Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Colorado Shooting. Shouldn't US Have Stricter Gun Laws?

Many of you have read with horror about the Colorado shooting. A gunman entered the theatre and shot innocent popcorn-munching theatre film viewers of "The Dark Knight Rises" without provocation. Imagine the movie theatre at that few crazy minutes: the panic, the screams, the thunderous sound from the speakers, the blood. The shooter was dressed in the costume of The Joker who was the villain of the the earlier Dark Knight movie, which was acted by Heath Ledger and which fetched him a posthumous oscar. Soon, the shooting will be made into a film and we will forget all about it, having paid lip tribute, and all such. To summarise our diatribe, the US will remain a violent society because of the easy availability of guns.

Now what we are waffling towards is this: The Joker - as shown in the prequel (The Dark Knight) - commits violence for the sake of violence. He doesn't do it for money. In a scene he is shown burning all the millions of dollars that is offered to him and not feeling a thing about it. His agenda is different, which is: commit violence for the sake of violence. It has given birth to a new genre of villainy which has been copied by many subsequent films, and has inspired this youth to violence of a similar nature. His preoccupation is committing something unprecedented so that he can shock the world. Violence for the sake of violence, not for money or fame. He also happens to be a Ph. D. student. Which complicates the real-life plot even further. How can a student doing Ph.D. be so sick in the mind?

We have always maintained that violence in films engender and incite violence in real life. Well, this is the result. Most films are built on the theme of revenge, and revenge incites violent feelings. When you see violence on the screen it inspires you to violence towards unsuspecting humans: women, children, and popcorn-munching theatre audience. Much of India's violence against women and children originates with the gruesomeness of the violence of our movies.

Practitioners of cinema say violence is part of life, so they are showing life as it is. No. We don't agree. The sort of gratuitous violence and shooting shown in Sholay doesn't happen in real life. The violence shown in a recent film Rajneeti doesn't happen in real life. In fact, when their talents fails in the portrayal of real life they take the shortcut by resolving things with violence. We have not seen Gangs of Waseypur but we are told it is full of violence. See any movies: Hollywood, Bollywood, or, the Hong Kong kung-fu capers. They all have the background of gory violence splashed all over it.

That the shooter - one James Holmes (what an innocent name) - bought all his guns openly is another dreaded fact that US citizens have to live with. Why isn't there any gun control? Why isn't there a licence required for owning a gun? India has strict gun licencing. We don't mean to say India has less violence. However, for a minute, imagine what it would have been if guns were easily available off the shelf. Our cities would have turned to lawless Waseypurs and more.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The Colorado Shooting. Shouldn't US Have Stricter Gun Laws?

Many of you have read with horror about the Colorado shooting. A gunman entered the theatre and shot innocent popcorn-munching theatre film viewers of "The Dark Knight Rises" without provocation. Imagine the movie theatre at that few crazy minutes: the panic, the screams, the thunderous sound from the speakers, the blood. The shooter was dressed in the costume of The Joker who was the villain of the the earlier Dark Knight movie, which was acted by Heath Ledger and which fetched him a posthumous oscar. Soon, the shooting will be made into a film and we will forget all about it, having paid lip tribute, and all such. To summarise our diatribe, the US will remain a violent society because of the easy availability of guns.

Now what we are waffling towards is this: The Joker - as shown in the prequel (The Dark Knight) - commits violence for the sake of violence. He doesn't do it for money. In a scene he is shown burning all the millions of dollars that is offered to him and not feeling a thing about it. His agenda is different, which is: commit violence for the sake of violence. It has given birth to a new genre of villainy which has been copied by many subsequent films, and has inspired this youth to violence of a similar nature. His preoccupation is committing something unprecedented so that he can shock the world. Violence for the sake of violence, not for money or fame. He also happens to be a Ph. D. student. Which complicates the real-life plot even further. How can a student doing Ph.D. be so sick in the mind? 

We have always maintained that violence in films engender and incite violence in real life. Well, this is the result. Most films are built on the theme of revenge, and revenge incites violent feelings. When you see violence on the screen it inspires you to violence towards unsuspecting humans: women, children, and popcorn-munching theatre audience. Much of India's violence against women and children originates with the gruesomeness of the violence of our movies. 

Practitioners of cinema say violence is part of life, so they are showing life as it is. No. We don't agree. The sort of gratuitous violence and shooting shown in Sholay doesn't happen in real life. The violence shown in a recent film Rajneeti doesn't happen in real life. In fact, when their talents fails in the portrayal of real life they take the shortcut by resolving things with violence. We have not seen Gangs of Waseypur but we are told it is full of violence. See any movies: Hollywood, Bollywood, or, the Hong Kong kung-fu capers. They all have the background of gory violence splashed all over it.

That the shooter - one James Holmes (what an innocent name) - bought all his guns openly is another dreaded fact that US citizens have to live with. Why isn't there any gun control? Why isn't there a licence required for owning a gun? India has strict gun licencing. We don't mean to say India has less violence. However, for a minute, imagine what it would have been if guns were easily available off the shelf. Our cities would have turned to lawless Waseypurs and more.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page. Read about my novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

India has 600 million book readers

It says in Times of India of today that India has 600 million book readers. Then why aren't books selling?

Saturday, July 21, 2012

My book on the shelves

At last I spot my book on the shelf of Landmark, Vashi. What if it's only a short story? Look in the Anthology section.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Rajesh Khanna: Sensitivity, Shayari, Drama, Playfulness and Idealism

Rajesh Khanna in his most successful film Anand
So the man who said:

Yeh shohratein
Yeh chahatein
Yeh ulfatein
Ek daur tha
Ek daur hi rahega

Translated it means (roughly):

The fame
The desire
The love (affection)
Was an era 
And will remain an era. 

Yesterday, we sat watching Rajesh Khanna films back to back, as we say it in our lingo. First we saw "Kati Patang" and then "Anand." It's difficult to believe the handsome young man in the films is no more. He meant a lot to us. His playfulness was what we tried hard to imitate. The above lines from on of his movies aptly summarises his rise to stardom and its eventual downfall. He quoted these words before he accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award given to him.

Now the media is full of "death of a legend," "passing of an era," "superstar no more," and other vacuous stuff. What he meant for us was really different. He represented the inner longing of every boy to be attractive to women, to flirt with them, and hold them in awe (of ourselves). That was something great for us men, or, budding men of those days. For women it was the devastating charm of the squinting eyes and the easy smile. He was an easy and dignified presence on screen. It was written that during his wedding even the gawkers outside the gates were invited in to share in the repast, and everyone went content about his magnanimity.  

We learn more about him from the papers. One was that he never shot in foreign locations, preferring Indian hill stations. He was proud to be Indian and his guru shirt (kurta) symbolised the village and middle class. He always played the engineer, service man, and professional, which was what the country was churning out at that time. He played the professional with a touch of romance, poetry and humour. He was to us the loving elder brother, the playful lover, the hurt and devastated artist at the same time. All this appealed to us big time and majorly in those growing up years of pimples (yes, he had pimples too), line-maro-ing and heartbreaks. That he loved poetry and quoted shayaris endeared him to us and we did buy books of shayaris to quote as he did.

His hair style was his best asset. Millions had their hair cut to and combed to resemble his style. (Confession: including us.) The bob of hair sitting atop a perfectly shaped face and rosebud lips were what captured every female heart with desire and longing to be close to him. And, he didn't disappoint them. He gave one stellar performance after another to win their hearts. 

Such a man is rare to find in today's Indian films, even in Indian life. We have moved on to greed, forgotten our poetry, forgotten what being sensitive is, and abandoned our old-world values for the use-and-throw values of the modern world. It is indeed sad that what he stood for has disappeared from the face of India to be replaced by the aforementioned transgressions. 

Is Rajesh Khanna, the superstar, still relevant today? Did he die believing in what he stood for? Did he still spew shayaris? We don't know. As for his relevance, yes, our modern heroes have a lot to learn from him, especially in the dialogue delivery department. He could quote a shayar and make it look as if he had composed it on the spot. So natural was his diction and modulation. 

I would say he is the greatest star of all because he stood for what India was and should have been.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page. Read about my novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

With my guitar

Took up guitar practice again. The problem is with the unexpected interruptions that come in between.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Rajesh Khanna the First Superstar of Hindi Cinema Is No More

So the man who set many female hearts fluttering, wanting to fall in love with him is no more. Rest in peace Rajesh Khanna. His was a mischievous and carefree acting style which captured our minds in those days and we used to bunk college classes to go see him in nearby theatres. It was fun. We loved his mannerisms, his dramatic moments, his idealism, his playfulness. It captured hearts and walking on any road in those days you could see imitators of his hair style, his clothes, his mannerisms. We imitated him, and the theatre would erupt in whistles and cat calls when his songs came through the silvery-shining beam of the arc lights of the cinema. His songs were particularly good and it is said he didn't agree to act in a film if there weren't good songs. Amitabh's first hit "Zanjeer" was offered to him, but he declined to do it because it didn't have good songs. 

With his, Dev Anand's, Shammi Kapoor's, Dara Singh's (though he wasn't in the same league) passing an era has definitely ended in Hindi cinema. It's a loss that can't be mitigated. Those were the days of tall and goodlooking and well-groomed heroes. By comparison, the modern lot don't know a thing about acting or grooming. 

Capturer of our hearts, winner of women, Rajesh Khanna, Rest in Peace wherever you may be.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page. Read about my novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

At the Launch of My Book "Urban Shots - Bright Lights" at Infinity Mall, Andheri

This picture was taken at the launch of "Urban Shots - Bright Lights" short story collection. The collection was the result of a nation-wide contest in which around 600 short story writers participated. I was among the top few to be selected for publication, and, here's the book. It contains my award-winning story, or, whatever (isn't being on top of a contest like winning an award?), named "P. K. Koshy's Daily Routine" which is about a retired government worker's struggle to come to terms with his new daily routine. As usual I write about people caught in the web of urban life, trying to extricate themselves, but not being able to do so. 

The launch was well attended and there was only standing space at the back. Some Bollywood actresses were also present to lend the "celebrity quotient" (this is a coinage I have borrowed from Bombay Times).

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page. Read about my novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Monday, July 09, 2012

A rare book

This is a book I picked up from M G Road and is a collection of T S Eliot's poems. It is what is called a review copy, which is sent to the author and sundry reviewers. (I don't know if the practice exists now.) What is rare is that I found the manuscript of an unfinished poem in it, in a beautiful ornate hand which matches Eliot's (see pic of manuscript alongside).

Friday, July 06, 2012

Here, Take a Look at This. Can't Vouch for Veracity

If what it says in this article is true the Central Intelligence Agency looks like it has some heavy explanations and clarifications to be made to environmentalists, and concerned citizens such as yours truly. Take a look. Be prepared for some chilling factoids.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page. Read about my novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

CCD, Inorbit mall Vashi

Its fun to watch people in a mall. Right now two men wearing imposssibly upward-curving pointy shoes walked past to the escalator. I don't know how they would stand on the steps. Most of the pointed shoes I have seen these days are coated with dirt. Hm.

Wednesday, July 04, 2012

The Sudden, Sharp Decline of the American Middle Class

This Rolling Stones article is about the sharp, sudden decline of the American middle class. I read that with tears in my eyes. Compared to that we Indians are better off, we have our families to fall back upon. Imagine living in a car in a parking lot. Our people would rather construct a slum in the parking lot. Hehe. Joking.

I had thought of the U.S. as a prosperous country that offered social security. But this sentence sent a chill down my spine:

"Most of the social-service systems in the United States function not to help people like Curtis and Concita Cates get back to where they were, to a point of productive stability, but simply to keep them from starving – or, more often, to merely reduce the chances that they will starve. Millions of middle-class Americans are now receiving unemployment benefits, and many find themselves compelled by the meagerness of the assistance to shun opportunity and forgo productivity in favor of a ceaseless focus on daily survival. The system's incoherence and contempt for its dependents fluoresce brilliantly in the wake of a historic event like the Great Recession. When floodwaters cover our homes, we expect that FEMA workers with emergency checks and blankets will find us. There is no moral or substantive difference between a hundred-year flood and the near-destruction of the global financial system by speculators immune from consequence. But if you and your spouse both lose your jobs and assets because of an unprecedented economic cataclysm having nothing to do with you, you quickly discover that your society expects you and your children to live malnourished on the streets indefinitely. That kind of truth, says Nancy Kapp, "really screws with people's heads." 

Heaven isn't perfect anymore, is it? It won't be after you read this. And what about those rose-tinted stories brought back by brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, and aunts? Don't believe them. Period.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page. Read about my novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

Heavy rain in Bombay

It's been a bitchy rain since morning. Taken from a moving bus, so excuse for the lack of clarity. The ac bus is leaking. Damn!

Monday, July 02, 2012

The Famous Five Still the Favourite English Series for Children

It says in this article in Guardian that the Famous Five series by Enid Blyton consisting of: Julian, Dick, George, and Anne, are still the most popular children's books in the UK. They polled 30 per cent of the votes leaving behind Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory with 22 per cent.

Why am I blogging about this? Because they were my favourite too. I remember the pleasure of reading the Famous Five's adventures and about George's father who was a mad scientist who would tolerate no loud talk or adventure in the house. Reading the series made me hungry always. Because Blyton described food rather nicely and the result was I would be hungry. Then there were gypsies, thieves, robbers, shady characters who loomed in the darkness. How sweet was innocence!

Forty years have passed. Some days ago I picked up a Famous Five series book and glanced through the contents. All that it contained seemed irrelevant, somehow I couldn't relate. I had matured. I had become alienated and lonely and not innocent anymore. Sigh! That's life.

I am @johnwriter on Twitter and John.Matthew on Facebook. I blog here. View my Youtube Channel Page. Read about my novel Mr. Bandookwala, M.B.A., Harvard.

The entrance to the Dadar Parsi Gymkhana

This is the entrance to the venerable dadar Parsi Gymkhana, one of the last oasises of greenery on Bombay. Of course only Parsis can be members here.

Sunday, July 01, 2012

Breakfast of Appam

Breakfast of kerala special delicacy of appam. Beside that is my new notes holder, bought yesterday. Starting fiddling with guitar again. (Note mixed metaphor;)