Tuesday, 9 August 2011

The Apes Rise Again!

so much hype and anticipation about the new planet of the apes movie! everyone is waiting for the ultimate CGI-enhanced ape movie that will forever dim the impact of king kong, the dinosaur disasters, the snake sagas and the alien extravaganzas! no more jokes about alternate cast who would require the least amount of make-up for the leading roles! no more discussions among the glitterati and the literati about measures to make such offerings better and bigger! personally, all creature movies appear to be feeble attempts by directors and producers to put on film, the alcohol and drug induced fantasies of a few writers. remember the anaconda spitting out jon voight? the alien-sigourney weaver mexican stand-off ? the dinosaur eye in the car window? come on, people! i have been frightened to a stupor by news telecasts showing some of our politicians speaking and moving! an angry microphone wielding mahamayawati compares favourably to an attacking frenzied rex. a mumbling whispering advani to a yoda, any day!

but, i digress. the latest ape film is a prequel. how did the apes conquer the world? how did the statue of liberty end up on a beach millions of miles away? how did frieda pinto get the role? how did the apes realise they could operate complicated machinery and use the microwave? who is still manufacturing space uniforms in the style of star trek? how is the music industry still flourishing? why are humans still caged in toilet-less prisons - have we evolved to a god-like level? why does james franco bring out romantic feelings in female apes when the ape villain doesn't find the female humans attractive? so many questions, so few answers!

well, i am waiting for 12th of august 2011 when the truth will be revealed. if i can sit through the screening while fools talk on their mobile phones, children drum a beat on the seats with empty plastic bottles, the drinkswala demands the correct change while i fumble in my purse in the dark.

the joys of cinema! 

Saturday, 14 May 2011

Corruption: "the abuse of entrusted power for private gain"

anna hazare.
you can't get away from the "anti-corruption drive" currently plaguing the nation. so, since 1991, this person is quietly toiling away in the shadows to free his beloved country from the chains of corruption. he threatens "stop all this corruption or else!" he means to sacrifice his life for the good of many. he has worked tirelessly for the betterment of his people. he created an awareness of what his own village needed to become prosperous and progressive then made all that a reality. schools, water conservation, collective marriages for the disadvantaged, abolition of caste and religious segregation. he has achieved all this, even ensuring that villagers have a say in government planning of projects and development in their surrounds. for doing this, he is already great and an epitome of what a true patriot should be. his concept of duty and sincerity, his complete focus on his goals, his determination to set things right, his love for his people. we know all this to be true.
but now, he is in unfamiliar territory. he has entered an arena where the righteous seldom survive: politics!
what began as a one-man crusade against government-aided corruption, has culminated into this convoluted political fracas. how many of us were even aware of anna ji's existence prior to his "fast unto death"? come on, he has been a social activist since 1976! To his credit, he has brought prosperity and progress to over 50 villages just by simple reforms that are easily implemented on a national scale. But the central government is not interested. 42 years in the making and the jan lokpal bill is still mired in red tape.
What does the “new” anti-corruption bill say that the 1969 proposed jan lokpal bill did not. The main differences are:
  • the old jan lokpal bill wanted to merge the anti-corruption unit of CBI with the lokpal committee and the new bill wants them independent of each other.
  • the new bill proposes 6 months to 7 imprisonment and the old bill had set aside a minimum of 5 years to life term as just punishment.
  • Also, the lokpal committee cannot initiate any investigation into corruption at the behest of the general public but the jan lokpal bill gave permission to do so. the lokpal committee will have no police powers and no ability to register an FIR or proceed with criminal investigations.  
  • being independent of government control is the key feature of any such committee but what is being proposed is that only the Speaker of the lok sabha and the chairman of the rajya sabha decide if any charge of corruption is to be investigated!
  • A provision has been made to dismiss tainted lokpal committee members within 2 months if they are found guilty of corruption themselves.
    members to the committee will be appointed by “judges, IAS officers with a clean record”. Recent reports show that more than 4 out of 10 persons in these categories are guilty of giving and receiving bribes!!
What is anna hazare up against?
The Corruptions Perception Index has listed india as being one of the least corrupt in south-east asia. Hardly anything to be proud of since according to the findings in 2008 by Washington post, nearly a fourth of the 540 indian parliament members faced criminal charges “including human trafficking, immigration rackets, embezzlement, rape and even murder”. in 2002, state assembly elections in UP majority of the seats went to candidates with criminal records!!
data provided by swiss banking association report (2006) shows that india has “more black money than the rest of the world combined, Indian swiss bank account assets are estimated to be worth 13 times the country’s national debt”!!
every sector of the country is riddled with ongoing scams and fraudulent practices, we are talking about land and real estate, armed forces, education, police, judiciary, medicine (“Grieving families are often asked in Government-run offices to pay bribes to obtain the Death Certificate”), income tax, transport, media (where corruption takes on the form of “paid news”), religious institutions (illegal land acquisitions and mysterious funds!!). Maximum under the table earnings are concentrated within the licensing and permits departments.
in 2009, an efficiency survey conducted on asian economies (Singapore, Vietnam, China, Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, South Korea, Japan, Malaysia, Hongkong, Indonesia) found indian bureaucracy to be the slowest and dealing with the government’s civil servants a “slow and painful” process! sound familiar?
From 1957, when the first recorded scandal hit the headlines, to 2011 we have already seen 4 major scams; the anti-corruption lobby seems to have been hibernating. In 2010 the nation was rocked by 10 major scandals. 2008 saw the beginnings of the embarrassing crimes of corruption we are ashamed of today.
A  recent survey by a major news channel shows that 50% of Indians do not see giving bribes as a crime, that 35% have accepted bribes without any regrets. truckers bribe their way out of driving offences and pay almost US$ 5bn in bribes across state borders!! makes you look at speeding trucks with new awe and respect!
Anna ji, please return to your world of simple and sincere village politics. It is a case of “too little too late”. corruption is too widespread. Even his intention and vision for a transparent and honest government is under scrutiny and speculation.  there must be a political game plan and political manipulation”.
So many cooks are now stirring the broth – the GoM (group of ministers), the IAC (india against corruption), opposition parties at state level, individuals with their own personal agendas – who knows what the resulting soup will be?
We are a rich country full of poor people! the honest are working hard to rid themselves of the curse of deprivation. And on the other hand are the corrupt who lead lives of unimaginable luxury. Starting in 2010 with the 2G scam, all our scams involve trillions of dollars. The latest report states that between 2005 and 2006, hasan ali khan had transactions worth over US$ 24.86 billion (Rs 1,12,000 crores) – an amount sufficient to pay for drinking water projects in all the 6 lakh villages in india – for the next 10 years!!
The response to the hazare movement has fizzled out, initial fervor has been replaced by an apathy which is all-pervasive and contributes to national inertia. The celebrities who jumped up on the bandwagon via twitter and facebook, press conferences and media interviews have faded into the background once again. new stuff has caught their attention, IPL finale, elections, cannes film festival etc etc..The wheels of the economy grind on, elections bring about a change of guard but not a change in prevailing circumstances. yes, we either have wolves in sheep's clothing or sheep in sheep's clothing!! 
the future of the lokpal movement is not so bright....
here lies lokpal bill 2011,
saw the glare of publicity
but not the light of day”.
A fitting epitaph.


Monday, 2 May 2011

hasta la vista, baby!

hollywood has announced the release of its latest production: "wag the dog - part 2". the producers, who wish to remain anonymous, are confident that the sequel will be as, if not more, successful as the first "wag the dog" (1997). as sequels go, WTD-2 doesn't offer anything original or innovative - the storyline of the original : presidential elections-need for some spectacular government win against terror-war in some remote (anything outside of the US is remote to its natives)-democratic rebels struggling against dictators-brave US news team covering the war-capture of monstrous military general-grateful populace-landslide victory for american prez; has proved to be such a box-office draw that the current offering has repeated it, only difference is the region and the time frame: may 2011.

the studio, We Are in the Race, (WAR), when approached for comments, declared that they were absolutely convinced in the first story session that they had a "money-spinner".
"come on, folks, how can one ignore the potential in the story? the sets were already there, the workforce was well prepared, no expenses spared trip to locations, unlimited access to local talent. i mean, we had a good thing just fall into our lap, for heaven's sake!"
the only thing that could have scuttled the project even before the first frame was shot, was the producers' demand that the feature run for only 40 minutes. there have been previous attempts at keeping the duration of documentary-dramas down to 55 minutes, but a full length movie requires the minimum of 106 minutes to put across the ideas and vision of the director.
"what we decided was to only concentrate on the main events and leave it to the media to fill in the gaps, say, the before and after content. this way we could stick to the 40-minute timeline and still satisfy audience demand for entertainment."
while confident of worldwide release, the film will only be shown to the people of the actual locale at a later date.
"the excitement and surprise element is lost for this particular audience as they were there for the shooting and so had exposure to a lot of behind-the-scenes footage. once the memories fade, they will be able to enjoy the movie and appreciate the work we all put in."
the media frenzy which has greeted this release is nothing compared to the anticipated furore at the academy awards and end of term parties. the producers are already planning a sequel since enough reels landed on the editing floor.   

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

we are the best!

so, i did predict that we will win the semi final. i mean, i knew we were slated for a big win when our team showed up well groomed. everyone heaved a big sigh of relief when the pakistanis had to score 30 runs in the last delivery. no one knew how the game would end till then, lot of nailbiting in the stands when the score was 229 with 3 balls to go - anything could've happened! i know, 30 runs in the last 2 deliveries is a big task but we also know how sneaky the other team can be....
well, laissez-faire, mon amis.
most memorable image of the match in mohali, 30 march 2011?
manmohanji furtively clapping at indian win the moment pm gilani looks the other way.
most misunderstood newsflash after the match?
"after mohali match, the two govts conduct favourable talks".
what really occurred is this: manmohanji successfully got pm gilani to pass the salt during post-game dinner and both agreed that the food was extremely oily.

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

it's my party and i'll cry if i want to

sri lankan team has qualified for the WCC final! did anyone hear that? it was in that tiny newsfeed at the end of the tv screen, while i was watching The Debate - who will win the "final before the Final?" it is the same mindset the indian team had at the 2003 WCC - so what if they did not bring the Cup home, they did defeat the green brigade in Pool A qualifier! some consolation.

Monday, 28 March 2011

on "why we should have atleast one tv channel's newsroom on speed-dial"

me: hello, is this TIMES NOW news channel?
TN: yes.
me: ok, i have been following your news about the tax evader hassan ali and for the last ten minutes you have misspelled "prison". (rpison). this is so shameful and it is such a simple word.
TN: why don't you change the channel then?
me: why don't you correct the spelling instead?

5 minutes later...

me: TIMES NOW? ok, thanks for correcting the spelling!
TN: we are very stressed (?) in the newsroom here and next time don't be so rude (?!!).

problem solved.

Thursday, 24 March 2011

the team that wins the toss, wins the match!

so. indian team lies basking in glory. the other team grits their teeth, scowls at cheering crowds and frowns into tv cameras. enough said.
man of the match - yuvraj. in the past, suitably modest cricketers have dedicated their victory/trophy/prize money to "someone special". but we have done one better. yuvi has dedicated his wc to that someone special. he said it not once, but many many times, "my wc is for a special someone"! i am sure the mysterious person is thrilled while the rest of the world is surprised.
moving on.
next wednesday, IST 2.30pm. "clash of the legends!" or "clash of the legends who will re-write history!"
till then, speculative analysis by pondrous cricket-has-beens and giggling "sports presenters".

Wednesday, 23 March 2011

what if we lost the match today?

"the titans clash once again!" this is to announce the impending WCC match between india and australia today at IST 2.30pm, in a city of a state run by one mr narendra modi. the only image the word "titan" brings up on the indian mind is of aamir khan, actor associated with the brand, so a lot of us are going around deeply confused. never mind. will this match overshadow the amazing (as in "strange" and "hmm.mmmm")performance of the pakistani team against the west indians? yes. will the previously played matches fade into oblivion and all those players who have sweated and swatted (flies, mossies, birds, plastic bottles, apple cores) their way into cricket's hall of fame (and shame) also be relegated to the history of "also rans"? yes. and all this before the game is played!
winning this match will garner a lot of praise and commercial contracts for the indian cricketers. once again, they will be claimed by the village, city, state, "mohalla" (suburb, all you hindi-challenged folk) they hail from. sobbing family and relatives will feature on all tv channels - "i always knew he will make me proud! ever since he was 6 months old, he showed signs of being a great fielder/bowler/batsman/captain/wicket keeper/umpire/waterboy/pitch inspector!" i don't know, but it sounds better in the local lingo ("mera family ko bahut proud hai iss pe!").
but, what. if. they. lose?
watch this space, amigos. g'day!

Tuesday, 22 March 2011

obama is indian!!

who will spend all their waking moments keeping track of their neighbours' activities? who will offer help where none is needed? who will convince others to follow their example of interfering in others' affairs? who will smugly announce their success when all they have done is destroy their neighbours' chance of peace and progress? INDIANS!!

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

i really do!

sometimes when i turn on the tv or glance at the newspaper my fellow traveller (he/she may be in the next car, but did i mention i have really good eyesight?) is reading, i think, "told you so". it doesn't matter what information i gather, it falls under the category of "i saw that coming!".