Friday, September 28, 2007

Sundays, beer and Malayalam movies

It was a couple of years back that I began watching TV for a decent amount of time. Before that college and projects and Internships did not give much time with the idiot box especially since we had to start holiday Internships from second year of college. When I finally got to watch some TV and surf the Malayalam channels, the movie song sequences shocked me! It was as if I was watching a Hindi or a Telugu song sequence!!

I have been bought up on a staple of good Malayalam movies due to the extensive collection of movies in my Dad’s collection. Growing up on this kind of filtered collection makes you rather spoilt. You end up thinking that all Malayalam movies are good. Unlike Malayalees in Kerala, who have watched both good and bad movies and seen the evolution of Malayalam cinema, we the NRK’s have no such luck. We are still stuck in the Golden Era of Malayalam movies as we get only the good movies in CD parlors. Our first brush with modern Malayalam cinema starts with the Malayalam TV channels that air the songs from the latest movies. And the preview of the new Malayalam cinema is not very appetizing.

For us NRK’s Malayalam movies were the only channel to keep in touch with our roots and culture. Malayalam movies were a part of our daily lives. Sundays in Bangalore would see VCDs selling like hot cakes and people would even bribe the VCD delivery boy to keep their favorite movie for them for the weekend. Malayalam movies were a little piece of Kerala in our homes.

The commercialization of Malayalam movies is big loss to the huge NRK population that lives outside Kerala. Our intention of seeing a Malayalam movie is not just for the purpose of entertainment, but to keep the tenuous bonds with our naadu alive and to escape for a few moments to a place we call home. The Bollywood type of Malayalam cinema has little appeal for us.

I guess our numbers are too small and do not justify movies like the ones they made some time ago. Perhaps there is more demand for Bollywood type masala Malayalam movies in Kerala now.

I watched “Classmates” the other day. A really nice movie very rooted in the Kerala realities, yet entertaining and engrossing. “Classmates” may not be the best in its class, but it does give hope that the dying embers of good Malayalam cinema is still flickering.

Presently listening to this song. Thanks to Emmanuel for the link.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Cyber Underdogs

When I was small I learnt an important lesson through sheer accident. And the lesson was that the “underdog” always gets public support. Even if the ‘underdog’ was pretending to be the underdog and was actually the villain of the piece, he/she will always get support because people love to take up for the ‘underdog’.

As a kid I realized that I was no match for my arch rival, my second brother M. Like a true brother, M loved annoying me and making me scream. And when I lashed out at him in anger; he would merely hold my hand and fend me off while I tried to wildly kick him. And while all my effort to kick, scratch and pull his hair went in vain, I had the double ignominy of watching him grin triumphantly. So I did what I had to do. I screamed. Because I realized screaming and sobbing when the elders arrived running from all corners of the house made them annoyed enough to give my brother a ticking off!! :p

It was very satisfying to watch my arch rival get a ticking off for troubling “your poor helpless baby sister” and “bullying a small girl?” etc. ( One of the few advantages of being the youngest in the house is that you remain the ‘baby’ of the house till eternity) It was lack of creativity that drove me to this novel method while I could actually get back at him by merely ignoring him!! But like millions of sisters worldwide I too fell for the bait specifically designed to irritate me :)

Supporting the underdog or the “underdog” syndrome, is so powerful that most of us get swept by it. I broke out of this syndrome when a couple of instances of blind loyalty to my friends made me ignore the “other side of the story” leading to some very red face when I realized that the person I had defended was the actual culprit! Since then I have become the ‘devils advocate’. But then I am not entirely infallible. I do get taken in by sob stories initially till good ‘ol common sense kicks in or gives me a solid kick.

Off late I have come across some people/bloggers who use the “underdog syndrome” to great effect. They craft stories based on their lives in which they are shown as an underdog, while the other characters of the story are strategically characterized so that that readers like hypnotized zombies hate/love/sympathize with these characters according to the writer’s design. Soon the 'underdog' gets sympathy and support and a large number of 'protective' and sympathetic fans. If a stray reader were to raise a question about the ‘sob story’ he/she is immediately looked upon by horror by the others readers like thief found stealing from a frail old lady.

The feeling of protectiveness is so strong, that the readers will not tolerate any voice of dissent against the ‘underdog”, i.e the writer. Many of these readers will go out of their way to help the ‘underdog’. The ‘underdog’ becomes an icon. If someone starts questioning the story of the ‘underdog’… the writer who is a master in this game will play the part of the ‘poor accused’ well by taking the questions/accusation gracefully and thus raking in more supporters.

Politicians and leaders, ordinary people, younger siblings [:p] have all used this ‘trick’ to great effect. It is high time we shed the herd mentality and looked at both sides of the coin whether it is a news item or a Blog. There is always an ‘other’ side of the story.

The World Wide Web is happy hunting ground for such pseudo “underdogs”. All with private agendas of their own. Be careful of people and causes you espouse.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Weight loss made easy

Weight loss clinics are mushrooming everywhere in Bengaloooru. Guess the prosperity of the Benaglooru janagalu has gone to their waist, hips, thighs etc. with a vengeance. You get clinics with fancy names like ‘VLCC’ and ‘Inspiration’ and downright sleazy monikers like ‘Ritu’s Massage cum Weight Loss Clinic’ (Not sure if the Pun is intended or not) Whatever be their name or location or Interior Decoration, they all promise to melt down that fat in a jiffy, leaving you with bods that will make a Stick Insect go green with envy.

I was passing by one of these “Weight Loss” clinics the other day. A large banner behind an anorexic mannequin showcased several success stories. The 6 foot mannequin was made of about approximately 500 gms of plastic I think. So you can imagine how anorexic it looked. If Kate Moss were to pass this way, she would probably pass out in sheer jealousy.

The banner showcased several case studies. There was the photo of one Mrs Aggarwal. Fat, jovial and kinda nice and homely looking, sitting and smiling at the camera under the "Before" caption. She looked dignified in the silk saree, mangal sutra and large bindi.

And then there was the same Mrs Aggarwal standing in a very coquettish pose, around 200 pounds less and leaning on a chair showing her cleavage. Her head was thrown back and a leg folded up showing off her 8 inch spiky stilettos. This was under the “After" caption. Her body looked vaguely familiar. Then it struck me that this was body of Kareena Kapoor playing host to the rather comely face of Mrs Aggarwal. Mrs Aggarwals face was neatly grafted onto Kareena's body with the help of Adobe Photoshop!

While the slim body of Mrs Aggarwal seems to cry out "Look at me baby, I am so hot!!" her face seemed to say "Arey munnu ke papa, ration ki dukaan jaana math bhoolna!" Very unnerving I tell you.

Anyways this just goes to show that weight loss clinics are not threat to our culture. Beneath that sexy bod, Mrs Aggarwal is still the same pati vrata nari.

I wonder what they did with Kareena's head. Served it on a platter on Shakeela's torso elsewhere? I shudder to think of the consequences.

And I wonder what Mr Aggarwal said when he saw his brand new wife? I don’t think he said anything. But I am sure Munnu got himself a brand new sibling and Mrs Aggarwal was back to the clinic. What a vicious vicious circle *sigh*

Then there was the photo of a gentleman named Mr Menon. Mr Menon was fat with a huge belly and looked like he was pregnant with several kegs of beer. This photo was under the "before" caption. Under the "After" caption, Mr Menon had shrunk considerably and looked like a desi Brad Pitt. I had that feeling of déjà vu again. I had seen that bod somewhere. Then it struck me that it was John Abraham’s bod!! I can recognize that bod anywhere!!!

I wonder what they did with John’s head. Shift + Delete? *sob*

If the makers of Adobe Photoshop got a penny for every “Before” and “After” advertisement made by these weight loss clinics, they can shut shop and live on the proceeds for the rest of their lives!!

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Justice only at a price

Sometime back a young girl was raped and murdered…one among the many such incidences that have happened and are happening around the country. We read about it one day and then a new event catches our eye. What happens to the people you read about the other day? What is happening to these cases? Are the guilty being punished or let off due to lack of evidence or do these cases just disappear into thin air? Or does the government machine quietly chug its way and chase the case to its end?

We the public tend to lose interest to such events after the initial reaction to such news. And if I want to know what happened to these cases, the bureaucratic apparatus is so well laid out that it might take me many frustrating forms and babus pockets to fill and long hours in musty government building corridors to get to know what happened. In fact I will be laughed off the government building if I were to inquire what happened to such cases.

Nobody ever knows what happens to these cases. The high profile cases attract some attention, till a newer and more gruesome act is performed by someone else. And the ‘fresher’ news gets our attention.

It is true that we are a populous nation and our Police Stations are understaffed. But what alarms me is the lethargy that one finds in the cops when you go to a station with a complaint.

Recently the Police sold an ‘unclaimed’ body to the St John’s College and Hospital. It was later revealed that the body had 32 stab injuries. The son of the deceased raised a hue and cry and the body was released to him and the cops pulled up. How many such cases are shoved under the carpet? Scores of bodies are found on the railway tracks in Karnataka…the cops merely keep it in the morgue and dispose it off if it is unclaimed to medical colleges for a fee. No attempt is made to find the family or killers.

Today Police Stations have become place where you file an FIR so that you can collect the Insurance, Inheritance etc. The cops have stopped making investigations unless the case is high profile or the victims have ‘connections’. There is a marked lethargy among the Police force. They have become mere paper pushers now.

God help us all.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Emotions or hysteria?

The Indian Idol mania seems to have gripped most regional TV channels. I saw another version of the same with Shaan as anchor. This time the participants were kids. Towards the end of the program a kid was eliminated. The kid took the elimination quite gamely. Then to my horror, one of the judges, a female playback singer volunteered to sing a farewell song for the kid who was eliminated. I couldn’t believe that someone would something so foolish!! But it was real and happening! She stared singing a mournful farewell song and the kids face crumpled and she started sobbing.

Shaan looked like he wanted to slap the lady himself, but being the gracious anchor he is consoled the child. Soon other participants were also crying and so were the kids parents. It was mayhem and left me boiling. The playback singer kept singing totally in love with her voice and the show deteriorated to mass hysteria.

If I was the kid’s parent or guardian I would have stepped in and stopped the lady from abusing the kid. Yes, this was abuse…this was emotional abuse of a kid!!! And the lady should be arrested for the same!!! And what was pathetic was that not a mention of this was made in any papers or news channel!

I saw a similar episode on a Malayalam channel with Usha Uthup as one of the judges. Even this lady couldn’t control her emotions when a contestant was eliminated. What are you trying to say? That "I am helpless because the cruel SMS’ing public is so clueless"??? What message does this give out? That life sucks?

It is high time someone puts in checks and balances to reality shows. Emotions are natural but if whipped up can have disastrous consequences. Will it take the suicide of a contestant for people to wake up? And wake up they will and ask for a ban on reality shows!!! After all we cannot expect a public that watches these shows to make rational decisions!

Winning and losing is not the only element of the game. There is something else called “taking defeat gamely” too! And it is this vital element that is missing from most of these shows.

p.s Do check out this post on reality shows in the Philippines.

Thursday, September 13, 2007


Like most average girls, I have also grumbled about the restrictions of being a girl. I always thought boys had it easy. They didn't have to worry about bad hair days, broken nails, pimples, blotchy complexion, PMS, mothers etc etc etc. But after reading this post I am totally over the feeling of self pity.

Girls, you don't know how lucky we are!!

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Fostering corruption

The other day when a friend was buying some sweets, a couple of Sales Tax officers in mufti, walked into the shop. They caught the shop owner selling sweets without a bill. The shop owner immediately barked at his assistants to pack the best available sweets and pressed it into the sales tax officer’s hands. He wouldn't take a "no" from them and with great humility insisted that they take the sweet. He was finally let off with a severe warning. The officers were clearly disarmed by the shop owner’s affable and courteous behavior. But they were not too happy to let him off the hook.

I have heard of several such incidents. Officials saying ‘no’ to a bribe but being gently coaxed to take it by people who want to be let off the hook. We are so used to calling government servants corrupt that that we fail to realize that it is we who make them corrupt by paying them to bend laws on our behalf.

How did corruption start? It surely did not start with the government employee getting up one fine day and exclaiming in surprise and delight at his powers and making a resolution to use his gift to the fullest extent!!

Corruption would have begun when people realized the advantages a government servant had and bribed him to avail of those advantages. I am sure people who bribe know the system better than the people who take bribe!

Recently I went with SP to the Indiranagar RTO. This RTO was a hot bed of corruption a few years ago, mostly due to touts and the driving school mafia running a thriving racket here. A Lok Ayukta raid changed all that. This RTO became one of the cleanest and most efficient RTO overnight. I know because I got my bike license from here.

SP was through with the DL in record time without paying anything except the DL fees. On the other hand, there were some people whom we saw bribing a reluctant and clearly apprehensive official to push their papers a little faster.

Do these people realize that they are undoing the work of the Lok Ayukta? The Lok Ayukta raid had made life much easier for thousands of people who make their Licenses here without the hassles that plagued them earlier. Are they aware of the dis service they are doing to the rest of the citizenry because they do not want to stand in the queue?

I think people giving bribes should be more severely prosecuted that people accepting a bribe. A person who bribes is an anti social element. He/She creates corruption. Period.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

Close encounters with frustrations

A comment I received at Poomanam

Quote "I dream of the day when I will give my blog URL to the person who says "Tell me something about yourself " Unquote

So that, the person will understand:

1.Your views on life are pretty shallow

2.You are arrogant to the core

3.You are a noisy, messy, talk-more-listen-less person

4.You are a religious fundamentalist, under your 'cool' secularist skin

5.You fall flat for flattery

6.You never can take any kind of criticism

7.You look down on most of the people, especially your bosses

8.You are almost insanely self-centric

9.You never have read/understood/appreciated any half-decent literature

10.You drink and drive

11.You do fool people with sweet talk

12.You make silly grammatical and punctuation mistakes that are intolerable in marketing communication.

13.You like showing off your vocabulary, which, again, is intolerable in marketing communication.

14.You will write high school essays for marketing communication purposes

15.You think that you are Erma Bombeck (Bombeck sucks, by the way)

A half-funny line you managed to write in the last six months is,

Ammachi: *whew* you scared me Annamme!! It just means you are standing on his slippers!!

Keep writing. You are, of course, better than many, though nowhere near good. Get over with your infatuation with mediocrity, if you care. (Ever wondered why the fans of your blog are such pathetic writers themselves?)

This was a comment I received after the "Say it right" post.This is just a sample of the type of frustrations people throw at my blog. Of course I rejected it without a thought. And I also know who wrote it, but that is besides the point. What I have learnt in my two years of blogging is that there are too many people getting into blogging for fame and fortune. And when they don't get it, they take out their frustrations with comments like this. Blogging is the freedom of having your say no matter how crappy your language is or how bad your English is! Thankfully most bloggers I know, enjoy the informal creative outlet of blogs and are the richer from the experience.

Today I found another instance of someone copying my posts. If it wasn't so funny I would have been hopping mad :p

p.s Dont miss this excellent post by Pradeep Nair on Kerala.