Archive for September, 2008

At first glimpse, the title of this post may seem mystifying but once you relate it to what I mean, it would become relevant. So let me tell you what it’s all about.

O’s means two things beginning with the letter ‘O’ that India would love to have in its kitty. Any guesses? Still perplexed! Okay, let me give u another clue. One relates to sports and the other to cinema. Got it? If still not, I am not going to give another clue. Rather, I will try to make it more interesting. Serious guessers can stop reading here and write their answers in the comment box and those who don’t want to tickle their brain anymore may read on!

In recent times, most of we Indians were/are focused on achieving these two O’s, not for personal satisfaction but as a nation’s achievement. One we have already got after nearly 30 years and that’s what the first ‘O’ refers to – Olympic Gold. Well done Abhinav! You made us proud! Happiness flowed from every Indian’s eyes on seeing the tricolor hoisted and hearing the national anthem in the background as Abhinav Bindra was crowned India’s King at Beijing. He showed the way and now it’s up to the rest to follow.

By now, many of you must have guessed what the second ‘O’ is all about. If not, ask Aamir Khan and Darsheel Safari. They have just started their journey to bring that elusive ‘O’ to India after Taare Zameen Par is declared India’s entry to the ‘O’scars.

Gosh! That was easy!

 

If ever there was an obvious choice for India’s nomination in Oscars, it’s this year. No points for guessing! It’s Tare Zameen Par. The selection panel could not have an easier task on hand. TZP is not only the most acclaimed Indian films of recent times, it’s the only one that can stand the cut-throat competition Oscars offer.

The last incidence when an Indian entry withstood until the award function was Lagaan. So is it really a coincidence or that we have only one star who does meaningful cinema that finds favor in Oscars? The last couple of entries – Paheli and Eklavya – didn’t hold their ground when compared with the quality of films surrounding them during their shot at Oscar glory.

So does that mean we have the strongest chance this year or will it again be a case of so near and yet so far? Aamir – as we all know – knows how to promote, like he did with Lagaan.  He won’t leave any stone unturned to bring home the trophy. Even the thought pumps up the adrenaline! So just cross your fingers and hope for the best.  

All the best Aamir!

 

Switch on a movie channel, and more often than not, you will come across one or the other movie star crying, “Please watch this movie on the big screen, a lot of effort has gone into it.”

 

Effort is fine but watching at the cinema – hang on folks – it costs big time these days. A middle class person and the ones below that have started giving it a second thought and it doesn’t surprise me.

 

With multiplexes the in-thing these days, a big chunk of most-awaited films falls into their lap and one has to shell out anywhere between Rs 120 to 150 to put their eyes on the silver screen. No one is spared in this money matter, neither the fans nor the stars.

 

What I think is that it promotes piracy, which is the worst thing to come out of it. One can watch the latest of movies from the comfort of their home paying Rs 20 to 50 and the mounting prices at the ticket counters tempt people to do it this way.

 

Talking about reasons, there is another trend that has almost found its feet. Evidently, films like Monsoon wedding, Mr. and Mrs. Iyer, Teen Deewarein and the more recent alike ones – which are a mixture of an art movie and a masala movie – get pasted only on the multiplexes. You will hardly find movies of this category on a single-screen cinema.

 

One has to question what is the reason behind it? I can’t find a strong one. The only reason that comes to mind is that such movies are for the classes and not the masses and the cinemas with only one screen cannot afford half-full or from their point of view half-empty seats. Fair call, but again, who suffers? Obviously, the audience, who are hesitant to watch such good movies where they should be watched – on the big screen.

 

Having said and experienced it all, I have no doubt whatsoever in my mind that someone has to come up and recognize this fact; after all cinema is synonymous to entertainment.

Since the inception of one-day cricket, numerous changes have been made, starting from 50 overs a side to fielding restrictions in the power-play overs, and more recently the roller-coaster 20-20. Such changes, accompanied by more limited-over games than test matches, have demanded a higher degree of fitness level of players and exceptional skills in at least two of the three areas of the game – batting, bowling and fielding.

 

The inability to find such players is a problem which has plagued Indian cricket for a long time. This has resulted in a weak lower order – better known as the ‘tail’ – which more often than not fails to deliver.

 

This was more evident and highlighted in the years when Rahul Dravid was asked to keep wickets to accommodate an extra batsman. No doubt the move was successful but it clearly reflects the captain’s declining faith in the tail. Players like Zaheer Khan, Harbhajan Singh, Anil Kumble, R P Singh, and Munaf Patel can hardly wield the willow, prompting the move of strengthening the middle order.

 

One main reason behind the success of invincible Australians is that they bat deep. Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, and Stuart Clark can all perform with the bat in tight situations and they proved it many a times during the recent games.

 

We can recall many matches where the Indian team either tied the match or lost it, when they could have won it – the famous example being of the tied Chennai Test in 1986- albeit it was long back.

 

The Indian team at present is surely on a high, performing admirably Down Under. But the difference between them and Australia was best highlighted during the World Cup 2003, where the only two matches that they lost were to the Australians.

 

With heaps of talent in a cricket-mad country like India, one wonders if there is any dearth of such multi-faceted players. There certainly has been the rise of players like Yuvraj Singh, Mohammad Kaif, Suresh Raina, and Rohit Sharma; but we need players who can perform equally well with the bat and ball, just like Abdul Razaaq of Pakistan.

 

Such players give more options to the captain who can rely on them in pressure situations, either with the bat or ball. More importantly, the captain can rest assured that the ‘tail’ will wag and Indian cricket needs that to happen pretty soon.

“That was a splendid flick to the square leg boundary for a four,” says Harsha Bhogle and we too admire it at once and more so when the experts explain the fine points of that stroke.

 

The audio-visual impact takes over in the blink of an eye, and we are full of admiration for that player, but there is another mode of expressing the same situation, without which the feeling of satisfaction remains somewhat incomplete.

 

Have you ever imagined that why there remains a curiosity long after a match is over? Most of us have it but are not really sure why. It originates from the feeling that something is missing and finally comes to an end with the arrival of next day’s newspaper.

 

We find utmost pleasure and a sense of fulfillment as we go through the creative skills and the details provided by the reporter working infinitely in the press box of the ground where the match took place.

 

Unlike the commentators concentrating on a given situation in a match, a reporter has to keep record of everything that happened at each point in the match. He then prepares a comprehensive analytical report to send to his news agency.

 

Believe me, this is no child’s play and is a job that requires a lot of concentration and an eye to catch things that a common man cannot. Of course, this does not mean that a commentator’s job is leisurely but just that each has its own obligations and complications. 

From the perspective of a common man, I would like to conclude on the note that we cannot make compromise on either of those; non-telecast of a match will never be put up with and without the following day’s details in print, many questions may remain unanswered.

A famous saying goes like this, “Marriages are made in heaven.” I would like to alter it to synchronize with the present-day scenario – Marriages are made in heaven but publicised by the newsmen.

 

Exactly, this is what’s happening these days. The so-called responsible media has somehow been able to space out important news items to cater for insignificant reports such as celebrity marriages. The marriages of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s son, Laloo’s daughter, Rahul Dravid, Hrithik Roshan, and Karishma Kapoor are some of the recent examples. Does this qualify to be of concern to a common man? Of course, not.

 

The hype created by the media for such irrelevant news is unimaginable. The happenings at the marriage of Laloo’s daughter were of more interest to the pressmen then the danger of war looming at that time. The expenditure incurred on the marriage was ironical in the sense that the state of Bihar is where the largest number of people are below the poverty line. Some papers did comment on this irony but that was only after the marriage; during it, all were busy describing its details.

 

Hrithik Roshan and Rahul Dravid were the next victims. The newsmen kept preying and the bridegrooms kept running for cover until they surrendered to the perseverance of our resolute media.

 

None of the celebrity is spared when he/she ties the knot, nor was Karishma Kapoor, the celluloid queen of Indian cinema. Everything was covered by our wily journalists, right from the coming of Baraat to the Bidai ceremony. It seemed as if we were watching a national event.

 

Can you imagine yourself standing in front of the camera outside a place of marriage and commenting upon who’s coming and who’s not. Even the thought is nauseating. To make the matters worse, visualise yourself facing the camera on the edge of a pandal and saying, “the cuisine available will be Oriental, Chinese and Indian.” If even that is not enough, a question will be fired from the news center in your microphone, “What is Jackie Shroff wearing?” Give me a break Mr. Journalist.

 

Honestly speaking, a true celebrity will never like to be seen at such a highly publicised social event. The comparison can be made with the marriage of the daughter of former Chief Minister of Bihar, Karpoori Thakur. It was a simple marriage at his village. Simple to the extent that not even his cabinet colleagues were invited. The expenses were in thousands as compared to crores spent by Laloo Prasad Yadav and others.

 

This is not journalism. The sweat of the reporters is not to be wasted to cover such unworthy stories. The electronic media certainly has given new dimensions to journalism but it should never stray away from its basic purpose, i.e., ‘public service’.