Thursday, November 16, 2006

'Kaisa lag raha hai' journalism

I often marvel at the Aaj Tak reporters. They amaze me with their capabilities to stretch a non-news item into a full-length 30 minute khaas peshkash. And now I'm convinced, that they alone are the primary reasons of inflation, in this country.

Inflated news is the mainspring of an inflated economy.
Ask me, just as you've been asking hundreds of others. Including Mr.Snake Catcher, who had to face your 'volley' of questions a few weeks back...

Q: "So, Mr.Snake Catcher, you've just caught a snake from Sanju baba's apartment. How does it feel?"
A: "Feels good, ya! Damn good. Never felt better. Felt like I'd caught my wife red-handed, asleep with another man on Sanju's bed. Feels good, alright!"

Q: "Whoa! You must have been scared! Were you? How did it feel?"
A: "Scared? Who, me? No, ya! I'm a professional snake-catcher. How the hell could I be scared?"

Q: "So, what snake was it? And how did you know, it found it's way to Sanju baba's house?"
A: "It was a deadly viper, mind you! And his hissss got the whole neighbourhood awake. That's how I came to know about himmmmmmmm."

Q: "Now that you've caught the snake, sent it to its rightful playzone, how does it feel?"
A: "Feels good, ya! Damn good. Think I'll head for that glass of beer, which your editor is gulping down, right behind you, in the newsroom. Hehehe..."

Q: "And how does it feel, coming on national television? Aaj tak se baat karke aapko kaisa laga?"
A: "Bahut accha lag raha hai. Apne bhai behen mujhe dekh rahen honge...(nodding towards camera) Kai ga vahini? Kashi aahes? Aai, jevan karoon ghe..."

Q: "Mr.Snake Catcher...thank you for talking to us..So, there you saw, how Mr.Snake Catcher gave us a terrifying account of how he caught the snake, that had found it's way to Sanju baba's house. In our next section, we'll have a look at what animals have been caught in celebrity houses.

1. Once, a bhaaloo catcher was called for urgently at Sridevi's house. She had felt an immensely hairy animal leap into her bed and go beneath her bedsheets. The catcher on arrival, was disappointed to find that the so-called 'bear' was in fact Anil Kapoor. Naked.

2. Gauri Khan, once heard goats in her bathroom. She called up PETA (since there are no farmers near Bandstand), only to realise it was SRK inside, practising his lines.


There is no doubt, that we're witnessing an overdose of 'kaisa lag raha hai' journalism, nowadays. 'How does it feel' is what the brief is for reporters. Or is it? Of course, there are ways of arriving at a point. We are keen to know how do the newsmakers feel and we want to hear it from the horses mouth. However cliche it may sound, "Bahut hi accha lag raha hai..." from Indian Idol Abhijeet Sawant, just after he won the title, is just what you might have expected him to say. It's a different story that Mini Mathur, is not a journalist.

I feel Munnabhai would have done a better job. Atleast he'd genuinely ask questions to the people in power - "Tumko is maamle mein kya feelings hai?" (Remember the way he'd asked Suman...'Tumko mere baare mein feelings hai kya?")

Come to think of it, Munnabhai as a journalist would be interesting to watch, especially for mediamen. The media has become a subject of mockery today - In every episode, Laughter Champions has atleast one gag about newchannel waale. The print media has been padded from the ridicule, to some extent though.

Taking the Munnabhai possibility forward, let's hear how a normal news-report would sound like...
Munna: "Arey circuit, suna hai udhar baarish ho rahela hai? Log doob rahe hain kya?"
Circuit: "Tension nahin lene ka bhai !! Baarish toh solid ho rahela hai, bhai. Idhar ka collector saala kuch kaam nahin kar raha tha...usko do teen kaan ke neeche bitha ke diya na bhai. Ab sab theek ho jayega bhai..paani nikaal rahela hai bhai, BMC ka log. Sab shanti hai bhai."
Munna: "Hahaha..theek hai."

Talk about media impact. Immediate relief. No floods. No erring officials. Only Circuit and Munna. Reminds me a bit of that Anil Kapoor starrer 'Nayak', which had raised many eyeballs.
But a Munna Circuit journalistic pair would surely do some good today's journalism scene.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

DON revisited

Two minutes into Farhan Akhtar's Don and Shah Rukh strikes a pose in a room of ballroom dancers. And I knew he wouldn't mess up the role.

Fourteen minutes into the film and SRK is found playing golf by the seashore. He strikes. And how! Knocks off his best man with the golf ball.

When Farhan Akhtar was quoted that the new Don is going to be "only style, no substance", I wondered what he had got himself into. Thirty minutes into the film and I know he can't spoil it from here. The plot is set. The characters are borrowed. And the stylists have done their job.

The film has received a mixed response. NOTE: Mixed, is a euphemism, here. Whenever a film's collections don't rise exponentially as they're expected to, a sugar-coated verdict - 'mixed' - is spread around.

What I liked about the film...

1. SRK is first rate as DON. He carries the role splendidly on his shoulders and Farhan's direction has kept in mind the 'King Khan' status he enjoys in the industry. In that sense, the role is tailor-made for him.

2. Mohanan's cinematography is ultra-slick. His earlier outing in Robby Grewal's Samay starring Sushmita Sen, was notable. He's succeeded in achieving the film's lead actors a sense of authority. The colour toning is generally grey, since throughout the film, the story line marches on the 'Evil v/s Evil' format.

3. Farhan Akhtar has borrowed the concept, but thankfully created his own version, since post-interval, the movie eludes the original screenplay. The twists and turns are swift and the racy screenplay does justice to the required tempo of the film.

4. Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy's background score maintains the agility of the screenplay.

5. Supporting cast - Boman, Rampal, Priyanka Chopra are worth a mention. Boman Irani is turning out to be one of the most versatile actors in the industry.

6. And finally, the surprise ending. Goes with the promo line of the film - Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin, na mumkin hai.

What I didn't like about the film...

1. The absence of clever humour is a disappointment. The chuckles during DCH...I hoped Farhan would do an encore of some sorts in DON. Black humour would have been perfect, here.

2. Isha Koppikar and Kareena Kapoor. Farhan's tried to keep up with the original DON's music. Perhaps not the right thing to borrow, especially when you know Kareena's put on weight. Isha is a waste.

3. The film can get confusing at times and that's one reason why family audiences are going to keep away from watching it for a second time. Blockbusters depend on the 'second-time-watch' potential. e.g Lage Raho Munnabhai, Rang de Basanti. I'm afraid, DON, doesn't satisfy the second-look quotient.

The film can bomb with good reason. SRK is never known for superhits beyond his conventional 'lover-boy' image.
e.g Asoka, One two ka Four bombed badly. Swades did average business. So did Abbas-Mustan's Baadshah. And off late, comedies (Lage Raho.., Phir Hera Pheri, Golmaal), romances (Fanaa, KANK) and 'leave-your-brains-at-home' action flicks (Dhoom, Krrissh) are the trend flicks that are doing great business.

DON's USP is its styling and packaging. While both can do enough to pull in the crowds, they cannot do enough to entertain.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Socialising online - courtesy Orkutrya

Is Orkut creating a world of online socialites? Just the other day I read a piece on 'air-kissing' in a Mumbai tabloid. Orkut may not give us scope for an air-kiss, but the platoform it provides to network (read socialise) may result in deliberately flattering concerns.

e.g a "Hey..wassup?" would sound more personal and genuinely concerned if said through a phone-call. Through Orkut, every other person who has 'added' you, does it, if they have no other business, online.

If you're birthday is on the cards, Orkut lists it out for you on your home-page. A friend of mine recently stopped displaying his date of birth on his Orkut profile. Rightfully so, I believe. You take the pains of putting up your birthday on your profile for others to see, so that Orkut can take new pains to remind them to wish you. What about genuine memories? Painstakingly noting down your birthday, someone would give you a call, no matter how distant he/she may isn't that a sweetest good morning wake-up to receive on a birthday morning? 'You remembered?! Thank you so much!'

Another case is of 'simply hello' greetings. There was a time, when we'd call up friends, speak to them...empathise with their worries, share our daily troubles, giggle over silly jokes, all in real-time. Today, greetings, feelings, hi's and hellos are well...'scrapped'. Now, out of all the things in the world, is that the only word they could create for it? A 'scrap'?

Scraps have ushered in a world of artificial greetings. Just like those air-kisses in Page 3 parties. Yes, Orkut has helped us remain in touch with people - a single click is all it takes. But it has also opened the doors to comments from people you're not concerned with, people who're just trying so hard out there to get a piece of your attention. And testimonial threats? Read more about them here - Orkutrya

There have been times, when I've seen the first 10 scraps saying, "Hey...wassup?", "Hi..kya chal raha hai..?", " was your day?"
While all this attention might seem flattering initially and you might be bowled over by the fact that so many people really are concerned about how your day was and are you being well-fed or not, the truth unfortunately is, that MOST OF THE TIME, they're posted by people with nothing else to do (read Orkutryas - The Orkut Dogs...hatttt kuttaaa!!). Yes, Orkut is addictive and people are keen to increase the size of their social networks. So, is it true that the more people you got on your friends list, the more popular you are? Or are you more friendly? Or..wait a're so famous??

I see genuine concern missing in the world of scraps. Genuine thoughts, feelings, meeting up, casual visits, courtesy calls, etc are slowly fading away as we get used to a world of web-cams, e-mail, e-cards, etc.

There's nothing like talking to a friend over a cup of coffee, laughing, giving that customary high-five, clapping your hands into each other, when you enjoy a good joke, laughing till your sides burst...

We're increasingly getting absorbed into a lifestyle where we're constantly obsessed with things that are out of our reach - virtual friends, celebrity lifestyles, etc. Orkut is great no doubt, to find a world, which we thought was lost once, in memory lane. But I think we must let Orkut be, what it's meant to be - a means to stay in touch. A warm-hearted conversation can only be made in person.

The world is in our fingertips. Place those fingers in the hands of a friend. The warmth you receive, is priceless. And a scrap is, well, a scrap.

The following lines from Lage Raho Munnabhai, said by 'Jhanviji' [:-) ] are memorable -

"Serial ke kirdaron ka haal to pataa hai, par Ma ka haal poochne ki fursat hi kahaan hai...
Internet mein duniyan se toh touch mein hain, magar pados mein kaun rehta hai? Jaante tak nahin!
Mobile, landline sabki bharmaar hai...lekin jigri dost tak pahunche, aise taar kahaan?"