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Movie Review: How To Train Your Dragon

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By Ankur Sohanpal:

Vikings were Norse explorers, warriors, merchants and pirates. Of course the popular romanticized version of Vikings being savages with brute strength and barbaric manner is at odds with archaeological evidence, but that what is popular, sticks. How To Train Your Dragon is a movie that adopts the latter version of typecasting the Vikings, and surprisingly, I did not mind it one bit.

This particular movie, however, takes the more typical perceptions and weaves in a bit of its own innovative storyline. For example, the whole purpose of existence of Vikings in this movie is to kill dragons, and so, yeah, dragons exist. And here is where the fun begins.

The whole town is a mass of ‘boring’, bulky, typical ‘Viking’ like people, that is — all except one. My dearest protagonist — Hiccup. A hiccup is a natural phenomenon which cannot be controlled. It is honest, unpretentious (where is the scope for pretence with a reflex action you cannot control?) and ungraceful. It is an action that a person must perform, and shrug off as inevitable, unavoidable fate. And this is the best way to describe Hiccup in the movie. While all the other Vikings are barbaric, and stupidly courageous to the point that they take on dangerous dragons with no inhibitions, Hiccup — with his small and slight frame — is the exception. He is, unfortunately, the Village Chief’s son as well.

Living in the perpetual shadow of your parents can be daunting for an offspring; especially if his build and frame is at loggerheads with that of his parents, or for that matter, the entire village. This story is about how Hiccup, with his wood and metal contraption (because, unfortunately, Hiccup being Hiccup, cannot do it with his bare hands like the other village folk) shoots down one of the most dangerous dragons, on one of the dragon’s many raids on the village. When the time comes to carve out the dragon’s heart as it lies bound in ropes, to show to his father, Hiccup frees the dragon instead. What follows is a tale of how the relationship between the humans and the dragons is changed forever, led by Hiccup.

If you love pets, and like watching an unconventional adventure where a pure-hearted person who loves his pets well, and who possesses a sufficiently attractive mixture of nerdiness, creativity, courage and spirit ends up being the hero, and you haven’t watched this movie, you really missed something.

Imagine this — the regular nerd undermined by everyone, ends up saving the entire village. And the way the story has been developed, it does not even look unlikely or impossible. Why do I love this movie? Because it gives me hope, that there is time for great things by me yet.

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    Its “How to train your dragon”

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        An ambassador and trained facilitator under Eco Femme (a social enterprise working towards menstrual health in south India), Sanjina is also an active member of the MHM Collective- India and Menstrual Health Alliance- India. She has conducted Menstrual Health sessions in multiple government schools adopted by Rotary District 3240 as part of their WinS project in rural Bengal. She has also delivered training of trainers on SRHR, gender, sexuality and Menstruation for Tomorrow’s Foundation, Vikramshila Education Resource Society, Nirdhan trust and Micro Finance, Tollygunj Women In Need, Paint It Red in Kolkata.

        Now as an MH Fellow with YKA, she’s expanding her impressive scope of work further by launching a campaign to facilitate the process of ensuring better menstrual health and SRH services for women residing in correctional homes in West Bengal. The campaign will entail an independent study to take stalk of the present conditions of MHM in correctional homes across the state and use its findings to build public support and political will to take the necessary action.

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        The long-term aim of the campaign is to develop an open culture where menstruation is not treated as a taboo. The campaign also seeks to hold the schools accountable for their responsibilities as an important component in the implementation of MHM policies by making adequate sanitation infrastructure and knowledge of MHM available in school premises.

        Read more about his campaign.

        Harshita is a psychologist and works to support people with mental health issues, particularly adolescents who are survivors of violence. Associated with the Azadi Foundation in UP, Harshita became an MHM Fellow with YKA, with the aim of promoting better menstrual health.

        Her campaign #MeriMarzi aims to promote menstrual health and wellness, hygiene and facilities for female sex workers in UP. She says, “Knowledge about natural body processes is a very basic human right. And for individuals whose occupation is providing sexual services, it becomes even more important.”

        Meri Marzi aims to ensure sensitised, non-discriminatory health workers for the needs of female sex workers in the Suraksha Clinics under the UPSACS (Uttar Pradesh State AIDS Control Society) program by creating more dialogues and garnering public support for the cause of sex workers’ menstrual rights. The campaign will also ensure interventions with sex workers to clear misconceptions around overall hygiene management to ensure that results flow both ways.

        Read more about her campaign.

        MH Fellow Sabna comes with significant experience working with a range of development issues. A co-founder of Project Sakhi Saheli, which aims to combat period poverty and break menstrual taboos, Sabna has, in the past, worked on the issue of menstruation in urban slums of Delhi with women and adolescent girls. She and her team also released MenstraBook, with menstrastories and organised Menstra Tlk in the Delhi School of Social Work to create more conversations on menstruation.

        With YKA MHM Fellow Vineet, Sabna launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society. As a start, the campaign aims to begin conversations on menstrual health with five hundred adolescents and youth in Delhi through offline platforms, and through this community mobilise support to create Period Friendly Institutions out of educational institutes in the city.

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        A student from Delhi School of Social work, Vineet is a part of Project Sakhi Saheli, an initiative by the students of Delhi school of Social Work to create awareness on Menstrual Health and combat Period Poverty. Along with MHM Action Fellow Sabna, Vineet launched Menstratalk, a campaign that aims to put an end to period poverty and smash menstrual taboos in society.

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        A Computer Science engineer by education, Nitisha started her career in the corporate sector, before realising she wanted to work in the development and social justice space. Since then, she has worked with Teach For India and Care India and is from the founding batch of Indian School of Development Management (ISDM), a one of its kind organisation creating leaders for the development sector through its experiential learning post graduate program.

        As a Youth Ki Awaaz Menstrual Health Fellow, Nitisha has started Let’s Talk Period, a campaign to mobilise young people to switch to sustainable period products. She says, “80 lakh women in Delhi use non-biodegradable sanitary products, generate 3000 tonnes of menstrual waste, that takes 500-800 years to decompose; which in turn contributes to the health issues of all menstruators, increased burden of waste management on the city and harmful living environment for all citizens.

        Let’s Talk Period aims to change this by

        Find out more about her campaign here.

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        A former Assistant Secretary with the Ministry of Women and Child Development in West Bengal for three months, Lakshmi Bhavya has been championing the cause of menstrual hygiene in her district. By associating herself with the Lalana Campaign, a holistic menstrual hygiene awareness campaign which is conducted by the Anahat NGO, Lakshmi has been slowly breaking taboos when it comes to periods and menstrual hygiene.

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        A Guwahati-based college student pursuing her Masters in Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Bidisha started the #BleedwithDignity campaign on the technology platform Change.org, demanding that the Government of Assam install
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