Saturday, December 27, 2008

A Wednesday

Rarely we come across films that leave an indelible imprint. Something that'll remain etched in your memory and conscience even after days, especially when some scenes keep recurring and reminding you of something...something that makes a point. Is it a valid point? Is it ethical? Is it ideologically sound ... none of these questions seem to matter, what matters is the point made. How the point is made, is it this or that? We really don't care!
This is how I felt watching A Wednesday that premiered on UTV Movies. A movie that said a lot without wasting reels and reels of the film. Astonishingly different perspective as the suspense unravels - perhaps I could not detach myself from it because the Mumbai attacks were still too fresh to disassociate myself from the plot of the film. At the same time I could not take my eyes off the superb portrayal of the key character by Naseeruddin Shah.
A regret - I should've watched it on the big screen, mainly to avoid those long breaks on the TV. I'd love to watch it again as DVDs are already released in the market, this time more to study it as different movie than anything else, because elements like suspense and thrill can hold your breath only during the first viewing.

Saturday, December 13, 2008

Taramati Baradari

Few notes on visiting Taramati Baradari with my office team:
Legend has it that Abdullah Qutub Shah (1614-1676), the grandson of Mohd. Quli Qutub Shah, the founder of Hyderabad was a great lover of music, poetry and dance. An admirer of Taramati, the courtesan, he built the Baradari (pavilion with 12 doorways) for her, close to the Golconda fort. He could hear her sing at the Baradari from the fort. Sounds amazing but not incredible! Remember your visit to Golconda and the awesome acoustics of the fort, and how we marvel at the way it was integrated for entertainment and safety during reign of Qutub Shahi rulers.

Cut to 2008 - there you are, in the midst of smog, noise and the din of a booming metropolis, the new Hyderabad rising to prominence with liberalized economy, globalisation and a preferred destination for job outsourcing. This was my third visit to Taramati Baradari in the last two years and I was stunned at the pace at which the surroundings are getting encroached with high rise buildings and other concrete structures. Very soon, this historic monument may lose its identity as a serene spot tucked away from the humdrum of the city. Taramati Baradari, along with Golconda fort, Qutub Shahi tombs and other heritage monuments are literally getting smothered by the uncompromising array of modern constructions. If these were not located on hillocks, probably one would have missed these landmarks of a city -that tell a thousand tales about its rich culture and heritage.

We were lucky to view the sunset, though not so spectacular as earlier when there were fewer building around this place. However, viewing the moonrise with the Golconda fort as the fainting backdrop presented a maginificent sight to behold.

As the monument gleamed in the dynamic lights of myriad hues, a strange quietness filled the air, occasionally disturbed by the vehicular movement on the road.
We attended the Kuchipudi dance performance by Raja Reddy and Radha Reddy in the auditorium (sad, it was not in the open air theatre, perhaps it was too big for this event, as the turn out of people was quite poor). This was organized by APTDC as a part of the Taramati festival. Dinner at Haritha restaurant was just a random pick of rice and curries, since the restaurant was more focused on serving the special invitees for the dance program and the tourists.

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

TV - An idiot box?!

No way! According to my six year old niece Shreya. This evening she seemed to be in a real good mood while I was helping her solve some puzzles in Young World in The Hindu. She was pretty much in listening mode so I made an attempt trying to tell her to cut down on TV. Like other kids of her age she's terribly addicted to kids' channels. Coz of this, she sometimes get shouted at by all of us. Also, today's newpaper carried a story called 'Why children should stay clear of the idiot box?' Taking a cue from this story, I hoped my effort in explaining the ill-effects of TV would help in weaning her away, earnestly.

I began by telling Shreya how when we were kids there were hardly any programs on TV especially for kids, how we would spend time playing outside, or going to the library, listening to music, how my father had once put the TV set on the loft while our exams were approaching and so on. She listened to me intently, then I told her someone who watches TV all the time is called a couch potato and why TV is called an idiot box.

The moment she heard me saying idiot box, she immediately retorted " could it be an idiot, it makes your brain smart, it tells you about places and animals, and you watch so much news, you learn so much....", she went on defending the TV programs. I tried my best to tell her that these are good programs but she should not watch all that is shown indiscriminately, I happened to mention some Japanese serials, that show a lot of violence etc....pat came her reply: my karate teacher speaks Japanese, I'm learning karate, it's from Japan, it is very good...."

I had no words for her, I started wondering is TV really an idiot box, may not be, it all depends on the kind of channels you watch!

Sunday, November 30, 2008

Treat the disease and not the symptoms

Terrorist attacks seem to have become cyclical events. Let's live with the reality and face it boldly. I tell myself. Is the worst yet to come? I wonder. Another dangerous trend is our acceptance of these events and our inbuilt resilience to carry on with life, albeit with symbolic protests - lighting candles, holding peace marches and so on. Even more dangerous is the emerging stoicism of people as if nothing ever happened. Business is as usual. But is it really? The inability to question and reflect on one's predicament is one of the signs of a people that is myopic and missing the big picture.

Today, the television was filled with 'postmortem' on 26/11/08. Views, analysis, discussions - mostly bringing to the fore the inevitable blame games, bickerings - so sickening to watch it all!! Is this what we should be talking? Is this how a chief minister, acccompanied by family and friends visit the affected site as if it were some 'ordinary' object of curiosity seen during that post-dinner stroll? I simply fail to understand the presence of Ramgopal Varma in his entourage!! Perhaps he wanted to get first hand 'inspiration' for another blockbuster, from the charred remains of the hotel, apparently tired of copying Hollywood flicks! What was Sagarika Ghosh upto on CNN-IBN? Yelling at that top of her voice in her interaction with two senior retired IPS officers... trying to prove, defend, analyse and what not. Is this the way to address the issues? Why do we always react and never believe in being proactive? Why do we always treat the symptoms and not the disease? A disease that is deeply rooted in the way we are evolving, internally as a nation. Being vulnerable to terrorist attacks is one of the symptoms. The disease is more serious.

Confronting terrorism demands us to be a nation, a nation that can proudly face these destructive elements. A nation that puts the collective consciousness before its individual motives. A nation that does not stay content and complacent with sacrifices of policemen and commandos but thinks beyond. A nation that examines its hypocrisies and illusions. Is it really possible to achieve such lofty ideals in today's India? India - where politics is getting more parochial than ever, where state are getting further divided into smaller regions motivated by vested interests of some sections. Factional politicians should remember - when Mumbai was burning and bleeding it was not merely the local leaders who came to the forefront to save her, but people speaking different languages and representing different cultures. Then why do we put up with people who still believe in dividing and ruling ...religion, region, caste, socio-economic name it we have all in India, innumerable ways to break the people.

Now that we are into an era of coalition governments where it's a pure game of numbers each party vying for power, risking stability and sustained administration. Frequent elections drain our exchequer, frequent elections are a sign of decaying democracy. Do we need a basic constitutional reform from the perspective of coalitions? How can we present ourselves as a strong and unified country to the rest of the world?

This Maestro is beyond awards

This writeup on Pt. Pandit Bhimsen Joshi appeared in The Hindu when he was conferred Bharat Ratna the highest civilian honour in India, tells us about Panditji's youth and the rigorous training the maestro had undergone under his guru Sawai Gandharva. Here's the link to the article:

Saturday, November 29, 2008

26/11 - Rape of human sensibility

Writing, it is said, is one of the outlets for releasing that accumulated angst, anger and anguish. Especially, when your thoughts are maimed by certain events beyond your control and you feel incapacitated in more ways than one. I write these lines as I watch, read and reflect on the gory events that eerily unfolded since the late hours of 26/11/08 when Mumbai was marauded for her magnificence, benevolence and tolerance.

Those unforgettable sixty hours
Glued to their televisions were millions of Indians
And people from rest of the world
Watching one of the worst, heinous and despicable
Acts of timidity and barbarity
Unfolding in unperceivably obscene manner
Targeting hotels, hospital and railway terminus
Involving people from different countries, faiths
Innocent people, most vulnerable
Blindly slain, held hostage or massacred in cruelest manner
Perhaps the most abhorrent terrorist attack

Was it merely the city of Mumbai that was marauded?
Was it just the siege of an iconic heritage structure?
Certainly not!
An act of unimaginably inhuman magnitude
Planned and executed with such precision
Impacting the human psyche in ways impossible to frame in words
Probably worse than any act of physical violence

To me, it was a rape of human sensibility
Outraging the modesty of human values
A rape by gang of misled youth
suicidal and
Unconscious of their dastardly deeds
Driven and used by destructive agencies
Unabashed by sights of human carnage
While meeting their target in the form of numbers killed

Leaving more questions than answers
As we count the dead and injured
As we mourn the martyrs
As we assess the damage done to the edifices
As we wonder when normalcy would be restored
As we listen to the victims and survivors sharing their experiences
As we empathize and choke
As we sleep and wake up
As we...

Little realizing that
If anyone is to be blamed, it is us!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Haritha - 7 Kms

Typical Hyderabadi weekend when cyclone hits the coastal AP, especially in early winter - cloudy skies, light drizzle, chill breeze - perfect weather for snugging up in the cozy corner of one's home, snacking on some hot tea and muffins, perhaps catching up with some reading as well. This time I wanted to do something different since I badly needed a break from daily chores, especially that inevitable visit to Ratnadeep for vegetables and other stuff.

None of us wanted to remain indoors, just felt like unwinding, may be go for a refreshing long drive that would take us away from the din of the city, at least for some hours. We started and drove towards NH7. Sandip was keen on some bird-watching, armed with his camera and binoculars. We could not see many birds though, mainly due to the inclement weather. We crossed Medchal and were about to reach Toopran, I badly wanted to have some tea, so thought we would stop at Reliance Plaza, unfortunately it was closed. We were unable to see any tea vendors around, then Sandip spotted a signboard on the right pointing to Haritha (the APTDC restaurant). I took a turn and entered into a road that showed Haritha 7 kms. To our surprise it turned out to be a lush green driveway that connected to Gajwel about 25kms away.

Serendipity - was my word of the day for this splendid Sunday!!!

This lovely road had some green and golden paddy, potatoes and other vegetables farms lined up on both sides of the road, neatly interspered with sugarcane and some mango orchards. There were some ponds too, that make it look even more picturesque. We stopped for a while, since we found some rare birds near the waterbodies. The panoramic view was simply exhilarating. However, we could not find Haritha anywhere on this road. Half way through there was a temple, wondered if it was a famous pilgrim spot, and concluded that the restaurant would be in the temple complex. We were not sure about it, coz the temple did not seem big enough to be promoted by APTDC. Nevertheless, we did not slow down near the temple, the place was too crowded with people since it was an auspicious day for vanabhojanam. We reached Gajwel and took a right turn to state highway that connected to Shamirpet. It said Hyderabad 60 kms. Towards our right we spotted a big Haritha restaurant, but we weren't prepared to turn back. Was this the restaurant that the signboard pointed to, we speculated ? It was exactly 27 kms from that point? May be the '2' before '7' got erased from the signboard? Were there two restaurants by the same name within such a short distance? We were just wondering trying to solve the Harita puzzle, but thanks to the Haritha signboard we got to drive through some pleasantly serene avenues, full of rustic charm, that made us hard to believe that we were just 60-70 kms away from Hyderabad.

Rajma Art

One of those evenings, when Shreya decides to keep herself away from the TV, toys and books and gets really creative. Here's her piece of art done with Rajma (dried kidney beans). She kept it in tact till I reached home from office so that I could capture it in my camera. There is a story behind the scene, it had to do with a man and his car...

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Thoda adjust kar 'Garib Raths'

Normally, passengers in trains adjust and oblige with lower berths for senior citizens and expecting mothers considering the fact that they cannot not get into middle or upper berths. Now, it looks like Indian Railways have made it their motto by asking everyone to adjust. And we Indians seem to be good at the art of adjusting with anything and everything even if it means risk to our lives. Look at the way the new AC 3tier coaches are designed. I managed to dig out this newpaper report on 'redesign of coaches'.

In the last couple of months I travelled thrice to Bangalore by three different trains - Kacheguda-Bangalore Express, Kacheguda Yashwantpur Express and Bangalore Rajdhani Express. I've been travelling by trains for years, but this time the exprience in AC-3 tier in Bangalore trains including Rajdhani Express has been harrowing to say the least. Well, in Rajdhani too, the bedsheets and blankets seem to have remained unwashed for ages! Thanks to Lalu Prasad Yadav's Garib Rath and new management concepts for Indian Railways, all normal AC-3 Tiers have been re-designed and converted to nine passengers per compartment. Several compromises seem to have been made in terms of quality of service, infractructure and so on. This new idea may have helped Indian Railways fill the coffers but for the common person it spells trouble. Now nine people share the seats which is originally meant for eight. We have three side berths and with AC fluctuations it gets suffocating. The 'unfortunate' ninth passenger with a confusing odd number who gets the side middle berth remains at the mercy of other passengers for his/her seat during the day time.
Where are the principles of design and usability in the whole coach re-design process? I guess these have been sacrificed for better revenue for railways. With the introduction of an extra berth the lower and upper berth spaces are very congested, forget about sleeping, you cannot even lie down properly, wonder how someone who's more than 5-5" adjusts in this space. What if the passenger is on the heavier side and gets the side middle berth? Is there a weight-limit? What about the way these berths are folded? There are several issues like this that one gets to think of ....
Note: The pics in this blog are from the Internet and not from the train in which I travelled.

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Kids' dance party

Watch out Shreya and Pratham dance on Mithu's birthday.

Friday, October 03, 2008

An artificial plant for a nest!

This is really incredible! Birds turning from natural habitat to articifial flora for nesting and bringing up their fledglings! Here's the link to the story that appeared in THE HINDU on 3rd OCt 08.

Welcome to Sajjanpur

Like every year, this year too, my birthday was more or less predictable: greetings from friends and family members, a treat at a restaurant, some moments of reflection at the end of the day. The best part of my birthday was the surprise the movie Welcome to Sajjanpur had for me - it was such a different movie from Benegal! A Shyam Benegal film is something I'd always look forward to - but this time it made my day special - it's such a lovely, enjoyable movie coming from the master storyteller! Shreyas Talpade in this stellar role and Amrita Rao as the female lead reminded me of another hit pair of the 80s- Farooq Sheikh and Deepti Naval.

Hilarious, yet heartrending at the same time, this effortless and breezy style of comedy - with a strong social message though , makes an apt satirical comment on the present day Indian village. Comedy as a genre is skillfully handled, so deftly that all the harshness of human condition is neatly hidden behind the humor, thus unleashing the power of cinema as a medium that can effectively convey meaningful messages .A village with 0% literacy cannot be a figment of someone's imagination, it's indeed a sad reflection on how we are still grappling with problems like illiteracy even after six decades of independence (where literacy is equated with being able to put one's signature on paper).

The ease with which the story develops, meanders and flows through the people and their lives in this village never leaves a dull moment even as it makes you think while laughing out loud. Be it - the rubber snake carried by the snake charmer in the background of the government banning cruelty on animals, the Sarpanch bullying Mahadev, Kamala's surprise when she receives a reply from Bansi or Munnibai's ability to sign on the paper as against the former Sarpanch who cares two hoots about literacy, or when he meets Mahadev asking him to write a letter to the collector requesting for safety. In fact, the down-to-earth depiction of social reality can beat any big budget block buster in its entertainment value (only limiation is its Hindi dialect).

It is interesting to see how the present day disillusionment is turned into a delightfully entertaining story, told in a lighter vein, reflecting on the lopsidedness of so-called development and its social agenda. Amazingly, there 's not a single instance of preachy sermons and long drawn, patronizing monlogues on how things should change etc etc. All the same it's so contemporary - SEZ, Singur, nuclear policy, a eunuch winning elections, people blinded by superstitions - you find all of them etched, tacitly or explicitly, on the canvas where the protagonist, who has the rare distinction of being a graduate earns his living by writing letters, by helping people and 'manipulate' their for social good.
There could be several Sajjanpurs in India. If we believe that movies have the potential to become change agents, this could be one of them!
Disclaimer: This is not intended to be a review of the movie.

Chattees - buffet and BBQ

Occasion - my birthday treat on 1st October. We drove down from office to - Chattees, the relatively new restaurant on Road # 36, Jubilee Hills. We opted for the buffet and BBQ- the spread was quite exhaustive. The fare was delectable, especially, the kababs and tandoori veg and non-veg on the skewer getting BBQeued right in the middle of the table. The kofta in palak gravy and glazed vegetables tasted good and stood out from the rest of the dishes.
Perhaps, the BBQ at your table is what distinguishes it from other similar restaurants. However, the skewers ate away quite some space on the table. And I wondered how it would feel during summer to have the burning charcoal and spicy fumes in the middle of the table, even if the AC is on. It may not be all that good to visit this place in summer. Moreover, I didn't like this idea very much coz the skewers were hardly heated at our table as the kababs and tandoori stuff were left cold. On the whole, food was good - both veg and non-veg (certified by my friends who relish non-veg), thought the service left a lot to be desired.
The location and ambience are okay. It's one of those residential bunglows converted into a restaurant. Now the new Pantaloons outlet has blocked the view from this restaurant. Another not-so-pleasant-experience at this place - artificial 'lawns' with plastic grass spread all over and the noise all around with lot of construction activity in the neighborhood.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

A message in the rumour

Things are falling apart again, the capitalist centre of America is unable to hold, to bail the financial firms out from the worst-ever crisis. The global financial terra firma is shaken, markets are in turmoil, the tremors are being felt everywhere in the world. How can the city of Hyderabad be left behind?

At 9.30 pm, I get a call from my friend, "you know something there is no money in ICICI Bank ATMs, people are queuing up like mad! running helter-skelter, if you have any money in your account , go and withdraw soon!" It was such an odd hour at night. I told him, "don't worry it could be a rumour and the ensuing bank holiday must be adding to the anxiety."

For a moment I wondered, what if...eventhough ICICI bank is rated almost on par with some nationalised banks in India...what if it really happens, for all you know banks can go bankrupt anytime especially if they've risen fast, the fall could be faster! Hey, but it can't be like quicksilver, I calmed myself, though I did have some money in my account. The global financial meltdown is sure to impact our banks, but not so soon, I comforted myself.

Next day, the newspaper reported that it was all a rumour. Perhaps yes or perhaps no! but a 'rumour' compounded by the irresponsible role played by media, especially the local TV channels. Naturally, it led to people panicking, running to various ATMs, not realizing that ATMs can hold only limited number of currency notes. In fact, someone told me, 'you can be very lucky if this bank really closes down, coz your housing and car loans are from the same bank!' I certainly wouldn't have liked that at any cost! I also heard that some people were finding ways to use up their money with their debit cards in anticipation of the worst scenario! How apprehensive one could get!

However, there was an underlying message in this turmoil. How volatile private banking could be, the necessity to maintain a balance between public and private sector banks. That could be one of ways of mitigating the risks involved in present day banking.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Crowning glory for the melody queen

It was Lata Mangeshkar's 80th birthday on 28th Sept 08. I came across this interesting news item. Such a lovely way to honor the person you admire. It's hard to come by such passion and admiration for music these days. I feel like blogging this news, managed to find it on the Internet. Here it goes:
"A die-hard fan of legendary playback singer Lata Mangeshkar will put 28,000 gramophone records of her songs for public view on the eve of singer's 80th birthday on September 28.
Suman Chourasia claims that he has spent his all earnings in collecting gramophone records of Lata Mangeshkar, who was born in Indore in the year 1929. Chourasia (59) along with his friends has decided to set up a museum of his collection in Indore so that it becomes a permanent memory for her large number of fans.
His collection has songs, 'ghazals', 'qawwali' and Sufi songs sung by Mangeshkar. The museum was set in a 1600 square feet area full of records of Mangeshkar.
However, he said that he was not still content with his collection and was looking for 1300 more gramophone records of her, which he said he will collect at any cost. He informed that he has named the museum as ‘Lata Dinanath Mangeshkar Gramophone Record Museum’ and added that he has travelled thousands of kilometers to collect these rare records.
Chourasia, who runs a small eateries shop in front of the railway station here said that for those doing research on Lata Mangeshkar, he has constructed two rooms in the museum so that they can have access to the rare collection. "

My bilingual niece

When Maansi talks to me on phone I'm constantly reminded of my reading in the field of language acquistion, especially child language acquisition during my M.Litt course at CIEFL. Maansi is soon-to-be-three year old. She is equally fluent in Kannada (mothertongue) and Hindi (fathertongue). At home she spends most of her time with her Ajji and ocassionally Muthajji - both speak to her in Kannada. Her mother uses Kannada, Hindi and English. At school it's English and ocassionally Kannada. Her friends speak Kannada, so is the neighbourhood. Some interesting observations about Maansi:

1. When I talk to her it's always Hindi, even if I ask her in Kannada (I can manage short sentences) she replies in Hindi. She is very clear that with me and my mother it has to be Hindi.

2. She can parallelly talk in both languages - the other day I heard her giving instructions to her Ajji in Kannada while she was talking to me in Hindi.

3. Sometimes she indulges in code-mixing and code-switching like 'Kal raja hai na' (tomorrow is a holiday). Since her Kannada vocabulary seems to be richer than Hindi, I sometimes heard her using kannada words when she could not find the Hindi evquivalent like 'gombe' for gudiya or a doll.

Another interesting fact about her is her ability to carry on long conversations on phone when she's in a mood for it. She monopolizes the phone, engaging me with her rhymes, songs, gossip about her friends and other general stuff. The other day I tried speaking to her in English, since it was a Sunday I asked her ' Maansi, are you going out somewhere?' Prompt came the reply ' no out going:)' Signs of becoming an omniglot kid like many others! Another kid, my friend's son, converses with ease in at least four languages. I haven't had the chance to interact with him much. His name is Aarav, about five years old - fluent in Malayalam, Tamil, Kannada and English, I'm not sure how much he's exposed to Hindi. My other niece Shreya mostly speaks Hindi but is quite fluent at English. She's on her way to pick up Oriya. Though she does not speak in Telugu I guess she understands it.
Back after a short break

I'm back to blogging after a short break. In fact, during this break I have written several pages, editing them, revising them and re-composing them! what a pleasurable experience. I enjoyed writing, the sheer bliss of holding a pencil and jotting down those first thoughts and then composing the lines, keying them on the laptop... I thought I was living my dream, writing several pages that would eventually form into a book. Not creative writing, I'm working on professional and specialized book.

Many a times, I would not remember what time of day it was as I was thoroughly preoccupied with the chapters and sections. There were days when I would lay awake trying to catch some sleep, thinking about a paragraph, and get up at an odd hour to scribble the lines in my notepad. There was a phase when I was just short of becoming a 'social recluse' as I treated everyone who was not connected with my book as an obstruction in the flow of my writing.

The experience was quite similar to my thesis-writing days, it had the same kind of duress and perseverance. However I must mention one main difference. This was the absence of a concern, a voice that would ask me 'aren't you tired of writing, why are you working so hard, sleep it tomorrow.' Those used to be my father's words when I would work as if there was no tomorrow. Such words, and a concern coupled with a curiosity of what I used to write (though he did not have a deep knowledge about the subjectmatter)... I missed these immensely in the present writing project.

How I wish I could write more! At a certain point I needed to put a break and get back to my 'normal' routine.
Har ghar yeh keheta hai, andar isme kaun reheta hai!

I feel these lines from a popular paint advt are written especially for a person like me! I really don't care much about immaculate cleaning and dusting type of work since I'm not one of those 'log-kya-kahenge-if-I-don't...types'. I'm okay with little bit of dust on the windows or little bit of grease in the kitchen; isn't this what differentiates a home from a house!!! More so, because of my dust allergy that I'm prone to, now it's reached a maturity level where Cetrizine, Allegro, Actifed or Alerid hardly have any effect. At the same time I've no option but do these 'detestable' things, well if I don't take care of my house who else will? When such a thought crosses my mind I immediately de-prioritize my other activites and get down to brooms, brushes, sprays and cleaners. Of course, I regularly act upon such thoughts, sometimes inevitably, there could be a long gap where I need to concentrate on my core activites.

Who would not want his or her house to look tidy, neat and clean! Though not a finicky spick-and-span-clean-home type, I get into a cleaning spree when I can't take the dust anymore on window grill, ceiling fans or other things in the house. Our windows are sliding-type but the grills and glass panes are peculiarly placed. Cleaning the glass is almost impossible without some specially designed brushes or sprays. I usually insert my hand through the grill and brush it from outside. After a while my hand begins to hurt. What a design! I keep cursing the architect for having thought so little about window design and usability. On some windows that face the road, the dust settles stubbornly. There is very little space between the grill and the glasspane; here only a vacuum cleaner can help. And for people like me who cannot hold the vaccum cleaner for a long time, it adds to my woes. I get a peculiar pain in my forehand my I hold the vaccuming pipe for long. My windows can never look immaculate, no matter how much I try to clean them, the outer side is simply is not reachable. Why can't things be made simple?

This time I had another challenge. This had to do with the wooden unit on which we have placed our TV and music system. When I got this unit custom-made I insisted on a 'wireless' look behind these entertainment gadgets. I wanted all those ugly and dangling cables and wires to be hidden behind the equipment so that it looks neat. What about cleaning! I don't think I gave it a serious thought, otherwise I would have made some provision for easy way to disconnect and remove it while cleaning. This was a real painstaking task. Removing the TV and keeping it back was not that bad, however pushing and pulling the wires through a single hole at the back of the central unit-top demanded some real gymastic skills. I had to repeatedly bend and get into the compartment below, often hurting my back as I had no idea how I could bend so low and then push the wire from under the hole and so on! The problem took a grave turn when I had to fix the music system. The speakers wires had to be pulled in from tiny hole in the central unit. I'm sure these holes were made adhoc by the carpenter when he realised the length of the speaker wires was not that long. There was no way I could move the central unit, the wires had to be first placed into the hole and pulled in ... what a pain!!! the speakers had to be connected to the music system and then the main plug of the system had to be pushed out from the hole behind. How could I not think of any of these issues when this great piece was made ? I wondered, feeling helpless. Finally I managed to put things in order and checked if the wires were connected properly. It did!! Wow! Now I was able to relax, watch TV, play music... slowly I sensed the pain again, every part of my body began to ache, severe muscular pain, it was agnozing to say the least. A lovely Sunday was lost lying on the sofa, I simply could not get up, even after a Brufen tablet and some Myolaxin.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

In a league of his own…

I was pleasantly surprised and felt very fortunate to watch Manna Dey's interview in the "Being" series on CNN-IBN on the occasion of releasing his autobiography. However, as the interview progressed it was not a very nice thing to hear (for a huge Manna Dey fan like me) that he could never become of the voice of one hero of his time, as was the case with other singers of his age. Perhaps, this was with reference to some facts mentioned in his Manna Dey still 'regrets things he could not achieve or how he could have done things differently if..". Later the interviewer rightly pointed out that it is this 'distinguishing' fact that made him a unique singer who is remembered and admired for his scintillating or soulful numbers than the heroes or situations on which the songs were picturized. We find it difficult to remember whether it was Ashok Kumar or Bharat Bhushan or Raj Kapoor. Think of the ageless masterpieces like ‘ poochoo na kaise main raein bitayee’ ‘tum bin jeevan kaisa jeevan’ or ‘sur na sajee kya gaoon main’ , 'zindagi kaisi hai paheli haae’, ’… these will remain all-time favorites as long as we have music lovers on this planet.

Manna Dey is incomparable, his voice is rooted in Indian classical music, for him a song is more than a mere composition of words, evidently this is what differentiates him from other ‘playback’ singers, he never interpreted the song for a particular actor by modulating his voice or style, he treated it as ‘song’ with its own identity devoid of where or how it’s going to be shown… the conversation touched upon his struggle in life to ‘prove’ himself when there were ‘better singers’ as he claims, referring to Kishore Kumar, Mohd.Rafi, Hemant Kumar and others. His versatility is what makes him a different singer from the rest. Needless to several decades later the scene is completely different...we have half-a-dozen singers singing for the same superstar in one movie.

Though an octogenarian now, Manna Dey still believes in regular ‘riyaz’ and the need to excel and do better than he did before. How humbling it is to hear from a great master, in an age that lives and dies for instant fame, success and luck. Isn’t there something for all of us to learn!
Here are a few lines from his private album:
Sunsaan jamuna ka kinaara
Pyaar ka antim sahara
Chandni ka kafan oodhe
So raha kismat ka mara

Kisse poochoo main bhala ab dekha kahin mumtaz ko
Meri bhi ek mumtaz thi.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

On Tenterhooks Again

The phone rings, I pick up
“Watch the news, quick, bomb blasts in Jaipur”
I switch to news channel
Seven of them in less than thirty minutes!
And the media…they are at it again.
Familiar scenes, blood, mutilated bodies and other gory details
Too soon for a mind that hasn’t yet forgotten Hyderabad or Mumbai
People on tenterhooks again

Alerts resounded … How frequently? At such regular intervals?
“Meticulously planned mass murder of such magnitude,” everybody reacts
Police, government, people all over
Was it RDX, was it something else
Were they from Bangladesh or Pakistan?
Help is assured, bodies are kept in morgues
Cell phones of dead are used for conveying the news to their dear ones
Half lived lives, these young men, ill-fated and hapless victims
Their people crying, helplessly at the loss
Panic spreads, life is threatened
People on tenterhooks again

Stoic reaction to this barbaric act
Matter-of-fact kind of approach to deal with terror
If we don’t hear of such terror attacks periodically
We feel something is missing
Bane of modern life
Curse of this century - Terrorism
Temples scan coconuts before offering them to God
At Churches, Mosques and Gurudwaras very soon security men may outnumber visitors.
People on tenterhooks again

Next morning, my little niece looks at the newspapers and screams “bomb blasts again”
Kids of this generation will grow up differently- I tell myself.
I get ready and leave for my office.

The Tale of my Ingrown Toenail

“Is it going to be very painful”, I asked the surgeon.
“Yes, the injections are a little painful – three shots for local anesthesia”, said the surgeon.
I was in two minds again – to go ahead with the surgery or not.
“What is the other option”, I asked.
“You can take a course of antibiotics and painkillers and see me again after five days, then the chances of infection on the affected area would be less. But surgery cannot be avoided”, he asserted.

Sounds like a serious matter right? Can’t believe that the seemingly innocuous ingrown toenail can take you to the casualty ward of a hospital. I was mentally preparing myself for the inevitable pain and agony and decided to go for it. I firmly told myself: It is better to solve the problem than endure its symptoms repeatedly.

“We can do it right away, it may take an hour for the whole process, you need to take rest for two days and then visit me for removing the sutures”, said the doctor at Yashoda Hospital. As I needed someone to be with me for help I went home and brought my sister along with me.

There I was, lying on the operation ‘table’ (which was actually a stretcher), grimacing at the nurse who was trying to adjust the focused lamp on my foot, telling her about my phobia of needles and syringes and how I can’t stand the sight of blood. She laughed and told me that it’ll not be that painful. The surgeon, actually a plastic surgeon, reassured me that it’ll be okay soon. Nevertheless, deep in my heart I was actually very scared, I didn’t want to show it up, because I had decided to be bold and undergo this intervention. For everything there has to be a first time, isn’t it?

“You can see what I’m doing”, he said, “oh, no I won’t I’m scared” I immediately blurted out. “Okay, then relax” he comforted. First, I saw that he applied the yellowish brown solution (Betadine, as I learnt later) on my toes and part of my foot. Then he asked the ward boy to bring some surgical instruments and the nurse was ready with three syringes. This sight was enough for me to shut my eyes tight, turn my head and tell myself that it’s going to be fine soon.

Just then, I could feel three syringes being pricked in three different points of my big toe. I shrieked with pain. Next minute it was comfortably numb. I have no idea how the ingrown portion of the nail was removed, towards the end of the process I could feel that the skin was being tacked up. I asked him, “how long will it take for healing, will I be able to walk, drive, and carry on with routine soon?” He laughed and said, “Till now you were scared of surgery and now you are worried about healing”. He informed me about the precautions. I was advised to lie down for sometime before leaving the hospital.

The ‘real’ pain began after four hours of surgery when my toe was getting back to senses, it continued in spite of painkillers. I endured. I took all precautions not to hurt myself at this most exposed part of the body. I patted myself for this show of ‘courage’. I’m so glad now - my fear of injections and surgical instruments has considerably reduced. At least, that's how I'm feeling at this point in time:)

Few days later, the sutures were removed and the doctor advised me about how to prevent the problem of ingrown nails in future. "Just let your nails grow a little, file them and apply nail polish (this advantage is not for men as the surgeon said) why do you need cut them so deep!?" I smiled at him at the mention of nail polish and vowed to follow his advice carefully!

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Honey, they're eating away my food!

"Earlier they took away our jobs and now look, they're eating away our food! Why are they grabbing our food? What are they upto? How dare they can afford such a prosperous life! Aren’t they supposed to remain ‘poor and undernourished’ as they were in the past? We never realised the magnitude of this problem, look at their teeming numbers, just the middle classes alone outnumber our entire population and we hear that their poor classes are also on their way to improving their lifestyles. Honey! you know something? These intimidating Indians are also adding to global fuel scarcity, do you know how many cars get sold in India each day? Isn’t it a pity that we are facing the worst food crisis because middle class Indians are able to afford superior quality food. Very soon they’ll overtake us in terms of consumption and I’m getting almost paranoid at the very thought that they may dictate terms in managing the global economy! I will not let this happen, certainly not, I hope they remember what we did in Iraq when we found a threat to the civilization in the form of Saddam… as you know the problem here is not that simple; it’s not one person but 350 million Indian middle classes…life sucks!"

Give me a break Mr. Bush (and Ms Rice), it’s so sad to see that your knowledge of Indian middle classes is so limited, dangerous and superficial, you seem to be addressing the ‘nouveau riche’ upwardly mobile classes who swear by brand America, blatantly flaunting their consumerist attitude especially in food; consuming tons of Lays chips, Coke and Pepsi, Pizzas, McDonalds, Tropicanas, Washington Apples, Kelloggs Corn Flakes, ActII pop-corns, sweet corns, chewing gums, chocolates, etc etc…the truth is such Indians are a just a handful of the total billion plus population. The real middle classes are born thrifty, they struggle to earn and save for their children’s education and marriage, for building a house of their own. This class restrains from indulging in wasteful expenditure on food and prefers to cook their meals buying stuff from local grocery shop and enjoying with their families and friends. Rarely you come across such people splurging money on anything beyond simple necessities. Then, there are lower middle classes for whom managing a square meal a day is an ordeal. They strive to make their ends meet by saving on food and other expenses. Then, there are millions of those who live below the poverty line. Then, there are those who die of starvation and malnutrition. Here I'll not get into the argument about how much we produce and consume in our country or why there is so much poverty or why farmers commit suicide...

Where I’m in complete agreement with you is the fact that our country is unfortunately getting flooded with many things American; today people are spending a lot to buy and eat the junk served in your franchisee eateries, sadly and inadvertently profiting your economy. Perhaps your blinkered vision is drawing parallels and extrapolating this trend to be the ultimate truth about our country and various strata of our society, particularly the middle classes. Thanks to the ‘glocal’ food habits the upper middle classes are not aware of the hidden risks they take while adapting our food habits to your taste. But Mr. Bush, please be corrected – the actual middle classes have always been eating healthy homemade food unlike the tons of pre-packaged frozen food consumed in your country. It’s time you did some homework before making a mockery of Indians with your unthoughtful and outrageous statements. Same applies to Ms. Rice.
Cricket - the next level

Cricket, as we knew it for so long, will never be the same again! It’s redefined and re-engineered beyond its original identity. It's moved far beyond color and glitz added by glam-girls like Mandira Bedi. It’s packaged for media, for TRPs and for entertainment. It’s produced and directed by Bollywood and business badshahs. It can only be matched with horse racing and no other sport. It is meant to excite your passions in whatever way – from cheergirls and other props to the actual players on the field. It’s supposed to arouse your erotic sensibility while watching the game as you would while watching a movie or a soap on TV.

It is played and lost for money, it is not a ‘sport’ anymore. It’s a neatly crafted gamble and we are expected to enjoy the sensationalism associated with it. At stake are millions of dollars, with a hefty price tag for each player. Perhaps it will take time for old time fans of this game to accept its new format and frenzy. The fact remain- it lost its credibility as a character building sport long ago thanks to the matches fixed by the respected team members. Wondering what is in store in its new avatar...well, wait and watch. Did I hear someone say Advt revenues;)

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Leaving sport culturally impoverished
by Nirmal Shekar

Compression kills sport; it gnaws away at sport’s artistic aspirations, its claim to aesthetic élan. Art, and sport, cannot aspire for the high ground when they are condensed to the perpetual climax of the present.
The best of sport allows for the pause. It lets us sit back and savour the has-been and dream of the still-to-come. Nothing that is breathless — and therefore leaves no room for a complex cognitive process leading to emotional fulfillment — can lay claims to sporting greatness.
For complete article check out:

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Scorching, sizzling Sagar

Perhaps, it may not have been the ideal time to visit Nagarjunasagar in the second week of April. Since we were planning for a long time but never managed to get the rooms booked at the APTDC guest house, we decided to go ahead as we finally got the rooms. The drive was quite smooth as there was hardly any traffic after we crossed the city. We tried for the launch to visit Nagarjunakonda as soon as we reached. The next available boat was at 1.30pm. And what a boating experience it was! So many steps to climb both ways in that sweltering heat - to get into the boat and after getting down at Nagarjunakonda- it was least pleasing in that scorching mid afternoon. The water levels had receded quite significantly, and the dam road is closed for general public so we had to drive some extra kilometers to reach the launch station.

In the evening we visited Ethipothala waterfalls. This was a soothing experience - the place is done up quite well, the illuminated waterfalls and some instrumental music to create the right ambience. The cool breeze and comforting scenic surroundings negated some of the harshness of the sun we felt in the afternoon. The next morning I spent most of my time sitting in the balcony of my room and enjoying the serene blue expanse of water. The stay was quite comfortable, though the stuff for lunch could be made less spicy to avoid adding to the heat of summer! One observation: This place hasn't undergone any remarkable change in terms of eco-tourism, may be because of some inherent limitation in its location.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Where is the real khadi?

Last weekend I happened to drive past the Khairtabad road, there was an exhibition on Khadi and Gramodyog at Institute of Engineers that caught my attention. It was long since I came across a government sponsored event that dedicatedly promoted Khadi except the regular stall at the annual industrial exhibition at Nampally.

Years ago the big Khadi shop at Kothi was turned into a small and insignificant outlet by moving it somewhere in the bylanes behind the Andhra Bank. Rest of the Khadi shops along the Lakdi-ka-pool area have hardly any genuine Khadi; they mix up powerloom and other handloom stuff in the name of Khadi to cater to the symbolic requirements of our politicians.

Well, this exhibition had nothing great to offer in terms of genuine Khadi - neither material nor readymades. In fact, even the gramodyog stalls hardly had any handlooms or handspun ethnic wear. They were filled with machine-made garments and similar materials that too, mostly women's wear. The only exception was the terracota stalls from West Bengal that had some artistic pottery and other decorative items. There was some regular eatables like pickles, papads, jellies and jams that kept the visitors busy.

Where is the real handspun coarse khadi that signifies a certain identity, makes a statement, and promotes eco-friendliness. Is it limited to the designer wear and some privilieged and powerful segments of population in society? Or is it on its way out unable to adjust to the demands of mechanization in handspun and handloom industry.

Monday, March 31, 2008

BPS Scheme from GHMC

Few months ago, GHMC came up with Building Penalization Scheme (BPS) to 'regularize illegal structures and land' in Hyderabad' by imposing a penalty on the property owners. I wasn't even aware that such a scheme would apply to my flat and my apartment complex until one fine Saturday morning I was notified that I should immediately regularize my property for all the deviations made by the builder. The notice said that it was an 'opportunity' given to all the owners to pay the 'minimum' fine and get a NOC from GHMC for deviating from the approved plan. First question that came to my mind: why should I pay for the 'irregularities' committed by someone else. But later when I did a bit of research to find out more about this issue I came to know that it is the responsibility of the owner to do so as a law-abiding citizen.

Our flat owners association had a meeting with our builder and requested him to share this 'penalty' amount since it was he had flouted the rules and the buyers were ignorant about such issues; in fact they are not aware of the actual approved plan. But the builder outrightly disagreed with this proposal stating that the GHMC has mandated the owners (and not builders) to shell down the amount. Several questions arise from this development: What is GHMC trying to achieve from this operation? What is regarded as deviation from the approved plan? Which builder really shows you the so-called legally sanctioned plan before the buy the flat and tell you how much he's going to deviate and what would be the result of such a deviation? Is it good to 'legalise' the illegal structures this way, what would be the result on the environment and other disasters if means regularizing buildings that are a threat to eco-friendliness and conditions favoring urban living.

Okay, now that I live in flat that breaks the rules and is built according to a 'legally deviated plan', what is the next step? Should I pay the penalty for having been a consumer do did not bother to verify the building rules and regulations applicable in my city. What If I pay the penalty before the deadline and get a certificate from GHMC. Does it end any future plans from GHMC and similar bodies as and when they change their definitions of deviations and come up with new strategies to fill their coffers. No doubt, the present plan is aimed at fetching a few hundred crores of rupees for GHMC even if onw-fourth of the owners pay up by the deadline.

When enquired about the repercussions about failure to comply with such penalty norms, the builder openly said there is no need for us to even pay the amount and we can rest assured that there would be no resultant action and that nobody would demolish the building, perhaps the issue might get raised when we want to sell our property and the prospective buys insists on an NOC for deviations. In fact, some of the points that came up in our discussion with the builder are worth a mention here: The builder confidently said that no building in Hyderabad is built as per originally approved plan and that without deviations you will not get a livable space in the city. According to previous GO every builder could break the rules and it was a known issue. Beneficiaries included in the chain are government officials, financers, land owners, architects, surveyors and of courses the owners. Whereas apparently, the new GO is quite strict in terms of following the approved plan and does not permit any deviations whatsoever. One of the flat owners happened to be a home finance official, he was quick to add the there are several builders who have deviated to the extent of 100% while building and there are people living comfortably in such flats being fully aware of this issue. This was even more disturbing to learn how the home finance and builders’ nexus operated here.

The latest development here is the stay order on this scheme and the postponement of deadline by a month. When some of the owners were wondering what if they sincerely pay the amount and their neighbors don’t do so. In such an event what would the GHMC do? How can they demolish only a portion of an apartment complex? Are we being too conscientious in the whole issue? What if we wait and watch. Some others pitched in: well, we can do so but GHMC is sure to come up with heavier penalty if we lose this ‘opportunity’ to regularize our property. The bottomline: as a sincere, tax-paying, law-abiding citizen I should not think twice but just go ahead and pay the penalty, if not for anything, but some peace of mind!

Friday, March 28, 2008

I learn, therefore I am

Isn’t this true if we could alter the famous quote by Rene Descartes? Just turn around and see how each one of us is trying to learn something or the other. If your colleague in the next cubicle is learning some new techniques of handling his demanding boss, your neighbor is learning to operate her new digital camera. Far away, your cousin is learning to cook her own meals in a foreign country. Your friends are learning some new stuff to do better in their jobs. Your mother is learning to operate the new TV remote and your spouse is learning to de-stress after grueling day.

The politicians are learning smarter ways of cheating people and the sales and marketing person is learning to create a market for the product. The technician is learning to handle the new tools and the engineer is learning from the feedback on her recent project. People in remote villages are learning to cope with water scarcity and scientists at NASA are learning about foolproof methods to land a spacecraft. The farmers are learning to grow different crops in arid situations. Rahul Gandhi is learning about his country a la his great grandfather Jawaharlal Nehru’s ‘discovery’ of India.

At home, the five-year old is learning to draw with her new crayons and her friend is learning to play Scrabble. In the park children are learning to play volleyball. The grocery vendor is learning how to care for his customers. The mall managers are learning about ensuring fire safety. Sanjay Leela Bhansali is learning French for his new international opera ‘Padmavati’ while SRK and Preeti Zinta are learning about cricket. Vijay Mallya is learning about dog-proofing his aircrafts for a safe take-off...more and more people are learning about how to learn.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

User-friendly design? Who cares?

How often have we spent our mornings at the dining table in frustration - not being able to open the lid of a jam or a sauce bottle or not able to remove the cello tape that's stuck in most 'secure' way by twisting cover of a bread loaf in innumerable ways. Do we really need such a strong adhesive to seal the packet? Why should most of the packaged food need a household implement to open, unwrap or cut? Look at this ice-cream container.

The frozen dessert was completely melted by the time we decided to use a knife to cut the lid. There was no information on how to open the lid and it was sealed from all the sides. With people waiting impatiently to taste newly launched flavor from Kwality Walls, including my little niece who simply lost her patience waiting for her first scoop from the icecream.
My experience with opening the flip kind of lids is often a disappointment. Sometimes I wonder if my psychomotor skills are okay and sometimes, well, the design of say a Tropicana tetra pack or something like a Haldiram Rasgulla tin. Why do such simple things come with such great complications?
Think back on how talcum powder is packed or the shape of shampoo bottles. Even today we need to pierce the talcum powder containers using a hot needle of a very sharp pin to make holes into the lid. The list can go on... Recently I had another funny experience...Kiwi clean liquid bottle and the spray nozzle. Look at the the design ..intuitively you feel it sprays on the other side..but it's vice versa.

You live eternally in my memories

Euphemistically, you may be ‘no more’ with me
But you will live with me as long as I do
In my memories
Memories, that get profound as time goes by
Constantly reminding the subconscious mind
Of what it was, what it is and how it would have been
Often I converse with my memories
Sometimes, they are as old as a decade or two
Occasionally those from the childhood and adolescence
Rarely the years in between
Often from the recent past
Perhaps because that’s latest on my mind

As my mind vacillates between turbulent thoughts
Interspersed with ephemeral happy moments
Transient, transitioning, momentary
Recapitulating, recording, reminding, playing it back
Long moments filled with sadness, painful, benumbing,
In between
Feeling strengthened with energizing, rejuvenating memories
My source of continuous strength to do better than I did earlier
To pursue my dreams and never give up
Memories give me solace, for they would be by my side
My invisible companions in solitude
Memories, memorabilia, memoirs – the collective source of spiritual strength

In John Donne’s ‘death be not proud’
The poet ‘kills’ death by demeaning its dread and pride
Ridicules the vanity of death in comparison with other ‘mundane’ forms
For the soul lives eternally, peacefully
Relieving the dead of worldly pleasures, sorrows et al

I will never perform any rituals and rites
That people normally do for their 'lost' ones
Or that is expected of a daughter towards her father
For I haven’t lost you, you live with me and for me,
Eternally, as long as I do.

Picture source:
Taare Zameen Par

Rarely we come across Bollywood movies that make us think. Taare Zameen Par is one such heart-warming expression of cinematic excellence that makes us reflect on our relationship with our young ones. It goes much beyond the touching and sentimental aspects that has moved celebrities and aam janta to tears. The movie centers on the inability and resultant resistance of a dyslexic boy who finds it difficult to compete with other children and cope with the 'unsympathetic' parents. In fact, we all can relate to this movie as parents of children whether dyslexic or not. It throws up several questions that need immediate attention from the perspective of good and sound parenting and respecting our little ones.

After watching the movie I casually asked my five year old niece what she liked in it. She was quick to point out that she got a ‘crying feeling’ when the boy is sent to a boarding school and she elaborated on the good and bad aspects of the film. What she enjoyed most was the painting that the children make. Amazing I thought! If a five year old could be so expressive in her opinion on the film what about older children. What about their viewpoints? How often do we care to seek their insights before we decide for them. We are very prompt in threatening and punishing them as if we are always right. Let’s remember the fact that today children are exposed to a world of information and knowledge courtesy media and Internet like we never imagined. They no longer depend on books, films and people as sources of their knowledge.

In our race against time and our determination to outdo others we end up smothering the most beautiful phase of our children. Sometime, unwittingly though, none of us have the slightest idea what our kids could be undergoing under the parental pressure and academic regimen. Even if we are aware of how harmful it could be of the overall growth of child we seem to ignore it and impose our demands that stifle their freedom to think, express and nourish their ideas. All this happens under the guise of the worldly wisdom ….we don’t encourage them to question, to seek. They are expected to accept the ‘answers’ that are provided in their books and

Stop for a moment and think! What happens to our memories of childhood when we become parents? Why do we suddenly become conscious of people around us and mould our child’s behaviour to fit into a pattern? We seem to forget the fact childhood is the most short-lived phase of our life and we impose restrictions on the child once he or she joins a school – the way in which the subjects are taught, the teaching methodology, evaluation scheme and so on.

Intolerance of difference
Mimic and reproduce
Creativity and innovation
Compete with oneself, excel, outdo oneself

Look at the sordid state of affairs presented by the reality shows on TV, especially that involve children who sing and dance. I was recently watching a show where a lead playback singer (female) was one of the judges. In her ‘appreciation’ of the performance of a seven year old she pointed out , ‘aaj aapke gaane mein bilkul bachpana nahin tha’ (today you sang very well, you never sounded like a child!) I frankly didn’t understand what was expected from that child. Did it mean that the child mimicked the original singer perfectly? What kind of a contest is it where we encourage a seven-year old to sing like a seventy year old. Don’t parents have a right to contest such judges? Where is the childhood when children are made to perform on the stage for materialistic reasons and commercial reasons that bring them ‘instant’ though shortlived success through dubious means like an SMS. It is sad that the so-called talent hunt in the form of these TV shows are doing more harm than good in identifying and promoting the real talent.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Animation in India: Dearth of ideas

"Bee Movie" is latest animation movie from the Dreamworks team. Backed by a reasonably good storyline, it's about bees vs humans, treated in a typical American style. Well, I'm not blogging about the good or bad aspects of the movie since that's not my motive here.
Watching most of these animation films makes me wonder - why is it that in India we don't produce and direct such creative animation films? Why do we always animate the mythological characters and 'cartoonize' the familiar to make it comical? How under-utilized is this medium in a country that is second to none in art, creativity and film making. This can't be due to dearth of talent in the department of creative thinking or visualizing. Can't be true because we score well in related genres like advertizing (another area where creative mind is challenged). Or is it because the returns are low and this doesn't make a good business proposition.
What exactly could be the reason? It can't be the lack of financial backing either. Are we happy just being the technical backoffice for these animation studios in Hollywood. We seem to have a very limited perception of the potential of animation; we interpret it as just another medium to add some humour to the already established stories but not as something for which we can create new characters, give them life and weave stories around them. Is it because we don't take animation films seriously, so what if it's primarily targeted at children? It's time we moved beyond characters like 'Bal Ganesh', 'Krishna' and 'Hanuman' and took up the challenge offered by this medium more seriously. We are nowhere close to making a mark in this field by exploiting the unlimited possibilities for creative visualization of any kind of content.