Friday, December 30, 2011

Are you the one?

J,


I wish I could talk to you. I wish we could sit up late in the nights and go on and on. I wish I could bare myself to you.


The last year, I met a lot of people. They never rose above their own seat of self affirmation. As I said today, no one dared question themselves. The pattern is set for them and they run in it.


Well, the only trouble with you is you donot want to run in the maze, you want to break it open and come out. The rest of the society is not going to like it. Because you have questioned the system as a whole. When you said, you enrolled for the institute, I thought may be you’re just the ordinary girl after all.


But each day, you reveal a different dimension to me. You make me question myself.


Everyday I wish, I have someone in life to whom I could say , ‘You complete me’


Are you the one?



Happy that the last post of 2011 ended in love. Happy new year everyone.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Book Review- It was five past midnight in Bhopal (English))

The beautiful part of living in India is- here the tragedies doesn’t live long, they are quickly forgotten. India is the land for victors. You either win the war or rather you don't fight. There is no better example than Bhopal. In two decades, we have only a vague memory of the tragedy. India cannot afford to live on its failures. We go to office the very next day after a disaster. More than a choice, it’s a lack of choice.

I picked up the book ‘It was five past midnight in Bhopal’ from a book exhibition. One of the reason was I wanted to know more about the Bhopal tragedy. I had also read some of La Pierre works and were quite impressed by them. The first impression came from his anti-missionary ramblings in Outlook magazine. He seemed a very pro-Hindu. But his books jolted the image a bit.

His first book I have read ‘The City of Joy’. The plot is almost same even in ‘It was five past midnight in Bhopal’. There was a co-author Javier Moro. I don’t know the extent of his creative contribution. For me the creative part entirely belonged to La Pierre. La Pierre loves to dwell on the poverty stricken country side and weave beautiful tales around it. Both the books I have read, aren’t entirely different from each other. The man who comes as anti-missionary in his magazine columns sound pro missionary in his books. The story line doesn’t vary much. Poverty, migration, rays of hope, tragedy and ultimate redemption. He has this uncanny ability to elevate the story to a cinematic melodrama and thus thrall the common man for they are not meant for intelligentsia.

The story of Bhopal kicks off from the pre-liberalisation era, post emergency when the economy was heavily dependent on the produce from the lands. The world’s second largest democracy was hit by chrony politics, bureaucratic ineptitude, pseudo socialism, unpredictable monsoons and predictable pests. The last one was a visible villain, whose evil was gazed upon with a simple helplessness. The country was plunged into famine. The rural population had to move into the cities in search for work.

La Pierre weaves a set of parallel plots which interconnects with each other. Around the same time a group of scientists come up with a pesticide which turns out to be stupendous success. The high effectiveness coupled with good marketing makes it a best seller all over the American continent. Union Carbide becomes one of the successful business models in USA. They goes around hunting for potential markets. Spotlight falls on India. A population entirely living on agriculture and suffering helplessly from the pest attacks. They spotted a sea of opportunity. A marriage between poverty and business opportunity was about to be sanctified.

The Indian Government had already begun to shed its conservative outlook for the sake of survival. When an American plant approaches you for setting up their operations, the government machinery was more than willing to help. Besides the politics at that time was purely dynastic and sycophant. The authority and power was not easy to percolate down. The land and license were two easy things to happen.

Farmers weren’t the only section who was about to be benefitted. There was a sizeable population, disadvantaged population who had their degrees but no avenues to test their knowledge. Until then the only respite for a well educated Indian was a government job which was pitifully laden with red tapism and favoritism. For them working in an American giant was a dream come true. There was ample opportunity to grow- with all the state of art technology. The plant also paid the workers very well with all kinds of benefits. Soon to work in Carbide became a matter of status.

La Pierre masterfully points out the compromises made even before the plant was set up. They seemed subtle but damaging in the long run. First of all, it was the dangerous compound Methyl Iso cyanate. MIC was initially planned to be imported from USA. Then considering the costs it was decided to manufacture MIC in India. But no pre emptive studies were done. The safety features weren’t weighed or analysed The primary question on the capability of the plant wasn’t even considered. A few wrote reports on the gravity of the idea. The reports were cremated by American bosses. More emphasis came on the revenue rather than safety.

Besides the Carbide suffered loss of reputation in USA too. MIC wasn’t an easy compound to hide from the environment. It did contaminate the surroundings plunging the entire living habitat into danger. Atleast vast tracts of land were required. But no such preliminary studies were made by the GoI. Ironically Carbide was allotted a land just in the outskirts of city and in a populated region.

The greatest danger lay in the slum in the outskirts of factory. The location was closer to danger than permissible. Concerns were raised but ironically the government granted the title deeds for the slum dwellers rather than eviction. The incumbent minister wanted to secure the vote bank. For landless title deed was a dream come true. Ideal example of opportunitism, and no prizes for guessing who lost.

Soon the officials realized the plant wasn’t earning income as expected. So much of its revenues were being eaten by the plant itself. The compromises became all the more evident. Besides the Indian workers hailed from varying backgrounds and the general laxity towards safety aggravated the situation.

The final nail came when the Americans realized the futility of their dream. They secretly decided to close down the plant. A new boss was appointed to oversee the final touchdown. But Sadly the guy was more of an economist who cut down cost by job cuts and shutting down inevitable safety process. His lack of understanding of technical functioning of the plant became all the more self evident. Everything waited for the Day of Judgement

Interestingly we get a feeling of a fairytale read while going through this. Yes it sounds a bit unrealistic. But this did happen. When I read some of the bloggers, tweeters and neo economists battling for FDI even without presenting any conclusive studies, I wonder if history will repeat.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Communism in Kerala and its basic flaw

Vi,

Sorry for the late reply- blame it on the mental block. I was quite amused to read your mail. The parallels we share in our life story was amazing, but then the story of an average Malayali may not differ. The face of highly educated, impoverished state bound by the dogmas changed drastically with the oil boom. Sooner the IT revolution coupled with liberalization made Kerala into the highest consumer state with almost nothing to produce. In short a state simply thriving on the service industry.

The two reasons why Kerala could capitalize on the Gulf boom and IT era were – highly educated population and somewhat equal wealth distribution. Both the factors were totally absent from any other state, and they were slow to catch upon it.

Kerala rose from the cobwebs of racism and feudalism thanks to the forced land distribution and education. Even his hardcore critics would credit EMS and his first cabinet for the achievement. Kerala might be only one among the few states in India where socialism still survives, atleast partly. Arguably the reforms themselves would be the villains behind communism’s stifled growth.

Now a few facts behind the so called degradation of mainstream communist parties in Kerala.

Equating CPI(M)/CPI to communism: The ideology of ‘communism’ may not be so easy to define. Time and again intellectuals came up with their own versions of Communism thus changing the face of it. Even now debate rages on the shape of a perfect Utopian state. In India EMS one of the main ideologue of his era chose to marry off Communism to western Democracy. It faced opposition from a few comrades the percentage were few and none of them could market their views. Thus the ‘popular’ communism had to ‘compete’ with bourgeois, fundamentalists and pseudo socialists. This in turn led to dilution in the ideology and many unholy alliances. In return EMS was venerated to greatness.

The basic problem behind this is the weakness behind his ideology is concealed from popular eye. Neither can we say the mainstream communist parties in India are real communists, nor can we say EMS was a great Communist leader. So equating CPI(M)/CPI to communism is little off the mark.

The great flaws we see in them today is- Wedding between Consumerism and Communism AND Wedding between Religion and Consumerism. Both brought about a total degradation and erosion which ultimately resulted in the CPI(M)/CPI identifying more with others. There are no visible changes between any of the parties. Rather than influencing the mass population we see them identifying more with cultural, social and political diarrhea triggered off by liberalization.

In short I would rather abstain from saying

1. Communsim is outdated- because the global trends speaks a different story

2. EMS/ Nayanar were great Communists. They were just great leaders.

Friday, December 2, 2011

Movie Review- The Dirty Picture (Hindi)

For more reason than one, this turned out to be an eventful day. Yesterday I had one of the most awful lunch at our canteen. This almost immediately resulted in a stomach upset. Today I woke with a rumble from deep down and wondered if I should go ahead to the office. I took up the morning paper to check out the new cinemas in town and was stunned to see ‘The Dirty Picture’. The tug of war started within me- Vidya’s cleavage or Office? I opted for the former and straight away booked a ticket for the first show of the day.

Now I had this feeling of watching a dirty picture and prayed that I would be spotted by none. I got in there to see a pretty big crowd and that too a few family people and bunch of college girls. I wished if Silk had this popularity or lesser notoriety, she would have been alive by now.

The two reasons I could come up with for such a big crowd-

Silk was an enigma in her heydays. Back then sexiness were related to voluptuousness. Then the male actors were untouchables and role of the female counterpart was to merely submit to the whims and fancies of the hero. Even when the hero was portrayed as a Casanova, she had to be chaste and simple. That’s where the vamps stepped into fulfill the macho image of the hero. They appeared in all the skimpy, vulgar clothes and earned whistles in theatres and assured spaces in gossip. The negative image spilled to the real lives from reel and after the golden era, they deteriorated to obscurity.

But Silk was bolder, notorious and even handsome than her counterparts. She may have had to face the snide of the conservative women back then. Even then she had her aura around her. Before the aura deteriorated she committed suicide in most doubtful circumstances and elevated herself to the likes of Marilyn. The new generation fed with more graphic visuals find the old thighs and boobs a matter of joke. For them Silk is a mystery who still lives in her aura.

Secondly, it was the controversy generated on the vulgarity of scenes. No matter how much wiser we become after every fake controversy , our curiosity gets aroused in the next one. The raunchy stills released months ago unbridled the animal within us.

I will keep this simple with a few points. Why should you watch the movie:

This is not at all a bad movie but not a great one either. Even when the camera rolls in and out of Vidya’s flesh the director makes sure that the cinema doesn’t deteriorate to another skin show without content. The director shoes his naivety but Milan does a fine job.

To be quite frank the story line had to be predictable. Our film industry still lives with in the clich├ęs. When the makers claimed it had no resemblance to Silk, I hoped they would twist it a bit. But as usual it’s the story of a yester year heroine who finds sudden name, fame and infamity. She has to lose everything and life in the end. But Milan makes sure the treatment is subtly different atleast to a large extent. The shots are bold and tickles your libido. There were whistles and catcalls throughout. At the end of it people had this paisa vasool feeling.

The camera and lighting were very well done. When there is no scope for such experimentation, he did prove his mettle and taste. Or else we would have slumbered off.

Naseerudin Shah was way awesome. I just love this guy. His mannerisms as the southie ‘superstar’ just proves why he is the finest in our industry. He is the guy you have to watch out for. Tushar was a surprise. He had to be there in his siters’ movie and he has come a long way from the initial goofy faced days. So is Emran Hashmi- he is not awesome but not bad either.

Vidya too did a commendable job. We have to admit her sacrifice. She had to live up in a negative limelight for a long time. The work she has done on her physique is not easy. I haven’t seen even the guys doing their homework this well. For an actress, her physique is her asset and losing it is not an easy decision to take. Its not the first time she does a seductive role and she does it with much gusto. She tickles your animal instincts and you feel you are the vile man ogling at her on the screen. Undoubtedly she is way above all those plastic dolls.(I loved the bra straps peaking out). I couldn’t help but notice when seeing her performance, the struggles to break into the Bollywood with ‘Aunty’ looks could have had parallels . She is a very under rated actor. There were many wonderful scenes , which she made memorable simply with her panache

The songs may not be trendy but fits the old era and were a pleasant experience. You can tap your feet for lala . The mindless wonders of 80s.

And the dialogues and one liners are very cheesy and smart. Even when the movie meanders at times to boredom, you're suddenly jolted alive with the a classic one.

Now coming to the bad part:

Movie starts off grandly and then from interval veers off to pointlessness and Milan wraps it all up with a predictable storyline. Three hours was an unnecessary pain and I missed my lunch.

There are times when I wished he did some shots with a little more panache. There was an award function, which went totally indigestible. Then the extras and the way they carry themselves in the background, I wondered how Milan okayed the shots.

Then there was a serious flaw in caricaturing Silk. She looked filmy and very negative. Or I would rather use the word one sided. It looked a bit single shaded and not at all creative. I found it tough to believe and wondered if the character influenced by Britney Spears. May be she was so in real life. But then that was a deviation from typical stereotypes.

And then the story confuses you in the timeline factor. You wonder if it's a non linear film at times. The location is also a big confusing factor.

Overall: It’s a one time watchable movie. Go in with your family :D

About Me

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Shakespeare,Da Vinci, Benjamin Franklin and Lincoln never saw a movie,heard a radio or looked at TV. They had loneliness and knew what to do with it. Thay were not afraid of being lonely because they knew that was when the creative mood in them would work.