Friday, June 28, 2013

Strange Ways of Bollywood

We saw some great movies on Zee Classics this week. Back to back. One was Rajesh Khanna's Prem Nagar, which, though a hit, was made during the waning of his charisma. We had missed this movie earlier in our life. He has turned out a "classic" performance, pardon our misuse of the word. His intensity is what held us in thrall in those days. Add to that his charisma, the mannerisms. For us kids he was the only superstar, ever. Well, that was an era, a zeitgeist, a hero-worshipping time when we all wanted to be like him and combed our hair like him (over the ears, turned in with round combs at the back). It was a time of wanting to be something unique and great and we liked the idea of an idealistic lover. Today it may be Amitabh, Shahrukh, Aamir, or, Salman. I don't know. Even Amitabh with his intense eyes doesn't have his intensity and style, according to us. How different were their careers: one from superstardom to flopdom and the other from obscurity to stardom.

The ways of the movie world are quaint indeed, one of sharp contrasts. Recently I saw "Sweety" of the serial "Hum Panch" fame hawking some dubious weight-loss products on television. She was a craze in that serial of some vintage and everyone loved her, she had an all-India fan following. In the same serial was a studious, leave-me-alone girl, who didn't say much, who was always reading a book, and god forbid, wore glasses. She was Vidya Balan, a Chembur person like us. Vidya went to become a top-selling star in Bollywood and "Sweety" is selling products on telebrands. Imagine the irony of it all.

Stardom comes at a price, as we have seen in Jiah Khan's suicide. At one time she had everything, was a leading lady and then came the fall. Some commit suicide, some become mad. We attribute this to life itself in Bombay rather than the peculiarities of Bollywood.

We have seen some good Malayalam movies of late. Now, we are not boasting, these movies have good stories, written by talented writers. Which goes for Tamil movies also. That's why when Bollywood runs out of ideas it copies from Malayalam and Tamil movies. What we are waffling toward is the need for films to have good stories. Unfortunately, Hindi film stories are written on the sets. Kya?

Season of Mangoes

Our walking companion Henry with a box of mangoes. Alas, the season of the king of fruits is drawing to a close.

Friday, June 21, 2013

India - A Disaster Waiting to Happen

With the media frenzy over the BCCI dying out, there's this thing about environmental disasters. Uttarakhand is badly affected and we have always maintained that India is an environmental disaster waiting to happen. The problem is that what environmentalists have been shouting reaches our potentates through a long hall as a distant echo. Hm. Forests are torn down or burnt, buildings are constructed with scant regard for the trees and rivers that form the eco-system in which we live. On our recent trip to Kerala we found garbage dumped all over roads in Ernakulam, Kerala's premium city. When we asked our brother we were informed that the city has no waste disposal system and they they pay to have their garbage taken away. Well, whoever imagined. Whoever imagined "God's Own Country" didn't have a waste disposal system. That too, in the premier city of the state. No wonder there are outbreaks of malaria, dengue, and chikengunia (hope I got the name right).

What are the reasons, the causes for such massive floods and landslides. Is it only the environment? True with global warming more clouds form and they have to come down as rain. That could be one of the specious arguments (we researched this online and found no creditable correlation).

We need to slow this mad scramble for development. We need to pause our crazy obsession for unhindered development and ask ourselves, "is this the way we should be going?" Have we gone horribly wrong somewhere, let's think, let's talk. If the environment has gone wrong we can still alter it, provided things aren't too far gone out of control. Today we read about the plan to mine the entire stretch of the Western Ghats and have learnt that it has been stopped by howls of protest. 

We dig up and exploit our earth, for what? Then what? Environmental disasters like the ones we are witnessing?

We saw this beautiful sight of our soldiers lying down in line to let some children pass over a river. We were touched. We always call upon the army for help during calamities and they oblige. Thank almighty we have such dedicated men defending our country. Really, it's shameful how we think selfishly of our own comforts when those men in uniform are there out in the rain, cold, and heat defending us, our country.

Bravo, Jawans!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

A Rain that Won't Go Away

Our new umbrella, brolly, whatever.
It's been raining heavily in Bombay, a hard rain. But we are enjoying it like never before, The staccato drumming on the roof, the sudden sweep of water drops, the whisper turning to an insistent drumroll, the sudden chill and humidity. We love the rain as never before.

We bought this huge umbrella which gives enough protection from the rain for Rs 400, we haggled all right. And we have been enjoying it's wide protection area in the past few days, taking a walk in the rain whenever it was coming down thick and fast, thick and fast, small rivulets falling off it magically, as if in a dream. The drops like lumps of uncut diamonds, the molecules that were formed at the beginning of life itself. Well, we like an umbrella rather than a raincoat. And we splashed some in the pools. Just the way we are. 

Now that we are home and not doing much, retired from all that corporate bullshit, we can afford to be spaced out, relaxed, whatever. Ever since our mother admitted us to "writing on ground" class we have been seized by the monster of time and things to cram. There has been no let up. Then came corporate targets, which we fulfilled but got nothing but a piddling pay cheque in the end. Is this all life is meant to be? 

No. Life is about more: listening to the rain, walking in pools of water. Try it.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

The End of Telegrams, the End of an Era, a Zeitgeist

They were used to announce births, deaths and also as greeting on a wedding. There was a whole array of emotions aligned with telegrams. We have sent plenty of them: greeting relatives on their wedding, births, birthdays and anniversaries. We have also received numerous ones announcing death of a loved one. You could write ten addresses and send one message to all ten, as happened during a bereavement of a family member. The postman who delivered these telegrams at an odd hour with a solemn face was called "Maranam" and we used to whisper as he came towards our house "Maranam vannu (death has arrived)". During our sister's wedding a bunch of telegrams were delivered with the standard message "May heavens shower choicest blessings on the newly wed couple". Cute. This standard message was associated with a number and one only had to write the number for the receiving post office to write the greeting by hand. 

BSNL has announced they are stopping telegrams from July 1, according to this report in Hindu.

So, those were the days, we can say in retrospect now. It's like an age has passed, a zeitgeist has ended, and an institution has died.

And, while saying adieu to this too-difficult-to-say-goodbye article of daily life (shedding copious tears), this picture alongside is what a telegram sent from Bombay to Karachi looked like. 

Monday, June 10, 2013

Why we think women activists should change their attitude of "wear what you like"

Here's why we think women activists should change their attitude of "wear what you like," and should ask the young people and media moghuls to tone down. Go slow, relax, you aren't proving anything by dressing provocatively. Okay? You find these girls so scantily clad on the streets and think whether it's fashion or a deliberate attempt to provoke. Look at it as a fashion moghul's attempt to degrade the female of the species. No, it's not just the streets, look anywhere: movies, television, print ads, hoardings, we don't realise how much raw sexual pull is being exerted by all these mediums on young minds, especially those of underprivileged males living alone in cities. Here's a rough list of all the titillation

Movies: item numbers: sheila ki jawani, choli ke peeche, whatever
Television ads: Deo ad in which man goes into a room and emerges with kiss marks all over, ad where a girl drags a boy into an inflated house and the house starts wobbling, whatever
Print: Open the supplement (glamour pages) and you find these celebrities all exposing their thighs, lingerie ads are another thing altogether
Hoardings: Well, too many, we lost count
Public functions: too many, we don't attend public functions, award nights, but do see pictures

So on and so forth...

And, we hold our heads and say "My God" all these? How and when did these happen? It's as if sex sex sex is everywhere and they are the only ones being deprived. A man's sexuality is such that he is easily aroused. No, don't misunderstand. A woman wants a man's sexuality to be more like her own. But, that's where you go wrong, honey. A man can't - deliberately and consciously - control his sexual urge, it's a natural thing. Even if he controls, it will slip up at times. 

And slip-ups are where assault and rape happen. An illiterate man may see naked pictures but then may entice a 4-year old with offer of candy because he doesn't know the law and never reads the papers. All he knows is he wants to do it, with whoever it is in his power to entice as victim. That's how child rape happens.

Admit this. We are today a sex-oriented society. Sex used as a tool to bring in money for: products, services, favours, politics, even sex itself, and, now, sports, . But we are also a society that denies young people to mix and derive whatever pleasures can be received from companionship. So where does the desperate man go? To a brothel that's fifty kilometres away? He is too lazy to do that. He hunts for his victims in the backyard. Many of the rapes that happened recently in Bombay were involved minor girls and their neighbours. Read this story of a 13-year old girl raped by neighbours. And this about a 5-year old girl raped by her neighbour.

We rest our case.

Sunday, June 09, 2013

Rain-spattered courtyard, raining with a sweet vengence after the heat!

The interlocking tiles are new. By the  way  that's my son's bike in the centre.
The interlocking grid tiles are a new addition. I didn't think they would finish the work before monsoon, but they did. Wifey and the neighbourhood women fought for it with the local corporator, who had no alternative but to oblige. The election is around the corner you see.

Friday, June 07, 2013

The Bombay Fornicator - A Distinctive Piece of British Raj Furniture

Searching the web we found this image of a Bombay Fornicator. They are spread on the verandah of the David Sassoon Library of which we are a life member. Truly satisfying is the sensation of reclining on them in the breezy verandah with a newspaper in the afternoons. The long armrests on either sides can be extended to rest the feet also. We would spend many afternoons there when we were editor of the journal of the Bombay Management Association, reading newspapers, magazines and plain watching the traffic make its tortuous progression on the MG Road below.

Then we chanced upon this article about it which cherished the feeling the Bombay Fornicator gives. 

Now why we mention the Bombay Fornicator is with a purpose. Our novel "Mr. Bandookwala, MBA, Harvard" does mention the fornicator at many places. It is the favourite seat of Jamshed Bandookwala who is father of Dinshaw Bandookwala, and elsewhere in our writing too it makes an appearance. 

Though how the name was coined or invented, I have no idea. It will remain shrouded in a veil of mystery. It may be one of the many idiosyncrasies that existed around Bombay at that time, like the naming of people such as Bandook [ gun] wala and Rassi [rope] walla. We suppose these were memes which were in circulation in those days. As we all know memes do spread faster these days on the electronic medium.

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

IPL and Criminal Elements, Chota Chakli of My Novel

Guess it was bound to happen. This news items has it that the IPL 6 matches garnered a viewership of 140 million, which is twice that of IPL 1. Our mind boggles and so should yours. And the betting money must surely have been huge. If it doubles in six years what could happen in the tenth year, or, the fifteenth? And a drought was going on in the country, a drought that many people sitting in their drawing rooms forgot. A drought that went unacknowledged.

How did they do it? Was it the "Jabong, Jabong" jingle or the cheer girls.Then what a letdown Mr. Srinivasan. Couldn't you have done a little better? Eh? Court cases, inquiries and all that. God forbid if the inquiry finds you guilty. Going by such inquiries, nothing will happen. We have seen countless Special Investigative Teams (SITs) vacillate, prevaricate, and then sweep everything under the carpet saying nothing happened. That's all pleasing to people who would like to go home and sleep rather than lie down on the cold floor of a cell which is seven by six and wear striped prison uniform, remember Dharmendra and Amitabh? Or, whatever.

The wisdom (gyan) from all this goes thusly: whenever there is public frenzy, there will also be criminal activity. That's also the theme which we deal with in our forthcoming novel "Mr. Bandookwala, MBA, Harvard." The real estate industry is one of the top money-making business in India and it has its fair share of underworld involvement, which we explore in our novel. Our character Chota Chakli is based on one such underworld character whom we knew in our childhood. He is a short chap with a lot of daring. If you see him you won't look at him again, so unobtrusive is he. This insignificance, he turned to his advantage, as did Chota Chakli. He went a different way and we went a different way. Our paths diverged, we haven't met since.

It's a fact that Indian business is guided by such elements who control by issuing threats from abroad. So what do our law enforcers do? What are they supposed to do for godsake?

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Cricket Shenanigans, and Other Equally Important Ones

About the cricket scandal that has the press in a tizzy, we have nothing much to say, except that we bitched about it in this post. People are waking up to the reality of corruption in sports, but we knew this all along, that something was wrong, as can be seen in this post, wherein we had highlighted that Srrinivasan's son Ashwin refused to pay for his drink and punched a cop. Therein we had also raised the issue of the BCCI chief being the owner of an IPL team which (IPL) comes under the ambit of the BCCI.

Well, what do you say about a son in law who goes amok in betting and a son who punches cops? Something seriously wrong Mr. President? Do we hear something about setting one's own house in order?

In India we give scant attention to our people in power and their misdeeds. We consider them as Gods, which is totally wrong. These people are human beings not gods. Why should they be allowed to act like owners of the institutions they manage? Powerful politicians have exploited this to the hilt as can be seen by the behaviour our union railway minister and law minister.

It's so sad Narayana Murrthy had to bail out Infosys, a company he had all but quit. What do these two isolated issues say about the state of Indian management, a subject on which there is ample punditry going around.

What on wonders is whether we are still a tribal society plunged into the twenty-first century. We wonder. We wonder what will happen next.