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Zam Naqvi

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Guillermo’s Latest Monster in “The Shape of Water”

“Monsters are evangelical creatures for me. When I was a kid, monsters made me feel that I could fit somewhere, even if it was… an imaginary place where the grotesque and the abnormal were celebrated and accepted.” – Guillermo Del Toro. We enter the boring and mundane existence of Elisa (Hawkins) a voiceless orphan who communicates through sign language and is scraping together a living working as a cleaner in a top-secret government laboratory, where a range of dubious experiments are run. Elisa continues with her day to day routine until a suspicious delivery arrives and is housed in the chamber that she is responsible for cleaning.  The “delivery” is an unusual sea monster being studied by the FBI that Elisa fall’s in love with.  The film’s message of a  mute woman who falls for a captured sea monster is a tribute to outsiders of all kinds — a message that…

Abdul Kareem: Love and Monarchy

Abdul Kareem, Munshi, secretary and “loving son” to Queen Victoria is the subject of the film”Victoria and Albert”, little is known about the Queen’s final companion before her death, except perhaps the royal household’s discomfort at their closeness. Abdul Kareem was born near Jhansi in British India, the son of a hospital assistant. In 1887, Victoria’s Golden Jubilee year, he was one of two Indians selected to become servants to the Queen Victoria, who came to like him a great deal and gave him the title of “Munshi”, an Urdu word often translated as “clerk” or “teacher”. According to Abdul Kareem’s biographer Sushila Anand, Queen Victoria’s own letters testify that “her discussions with the Munshi were wide-ranging—philosophical, political and practical. Both head and heart were engaged. There is no doubt that Queen Victoria found in Abdul Kareem a connection with the world that was fascinatingly alien, and a confidant who…

Yasuke: The Black Samurai

Yasuke was of black African origin and who served under the Japanese warlord Oda Nobunaga in 1581 and 1582, as a Samurai. According to historical accounts, Yasuke may have been a Muslim who originated from Mozambique,  Portugal, Angola or Ethiopia.  Described as healthy and good-looking with a pleasant demeanour, tall (at least 6 ft. 2 in.) and had a very strong, and intimidating presence.  Yasuke quickly rose through the ranks becoming Nobunaga’s chief warrior and was given his own residence and a ceremonial katana by Nobunaga. Nobunaga eventually made Yasuke his bodyguard and a samurai in 1581 and was stationed at Nobunaga’s Azuchi Castle. Mitsuhide, who was one of Nobunaga’s trusted vassals, who later went onto to betray his Lord at Honnōji, dismissed Yasuke as “a beast” and not a true samurai because he wasn’t Japanese. Yasuke offered his sword to Mitsuhide, as was customary, and returned to the service of the…