Wednesday, July 20, 2011

New look

Someone like you

I heard that you're settled down
That you found a guy
And you're married now

I heard that your dreams came true.
Guess he gave you things I didn't give to you

Old friend, why are you so shy?
Ain't like you to hold back, or hide from the light

I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.
I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me, it isn't over.

Never mind, I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
"Don't forget me," I begged,
"I'll remember," you said,
"Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead."
Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead, yeah...

You know how the time flies,
Only yesterday, it was the time of our lives.
We were born and raised in a summer haze
Bound by the surprise of our glory days.

I hate to turn up out of the blue uninvited
But I couldn't stay away, I couldn't fight it.
I had hoped you'd see my face and that you'd be reminded
That for me it isn't over.

Never mind, I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
"Don't forget me," I begged,
"I'll remember," you said
"Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead."

Nothing compares, no worries or cares
Regrets and mistakes, they are memories made.
Who would have known, how bittersweet this would taste?

Never mind, I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
"Don't forget me," I begged
"I'll remember," you said
"Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead."

Never mind, I'll find someone like you
I wish nothing but the best for you too
"Don't forget me," I begged, "I'll remember," you said,
"Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead."

Sometimes it lasts in love, but sometimes it hurts instead.

Friday, July 15, 2011

India's turning point in publishing

This particular cover story in Outlook has ruffled many feathers in the publishing world.

Most of my friends who've read this are clearly miffed, bewildered almost, regarding the arguments made in this article. Have a look at the comments section on that story, some heavy blows being traded, amongst readers:

Especially portions like this, the first of which begins to describe the earlier predicament of today's rockstars in Indian publishing.

"They are the sort of writers who couldn’t get past the security guards outside plush publishing houses."

And this, which make the entire write-up seem like a plug, from Westland's PR firm:

"There’s another reason why Rujuta (Diwekar) preferred to switch to Westland from her more prestigious first publisher (Random House India). (Westland) has a healthy respect for books that sell... (they) know how to keep their bestselling authors happy...

"Westland, according to Rujuta, understands the value of relationships and that’s why she wants to stay with them no matter how hard the others try and tempt her away. "

I read the entire article and I can imagine it provoking reactions from different kinds of people:

1. If I was a struggling writer / wannabe writer, this article would give me immense hope and encouragement.

2. If I was an established author, or even the best-selling type who began his career at least a decade ago, I would be a little annoyed, but not worried. Probably, I would figure out a way to find out if the pricing of my existing books could be re-worked, reduced to a point where they can be made more affordable.

3. If I was a bookseller, I'd just be plain delighted. More books are being sold, and nothing would please me more than seeing more copies getting sold. Moreover, the fact that books are being written in English that's far simpler, means that books are reaching a much wider variety of people. Even first time readers.

4. If I was an publisher, like the ones quoted above, then this article would get me seriously thinking. The fact that high brow literature - high prices, higher quality in English, more sophisticated, bold stories - has not as many takers as those opting for popular, cheaper paperbacks, means that some strategy must be figured to address the new-found demand for simpler, affordable and easier to read literature.

Penguin Books India, has already found a way to address that demand, by launching Metro Reads, the cheaper, light paperbacks. Although titled Metro Reads, they're likely to be as popular in the interiors as well.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Dear Mr Minister, we're all in this together.

I'm so bored.

Everybody around me is reacting in a way that's making me want to strangle them.

Last night, I didn't even twitch a muscle when I came to know about the Mumbai bomb blasts. 21 dead people is too small a number to panic about. Maybe it's my journalism degree that's making me think that way?

But wait, that's not entirely why I'm bored. It's probably the reactions to the bomb blasts that I'm bored of. Mumbai has been fucked again by faceless terrorists.

The hullabaloo and cacophony on social media is so predictable. The chest-beating, the discussions about how our government does nothing, politicians are corrupt, we need more security...

Which is why, I did not log into Facebook and Twitter. Not until midnight.

Bomb blasts produce predictable reactions, especially from people in Bombay. I can close my eyes and visualize exactly how people will crowd outside shops selling TVs, mouths hanging open in shock, looking at hysteric TV news anchors reporting ground zero. The anchors will be under pressure to extract uncomfortable sound-bytes. Arnab Goswami will run out of breath in the Times Now studio. Big, bold captions will announce the number of people dead.

And there'll be raging debates on Twitter. "Hang the politicians, our ISI is a failure, I want a change of Government", etc.

Annoyed at having so much bullshit coming my way, I should have ideally switched off my laptop and gone off to sleep. But I made a mistake. I asked a woman on Twitter to shut up and stop making the netas a punching bag, everytime somebody bombs the city. She said sarcastically, "Arcopol, like every non-Mumbaikar, you can only judge. Good goin". I did not reply to her. I don't intend to argue with people who do not know proper English.

Some things I don't understand. Like the difference between the words 'judge', 'observe' and 'opine'.

"I'm not judging you, I'm just giving you my opinion", "I don't mean to be judgmental, it's just an observation"...


I'm so absolutely bored of this hashtag-based activism that's clogged my Twitter time-line yesterday. It's become clear that people generally are choots. Very confused about what they want. Very weak, very sensitive. The milk they consume at breakfast curdles if they see some gory pictures from the blasts in the morning newspapers. They think the media is full of assholes. They think Barkha Dutt is incompetent.

Dear Viewer / Common Man / Whatever-the-fuck-you-are, why don't you change the channel or switch off your TV? Or, for chrissakes why don't you run a TV channel by yourself?

People are hypocrites, and this point gets proved everytime an incident of this nature takes place. They'll curse television channels, the news anchors, the media, but they'll continue watching. If they continue watching, the TRPs will boil, frothing to an extent that editors of news channels will tom-tom, "THIS IS WHAT VIEWERS WANT!"

And then, dear Viewer, more hysteria will come your way. Which brings me to mention, that I was pleasantly surprised when some journalists pointed out that there was far more discipline in the way aftermath of the tragedy was handled by the cops, hospitals and the ministers who held the press conference. It's the only thing I'm cheering for, in this entire mayhem.

So while ministers and government officials have grown up, We The People have a long way to go. An idiot on my friend list wants all of us to 'Stand Up' against terrorism. Sure, I will stand-up. I'm standing right now. And I notice you're standing up too. But oh look! There goes off another bomb. Oh there's one more. We're all standing up - who doesn't, Miss? - but why don't you get this straight: the terrorist will just find a way to do execute us. Bring on the security checks, bring on the security cameras, make the Intelligence more intelligent, but just like rodents looking for food, the terrorists always find a way. That's why they are called terrorists.

Another idiot on my friends list wants me to put up an absolutely black profile to show that I condemn the blasts. You fucker, who doesn't condemn the blasts? Everyone does. I get so fucking annoyed everytime there's a story in the paper saying, 'PM condemns blasts, guilty will be punished'. Fuck off, Mr Prime Minister. You've spent crores to punish Ajmal Kasab and the bugger thinks death is sweeter than the chai served to him in prison.

My bet is he will make his debut in Bigg Boss next year. Maybe he'll land a role in the Indian version of Harry Potter, where he'll be called as The Boy Who Lived.

I blame Twitter and Facebook for all this boredom, this frustration, this annoyance with what's happening around. Had I not logged in, I wouldn't have seen all these pseudo expressions of concern floating all around. Just because people have platforms to express themselves, means the innards of their brain are exposed and boy, oh, boy - what an eyesore it is.

Why don't you put a hand on your heart and apologize to your favourite punching bag: "Dear minister, we're all in this together. We're all fucked."

Sunday, January 23, 2011

The ten commandments of telecasting film industry award shows

The awards season is here.

Let’s get one thing straight. Very few of the top stars remain at the awards venue throughout the evening. They come, perform, see some trophies being given away - including their own, that's an important condition for their attendance - and then they disappear. While at the venue they smile at the stage, clap every now and then to ensure they're politically correct, and they also make expressions that indicate that they did understand Sajid Khan’s jokes. They also try not to contort their face too much during every gay act on stage. All in all, they try to make it appear as if this is the best awards function they've attended.

So what you watch on TV is a carefully stitched together montage of expressions and reactions, recorded through the course of one evening. After having seen these shows ad nauseum, I have arrived a few thumb rules than an editor must follow when processing the recorded footage for telecast. Some of them are as follows:

1. Thou shall always cut to Amitabh Bachchan’s expression’s when Rekha comes on stage, or even if there's a whiff of her mentioned. Works vice versa too. Lifetime achievement award for either of them? Did they stand up and applaud? No? Yes? Either ways, send the clip to the news channels. Breaking news. Amitabh (still) stands erect for Rekha.

2. Thou shall follow the same rule when Ranbir is dancing (pan camera to Deepika), Aishwarya (Salman Khan, Vivek Oberoi pe zoom in. Super zoom in into Amitabh Bachchan), Kareena Kapoor (Shahid Kapoor pe focus) and Priyanka Chopra (Shahid Kapoor again!) Each clip will be used in the marketing activity prior to the telecast, by using them in on-air promos, and looping them on Saas, Bahu aur Saazish.

3. Thou shall ensure you get some shots of rival actresses clapping when competition is performing. If Sonam is dancing, capture Deepika and Piggy Chops’ expressions. If Piggy Chops is giving an acceptance speech, cut to Kareena Kapoor's expressions. Zoom in close. Is that a smirk? Is that a shrug? Is that smoke bellowing out of her ears? Exercise the video editing suite! Zoom in.

4. Thou shall cut to either Rani, Kajol or Shah Rukh Khan clapping, whenever Karan Johar is on stage. We Are Family, after all. And whenever there's a question asked, "Karan why are you still single?", cut to SRK's embarassed expression.

5. Thou shall immediately capture the disappointment on the loser nominees' faces, when the trophy goes to someone else. Preferably show images of someone who is clapping. Arre bhai, sportsmanship bhi toi baat banti hai ki nahi?

6. Thou shall insert video clip of either of the Khans, or the Chopras, clapping furiously with a glee on their face, whenever a winner is announced for an award which doesn’t hold much merit in the eyes of stars, e.g. best background score, or best sound design.

7. Thou shall not search for Aamir Khan in the audience. He doesn’t attend awards, even if he’s slated to win the best actor or even best editor. Right Anusha?

8. Thou shall zoom into Ashutosh Gowariker’s facial expressions every time Sajjid Khan speaks. Thou shall photoshop smoke or fumes next to Gowariker's ears, click a picture and circulate it over e-mail.

9. Thou shall show the show-stopper performance of the evening, in the Coming Up Next section every time the programme goes in for a commercial break.

10. Thou shall keep soundtracks of Star Wars, Jurassic Park ready for use, every time an award is announced and the recipient walks up on stage to collect it.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The Bigg Boss tapes you didn't see on TV

Now that Bigg Boss is over, I thought it would be appropriate to provide transcripts from edited footage. Here's one between Hashmit Patel and Tabela Anderson, where the Bollywood actor, infamous for the Riya Insane MMS scandal, offered Tabela a role in a ‘yoga film’ that he wanted to independently produce.
Unedited transcripts below:

(Hashmit Patel and Tabela Anderson are doing power yoga on the lawn inside the Bigg Boss house. Both are moaning in pleasure, as the rest of the house inmates finish their morning chores.)

Tabela: Oooh...This feels so good.

Hashmit: Doesn’t it? That’s power yoga for you. I’m surprised you’ve never tried it before.

Tabela: Aaaaaaah...(inaudible) I think I’ve tried. Tommy once heard about yoga from some saint he met in India and there was this film called Guru, right? Even Julia is now into this Hindu thingy (inaudible) are you a Yoga instructor or something?

Hashmit: Almost. I also act, when some actress agrees to do a film with me. But I can best describe myself as an independent film maker.

Tabela: Oh really? What kind of films do you make? (moans, as she rubs her calf muscle)

Hashmit: You’re in luck, lady. They’re all about yoga. Lying down, stretching your body, twisting your hands, spreading your legs...(inaudible) I shoot them in India, where its hot, one is not required to wear too many clothes. Most importantly, I don’t release them on DVDs, you know. Yoga is best circulated free of cost, through MMS!

(Hashmit squishes some grass on the Bigg Boss lawn, clearly remembering a previous incident)

Tabela: Oohh...nice. But do people have mobile phones in this country?

Hashmit: Of course! What do you take us Indians for, CJ Parker?

(Both laugh out loud, looking upwards towards the sky)

Hashmit: You know, I think you’re doing this power yoga really well. Why don’t you shoot a yoga film with me! Indians love you and you wouldn’t have to do any embarrassing dhak dhak steps.

Tabela: You think I’ll be able to? After all, I’m just an amateur at this.

Hashmit: No, no...not at all. You’ll be awesome. And c’mon, you’re not an amateur, you have lots of experience! We can get evicted from the Big Boss house together...

Tabela: Well, I don’t know about contract with Viagra-com18 is just for...

Hashmit: Contract? What contract? Yoga is all about contact, baby, not contract...

Tabela: (inaudible) I don’t know, do you have some prior experience at shooting yoga films?

Hashmit: Actually I won’t be shooting. I’ll also do yoga with you. My cameraman is very good, he’s the baap of all yoga film-makers!

(Dolly Bindra’s shrill voice in the background: “Baap kisko bola bey, baap kisko bola?!!”)

Review: No One Killed Jessica

It is difficult to give No One Killed Jessica less than a 'good' rating. Yet, if you look at a broader picture, it is a challenging film to sit though, considering that you know what the ending is. Sabrina Lall did get justice. And the late Jessica Lall's soul, now rests in peace.

Yet, Raj Kumar Gupta's courtroom-cum-journalistic-investigation drama makes for gripping viewing, thanks to good dialogues, performances from the supporting cast and impeccably good writing. In a way, it appears to be one of those screenplays where there has been little influence from powers-to-be and the director's vision has been intact. That's a wonderful thing.

I saw the movie in a packed Eros cinema on a Sunday evening and the film had enough moments that got the audience clapping, laughing (at the dark humour) and turn silent in recollection of passions that the case rustled up on news channels some years ago.

Amit Trivedi's music and background score beautifully capture those emotions. It rescues the film in a major way - from the very dull Vidya Balan (the real Sabrina Lall looks so much more energetic and headstrong) and lends great personality to the city of Delhi and one of its bitchwanti reporters, played by Rani Mukherji. Rani is good, fumes expletives very often and her character is identical to that of Barkha Dutt.

The last 20 minutes of the film, involving the candlelight protests are possibly its weakest. But you can't blame the film-makers for this, since they've been honest with the subject. It's just that, as an audience we've seen those visuals a little too often. An ignited candle has possibly become like an accessory now - stand with one for hours and you've made a statement of having stood up for justice, or simply been patriotic. It's become an easy recourse for a citizen who doesn't have time to press hard for long term solutions.

The original hero of the Jessica Lall case is only thanked towards the end of the film. That's the team from Tehelka, who worked relentlessly in exposing the brutalities of a system while working on this case.

In summary, I think that after the last few months, which damaged the reputation of many journalists - thanks to Open - here's a thumbs up to a film that shows that journalism for justice and the larger public interest - despite employing unethical means - is something worth cheering for.

No One Killed Jessica
Rating: * * *

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

Review: Paranormal Activity 2

Paranormal Activity 2 is not a great horror film, but it still packs in good thrills that commands mandatory viewing only in cinemas. Those of you who are planning to download it (or already have) to watch it on your laptops with the lights switched off, here’s a word of advice - don’t. You’re really ruining a film that seems already wasted in its second instalment.

The first film, Paranormal Activity was spooky for its unique treatment, inventive use of handheld and stationary cameras and a very clever online marketing campaign. Anticipation levels therefore reached a crescendo and audiences made a beeline to the plexes wanting to be spooked. That’s the holy grail of a horror film - we watch it because we want to get spooked. And the film managed to do it, successfully.

However the formula becomes clear and overused in this prequel, Paranormal Activity -2. The film is more or less a series of thrills, each coming at regular intervals and the director does us a favor by heightening the hum of the background score, whenever it happens. The story unfolds in the house of Katie’s sister, Kristi who lives her husband Daniel, daughter Ali and their newly born baby, Hunter. After their house gets mysteriously ransacked, the family decides to install security cameras in all their rooms. Strange things begin to happen as an invisible entity begins to create chaos.

About 15 minutes into the film, you begin guessing where’s the next thrill going to come from. What’s the next thing that'll fall off the hook? Will this be a thud in the bathroom, or will it be the kitchen? Or will it be the banging of the door? Who will the dog stare and cower in fear?

However, despite making the source of the thrills predictable, director Tod Williams succeeds in making you jump out of your seats every now and then, and provides a thrilling finish to the film and links it neatly to the first one. That’s a commendable achievement. The director has the format to thank for that, and the director of the first film, Oren Peli.

So yes, go watch this one at the theatres. My only worry is that Paranormal Activity’s formula may have become overused now - thanks to its lack of a coherent and gripping storyline. Although I wish there are no more sequels after this, I hear that Paramount Pictures has already signed Oren Peli to create a third film, which will be a prequel to Part 2.

Rating: ***