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Cruel… June 19, 2009

Posted by astralwicks in Cinema, Cricket, crime, india, Mass Media, Media, People, t20 world cup, victim, viewership.
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…every which way.

A man allegedly rapes a woman working at his house. The channels go berserk calling her a ‘naukrani’ or ‘naukar. The heinous allegation almost being mitigated by the social position and of the girl and the nomenclature of her profession.  The media of the biggest democracy in the world doesn’t extend basic courtesies to victims of crime. In this case however they extended the same to both parties. For so long considered the repository of all things promiscuous – the film actor now has proved that he or she is indeed a vile, licentious animal that preys.

The perpetrator of this crime – Shiney Ahuja had to strangely be barefoot. That is the rule in India. An accused can’t wear shoes. What do shoes and guilt have in common? No idea. Anyways he still has to be chargesheeted, the case fought and the sentence delivered – a long way from now, some years probably – but why can’t he wear a shoe or a chappal for that matter.

India’s loss at the T20 World Cup. Another instance of the mob fury. Cricket is a sport. Cricketers are not gods. You win some and you lose some based on your strategy. Like petulant schoolboys with no emotional anchor finding solace in somebody else’s victory, they came out on the streets and burned the captain’s effigy.

It is not the mob alone that is to blame. It is the incessant analysis and counter – analysis, by ‘I-know-better-than-you’ ex-cricketers, who have to justify their payments, who hype the match and then impute reasons where there are none.  The self-feeding hype machinery of all media has to strike a balance between reporting responsibly and viewership targets.

Dear Pakistanis – a letter from India December 9, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in bizaree, Blogging, Hindu, india, Mass Media, Media, Muslim, nation, Opinion, pakistan, Personal, Politics, Random, State, strange, terrorism, World, Writing.
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Dear All Pakistanis

Many wishes on Bakri Eid. On this auspicious day I would
like to get in touch with as many of my neighbour’s as possible, considering
that we don’t treat each other with a shred of respect or trust. That is an
over-statement. We do exchange liberals, pleasantries, sweets and cricket
for sure.

We also exchange a whole lot of artillery, bombs and hate.
Courtesy our history. Why to blame history? Why blame 1947 all the time. I have
stopped. How many generations have to die to forget the wounds of that horrible
partition? Nobody has any answers to that?

A little about India. Probably you know a lot
already, but here is a bit more.

We are all angry zealots here.

We have camps here where Hindu’s practice bombing Pakistnai
towns and cities.

The ambition of all rich and poor youngsters who practice in
these camps (yes wonder of wonders rich and poor together – the benefits of a
common enemy you see) here is to spread the saffron flag in all regions of the
world and popularize Hindu Gods all over this glorious earth

India
in fact is not a multi-religious country at all. The Indian STATE regularly
torments people of all other religions

Everyday numerous legions of people who profess a religion
other than Hindusim are slaughtered – the recent attack on churches in fact was
an aberration – what actually happened was – the Christians briefly gained guts
and started attacking the vandals – briefly – that’s the real story

The Indian Media is quite pathetic. It is controlled by a nexus of State/Capitalists/Hindus/Liberals – quite bizarre actually. Orwell himself approves of this combination

We are the most honest lot in the world. Period.

It is a corruption free country. Please check it out for
yourself.

Cricket is actually not that popular in the country. Nor is
Bollywood. All that is hype and projection.

There is peace everywhere in our land. No violence.
Absolutely.

The riots that happen in India are not because of social
tensions and exploitation by various power groups. It is because of deep,
extreme boredom amongst communities who then just do it…following the
empowering American mantra

Babri Masjid was actually not demolished by zealot Hindus.
It was the handiwork of non-state actors from…let me get back to you on this.

Dawood Ibrahim regularly plays cricket in front on his house
in central Mumbai. With the cops in fact.

I won’t go any further because I don’t think you will trust
me. But I am sure you will have your own sources to figure out what is true and
what is false. You will get all the ‘evidence’ needed to satiate your
inquisitive brain. Actually for you all of this is a no-brainer. Isn’t it?

Many wishes and all the best.

Love,

A deluded, chaotic, corrupt, violent, India. Hell, I said
it.

India Dying… November 28, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, hate, india, Mass Media, Media, Mumbai, nation, Personal, Policy, terror, Urban, World, Writing.
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Mumbai is still under siege. Now more than 50 hours after an unspecified number of terrorists attacked the iconic Taj Mahal hotel – frequented by the rich; Café Leopold, a favourite of the backpacking foreign tourist; CST or VT, the main railway terminal of the city and the lifeline of the thriving business and commercial capital of the city.

As expected, there has been outrage from all quarters. The government is shocked and so is the Mumbaikar. I will not mention the spirit of Mumbai because it is just a media creation. I didn’t feel like working and probably would need a therapist in some time – a victim of terror – gluttony. People are not even feigning normalcy. There is fatigue – with the government and with the world in general.

For not taking the threat of terror seriously. 2 Prime Ministers of the country from the same family have been assassinated; half of the country suffers from some sort of insurgency or unrest; we have wonderful neighbours in the form of Pakistan, Nepal and Bangla Desh and yet…

Inefficient Response Units – although the police force laid down its life fighting the terrorists, it is safe to argue that the Indian police is under-armed, under-trained, unfit and de-motivated to take on such an attack as took place. Efficiency is different from bravado and emotion doesn’t win you a battle.

Good Neighbourly Relations – I don’t want good neighbourly relations with Pakistan or any other state that uses violence as an instrument of state policy against my country and people. We will suffer economically…well, so will they. We will suffer culturally? I don’t care and if we did deeper I don’t think that will be the case. There will be no cricket? So be it. How does cricket make any difference? There are other countries that we can play against; create new healthy rivalries and celebrate our defeats and victories.

Politicians.

People. People who crowd a high – security zone where commandos are trying to flush out motivated terrorists. Bizarre.

Media. Plays an important role and played one in this case also. But the constant emphasis on human interest stories by Barkha Dutt revealed a perverse desire to milk the personal tragedy of people. Not done, especially when done ad nauseum. Plus the marginalization of common ordinary middle class folk of the city. All the shows were populated by the rich of South Mumbai. What was the man on the street thinking? Any idea?

Javed Jaffry – I have always liked Javed Jaffrey but he said something that is a sliver now. When asked what he thought about the terror attack he said something like this – (this is the gist. I am not quoting verbatim) ‘there is a history of injustice in India. People don’t get justice. The British woman complains and her case is put on fast track whereas the others…all this is because of injustice’. He also spoke about Babri, the Bombay riots, Gujarat and the Christians in Orissa.

So for all the injustice that India personifies here we present the attack on 26th of Nov 08.

I am missing something here.

India is not a perfect country. India is not yet a just country. So is most of the world. So, let us arm ourselves and take each other’s revenge. Wonderful concept. Purely evolutionary. The strong will survive…

I offer my apologies, can we sit and talk or do you want to measure the amount of historical exorcisim that will be just right to settle old scores…all of this of course in the blood of young and old, man and woman, boy and girl and oh not to forget the children of course…and then and only then if you are satiated…

The Obama Lesson November 11, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in brand, Elections, india, Mass Media, Media, Opinion, People, World.
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Finally Obama won. I was as excited as anybody else; rooting for him and spending hours, mainly online, checking up on the election news, gossip and trends.

I discovered a lot of new things.

  1. The Huffington Post – the blog-stop of preference of the liberals. Great articles and even funnier and acerbic comments.

  1. The Campaign – how are campaigns run? This question was superbly demonstrated by the Obama camp. I am not even in America, so have missed out on 95% of the audio and visual ammunition that was deployed by both the camps. But some things were as clear as day. Obama knew what his message was. McCain didn’t. Obama was all strategy whereas McCain was only tactics. Obama was positive and McCain relied too heavily on the negative. Obama spoke to all of America whereas McCain spoke only to his constituency. This campaign should be the Bible for all future campaigns (with the same set of dynamics of course)

  1. New Media – the internet probably has never played such a huge role in any political campaign before. Each and every move of both the campaigns was stripped in minutes – TV seemed snail mail. Fact checking became a national obsession and the constant negatives and lies from the McCain camp were revealed to all in a matter of minutes – must have cost a lot of votes for the republicans.

  1. Democracy via Funding – of the people, by the people, for the people. The Obama camp’s use of new media to increase awareness and to raise funds. The small contributions from the millions that enabled Obama to take the battle right into the red states. People came forward, gave money to the person they believed should be the man for the job and eventually hope to reap the benefits. Grass root mobilization at its finest.

  1. Brand – who or what is Brand Obama? Is it limited to the American shores? I think it goes a bit beyond. Hope, change, a break from the past…the keywords of his campaign are relevant in many a place around the world – especially India. How he performs from the 21st or January 2009 will make, unmake or enhance what has been an awe – inspiring performance – of intellectual rigour, grace under pressure and vision.

  1. McCain / Palin – Beavis and Butthead would have been better in the White House and Palin would have put the RSS to shame.

  1. Tina Fey – I want all her performances. Obama should thank Ms Fey’s impersonations which brought into relief Palin’s ignorance and made many a fence sitter decide where the vote should or shouldn’t go.

  1. Sub Prime / Economy – finally understood what the sub – prime crisis was. How it paved the way for the collapse of banks and the death of venture capitalism. The pitfalls of free – market economy and unregulated capitalism. Is India listening?

A DINK Love Story July 17, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, Family, Health, india, Life, Love, Man and Woman, Media, My Life, People, Personal, Professionals, Rants, Relationship, Relationships, Romance, Television, Writing.
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Some months back it was almost idyllic. Get up, get – ready, reach office, get behind work-stations, ideate, make proposals, discuss, debate, fight and by the time it was 7 or 8 leave.

 

Go home, feed the cat, call over friends or visit them, talk and chat amongst ourselves, cook if the maid was absent (she was absent half the time), watch a bit of television and wrap the night.

 

We were still doing programming but only the back-end. Once the show was sold and went on floors we had no control or role, which we regretted; sometimes the idea got corrupted or diluted or screwed up along the way.

 

And then things changed.

 

Now we work in different offices. She goes to the town side of Mumbai and I commute to the east of Andheri.

 

She has to take an auto till Andheri station, take a train to Elphinstone, take a cab and reach her office. I have to take an auto to east, which seems easy but in fact is quite painful. Nobody wants to go from west to east, because of horrific traffic and the dug up mess of Metro construction. Mine, I agree is still easier and none of it is romantic.

 

So of we part in the morning. And then…

 

Messages, phone calls, chat…thousand ways to pass those lovey-dovey messages or just a tired hi to convey feelings, but…

 

An on-air show is a demon. An on air daily is…people are still trying to figure that out. For the sake of understanding let’s call it a Frankenstein that will gobble up its master and everyone else in its wake. So the OGS (on going show) has no bank of episodes. Most of the time it is being uploaded, which results in a loss of revenue. So, things have to be stream-lined.

 

What does she do? She gives feedback. She goes through scripts and gives her inputs. She goes through segments of an episode and makes corrections. She goes through the entire episode and makes corrections.

 

What’s wrong in this set-up you will ask? All this correction…to feel like a boss and wield the stick and see your work on the big TV!

 

Everything is wrong if after returning from work at 7 or 8 or 9 or 10 in the night, you still receive 2 episodes at 2 or 4 in the morning to correct. In the meantime scripts to read and correct. In the meantime branding carrots and stick to people…editors, script-writers, creative directors, episode director and series director…

 

How do I know all this? Because I sit or hover (without talking to her) around her looking and hearing all this. Seeing her tearing her hair, willing to kill the person on the other end of the phone and still being super-polite. She either has headphones or the phone to her ear constantly. I think I am phobic jut by looking!

 

Because I see her not eating what I have cooked. Because of the too many cups of coffee that she drinks, which helps her in not eating. Because of her recent habit of picking the golden packet and retrieving a cigarette – a habit she kicked successfully for 3 months.

 

Because I sleep before her now. Because she sleeps at 4 or 5 in the morning. Because she still takes the calls through the early morning.  Because she gets up at 9 not having enough sleep, disoriented and when I try talking to her…she gets pissed.

 

She has to be angry with someone.

Wimbledon Memories July 7, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, india, Media, Memory, People, Personal, Sport, Sports, World, Writing.
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Once upon a time in India there used to be one and only 1 television channel. It was called Doordarshan, which is a literal translation of the word ‘Television’. The State used to control all media and most of it was boring. Worse still it was dirty. The reception was pathetic with ghosting on most days. Running to the terrace to turn the antenna 360 degrees, in the vain hope of catching the perfect airwaves, was an errand I initially grew to like and then detest. Boosters also made their entry and exit.

 

There was the proverbial silver lining also. Chitrahar for the Bollywood obsessed, Sunday films, Quiz Time, Showtime, Mashoor Mahal. I have written about these in 2 of my earlier blogs also….Days and Nights with Television part 1 and 2.

 

Lives changed for the better when the Grand Slams (French, Wimbledon, American and Australian) became a fixture. Every year these 4 events and more so the Wimbledon and French Open were eagerly awaited. Entire families used to sit around the television sets and watch the matches. They had no clue about the rules. I didn’t. Leant it all by watching.

 

First I understood Wimbledon and then when the French Open guys became parochial with the use of French I thought the rules of tennis had changed. I quickly gained composure and realized that they were wooing the same maiden but in a different language.

 

Those days the grass was gray and the clay too. My family had a black and white set till 1988. From 89 the picture became even more glamorous, with the entry of a color Onida.

 

I love Martina Navratilova. I never saw Billie Jean play except in vignettes, but Martina and her rivalry with Chrish Evert and the continuing saga with Steffi Graf is the pith of all tennis memory. Graf’s rivalry with the beautiful Sabatini. My sister adored Graf and I Miss Navratilova. She used to abuse her by calling her a horse. I didn’t mind that.

 

Horse indeed she was who 9 times out of ten would serve and move, glide towards the net, wait for the return and volley. Even if Navratilova missed the return or hit the volley out, lost the point, she would do the same thing again. It was not because of lack of strategy or tactics.

 

It was the way lawn tennis was supposed to be played. There is a certain dance to the entire movement. It is true that only certain people can serve and volley. Martina did. And so did Stefan Edberg and not to forget the maverick Boris Becker. Mats Wilander another Swede. Miloslav Mecir who lost an agonizing 5 setter.

 

I still remember the legendary match when Sabatini was about to beat Graf at the Wimbledon finals. It was the 3rd set and Sabatini was this close…we were biting nails…everybody wanted Sabatini to win because she was the beautiful loser…and the lights went off in our locality. We cursed in front of elders. It was ok that day. We lost our wits and then ran inside. Switched on the Panasonic radio, tuned into BBC radio. By then Sabatini had lost her serve and in a few moments Graf won the match. The lights came back for the prize ceremony and we all felt sorry.

 

A grace enveloped them the moment the ball left their palms, curved in the air, touched by the gentle or no breeze, got smacked by the racquet, your body propelled on its own towards the net; is it going to be down the court, a topspinner, a cross – court pass, a lob; the players still rushing towards the net – to volley; to change stance, racquet position, movement, plan, direction…the dive.

 

You don’t see it any more.

 

Yestrday’s match between Nadal and Federer brought back many a memory. Of family, cheering, support, agony and loss. Who would have thought Federer would come back? Or coming back still lose? And it didn’t matter who won. That’s for the record books. What we saw was a game. A match.

 

A match which was about passion, aggression, devotion, competition, hope, struggle, rivalry, proving a point and last but not the least – respect to your opponent and grace in loss and victory.

 

Wish they could serve and volley a bit more.

Attack of the Idiot Box July 2, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, Culture, Entertainment, india, Mass Media, Media, Personal, Television, Writing.
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11 comments

Shinjini is in hospital. A participant on a regional reality dance competition, she lost movement and talk after an episode in which her performance was criticized by the 3 member judges panel.

 

Presently she is in a Bangalore hospital recuperating and spoke her first lines in some days. As expected there has been a furor. Did the judges overstep their jurisdiction? Was their criticism justified? Did they in fact critique or did they ridicule the hapless participant to such an extent that they, albeit unwillingly, injured her – emotionally and psychologically?

 

Noises are being made to draft guidelines for judges, which is welcome. Many a time, producers and directors of such shows cross the line and succumb to the tactic of ridicule and humiliation – the very basis of some reality shows. It is the participant’s unscripted helplessness, humiliation, humbling and eventual triumph that draws audiences to the format.

 

Schadenfreude – a German word meaning ‘enjoyment taken from the misfortune of someone else’ is the guiding principal. It is common knowledge that ‘reality’ in television reality shows s ‘constructed reality’, mediated by concerns of rising or falling ‘Television Rating Points’ or TRP’s. There have been cases of sexual assault on some reality shows that have been aired just to boost its popularity. Many even suspect whether the said assaults were in fact pre-meditated by the show’s director’s.

 

India is an evolving market and reality television is here to stay. The epochal 15 minutes of fame will seduce us to sell our soul – the price is, as always, negotiable. There are a few things to be kept in mind –by the contestants, conceivers and last but not the least – the audience.

 

Contestants

 

In the beginning it is you who wants the show. The show doesn’t want you. There are thousands like you who are dying for the opportunity to be on national television. So if you get it, grab it.

 

If indeed you make it to the show remember that it’s a golden opportunity. Be smart, use all the prior experience of watching reality shows and create a persona that is right for the contest. You will feel schizophrenic – but that’s the general direction in which the entire world is moving. Live with it.

 

You will be judged, criticized – basically ripped apart. Are you ready for that? Remember that even if you were promised otherwise – you are not the one who is in any position to change the way in which the show is conducted. You have only 1 option – to leave the show – will you? Most probably not.

 

You have the possibility of becoming a brand. Harp on your dominant trait – even if it is offensive. It will get you noticed. But be smart to realize when it stops paying dividends. Everybody acts a bit on reality television and so must you – a bit that is.

 

If you in fact indeed have the talent then losing on national television can in some cases be better. You get sympathy and people recognize many a final round loser. So, it is not the end of the world. In fact, it is the beginning of a brand new career. Enjoy.

 

The Conceptualists

 

Know when to stretch the envelope in style and content.

 

Exploitation and humiliation don’t work all the time. Audience and tastes evolve faster than we think they do. Most Indian reality content being adaptations of foreign formats, there is a time lag and voila things have changed. So should content.

 

Talent, skill, popularity, drama, controversy – what are your show driver’s and do they work in the local market?

 

Please – something original.

 

The Audience

 

Take everything with a pinch of salt…and other assorted spices.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Adnan Sami Interview by The On / Off Journalist June 2, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Blogging, india, Interview, Media, music, Writing.
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The history of the On / Off Journalist and the 2 previous interviews are available at Kanika & Bharatbala and Strings.

I met Adnan at the Magnasound offices. Like others I too had heard about the big man piano prodigy. After his debut album Adnan has never looked back – an unqualified Pop and Film success. He shares his birthday with India.

Adnan Sami

Q. How does it feel working with the Diva of Indian music, Asha Bhosle?

A. It is a dream come true for me personally. I was eight when I had first met Ashaji and she had heard me that day. She said I have a great future if I don’t shy from hard work and here I am, releasing my first album with Ashaji giving the vocals. R. D. Burmanda was also there.

Q. Were you another fan of Panchamda, like the others of your generation?

A. Very much so. He was and still is the King in my opinion. Even now, people have only managed to ape him, but not better him. His compositions were modern then and modern now.

Q. Even Kabhi To Nazar Milao is touted as an album of ‘Love’ songs. Don’t you think it has been done to death?

A. I agree that most albums are the same boy meet girl routine, but that should not be the criterion for not doing the same. And everybody has different reasons for creating what they do.

Q. And what is yours

A. Kabhi To Nazar Milao consists of love songs, but it is not a frivolous emotion, which it has become now, that we are musically presenting. The lyrics are not run of the mill and the music is nothing like what people have heard in what you categorize as Indi – Pop.

Q. To what extent is your history of Classical music find expression in Kabhi To Nazar Milao?

A. It is there throughout, without having an overbearing influence. I wanted to reach wider section of the audience and have tried for a balance between the traditional and the contemporary.

Q. Which you think is not a compromise?

A. Yes, because it is not deliberate in any way. I would have expressed myself only in this manner and not according to what the trends or fashion demands or anticipates.

Q. Who among the Indian classical pantheon have inspired you?

A. A lot of them. Actually, different people at different points in time. There are times when something seizes you inexplicably and one gains insights into things and events which had been considered as understood. Pandit Ravi Shankar, Hari Prasad Chaurasia, Shiv Kumar Sharma; I am a big fan of all of them. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi from a very long time and of course Ustad Bade Ghulam Ali Khan.

Q. Do you think that Indian culture is under threat from foreign influences?

A. No, nothing like that. It is impossible not to be influenced by the world around you. One does not have to leave one’s home to stay in touch with the world. It is all available at the touch of a button. People are too bothered about what is happening on the surface. Indian culture is far too resilient.

Q. Most musicians and artists are convinced that it is about to be overwhelmed?

A. These doomsday conspirators are not realizing that what they now hold to be pure and sacred and untouchable was not so some time back. Santoor, tabla and even sarangi, all were meted step-motherly treatment by the then purists. It was because of the artists perseverance that they have attained the contemporary respect and stature which they rightfully deserve.

Q. You are an evolutionist?

A. Absolutely. One more thing, what people call as “World Music”, which is such a big fad presently is has existed for a long time, probably centuries. No one country can stake a claim to have originated what we now call music. Music has always been world music, otherwise it would not have become the universal ‘language sans barriers’.

Q. You have experienced the Classical music of two cultures, Indian and Western from close quarters. What are the insights you have gained in the process?

A. Many, as should be expected. Being an Indian musician on a strictly ‘Western’ instrument has given added inputs. The West believes in the execution part. Proficiency in representing the original piece composed by a Beethoven or a Mozart is of paramount importance to the audience and the critics in the West.

It is the technique that gains ascendancy in the process. One cannot deviate from the pinned notation sheet in front of one’s eyes. Indian classical music is altogether different. It is more like…

ME: Jazz

A. Yes, the exploratory aspects of both the forms bestow on the performer the added distinction of being the creator. This freedom again is, or at least should not be, taken for granted by anyone. The improvisational nature is what makes our music special and more invigorating for all concerned: the artist and the audience.

Q. Were you sure from the beginning that you would give the vocals yourself or did you consider someone else?

A. No, it was me from the very beginning. I have had vocal training and wanted to sing it myself.

Q. What is the kind of music you listen to, other than what you play?

A. A lot of stuff. If you come to my place, you’ll see only cassettes and C. D’s. Beatles has been an abiding favourite. The sixties and seventies have a stranglehold on me. I go for melody in all music. Dire Straits is another favourite, Pink Floyd. Madonna is another person one cannot fail to notice. I don’t like her entire work, but some are really good. There are hundreds of bands to discuss, but we won’t have the time.

Q. You have a three-album contract with Magnasound. Can we expect to hear more of your original strength: piano?

A. I don’t know about that, but piano will play an important role like in this one and melody too.

Q. Are you technophobic?

A. No, I think technology is more often misused and abused and thereby given a bad name. Look at Rahman. It is helping people with limited resources to record, publish and transmit music. It is a great service and power to the individual to explore art in various forms. It is just initial suspicion on everybody’s part. And the possibilities have exploded with the growth of the net.

Q. How do you assess the current Indi — Pop scene?

A. Please do not call it Pop. Everything is being categorized under just one section. There is absolutely no discrimination between one kind of music and the other.

Q. Do you think it is because of the clutter?

A. No, the clutter has less to do with it than the companies who market everything under one heading. If anything is not classical or Hindi filmi it is termed as Indi – Pop. There are no genres like blues, country, reggae and folk. We just lump everything together which is both insulting to the artist and the genre. Nothing is specialised and the quality suffers in the bargain. If I am good at ghazals and am told to review a pop album, then it is obvious that I will fail.

Interview by Srikant Malladi circa 2000-2001

Memories of Unemployment May 31, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in comics, F&B, Food, india, Media, Personal, Politics, Random, T.V, Thoughts, World, Writing.
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6 comments

I am without a job in more than a year. Yesterday was the last day. A bunch of 4 people paid for my lunch; gave a short speech and presented me with 2 Oxford books. I was touched and will remember it always.

More than 1 year is a long time. 14 months in a television production house to be precise. So what do I miss? The obvious is the bunch of 4 people who paid for my meal etc. There are a few others too.

The first cup of coffee made by Ramu, our head pantry guy. When he joined the office still had nothing. So they used to make the worst coffee in the world, similar to prisons all over the world, I guess. And then came the Coffee Day machine. We thought our days of torture are over. But it was not so.

Ramu and others are illiterate; they know Hindi but who cares about Hindi, not the Coffee Day instruction manual for sure. Again quite a few of the pantry guys hail from Bihar and U.P – the pantry is on the 1st floor, a stylish wooden staircase leading up. There are on good days 40 to 50 people working. The pantry strength is 5 at best. Mine was an open office, for the free flow and mingling of diverse creative juices. Well…

40-50 people having 2 or 3 cups of tea or coffee per hour, breakfast, other knick knacks before lunch hits them; receiving orders, serving them, washing dishes, in the meantime the coffee / tea orders still attacking them, again the hunger pangs of afternoon and evening as they keep traveling up and down, down and up, balancing food and beverage. They work hard and don’t get salaries on time and have to send money back home and are threatened by political parties and their goons.

Coming back…so he as a rookie had initial problems; the mixing was not right. The coffee and I both probably hated him.

But over the months Ramu figured out exactly how I liked my morning cuppa of cappuccino – strong with the sugar on the lesser side. The right mix of bitter and sweet. A good wake up call after the hateful journey to Saki Naka.

I don’t know if he will miss me but…making good coffee is an art.

The Cafeteria is another place that I will miss. Our bunch sometimes 5 leading upwards to 10 on good days…and I was the only guy!!! Most of them non-vegetarians and a couple of us veggies. Many a time one couldn’t eat to one’s hearts content, the food falling short. But it was fun as most good meals are; lots of talk, gossip, some creative talk and sometimes silence; the hunger making us focus only on food.

The Conference Room. Not the most popular of choices but it is for me for a number of reasons. Made great friends, had interesting discussions, ideating sessions and it was one place that gave me silence. I hated the open office settings. Many a show was thought, debated and presented. That was the womb.

My chair and computer. The desktop was on a long table that belonged in the dining room of a faux-castle. For the first 12 months we had the worst chairs in the world and it is being kind to the chairs; ergonomic, physiological, construction disasters. In the initial days I had Linux OS. Good, stable machine but not very good to make power point presentations. I was too used to windows. Finally windows was granted to me and I sat there almost forever; people wondering what I did.

And I will miss my desktop display.

the jouney

Why Scarlett Why? May 6, 2008

Posted by astralwicks in Acting, actors, Blogging, Culture, Family, Films, hollywood, marriage, Media, Movies, Personal, Society, Writing.
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6 comments

It’s an unqualified tragedy. Scarlette Johansson has gotten engaged. To a fellow actor, who else? What does this mean – will she be lost to the fantasies of all the other bachelors? That’s stupid of course. She is just sporting a rock. She is not yet married. And additionally she is still very very young. Miss Johansson is not a 40 something for the amour to die.

But not in India apparently. In Bollywood, any actress (note only actress; the female of the actor) who announces their engagement or worse still, marriage, suddenly loses her market value. By how much is debatable, but a loss is definitely on the cards.

Actresses are known to prolong their careers, dodge the perennial question, loose boyfriends in the process but keep the dreaded rock off their hands.

What about Aishwarya, you might say? She is married into the Big B family. She will get roles one way or the other. But there is a perceptible shift even in her choices. She has just refused a film in which she is supposed to play a woman who is confused between 2 men. She said how can she be, she is married now! Cannot Aishwarya differentiate between her screen roles and her personal life? Does she belong to an acting school that believes in interiorizing roles to such an extent that their reel and real life becomes confused and blurred? Does she walk this thin dangerous line? Rejecting scripts that demand so much of emotional investment that the poor girl just has to say yes to all the banal, ordinary and regular fare that she dances and cries to with so much gusto? Doesn’t seem so, but…

Madhuri, the Dhak Dhak girl who moved and never left the hearts of Indian cine-goers. Look at Mrs. Nene’s fate. All her moves in Aaja Nach Le were washed away. Sridevi is still waiting for her ideal re-launch pad. I don’t think she is ever going to make a com-back. Raveena, Zeenat. Nobody comes back in India. Not as a heroine.

If you are married to somebody else then? Even a superstar doesn’t help much. Look at Namrata Shirodkar who married a Telugu superstar or Amla who married Nagarjuna. Dimple married Rajesh K at the peak and yet.

‘Namak khatam ho gaya’ people say or the sex appeal has disappeared…at least dwindled. Why does marriage result in such a big turnaround? How does a sex goddess become an epitome of motherhood and saintliness overnight just because she has married? Just happens so in India.

Distributors, exhibitors, producers, casting agents and even fellow actors, they flash the know-it-all smile, with a tinge of sympathy which says ‘it is all OVER’. Why did she ever take the plunge?

But Scarlett has done it. Congratulations.