Sunday, November 30, 2008
First, and most obvious, the deterioration in journalistic quality. Is it just fervour? Or maybe over enthusiasm to fulfil a necessarily intrusive duty? Personally I have long thought that although the humanities suffer in our country in terms of prestige (oh you’re not doing engineering??!) at least undergraduate education in the arts is very good in a sufficient number of colleges. I know for sure it was in my college, while the biology syllabus, in contrast, was quite a joke. But where does this training translate? Is there a practical difficulty peculiar to studying journalism? Because time and again, and invariably, all our news channels have enquiring journalists who make you want to cringe and shut your eyes every two minutes. They are gutsy and enthusiastic, granted. But their talk-journalistic skills are either lost, or present but abysmal.
Witness journalist A talking to colleagues of Mr Karkare at his funeral. They reply with a ‘Yes, but now we must move on’. A can’t let go, but has to gaze deep and say ‘I can see there’s a lump in your throat’. At a funeral. Are they expected to pass a degree in crass insensitivity? Or take an oath to voice every observation, however irrelevant? This is not even radio for God’s sake, we can SEE!
Journalist B is in Pakistan and supposed to interview someone he can’t immediately establish contact with. So B gives you his personal views. ‘Anyway we all know ISI must be responsible’. ??! Who asked him?! Do they even realize how very irresponsible it is to spout random personal opinions?
The examples are endless, most of all the fact that the interviewers have more opinions and are louder than the interviewed..Please send them back to college..the BASIC tenet of a reporter HAS to be impersonalism. There’s simply no room for personal emotions in what should be unbiased ‘reporting’.
The second point is less serious perhaps..and more widespread- it is a sanctification of all actions of the dead. Until alive, its alright to criticize. Infact its alright to badmouth even. But death is an instant sanctification. Which means poor strategy, unnecessary though of course tragic sacrifices, miscalculations, all are quickly buried in a general funereal hush. Even the media (incredibly) , is uncomfortable saying ‘so and so may have made a mistake’. So be it. Don’t flog the dead. But surely you can flog the strategy?? This kind of misplaced emotional response can hardly be beneficial to anyone. Why do we have so much trouble dissociating person from act, analysis from vilification? The least tentative criticism will draw a ‘How can you criticize a hero? Would you have done what he did’? Is that the point? We all have our places, the issue is not an exchange offer. It is how you can learn to do what you do best, and what better way than to learn from the past? Nobody denies courage or commitment. That’s not the point being debated.
We can only hope that whatever the direct repercussions of this tragedy, and one hopes it will lead to some dawn of humanity, at least such side issues that we CAN tackle will be tackled. Or at least the fact that there is a problem admitted..
Saturday, September 20, 2008
WE think churches are responsible for mass conversions. So we attack the nearest church in sight. Why? Oh, we just don’t like it. Also, it gets rather boring sitting around in our political common room. This way we’re doing something. Two..umm..churches with one stone- Personal satisfaction plus you show ‘those people’ where they get off. Illegal? Not if you have the backing of the party in power. Horrifying? Well..It won’t draw any more attention than bomb blasts..after all the country is now acclimatized to violence..
A rural family thinks their daughter shouldn’t mingle with some male classmate (No, she doesn’t have the right to free speech and action, stupid question..). Do they talk, resign themselves, worst case, even disown her?? No. They pick up an axe and bludgeon both. Simple solution. It’s a matter of ‘honour’. Welcome to medeival justice in the age of free media, computers and nuclear tests.
From family to person. Traffic woes are apparently too much to take for us modern ‘stressed out’ individuals. Busdriver jumps out in a traffic jam and nearly strangles the autodriver in front. Couldn’t he hear the horn?? We would’ve thought hearing the horn was itself enough punishment..
But we really know we’ve touched rock bottom when art has to conform to some norm. A norm that varies from person to person, organization to organization. If M.F Hussain is constrained in his expressions of art, then one can imagine how bullied artists of lesser renown are likely to be. Worse, we’ll breed a whole generation of ‘artists’ (what a joke), whether painters,writers or moviemakers, all forced to function within some set of rules lest they ‘offend’ someone important. And yes. We take offence mighty quickly. Infact Jaya Bachchan’s casual statement, possibly just about deserving half a raised eyebrow, is enough to rouse a mob. There seem to be no dearth of people looking for an outlet for a great deal of latent physical energy, preferably a violent one. A variant of a 5 year old’s tantrum; except the lego blocks are rather larger and more expensive here..
What is it? Too much money and no work? Why are tempers so frayed and opinions pre-slotted? Is the aim to murder all free thought and expression? Is there ANY difference left between the misguided and singleminded young men who fanatically give up their precious lives, and the well fed but bored young men who throw stones for lack of anything better to do? Where is our sense of perspective? For instance, does a statue being set up deserve any, let alone much, attention, when there are homeless people waiting for that easily announced ‘compensation’??
Who are we to guide anyone’s imagination? In fact,who are we at all? Too may people seem to suffer from the delusion that they’re terribly important, and hence everything better function the way they want it to. Disillusion them, please. A couple of Indian Institutes of Perspectives may well be the need of the hour..
So the next time you want to paint the walls of your house, check with the neighbours first. They may not like yellow. Also check with the zillion religious and cultural organizations around, yellow may symbolize something someone doesn’t like. Oh and the glare at night may make it an easy target for bombing, the government needs to be consulted. What? YOU like yellow and its YOUR house? So? Don’t bring up irrelevant objections..
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Undiluted by song and dance,the romance is barely tangible,nobody could accuse any of the actors of being conventionally 'hot':)And yet they all are. Each actor has a niche role and works superbly within it. The ancient conflict between theatre and the world of movies surfaces in a very modern setting. Whether it is a passionate director bonding with the brilliant but eccentric actor, or the more earthy 'boyfriend trouble' discussions between the women, every relationship develops beautifully, and is eminently believable.
If you're looking for an evening of complete relaxation, a 'masala' flick, or some light entertainment, this is not the movie for you. But try again after a week. Because its worth it. Even if you get very bored in the first half hour (Kab tak ye Shakespeare -Wakespeare sunna padega?),it'll pass,and you'll almost definitely carry something back. If not Shefali Chaya's expressive movements, maybe Preity Zinta's shout to the mountains. Or maybe bits of Arjun Rampal's perfectionism. Or, if nothing else, the experience of having sat through a work of art..Go see it!!
Friday, September 12, 2008
Opinion polls are even better. Statistics was clearly never a mandatory subject for the pollers..'75% of Indians think Abhinav Bindra should be given the Bharat Ratna' (for example). How many did you ask? if you're lucky, 200. 'INDIANS think'??
But then spurious correlations and hyperbolic statements are the order of the day. Like someone said, if you have a 24 hour news channel, you must have something to put in it. I suppose we do get entertainment, if not information :> But where are the days when every paper had an agricultural correspondent, and investigative journalism was not uncommon? We are grateful now when reporters allow the reported to complete their sentences. No doubt the media DOES highlight otherwise buried matters (albeit selectively) but could we have it with a tad more discrimination, please?
Oh well. 95% of those who read this post shall now write a letter to the editor.. :)
Thursday, September 11, 2008
Anxious mums or homework blues,
Thoughts they hasten while YOU roam
To the place that you call home..
Oasis-next for the Bedouin,
Home means water, colour,and din
School van last drop for the student,
Home means FOOD, and of instructions a torrent:)
A rich imagination for the poet,
Home means ideas yet un-met..
Bored tolerance for the rebel,
A place in which he'd rather not dwell
Sounds and smells for the refugee
Home means with friends and relatives to be
And for the many dreamy eyed,
Home means love, and thoughts untied..
To all the world a familiar place,
And one with a curious way,
Of etching an impression clear and deep..
Of an image that is there to stay..
Sunday, July 6, 2008
Bunking college- on a high
Car to be serviced..what a pain,
Joyful tinkering..no thought of gain
Radio blaring in the lab
Random songs, all old and drab..
Prof is calling..Do this now!
Where’s that radio, beloved and how..
7 A.M the report’s due
Unearthly hour, but the Sun’s on cue..
Come Friday night- a stranger to sleep
Rising Sun- am up and set to leap
Help with cooking? Non- option.
Studying, painting, need to run..
Wait. Friends are over, nobody’s there..?
Now the kitchen’s overrun, much do and dare..
Akbar, Fa-Hien, Firdausi
Drooping eyelids on a spree..
Come Kannada period, and under the table,
Shining eyes scan the Kohinoor fable..
The day’s done, am heading home
Outwardly lawful - glowing chrome
Hugging to myself the secret times snatched-
The joy of stolen moments..
It struck me that we enjoy the 'illegal', if you like, pleasures in life far more than the legal ones :> Half the joy is taken away from small snatched episodes if they're authorized. Or worse, expected! What is it about the secret joy of stolen moments that is so unique and non substitutable? Perhaps a craving for romance, for adventure, for danger..and not being roaming Bedouins in the vast unknowns we have to satisfy our souls in as best a way as we can :>
Sunday, May 25, 2008
Besides, the specimen went annoyingly out of focus every time he tried to look closer..which meant another minute re-adjusting, which meant a ‘You must’ve missed the critical point!!’ from HER. Just because she’d worked here 10 years. And had unbelievable patience, he had to admit.. But that didn’t give her the right to scream at fresh learners. So everyone had different..what was it? Learning curves. That’s what the management dude had said ("Not ‘dude’, she’d say exasperatedly again..The English language is rich. Use it properly for god’s sake!") Phew.
But the thought of a learning curve somehow cheered up Nanu. Maybe I’m just curving..he thought. Just at the jump point..tomorrow I’ll be curved. And I’ll be the best observor at this place. Better than HER, even. He’d collect the maximum..oops. Was that a flicker?
With a sinking feeling Nanu stared back, scouring frantically through the lens. GONE! How’d it move? When? The beam. Damn. The BEAM. The indicator was at a green ‘release’, one half circle from the red ‘arrest’. That meant the only chance he had of catching it now was if it wandered into the field on its own. And fat chance there was of that happening. Nanu fiddled glumly with the knob. Had to be him.One last observation was all that was needed (‘Even YOU can’t screw that up’ had been the uplifting vote of confidence), and the work would’ve been wrapped up. The decision was unanimous anyway. That it must be a gesture of nervousness..poorly developed optic nerves, possibly. But the usual detractors had to be suffered. ‘Probably a form of mate attraction’, that was their theory. After all, it must be a handicap to go blind every few seconds. And if you could live with that, you were advertising your capability. Maybe. Nanu was skeptical. He..WHAT was that on the screen?
Nanu fumbled excitedly with the camera knob. The same specimen! Actually wandered back! Nanu Nantid, there IS a God. Now click and quick..
Two minutes later, Nanu leant back with a rush of wonder and satisfaction. SHE was right..it was his first spotting and there WAS something goosebumpsy about it. How did these specimens manage?? And hadn’t they invented similar instruments long long ago, to look at THEM? How did they observe, if they had to shut their eyes like this every few seconds? It was hard enough with his own ever open ones..No wonder these Human specimens collected all sorts of misguided information about US. For centuries, it seems.
Oops. He’d forgotten the ‘release’. One press and the specimen scurried away, de-magnified a million fold on Nanu’s screen.
Nanu got up and stretched. One pseudopod shot out preliminary to heading out. One last round of the lab and he could slither away, still much excited. After all, it was his first Blink..
This was in between centrifugation spins during an endless experimental procedure :> I don't quite know how the Sci-fi crept in or if its even understandable..infact I don't even clearly remember writing this! So please to overlook the disconnectedness if apparent :>
Monday, April 14, 2008
In the entertainment industry, what better example than the Radio? From big thrill to poor relative (versus television) back to hep device (now) it has come full circle. You can get attached to the radio in a way no television can understand. TV’s are inherently snootier..besides being non portable and in-your-face. Record players are nostalgicky but rather remote. CD and mp3 players may be small, but you know what you’re in for next- so they lose out on unpredictability. Really the only contender for the friendly neighbourhood dog is the radio. Non intrusive and eminently carryable-around, everything from music to radio doctor to love doctor to Chamarajpet Charles (must listen :>) is at your fingertips. Not to mention the rather more informative and innovative traffic jam busters and inverted movie reviews. You can go to sleep with the radio on, you can lug it around sneakily to potentially boring events, infact with the boom in RJing, its even a lucrative part time job option. Like so many trends that come back inexplicably, radio’s suddenly ‘in’. And I’m all for it!
‘Why are you getting angry?’ seemed the almost disturbingly constant refrain in response to these two observations, both from TV-
1) NDTV had its usual ‘Back to x years ago’ news item playing. This time it was set in Iraq when U.S occupation was ‘legal’. It showed three soldiers sauntering by; one stopped next to an obviously local child and held a gun airily against its head. Close-up- the child froze, pupils dilated, complete silence. After some seconds, the gun was withdrawn and the soldiers walked away with much hilarity. Turned out the child was one of two survivors from a war ravaged family.
If this incredibly callous behaviour is not cause for anger, what is?
2) CNN-IBN- Somebody’s died under tragic circumstances. The body’s being removed. A journalist thrusts the mike almost literally under the nose of one of the pall- bearers.
Do we celebrate on-the-spot reporting?
I’ve come across two types of responses to an expression of anger on my part-
a) One is the pacific ‘Its ok, don’t be angry’. To which my response would be that I see no merit in not being angry when there’s every reason to be! A general ‘chalta hai’ attitude suggests either inability to discriminate or plain laziness- neither of which is appealing.
b) The other response is ‘Why are YOU getting worked up?’ implying that all of us have our own headaches without taking on the world’s worries. This I can swallow when someone’s particularly fed up for some reason. But to live by this as a general principle? How insensitive are we getting as a people?
I may be over-reacting, but seems to me if pain, sorrow, hate, anger all have to be felt firsthand and shoved in our faces to appreciate, then would we ever generate writers, actors, artists of any calibre at all?? Incidentally, there are a set of nerve cells called ‘mirror neurons’ which fire (show a response) the same way when a monkey is subjected to some task as when its neighbour is subjected to the same task (say, tearing paper).
One could think of them, with some license, as ‘empathy neurons’. Are we on the way to a generation entirely lacking in ‘empathy neurons’? I find this a very disturbing thought..
Tuesday, March 18, 2008
Walk along that muddy lane
Stop a bit and smell the rain
Slosh your way through scattered pools
There's nothing calling you..
Burst of colour in your eye
Stare on, rainbows never lie
Drink in dahlias sinfully strong
There's nothing calling you..
Hug that mug and swirl your tongue
NEVER let cocoa go unsung :>
Hear the traffic or let it by
There's nothing calling you..
Soak in memories old and new
Make up stories - none of them true
Grab that second of pure content
There's NOTHING calling you!
This is a very off the cuff 10 min rhyme but certainly truly felt! I just had three conversations interrupted within 5 min of starting- all with ' Ok I must rush..' It made me wonder- Are we contaminating our leisure so much with outside thoughts that we no longer appreciate what it means? Is 'free time' equivalent to a lunch or movie out? Or classified as compulsory 'quality time' with someone? I find it very scary that we're gradually forgetting the concept of pure undiluted contentment. God knows (if he exists :>) its hard enough to achieve- but are we infact selling it away?
These are my standard mood enhancers- possibly ridiculously simple, but they work :>
P.S. 'Calling you' I realised, could well mean the mobile phone, too!
Also, Verse 1 is for Anusha and verse 3 for Najla.. :>
Everyone loves a cheerful soul. Or do we? Some people are day-happy, others blossom at night. Some are habitually cheerful, others periodically. Some generally sullen, are given to emitting unexpected guffaws, scaring the daylights out of everyone in the vicinity. But nothing beats the compulsively cheerful soul. He (for purposes of convenience) will greet you at all times with a 42 teeth smile and bubbling excitement accompanied by unreasonable laughter. For example, a casual meeting would run like this-
X: Hi!!! HOW was your day?!!
You: Um. Actually, not so good..my expmt crashed..
X: THAT’s ok!! I’m 100, no no, 120% sure it’ll work tomorrow!!
You: (How? Are you going to tell off the contaminant fungi?)
X: (continuing) And anyway if it doesn’t, just give up PhD!! Thats all!! Ha ha ha!
Sigh. If not for the constraints imposed by civilization.
X: What happened? Why are you looking so sad? Why are you walking alone??
You: I’m not in the least sad! Just looking forward to a quiet cup of tea..
You : Well, I have a book..
X: Book? Very bad. And yesterday I saw you laughing so much??
Unfortunately compulsive exuberance can be overpowering, even numbing. All neuronal connections jam while you suffer..actually boil..in silence. Request to all well meaning hideously cheerful cheer-uppers- the last thing the dejected researcher (already fed up with the re- search angle :>) needs is an over happy 120 dB response. We know you mean well. And much grateful. Really. But would appreciate it much more at lower volume and with less close range enthuon emission. Not only does it make the person feel worse, it generates homicidal tendencies..
From the sufferer’s point of view, the trick is to avoid talk. X is generally bursting to inform you WHAT a perfect world this is, but so long as you circumvent the vocal cord output, you can take the visual effects. With time..
Not that you should seek out partners in dejection (so to speak!), but its either hurry past X or book that room in Central jail. And they don’t even have a Friday movie..
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Do you, every morning, in honour of the day,
Recall the nights gone before, and filled with devotion pray-
Offering heartfelt thanks that the simulation worked,
Or that on the agar plate a suspicion of growth lurked,
Do you lie in bed estimating your advisor’s arrival time,
So you can make it a split second before (sorry, that didn’t rhyme)
Is your idea of a holiday the incubation time of your strain?
Or even the (rare) power cuts that you ask for in vain?
Do you tell yourself that the U.S is the place to be,
While religiously going to the Friday (hindi) movie..
Do you insist on a ‘half fry’ and drink endless cups of tea,
And try convince other people apple cake is a delicacy..
Do you groan at being ‘scooped’ at least once a quarter..
And wonder if PhD’s can’t be exchanged by some system of barter..
Do you think the campus probably has lots of animal (literally) charm,
And also think you’ve done a lot by not doing them any harm..?
Then no Linnaean committee would hesitate in proclaiming you-
Species ‘IIScia’ loud and true!
Doc:(Peering two inches to the right of me..turned out he had a squint..)So, what is the problem?Mum(nervously): Not me, my daughter..(pointing at me)
Me (brightly): Hello Sir I'm Laasya.
Doc: Hmm. (quiet for 10 seconds) So?
Me (taken aback): So..?
Doc: So what happened last year?
Me (already on the verge of giggling aloud): No, thats my name. L-a-a-s-y-a.Not 'last year'..
Doc: Oh. Nice name, nice name. V unusual. (hideous sudden smile)
Me (Ya, obviously not familiar to you..) Thank you. Umm (determined to introduce business)..I ve been throwing up all solid food for the last two weeks almost. Taken xyz, strict diet, anything beyond curdrice seems bad..
Doc: Happens. Happens. All stress.
Mum (eagerly): Yes she's always stressed out, you know how these students are..
Doc: Oh ya you're at the institute? No wonder. V grim place
Me: (Not sure what to say..)
Doc: (leaning over and directly)Your mother has told me everything!
Me (whispering to add to drama) Everything?
Doc (satisfiedly):Ye-verything. You are feeling stressed right?
Me: No Sir, actually I'm feeling v happy
Doc: Don't be shy. All institute students are feeling low. They go through these phases..
Me (will someone please pay attention to my tummy??!): Sir I'm normally v happy.
Mum (reluctantly):Ya she's always been v chirpy, but (recovering) very tense. Full of nervous energy (her favourite phrase)
Doc: So (heartily), v quiet girl no? You should talk more, I think?
Mum (stunned): N-o, I don't think thats a problem
Me:(put on a quiet introverted face)
Doc (foiled but not giving up): Oh. Anyway you should laugh. (to mum) you should tell her more jokes at home..ha ha
Mum (weakly): If she laughs any more..
Mum:(firmly) She laughs a lot, actually. Now abt this problem..
After which the conversation was entirley technical and useful, but I have to say less entertaining!!
Hindi movie titles these days are binary. Either they begin with ‘K’ or they don’t. So this one doesn’t, for starters. The title is also unambiguous, unlike for example a ‘Pyar mein kabhi kabhi’ which could be set around anything from Mahmud of Ghazni to the September 11th attacks. Infact, make the most of the title, its one of the few things in the movie that is not subject to multiple interpretations..:>
Visually, for at least half the time, the movie is a treat. Tanishq has done as amazing a job on the stones and mirrors as whoever else has done on the clothes. Creative and genuinely harks back to a Mughal era feel. Personally I fell in love with Jodha’s room- my favourite movie room ever now. Except its a bit big by modern housing standards..The other part of the visuals may or may not be appreciated depending on your taste- I find the sight of a six foot something villain wallowing in a sauna rather traumatizing, as also a disgusted elephant having to pretend to be cowed by Akbar (I bet it had its revenge in the rehearsals).
Entertainment-wise the movie has little competition in the recent past, unintentionally that is. But a MUST is that you see it with the right kind of company..I had the best :>, particularly well suited for this movie’s requirements, too. It’d decide whether you collapse in an agony of laughter or get a migraine through staring unbelievingly. Think of a cliché, come up with an obvious dialogue, and its there. And the dances, Oh God the dances! (Special mention: ‘khwaja meri khwaja’- watch poor Hrithik forced to sacrifice those amazing dancing skills).
On a more serious (and generous) note, some of the character actors are genuinely good, and every actor is anyway desperately trying to rescue a non existent story. Unfortunately the movie’s neither good, nor so bad that it becomes good. It is, sadly, just painfully mediocre. How could you, Gowariker? Not after Lagaan and Swades. Really not.
So go watch it, but not alone. You may not come back...