Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Regulate the blogs?
We all know about Indian media picking up the most irrelevant issues and looking at it with the most pessimistic eyes. With the increasing popularity of the blogosphere, a debate on the "good" and the "bad" of blogs by our media was long pending. So, we have Barkha Dutt of NDTV bring in a few bloggers to her show and debate on whether blogs should be regulated.

Having followed a handful of blogs pretty regularly, I can vouch for the fact that there are some responsible Indian bloggers in India and abroad. They bring in plenty of intellectual and entertaining discussions from credible authors to fill up that boring hour at office.

Obviously, NDTV would want to have nothing with these bloggers. Instead, they get in someone who calls herself "Compulsive Confessor" who gleefully keys down the most intimate details of her life. She looks hardly keen to hide her "bed jumping" chronicles to the hordes of voyeurs lapping up her blog and showering appreciation for her "courage". Giving company to the Confessor on the show is a gay guy who again runs a "gay" blog and a Confessor clone called "Foxy Tanya" (Fancy that for a name). With such an "elite" panel, Barkha Dutt discusses the dangers that blogs pose, possibility of invasion of privacy, irresponsible journalism and basically, the end of world. A massive generalization is made about all blogs in India and then the question about regulating blogs is popped up.

Talk about bad statistics and bad extrapolation, we have all seen that before

Saturday, February 09, 2008

Bangalore Times
It's that whiff of Saturday morning breeze that brought a thousand memories gushing. Having lived in a place of scorching heat and chilling cold for quite some time, it seemed like there was no room for middle ground. But this Saturday was different. It felt like what is known back home as "Bangalore Weather". A day which should begin with iDli vaDe sambhar and a day when you are completely justified to hate cereal in cold milk.
Though I am guilty of crying hoarse about traffic jams in Bangalore, there are plenty of things dear to me about Bangalore (I refuse to call it Bengalooru) and let the nostalgia flow...

1. Janata Hotel, Malleshwaram: In our Sandalwood version of James Bond movies, we had villains going after a secret formula of a scientist who seemed to have beaten the Superpowers in creating a weapon of mass destruction. It all seemed funny then, but I wouldn't mind putting my money on the thugs to get me the formula for the sambhar at Janata Hotel. It had just the right mix of everything and a crisp vaDe to accompany it.

2. Corner House, Residency Road: Finishing a full serving of "Death by Chocolate" was a "manly" thing to do. A sense of accomplishment prevailed when rich dark chocolate amidst layers of vanilla was conquered. The lesser mortals who resigned from the battle were given generous tips and "techniques" involved in finishing up the bowl.

3. Halli Mane, Malleshwaram: Located on the one-way street of Sampige Road, it used to take us forever to reach Halli Mane. Though the "rural" tag didn't sound convincing, the food was excellent. The akki rotti, anna saaru, mosaru anna and "JOY" ice cream to end it all, it was worth every paisa.

4. Pizza Hut: I always loved the Indianized version of pizza with "Paneer Pizza", "Tandoori Pizza"et al. And ofcourse, the funny debate about which is better: Pizza Hut or Pizza Corner. It all seemed like debating between Pepsi and Coke. How could you ever tell the difference?

5. Masala Corn, Garuda Mall: Driving all the way to a huge mall just for a small shop which serves corn? It all happens when you get corn smeared with butter, chaat masala and lime, just the right thing you want when you are, or accompanying a window shopper.

6. Bun Samosa, Bakery near MSRIT: Bun samosa was the ideal thing to cheer us up after having screwed up our internal exams, with all the green chutney and ketchup to get our think-tanks in the group to hatch up strategies to catch hold of question paper for the subsequent internals.

To add to the list, all the churmuri, masala puri gaaDis at Seshadripuram, Malleshwaram 13th cross, all the Gobi Manchurian and Fried Rice aDDas and ofcourse the famous Dayana near M.S.Ramaiah campus, notorious for serving Veg Noodles made at the canteen next door at 2 Rupees extra.

Friday, September 14, 2007

Indian Idol
There were days in good old Doordarshan when we had mini-serials which usually lasted for 13 episodes. The prime time shows did not have to walk the tight rope of TRPs. The viewers didn't have to watch the shows amidst frantic punching of SMS'es. These shows did not trigger blog-wars on the internet and spawn countless Orkut communities. Those were the days when TV shows were not corporate "brands".
Enter Indian Idol.
I can't help wondering that if the urban Indians voted in our electons with the same zeal as they vote for Indian idol, we probably would have had a much better political system.
This only speaks about how our media vigorously market their shows. They don't have to wait for a India-Pakistan cricket dual to get the entire nation's frenzy. They know just the right ingredients to package a TV show into something a family would love to discuss at the dinner table. The show managers probably wouldn't mind people like Javed Akhtar and Annu Malek making absolute fools of themselves as long as they can fuel more debates among the janta. The gossip rooms are filled with smoky rumours of Chang-Deepali fling. Gender debate, regionalism debate - you name it, Indian Idol's got it.
People who talk about indian police's inefficiency and condemn it for not acting fast, haven't obviously seen the way it has been voting for Prashant Tamang. Another contestant, Amit Paul, has been named the Ambassador of Meghalaya. When was the last time a person got a chance to be the ambassador of a state because of a singing competition? To quantify the nation's hysteria for the show, every episode receives a whopping 50 lac votes.
This only shows how a mere singing competition, if packaged into a nice brand, can become an absolute hit. Some food for thought for wannabe MBAs?

Monday, March 12, 2007

Classic ToI
There have been many instances where the editors at Times of India have been caught napping. Here [Link] is one such instance which proves exactly that.
The articles is trying to convey that Kareena Kapoor is going great guns in her career. The author obviously new to the job is making an all out effort to use metaphors and words right out of his high school english textbook.
Thus we have phrases like "She’s looking like a million dollars these days". Her skimpy outfits may make her tempting to a few lusty eyes, but words fail me when someone says she looks like "a million dollars".
The article goes on to say "
anyone would be on Cloud 9. But Bebo is surely higher than that". Huh?
The article then abruptly starts mentioning about fitness and working out. Just when you thought the article was meandering out of it's territory, our smart author pulls it back with a smartest pun ever - "
everything seems to be working out right for me".
The article following this about Sanjay Dutt tries to do better. It says "Sanju is a perfect example of men who are tough on the inside, soft as a pancake on the inside".

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

A tale of two weddings
People who have been following the Indian newspapers wouldn't take long to figure out which are the two weddings in question here. Two celebrity pairs, Arun Nayar-Liz Hurley and Abhishek Bachchan-Aishwarya Rai, are getting ready to tie the knot in the two most extragravant wedding bashes and understandbly, our media has a huge resposibility to give us every detail, from what the chef is garnishing the main course with, to the fantasies of Sir. Elton John, the best man to Nayar-Hurley wedding, of wearing a sari to the wedding.

As always, our media has lived up to it's expectations. After all, Arun Nayar is a playboy billionaire of London who fought and won a bitter divorce battle with his Italian ex-wife. Elizabeth Hurley is one of the very few celebrities who climbed the ladder of fame just with the help of "trigger-happy" photographers rather than her acting skills. Can they be better qualified to occupy the front pages of our newspapers?
So, if Hugh Grant, Hurley's ex-partner, decides to go "Dil Chahtha Hain" way and spring a surprise at Hurley just like Aamir Khan did to Priety, rest assured, our alert media will jump into action and give us every possible detail.

That leaves us with Ash-Abhi pair. When Abhishek proposed marriage to Aishwarya, our media was gracious enough to treat the event as though their own Beta was getting a Bahu to the household. Consequently, their wedding has become a household event of every reader of newspapers. All of us are waiting with bated breath to find out if the wedding will be held in Jodhpur or a lavish palace in Jaipur. Our trained investigative journalists are spying on every palace of Rajastan to give us the answers which all of us will lap it up with relish.

Thank goodness, our media knows it's priorities.

Monday, January 22, 2007

We all know that India is a land of diversity and this is one of the main reasons which makes the country so fascinating. Amidst all the diversities, we seem to have forgotten that the greatest source of unity to a nation is a common national language. Although unofficially Hindi is the answer to this issue, the refusal of some of the states in India to embrace Hindi has resulted in a clear North Indian-South Indian rift.
Leaving out a few cosmopolitan cities in the south of India, Hindi is outrightly banished from the society and kids grow up with a notion of Hindi being a sin etched in their minds. Consequently, when we have a group of people from different corners of India in a conversation, there is no common medium for communication except English. Isn't this so typical of a nation with a colonial past? Moreover, English can't be a viable alternative to Hindi since outside the corridors of urban India, English has absolutely no influence.
English may have opened up the gates for India into the world scene and probably if it hadn't been for English, nobody in the West would have dreaded the word "Bangalored". But surely, amidst all these prosperity, India is missing out on one common "Indian" language for all Indians.
So, who is to blame for this? Is it the Hindi-haters? Is it the people from North India who see every South Indian as a "Madrasi"? Is it the IT age which has made Hindi irrelevant?
Probably, it's all the above. If all the regional languages in South India got the respect they deserve from "outsiders", the aversion towards Hindi may subside significantly. On the same vein, the love for their language of the South Indians should not have a repercussion of hatred towards Hindi. Loving Hindi does not mean hating your language and loving your language does in no way justify hating Hindi.
Masala Dosa or Malai Kofta, we are all Indians, right?

Tuesday, December 26, 2006

The flicks that weren't.

It's the end of another year and as usual we have a plethora of over-hyped Bollywood flicks whose storylines weren't as catchy as their trailers which were bulldozed on the viewers.

When Amitabh Bachchan sang "Khaike Paan Banaraswallah", he brought to life one of the most memorable characters which we all know as "Don". Although the movie had a pretty ordinary storyline, the culmination of a ruthless gangster and a paan-chewing rustic potraization of the Big B made the movie an instant hit. Little did we know that two decades later, the Don would emerge again as Shah Rukh Khan with flashy gadgets to cater to the Gen-X techno-savvy audience. Without a prize-winning storyline, the movie ended up being a direct "who is better?" contest between the two hall of famers SRK and Amitabh Bachchan. We would really not want to mess ourselves with this debate now, but the pertinent point here is the amount of hype the movie received both in India and abroad although it was nothing more than an old story retold with a "twist". Nobody cared about the story or the breathtaking locales or the James Bond style gadgetry in the sequel. Rather, people flocked into the theatres to see if SRK really measured up to Big B or if Kareena wore skimpier than Helen. This is exactly what the producers wanted but little did they know that repackaging an old story with a contemporary superstar and over the top hype cannot sustain a movie for long. I hope the makers of Sholay2 can get a message or two from this.

Anybody who has seen Dhoom Part 1 can be pretty sure that this is not the kind of movie where you can find Vivah-like family drama or the hackneyed Karan Johar style "marriage gone all wrong" story. Dhoom 2 was no different. With some logic defying stunts and a policeman chasing a thief, only to set him free in the end , the only thing "family" about this movie was the presence of Uday Chopra reminding all of us who the producers of the movie were. But given that Bollywood has always catered to all audiences, the saas-bahu soap lovers weren't to be left behind. Hence we had the off-screen mom-in-law waiting Jaya Bachchan and Ash drama over a liplock scene. Apparently, this scene was so offending to a lawyer in Indore that he went to court with a law suit. The scene became so famous and hyped up that people wanted to see it more than the spiderman antics of Hrithik. Scripts are passe. Today films are all about how you market them and how you strategically create controversies that are just enough to arouse curiousity and give the nudge to people to walk to the theatres...