Tuesday, March 27, 2007


If you, like me, have an unexplainable fascination for horror flicks, I guess you tuned in for the India-Sri Lanka match on the 23rd. It had all the promise, and delivery, of a B-grade movie: scheduled to be seen at night (in my part of the world), pregnant with a morbid outcom (c'mon, we all knew what the result would be!), and hinting at gore even beyond the TV screen (will Chappell stay alive???). Really, I cannot complain.

Yet, what horrifies me more than our booting from the World cup is the way Star News covered it the day after. For hours and hours it went on and on about our "humiliating" defeat and why Sachin should retire and how pathetic was his LBW and how are hopes were dashed blah blah blah. What bull.

First, it wasn't a "humiliating" defeat - Sri Lanka played great and fielded marvelously and it is silly to label a defeat from a superior "humilitaing". Moreover, the first innings (when India bowled) was definitely a good performance, so it is hardly like we sucked through and through, unlike what was suggested by the channel ad nauseum.

Get over it!

In any case, our team was hardly in strapping form when it left, and the only one hyping against hope was the news channel itself. What nonsense it aired in the run up to the match - 'Ravan' will be defeated by 'Rama' propoganda, along with Ramayana serial footage, fanciful promises of regaining the World Cup - honestly, Star News could have hardly designed it better to shoot themselves in the foot. The only thing missing was a prime-time telecast of an astrologer elaborating on the position of the planets and the stars of the cricketers to foretell the outcome of the match. Or probably such a program was aired but I missed seeing it. After all, getting such guests and commentary is actually nothing new to this channel (they've already begun to report on these lines for upcoming Aishwarya-Abhishek nuptial).

All in all, it is appalling to see in real life what has been fodder for some Hollywood movies - to find news channels creating news, not covering it; how they are making up a spectacle themselves, and then reporting on it; creating a straw man (we had hardly any chance of winning!) and then killing it (insulting and humiliating the cricketers). Honestly, I doubt anyone was shocked and hurt enough to hold those tacky funerals of Indian cricket (that were being relayed) if there wasn't an idiotic channel shooting him do so.

All this nearly borders on incitement of violence if you ask me!

But even that is not what I find worse in this whole episode.

We are a democracy. A democracy with a huge geographical spread where word-of-mouth is not adequate for communication. A democracy where literacy is so low that print media cannot be sufficient. So for us to function as democracy, visual media i.e. news channels must work! There is a reason why press is called the fourth estate - it is the fourth pillar of democracy - and if we cannot have a healthy, functioning media, we will end up as democracy only on paper.

Tomorrow, if the government enacted a law to stop the media from being free, if it banned the reporting of fraud and corruption, there would surely be an outcry. We would all rail against censorship and give speeches on how it would harm democracy. Yet, we speak nothing at the self-censorship happening in media houses today - where a thousand things that are occurring go unreported in lieu of a cricket match or the Lakme Indian Fashion Week. What impact on the functioning of our country do you think that has? Any different than if someone clamped a newspaper's mouth shut?

I've heard a thousand times how this is not really censorship - just a business. You know, TRP and all, and that what we get really is what we want to hear. But that is so not true - it is not just an excuse but an outright lie.

Truth is channels are just penny pinching - it is easier and cheaper to cover a Delhi university professor's love affair (yes even that has happened on prime time Star News) than the suicide of a farmer in Telangana.

And of course, it makes more sense for an advertiser to put his ad after a Fashion Week show than the aforementioned suicide of a farmer in Telangana.

Which is why farmer suicides continue unabated while we are having couch-potato discussions on how agriculture really ought to pay electricity bills when we have NO idea of what the majority of Indian agriculture - 70% of India's population - is all about.

It is frightening, how complacent we've become about the quality of news we get. It is tragic, how we ourselves defend the media that is poisoning our democracy. And that is what really horrified me about the India-Sri Lanka match. I hope it shocked you too.

Non Sequitur copyright Wiley Ink

Friday, March 23, 2007

It's our twin!

Here's my screenplay submission for the next Kumbh mela movie (to be released four years from now)

Location: Cricket pitch, World cup final
I: Do people throw stones at your family when your team loses a cricket match?
P: Yes!

I: Do people send you death threats when you score badly?
P: Yes! Yes!

I: Does your coach have a chance to die in the hands of cricket fanatics?
P: He has already done so!

I: Hey Bhagwan! BHAI!
P: Ya Allah! BHAI!

If you ever needed proof for Indian-Paki bhai-bhai behen-behen, look no further. The mad, appalling, criminal behaviour that is displayed at the drop of a wicket on both sides of the partition ties our DNA together like nothing else can.

Makes me wonder how on earth the India and Pakistan teams pit so much energy when they play against each other, as if they were age-old enemies : don't they feel a camaraderie over shared lynchings and death threats? Doesn't empathy swell up inside them on how a defeat will have similar consequences for each? Doesn't Inzamam get consumed in memory flashbacks when he hears about the pelting of stones at Dhoni's house? Seriously, how do they manage to maintain that competitive instinct? But then, no one fights like siblings can!

Tonight, my heart goes out for our Indian team who must be shitting bricks after the Pakistan Debacle, and even more so for coach Chappell who must be ruing the day he decided to take on India given Woolmer's murder.

And honestly, if we still lose to Sri Lanka, it won't be for lack of motivation.

Anyhow, it is no longer so material for us to beat Sri Lanka - it is clear that we are definitely better than Pakistan. Sheesh, losing to Ireland! That's got to rank worse than losing to Bangadesh!

Friday, March 16, 2007

I love Mika!

No, no, not the badtameez, nasal-toned, ugly-looking fellow from our country. I'm talking about the singer of 'Grace Kelly': Love his voice and love his Mmmmmmmmmmmmms.

I try to be like Grace Kelly
But all her looks were too sad
So I try a little Freddie
Ive gone identity mad!

I guess I'm partly impressed because the group has not resorted to the on-screen writhing orgasms of a woman to sell their song.

I know it is a mark of old-age to say this - but weren't advertisements and music videos so much more creative when we were younger?

Saturday, March 10, 2007

Saw Kabul Express yesterday and despite all predictions to the contrary, quite liked it! Perhaps the enjoyment owed something to my chronic affection for Arshad Warsi, or maybe it helps to be a journalist (that's what the story revolves around). Anyway, I was impressed.

Dusty visuals pervade the movie, rightly giving a deserted feel to the ravaged land that is Afghanistan. I am not sure how true are the facts that the movie suggests - the hatred of the local Afghanis against the Taliban for instance - nevertheless, it was nice to find that the story was free of the tired Pakistan Murdabad cliche.

Like photographs of street children whose giggling faces make you smile and overlook their sooty bodies, the film's characters makes you laugh irrespective of their situation. Not that you are laughing with them, but at them, at times at their guilelessness and at times at their bull-headedness. The tale and the background ought to have evoked a piteous horror (and for anyone following the country's tumult, they will) - But somehow it is a feel good movie. Not sure if that was intended by the scriptwriter :) but I like it that way!

The only flip side of the movie is that no one except my husband and I seem to have liked it :D So please take my recommendation with caution!

Thursday, March 08, 2007

"Think of me like a sister"

Heard the classic romantic put-down line in a classic setting yesterday - Shakespeare's play Twelfth Night!

My lord so please you, these things further thought on,
To think me as well a sister as a wife

Oh yes, the man's influence is till on.

This is the first Shakespeare play I've seen - with all its old English dialogues intact - so I was quite kicked that I understood the story despite my utter ignorance of Twelfth Night, and for that matter, of Shakespeare. Of course, I did not understand most of the dialogues. But modern stories have borrowed so much from the genius that I meandered the plot with ease, and even guessed what the outcome would be. Bollywood Zindabad!