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Why does India do it? November 19, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, india, Opinion, Writing.
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A fortnight back a young man killed two of his nieces to salvage honour and pride. The girls had denigrated their family’s name by being adventurous for a day – going to Meerut without informing the family in Greater Noida. NDTV journalists who later went to the village to gauge the reaction of the women folk there were horrified – most of the women (in various shades of ghoonghat) supported the young murderer and condemned the dead girls.

Sheila Dixit, the chief minister of Delhi wondered why a young girl like Soumya, a journalist with Headlines Today, was traveling alone at night. This comment after she was murdered.

6 Indian journalists who died in the line of duty were honoured at the Stockholm Journalist’ Meorial 2008.

They were – Mohamad Muslimuddin, a correspondent for the daily Asamiya Pratidin, Ashok Sodhi, a photographer for Jammu’s English-language Daily Excelsior, Ved Prakash Chouhan, a senior journalist, Komal Yadav, a photographer of Amar Ujala, a Hindi daily, Javed Ahmed Mir of a local Kashmir paper and Soumya Vishwanathan, a TV journalist, working with Headlines Today,

But the Indian embassy gave it a miss – for the 2nd year in a row.

Jose Luis Belmar, the founder of PROFOCA, lamented to IANS, saying that ,”We are extremely saddened that India, the largest democracy in the world, as well as, boasting by far the most extensive free press globally does not see fit to participate in this momentous event in which neither politics nor any material or individual gain is involved”.

Belmar added, “In fact this is the second consecutive year that the Indian embassy in Stockholm has seen fit to outright ignore our invitation that was sent in very good time. I, indeed, cannot imagine why they would scorn our efforts to honour the seekers, and victims, of truth in this world of violence”.

These are the questions that our representatives should be asked. Forget about policy, they should be asked about dignity, honour and respect. Were they stuck in an emergency of abominable proportions to give this event a miss? Were they saving petrol? Do they hate journalists? Don’t they value life? Don’t they have people they love? Do they have children at home? Are they representing India?

And Antigone preferred death.

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Fashion – A Review November 3, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, Films, india, Movies, Opinion, Personal, Review, Writing.
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Fashion is…well it’s a film that will divide opinion. All films, the good, the bad and the indifferent do that. But I am not talking about the easy toss-up of opinion that is garnished with popcorn during interval.

Fashion is not a popcorn film. Thank god for that. It is not without its flaws. In fact it has many. Let’s start with them first.

Chandigarh is supposed to be a small town. It is true, it is not Bombay, but the city’s apparent regressive small-towness can’t even be compared with Jamshedpur – where I come from. Priyanka Chopra hails from this stifling small town. Her parents and especially the godfather of hamming Raj Babbar are conservative.

Coming to family – what’s with Kiran Juneja’s cleavage? That was the moment I started to hate Fashion. Initially I thought the reverse angle would rectify this, but no – Juneja’s exposure, somehow communicates, to me at least, the director’s vision – that Miss Chopra’s ambitions – of becoming a model, which are tainted, supported by Babbar’s opposition on moral grounds, somehow, emanates from the mother.

This is just one example of what Bhandarkar does best – pins and paints characters with large brushes of generalizations. Wants to be a success, has ambitions so must be having a promiscuous grain, and if the profession entails wearing clothes that more often than not reveal more than they cover…you get the message.

Coming back – Piggy Chops sleeps her way to the top and forgets the gentle conservative, small – town values that she had landed in Bombay with. She meets and uses people close to her, basically exploits them, so that the ride is quick and at the same time strangely expects a non-exploitative relationship from her exploiters.

Success corrupts her; she becomes a Diva; loses friends, love, contracts and ends up being a nervous wreck….like she is warned by one Shonali, played by Kangana Ranaut. Meghna Mathur’s career, now a spiraling trainwreck, is punctuated by sexual acts…in increasing order of sin…first with Maanav, her ostensible love; then with Arbaaz, the owner of a fashion magazine and the last but not the least with an unnamed black person she meets at a party, fueled by drugs and booze. The last encounter shatters her and she returns home. A dream ends.

NO. The perpetually silent daughter is now given a boost by guess who – Raj Babbar – another convenient and hasty device. She returns to Bombay, mends fences with Mugda Godse’s Janet, becomes mother Mary to Kangana’s Shonali, now on the streets and shorn of all glory and sense fails but doesn’t give up. Our heroine picks up the pieces and in a neat swelling of the chorus and rolling of the drums moment, her redemption is achieved.

Inspite of the facile generalization of the industry and its people – Fashion works. It works because it doesn’t shy away from the dark and gloomy and depressing; a constant now with the director’s films (don’t count Trishakti, Satta, Corporate and Traffic Signal – all 3 fail because of bad casting, acting and his over-confidence at picking a subject fit for an expose). People are shown doing coke, shooting heroine and having sex for the sake of furthering one’s career. People are shown ambitious, manipulative, weak and succumbing to their ambition. They are ruled and are slaves to their desires of fame, fortune and not to some abstract or subservient to some finally excusable family emergency.

Other than Chitrashi Rawat and Raj Babbar, most of them do a good job. Miss Godse, Bajwa, Kittu G, Arbaaz, Harsh Chaya, Ashwin Mushran, Sameer Soni – all do a good supporting role.

And Priyanka the heroine? It is her best performance till date. The film rides on her wispy shoulders and she succeeds – from a wannabe to a Diva to a wreck to her eventual resurrection – she might never get a character like Meghna Mathur.

Which brings us to Kangana. She ends up a cliché she has popularized – of a perpetually tortured woman – addicted to her white line of coke and booze – a Diva on the loose, high on her success. People get tired of clichés. But Shonali’s 1st entry shows that Kangana can walk the model’s talk as good as any. I was impressed.

Her second entry – a hand held / steadycam shot following her full frontal – gave me something that happens rarely in the darkness of a theater – a memory. Vanity, contempt, arrogance, over – confidence, madness, beauty and charisma – the minutiae of her character coalesced in perfect harmony in that walk. When did I see that last?

Avant Garde Lies September 11, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, Entertainment, Films, india, Mass Media, Movies, Opinion, Personal, Reviews, Writing.
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Is the recently released film Aamir avant garde? Does it make the director of the film an avant garde director?

Avant Garde: The adjective form is used in English, to refer to people or works that are experimental or innovative, particularly with respect to art, culture, and politics.

Avant-garde represents a pushing of the boundaries of what is accepted as the norm or the status quo, primarily in the cultural realm.

Well, the director of the film (Rajkumar Gupta) definitely thinks so. A piece on him today in Mumbai Mirror announcing his next feature, has him humbly excuse himself from his past effort to go and attempt more mainstream works.

Well, he is definitely positing an avant garde notion of cultural thievery by ripping a foreign film and then feigning ignorance at the existence of such a film.

What does it tell? That the director has no notion whatsoever of what the term means. It also means that the journalist who took the bytes doesn’t know the history of the director’s first film. He couldn’t remind him – ‘sir, what about Cavite?’

What it shows is a dumbing down of everything. Success can create half-truths and if you wink at it they might become one whole, living breathing organism. Just look at the White House elections. The GOP (Republican) ticket seems to be the Big Brother of the RSS. If you have the mouth you can run away with the debate. They have been able to successfully downgrade education, compassion, intelligence to elitism…something un-relatable with the common folks of America. Just like our Bollywood superstars are apologetic about making an intelligent film.

What will my audience think?

I apologise. Aamir, a film that portrays the entire Muslim community to be in collusion with terrorist masterminds…along Aamir’s journey he only meets willing Muslims who are collaborators with the terrorists!

The film escaped with the review – a sensitive portrayal of a relatable middle-class hero who is a Muslim. Not even Gadar with its chest thumping Indian patriotism (Hindu) could do that. RSS and others should felicitate Mr. Gupta. Very sensitive. Definitely avant garde.

Election Films September 5, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Culture, Entertainment, Films, Lists, Movies, Politics, World.
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watch and figure out. and of course, add on.

  1. Easy Rider
  1. Wag the Dog
  1. Bulworth
  1. Election
  1. The Network
  1. Good Night and Good Luck
  1. The Manchurian Candidate
  1. V for Vendetta
  1. Syriana
  1. Dr. Strangelove

Why do all Celebrities love Paulo Coelho? August 22, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, books, celebrities, Culture, india, People, strange, World, Writing.
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Why do all celebrities love Paulo Coelho? This is a question to which I have no answer(s). For a long time I have tried to answer this question but with no results. Let me confess, that I too have read the gentleman’s The Alchemist. I was initially swayed by the poetry and then numbed by the cloying hope, goodness, destiny themes that are a part and parcel of all his novels. In fact, I have even read the Devil and Miss Prim. I found the novels to be schmaltzy and the eternal hope and redemption postulated in his stories failed to leave an imprint on my soul.

Anyways this is not a criticism of Mr. Coelho. His plots are good but I am not the right reader. I am wondering why most Indian celebrities also like The Secret by Rhonda Bryne and Deepak Chopra’s ‘Seven Spiritual Laws of Success or the other writer who wrote ‘The Monk who sold his Ferrari’?

Some pop philosophy is definitely good for the soul and these guys are doing a good job for sure. But to be reminded time and again of the same books belies a lack of taste on the part of the Celeb (who it seems doesn’t know of any other book so as even to give a different example) and also the editor. I am sure the airports of the country are stacked with enough titles to enable you read the jacket, not buy them, remember the names and lie to the blinkered reporters.

How come all of them read the SAME books? If anybody does a survey of the last year on celebrity book recommendations then you must have already guessed the list.

Are these guys members of a secret cult – they all read the same books and peddle them to others?

Are they more evolved that such books come only to them – again destiny playing its cruel role?

Are they only imitating each other – how could I not have read when everybody seems to have read them?

India’s Almost Independence Day August 14, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, freedom, india, Personal, Politics, Thoughts, World, Writing.
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The 62nd Independence Day is all around us in India and abroad too I guess. There will be glossy specials in magazines of all sorts discussing why inspite and despite of all the problems that plague us as a nation and people, we are happy to be Indians etc. How the spirit of India is more than the sum of all it parts. Reams will be written about the mystical spirit that imbues this ancient land and how it guides us all in a subtle and eventually benevolent manner.

Mr. Manmohan Singh will address the nation from the Lal Qila and kids would still hate their teachers for making them practice some inane dance routine and making them stand in the sun or rain; all of it for some meager 5 marks in the unit exams.

The flavour of the season is of course Abhinav Bindra. I heard his bytes after the victory – sarcastic, patiently impatient and wonderfully poker faced. Would he have succeeded without his industrialist father? Debatable. But it’s strictly a personal achievement. The nation can and will milk it forever – always on the look-out for new icons to bask in their reflected glory; of people who have won inspite of all the obstacles and with no help from the establishment. If he or they can then so can I.

Will India get earnest but dull leaders. We like Manmohan Singh but does he inspire? NO. We can hardly hear his voice. A leader and a good person have nothing in common. We have a xenophobe like Modi on one hand and Mr. Singh on the other.

Is it just me or can everybody feel that inspite of all the self-congratulation India is a country that doesn’t perform to its potential. That we are still a nation trying to sort out our differences…of region, caste and religion. 62 years has not been enough to know and understand each other. At best we just tolerate each other.

Any incentive to flare and it’s a conflagration. And violence is the only weapon we know. Shiv Sena and now MNS in Maharashtra. The Gurjars in Jaipur, the Gorkhas in Darjeeling etc etc…forget the perennial J&K and Naxals.

Shouldn’t we stop, pause and discuss this defining national trait? Where does this violence come from? How has it become ingrained in our psyche? And who is going to acknowledge first?

What else then since the last hoisting…

Binayak Sen – state terror at its best. Imprisoning a doctor who was working for the common man.

We should lower our flags just for Mr. Sen.

Inflation at 13%, growth to around 6%…

State sponsored violence – this time in Nandigram by the Communists

Nuclear Deal – we all know what happened when the sardar of India decided enough is enough and took on the mighty comrades in arms.

Trust Vote with unashamed display of money, followed by a sting followed by another shoddy sting and…

Terror – Jaipur, Bangalore and Ahmedabad. And no arrests or convictions. We have wonderful investigating agencies that arouse no confidence at all.

Naxals / Maoists – almost everywhere in central India and Andhra. See how small a reference it is. We have become immune to it. It is not a platitude that India is a dual economy. Everything in India is dual and never shall the twain meet.

Jammu and Kashmir – it’s a return to unprecedented levels of polarization between the twin regions of Jammu and Kashmir. 62 years and no solution. Haven’t people heard of something called ‘consensual divorce’.

Saina – yes not Sania. Saina came agonizingly close to move into the semis. Lost focus. But you are 18 so…her semi-final berth would have been a giant leap but it’s a great beginning and not at all a loss.

Celebrity Blogs – at least sometimes the true feelings of our stars come out on the net

Nano – nobody other than the company officials have driven it but a definite achievement.

Yash Raj Phormoola – it sank and sank and now even the people who hate the banner have developed some sympathies. If Bachna Ae Haseeno tanks…?

Sallu and Shah Rukh fight – they sure do make life interesting and people at Stardust…remember that magazine…extremely happy

Akshay – he is the biggest star in India. Period. Bigger than Salman, Shah Rukh and Aamir.

Rise of Mayawati – for a moment it seemed that her time had come. In fact it has just begun.

Relationships – Saif almost going the Tom way but thankfully being upfront about it.

Media – the biggest loser this year. It is now proven that they can do anything to get a byte. Having no respect for anybody’s private or public space, no self-regulation – it is time to set up strict guidelines. It is not just the clean and sanitized environs of the studio that contribute to your image but also how you gather your material.

Channel Wars – new GEC launches. Does India have that many eye-balls? Of course they do and everybody wants to have a pie. Bouquet’s were launched from NDTV Imgaine, 9 X and now Colors. Turner is all set for end of this to early next year. Not to forget UTV’s Hindi and Foreign films channels and some from BAG too!

Aarushi – a couple of generations will remember this case. The adults for the shoddy, corrupt and inept police investigations and the kids for losing anchor, love and trust in family and friends

The Police – we should have the right to prosecute them.

Reality Shows – they are everywhere and have made their own space. Friday and saturday are reserved for Non-Fiction programming across channels – thought unthinkable till some months back.

IPL – a money making machine has been launched by Mody and Co and the hard-pressed-for-time fans are only too happy.

SEZ – special economic zones to brutally exploit capital, labour and resources so that a few can earn a lot and many can suffer. Doesn’t matter even if a State doesn’t want it – like Goa. Why? Because the center has entered into agreements. And a bomb blast in the state is the local government’s responsibility. Is somebody on some serious drugs here?

Scarlette & Goa – the murder of the British teenager in the ex-hippie Mecca ended a dream…but Fiona fought back and there is hope yet…for justice and for the hippie as well

Oil – need I say more.

Hybrid – It’s the way to go.

Pollution

Van Morrison has a song called ‘It’s almost Independence day’. When you hear it you realize the promise of that day and the reality of its aftermath.

Racism, Child Marriage Etc August 4, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in advertisement, Blogging, Business, Culture, Ethics, gossip, india, News, People, Politics, Racism, Writing.
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People unable to comprehend the Colors soap ‘Balika Vadhu’. Whether it is against child marriage or for it?

Rahe Tera Ashirwaad another soap on Colors which had a woman being impregnated by rays of light emanating from the idol of a god/goddess at the altar.

The complete domination of religion on Prime Time television. Began with Ramayana on NDTV; now we have Mahabharata on 9 x; Jai Shri Krishna on Colors; Shani Maharaj on NDTV imagine. There is Sai baba also. Plus most news channels have devoted early evening to all things religious. Another thing – all skewed to Hinduism.

Another skin whitening cream; this time from Nivea for men. And did you see the end of the Ponds Racial Ad starring Saif, Priyanka etc. The lovers finally realize that they are made for each other…now that they both are looking PINK and not DARK or BLACK. Congratulations Saif / Priyanka – you are the Idols of India.

Ranbir Kapoor the new male hottie saying ‘The body is God’s gift to you, I won’t do a tattoo on it and ruin it’

Bipasha Basu saying ‘With every new film I don’t have to prove that I can act’.

Bachna Ae Haseeno the new Yash Raj Film again has a hero by the name…you guessed it right Raj Malhotra.

10 things better than SEX…sometimes. August 1, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in 10 best lists, Blogging, Culture, Entertainment, fun, india, Life, Lists, Pleasure, Random, Sex, sin, Writing.
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Of course you will snigger and so will Mark ‘Rent-boy’ Renton from Trainspotting. But under a set of conditions these stand a chance of beating the whack out of our primary urges…

Hear all for here is my list.

  1. Water – of course after living without it for some time and more so when one is drinking directly from a glass or bottle; with the tongue, lips everything being touched along its journey. Doesn’t work the same when dropped in to the throat from above. No cold-drink, no juice does it, no alcohol does it, although try water-melon. Watch it course through your veins and you can see, hear and touch the cells of the body as they are re-invigorated. It’s a tactile experience.

  1. Sleep – after a physical working session of 12-14 or 16 hours. The body doesn’t need any prompting, no bed, no mattress and no air-conditioner. Not sitting around computers typing, chatting or twittering.

  1. Ablutions – the very perfect ones make you long for them don’t they!

  1. Perfect Food – cooked by mom or by a 5 star chef or by the street vendor, the perfect bite satisfies many a sense. Doesn’t matter the junk or health tags accompanying them.

  1. Retail Therapy – you know what I mean?

  1. Ideas – the great idea that visits us…ummm…sometimes and makes us jump and scream, run naked like Archimedes.

  1. Afternoon winter sun – I have heard that even dead people can come back to life; enjoy the brief ecstasy and go back to their graves. No seriously!

  1. Welcome – of your pets when you come back home from work. Imagine a vacation!

  1. Lazing – doing nothing and being happy in it is of course better than doing anything

  1. Dance – even with 2 left foot, if ‘you’ are enjoying it then you can move anyone

  1. Foreplay

Music…for the Bourgeoisie and the Rebel July 29, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, Family, friends, india, Memory, music, People, Personal, Places, Writing.
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Music – how it came and stayed.

Mother – mom is a singer. No, she doesn’t sing for money, is not a radio or a TV artiste. She just sings because her mom or my grand mother used to sing and used to sing very good. So does my mom. So, from an early age, actually as far back as I can remember I have heard songs. Devotional Carnatic songs can be heard in my house from 7 in the morning.

When we were kids it used to be even earlier. Now with age, sleep patterns have changed although the singing thankfully has not diminished. Thyagaraja, Annamacharya, Vishnu Sahasranama and a whole lot of theme specific, not to mention, songs from Telugu films – songs voiced by Bhanumati, C.Janaki, Sushila, Ghantasala (probably the greatest male playback singer from Andhra, if not from the country and I am not kidding) and others.

Father – can’t sing at all, but is a serious, very serious fan of the Golden Era of Hindi film songs, which means from 50 to 58 in his calculations. According to him even the 60’s represented a collapse and R.D. Burman was a corrupting influence. So, his contribution is in the form of the radio that he played every morning, evening and night. He still does the morning routine.

I still remember the 7.55 A.M song played on Radio Ceylon – it is always a K.L. Saigal number. I am saying is, but probably times have changed. His favourite was, is and always will be Naushad. Years later when I interviewed Naushad I told him about my father’s obsession with him. The great composer wrote a letter to him in Urdu. I said he can’t understand (he once used to in the 1950’s but with no use, forgot) Urdu anymore, so he translated it into Hindi. That piece of paper has been laminated and kept under lock and key back in Jamshedpur.

Similarly Vivid Bharti used to be another frequency that he used to visit on a daily basis for a long time. He discontinued it and we (my sister and I) picked it up – for the latest in Hindi film music.

Last but not the least – Binaca Geet Mala. The most popular voice on the air-waves. Amin Sayani’s ‘Bhaiyyon aur Behnon’ a friendly invitation and the countdown – a template to all future hosts that kept an entire nation on its tenterhooks. It briefly changed its name to Cibaca Geet Mala during its last legs. I suspect another change too but have forgotten what it was. I also remember a Sony 90 minute tape that was given by my uncle – a compilation of all the hits from 1952 – the years Baiju Bawra won to the mid 80’s – a tape that is languishing in an old trunk in my parent’s house.

So, it goes without saying that if my parents’ were devoid of any musical obsession – I would have been a philistine – of all kinds.

The Radio – so all this music came to us in the house on Radios. We had a huge brown Marconi – named after the very man. It had valves inside – towers that blinked when you switch it on. I was fascinated but couldn’t understand what they did. The Marconi had a glass panel in the front with names of all the Station names. So when you tuned by turning the knob, you could travel from Chicago, New York, London, Paris, Russia, Johannesburg, Turkey, Delhi, Ceylon, Tokyo etc.

It was a fantastical experience as kids! One was transported along with the changing sound waves and the corresponding language to all the different places of the world – sitting right in front of the radio! It was a world tour without moving. Can I get excited like that anymore?

The Marconi is a mummy now, wrapped and preserved – nobody having the know how to mend it.

With time things became smaller and mobile and a National Panasonic served us in the growing up years from the 70’s. It’s still in use and my father loves Japan. It was again a Panasonic tape recorder that took us to the next level of audio experience.

Festivals – all festivals Durga Puja, Lakshmi, Ganesh, Id or the local festivals of Jharkhaand (then Bihar) meant that music would be blared 24 x 7. We unfortunately heard the worst, growing up in the early 80’s, leaning heavily on Padmalaya and Jetendra films, but on good days, some playlist orchestrated by a connoisseur, some good songs of the earlier eras – 60’s or 70’s (50’s was too old even then) could be heard. Independence and Republic day had an established song base that one could not deviate from. It was during these festivals that ‘Jhankaar Beats’ was heard and a judgment passed by the crowds.

People – we all have our uncle or aunt or friend who introduces us to something. I had Rajendra – a couple or more years elder to me, old family friends. From him I was introduced to the world of western music.

We had diaries before the computer. In these diaries he used to maintain a catalogue – of all the music that he had. . This was also necessitated by the fact that pirated tapes sometimes only had the tape and nothing else or tape with wrong information. So, when you laid your hand on any information then it made perfect sense to write it down for posterity.

1 of the first artistes that I followed was The Boss or Bruce Springsteen, courtesy Rajendra, who till date swears on him and the E Street Band. Nebraska, Darkness on the Edge of Town, Tunnel of Love and more…sometimes when he used to run out of money and had to buy his tape – he used to run to me. Similarly the flute wielding Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull was a thrill of teenage years. And Michael Jackson.

Nobody could escape his influence those days. After the ritual hindi film song playlist at most of the festivals the night was reserved for MJ. The pandal was and is made right across my house – not more than 20 meters and most of my elders from the locality would be slightly tipsy by then. By 10 P.M, MJ would be put on and then a free style dance session would begin. There was this one guy Vasu who used to move like glue. He seemed a Bad boy from the ghetto with a Yamaha for company. He would dance and we would watch mesmerized much to our parents’ chagrin, but…

Music Station – and then there are seminal changes. Changes that make you cross and enter the beyond from which you never come back. Music Station was such a place near my home in Jamshedpur. It was (yes, it no longer exists) a cassette shop run from a garage (how perfectly rock-romantic!) by Sukhdev Singh or Debbie as he calls himself.

An artist, painter and a proclaimed Deadhead. He had the world of rock in his garage. Everything that one has ever heard was represented in that garage. You could check out the tapes, their history in Rock Handbooks placed at a handy distance and order. He had Sony 60’s and 90’s. It was custom made recording with Xerox copies of the original sleeve design supplemented by a small sketch or comments just to make it personal. Every 10 or 15 days the collection would be updated and a small flier would mention the additions.

It would not be far fetched to say that at least 2 generations of rock music aficianados from Jamshedpur have learnt their A B C’s from that shop. And this is not your regular Magnasound catalogue available everywhere. Here you would get the Dark Star version played at Glastonbury on Valentine’s Day in the year 79 (that’s just an example – so please don’t start looking for such a version) or all the music from the Monteray Festival of 67…the peak of ‘Summer of Love’. You get the picture.

And it has never been the same.

College – the wonder years for me. Lots of rolling on the grass, bunking classes, playing cricket, all day music sessions and during the festival season a whole lot of headbanging even when they were playing Pink Floyd! We were in all honesty dazed and confused. The diverse milieu made me listen to metal, thrash, funk and soul, got me in touch with people who had listened more and knew more and shared more! I have never listened to more music than those 5 years at Hindu College. Not to forget Indian Classical music because of Spic Macay and Bangla Rock because most of my friends were from Calcutta.

For almost 3 years I only listened to a mix of The Beatles, Rolling Stones, Van Morrison, REM, Led Zeppelin and Velvet Underground.

Nouveau I never thought that I would move beyond The Doors, Grateful Dead, Rolling Stones, Tull, Led Zeppelin, REM, Van Morrison, Velvet and company. Not in terms of leaving deadwood behind but to discover something new. And then the computer happened.

The computer had made its mark by the 2000’s in India. Napster was everywhere and piracy was not understood. Free Love probably became free music and downloads became the staple. 1 click and you had it. Friends who had access started downloading new music with a hint of electronica, something we could groove and dance to. And we had fun. Dance sets one free I had heard and indeed it does.

I discovered House, Progressive and IDM – similar, dissimilar and evolving – I am still on the journey.

Many thanks to all.

Why So Serious…? July 22, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, Entertainment, Films, hollywood, Movies, Personal, Reviews, Writing.
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We go to the movies to be entertained. The entire package consists of the movie itself, the snacks, the drinks and the over-rated pack of popcorn. The collective consciousness of the crowd willingly submits itself to the unfolding story in the darkened room and generally experiences a collective catharsis driven by tragedy, comedy and its various sub-sects. We pay to be pleased.

 

More so in films that have super-heroes as their linchpin. They, who can spin webs, face bullets and save the day with a display of physical prowess and cap it with a smart one-liner to an eager, adulating crowd. No matter what the threat the super-hero promised light at the end of the tunnel. The super-hero exists because of the super-ordinary; one who is assailed by fears, insecurities, helplessness and loss of faith.

 

For children, a Super – hero is God made visible – a person who makes a last-minute entry and saves the world on screen and possibly giving a similar hope that a hidden, last-second entry is possible even in his/her life. The super – hero is also the God of adults – who refuse to grow up. Emaciated by the world and its wile ways we close our eyes, pray and beseech – and our prayers are answered.

 

No more.

 

The Dark Knight, the latest Batman edition is bleak. It is a hopeless world, inhabited by an extremely serious criminal called the Joker. The Joker has no reasons. Imagine a love that exists without pre-conditions and excuses and reasons – we would be flattered and over-whelmed. Now, imagine ‘evil’ without any excuse, reason, bias. Heath Ledger’s terrifying performance (RIP) as evil incarnate envelops the film in its malevolent grip. A callous and focused villain, Ledger imbues the role with a primal hate that has no history, no journey or destination. He just hates.

 

This is the current state of the world Nolan seems to say. Super-heroes are not all-powerful, all-conquering, divinely ordained beings who can set any and everything right. They are fallible. And more importantly they are fallible only because they have morals. Their veins carry the milk of human kindness in them which makes them vulnerable.

 

Can we understand or negotiate with someone with whom we don’t share any common human qualities and traits? In that sense Batman and Joker are not equals – Joker is superior to Batman because he has no qualms or uncertainties. The world is subservient to the Joker’s whim, desire and agenda. He wiggles his tongue at the world and asks – why so serious? and leaves a trail of death and destruction behind.

 

Is Joker a realist or a nihilist then? A man reviled as a comic relief hell-bent on proving otherwise in a world that has lost all center and doomed to self-destruct. Joker is also not ‘part’ of anything organized. He is outside the parameters of organized crime and also of society. He is a pariah and is his own ideal, inspiration and messiah – and unfortunately, in today’s world, an idol, both for the powerful and the weak, to seek retribution.