Categories
Incidents Thought and Reason

Satyameva Jayate or SMS Jayate?

Picture this scene – A picture-perfect dutiful daughter-in-law decked in all her finery, casting pensive looks, while trying to outwit her wicked mother-in-law and bhabi-sa’s plots to entangle her in controversy. Add to it a jilted lover, a current husband (usually categorically abusive or passive and lovey-dovey!) and a motley collection of uncles/aunties, not to forget the endless fights and tears – Voila! You have an Indian television soap that is bound to rake in TRPs and some moolah for the next couple of years.

Now what hits Indian television with a breath of fresh air, nay, a powerful gust of wind is Aamir Khan‘s new programme ‘Satyameva Jayate‘ (meaning ‘Truth alone triumphs’). I don’t remember being ‘hooked onto’ television in a really long time. The last programme I watched religiously was ‘Hum Paanch‘! So one can imagine what a huge TV-serial-fan I am.

However, after hearing rave reviews on Facebook about ‘Satyameva Jayate’ and reading this particularly intriguing post by Raamesh, curiosity got the better of me, and I tuned into good ol’ Youtube to catch the first episode, that talked about female foeticide.

First of all, let’s give credit where it is due. Aamir and team have done a great job of

* Researching the topic on hand, gathering verified statistics about the gravity of the problem, and highlighting facts that hit you in the gut! For example, the fact that in some parts of India where female foeticide/infanticide has resulted in a very low sex ratio, women are being ‘bought’ to be wives and are being ‘shared’ and treated like a commodity by the men in the family!

* Getting real-life witnesses on board to come and share their experiences. Like Harish Iyer for example (who also featured in the very impactful and gut-wrenching CSA Campaign last year) who shared his painful past about child-abuse.

* And quite literally, doing a pious job of ‘trying’ to spread awareness about topics that are rarely discussed and often swept under the carpet. Yes, we are all quite aware of these issues (like female foeticide and child sexual abuse), but it is not a topic of everyday conversation. Neither do we take any aggressive action against it!

Edited to add: Take a look at this article that talks about the national child helpline being flooded with calls seeking help against abuse!

Kudos to the Satyameva Jayate team! I would any day have this on my TV, as compared to the barage of nonsense in the form of ‘family soaps’!

But what I found rather unsatisfactory about the programme was the ‘action items’.

The first two episodes have followed identical patterns. Aamir writes a petition to the government, Invites people to send SMSes to support the cause (proceeds go to charity), he solicits charitable contributions (again, this is matched by a big corporate, who ultimately get more publicity through the show!) And ofcourse, leaves us with an impactful dialogue about ‘change has to begin with YOU this MOMENT!’ 

I think this is a great start. But having said that, doesn’t this seem too lame and Bollywood-ish?

For instance, will the written petitions TRULY impact government policy? If yes, then Aamir and team, please – take a bow!

But if not, then it becomes a farcical piling on people’s collective emotions (more of guilt than of anything else!) and meagre monetary contribution that could easily be achieved from alternate means! For example, the Rs.3 crore that Aamir is rumoured to be charging per episode! Or perhaps a portion of the money that Reliance has pumped into IPL!!

The show makes it very easy for people to ‘contribute’ by sending an SMS. ‘Female foeticide’ / ‘child abuse’ –  no problem! One little SMS saying ‘YES’, and we have done our bit! We are also rid of guilt! Guilt of what crime??! Nobody knows. 🙄 Simply send that SMS and get back to party-ing!

I’m intrigued by this new wave of ‘SMS-Charity’ culture. To be fair, it is ‘some’ contribution to society in place of ‘nothing’. Not too bad, actually. But Imho, a barrage of SMSes may not successfully bring about social change! I think we need more solid action!

Also, it will be very interesting to find out if the money raised after each show is MEASURABLE?

On another note, I have no clue why Sri Devi gets a ‘standing ovation’ from the audience???!!! She is an actress, for God’s sake! Not a humanitarian!!! If anybody deserves a standing ovation, it is the ‘victims’ who dare to come out in the open and speak about their very painful experiences!!!

Ok, I am in technically no position to criticise the show. I haven’t sent that SMS saying ‘YES’ yet. And neither have I donated any money online.

But tell you what? These are my 2 cents on how one could make this show more impactful.

1) Get those Criminals!

Don’t interview only the victims. Get hold of the perpetrators of the crime! Instead of asking the victim to describe the abuse/his emotions, focus on the abuser instead. If he refuses to appear on the show, try to catch him in a separate sting operation. And no discreet black masks for the abusers, please! Question and shame him in front of the country, so that neither he nor abusers like him continue this horrendous crime of child abuse! Talk to convicted criminals and show what sort of punishment is meted out for such crimes. Instil Fear (in the minds of potential criminals) and Hope (in the minds of victims/their families). And if the punishment isn’t sufficient, then interview the Judge who issued the ruling and find out WHY he/she did not think such gross crimes deserved more severe punishment. In short, SHAME the criminals, NOT the victims.

I have written about this in my earlier post on Aruna Shanbaug. We (media and masses) insist on shaming the victims and making their life hell, instead of grabbing the criminals and ensuring they don’t repeat their crime!

Some really strong action like this would take the show from a lame-Bollywood-entertainer to serious investigative journalism and an agent of social change!

2) Bollywood-crazy country!

We are a cricket and Bollywood-crazy nation, and we have no qualms about it! I’m sure Sri Devi increases TRPs of the show, and the organizers must need it, so the show makes complete business sense (in addition to social sense!) But for heaven’s sake, rope in some useful people on the show – police, politicians, judiciary .. invite a top Judge for example. Someone who is in a position to actually influence change in the country! Or if inviting a Bollywood celebrity, atleast get him/her to contribute say, a portion of the crores of rupees from his/her next film, to the same charity that the show is patronising!

3) Charity begins at Home!

Sending one little SMS and raising money for charity is quite creative. But honestly, charity begins at home. I would rather have Aamir try to influence the minds of the immediate audience, so they commit to something small but local, for example, sponsoring private education of their maid’s child! Or perhaps, teaching their servant-maid to read/write English. You see, these are the little things that will help our country grow.

4) Replace lifeless writ petitions with real-life commitments!

Instead of merely writing a petition to the Government, invite senior politicians to the show and hand over the petition in front of the country. In short, try to get any form of commitment in front of the public eye! It may or may not manifest in public policy change. But hey! Its worth a shot!

So people, enough of my criticism and rant. I honestly feel that the show is a great initiative, and at the risk of sounding repetitive, I would any day have this show on my TV.

But having said that, please feel free to share – what YOU would do, if YOU were producing ‘Satyameva Jayate’?

Categories
Friday Frolic Incidents Thought and Reason

Very Very Kolaveri!

There are currently two kinds of Indians. Those who have heard ‘Kolaveri’ and those who haven’t. Which category do you belong to?

I had face-un-booked myself last week but when I couldn’t abstain any more, I jumped right back into my account, and came across a link shared by a couple of blogger friends (Deeps and Vampire Brat, for instance). The title was ‘kolaveri’ and I opened it with very low expectations, as I am not that big a fan of Dhanush. But guess what? We have been listening to this very colloquial, crazy, silly song (in loop!!) for the last three days, with even my 5-year old singing it! I definitely did not see that coming!

First, click here to view the song on Youtube.

Second, tell me what you thought of it?

A small section of audience have expressed undisguised disgust at the song – for its poor lyrics, colloquial language, etc. and simply don’t understand what the hype is about!

Okay, I’m not ashamed to say I loved ‘Kolaveri’! It is perhaps even one of the worst songs ever, but it certainly is the most played song on my phone! It gets dangerous at times, though. Like yesterday, I was on the phone with my son’s school teacher, and there was this line ‘Cow-u cow-u … holy cow-u’ blasting away in the background. Ahem.. I might need to look for a new school soon. But, I digress (actually I don’t, but I like using that term ;-)). (Okay okay, I stole that line from Pixie’s post BUT to be fair, I did take her permission, mind it ;-))

Courtesy: Wiki

But hey!! What makes a song/film a hit? I saw a Hindi film called ‘Dhobi Ghat’ the other day, and loved it. It was serious, sensible and left an impression (not to mention stellar performances by Aamir Khan, Monica Dogra and cute Prateik Babbar). Now Ra One, in comparison made absolutely no sense whatsoever! However, as you might have rightly guessed, while Dhobi Ghat was a below-average-box-office-hit, Ra One despite not being critically acclaimed, was supposedly a ‘hit’ in India and a ‘superhit’ overseas (so sayeth the great Wiki!)

So what makes something like ‘Kolaveri’ a global rage? The video has apparently grossed 3 million views on Youtube, and more than 8 million shares on FB!

Well, to me, it is very simply, what I can connect with!

Kolaveri is a song that EVEN I can sing! Take any aspect of it.. words/tune/lyrics.. it is all so colloquial that even a layman can understand every nuance of the song and totally identify with it. To give a background, this is supposedly a light-hearted song sung by a young boy who has been jilted in love. Ah! What better reach to an audience than an average loser being dumped by a hot (and fair-skinned!) girl! The lyrics are very simple .. one need not break his/her head to understand the meaning of ‘white-skinu-girl, girl heartu-black.. eyes-u eyes-u meetu meetu, my future darku’! As for the tune, I loved it. The background score is fresh, and very cleverly infuses a trace of folk music into a trendy beat, making it a peppy number. Add to it an immensely talented bunch of young stars (Dhanush, Aishwarya Rajnikanth and Shruthi Hassan) that are evidently enjoying the foot-tapping number even during the recording, and one finds it hard to not like this song!!

(Sorry, Count Bratula, I had to choose that meanie picture of your Shruti 😉 Buhahahaha :mrgreen: :lol:)

More importantly, the world-wide success of this song (the latest video on FB is a group of Chinese dancers choreographing a dance to Kolaveri) has made me realise one thing. While perfection is great, being ‘real’ is far more attractive. Something that is technically perfect and outstanding, may not really be something I can relate to. For example, I simply do not enjoy authors who use ‘big words’. Blame it on my limited vocabulary, but I’d rather go for something simple, that I can enjoy.

Sushil Kumar wins KBC, courtesy: Rediff news

I suppose this is the reason why authors like Chetan Bhagat are so popular! (Allow me to hastily clarify that I am NOT a fan of his!!). I now understand why, Bhagat, despite being far from the best writer around, has certain mass appeal. At a tangent, another example would be the runaway hit programme Kaun Banega Crorepathi. The programme is not merely about ‘knowledge’ or ‘trivia’ but about the fact that an ORDINARY man or woman, like you or me, actually stands a chance at something so magnificent. It is also why chick-lit (I truly find the term demeaning) is extremely popular, despite scoring low on the literary count.

One could argue that art that is too colloquial actually lowers standards. That is true to a certain extent. But don’t our standards change as we evolve as a society itself? Modern art, chick-lit, colloquial songs like DK Bose and Kolaveri for example… these too, are a part of our culture now. While at one time, classical dance forms was what India was famous for, today Bollywood dance is a dance form by itself, and has many takers around the world!

These new, simplified forms of art, may or may not be the best. They may not be perfect. However, they are accessible to you and me.

The success of art, therefore is based on the ability of viewers to connect with it. So as times change, our standards change to an extent too.

As I see it, ‘perfection’ itself is over-rated. Anything less than perfect, is not so bad after all. On the other hand, it might even be more interesting!

Kolaveri, like many other things, is far from being perfect. And therein exactly, lies its appeal!

So, my dear soup-u – boys-u and girls-u, now-u you tell-u me, ‘why this kolaveri?’

(Cross-posted on www dot the-nri dot com)
Categories
Humour Incidents MommySpeak Movie Review

An afternoon with Giri

An afternoon with Handsome Giri, is what this title should actually read.

Yeah, now do not get ideas. ‘Giri-giri Peck’ – the dashing Gregory Peck (as my lovely little sister adorably named him once upon a time, when we – my sister and I – were both children).

Now, this week has been pretty busy, and with school re-opening today, I decided at noon (yesterday, that is) to ‘enjoy’ what was technically the last ‘holiday‘ for the term, by spending some quality ‘me time’.

Lucky for me, this is what we stumbled upon. And I say ‘we‘ because the brat refused to nap, and insisted on watching the movie with me, sitting ‘quietly’ on the other sofa!

As the curtains unfolded, I grabbed a mug of hot chocolate (Sigh! In reality, all I had was a plastic throw-away cup with some plain old water!), and curled up on the sofa. To watch the movie I’d last seen about two decades ago 🙂 with my mum (who had this huge crush on Giri-giri, which – at that time – I found utterly silly!)

Scene 1 – Dainty Audrey Hepburn (I’m sorry I only managed to find this video from Youtube and didn’t get the direct scene from the movie)

As I watch the movie unfolding, grinning stupidly, I am interrupted by this…

Lovely Audrey

‘Is she a Princess?’

I am amused by the brat’s interest. I reply ‘Yes darling’ with a huge smile. Yay! My son and I can actually enjoy a movie together!

‘Why is she removing her shoes? Is she naughty?’

I grin again. My sweet little funny, silly boy.

Wicked Witch??!!!

‘No, she isn’t naughty, her feet are aching, so she wants to take off her shoe for a few minutes’.. I venture to explain.

‘Is she trapped in a palace? Is there a wicked witch? Is that woman there the witch?’

I turn my head away from the TV, squint at the brat, just to check ….

Nah! Can’t be. He’s hasn’t even turned four. He can’t possibly… he can’t actually be doing this on purpose… !

‘No, there is no witch, now let’s keep QUIET and watch the movie’, I mutter.

A few seconds of golden silence. The spell is broken by this:

‘Why is she crying? Why? Why?’

‘Because SHE WANTS TO RUN AWAY from the palace… ‘ I say rather loudly, emphasising the ‘RUN AWAY’.

An innocent: ‘Why?’

‘Because she wants to enjoy life irresponsibly – like you – but cannot’ – I say, scathingly.

A few sober seconds. He watches TV. I watch him.

Next, the scene where Audrey Hepburn actually manages to run away from the palace.

The barrage of questions resumes. Reinforced.

‘Has she run away now?’

I refuse to answer.

Please speak! Has she run away?’

I give a cursory nod.

My eyes are now glowering, smouldering.. whatever.. at the little nuisance.

THE GLOWERING LOOK

Now, THIS look is going to keep him quiet. If this doesn’t, I swear I will change my name.. to.. to.. Oh sod it! Let’s just see if he can shut up now!

My brat looks uncertain for a moment. Then, he replies – BOTH to the nod AND the look, by a simple (and unflinching) – ‘Wwwwwwhyyyyyyy?’

And I’m thinking WTFFFFFFFFFFFFF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! 🙄 😦

The brat didn’t let me reach even this scene… that has been made, and re-made without shame, into every Indian language available.

So, guess what I very wisely did – turned the TV off, and took the brat outside instead!

Sigh! So much for an ‘interesting’ afternoon with a handsome hunk!!

I leave you to watch this: (well, if your children/grandchildren/neighbour’s children.. ANY children allow you to watch!)

Finito! The End!