As a gargantuan jury walks past, women take part in a rangoli competition as part of the Dasara festivities, in Mysore on Monday.
Photograph: Karnataka Photo News
VASANT SHETTY writes from Bangalore: Aamir Khan announced his entry into the small screen with “Satya Meva Jayate” a few days ago. The program was planned to be aired in several Indian languages including Kannada on Star India’s network channels.
In Kannada, Suvarna, the general entertainment channel owned by Rajeev Chandrasekhar, was supposed to air this program from May 6.
Now, this program will be telecasted in Hindi, Telugu and Tamil while Kannada gets dropped from the list, thanks to the ban on dubbing imposed by a few sundry private organisations in the name of protecting Kannada language and culture.
The same associations which ransacked the office of Zee Kannada last year protesting its move to air a voice-dubbed program on Jhansi Rani Laxmibai are at it again. Fortunately, this time Suvarna backed off before the associations took law into their hands.
This brings us to the question: Who are these organisations to ban anything in a constitutional democracy?
In a civilised democratic society, there is no place for bans of any kind even if it is imposed by an elected government. In a democracy, I, as a consumer, have every right to demand all sources of knowledge and entertainment in a language of my choice as long as my demands are within the limits of law.
Like me, there are lakhs of Kannadigas who may want to watch a Disney character speaking in Kannada, or a Discovery, Animal Planet program on Amazon forests being aired in Kannada, or watching Avatar 3D in Kannada. Why am I being denied my rightful access to all these in a language of my choice?
Has Karnataka ceased to be a democratic State any more?
Has it become a banana republic where unelected feudal people rule the roost?
Have you seen something similar in any other cinema industry?
Like any other trade, the trade of cinema runs on supply and demand. Where there is a demand for certain products and services, there will be suppliers willing to supply them for profit.
Plain and simple?
Sadly, it isn’t the case with Kannada cinema and television industry.
It runs on Taliban-like fatwas to TV channels to not air the dubbed content than going by the merits/demerits of demand for dubbed content in the market. It runs by sucking tax payers money in the form of subsidies offered to almost 60% of films made every year than going through the test of markets. And it also runs on blaming government for its failures day in and day out.
The Kannada cinema and television industry has failed to internalise the fact that it is a for-profit industry run by private individuals and not some government-funded public goods with a charitable motive.
The Kannada film industry, though small in size has bigger social impact when it comes to cinema as a linguistic register. Kannada films have a decisive role in keeping the language on the tongues of young Kannadigas.
The undemocratic and unconstitutional ban on dubbing has made sure that in a fast globalising world, Kannadigas are left with very little choice of knowledge and entertainment shows offered in Kannada. Except for the boring soap operas, fighting news channels, and macchu-kocchu movies, I do not have anything in Kannada that tickles my senses.
The Telugu, Tamil and Hindi cinema industries where no such dubbing ban exists, have way bigger market size in both cinema and television sector and are offering clear lessons on the importance of doing away with such undemocratic bans.
The media in Karnataka have a bigger role in building a narrative of how this ban on dubbing is turning out to be detrimental for the future of Kannada by engaging in debates, discussions involving everyone,most importantly the consumer who holds the purse strings deciding the future of everyone involved.
Not some jewellery exhibition, not some garment store, not some IPL match. The Bollywood actress Sameera Reddy lends her image to create awareness about cancer in Bangalore on Wednesday.
Photograph: Karnataka Photo News
The commodification of women portfolio
Anu Prabhakar: Another example of commodification of examinations
Aindrita Ray: Surely all that glitters is more than just gold
Jennifer Kotwal: The best ice-candy melts before nice eye-candy
Nicole Faria: Denims, diamonds, Miss India and the Mahatma
Priyanka Trivedi: See, a brand ambassador always gets good press
Gul Panag: You are almost tempted to say ‘Intel Inside’
Mandira Bedi: It ain’t so easy to woo an iPhone4 user, sister
Tejaswini Prakash: As if we didn’t have traffic diversions already
Pooja Gandhi: Why Vodafone subscribers experience call drops
Raveena Tandon: From a flower of stones to a stone of flowers
ROHITH BATNI writes: Come 2012, for some, “Mysore Dasara” could mean a train between Mysore and Dasara. Yes, that’s how far the Mysore Dasara celebrations have been steered away from the host-City.
Here’s a brief recollection by a Mysorean of how the ‘raayara kudure‘ has been progressively becoming a ‘raayara katthe‘.
Mysore Dasara 2008: Organizers launch the fest’s official website in tens of languages, barring Kannada. Guess why. They presumed Kannadigas wouldn’t refer the site. What they failed to understand was that using Kannada on that site actually represented Kannadigas and the people that’ve been historically celebrating Mysore Dasara.
Feedback was provided, interested people worked with these organizers to inform the importance of having Kannada as the binding spirit behind Mysore Dasara celebrations – both online and on the field.
Mysore Dasara 2009: The refurbished official website now featured the Kannada version; pages displaying most information in Kannada. Meanwhile, a new event called Yuva Dasara started playing mostly Hindi music.
Feedback was provided again by interested citizens of Karnataka to stop playing Hindi in a Dasara function as it is just plain incongruent to do so. It’s like playing Michael Jackson during a temple prayer offering. MJ’s music is not bad but is plain incongruent in a temple prayer scene.
Mysore Dasara 2010: The official page of Dasara now features English and Kannada only, a pretty good move keeping in mind the impossibility of maintaining the website in ten+ languages, most of them international.
But the Yuva Dasara event continues to play Hindi music, drawing widespread flak from Mysore Dasara tourists. The event just entered the hall of infamy of cultural programs held in Karnataka, yet endorsing week long irrelevant, non-Kannada (mostly Hindi) entertainment content.
All public feedback seemed to be falling on deaf ears, and departments of the populist state government seem to deriving calculated benefits out of these broad daylight murders of Mysore culture.
Mysore Dasara 2011: Opened the gates to a totally new version of Mysore Dasara – in fact a morphed version fielding Mizorami, Oriya, Bengali, Gujarati, you-name-it, dance artists and chefs alike.
Tourists landing in Mysore to witness the unique Mysore Dasara and its heritage are now challenged to treasure hunt for the original Mysore (and Karnataka) culture and tradition.
This time it is the Mysore-less Dasara Food Festival, the Mysore-less Yuva Dasara, and so on.
Anyone taking a guess what Mysore Dasara would be about in 2012? May be a good suggestion to name a train between Mysore and Dasara for that’s how far the two have been rendered.
Did we hear someone say – “in 2012 I am expecting the Polar Bears and Icy-cool Penguins to walk the Vijayadashami Jambu Savaari? Oh my! Aren’t those penguins popular among people, so what if they donn’t fit well in a Dasara procession?
Photograph: The Bollywood music composer duo of Vishal and Shekhar performing at the Yuva Dasara music festival at the Maharaja College ground, in Mysore on Sunday (Karnataka Photo News)
1) A superhit film* centred around 9/11. 2) Distributed by Hollywood biggie, Fox Searchlight. 3) A protagonist with Asperger’s Syndrome. 4) A mainstream film starring a Muslim which tackles anti-Islamic stereotypes. 5) A meeting with the president of the United States. 6) Bollywood’s biggest star who runs into trouble in his home country with the lunatic fringe in Bombay.
Will Shah Rukh Khan pip Aamir Khan and other aspirants (and ‘perspirants’) to become the first Indian star to bag an Academy Award for Majha Naam Khan?
E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: Ajji was poring over Praja Vani as if she was doing research in classical physics. She was reading it word by word, with a lens in hand.
Had she worn a white coat and if one counted the lines on her forehead, she would have looked more like Marie Curie working on radioactive substances.
I was clearly impressed by her diligence. The editor of Praja Vani too would have been impressed.
“Ajji! It looks like you are doing a PhD thesis. Not bad for a woman of your age!”
Ignoring my comments, keeping the lens aside, she started off.
“Alvo, our children, I mean the students, are beaten black and blue in Australia, aren’t they?”
“Yes, Ajji, beaten to pulp day in day out.”
“They are beating our boys because they are foreigners in Melbourne?” she queried.
“We feel Australia is doing nothing about it. And that is why our “Maddur” Krishna and the government are sore at the Australian government’s attitude. Alva?”
Ajji was as analytical as Euclid when he addressed the Greek mathematicians to provide additional proof for Pythogoras‘ right-angled triangle theorem.
“Howdu ajji,” I said.
“If that is so, why are we not doing anything in Goa when foreigners, girls from Russia and England are raped and killed regularly, over the last two years?”
“But Ajji,” I tried to interrupt.
“In what way are events happening in Goa different from what is happening in Australia? The Russian and British governments have protested. Yet we have done nothing about it.”
Ajji’s analysis was sharp and incisive, like Abhimanyu Mithun’s bowling; pitching at a good-length spot on the middle stump, and catching the batsman plumb in front of the stumps.
“It’s true Ajji. There is some similarity. We should have asked the Goa government to act or made sure Goa was not fast turning out a seedy place with drugs, mafia, rape and killing.”
Ajji was not finished yet; she was going to the bowling mark once again.
She gulped some tulasi leaves with warm water for her cold.
“IPL bosses have not selected Pakistan cricketers for IPL 3, right?”
“And our film stars say that it is no way to treat cricketers from Pakistan. Shah Rukh Khan says it is insulting to the cricketers?”
“What prevented him from being present in the auction and buying the whole lot of Pakistan players?” she demanded.
“Yes, Ajji. He had the money to buy at least a few players. I don’t know why he didn’t do that.”
And Aamir Khan says the boundary between countries is fictitious. It is just a line dividing people.”
“Try saying that to the families who lost their near and dear ones in hotels, railway stations and markets, shot by or blown to bits by militants coming from Pakistan who were given instructions on-the-spot step-by-step procedures by agencies within their country. Try saying that to families of Kumara Sangakkara, Chaminda Vas and Tillakarathne Dilshan who escaped death by the skin of their teeth.”
Now I was clean bowled; lock, stock and barrel.
“I see your point Ajji,” I conceded.
Vishnuvardhan starred in tens of memorable songs, but his brief guest appearance as a lecturer in friend Ravichandran‘s Grease2 takeoff, Prem Loka, brought an admirable lightness to the superhit film.
Which are Vishnuvardhan’s top-5 songs?
And which are his top-5 films?
Below, Vishnuvardhan with Suhasini in Muttina Haara. Both these songs, the first in Kannada, the second in Kodavatak, come from the quill of Hamsalekha.
E.R. RAMACHANDRAN writes: I saw the the Ace Political Expert (ACE) near Nalpak Restaurant in Vontikoppal.
It was a long time since I had had the benefit of his political insight. I jumped at the opportunity and we sat down at Nalpak’s new open-air lounge where you can eat while looking at the traffic passing by.
“What do you make of the David Coleman Headley issue?” I asked as we started attacking the bisi bisi ragi roti with two different types of chutney.
“Headley traveled all over the country planning terror attacks left, right and centre. He freely met film and filmy people in Bollywood who gave him a red-carpet welcome. He even spent a night with his wife at the Taj Mahal Hotel, ate at the Oberois. Yet our intelligence knew nothing about his visit.”
“Don’t we have intelligence bureaus precisely for such things?” I asked.
“And we will not give visa to known Pakistan cricketers. What’s more, our Karnataka Police arrested a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Ranji Trophy cricket team member under the impression he was a terrorist! KSCA and police thought he might terrorise our players and win the Ranji tie!”
“How come our intelligence totally missed any information on him and our external affairs ministry cleared his visa?”
“It can happen only in a Mahesh Bhatt film! We had no inkling until US authorities caught him and all the information is coming during his interrogation in Chicago. There’s one more thing…,” continued APE.
“It appears their FBI had clear information about the impending attack on Bombay, but our supposedly closest friends kept quiet about the whole thing! Now we know how close our friendship with the world’s strongest democratic power is!”
“This is a crying shame! Our Prime Minister swears friendship with all US Presidents after the nuclear treaty.”
“And we signed a nuclear treaty with Russia without breaking in to a song and dance! We have to get this straight. To the US, we come after their security which means keeping Pakistan in good humour with billions of dollars as a toffee so that they don’t hand over the bombs to the Taliban and others to the target US. We come after China because of their huge economic interest; forget human rights, Tibet etc.”
“India isn’t even protesting why the US didn’t share the information on Headley. They will say he was a triple or quadruple agent and they will use him to their advantage. Thanks to our bureaucratic bungling we are not sure if we have his visa papers. S.M. Krishna, Shashi Tharoor and MEA spokesman say different things on different days on the same subject!”
“It’s pathetic. Maharashtra Government did the same thing with protective tunic of Hemant Karkare feeding contradicting bits of information to the media.”
“This is an expertise that is developed over the years. Reject the charge outright and gradually admit it step by step.”
After we had coffee, I asked him who will become the next CM as one hears the BJP government might fall any minute.
The APE said, “That’s a long story. We will keep it for the next time as so many are aiming for the position. We have to find a process of elimination before we zero in on one,” as we walked out.
Girish Kasaravalli, winner of four national film awards—third only to Satyajit Ray (6) and Buddhadeb Dasgupta (5)—and director of Gulabi Talkies which won Umashree a national award for best actress this year, in the latest issue of India Today:
“This year the south has swept the awards which is why the National Awards have been largely ignored by the national media. There is an ‘our cinema’ and ‘their cinema’ as far as Bollywood is concerned.”
North vs South, desi vs videsi, Bombay vs Delhi, English vs bhasha, urban vs rural, Carnatic vs Hindustani, Bollywood vs every other wood… to all the usual debates, you can add another: our clothes vs theirs.
In Dharwad, students of the Sri Satya Sai institute of home sciences wear Ilkal sarees en masse while members of Ladies Circle International take part in a friendship walk in Bangalore on Thursday.
Photographs: Karnataka Photo News
Bollywood has changed the way we dress, speak, eat, drink, love, marry, copulate, celebrate, mourn, sing, dance and die. It also seems to have changed the way we buy indigenous air systems.
Link via Sudheendra Murlidhara
“Had our film-makers followed the Bengali format instead of the Bollywood one, Indian cinema would have attained a different status in world cinema…. Forget about the opportunity to view Iranian, Australian, French or Swedish films. In India, people of one State are unaware of the happenings in the film industry in the neighbouring States. They refuse to look beyond the format of Hindi cinema”
Photograph: Karnataka Photo News
Read the full story: Film societies will sharpen sensibilities of movie goers
Also read: Do only Bollywood beauties possess glamour?
ALOK PRASANNA writes from Bangalore: I watched Om Shanti Om (OSO) over the weekend, with my parents. It was a nice “family movie” in the sense that my dad and mom got all the jokes in the first-half and I got all the jokes in the second-half.
Two halves make one, right? Plus, it is Bollywood making fun of Bollywood. How can that not be funny, right?
For a start, most of the jokes are of the MTV standard, and they probably used the same lookalikes as well. Anyone who has watched television in the last decade will not find anything new. I wouldn’t have minded that either, but for the underlying sinister theme of this movie.
This movie is entirely and totally about Bollywood. Ignore the sham of a storyline which is a poorly assembled montage of other Bollywood movies and Shakespeare’s Hamlet. There’s not much of a story to justify the two-and-a-half hour long run time, so dear old Farah Khan decides to pad the movie with “in-jokes” about Bollywood and really, really long songs, also about Bollywood.
Unfortunately, all the “jokes” are all very “vegetarian” (Shah Rukh Khan isn’t even allowed to say “Fuck!”) and ultimately Farah Khan wants you to believe that Bollywood is really a big happy family(literally!) with a few bad eggs that poor set construction will take care of.
I mean these are really horrible sets that catch fire for little reason, fall to pieces at the slightest touch and generally come with very, very bad wiring and plumbing. If the ‘story’ didn’t demand that this be attributed to a “ghost” (Rationalist Societies take note), it would have made a very compelling “Safety On The Workplace” video.
That, of course, does not take away from the insidious nature of the movie’s underlying theme. What Farah Khan seems to be telling us is this:
# Nothing bad ever happens to anybody in Bollywood (apart from losing the Filmfare awards)
# If anything bad happens, it is because of a single rotten egg (who is promptly dispatched to “America” or killed, depending on the soundness of set construction)
# All your dreams come true in Bollywood and everybody is happy (without having had to consume narcotropic and/or psychotropic substances first)
Let’s take this theme apart carefully, shall we?
Anybody who has not been in a coma for the last 20 years will have some knowledge of the following that’s been happening in Bollywood, not necessarily in the same order:
a) Mafia links
b) Substance abuse (alcohol, drugs, you-name-it, you-have-it)
c) Marital infidelity
d) Exploitation of young women
This list is not exhaustive, and I’m sure there are others who can add to this, but Farah Khan, with all the intimate knowledge of a total insider in Bollywood decides to devote exactly 0 minutes dealing with any of these.
It’s not as if no one has dealt with these issues in a movie. The King of Bollywood, Bollywood Calling, Page 3 and even Mahesh Bhatt’s Woh Lamhe deal with these issues to some extent, taking well aimed pot shots at the system and its players.
It’s not for lack of material. Anyone with half a brain could have taken stinging pot shots at Amitabh Bachchan and Mithun Chakraborty (and of late, SRK also) acting with girls less than half their age. Or how Dharmendra dumped his wife for Hema Malini, or Salman Khan’s uncontrollably dangerous behaviour, or Fardeen’s mysterious white powder, or the infamous Shakti Kapoor casting couch… The material is endless.
Not for Farah Khan though. As far as these are concerned, they happen in big bad Hollywood. All of one actor is shown smoking, which brings me to my next point.
The villain of the piece, played by Arjun Rampal (who despite the time-frame of the movie does not get a single wrinkle, unlike Shah Rukh Khan who just can’t get rid of his wrinkles no matter his age) is a stereotypical baddy who sleeps with the starlets, smokes a lot, puts career over love, kills people for movies, etc.
We are supposed to believe that he is the one bad egg of the lot, that he is the exception and not part of the system itself. If this movie had anything to do with government or a corporation, it would have been dismissed as pure propaganda. The only other time we see an alcohol problem mentioned, it is shown as a feature of “junior artistes”; which brings me to my next part.
It is not bad enough that she lets the “Stars” off with fairly mild pokes (more like a nudge and a wink) at their behaviour, but Farah Khan chooses to be brutal when it comes to “junior artistes”. There’s another thing about this term. In most other fields, seniority depends on the experience on has had in field. In Bollywood, a 40-year-old with 100 movies can be a “junior artiste”, while Ranbir Raj Kapoor (who ironically enough, is being played by Shah Rukh Khan in the second half) is a “senior artiste” in his first movie?
The picture we get is that all “junior artistes” are desperate, melodramatic hams who are stupid and believing. The most disgusting scene in the movie is the audition. It also beautifully highlights the venomous nature of Bollywood.
Women who can act a bit are rejected totally in favour of a really hot, talentless model. Yet, we are supposed to point and laugh at those women who get cruelly rejected and feel all excited by this spoilt brat who just came to ogle at Shah Rukh Khan, sorry Om Kapoor.
Bad enough that these women, whose very livelihood depends on a small role somewhere, get treated like shit by the people in the movie, but we are also supposed to laugh at their stupidity in believing that they can be “stars”.
Hang on a minute. Isn’t that supposed to be what Bollywood is about? Isn’t it about building this dream that anyone can make it big in Bollywood, can have the glamour, glitz and gals/guys( three Gs of Bollywood) if they are talented enough?
We know otherwise. This deceitful aspect of Bollywood, which could have been a great target for subversive humour in this movie, is neatly glossed over. To add injury to the insult (yes you read it right), it is also done with a smug sense of superiority.
What Farah Khan is in fact telling us in this movie is that the only way to do well in Bollywood is to be born to a Bollywood star or be really, really close friends with one (obviously there are exceptions, but that only proves the rule). If not, you can content yourself with being a “junior artiste” for the rest of your life.
Goofy, wimpy, “Junior artiste” Om Prakash Makhiija watches helplessly and gets killed while trying to save a starlet, but Om Kapoor, son of the great Rajesh Kapoor (oh wow, how subtle), can act, sing, dance, direct and produce a movie, while summoning a ghost, without breaking a sweat across his finely chiselled abs.
After I watched the movie, and wrote this piece, I thought I was missing something. I went back and read all the reviews in major newspapers and websites. Reviewers everywhere seem so caught up with the half-assed “in-jokes” and mindless trivia tossing in this movie that they seem willing to ignore the total lack of a storyline. Nobody even seems to have any problems with the utterly fake Bollywood presented as “real” in this movie.
It is as if someone made a movie about an engineering college where no one has to study, no one has exams, no one gripes about marks, and no one worries about recruitment, and then called it a “humorous look at college life”!
While it was probably too much to expect a withering satire on Bollywood by Bollywood, this grotesque, propaganda spewing pile of filth was also totally unexpected to say the least. Farah Khan expects us to believe that she is actually laughing with us at them, when in fact she is laughing at us, with them.
CNN-IBN had a poll out recently questioning whether we Indians have a sense of humour or not because Manoj Kumar took offence to his depiction in the movie. If OSO is “humour”, I think we can all afford to take offence.