Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Golden Jackfruit Awards

Golden Kela Awards, the Indian version of Razzies, though not as famous, were declared few days back. It was heartening to see that some of my own ‘favorites’ (Sanjay Leela Bhansali, Shah Rukh Khan, etc) were among those ‘banana-ed’. I almost fell off my bed on reading that there is a category named “3 Idiots Childbirth Award for the most ridiculous sequence in a movie". This is the kind of stuff I identify with.

Taking inspiration, I have decided to institute my own set of awards, spread across the spectrum of social life in India. You will notice that most of these are customized to make a particular individual win hands down, and this amounts to cheating, but I have never made any claims that I am an honest person.

Award for “Excellence in family management”: Goes to M.Karunanidhi, Tamil Nadu’s macho man with 3 wives. With a family tree as complicated as the insides of a jet engine, he gets 11 out of 10 for figuring out if the latest person to be involved in a scam is related to him. (I am told he uses Google for it with the search string “Karunanidhi+clan+including+illegitimate” and gets 24 million results)

Award for “Setting new paradigms in management”: Shared by Conference call facilities and Smartphones. Now the only way to escape work is death itself. Scared of the consequences of your decision? Not well informed? A conference bridge is few button presses away. Summon 25 people and brainstorm. (We Indians like to call it ‘collective decision making’). Need quick comments on a confusing email sent by the Director at 3 in the night? Just push it to that uppity assistant on his Blackberry (he asked for it)

“Most loyal follower” award – to Times of India for their eternal love with Lindsay Lohan, Kim Kardashian and Lady Gaga - the only people in this world of any relevance (after Mr. Honest Manmohan Singh i.e). If these ladies ever feel lonely, they can visit the TOI office where I am told that a red carpet lies rolled up at the reception, waiting for them.

“Misplaced priorities” award – To the BJP, for repeatedly asking for PM’s head to roll. Some advice to them:
1.    Dr. Manmohan Singh does not control the government. He was never meant to. Get this into your heads
2.    Congress is not dependent on its allies for staying in power this time
3.    Next elections are 3 years away – a long time in Indian public memory
4.    Something will happen in the next 3 years which will bring Congress back to power (or keep you from coming to power)
5.    If Dr. Manmohan Singh were to step down, whom would you like to see as PM? Do you really think it makes ANY difference who heads the government?

“Quitting is for losers” Award – to Kashmira Shah for her ‘sexy’ calendar. Amid speculations that the calendar was a con job involving morphing of Kashmira’s face on some better toned bodies, I decided to check it out. Not being particularly adept at recognizing her curves, I gave my judgment a pass. No ambiguity on one thing though – If you can’t titillate them, confuse them.

“I make movies for myself” Award – Hands down winner – Sanjay Leela Bhansali for Guzaarish. I don’t speak for the world here, so excuse my opinionated ranting. Seldom has a movie made me think so hard. Think i.e. to understand if I am missing a point. Is this one helluva movie and I am emotionally/mentally incapable of appreciating it? Finally I gave up. No matter how much I tried, I could feel no sympathy for Hrithik Roshan who looks so handsome, well built (despite spending years as a vegetable), having the beauteous Aishwarya Rai as a companion and living in a Mansion people would kill for. This is not to say that good looking and rich people do not deserve sympathy in a similar situation, but it fails to work in the movie. Even the khatiya bound Amma in Peepli Live evoked more feelings, if seen in another perspective. And what’s with the Victorian (or whatever) setting and outfits? What value does it add to the movie? Mood? It looks downright ridiculous.

“Balanced debate is for schools” award – Again hands down winner Arnab Goswami. Much as I admire him for his zeal in trying to fight corrupt and inept leaders (and he does appear genuinely outraged on most occasions), I cannot agree with his methods. Making a seekh kabab out of an outnumbered politician on a one versus five debate looks great on TV, but presents a danger that soon majority opinion will officially be regarded as law.

“Finger on pulse of the nation” award – To for unearthing a sex scandal every day. I visit the site often these days to check out the cricket scores as it loads pretty fast, and on each occasion my eyes hover around the “Follow” button. If there are no sex scandals happening, will create them for you. After all, throw in some words such as Bareilly, cyber café, teenager, school teacher, neighbour etc in a mixer, give them to an out of work script writer and presto, you have a sex racket ready. In today’s cyber world, anything put up on a website is an authentic source of information and can be cited in your next PhD thesis

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Political observations from a World Cup

Is the World Cup really being ‘co-hosted’ or just being divided between 3 countries? Here are some observations:

  • Bangladesh will not play any match outside Bangladesh
  • India play just one match outside India (against Bangladesh, who are co-hosts, so one of them had to play out of country)
  • Sri Lanka play only one match outside Sri Lanka (in Mumbai against New Zealand)
  • Pakistan play all matches in Sri Lanka
  • There are no Pakistani commentators in matches involving India and vice versa. Similarly Sri Lankan commentators are absent from Indian matches

Pakistan not playing any matches in India comes as no surprise, given the heightened anti Pakistan sentiment after the Mumbai terror attacks and the resulting freeze on cricketing ties. But Pakistan not playing in Bangladesh? Does ICC think we are still living in 1971? Given that these days revenue from ticket sales is far overshadowed by that from telecast rights and sponsorships, there is little reason to believe that commercial considerations have dictated the choice of venues.

Pakistan playing all its matches in Sri Lanka has seemingly gone down well with the local supporters. Looking at the fan support for Pakistan in Colombo, Kandy and Hambantota, you could be forgiven for thinking it was probably Sri Lanka playing in green jerseys. Shahid Afridi is arguably the most popular person in Sri Lanka at the moment. What makes Pakistan so popular in Sri Lanka? Despite the fact that a bus carrying Sri Lankan cricketers was attacked by gunmen in Lahore in early 2009, there is little bad blood between the two countries. And justifiably so. There is no history of conflict between the two countries and the incident would merely go down as one aimed at creating a sense of insecurity in Pakistan. It could have happened with any other team. Sri Lankans probably also relate to Pakistan as another smaller neighbor of a big country like India, which doesn’t exactly count its other neighbors Nepal and Bangladesh among its best friends.

During the run up to the World Cup, we have been made to believe by a loud and jingoistic media that Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Co. are going to steamroll their opponents and lift the world cup in an Ashwamedh Yagya fashion, no one daring to stop their horse. Very conveniently other teams have been labeled out of form (Australia, New Zealand, England) or demotivated (Pakistan, Zimbabwe, West Indies) and simply no match for the unstoppable Indian juggernaut. Gullible fans have bought into this hype and are now getting upset that India has notched up wins only against lowly Netherlands, Ireland and Bangladesh. England gifted India one point in Bangalore and the match against South Africa showed that having 9 wickets in hand during the last 10 overs is a recipe for disaster. Sri Lanka, towards whom Indians have traditionally been neutral to positive have been termed as the other contenders, while far too much has been made of the impact of match fixing scandals involving Mohammed Asif Mohammed Amer and Salman Butt on Pakistani team’s morale.

Print media has been more balanced in its analysis of teams and given due respect to the talent and unpredictable nature of the Pakistani team and the grit of the Aussies. But few have time to read these days. Much time is spent in front of the television watching advertisements worshipping Indian cricketers or motor mouth TV presenters showing us visuals of India’s recent wins 60 times in a span of 5 minutes. Indian television media seems to have stopped seeing the world from any perspective other than Indian. Indian commentators, especially Ravi Shastri do no good by adopting aggressively pro Indian attitude in a job that requires you to be as neutral as possible.

We need to wake up and realize that the world around us has not come to a grinding halt. There is a world beyond India, it is alive, kicking and revolting against corrupt leaders unlike back home where we are told to worship the honesty of a spineless PM and leave everything else to god.