. Even as he dies several times, mostly politically, but also endures several heart attacks, Cheney comes back, with more powerful lessons on consolidating power, strongly aligned to the brand of conservatism that seems only to consume, even if it destroys future generations.

Image result for Carell, Bale, VICE movieLatching on to an obscure theory, propelled by some conservative judges like (Scalia), and made popular by the conservative media, Cheney finds panacea to all political challenges that stand in his way of consolidating his power, in Unitary Executive Theory. Rooted in Article Two of the US Constitution, the theory vests “the executive power” of the United States in the President. Though broadly accepted, it is assumed to be circumscribed by some boundaries of strength and scope. In the aftermath of 9/11, Cheney took advantage of the public anger and sentiment to “do something” and vastly expanded the strength and scope of the power of the President. By his own agreement with the President, Cheney then had the unilateral power that he used for wiretapping by the National Security Agency (NSA) and the enhanced interrogation techniques that included waterboarding, among other things.  Cheney is said to have said, “We need to think in a new way about these low-probability, high-impact events; If there’s even a 1 percent chance that WMD have landed in the hands of the terrorists, we need to treat it as a certainty”.  He masterminded the pressure on naysayers in the Bush Cabinet, including Condoleezza Rice (LisaGay Hamilton) and Colin Powell (Tyler Perry). Despite no clear evidence of WMD, Powell was pressured to give a speech in the UN regarding strong evidence of WMD which he later described as his most painful moment of his political career.

Despite the fact that none of the 9/11 terrorists came from Iraq, the United State’s war on Iraq eventually cost 189,000 direct war deaths, nearly 5000 deaths of U.S. service personnel, in addition to 32,000+ troops coming back with injuries, not including PTSD.  US spent over $1.7 Trillion in this war. Nearly, 134,000 Iraqi civilians lost their lives in this war and 655,000 people who have died in Iraq since the invasion that would not have died if the invasion had not occurred.

So what did we gain from the Iraq war?  Who gained from the war, if not the Iraqi civilians or the American citizens?

Contractors, primarily Halliburton company has reaped over $140 billion from US invasion of Iraq. In the end, the movie will leave you feeling both deeply sad and angry. Cheney’s brand of conservatism, his generation of mostly while males, stole from the future to enrich themselves. (Certainly not saying that all while men are evil and in fact it is with the support of dedicated men and women, white and black, that our country will always face the challenges head-on and after the challenges, will always emerge better and stronger). The cascading impact of actions of Cheney, Rumsfeld and others, very likely threw the country into a deep recession and eventually impacted lives of several future generations. AND HERE IS WHERE I HAVE A MESSAGE FOR MCKAY. Not it is not the concern with entertainment that keeps the citizens busy and unconcerned with what goes on. It is not even boredom with tiresome facts that are not revealed all at once. It is our preoccupation with making ends meet, with getting two square meals on the table for the families, that keeps us so woefully unprepared for devilish machinations of our elected leaders.
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VICE is a not-to-miss movie of this holiday season. The film has received several Golden Globe awards and numerous nominations. It is great entertainment along with powerful history lesson for free. On a scale of 1 to 5 with 5 being excellent, I rate the movie as 4.9.

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