Saturday, April 19, 2014

Wanna be an Indian cricketer?

It is often said in India “Angrez chale gaye lekin Angreziat aur cricket chhod gaye” (English left India, but left behind Englishness and the game of Cricket). I won’t comment on the Angreziat part, but definitely want to talk about cricket. In India cricket is not a game, it’s a religion, the game for which people turn fanatic. We do have different cultures, languages, traditions but they all come together when they see the men in blue playing. The tri-color flying high, men and women, young and old having painted their faces with the tri-color is a common sight in the stadium and elsewhere. They love the game and they worship the cricketers. Now this can be problematic at times and you would see how. Indian fans go to an extent of conducting puja’s, havans or even fasting to see the men in blue win. I have never seen this anywhere else in the world, this kind of love, affection for the players. But beware; there are pros and cons of being an Indian cricketer.
Cricket the most popular religion in India
Religions in India
An Indian cricketer lives life king size. The money, adulation, fame is at his feet. They are demi gods. You perform well, you would be praised limitless, the fans would sing paeans for you, and you would be worshiped to the extent the gods in heaven would get jealous. You would be showered with monikers like “Master Blaster”, “The Wall”, “Mr. dependable” and many others which would inflate your ego big time. Every company would like you to endorse their product. Everything will be surreal. But do remember everything in life is “EPHEMERAL”. The moment you stop performing the demi god status would change to “Demons” in the minds of the fans, and you would be castigated royally, you would be given names like “a liability”, “good for nothing”, there would be a war cry to kick you out of the team forever, the endorsements would recede and in no time you would turn into a black sheep from a blue eyed boy. Isn’t this change frightening?

This is exactly what has happened to our very own Yuvraj Singh aka Yuvi, the destiny’s child. One bad day at office and he is made a villain by the people, fans, media. His innings in the T20 final against Sri Lanka is going to haunt him for life time. He having consumed 21 balls to score just 11 runs is considered to be the main reason for India losing that match and the cup, and this has not gone down well with the Indian fans who have turned their back on him; the same Yuvraj Singh, who won the 2 world cups earlier for team India, the same Yuvi who hit six sixes in one Stuart Broad over, the same Yuvi who rescued team India many a times from precarious situations and helped them win, but these past laurels have not come to Yuvi’s rescue. Fans (???) pelted stones at his house; many jokes in the media have surfaced slandering poor Yuvi. 

Media's backlash taking a dig at YUVI
Prints in media slandering YUVI
YUVI kaal aur aaj
Expectations from YUVI
 Some of the former cricketers have even declared he is past his prime etc. It is such a coincidence that in one of the advertisement he talks about how one enjoys praise till one is playing well else…(“Jab tak balla chala tab tak That hai”) and him getting to experience it. I am pretty sure his autobiography would have the same name as the great Nelson Mandela’s with a small difference, “A long walk to the pavilion”. But all this negativity is not going to bog down a fighter in him. He will come out stronger and will be a name to reckon, in doing so he does not need to prove anything to anyone; he has been a champion and will remain one. There are many such instances in Indian cricket where the player was at the ZENITH with great performances, but he was quickly pulled to the NADIR while he performed badly. "Bouquets and brickbats", "Praise and Slander" are the 2 sides of the same coin named Indian cricket.

The backlash Yuvi faced at the hand of the fans, media should not have happened at all, but I would say it’s not their fault as well. These fans just want to see the men in blue win; they want to see the Indian tri-color flying high all the time. But they need to understand that this is just a game and someone wins and someone loses, and at times the opposition plays better. Media, fans should leave Yuvi alone for some time and let him regroup and come out stronger. We ALL are with you YUVI.

YUVI a true champion
Champion YUVI
Now with all these high’s and low’s in a cricketer’s life, do you still wanna be an Indian Cricketer?

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Films versus Films

Films are an integral part of our life and we eat, drink and live movies. Most of us, we Indians are passionate about the movies made in India and do turn critic at a given opportunity. Living up to this tradition, I would like to don the cap of a critic and talk about the films. The difference is I would like to take on regional films, especially Marathi films versus the Hindi films which are viewed across India and abroad where ever Indian diaspora resides.

Films in India be it the Hindi films or any of the regional films have gone through a sea of change, be it music, subjects, budgets, or for that matter technology which play a very important role in the look of the film. Every filmmaker is latching onto technology like no before to make it look sleek and appealing to the varied audience, but in doing so he is forgetting the very essence of the film, its story, its narration. This obviously takes a toll on the film quality and it rarely appeals to the audience for whom it is made.

Hindi films, I think suffer from the same ailment. Hindi films have a huge viewership in tune of a billion people worldwide and are made on a huge canvas. The makers have huge budgets at their disposal. With this kind of money they can boast of hiring the best in business, be it artists, technicians, etc., can be filmed at the most exotic locations across the world; in short they are grand and can appeal to one and all. But in all this grandeur, they forget to give recognition or attention to the heart of the film, “THE STORY”. Most of the Hindi films nowadays, I think lack this aspect of film making, rendering them bereft of the “WOW” effect with the audiences, who exit the theaters with a question mark on their face as to “Why did I see this film?” Now why are the audience’s blamed for this reaction when the makers dish out crap to them every Friday? In the name of a story, patches of scenes from here and there are stitched together. Music which has been the soul of Hindi films since ages, has gone to the dogs; with gibberish lyrics and the cacophony of the musical instruments add to their loathe element. I wonder why the composers are referred to as “Music Directors” when they dole out noise pollution in the name of the melody. To add to the spice and titillation, item songs are now an integral part of Hindi films. In the name of technology, emotionless protagonists are paraded in the film. Now with this mix you can’t even expect an average product leave aside a class act. Most of the filmmakers are hell bent on making over the top films, taking the audiences for a ride assuming they are no brainers. They tend to forget “a good film is a good film” and otherwise, for the audiences, no matter in which era it is made, but all is not lost with Hindi films, with new filmmakers trying to make films on newer subjects and not rely on run a mill or rich girl meets a poor boy story. This is I suppose the silver lining. The reasons they are liked are many, the story is the essence of the film and the narration is apt. No scenes or songs are simply packed in the entire scheme of things to hot it up or spice it. They simply adhere to the story and are lucid in flow. Though these films might not have a huge budget or the popular star cast, the story is the protagonist well handled by the director; which appeals to the audiences. To name some of the recent films, which struck instant chord with the audiences were films which had a good story, apt narration, soulful music and of course good direction. To name a few – "Vicky donor", "English Vinglish", "Kahani", "Special 26", "Yeh Jawaani Hai Deewani", "Lunchbox", the biopic of veteran Indian athlete "Bhag Milkha Bhag", etc. Commercial aspect is not the only parameter here but artistic excellence and the stories that have been chosen. With these observations of mine many Hindi cine lovers would beg to differ and I am OK with it. This is my personal opinion and I sincerely feel today’s Hindi films are definitely high on the glamour quotient like no before, they are high on technical space or the grandeur is eye popping but the shelf life has reduced drastically.

Now lets move onto some other films from one of the regions of India, “THE MARATHI” films made in the state of “MAHARASHTRA”. As compared to high budgeted Hindi movies, Marathi movies are made on a shoestring budget and have a very small user base. So you would say what is the basis of even comparing these 2 film industries. There is no match. The comparison here is not the budgets or reach, but the quality of the films made. To me constraints like low budgets is a blessing in disguise for the Marathi film makers, for they try to portray the best in whatever is available to them. In doing so instead of going for grandeur and extravagance they concentrate on the story of the film, which to me is the soul of any film. The subjects that have been handled in recent times is no match and the testimony to this is the awards they have received nationally and internationally. Well trained theater actors with talented directors have taken the films to a next level. This is all possible because of the well scripted story and narration, is what I think or the subjects that are being handled. The other positive of these films is its music and it has still maintained the rustic charm or the flavor of the soil as they say. The music is soul searching if not haunting and is melodious in most of the films. Many non-Marathi singers have made a beeline to sing for these films and they have been rewarded plentifully. Some of the notable names which have sung for Marathi films are versatile Hariharan who won a national award for his song “Jeev Dangala” from the award winning film "Jogwa". "Shreya Ghoshal, Sonu Nigam, Kunal ganjawala" is some other Hindi film singers who are regular on Marathi music scene. All in all, good story, different subjects, strong performances and apt music have all contributed to the success of the Marathi movies, not just commercially, but from the point of view of, artistic excellence. No wonder many big names from the Hindi film industry are producing Marathi movies like no before. If you have a dekho at the list of movies you would know what I mean. Films like "Shala (School)", "Kaksparsh", "Mi Shivaji raje Bhonsle Boltoy", "Valu", "Vihir", "Jogwa", "Natrang", and "Deool" all have garnered critical acclaim and love of the masses and classes. I hope Marathi film makers do keep this trend going for a long, long time and don’t get carried away with just grandeur and extravagance which are coming their way, and make meaningful cinema which is loved by one and all.

You would also be interested in reading other Hindi film stories

Hindi Film Scenes from a Different Perspective

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Celebrities as politicians

With elections just round the corner, all parties, big or small are doing everything possible to woo voters. In doing so, they are resorting to online media like never before to reach out to the young generation; or coming up with innovative ideas like having tea stalls named after their candidates or for that matter using catchy tag lines to grab attention. That’s not all pre-poll alliances are a norm now. Here party principles, agenda do not matter, what matters is the NUMBER to form a government at the center. The incompatibility and other trivial (?????) things will be sorted out later. One of the most popular trends the political parties are adopting is, roping in celebrities to contest elections. The list includes, film actors, singers, sportsmen, and other artists. This has been the most popular trick to garner support and to gain votes, for film stars and sports persons have a demigod status in India and they are worshiped by many.

Fielding celebrities in the political arena is not a bad idea and is much better than fielding criminals and anti-social elements, but it has a flip side to it which is easily forgotten. How committed these celebrities will be if they win, will they really take up the causes of the people who voted for them, will they do justice to their candidature? Or simply vanish into thin air? These first timers need to know first, that politics is not a part time job and it’s a ruthless world out there. The lure of representing the people in the parliament is something which attracts them to politics, but when it starts obstructing their art, their first love they turn their back to this new role of a politician. The celebrities are used to the arc lights and the sound of “lights camera action” is difficult to let go. We have had enough instances in the past where these celebrities won with a thumping majority, but then hardly essayed the role of the people’s representative in real life. They are hardcore artists first, followed  by rest and no one can deny that. It’s but natural for them to follow their heart and art; but this confusion can create problems for the voters who voted them to victory; they do expect justice from these celebrities. To some extent it’s the people’s fault in helping them win; for they go by their screen persona and elect them; but in doing so they tend to forget one important thing, these celebrities are novices in this field and politics is something which would be secondary to them.

In the past many veteran actors, actresses fought the elections from various political parties, but simply vanished after they won. Vinod Khanna is one such case who won the seat from Gurdaspur constituency. During his pre-poll rallies he made a lot of promises to the people of Gurdaspur, to the extent of claiming to make Gurdaspur the next Paris (????) (“Main Gurdaspur nu Paris bana devanga”). Now what it meant, only he knows. Today he is nowhere to be seen and Gurdaspur is nowhere close to Paris. Another example is our very own Govinda who won from Mumbai, but then went back to what he does best, acting. Dharmendra is another example, which is better to be forgotten. You see these celebrities are used to doing guest or friendly appearances in the films, don’t be surprised if they do the same in parliament. My concerns are bound to increase, with huge number of celebrities being fielded in the coming general elections. The names include Moon Moon sen (???), Gul Panag, Kirron Kher, Bappi Lahiri (sone ki dukan) Baichung Bhutia, Rajyavardhan Singh Rathore, Mahesh Manjerekar, Paresh Rawal, Priya Dutt, Nagma, Babul Supriyo (???) etc. Now the list looks interesting and worth a dekho but I wonder what are they going to bring on to the table (typical corporate lingo :) ), no, seriously how are they going to make a difference in the bigger scheme of things is what baffles me. I might be underestimating these wannabe politicians, but history keeps hounding me

Though there are exceptions to this trend. Late Sunil Dutt the veteran actor, Shotgun Sinha, Shabana Azmi, Hema Malini are some names who understood the meaning of people’s representative and did a good job, in fact Mr Sinha and the ladies are still very much active in politics. But this number is miniscule and nothing to brag about. This puts a serious question mark on the candidature of the celebrities and their motive. Will they immerse themselves in politics or turn their back when it matters, is to be seen. They deserve a chance, but at your own peril. Whatever is the result the run up to the coming general elections is heating up with an added spice of glamour. Who wins the race time will tell. Will the celebrity cum politicians do justice to the faith reposed in them or do a blink and miss role is to be seen. Whatever may be the result, request to one and all “PLEASE DO VOTE.