Sunday, September 24, 2023

Shostakovich and the Siege of Leningrad

 Kobo offers a wonderful opportunity to read worthy books, but I was in a hurry and needed to grab some library books and had no time for a long waiting list.  I stumbled on "Symphony for a Dead City."  It is a partial biography of Dmitri Shostakovich focused around the Leningrad Siege of World War II, and using that event as a platform.

Dmitri Shostakovich was a name I had heard of even had a few tunes in a music collection, but did not think of him as key music composer.  Born in Leningrad he became recognized as a musical talent at an early age.  Despite his talent he was criticized by Stalin and was lucky his reputation helped him avoid execution.  He was closely watched.  Like other celebrities he might be allowed foreign travel, but only if his family would be used as hostages.

 He wrote film music and quartets and even an opera.  Symphonies are mostly how he is remembered.  He wrote six symphonies that earned international recognition before the Germans attacked Russia and Leningrad.  A terrible mistake was made by Leningrad authorities that assured there would be very little access to food.  The Germans decided it would be more efficient to starve the city.  The longest siege in modern history resulted and many did die and some others escaped.  Heroic efforts and more commonly desperate measures.  Many books were eaten or burned for heat. More seriously dead bodies (cats, dogs and humans) for food.  A distinction was made between eating a discovered dead body and murdering a live human being for food.    

Shostakovich volunteered for a fire brigade, but had little encounter with real danger.  He started writing his Seventh Symphony and shaped it to reflect the Nazi invasion.  He was deemed important enough to get him out of the city to finish in her safer location.  He always liked to use a big orchestra, but made a bigger effort to include more musicians as a way of protecting them.  Several international orchestras were anxious to get the complete scores and it was hailed a critical success as well as a morale booster.

Stalin was a ruthless leader who had his opposition killed.  The generals were afraid to give him bad news.  Ironically he believed Hitler and made excuses when promises were broken.  An awful shock when he realized he had been betrayed.  After a period of adjustment he applied his ruthlessness to the Germans.  Americans and Brits were supportive, but Stalin always wanted more, most notably a second front.  Without the sacrifices made by Russian soldiers and civilians the war would have lasted much longer.  More Russians died than their allies.

Hitler looked down about the Slavic races and felt the land they occupied would be used for German expansion.  In fact many people in subjugated Russian areas rose up against Stalin, but they were quickly abused and most turned around and fought against the Nazi intruders.

Shostakovich was still not appreciated by Stalin and he was denounced with his works forbidden in 1948.  Nonetheless he composed another three symphonies in his life.  He was a devoted family man who enjoyed soccer.

Nikita Kruschev denounced Stalin when it was safe to do so--after his death.

What compelled me to write a blog about this random selection was the author Matthew Tobin Anderson's historical points.  He felt the war with Stalin and Hitler brought out the worst in man, but humans do learn to co-operate.  Stalin and Hitler were both tyrants who harmed their countrymen, but were overcome.

Dmitri Shostakovich is one of a string of fine Russian composers that we can all enjoy.

Friday, September 15, 2023

Ducks: My first graphic novel

 I try to catch the Canada Reads contest each year.  Only got sections of it and was surprised to learn that a graphic novel won the 2023 prize.  I am classifying this as fiction, but it is pretty obvious it contains a lot of personal content--Kate Beaton uses her real name and those of others.

Up until my teen years I read lots of comics, mostly about the super heroes, but also Classics Illustrated.  By high school I had transitioned to hard cover books and taken a snobby view of comics.  Graphic novels tackle adult themes and offer another platform for serious matters.

For instance, rape.  The author admits to suffering two rapes and both are referred to in the novel. 

The main thrust of the novel reflects a current reality.  Adolescents are encouraged to get a university education.  All too often they end up with a lot of debt and poor job prospects.  If they happen to live in the eastern part of Canada job prospects are even more precarious.  The author from Cape Breton felt overwhelmed with her debt and had heard from Maritimers that high paying jobs were available at the Alberta oil sands.

One aspect of working in the Oil Sands is that there are very few women.  Rape was a relatively rare event, but sexual harassment was very common.  Lewd comments were almost taken for granted.  Kate tried to recognize a male perspective.  Many of the men had left wives and children and had little contact with women.  They did not go to such an isolated place to meet women.  Men without women are different creatures.  Loneliness was common and with little mental health support, drugs and alcohol were common

The big driving force was money.  One outcome was the desire for overtime and taking on second jobs (to make up for mandatory rest times).  For some the extra money causes extra consumption.  Kate resisted going home to save money, but did take off a year to work in Victoria at a lower paying job, but closer to her interests.

The title "Ducks" refers to the environmental problem.  At one point newspapers were publicizing dead ducks due to chemical leaks. Kate pointed out that there were plenty of meetings regarding safety, but not as much emphasis on environmental concerns.  

Although people from all parts of Canada worked in the Oil Sands the culture was most effected by a lot of Newfoundlanders and Maritimers.  Apart from their unique cultures perhaps mostly expressed in musical tastes they share a history of jobs disappearing such as from fishing and mining.

In an afterward Kate admits her consciousness of indigenous issues came from her experiences in Alberta.  She got special permission to use the words and likeness of Celina Harpe an elder of the Cree community of Fort McKay in the narrative. 

The book gives me no desire to visit the Oil Sands, but she wrote about time in Cape Breton and Victoria, two places I have visited and loved.  Too bad we can't spend all our time in such places.

Are graphic novels for you?  It depends.  For me the subject and the credibility of the author would be critical.  This was an encouraging venture and many of you might have gotten some value out of it.

The book reminds me of my efforts to be an environmentalist in conflict with my desire to retire.

My experience with Suncor didn't start out to support the Oil Sands.  One of the retailers I sold to was Ontario Co-ops who had an arrangement with Sunoco (part of the Suncor corporation) to blend in ethanol to gasoline served at many of their locations.  Ethanol was supposed to give improved engine efficiency and was natural being derived from corn.  Seemed like a good thing to invest in and I wrote away for an annual report from Suncor.  I spent a lot of time looking for any mention of ethanol and finally found it, but it was pretty miniscule.  Still I thought I was very clever and bought shares in my self-directed pension fund.

Ethanol became more common, but more importantly Suncor turned out to be the most successful investment I ever made.  The dividends at first were small, but I  bought a few more shares, then noticed it seemed to split every few years.  A few times thinking I was ahead of the game I took the profits after a split to diversify into a few other stocks, some of which did ok, but none performed as well as Suncor.  I became more conscious of the Oil Sands, but still saw ethanol as my motivating driver.  Oil from the Oil Sands was much more expensive to extract, but Suncor and others invested large amounts of money for what was seen as the inevitable rise in prices.  Lots of political turmoil had made both Canada and the United States dependent on foreign countries and in fact our purchase of gas seemed to be financing lots of Mid-East jihadists.

The dividends from Suncor became significant and while interest rates declined my income and capital gains from Suncor was more critical to retirement plans. Another thing I noticed on a few day trips to the States and a major trip to New Zealand was that the Canadian currency had more power than earlier.  The Canadian dollar seemed to track the price of oil.

I would like to think I am both smart and ethical.  The smart part of me thought although fossil fuels were bad, nothing I did would change their power, so I might as well keep the stock.  I had some advice that reinforced that thinking.  Later spurred by my son Michael I started voting for the Green Party and in general became more concerned and informed about Climate Change, but still clung to Suncor.  Eventually my conscience troubled me more and I began to believe that renewables would eventually conquer the fossil fuels.  I sold my Suncor shares, though I confess I timed it until just after the date of record for dividends. 

In total my Suncor investment increased by well over 10 fold.  I used to drive more than the average person because of my jobs ( that has already been curbed.  The Canadian currency has become weaker and that will also affect my travels and probably even local purchases. Hopefully the air will be nicer and perhaps the climate more controllable, but both are long term projects.

Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Can You See Us?

Good films are coming from all corners of the earth.  Zambia has done films and developed some expertise, but "Can you See Us? is the first to make the American Netflix.  There is usually a lot of accessible in-formation to sift through, but Zambia has a short history.  Roughly over 90% of the dialogue is in English with some in Nyanja (subtitled).

One factor giving this film credibility is the back story.  John Chiti was born an albino, meaning with no skin pigmentation he was white.  His father was so upset, he blamed his wife and divorced her.  Another man stepped in was treated as a father.  At first he was sheltered, but when he ventured out he was mocked and bullied.  His stepfather explained that people feared those who were different.

After his mother died he was able to live with his father and step-mother.  His father had changed his attitude and John not only got a stepmother (in the film she was initially upset), but also some siblings.  He discovered music and became accepted  as a composer and performer.

The film also depicts an attack he endured at the age of 15.  There existed a superstition that the body parts of an albino had magical powers.  He was rescued, but such attacks are too common in Africa.

Not shown in the film are that he became an advocate starting the Albinism Foundation of Zambia. He also got involved with the African Disability Protocols to help promote disability rights across the continent.  He wrote a song, Corona Virus to point out the challenge of dealing with the pandemic for the disabled.  He feels his celebrity on television and from his songs has made life easier for albinos.  He helped contribute to the script.

"Mwabi," the original title is a derogatory term for albinos.

Cast and crew deserve some attention for this historic effort that is well worth your time.

Kenny Mumba was the director.  This is his first credit as director, but has one credit each for editing and cinematography.  He had gained experience with commercials across several African countries. 

Lawrence Thompson did the writing  Lawrence was an executive producer and the main writer.  He also directie a short film.  He created Zambia's first soap opera, producing and directing over 100 episodes.   He was a cameraman during the research for "Cry Freedom" (1987).  Andrew Thompson also was involved with the script had been an accountant for a previous film

Yasmin Dodia-Mumba was the  producer.  She has a background in commercials and musical videos.

Rick Joaquim was the cinematographer   36 credits as cinematographer.  Started in South Africa doing music videos and commercials.  Later based in London getting involved with narrative films returning to South Africa.  Won numerous awards internationally.

Leon Gerber works from South Africa with 11 film credits as editor.  Nathan Busumani was also editor with his first film and had a small role in the film.

 Kangwa Chileshe played the father.  He has three film credits, all in Zambia.

Cast a young albino girl Thabo Kaamba to play the role of Joseph  at the age of eight, Thabo’s path crossed with Yoweli, a local filmmaker who cast her in "Ubunto season 2", a show that aired in South Africa.

The President of Zambia, Hakinde Hichlema attended the premiere and has promised he would take steps to improve the situation.

African films have not gotten much attention in North America, but that is changing.  Recently the Group of 20 invited the African Congress to join.  Nigeria is already a prolific film producing nation, developing skills and making inroads to the rest of the world.  Check:

Monday, September 11, 2023

FIBA World Cup 2023

I have grown fond of watching the FIFA World Cup, but now that I have a little better access to the FIBA World Cup I prefer its excitement.  The most recent FIFA world cup was the 22nd edition and had 32 teams and offered 64 games.  The current FIBA World Cup is the 19th version and also has 32 teams, but offers 85 games.  Part of the difference is that soccer is supposedly more strenuous and the players need more time off.  Basketball games are only 40 minutes long and substitutions are frequent. The 24 second clock assures there is stress, but few lulls in action.  After the first group games the teams are split into new groups--the top two of each group still in the run form new groups--the bottom two form another group, but can no longer advance.  In effect this means each team gets at least 5 games. 

The NBA has many foreign players.  With some players and owners the FIBA World Cup is an intrusion on free time and also risky.  Others feel representing their nation is a goal. The rules are not the same and given an advantage to those who understand them better. They know one another--a positive photo shows Luka Domcic and Shai Gilgeus-Alexander hugging one another.  At the end was seen Dennis Schroder hugging Bogdanovich.

We all love to watch outstanding scoring for which there was plenty but a key to winning is defense.  The top teams all displayed strong defense.

The tournament was held in three different countries.  Jakarta, Indonesia; Manila, Philippines and Tokyo, Japan.  Indonesia apparently did not get the automatic host team, although the most populous of the three.  I did notice in Jakarta women wearing at scorer table which demonstrates progress to equality.

In the group sections tv. coverage was only accessible for the Canadian team.  As the games were at inconvenient times I mostly relied on PVR versions and got caught two times with games that exceeded the time limits of my programming efforts.  A lesson learned.

The Canadians were considered real contenders, but not quite as much as they turned out to be.

The French game was a big surprise.  They were ranked higher and initially seemed to deserve it.  However the Canadian team pulled themselves together and easily won during the second half.  Not quite the first time I noticed Shai Gelgeus-Alexander from Hamilton, but he put ona  great display and proved to be a two way player.

Lebanon was overwhelmed. They were not too bad on offense, but terrible at defense.

The third game repeated a pattern of the first game.  Latvia was an excellent team who played very well together and jumped off to a lead in the first half.  Again the Canadians seemed to have better understood their opponents and came from behind.

In the crossover group the Canadians lost to Brazil, putting them in their first must win situation.   

Spain was another higher ranked team with a lot of good players and worked together very well.  This was for me the most exciting game of the tournament.  The Canadian coach, Jordi Fernandez had coached under the Spanish coach.

The game against Slovenia had one of top players in the world, Luka Domcic.  Another tense game

Canada lost to Serbia.  Fouls did them in.  There is a flukey element in that some actions result in a foul, but very similar actions do not necessarily.  The timing is also critical in that risks need to be minimized after early fouls.  I remember in high school that too often a player who has fouled will make a quick second foul and it is wise to take a player out of the action.  Having said that it must be acknowledged that fouls happen because one team gets an edge and can only be stopped by a foul. 

They beat U.S. for bronze in overtime.  U.S. scored 4 points with 4 seconds to force the overtime. They deliberately missed second foul shot so they could shoot for a 3.

The Gold medal game was 83-77 in favor of Germany which was the only undefeated team.  I had seen Germany almost lose to Latvia and later defeat the U.S.  Dennis Schroder was the key player.  Relatively short he was fast and very deceptive.  He looked terrible against Latvia and I despaired realizing he had been traded to the Toronto Raptors.  But he shone in two subsequent games and was awarded MVP for the tournament.  He demonstrated his leadership as he pulled down two huge team mates who took in his advice.  Schroder and Bogdan Bogdanovic were seen hugging after the German victory over Serbia. 

 The German coach, Gord Herbert was born in Canada and had participated on the Canadian basketball team for the 1984 Olympics and the 1986 FIBA World Cup.  He played professionally in Finland before getting into coaching.  He coached in Germany, France, Finland and Greece.  Also was an assistant coach for the Toronto Raptors.

The Serbian coach, Svetislav Pesic has an interesting history including ties to Germany.  He played for Yugoslavia.  He coached the Yugoslavian Junior team (that included Vlad Divac and Toni Kukoc) to World Junior Championship in 1987.  He coached a German national team to victory at the Eurobasket   in 1993.  In 2002 he took the Yugoslavian team to the gold medal for the FIBA World Cup.  He has coached club teams in Spain and Germany.  He has dual citizenship with Germany with a son who played on the German national team and a daughter who married a German player. 

For many the Olympics is a bigger deal, perhaps as part of the biggest sports event of any year.  Only 12 teams are included and there is a vigorous qualifying procedure.  There will be a change in lineups.  Nikola Jovic probably could have made a difference for the Serbians.  So might Jamal Murra, another key player for the Denver Nuggets for Canada.  For Canada I would like to see more bigger players such as Chris Boucher and Zac Edey will have matured to be more of a factor.  Each nation had players who did not participate in the World Cup.

My personal connection to basketball:

Saturday, September 9, 2023

How Borders Make and Break Our World

Borders are lines.  The lines represent control.  The author starts off with some concepts we take for granted and gives fascinating examples of how some borders have been set.  Then he steers us to the future and how we will have to adjust our thinking.

Humans have been making territories for thousands of years.  Mainly to protect what they consider their own.  

In Scandinavia we are told about boundary procedures between Norway and Sweden which has the longest European boundary between two nations  One interesting aspect was a recognition of the Sami who herd deer across those two nations plus Finland and Russia.  The Sami were involved in the foundation of the World Council of Indigenous People.  

 Roman Empire was pretty impressive in its extent.  I had been told as a young student that Hadrian's Wall was built to keep out the fierce Scots.  The author points out it really marked the northern most boundary of the Empire.

China is known for the Great Wall.   Modern times have called for new measures.  The concern is to keep out undesirable messages from the outside world. Incidentally to keep discontent inside.  In 1998 China built its first firewall out of fiber optics.  It required a lot of manpower as monitors.  Other countries, such as Russia, Iran, Egypt and Venezuela found the Chinese strategies could be copied to help keep out western notions.

Israel and Palestine had been subject to a lot of historical factors.  In 1947 the United Nations recommended for the creation of two independent states; one for the Jews and one for the Arabs with the city of Jerusalem being an international city.  Military action went against the Arabs and their found their territory being occupied.  The border became controlled by the Israelis and they started exploiting the Arab lands by destroying such things as olive trees and setting up housing for Jews.  Israel has received more support from the Americans (evangelicals a key element) than Palestine received from Arab nations.

Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon two English surveyors were hired to settle the border between Pennsylvania and Maryland that had earlier been bounded by two different royal grants.  One step in the procedure was to use detailed astronomical measurements. The Mason-Dixon came to be associated with the division between the North and the South.   The fugitive slave law allowed bounty hunters to cross the line to retrieve escaped slaves.  Relating this story to an American visitor this past weekend I was told that Toledo was mis located in Ohio as it actually when proper surveying should have been in Michigan.  This was so disruptive that it was decided to keep the borders the same.  To compensate Michigan was awarded the Upper Peninsula that had no land connections.

 North America had their divisions before Europeans began to impose their own lines.  The indigenous tribes were concerned also about hunting grounds and food growing areas.  The French, Spanish and English carved up most of North America and the lines changed with wars and treaties.  A Mexican Revolution created an independent nation.  By 1848 Americans attacked Mexicans and the net result was a redrawing of the border with the Americans taking over all of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and Texas and parts of Kansas, Oklahoma and Wyoming.  Many of the people in those areas considered themselves Mexicans or indigenous.

Donald Trump  announced his candidacy for President with claims that he would build a wall that Mexico would pay for.  Appealing to a large segment he promised he would stop the murderers and rapists.  What is overlooked is that America needs immigrants to keep their economy going.

Pandemic have crossed borders for centuries. The Black plague cut European populations more than half and was little understood.  One of the first strategies was to isolate victims.  Venice added ten days to a previous standard of 30 days isolation.  To get better protection they extended their watch and were able to divert ships from heading their way.  In effect they extended their borders.

Covid 19 intensified protections.  Immigration and tourism was halted while each nation tried to impose their restrictions.  Trade was greatly impeded and a common excuse for inflation was supply chain problems.  I remember reading years ago that the Japanese developed the concept of Just In Time Inventory which during Covid was upended.  We are still recovering, but have learned a few things including co-operating with other nations behind other borders.

Climate change is affecting everyone, although not evenly.  Your geographic location is key, but so is your wealth.  The author brings efforts in Africa to our attention.  A big concern is the spread of desert regions.  One strategy is to plant trees, but although lots of trees have been planted it has not worked.  Poor natives have found wood to be one of the valuable assets they have access to.  New strategies put a greater emphasis on soil restoration.

Ceuta and Melilla are two Spanish posts at the northern tip of Africa.  They are like magnets for refugees from sub Saharan Africa.  The Spanish Government has fortified both locations, but no matter the barriers the refugees keep coming.  Like the United States border draws refugees from Ecuador, Honduras and Mexico,.  For many they really could be classified as climate change refugees.  

Americans and Europeans think the hordes of people are just seeking economic benefits which is true, but tied into loss of opportunities due to climate change.  Those most affected by climate change are also the most poor and had little to do with causing climate change.   Humans have always sought better land when natural circumstances have changed.  Movement hindered by borders.

While mankind has spent tremendous effort to shore up lines other forces such as climate change and pandemics have shown little respect for these lines.  A political force in America and Europe is to fight immigration tooth and nail.  But maybe it is time to declare global citizenship and tackle the problems that really affect us all. 

Some more relevant thoughts:

Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Satyaprem Ki Katha

 This movie was selected because of a high rating, but in the beginning I felt cheated in that it seemed frivolous.  They might have overdone it, but when it turned serious I paid more attention.  There is a message and it comes near the end as with "A Thursday" (2022) only from a different perspective

The film does start off with carefree young man, Satyaprem ending up at a dance performance where Katha is putting on an excting routine.  Some time later he has occasion to rescue her from a suicide attempt.  She is resentful being blocked from her desire, but gradually Satyam, better known as Surya calms her down.  Her parents are so impressed even though there is not only a class difference, but a lack of career ambition they nevertheless request she marry Surya.  He is stunned, but agrees.  She only agrees because she realizes she has made a lot of bad decisions and defers to her father.  They do get married, but that is when we become conscious she has a deep problem.  

There is some humor, but we can't help realizing Katha has a serious problem.  She does come to appreciate Surya, but their relationship is troubled.  A quote from Katha hints there is an underlying problem:  "There are truths that others won't tolerate.  There are truths you cannot tolerate."

You might not be too surprised, but likely you will still be stunned.

A lot of talented people who led up to a stunning impact.  Here are some of them.

Sameer Vidwans was the director with ten film credits.  An earlier film "Anandi gopal" (2019) was in the Marathi language and won international awards.

Karan Shrikant Sharma was the writer and had 5 film credits.

Music provided by Manan Bhardwaj, Meet Bros., Payal Dev & Rochak Kuhli.  A few songs are sung by Arijit Singh, my very favorite singer.

 Ayananka Bose shared the cinematography.  He has 25 film credits including  "Dostana" (2008)"I Hate Luv Stories" (2010), "Kites" (2010), "Kaabil" (2017), "Freddy" (2022) and "Tu Jhoothi Main Makkaar (2023). 

Hari K. Vedantam also provided cinematography.  He had 38 credits including "Black" (2005), "Paheli" (2005) and "Fanaa" (2006).

Charu Shree Roy was the editor.  He started out writing and directing short films before becoming an editor.  He has 40 film credits includng "Lipstick under my Burkha" and  "Chhichhore" (2019).  See

Mukesh Chhabra provided casting. After studying acting he spent over six years teaching and acting.  As a casting he has been in demand.  He is noted for bringing such faces as Rajkummar Rao, Sushant Singh Rajput, Mrunal Thakur, Pratik Gandhi, Sanya Malhotra and Fatima Sana Shaikh to the screen. He has over 200 credits for casting including ""Amal" (2007), "Kai Che Po" (2013), "Wrong Side Raju" (2016), "Mom" (2017),  " Sacred Games" (2018-19), "Sanju" (2018), "Notebook" (2019), "The Family Man" (2019), "Dil Bechara" (2020) and "Laal Singh Chundha" (2022).  Check

Kiara Advani played Katha with a big contrast from provocative dancing to her troubled soul.  Her original name was Alia, but she was advised by Salman Khan as Alia Bhatt was well established.  She chose a character played by Priyanka Chopra name Kiara.  She has 32 film credits including "MS. Doni:  The Untold Story" (2016), "Lust Stories" (2018), "Good Newwz" (2019), "Kabir Singh" (2019) and "Guilty" (2020).  Check    She also has done films in the Telegu language and one upcoming.

Kartik Aaryan plays a title character, but better known as Surya.  His parents, both doctors wanted him to become an engineer which he finally completed the studies after an interruption following an early film.  He has 21 film credits including "Pyaar Ka Punchnama" (2011), "Pyaar Ka Punchanma 2" (2015), "Sonu Ki Tatur Sweety" (2018). "Dhamaka" (2018) and "Freddy" (2022).  When he was filming "Shehzade" (2023) there was a serious financial crisis and he returned his pay and was credited as a producer.  Check:

Anuradha Patel  played the aunt to Surya who intruded into the couple's problems.  She has 49 film credits including "Ya Jaane Tu...Ya Jaane Na" (2008).

Gajraj Rao played Surya's father.  He has 34 film credits including "Budhia Singh:  Born to Run" (2016), "Badhaal Ho" (2016) and "Made in China" (2019).  Check

Supriya Pathak played Katha's mother.  She has 84 film credits including "Gandhi" (1982), "Kamla Ki Maut" (1989),  "Sarker Raj" 2008),"Wake Up Sid" (2009), "Ram Prasad Ki Tehvi" (2021) and "Mimi" (2021).  She has done many films in Gujarati

Siddhath Randeria played Katha's father.  He has 13 film credits.

A few movies have found a contrast in tone between the early part and the ending are effective in making a point.  This one in my opinion succeeds.  Available on Prime with subtitles.

Sunday, September 3, 2023


 "Ustaad" (2023) is an unusual love story in that it involves a motorcycle as well as a girl.  I believe it was inspired by the director/writer's love for a particular bike.

The story is a story within a story as Surya is telling the senior pilot the story of his life while the plane is on automatic pilot.  We see Surya as a youngster at the fair with his father.  His father is supportive and encouraging him to play, but when we get to a Ferris Wheel ride, Surya panics and we learn he fears heights.

Later we learn that his father dies after falling from a family roof, further reinforcing his acraphobia.  His mother who is a teacher raises him.  Despite her good guidance Surya is aimless.  As he reaches his young adult hood he doesn't really have any plans.  His young colleagues make fun of him, particularly his inability to drive a motorcycle.  Somehow an old motorcycle catches his attention and he is directed towards an older mechanic who specializes in old motorcycles.  The mechanic gets it running and gives it a name, "Ustaad" which in Telegu means master or expert. 

At about the same time and as a result of a motorcycle he meets the girl, Meghana who is getting a college education and has plans for her future (which involves an argument with her father).  It takes awhile but they get closer and closer.  While this is advancing he watches a commercial jet over him as rides his motorcycle.  He associates his desire to be a pilot with the motorcycle and takes steps to overcome his acrophobia.  The next big event is a discussion with Meghana's father who sees Surya as a poor match for his daughter.  The rest of the film is a breakup with Meghana who admits she loves him, but sees no future, partly due to his inability to control his temper and his carrying through with his ambition to be a pilot.  It is not too much of a spoiler to tell you there is an heroic pilot scene.  

This enjoyable film, in Telegu language is the result of many talented people.

This is the first film for writer/director Phanideep.  At the end credits they show a photo of an old motorcycle as the inspiration for the film.  One can conclude that many of the incidents shown were part of Phandeep's history.

B. Akeeva provided the music and like the writer/director made his debut with this film.

Pavan Kumar Pappula was the cinematographer with 12 film credits.

Carthic Cuts was the editor with 10 film credits.  

Sri Simha Koduri plays Surya as he gradually matures.  He has 8 film credits as an actor and one as an associate director.  

Kavya Kalanram  plays Meghana.  She has 3 film credits.

Anu Hasan plays the mother of Surya.  Her father was an elder brother to Kamal Haasan, the famous Tamil film maker.  She redeived an MSC degree in Physics.  She got into Tamil films.  For four years she hosted her own show as anchor, "Koffee with Anu."  She has 13 film credits plus did some dubbing, including for Preity Zinta.

Ravi Siva Teja played a close friend (and advisor) to Surya.  He has 11 film credits.

Ravindra Vijay played the alcoholic mechanic that picked the name for the motorcycle and the film.  He earned a medical degree, but only practiced a short time.  He could speak five languages including English.  He started with theatre and went on to have 13 film credits including 8 episodes of "The Family Man" (2021).  Check:  

Gautham Vasudev Menon played the senior pilot who listened to Surya's story.  He has mostly been involved with Tamil films.  He directed 24 films, mostly in Tamil, but also a few of his earlier films were remade in Bollywood under his direction.  He has 31 acting credits, 24 directing credits and 21 writing credits.

It is basically a coming of age story.  The main character starts out as immature and over time he (or she) matures.   The couple are very likable and are well supported by the rest of the cast.  Available subtitled on Prime.