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.