Jan 292007

It rocked. And it rolled. And, as my mother pointed out, the highest density of dimples that any show in the world can ever claim. Man, the smiles and the dimples were out full force – and if nothing else, I will watch the show to see them, feel good about the world and switch off 🙂 The show – Full of energy. Wit. Charm. A departure from the court culture – and it own overt humility and annoying politeness (get to the point, I wanted to scream ) – to a more modern assertive India, that is to the point, funny and not afraid of taking potshots at sacred cows. From the moment SRK went hip hop with ‘Kar le kar le tu ek sawaal’ dancing out one of the highest energy numbers I have seen on screen for a long time, till the end – he was a hit. I loved his opening bit about the use of shudh Hindi. You almost expected him to say at the end of the babel – excuse me please, my name is anthony gonsalves!! I like his style of questioning – a lot more informal, a lot less end of the world in its demeanor. And I liked his conversations with the contestants – light, friendly and very "hum hai na". If talking like Bachchan was like talking to God (as in the Judeo Christian Islamic mythology) then talking to SRK was like talking to someone from the Greek or the Roman pantheon. Possibly a Pan or even a Cupid. Powerful. Yet accessible. Just a guy from ‘our’ neighbourhood, who has made it big – and hasn’t lost his ability to be ‘one’ of us!. What didn’t i like – I didn’t like the over familiarity. Shoulder massages for contestants is a definitely an ugh point. Mein gale lagna chahta hoon made me cringe. Please, please look at something else. The Aap replaced by a Tum jarred a bit. I kind of like Freeze kiya jaaye. And the hi5’s definitely add to the energy. My parents are hooked. Dad sees the show and smiles. Mom gushes. I look goofy. I guess that he works. The only issue is format weariness. But I guess, not much can be done about that!

Jan 182007

Anyone who participates in a show like [tag]Big Brother[/tag] or [tag]Survivor[/tag] knows that it is not a civilized tea party. It is visceral, viscious and violent (emotionally). The show is about being ‘ugly’ and letting it all hang out. Can you imagine how boring it would be if 13 people – whom you don’t know and couldn’t care a f*** about, spent 3 months being nice to each other?

So, why the furore about perceived racism towards [tag]Shilpa Shetty[/tag]. What do you expect on a show like that? I would think that the purpose of putting her in the house was to get that kind of a reaction. And, i am sure that, protests not withstanding, the ratings have picked up. Which I guess, is the rationaleof the show.

I am actually amused by a lot of the outrage that the show is generating in India. Let’s say that on a similar show in India, had a celebrity with a pronounced tamil accent (madrasi accent to be precise) – do you think that team mates will not make fun of the madrasi’s accent or call them madrasi. So why is there wall to wall coverage and acres of rainforest destroyed for someone calling Shilpa an Indian and making fun of her accent. Is there no other news in the country.

Today NDTV’s main story was about this issue. Suddenly the news anchor at the studio cut to Priyaranjan Das Munshi’s press conference. The I & B minister covered 3 points a) was the ‘banning’ of AXN b) was the Gandhian ‘forgivenss’ that was granted to CNN-IBN & Sahara News over the pole dancing video and c) was a ‘private citizen’ entered into contract with ‘private company’ and she should depose at the Indian High Commission at the earliest’ comment on the actor.

NDTV – which went hammer and tongs at the broadcast bill on the grounds that it curtailed freedom of expression, ignored the first two statements (the minister wants to ban a channel and a news channel does not even comment on it – what kind of idiots do they get in the editorial team) and jumped straight to the third.

Creating a controversy out of nothing may be a good tactic in attracting short term TVR’s or minor spikes in circulation. I am not sure that it is a good long term strategy. Utlimately in a world where most news is free, am I – the consumer – really going to pay money to buy news that is not really credible? Also read Great Bong’s piece on the same -I can actually visualize such a report on the channels.

Jan 172007

[tag]Gordon Brown[/tag], who is currently visiting India, should seriously contemplate hiring [tag]Shilpa Shetty[/tag]’s publicist. An actress actor, who really hasn’t been doing too much work of late – is suddenly catapulted into international limelight! Attracting overwhelming public sympathy; blogs by luminaries no less than Germaine Greer (who displays apalling ignorance in labelling Shilpa Shetty a Tamillian – we all know that Shetty’s aren’t Tamil, don’t we?) and Hari Kunzru ; questions in two parliaments; a formal statement by the I&B minister; endless footage on TV channels, reams of rainforest on analysis; Shilp Shetty has become St.Shilpa of "Celebrity Big Brother" Imagine what a politician with an image no one can remember do with a publicist like that? !

Jan 172007

January Second, at about 5 a.m. on a cold desert’s winter morning, we drove down from [tag]Jaipur [/tag]to Pushkar. It was my unlce’s 7th death anniversary, and my aunt wanted to offer prayers for his soul. The predominant colours along the journey were earths, a smattering of green and blues. Very few other colours in sight. bleak-earth-and-blue-skies1.jpg The colours were stark, yet hypnotizingly beautiful. Everything in Pushkar – from the ‘holy’ cow to the sadhu (mendicant), the pujari’s (priests) to the camels, from the street singers to the lanurs – everyone and everything seems to be geared towards the pilgrim tourist. one-man-and-his-calf.jpg one man and his calf – a sadhu begging for alms on the streets of Pushkar – oops , trading blessings for cash. pushkar-the-holy-cow.jpg The holy cow on the steps of the temple – looking beatifically at the pilgrims who side step her to walk in. food-seller1.jpg some great street food in Pushkar. Hot fried stuff on a cold winter’s morning- just what the doctor didn’t order ! Our guide told us that since this was a holy town, there could be no petrol pump here and people had to drive down to Ajmer to fill petrol. And Ajmer is not too far away. the-car-park.jpg The car park where cycles, sumos, buses and camels jostle together for space. Pushkar is a visual treat – and if you are spiritual it is a great place to go to find solace. Even those who get after you in other temple towns, tend to leave you alone to your thoughts. I think that i would like to go back one day to Pushkar the-ghats.jpg Pushkar Lake -where the bereaved, the penitent and the faithful ask for mukti (or liberation) from the cycle of birth and death.

The pious Pushkar Lake, believed to have been created by the falling of lotus from the hand of Lord Brahma. It is considered to be as old as the creation. The lake is considered as one of the most sacred spots, and believed that one dip in the waters of lake on Kartika Poornima is equivalent to performing yagnas for several hundred years.

The Worshipper A person meditating by the banks of the Pushkar Lake. devotees.jpg Devotees at the Brahma temple, Pushkar While [tag]Rajasthan[/tag] tourism claims that this is the only Brahma temple in the world, I have been to another in the southern temple town of [tag]Kumbakonnam[/tag]. But the fact does remain that Brahma – the creator – is not really worshipped in the country. Pushkar Ghats With a final look at the ghats, we drove off back to Jaipur to catch the [tag]Heritage on Wheels[/tag] train journey. Luxury at its best.