Friday, January 20, 2006

डोंबिवली फास्ट!

'डोंबिवली फास्ट' ची link शोधत माझ्या ब्लॉगवर भरपूर मंडळी आली. यावरून हे prove होतं की मराठी चित्रपटांविषयी जाणून घेण्याची लोकांना इच्छा आहे. I'll try to write more about Marathi movies.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Demanding Answers

One day, my cousin Manita pointed out to me how one of the ‘extras’ falls while she is dancing to a song of the Paresh Rawal hit ‘Hungama’. Both of us just couldn’t stop laughing at how funny it looked…of course, it went well with the mood of the film. The editors either didn’t notice that little mistake [which is quite unlikely] or were hoping the viewers wouldn’t notice it. It’s amusing to find these flaws with films…like how did the bandage shift form the left to the right hand or how did he change his jacket from this action scene to the next etc etc.

What I am about to write are not mistakes of carelessness…in fact, I am not sure I can call them mistakes at all. It is just something I found disturbing in two recent films I saw.

One is Bunty aur Babli…a load of crap I say! I didn’t like the movie at all. There is this one song that has become hugely popular called ‘Kajra re’. It’s quite a catchy number and has Big B, Baby B and the most beautiful woman in the world [Ha! Ha! What a joke!] Aishwarya Rai dancing to it. It’s a regular item number.

But, what I would like to ask the Maharashtra Government is how is it that they are allowing the song to be telecast on television screens in the state. It looks like a dance bar…I mean….there is a bar and Aishwarya is dancing in it. Now how is it that the song doesn’t prick our pure conscience? Isn’t it spoiling the youth and destroying men’s families anymore? Or is it okay to see it on a television screen but not in a bar? Or is everything forgiven because after all, it has the Big B shaking a leg and the lovely [?] Aishwarya doing her oh-so-decent dance moves? How come this doesn’t challenge Maharashtra’s culture now?

What’s the use of protesting? Even if the song is taken off air, Aishwarya is not going to lose her source of livelihood. It’s not going to affect her at all! But I wonder what will happen of those thousands of dance bar girls who probably have no means to earn now. Funny how those girls danced to the very songs performed by big names in Bollywood. Strange how item numbers became big hits but dance bars didn’t. Ironical how our conscience filters out those unknown faces and raves about film stars…even if both of them do more or less the same thing…dance for money!

Another thing I noticed some months back was in the movie Page 3. Before I go on to thrash a part of it, let me say that the movie was a good attempt at showing life as it is in the ‘real’ world. People are mean and everyone works for his/her own interests. Also, the movie has been bold enough in showing what our ‘ethical’ minds know exists but are too uncomfortable to accept it. Infidelity, homosexuality, corruption, power-wielding…you name it…it’s there! But there was one thing about the movie that just didn’t work for me…

I must first congratulate the director, Madhur Bhandarkar, for bringing to the forefront a serious issue like Child Sexual Abuse [CSA]. Unfortunately, it is rampant everywhere in the world. It is one of the most heinous crimes mankind is capable of. The movie shows Konkona Sen-Sharma revealing a huge CSA scandal involving big names in the business world. During the movie, I knew what was going on behind closed doors. The climax makes it sufficiently clear. But I was definitely not expecting to be shown how it’s done. That scene was just too shocking to digest! What I object to is not the depiction of the crime but to the fact that child actors were subjected to it. There are a few questions I would like to ask Madhur Bhandarkar…

How did he explain to those children what they were supposed to do? Even if they are young, children are aware of their private parts. I am sure they found it strange to be asked to sit in the laps of grown up men who were not dressed decently or rather sufficiently . And if I remember correctly, there was alcohol being consumed. In addition to that, the scene shows the police barging in and a social activist hurriedly escorting the children away. So how did Bhandarkar arrange the whole shoot? Were the children counselled by a psychologist to tell them that what they were doing was only make-believe, not real? I sincerely hope so as such things tend to leave an imprint on children’s minds. Adults know the difference between real and reel but I think children need to be told of that difference.

I am surprised no one questioned how the scene was shot. I did try to look on the net for some way to contact Bhandarkar and ask him how he shot it. He must have taken all precautions…but I would just be at ease if he assured me of that.

By the way, the Jackie Chan starrer, The Myth, which has our very own Mallika Sherawat [who made very famous appearances at international film festivals and film premiers as well as on the film posters], has been released with ‘U’ rating. This means even little children can go watch the movie. After seeing the way she has been posing on the posters, I wonder how the ‘U’ rating came about…


Friday, January 06, 2006

A paradise called Anaikatti!

Enterprising Journos...all ready to go!
with Dr. Solonski....Hehe...our Solanki sir
[photo by Security Guard at the NGO where we were staying]
I would like to take this opportunity to thank and salute Solanki Sir. He is one of our broadcast sirs. An expert cameraperson with an even more expert understanding of lighting. He is so possessive of all the equipment that it can get annoying sometimes...but most of the times, it's just funny.
All jokes apart, the man saved me from so much pain. The first day we got there, we had a tough trek of 16 kms to a tribal village. Of course, when this was being told, Yours Truly was lost in her own world (as usual). So, I arived at the base of the mountain with nice sandals with heels...so silly of me! Within 10 minutes of climbing, the sandals were out of service with a broken strap hanging loose. Solanki Sir insisted on me wearing his floaters. I refused but he just wouldn't listen to my pleading. Mr.Solanki of the Asian College of Journalism did the whole trek barefeet!!! And mind you...it was no easy task...as the stones and thorns hurt our 'precious city feet' even through our footwear.
Hats off to this man!!! Which professor would have done something like this for his/her student? We meet very few such people in our life and Solanki Sir is one of those people I'll always be grateful to.

Cattle hitch-hiking in a lorry [ photo taken by my dear friend (and adopted son..hehe) Ashish Dikshit]

Clear waters of the River Bhavani [photo by Ashish Dikshit]

Window to the world

Simply beautiful! A village in Anaikatti


A media champion[of sorts] of farmers !

The first week of 2006 started brilliantly at the ACJ. To give us an idea of rural deprivation, ACJ had invited The Hindu's Rural Editor, P.Sainath. He started by asking us to give an account of our trips to 'disadvantaged' regions. We had been divided into groups that went to places like Anaikatti [where I went], Kancheepuram, Vellore and Guntur [Andhra Pradesh]. Since then, the guy has left the class spellbound with his knowledge and analysis of some critical issues that are crippling India's countryside, farmer suicides in Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh and other states being one them.
Of course, there are those in my class who didn't like his 'I-know-and-have-done-more-than-thou' attitude. What I would say is that P. Sainath knows what he is talking about. I was lucky to have been introduced to practical methods of approaching rural India. This was something we needed to know before we went on our trips...I realised that at least in Anaikatti, we hadn't always 'asked the right questions'- something that is essential to being a good journalist. But to explain in polite words what many thought of his teaching style, I would say that he is an extremely engaging speaker. Funny thing, I didn't feel sleepy even once in his class. In fact, Sainath would make a great 'motivational speaker'. My impression of motivational speakers is not too flattering. They are the ones with those cheesy smiles...smiles they think are so confident and comforting. Frankly, I would be only to delighted to break their sparkling white teeth....the teeth they got polished from the dentist paying money they got from their sad friends. I hate it when they have catch lines like 'change your life, Take control of it' and all such stuff.
Oh, P.Sainath is none of what I just explained. I digressed a bit too much while thinking of those annoying newspaper ads. Before I move on, this is to say that I have nothing against motivational speakers. I am sure they are nice guys who want to genuinely help people. It's just my perception that is problematic.
Yes, so Sainath is an excellent orator. His enthusiasm is contagious. In fact, for the past few months, I have been thinking of spending time in my home state, Maharashtra, to understand where I come from. And Maharashtra is those hundreds of villages, those lakhs of people...my people. It does not begin and end with Mumbai and Pune...which is what my world used to be, having led a comfortable yuppie lifestyle. Sainath has inspired me to go ahead with my thoughts even more.
Everything said [or rather written], I am glad we had the opportunity to listen to P.Sainath speak. At least someone is looking at our food producers, poor farmers who ensure that we eat well but don't have much of it for themselves.