And he’s back

Suresh Kalmadi

Sigh. Just when we thought the city was safe from the menace called Suresh Kalmadi, he’s free to prowl Pune again. What can you say? It had to happen. In a country with such lax anti-corruption laws, people like him were bound to be set free to continue their plunder.

And with civic elections around the corner in Pune, he will once again have a shot at power. Most distressing.

Surely, he must have been plotting for the elections sitting in Tihar. The only positive would be that he won’t have much chance to do publicity given that the code of conduct is now in force. Of course, he, like Ajit Pawar is above the law so let’s not rule it out totally! Never mind how upset some people may be!

Sadness looms…

How hard is it to entertain?

Tough question, I know. But as a viewer or consumer of entertainment, I have to say, it’s not that hard to entertain me. I don’t demand complicated stories or over-the-top, unbelievable settings. In fact, I want quite the opposite. Something I can relate to. Something I can believe. Something I can smile with or occasionally, feel sad with. Unfortunately, no Hindi TV channel can offer me this.

When I ask for the above, I know I’m in the minority. But this is a sizeable minority, I would like to believe. Pundits would have other opinions supported by floors of papers and polls and research. But hey, no one asked me. Or anyone I know! And all of us want something simple.

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Quick Reviews

Of late, much has been consumed in the form of books and movies. Here’s a quick look at which measured up and which didn’t:

Steve Jobs: The Exclusive Biography by Walter Isaacson

When the subject grants you complete access, the information will be insightful and thorough. And Isaacson does justice to a subject who perhaps lived four lives in one.

What comes across is the fact that Jobs was no saint. He wasn’t the best human being who lived. But he was honest in his work (if not his personal life) and a visionary to boot. Isaacson doesn’t idolize Jobs but does a great job of bringing out the human side to the man we have come to idolize.

The detail in the book is fascinating and if anything, it reads more as a thriller than a biography. At the time I was reading this, I had glanced through a couple of other books and there was a 5-hour marathon reading I went through of this book.

One-word review: unputdownable!

Hesher (film)

I normally wouldn’t condone violence. But towards the makers of this disaster, I would. I don’t know why I sat through this ‘coming of age’ film. No one comes of age. All that happened was I aged.

IMDB excerpt says:

A young boy has lost his mother and is losing touch with his father and the world around him. Then he meets Hesher who manages to make his life even more chaotic.

Oh my god. How misleading. Seriously, watch this movie if you enjoy the sound of nails on a blackboard. Or if you love to see paint dry.

Yes, I know that IMDB users have rated this 7.1/10. I’m in the 2.9 category! It’s definitely not appealed to my cultural sensibilities. It’s just f****d up.

It’s dirty, all right…

Vidya Balan and her cleavage steal the show. No doubts about it. Close second is Naseeruddin Shah’s hanging second chin (or is it the first?). Let’s just call it a jowl.

Now, Reshma is a village belle. She runs away on her wedding night to the big city. No problem. No accosting. No potential threats to her integrity. She finds herself housed with a local shopkeeper (Amma) who treats her almost like her daughter. And Reshma enjoys putting of the neighbours’ conjugal joys by making sounds of pleasure while eating what seems like Chivda.

She wants to be a film star (not actress, mind you, star). And so she queues up at the studios in Madras looking for any bit role. Offers the doorkeeper there ‘anything’ in return for entry into the studio. Gets money in return for nothing. Doesn’t spend it then, but eventually returns it. *facepalm*

She does make it into the studio, agrees to be whipped as part of the dance sequence and gets her first shot in front of the camera. Mind you, for an inexperienced girl, there’s no nerves, no jitters, no inexperience… just raunchy moves that turn everyone on!

Everyone, that is, except the real director who coincidentally on that day wasn’t shooting. He chides his assistants and threatens to burn the film. Until the producer rules that he will re-release the film in smaller centres with the song Reshma did.

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Fighting FOR Kapil Sibal

Dear Mr Sibal,

Further to my previous post lauding your efforts, I now present proof to the naysayers about why you are right. It is absolutely essential we clamp down on these social networks that are increasingly getting to be a nuisance.

What right does any citizen have to clean up their city? Have they spoken to Mr Sibal for his approval yet? It is ridiculous to think that the Almighty, Mr Sibal, would not be notified of such deeds:

The Ugly Indians seem to be Bangalore’s answer to the Anna movement. But rather than pointing out all that is wrong with the system, the low-key group members are going about, simply showing how things can be righted. There is no finger-pointing, period. Instead of cribbing about the filth and blaming the lower-rung civil staff, the Ugly Indian has been busy “Spotfixing” in Bangalore. Self-funded volunteers who aggregate through the group’s website, email and Facebook page, descend on a particularly neglected (read, filthy) corner of the city where they each proceed to plough in and mend the spot.

And then, of course, there are people like @thecomicproject to whom nothing is sacred. It’s sacrilegious to even think of doing such things as below. This fellow, sir, Mr Sibal, deserves your wrath. A legal notice should suffice for now, though. (If you notice, sir, this comic fellow has a page on Facebook with over 1,200 followers. Imagine the havoc they could wreak after such provocation. Tsk.)

Sibalpad

There is plenty of other rubbish being said about your Legalness on the Internet. Please know that I, your most humble servant, is bringing all this to you. I insist that you punish these lost souls through so many legal cases in obscure jurisdictions that they won’t even have Internet access to crib. That’ll show them. Heh!

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Dear Kapil Sibal

I believe you would like to gag us on social networks. And I have no intention of criticizing you or getting on your bad side. After all, you are the almighty in power. Messing with you would only bring me grief. And who wants that, now? Eh?

So before I did anything stupid, I thought I’d check with you if I’m allowed to:

  • Comment on the government’s recent FDI plans. I think the government as a whole could be personified and therefore my comments about FDI could, by transitivity, be implied to be about an individual and get me into trouble. In you all-knowing legalese, please advise.
  • Comment on you recent stand about the proposed restrictions on social networks. After all, anything I say/write could be implied to be a direct comment on your almightiness. And I don’t, under any circumstances, want to incur your wrath, O Lordship.
  • Comment on cinema, media, advertising, etc. Although I work in the field of communication, I am no longer sure what would be deemed appropriate by your Big Brotherness and would not, like before, want to incur your wrath and force you to further clamp down post my insignificant rants.
  • Question Inquire with you about your thoughts for the protection of the individual on social media or through the media in general that is compelling you to gag the world so. Of course, I agree with your thoughts at all times for you are, of course, THE greatest legal mind in the country and have never uttered a word against anyone or ever been slanderous. Of course, being slanderous or libellous is not an option for a common man like myself for I do not possess your all-knowing legalese to defend myself. (Nor the money, but that’s besides the point here).

I request you to kindly enlighten me on the above. After all, I do see this as the future way we can publish our thoughts on public fora. You will need to approve all our thoughts.

I did have another point to laud your efforts, but please do not hesitate to chide me on my childishness if that is what the query seems like… Being in the public eye, the politician is subjected to criticism or ridicule across most democracies. They take it on the chin and the public feels like they have had their say. Of course, these democracies are run by Western idiots with no morals and whose public don’t need any saving. Thankfully we have you. After the scores of local moral police who have saved the country over the last few years, you sir, are a godsend to deliver us from the wallowing pit that is the social network. I must thank my luck to be alive in such free and revolutionary times.

May God (i.e., you) save India. Good luck, sir.

Publicly listed email ID?

WTF is that? I get a ton of spam daily. I painstakingly mark it SPAM or delete or unsubscribe. But then I got this with one such mail sent to me by pr@metaplume.com (wtf, again!):

This email with sent to you because you have a publically listed email address and having looked at information available about your interests, we decided you might be interested in our newsletter. If this is not the case, please excuse the interruption to your day and let us know that you would prefer not to receive our newsletter in the future.

I don’t think the above notice absolves them of their wrongdoing – SPAM! And what the hell is a publicly listed email ID? Is there a directory that’s publicly accessible? Can I see it?

And, yes, dear metaplume.com, I don’t want to say “Please unsubscribe me” in my unsubscribe mail (seriously, no one-click unsub?). I want to use much harsher language. Words starting with f and m and the likes you probably didn’t know exist. Because you made me rant.

I run a digital agency. We send mailers on behalf of clients and for ourselves. We painstakingly maintain a subscriber list and guard it with our lives. We’ve had offers where one client wanted to send to another’s list. We refuse. All subscribers on all our lists are opt-in. This choice is given to them at the time of registration. Or they can opt-in later.

In the above case, I don’t even know what metaplume.com is (I did subsequently check it out and looks like an SEO farm of articles). Sounds like a polluting company. So far, they’ve lived up to their name on the Internet. Not cool.

Book Review: Valley of Masks

Valley of Masks by Tarun J Tejpal Tarun J Tejpal, best known as the founder-editor of Tehelka weaves an intricate parallel world that separates ‘our’ current world with his fantasy one at a higher plane — physically and in other senses as well.

The Story

I almost gave up the book during the first chapter. That our protagonist took about 6 pages to brew a cuppa tea, to me, seemed ominous. I dreaded the pace at which the book would progress. Mind you, I’m not averse to the tomes or the slow moving books, but this, for some reason, set alarm bells ringing.

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