Saturday, April 26, 2008

Bollywood Bashing : Why am I Irked by Indian Cinema

Indian Cinema, for me encompasses the films made in Hindi and the ones in English starring Indian actors. As I know only one Indian language , this handicap prevents me from watching the other Indian movies, and this can be optimistically interpreted as a blessing in disguise. What incenses me the most is that Bollywood ( the more popular , unoriginal and cheesy name) offers me worthless , dumb , moronic , plagiarized , purely commercial features , with a few exceptions . It is the exceptions like Taare Zameen Par, Khosla Ka Ghosla and Hera Pheri, to name a few, that offer me some solace and hope that all is not yet doomed. These rare movies are like the proverbial silver lining, that there are some movie makers who have the brains to think originally. More often than not, when somebody goes against the formula and attempts something different, the film flops. One look at the current box office charts would tell you that. Apart from TZP, the two movies worth watching, Khuda Kay Liye and Shaurya are standing at below average and flop respectively. What does the Indian public want? Item numbers and song and dance routines? Entertainment without quality? I am really proud of the fact that my taste in movie is different from the average Indian; I do not associate myself with the multitude! Of the latest movies occupying the silver screen , Race seems to be inspired by The fast and the furious , Speed and God knows what other fast car flick from Hollywood and U , Me Aur Hum looks like a copy of 50 first dates . Plagiarizing seems to be the favourite theme of good old ‘Bollywood’. I wish somebody would start compiling a list of Indian movies which have been completely or partially ‘inspired’ by some foreign flick. And I would also like to know how many of them did so legally. Many a times have people commented on my aversion towards Indian movies, and I have been called a bloody Angrez, but what am I to do? Give me a movie like Sarfarosh or Lagaan, something inspired from true life like Ab Tak Chappan, or true scenarios, like Shool or Company, and I am willing to walk miles to watch it. Will India ever have a film maker like Hrishikesh Mukherjee or Satyajit Ray again? These men were nothing short of geniuses, and compared to today’s trash, each of their movies is a rare gem. While Hollywood has scores of movies inspired by true stories and real people, which acknowledge the element of truth, I have rarely seen such Indian movies. Of course, everybody knows that Guru was inspired by Dhirubhai Ambani, but why didn’t they make a biographical movie, a docudrama on him? Instead they changed his name, the sex of his progeny and the names of the rest of the characters, and gave a statutory message that everything in this movie is fictitious. Chak De India was a good entertainer and I liked it. But it was far from perfect. The character of the coach in the movie seemed to be inspired by Shah Rukh Khan than the real person, Mir Ranjan Negi. Did SRK meet with him and stayed with him, to imbibe his mannerism,to observe him so that he could embody him more accurately? And why doesn’t the movie mention Mr. Negi’s name? Another movie that made a total mess of the true story it was based on was Shootout at Lokhandwala .The story was so promising, it had such wonderful prospects, but it was turned into a tasteless concoction. The gangsters are dancing to the tune of stupid songs. Come on! What a load of crap! Why don’t the Indian movie makers explore the subjects that are available in India?
Witch-hunting, burning of women for dowry, crime and corruption, history and religion, there are so many of them .It is a rare phenomenon, but when it happens, my heart positively sings with joy. Bandit Queen was such one amazing, heart rending tale of Phoolan Devi, of the top of my mind. When ever a period movie is attempted, the movie ends up being another song-and-dance flick with a few elements of fact, and history takes a back seat. What the hell happened to Ashoka and Jodha-Akbar? It is so pathetic. I used to be a fan of Ram Gopal Verma’s works, but of lately, even he has disappointed me. My only ray of hope is Aamir Khan. May God bless him and give him the inspiration to make better and greater films. The movies he acts in and/or makes are worth every penny. All I can say is that I am willing to bear the agony of a bumpy ride of 70 kms to and fro Mangalore and spend around 500 bucks , being a student to watch his movies , and considering the easy availability of movies on the internet due to piracy , this is the greatest compliment I can pay him . Give me substance O Indian Filmmakers!

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Why sometimes I wish I was an American

The Good, The Bad and The Stupid reasons I came up with in favour of Uncle Sam.

1. The language problem would be solved. The manner in which the English language is spoken in America may vary a lot, but it sure as hell is the same language. It is highly unlikely that if some poor workers from Missouri migrated to California, some son-of-the-soil mother-effing Californian would try and kick them out for their different accent.

2. The American education system, on the school level offers a very pragmatic course which actually is useful for the student. Plus the student has the choice to pursue his area of interest from a preliminary level. And as far as the universities are concerned, they are the Best, according to me. The pure and intellectually stimulating environment offered by the better universities of America would be any student’s dream. The freedom to study subjects completely unrelated to your major is to die for. To be a part of such a beautiful system is undeniably the best reason to be an American. For me, if there is heaven on earth, it is on the campus of a great university like Harvard, Stanford, MIT or UCLA!

3. The American Media has a lot of freedom, unlike poor Tarun Tejpal of Tehelka who had to face hell after his sting operation. The other fundamental rights are fiercely protected as well.

4. Conviction Rate – The crime rate may be high, but so is the conviction rate, between 65 & 80 %, and compared to the Indian one, which is under 10% (for serious crimes), is phenomenal.

5. If I ever were to witness a crime, I would hesitate less in going to the police. In fact, I could also be inducted into the Witness Protection Program if the need arose.

6. I would be immensely proud of the fact the US of A got its freedom by mauling the Brits and kicking some serious Red Coat ass. That would have made me one really happy man.

7. I could legally gamble in Las Vegas, and visit a strip club if I ever wanted to. It feels good to know that you have the option to legally indulge in such activities.

8. The right to bear arms would allow me , an aspiring fire-arm enthusiast to purchase and own a collection of weapons , which would include automatic rifles, semi-automatic rifles , hand-guns and pistols , and if possible a WW II MG 42 .

9. The military might of America is also a good reason to be on that side. Of course, more often than not, it ends up being used for the wrong reasons, but they did stop the German juggernaut during the WW II. Had India been that powerful, maybe the incessant bullying by China would have stopped.

10. I have never been to the US but what I know of it through books, movies and other sources suggests that it is a meritocracy. Nobody can stop from you from going to the top if you are good enough. Your talent, if nurtured will bear fruit. I guess that is one of the reasons it is the Promised Land, the place where your dreams come true, and why people have been flocking to it.

11. There would not be any politicians who spend crores of the tax payer’s money on unveiling statues of themselves to wallow in a false sense of grandeur. There won’t be any politicians who will be cheered and hailed by the media even after destroying a state systematically for 15 years and being involved in a multitude of scams. There won’t be criminals turned politicians who are actually involved with a foreign power’s intelligence agency and are de-facto agents for them. Corruption is everywhere, but the Indian politicians are corrupt on all fronts and have no class at all. Nixon was impeached, Clinton was almost. How many politicians of this country have actually suffered for the crimes they committed?

12. I am bored of all the caste, religion and language related issues. Race would be a lovely change. I may be judged by my race, I sure as hell would not get any reservation for that.

13. I would not live in a country surrounded by three of the best neighbours a country could ever wish for, Pakistan, China and Bangladesh.

14. I could be proud of the fact that America is home to Hollywood which churns out some good ripe stuff every year for the movie buff apart from the usual time-pass crap , unlike Indian Cinema ( or Bollywood) , which mostly produces crap including the plagiarized ones . Indian Film Industry produces the largest number of movies in an year , but I still have a tough time finding a movie decent enough to watch, one which would not make me pull out hair by the roots and gnash in mental agony. I have still not gotten over my Om Shanti Om experience, which lasted about 3 hours. I am pretty sure I lost a few IQ points, so mind numbing it was. A good Indian movie is rare enough. A great movie is even rarer, unless Aamir Khan decides to make one and/or act in it.

15. Buying a really fast car or a bike would actually make sense, because of the excellent roads and the cheap fuel (not so cheap nowadays).

16. The US is 11 times less crowded than India, numerically speaking. America is 3 times larger than India, and India is 3.7 times more populous than America. That gives a factor of 11.When I stand on the roof of my house and look around, all I see is a never-ending concrete jungle .It would be really wonderful to live in a place not swarming with humanity.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

My Favourite Serial Killer

My favourite serial killer is a Mr. Dexter Morgan, working as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami Metro Police Department by the day, and a vigilante serial killer by the night. And sadly he is purely fictitious (to the best of my knowledge).Dexter is one of my favourite shows, as not only is it great entertainment for me, but it also enacts retributive justice, doled out by the protagonist to the sick and twisted, the killers, the drug lords, the rapists and the child molesters, the scum of the earth who managed to escape the justice, which is a concept I love. Taking out the trash, as Dexter calls it, brings this thought to my mind, wouldn’t it have been wonderful if there was a real life Dexter? If one can overlook the obvious that a character from a TV- show ( a book rather , Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay) would be successful at killing the bad guys and getting away with it easily as he was meant to , would the actions of such a man in real life pose an ethical and a moral dilemma ? How bad would I feel if I came to know that the society I live in just got itself rid of a scumbag? I would like to think of such a person as a scavenger, who feeds on the morally dead and rotting to keep the society clean. We, as members of the society are supposed to uphold the law and not break it. But how many criminals do really get caught by the system, specially the Indian one? The conviction rate is absolutely atrocious. More often than not, a criminal does get away. So should one wait for the windmills of God to work at their own pace or take the matters in their own hands .It is said that nobody except God has the right to take the life of another human being. Why are then the soldiers who kill for their country honoured and glorified? It is highly unlikely that the other man who is fighting for his country, for the right or wrong reasons, would be a menace to the society, and in all likelihood is a decent human being who had the courage and conviction to fight for his motherland. So, you are a hero and a saviour of your country if you kill dozens of this kind in a war, but if you do the same to the rotten bastards living amidst you, you are a god damned killer! A single act of murder or assault can be forgiven, but you cannot turn the other cheek when it happens again and again. A man who got away with what he did would most likely repeat it, confident that he would get lucky again. If only criminals were smarter! What provision did the law makers have for the scenario where the justice was thwarted? None, I guess. They left it to fate. I think our society would be better if there were a group of Dexter’s scouring to scourge the scum. The only catch is that there should be no reasonable doubt in ascertaining the guilt. In my day-dreaming sessions, I have often fantasized about being a vigilante or a superhuman, torturing the perpetrators of the most heinous of crimes to death. But will I be able to do it in reality? It would be great if somebody did all the dirty work, but what if I had to get my hands dirty? Do I have the courage to take another human’s life, even if he were the devils incarnate, and the mental strength to face the consequences of my action? I wonder if I have the spine to slaughter a chicken and then skin it for food, leave alone killing someone. And I wonder for how long these questions will remain unanswered.

Thursday, April 3, 2008


The oxford defines it as the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Wikipedia says that a religion is a set of beliefs and practices often organized around supernatural and moral claims, and often codified as prayer, ritual, and religious law. But sometimes I think that it’s pure evil. I am not an atheist and I believe in God, but I think this institution of His is nothing but a bad hat. And sometimes I just wish that the practice of it was banned! That would give humanity one less reason to fight amongst themselves. And the manifestation of religion which I hate the most is the organized one, which is the most prominent. They are nothing less than corporations fighting for bigger numbers and more territory. How else can the desperate attempts to convert people of one faith to another be explained ? What was the purpose of religion? How did a faith or a particular way of living your life evolve into a religion? A glimpse at the history of the world tells that a lot of blood has been spilled in the name of God. Most of the major confrontations of today are centered on religion. The so called Men of God decree their own faith to be the only path to the Almighty and blaspheme the others. It is said that ‘everything is fair and love and war’. It should be changed to ‘everything is fair in love, war and in the name of thy God’. Why should I be a part of an institution which breeds hatred and mistrust, mostly? There would not have been a WW II had there been no religion . There would not have been so many riots and genocides . There would be no terrorism . There is only one God , but man has so many different versions of him . The fairer sex has been at the receiving end of the religion since ages . I do not think I have the right to comment on how other religions treat women , but as a born Hindu I can freely comment on it . Shakti meaning sacred force, power or energy is the Hindu concept or personification of the divine feminine aspect, sometimes referred to as 'The Divine Mother'. Shakti represents the active, dynamic principles of feminine power. In short, there are scores of Goddesses in Hinduism and they all are worshipped with no less veneration. But at the same time, women are burnt alive for dowry, raped, beaten, tortured, bullied and mistreated in a number of ways. What greater hypocrisy can be there? And Religion is not just about the conflicts. Religion controls big bucks as well. The preachers and evangelists, the pilgrimages, and the endless TV channels. How many of these preachers are truly spiritual themselves? How many of them really lead a Spartan life and are trying to attain enlightenment? They live larger than life and have a celebrity life style. And they want the poor sucker who is listening to them to leave the web of delusion that is this world. The Tirumala temple at Tirupathi has a system which offers different kinds of Darshan for the price you are willing to pay. And the revenue generated from that place alone is in multitude of cores . That’s commercialized religion . The Babri Masjid – Ram Mandir row of Ayodhya is another instance of enmity fostered by religion . Why don’t they build a university or a hospital there , which would actually benefit the populace . But no , that would be against the sanctity of the faith , after all it is the birthplace of Shree Ram . I believe in Maryada Purushottam Ram , but I don’t believe in the cause to build a temple by violence or bloodshed. It positively repulses me when I think of the misery caused by religion , and makes me pity my fellow man . I need God but I don’t need a religion . How can you be a part of the system and not let it influence you consciously or sub-consciously ? But how do you abandon it as well ? I don’t believe in the image of God being a tall man with a flowing beard and a booming voice , sitting on a throne in heaven , but if I did , I wonder whether He is laughing at us , crying for us or in a perplexed state of mind .

Religion is a by-product of fear. For much of human history, it may have been a necessary evil, but why was it more evil than necessary? Isn't killing people in the name of God a pretty good definition of insanity? – Arthur C. Clarke

Religion is against women's rights and women's freedom.
In all societies women are oppressed by all religions. - Taslima Nasrin

A man's ethical behavior should be based effectually on sympathy, education, and social ties and needs; no religious basis is necessary. Man would indeed be in a poor way if he had to be restrained by fear of punishment and hope of reward

after death . – Albert Einstein

The religious persecution of the ages has been done under what was claimed to be the command of God. - Susan B Anthony