Friday, December 6, 2013

Bigg Boss, Comedy Nights and other voyeurisms

Two extremely 'superhit' programs on Indian television screens these days are 'Bigg Boss' and 'Comedy Nights with Kapil.' These serials enjoy high TRPs and have made celebrities out of erstwhile cricketers and second rate and forgotten TV actors.

The analysis of the content of these programs reveals a dangerous trend setting in the social fabric of our country. While Bigg Boss primarily brings voyeurism right in our bedrooms and legitimizes it, Comedy Nights with Kapil is doing the insidious job of making fun of people and reinforcing stereotypes in the name of comedy. The comedy in the latter's case is not situation based; instead it revels in making fun of people and their lives.

Both these programs, insidiously, are leading to a point where the line between fun and bullying is getting blurred day by day. We are moving towards a society where entertainment is being defined as bullying others and peeping into other's bedrooms. A situation in which there is no critique of the current social order and its problems. Instead, targeting others for their differences is being sold.

How do we understand this phenomena?

The blatant copying of the American mode of entertainment, rise of technology based on the principle of 'selling' the product to maximum people and continued and unhindered freezing of stereotypes, among others, can be counted as reasons for this state of affairs.

With the idea of selling everything firmly entrenching in our society, it is going to be almost impossible to stop this juggernaut from rolling. The voices of a few limited people will be suppressed in the name of TRPs and profits. Soon, bullying will become the norm while growing up in schools, followed by gun killings.

Welcome to America!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Social media and long form writing

Social media has been heralded as the ‘next big thing’ of the 21st century. It is the greatest event to have happened to humanity since we tamed the moon in 1969. Facebook and twitter, to name a few ‘hot’ social media sites, have the potential to bring people together like never before. Social media will herald the next revolutions of the world, so they say.

Social media has the ability to connect people. This argument cannot be denied. There is no challenge to it in this domain. Facebook and twitter allow people to update their ‘status’ or tell others what they are doing, watching, eating, drinking, etc.However, we need to be cautious about an insidious strand of social media which is fast trending (Pun intended).

But both of them glorify brevity. Twitter doesn't even allow more than 140 characters!

This habit of being extremely precise has the capability of curtailing long form writing. While earlier, a movie review would demand a full blog post, today, a simple status update or a tweet is enough to announce the verdict. A critical review of a novel is being reduced to a simple ‘boring book’ status. In fact, where one is posting the status or tweet from has become an added and un-ignorable dimension. ‘Sent from my iphone’, ‘sent from my blackberry’, ‘sent using the stylus of Galaxy Note 2’, etc. are becoming the cool add-ons. The means are becoming more important than the ends! The end goal of writing a long, descriptive and analytic piece is being replaced by the goal of telling the brand of the smartphone one owns and the ability of one’s status or tweet to be as ‘eye-catching’ as possible.

Where does this lead us to? Is this simply a cribbing about the good old days or are we witness to manifestation of a new and completely alien form of medium of interaction unknown to the previous generation? We need to put this question to the world to understand this complex idea. Please put this as your Facebook status or tweet it to generate the next big revolution.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

What is Shahrukh Khan trying to do?

Shahrukh Khan is approaching 50. He knows his days are numbered as a superstar. At the most, he may replace Amitabh Bachchan's post 2000 manifestation of stardom. He may end up doing strong but limited roles once he crosses 50 and be content to be the father figure of the industry as well as steer his children's film aspirations. Obviously, this is what most superstars of their times have done in the evening of their careers.

Shahrukh Khan knows this. He has seen this cycle repeat one too many times while he himself reigned as the superstar of Bollywood in the late 90s and 2000s, although this notion can be strongly challenged since the mid 2000s when Salman Khan and Aamir Khan came back ferociously in the industry and challenged his supremacy. Still, SRK resides in the hearts of millions. He is a superstar and he is touching 50.

So, is SRK ready to repeat the usual cycle which stars of the previous era have gone through? Or will he try to stay at the top by doing more and more romantic films with heroines half his age and eventually end up making a mockery of himself and resigning to a painful loneliness?

It appears, SRK knows all this too well. So, he is trying to do something else, actually becoming something else. He is trying to become the SINGLE source of entertainment for the Indian public. This is how:

1. He is the comic host on movie awards shows.
2. He is the owner of one of the most popular T20 teams.
3. He has the most amazing homes in Dubai.
4. He keeps selling various products on TV
5. He develops video games and other merchandise for his films.
5. He keeps doing films on larger issues of religion or 'I am the best' kind of films.

And now, his latest ambition is to include the 'south' as well in the definition of Indian Public. This is a territory in which no actor from Bollywood has been able to make his or her mark in a substantial way.

This is what makes SRK larger than life. His presence in all forms of entertainment Indians are used to such as films, cricket, games, products, TV shows, showblitz, etc.

Let us see how this manifests in the coming times.

Monday, August 5, 2013

Masochism and Perfection

Human beings are masochists at heart. We revel in giving pain to others. When someone starts paying attention to a person and the person has no intention of returning the attention back, then in that case, he will start behaving in such a manner so that the other person (Attention giver) writhes in pain.

Perhaps, this explains why we torture people whom we intend to kill. We have this urge to see people wallow in pain in front of our eyes. Human beings are the only species known in the world which systematically kills its own kind. The cruel happiness one derives from seeing the other person in pain is insatiable. This could be because the pain giver is under control of the situation and can decide on varying the amount of pain. This gives the person a thrill, a kick which is unmatched.

The pain giver forgets that he too could be in a similar situation in future. He too could be at the mercy of someone else. However, if we learnt this, we will cease to be humans with all our complexities. It is the sadness, regret, pain and nostalgia which we romanticize in our lives. All our art comes from these sources. Art also creates the magical world of perfection. A dream world where everything is white and pristine. It forgets that such a world is devoid of all emotions.

Such a world cannot be filled with humans. Human beings can thrive only in places where there is imperfection and they use emotion to perpetuate it.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Devil and Hope

Traces of blood still exist
Specks of dust untouched on the skin

Dry and crumpled self is sheathed by the skin
Rusted layers peel off exposing the frigid mind

Sitting on the couch of hopelessness
Unable to shake away the spasms of an under nourished intellect

The devil dances in front of me
Challenges me for another battle

Chides my virility, spews invectives at me
Reminds me of my past heroics

I bow to him
Like the proverbial king Vikram bowing to Baital

I accumulate all my wherewithal
Filled with the exuberance to defeat him, I rise

Only to find that the purpose is no longer alive
Only to degrade to one more level of abysmal hopelessness

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Trying times

Streaming through my FB feed..Happy images of people celebrating birthdays, getting married, enjoying honeymoons and vacations, buying homes, clothes and stuff......

While I dream of building an offbeat career, filled with changing the status quo, turning over capitalism, creating a just society, writing books....

Trying but defining times....

Thursday, July 11, 2013

State of mind and other trivial matters

As we become more and more aware of our surroundings, we realize that our mind is a huge sink with no drainage facility. It keeps on accumulating words, sentences, experiences, feelings, images, etc and then presents to us in the form of nostalgia.

One of the most formidable weapons in the mind's repertoire is its ability to romanticize our past experiences. We may undergo many excruciating personal experiences in our life. However, the mind has the ability to pack these moments in a box of nostalgia and serve us.

Another great art possessed by the mind is its ability to make the person feel that the decisions taken/not taken by her have all been very wrong. Instead, she should have done the opposite. This art has the fantastic capability to "trap" a person in a seamless cage. Most importantly, the mind feeds on this cage by using the first technique of making memories nostalgic.

Together, these methods constitute much of our personal social experiences. Films, stories, poems, mythologies and all other forms of literary art find their roots in the above two methods of the mind.

Is there a way for us to circumvent these two ways and live a life independent of the shackles of mind? Probably, there is. And I need my mind to "think" of that solution.

P.S. Maybe my heart can help.