Tuesday, September 23, 2008

The magic of reality shows or lack thereof

I am part of a reality household, not that there are cameras are fixed up in my house but somewhere close to it. There is some reality show or the other going on most of the time. I am not really a fan of TV shows, let alone reality shows. They are a lot many of them playing these days and as I am told, there is a huge audience for these shows. Beats me, ok, any sort of media for transmission of ideas is a reality show in one way or another. The english premier league, F1, the great comic tearjerker called the US election all of these try to involve audiences to an extraordinary extent.

But reality shows go on to the next step, that of allowing you to get into the personal domain of someone else. The question automatically pops up: If you got a chance to become invisible what would you do? Reality shows provide that voyeuristic opportunity a kind of pseudo-invisibility. You would be surprised how normal decent people can hook on to perverse reality shows. As I love to generalize, reality shows provide that mirror which unlocks the true nature of the people concerned.

The portrait of Dorain Gray?

Manchester United - AIG

The financial crisis in the US could leave an unsuspecting victim in its wake - Manchester United.

Not about the sponsorship deal that AIG has ( I have no clue about that), but the general association with the fallen (ahem US Govt owned) brand could prove disastrous to the the general image of Manchester United as the ultimate victory machine.

Far fetched, but fans don't need more than an iota of indication of why their team has lost. Its a long season, hope the management rectifies its association soon :)

Monday, September 22, 2008


Papa, “ What does terrorism mean?” . “ It does not mean anything beta”, “Ram Ram, these news channels have no work but to pollute young minds, see what kind of images they keep showing, how much it is going to affect my beta’s thinking”. A year passed.

“Papa, does god teach people to become terrorists? Or is it a man made thing? Why are there so many gods? My teacher says that all gods are one? Is it true…… have you seen god?” “Arre beta, what sort of thing they teach you in school these days. Just immerse yourself in studies and don’t worry about such trivial things. If you stand first in class I shall buy you a cycle on Diwali and I will also take you to Vaishno Devi this time around” “Really papa?, the kid was delighted.” May God give some peace around so that my kid can study. He has to turn out as a good asset for society, all these bomb blasts can keep happening. I will not allow this to affect his studies. “My son will not be drawn into these things, he is brilliant and he will make his father proud” The blasts seemed to occur more frequently now and across the country.

There was no regular pattern and all sorts of crazed out bastards were claiming responsibility. But what exactly were they fighting for?

A siren rang out in the street. Must be some fire. My beta would be on way home, having triumphantly cleared the entrance exam into the prestigious school. Why is that medical van stopping in front of my building ? Is that crazy man on the 4th floor dead? Let me see what the score is. “Beta, what happened?, what do you mean there was a bomb blast?, where is my son? But what did he do, what did I do to deserve this? “

A voice rang out, “nothing”.


The city does not recognize me, my life is a constant struggle against the city. I am not from here you know, but I am not an outsider either. I make this city a city, because I come here with dreams. You know what happens to cities what are not built on dreams, where thousands troop in everyday in search of a better tomorrow? They die fast or they pass into a catastrophic path of decay. I for one have never been able to decide which is better. But, common, my city is not like that. It welcomed me into its fold, took care of me when I was lost and now I am struggling constantly so as to go up the social chain. But some the city does not recognize me anymore. I can die in a bomb blast, fall from a train or be run over by one of those well-to-do kids ( no no I am not jealous of them) but my beloved city will not care. It was not always like this, somehow I get the feeling that she is angry. I have lost my bearings, I have decided to join the crowd, be one among the millions who make up the numbers of the country ( it is not so bad you know, somebody has got to do that), I have given up my dreams, I have become…. What you see me in front of you right now. And my city has never forgiven me for this. She refuses to recognize me.

Friday, September 05, 2008

The war of the liberals

How liberal are you mate? Is being liberal accepting people as they are, irrespective of whatever they do? Is the definition of being liberal a product of the society? Or is it purely an absolute, an abstraction a mirage that you constantly keep chasing. I am extremely liberal, but you step on my shoes I might not remain so liberal after all. There is always an amount of hypocrisy in what is collectively perceived as being liberal. Your nation state, your religion, your community, your family, your favorite cricketer, your favorite musician and the likes determine how much of a liberal you are. If you have no requirements of putting yourself as part of a society or a group or do not believe in anything then you cannot really be a liberal can you? At some point when opposing views come into direct conflict with those of your own your liberalism disappears.

Our media goes through this extremely funny moments of classifying people as liberals/non-liberals. And anybody who is not a liberal is an extremist you know, period. But as always Mr Sardesai raises interesting quetions:

1) Where do Muslims stand in society? They stand in the same line as every other citizen of India.

2) Why arent they part of the mainstream? I havent read any indepth analysis of why they arent - they ruled this country for a long time, are they caught in the warp of time - refusing to join the mainstream? What are the causes for communal tension - a fear of a community losing its way of life. As our lives become faster, the threat becomes a fact of life for every average human being, so that tension is a reality.

3) Are ghetto's a reality? Yes again its got nothing to do with religion, its got more to do with a feeling of social status. Simplistically, you have your club membership right, the ghetto is the replica of the same the lower rung. The comfort of one's own. Is it really good ? I dont know. But the reality seems to be that more and more people want to part of a community that is similar.

More importantly, it is power that can change things. A small time leader can hold a country to ransom, so can a small violent community. Like it or not that is the reality.

Andher Nagri it is.

Monday, September 01, 2008

The conversation

“ Its quite remarkable, we are possibly living through the most important period of human evolution”, said Satyakama taking a long swig of his whiskey.

“Sure machan, two more of such swigs and I am sure you will evolve”, Devraj countered

The two learned men were sitting amongst the products of human evolution, the uniquely late 20 th century phenomenon called the call center workers. “Look at them, they are searching for an Utopia, coming from small villages learning English and hoping that life would take them seriously somewhere”

“Ooh, that whiskey is getting to you mate, last I knew the only thing you thought about these young things was that they definitely see more sex than you have managed all your life, hehehe”

“Possibly, but where are we going mate? You see information really differentiated populations for a long time. Now we are slowly moving towards a system where individuals in their capacity would remember nothing, electronically they would have all the information that they need. Body powered computers which download information continuously; competence will purely be determined by how you process information. And the processing will be purely be a function of the social network you belong to. Information is dead, long live information”, heavy stuff from Satyakama, the seeker of truth.

“Would have to agree to a certain extent, but what you really seem to miss is the reality tv angle to all this. No I don’t mean rakhi sawant s silicon”, Devraj was grinning

“That’s a bouncer mate, wtf do you mean?”

“Quite obvious, as soon as a process is observed as happening the outcome will fail the remain the same outcome the process was hurtling towards. If for a moment I assume that what you are saying is true, we shall all not turn in Paris Hilton, in fact I believe the very opposite will happen. People will assume that computers will take over ( one of the common running fear themes already in pop culture movies) and take actions to stop this. Soros used to called it the reflective property of markets”

“Advaitins would recognize the problem of separating the observer from the observed.”

“Yeah, yeah know it all, and wipe that bloody grin of the face. Its not the whiskey. Btw, how much do you think betting is prevalent in team sports such as EPL?”

“Don’t run Satya, the truth wants to follow you too, we shall discuss EPL later, but why run from the problem of collective consciousness? It has to be a cycle, like all the women you keep falling in/out of (don’t let your imagining run now), as a certain stability is raised individuals consciousness will become important and again over the next cycle individualism will lead to collective consciousness”

“What cycle? Atlas?”, Satyakama had a smirk on his face.“ No, no Rayleigh”. Satya was too lost in his thoughts to continue further, but he couldn’t decide whether the cycle hypothesis should hold true. Seemed funny tho, people on cycles. Like Lance Armstrong. “I will find the truth someday”, Satyakama mumbled. Maybe the gods, if they exist heard.

Rock On !!!

Too late to write a review I guess. But yes, I had an interesting conversation with my boss the other day, I was asking him if he would take an option of reliving his own life.

His answer was a resounding yes. That s what got me to what the movie Rock On having missed watching it with the gang ( and the fact that I had promised Prem C that I would catch a movie). There are people who have dreams and there are the rest.

I guess most of us would be like Aditya, we will give our best shot at our dreams with a bit of compromises thrown in, but if that doesn’t go through that part of our life is wrapped in a box and put in some corner of our minds taking a part of us forever. Joe is what makes the world a beautiful place, the artist who believes in the purity of art over and above everything else. And importantly atleast in India for most of the people I know there is no overriding dream that junta have. Dreams are replaceable, (as that stupid ad says, we adjust everything even our dreams) so no one talks about a second chance. But that luxury is still not available for people who are left with no options to pursue that to be stuck in the dull life.

The movie itself was pretty good.. Full of clich├ęs ( and as pointed out repeatedly some heart warming moments), not the greatest of actors and as always suspended from reality (ok that s always acceptable)….. but it definitely rocks. But judging from the audience s reaction ( a thundering applause), people like rock music or everybody wishes they pursued their dreams and want to escape their normal drudgery or people were appreciating the shift towards newer ideas. Your guess is good as mine, but I am a pessimist and I shall assume the second option.

Farhan Akhtar is good without being great, Prachi Desai is exceptional, dunno who Debbie was but that was original, Purab was Purab, Arjum Rampal tried. But the music is what makes the movie. The lyrics are awesome, simplistic but then we don’t really want lyrics overflowing with urdu.

Sa hi Besura – Review

Saketnath ( Pandey), Roshni ( Shah), Mohit (Mourya)

Wiritten and Directed by Makarand Deshpande

I managed to see a play after a long time, thanks to the gang as always. Sa hi besura is a brilliant attempt at portraying an artist ‘s inner feelings coupled with an anguished fathers attempts to bring his daughter back into reality.

Act 1 starts off with Saketnath warning that the play has become a part of his life and the twists and turns of the play unfortunately portray the deep anguish that he feels. He is the quintessential old guard theatre actor who believes that the role of each actor on stage is to find his ‘sa’ among the navrasas. He believes that Sa is supreme, the beginning and end of the octave and finding his/her own sa is the true purpose of artist on stage.

Saketnath had a blackout on stage and is being nursed by his daughter through arranged rehearsals. A small time thief Prakash (as good a character as ever written, the comedian , the recent trend among movies/plays almost as if we cant take too much of seriousness) who had earned his bread through selling Sa hi Besura tickets in black helps in boosting the veteran actor s ego. But it is not so easy, Saketnath does not remember what he has done, drinks copiously and thinks the modern generation should spend time finding their Sa.

Roshni, Saketnath’s daughter carries the knowledge that her father wanted the son that had died during her childbirth and remains tormented by that fact, and she believes Sa Hi Besura’s character of a son is why Saket likes the play. Along comes Mohit, the artist who is supposed to play Saket s son in the play. Mohit is a brash young actor who has coached himself in the mannerisms of famous actors. He is earnest and sincere but according to Saket his talents are hidden by his desire to mimic and his impressions of acting. Saket tries to kindle the yearning for Sa in Roshni and Mohit. (Maurya as Mohit is simply exceptional, I cant believe that I laughed so much, movies plays or otherwise).

All through the exchange, there is a constant reference to Saket s wife Suchitra, both as a reference to Roshni s behavior and the (lack of) understanding/conflict between two artists. The end is to put it mildly, simply unexpected. No spoilers here.

The brilliant part of the play is really the openness of it all, the play speaks to the audience, and there is a self referencing loop and there is enough weight for the audience to think about each of the aspects being spoken about. Art, artist, son/daughter, conflict, stability the play is as multi layered as you choose it to be.

Prithvi Theatre in itself is quite a small place and the voice carries over well. Maybe sometimes a bit too loud and maybe a bit shorter, would have made it perfect. But I am not complaining anyway.