Archive for the ‘ India ’ Category

The Wizards of Oz

So much has been said, written, quoted, and commented regarding the heinous crimes against Indians in Australia. You might think this is another rant from a fellow Indian citizen over dosed on news. I am writing this cause I find it obnoxiously alarming that Indians in Australia are being targeted. The Higher Commissioner of Australia has quoted in a press conference that in 2009 the number of attacks on Indians was 105 compared to 17 attacks the year before. 617% increase in attacks on Indians living in Australian. It matters to me even when I am coming from a country that is plagued with problems and trying to deal with it.

Last week the External Affairs Ministry (EAM) issued a travel advisory for those in Australia. The travel advisory should have been issued early considering the alarming rate of assault and violence on Indians. The travel advisory helped the world to see the best of the Australian government. I hope someone from SNL or Jon Stewart was watching the reactions/quotes/remarks from the top order of the Australian government cause it would translate into a laughing riot script.

My favorite character from Australian politics is the acting Foreign Minister Simon Crean. Just love this guy cause he says,

“Over the Christmas period there has been a spate of stabbings. This, unfortunately, is a violent threat and a violent tendency that has emerged. It so happens that one of the victims is Indian. There have been other victims. Melbourne is not the only city in the world in which this happens. It also happens in Delhi, it happens in Mumbai, and it is the responsibility of all law enforcement authorities to get on top of those issues.”

Hey Simon Crean, next time you must plug in the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, the genocide in Rwanda, the pirates in Somalia and the separatist elements in Yemen. He also gives the word ‘emerged’ a new dimensional outlook.

Everyday is a new turn and twist to Indians being attacked Down Under. Below listed are few –

Make up your mind

The abundance of bilateral talks is confusing the Oz government. The Oz government hasn’t reached a conclusion to love, hate or share a love hate relationship with India. A congruent Australian government opinion would help. Simon Crean decides to shower some of his trademark quotes (as above) to the Indian government, the next day the Australian High Commissioner says that India’s actions are

“measured and totally understandable”

and then says

“Indian media is a wonderful and varied beast.”

Media Outbursts

The Indian media has received heavy criticism for covering the deaths/attacks/assaults/brawls on Indians in Australia from the Australian government, media and certain sections of the Indian society. If a 617% increase in the attacks of Indians on Australian soil does constitute as a part of prime time news then what does? Indian media has become the scapegoat for the Oz government and media.

“Indians are safer in this country than they are in their own country. If you have a look at the data, they are safer here than they are in India. They’re the facts, what we’re seeing is really a hysterical and uninformed outcry from some portions of the Indian media, and I expect we’re just going to have to live with that,” said Victoria’s Police Chief Commissioner Simon Overland

.

Mr.Overland, one effective, action oriented statement and a logical explanation from your government without the word opportunistic would stop the

‘hysterical and uniformed outcry’

.
Blaming the Indian media is quite ambiguous. I think the coverage from the Indian press as a whole does translate to balanced reporting. Indian voices from Australia and those of Australian citizens has been taken into consideration and beamed live during panel discussions and reports. A good way to shut and prove the entire Indian media wrong would be some action oriented results or evidence proving that these attacks are not of racial motive.
Mr.Overland should at least read what the press in his own country is saying regarding Racism.

The Oz media hasn’t adhered to best practices in journalism. Adopting a counter attack mode, the Oz media has dug previous statistics of crime in the sub continent to showcase safe Australia. Majority of the times, the statistics is a combination of dowry deaths, homicide, riots. Below is an excerpt from ‘The Sydney Morning Herald’,

“In 2007, according to India’s National Crime Records Bureau, 32,318 people were murdered in India. Another 3644 were victims of ”culpable homicide ,’’ roughly equating to manslaughter. In a category of its own, 8093 brides or their relatives were killed in ”dowry deaths” – murdered by greedy grooms and in-laws angry over the amount of dowry paid by the bride’s family. And there were a further 27,401 attempted murders. By contrast, in 2007, the Australian Bureau of Statistics reports, 255 people were murdered in Australia. Another 28 were victims of manslaughter, and 246 survived attempted murders. No dowry deaths were recorded.”

Definitely makes a good campaign for safe Australia. There are problems that plague India and we as a country are dealing with it. This does not mean we cannot voice our opinion or demand to know what happens to fellow Indians on Australian soil.
One man who makes perfect sense in Australia is Greg Sheridan, the foreign editor of ‘The Australian’ newspaper who says,

“There is nothing more lame than an Australian defence that points out that racism and policing problems exist in India too.”

Finger pointing can only strain bilateral ties and not generate solutions or provide security. The Australian government needs to understand the power of the television medium before lashing out insensitive quotes and comments before lamenting the country’s public image has taken a hard hit. For starters, Deputy Prime Minister Julia Gillard should limit her words of wisdom.

Student Community in Oz

The Indian student community has been the target for heinous crimes. Most people blame the students for taking the subway late at night or for living in dodgy neighborhoods. Student communities anywhere in the world have access to a limited amount of income. Students will live in areas where rent is cheap; this is a fact of life be it in Mumbai, Philadelphia or Singapore. They have to work night jobs for the money and will have to travel at night. What should the students do? Should they move into security gated Australian neighbor hoods to escape assault. Do they stop taking up part time jobs in the night time? Only if the Australian media listens to their own public’s opinion and voices. Here, you can read how better policing can quell racist attacks from the newspaper ‘The Australian’.

If it’s not Racial Profiling, What is it?

The Australian government has accepted that there has been an increase on the attacks of Indians. A majority, including me think that this is a result of racial profiling and outburst. The Union Minister for Overseas Indian Affairs Vayalar Ravi agrees that the attacks on Indian students in Australia were

”racial outbursts.”

(quote taken from ibn.live)
The Australian government overlooks any word that begins with the letter R. So if it’s not racial profiling, then what is it? Give us a legitimate explanation as to why Indians are dying/assaulted/stabbed on Oz soil. The Oz government cannot dismiss all the crimes against Indians as urban opportunists at work, drunken brawls, a walk in the park and dark alleys. Greg Sheridan, foreign editor of ‘The Australian’ newspaper says,

“the government clings to the idiotic defence that most of the crimes are opportunistic as if it is impossible to be opportunistic and racist. In making these assertions they must be the only people who believe them.”

A change in attitude and the power to acknowledge has to come from the Australian government to ensure such dastardly acts of pre- mediated violence does not occur.

You must see read this. An interview of the Australian High Commissioner with Karan Thapar.

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All about Credit

Finally, managed to watch 3 idiots. Loved it! The movie 3 idiots has become a phenomenal hit. Reports say that the film is bound to surpass previous highest Hindi movie collection records. Unfortunately movie has run into a deep controversy involving the originality of the script. The tussle between Chetan Bhagat, the writer of the book Five Point Someone and the Vidhu Vinod Chopra and Raju Hirani makers of the movie has picked up full steam ahead.

Chetan tweeted this link. Star News did a story on the above fiasco. This should bring in further clarity. Aamir Khan should actually read the book before making any further comments. Seriously, 3 idiots really didn’t need a scriptwriter. I mean all the makers did was Ctrl C and Ctrl V. Go, on read the book, watch the movie and voice your opinion.

Chetan did quite well for himself during the interview.

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Swirl, Smell, Sip and Spit = Rs.10,990

The Indian market welcomed another niche product. This should cater to the fancy of the genuine wine lover, the la-dee-dah, the uber elitist and socialites alike, the US/UK returns. Time to swirl, smell, sip and indulge with a bottle of Cavalli Tenuta Degli Dei wine. Straight from the estate of the Italian designer mogul Roberto Cavalli. (Profits maximum when you diversify.)

Cavalli’s son Tommaso Cavalli runs the estate and is responsible for delivering high-quality luxury indulgence to India. A bottle of wine from the Cavalli Tenuta Degli vineyard would cost you Rs 10,990 in India. Wait and watch the Indian pseudo socialites drool over Cavalli wine without knowing how to pronounce the brand name.

As I am writing this, my monologue reminds me to pick up a bottle of Sula wine to ring in the New Year. Cheers Tommaso Cavalli.

All about Credit

Ugly controversy broke out between Chetan Bhagat, author of Five Point Someone and the makers of 3 idiots. It’s over the placement of Chetan’s name on the credit list and the originality of the script. There has been back and forth comments from both the sides, those who have read the book and seen the movie and the media. Unfortunately, I have not seen the movie, but read the book hence I cannot make any comments on the issue.

I follow Chetan on the micro blogging site Twitter, where he has posted a link to his blog. A post in his blog successfully validates his claims that the movie was more of an adaptation of his novel than an inspiration. After reading the post, I knew one thing Chetan Bhagat can survive in Bollywood. He ends his post by saying this,

“Like I said, I don’t need anything. Even if I have no more movies made on my stories or nobody wants to read my books and columns, I’ll happily join ISKCON and dedicate my life to Krishna. But I will not shy away from the truth – ever.”

Here is a link to Chetan’s blog.

I was really feeling sorry for the guy until I read this quote on ibnlive by Vidhu Vinod Chopra saying,

“He (Chetan Bhagat) was promised a bonus if the film becomes a hit, and it was given to him even before the film released. You are giving fame to a man like that. When a film becomes a hit, a lot of people come out to share credit.”

I agree that the ‘Based on the Novel’ credit should have been introduced in the beginning as hardly anyone sits through the end credits of the movie. I fail to understand the Indian mentality of never sitting through the end credits of a movie. As soon as the end credits rolls, everyone in the theatre is standing up. When the audience has been sitting for two and a half hour, what do they lose by remaining seated for another two minutes?

I learnt the importance of being seated while the credit rolls during my college days in Manipal. I always impart that knowledge with anyone I go to the movies. Very disrespectful to leave or stand up when the credit rolls. They are the guys responsible for the movie and being seated is your way of acknowledging their work. I must mention Farah Khan’s approach to credits. She makes interesting credit rolls for all her movies. Her end credit has a cameo of everyone in the unit including the spot boys.

Next time you are watching a movie, make sure you remain seated through the credit rolls, even if the entire theater is standing up. Absolutely necessary to acknowledge the people who have made it. Incase you are rolling your eyes saying,

“Ya! rite, imagine the torture inflicted by Kambhakkat Ishq or What’s Your Rashee?”

I would say,

“Didn’t the trailer warn you about the impending misery.”

Hits and Pits of 09

My favorite part of 09 – the year end lists. Lists that showcase the best, the mediocre and the worst. From movies to celebrities, scandals to scams, fashionsta’s to fashion faux pass, music to ads, food to drinks. Anything that can be counted and classified will be listed in the top/bottom 09 lists. Most of the 09 countdown/top/bottom lists are gibberish by nature and used as fillers by television channels.

I look forward to a few 09 lists. One of them is Rajeev Masand’s Hits and Pits of 09. The list is a collection of Rajeev’s personal choice. I swear by Rajeev Masand and his show ‘Now Showing’ on CNN-IBN. Per Masand, the hits include – Kaminey, Luck by Chance, Wake Up Sid, Gulaal and Rocket Singh Salesman of the Year. The Pits include – Blue, Chandni Chowk to China, What’s your Raashee, Luck and Kambakkht Ishq.

Damn! My ongoing hiatus is the culprit for the absence at the movies. Masand’s hits list will have to be faithfully carried over to the next year. The only movie I have seen from the Hits list is Lucky by Chance. From the pits, I have seen Chandni Chowk to China (on cable) and Kambakkht Ishq (downloaded). ). Dev.D, A Wednesday, Welcome to Sanjjanpur should have made the cut to the hits list. Pits should have included Paying Guests, Life Partner and numerous other slapstick badly timed comedy turned tragedy for the viewer that were rolled out this year. Kambakkht Ishq should receive a Razzie and Razzie life time achievement award should go to its director. To ask the director what he was thinking would be undermining your own intelligence.

Cinema is an art form. Agreed that cinema should not be pirated or downloaded due to the amount of work and effort involved in making the art. I follow a personal, slightly biased rule before dishing out Rs. 150-250 to watch a movie in the theatre. I am driven to the theatre because of the director, the cast and pointers from Now Showing.

I have always wondered how people go to the theatre to watch a movie like Blue, Kambakkht Ishq or Luck. What part of their cognition allows them to deduce they want to dish out Rs200 for self inflicted torture?

The review of Luck had me in splits –

“Luck came with the stupidest climax you could possibly imagine: Imran Khan’s character escapes death despite being shot at point blank range, because – listen carefully – turns out he’s one in a small minority of people whose heart is on his right side, not left” – Rajeev Masand.

Here is Rajeev’s Hits and Pits list of 09.

Did anyone watch ‘The President is coming’?

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Afternoon Roar – My name is Khan

The much awaited trailer of the year is out, that of ‘My name is Khan’. The movie is slated for release in February 2010. The movie brings back India’s favorite on screen couple, Shah Rukh Khan and Kajol as protagonists. My name is Khan directed by Karan Johar. The movie produced by Dharma Productions and Red Chillies Entertainment has tied up with Fox Star Studios and Fox Searchlight Pictures.

The first trailer of My name is Khan posted on the film’s website, is 3 min 01 sec. Here’s a small review of the trailer.

The trailer is build on the foundation that there are two kinds of people. Those who do good deeds and those who do bad deeds. The trailer starts introducing the male protagonist of the movie, Rizwan Khan (Shah Rukh Khan). One minute into the trailer, Rizwan, an autistic man, makes a strong connection with the viewer. Impressive dialogue delivery and voice modulation by Shah Rukh Khan. Effortless on screen persona and presence by Shah Rukh Khan does breathe life into Rizwan. Rizwan meets Manidra (Kajol) and her son. They become one big inter religious happy family. The happy trailer then cuts to 9/11 and racial profiling. The family being from an inter religious background gets religious profiled. Rizwan decides to go to Washington DC to meet the President of the United States. The trailer showcases various events Rizwan endures during this journey. Rizwan’s journey is showcased with emotional packed scene cuts.

The trailer echoes visuals on the theme –

We are stronger than our fears
Greater than our limits
More than just a name

The trailer ends with Rizwan saying,

“My name is Khan and I am not a terrorist.”

Refreshingly different piece of work from Karan Johar. Waiting to see the movie. Yes, there are parts in the trailers where the cynic in me is wondering but since it’s completely unfair to judge the plot by the trailer. I shall not make skeptical judgments before seeing the movie.

‘The most popular English language novelist in India’….

Chetan Bhagat catapulted to instantaneous fame with his first novel ‘Five Point Someone’ in 2004. India was dumbstruck at the sheer thought of an IIT/IIM graduate penning down a novel. This also helped him soar through the publicity ratings. Five Point Someone revolves around the lives of three students studying in India’s most prestigious temple of knowledge – IIT. The book reverberated with everywhere who underwent college education in the sub continent.

Today, Bhagat is four books old and has successfully managed to break the boundaries that demarcate literary work in India. Rupa Company, Bhagat’s publishers accredited him with the title, ‘the biggest selling English-language novelist in India’s history’. There is no dearth of titles that India has magnanimously bestowed on Bhagat. ‘Writer of the masses’, ‘Writer that made India read again’, The Times of India said, ‘a rockstar of Indian publishing’. Difficult to deem that Bhagat outsold Kushwant Singh and RK Narayan. Inevitable question, what makes more than a million people buy Chetan Bhagat’s books?

The young wordsmith thrives on simplicity. This can be clearly seen in his linear narrative style of writing, the choice of vocabulary, the plots and twists in his books. If your schooling was done in English, then you would never need to use a dictionary to read any of Chetan’s books. Effortless reading is a major crowd puller. The characters effectively strike an emotional chord with the Indian masses, especially the Middle Class youth. His characters, their lifestyle and social surroundings are carved from middle class Indians. Hence, you can almost complete the monologues of his characters at the same time empathize and root for them. This does make predictability far too high. Generous servings of drama and love, the mainstay of Indian entertainment is provided for sustenance through Bhagat’s books. Bhagat’s story telling abilities has charmed young Indians. His evocative, vibrant, simple and humorous story telling helps the character’s sentiments to echo within the reader. Character monologues are peppered with wisecracks and switches effectively from English to his regional tongue adding authenticity to the characters. Pricing has played a major role in the success of sales. All of Bhagat’s novels are prices under Rs.100, which makes it affordable to the Indian masses. Infact it is equivalent watching a movie in the theater.

Bhagat has discovered his niche. From his first novel, Bhagat has steered away from being a literary writer. His soaring popularity makes him a popular writer by profession. The critics really don’t have a choice in this.

You can read Bhagat’s interview with the NY Times here.

I have read Bhagat’s Five Point Someone, Three Mistakes, and his recent 2 States.

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