Thursday, July 27, 2006

The World Is A Small Place

The world is such a small place, we keep on being reminded and we keep on forgetting!

The latest reminder comes in form of Israel-Lebanon conflict which has claimed hundreds of lives, the majority being on the Lebanese side. The rights and wrongs are being discussed, will be discussed and after sometime (hopefully) this war will end. But by then how much would be lost!

And the reason I have been jolted out of my blissful ignorance of the grimness of war, is that somewhere my country is being affected. According to a BBC report, about 12000 Indians live in Lebanon thus making us one of the largest communities in the country. Only 700 are being evacuated. I don't know the complications of this matter. I don't know who has decided this number. What I know (courtesy a report on that many families are being torn apart due to this. Some members have to be left behind in the war torn country, being promised further distruction, while others have to leave however unwillingly!

Till today I never cared a damn about this issue. The feed headlines gave enough news for me to bother. But now I understand. Lives are lives. Pain is pain. Sufferring is sufferring.

Saturday, July 22, 2006

The spirit is lacking

The latest topic of discussion in Indian media, specially English, is about Mumbai's 'spirit' and 'resilience'. As usual after the frenzy of terrible blasts, the media was back next day with spirited stories about Mumbaikars' resilience and how the city's spirits are not subdued in spite of the heavy losses, and I am not talking about monetary losses. These are the losses that no one would be able to compensate for!

But Mumbaikars themselves raised their voices against this nonsense about these often misused words which give easy excuses to those responsible for not doing their duties properly. Honestly I don't have any opinion or even a first hand knowledge about Mumbai's now world famous spirit and resilience but I read a blog which said that all this hype about resilient Mumbai glorifies the growing insensitivity towards fellow human beings. Do Mumbaikars have an option of not going to work next day? Ten others are standing in the line to claim the job you may have got after going through grind.

So now our media has started the discussion (or is that an introspection?) about how true are the claims about spirit and resilience. I don't know what direction these discussions will take, but if I am less than hopeful there is a reason.

Though I give media its due credit for what they do in times of crisis (Media people are first to reach any secluded spot after any natural disaster, where Government Officials reach days or weeks later) and bring to us the miseries of people, but it is the insensitivity with which they carry out their jobs that makes me anguished.

After every tragedy, senior editors of news channels, in their personal columns or discussions express their views about how media should respect the dead and privacy of the kins. That dead bodies should not be shown, specially when they are in bad shapes. But when the next tragedy takes place, the only thing that remains to be respected and considered is TRP. Forgotten are tall claims and considerations. Once again mikes are being thrust in the faces of wailing relatives for sound bites. Once again death is commercialised and it doesn't help if this in-your-face violence is telecast with a sad music in background!

Some of the editors are candid enough to accept that their own people are not practicing what he himself was preaching. But honesty only won't do! This is the time media shows some spirit.

Friday, July 14, 2006

Mumbai on NET

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Salaam Bombay : Letter from Mumbaikar

(I got this in a forward, but as most forwards are ultemately deleted, I wanted to preserve it. Because this open letter to the terrorists and those behind them, shows the undomitable spirit of Mumbai and its people.)

Dear Terrorist,

Even if you are not reading this we don't care. Time and again you tried to disturb us and disrupt our life - killing innocent civilians by planting bombs in trains, buses and cars. You have tried hard to bring death and destruction, cause panic and fear and create communal disharmony but everytime you were disgustingly unsuccessful. Do you know how we pass our life in Mumbai? How much it takes for us to earn that single rupee? If you wanted to give us a shock then we are sorry to say that you failed miserably in your ulterior motives. Better look elsewere, not here.

We are not Hindus and Muslims or Gujaratis and Marathis or Punjabis and Bengaliies. Nor do we distinguish ourselves as owners or workers, govt. employees or private employees. WE ARE MUMBAIKERS (Bombay-ites, if you like). We will not allow you to disrupt our life like this. On the last few occassions when you struck (including the 7 deadly blasts in a single day killing over 250 people and injuring 500+ in 1993), we went to work next day in full strength. This time we cleared everything within a few hours and were back to normal - the vendors placing their next order, businessmen finalizing the next deals and the office workers rushing to catch the next train. (Yes the same train you targetted)

Fathom this: Within 3 hours of the blasts, long queues of blood donating volunteers were seen outside various hospital, where most of the injured were admitted. By 12 midnight, the hospital had to issue a notification that blood banks were full and they didn't require any more blood. The next day, attendance at schools and office was close to 100%, trains & buses were packed to the brim, the crowds were back.The city has simply dusted itself off and moved one - perhaps with greater vigour.

We are Mumbaikers and we live like brothers in times like this. So, do not dare to threaten us with your crackers. The spirit of Mumbai is very strong and can not be harmed.
Please forward this to others. U never know, by chance it may come to hands of a terrorist in Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq and he can then read this message which is specially meant for him!!!

With Love,From the people of Mumbai (Bombay)

(Impressed? Tell what you have to say about THE Mumbai. Leave your comment below. If you are in Mumbai and need/want to help visit

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Why we don't need an IIFA?

I don't remember the exact words in that article, but what it meant was that rather than going to foreign industry leaders and governments to invite them for exploring investment opportunities in their state, it would be better if our chief ministers, ministers and beaurocrats set their own house in order. With broken down (or non-existent) roads, illusive power supply and administration and law and order situation in disarray in most of the states, there is virtually no infratstructure that would attract any kind of investment from businesses within the country, forget the foreigners burning their fingers!I agreed completely with the views expressed in the article. The rule is very simple and very logical. Before hard selling the brand you have to build it. That's precisely what Chandrababu Naidu did to Andhra Pradesh.

Guess why I remembered this old story. I read a couple of new ones about (albeit grandeously titled) International India Film Academy (IIFA) Awards. IIFA Awards are held every year in a foreign country, usually in a high profile city. Starting in year 2000 in London, IIFA has been hosted by Sun City (South Africa), Genting Highlands Resorts (Malaysia), Johannesberg (South Africa), Singapore, Amsterdam (Netherlands) and latest version was held in Dubai. The official website claims to have given a boost to the host's tourism and 'promoted the business of Indian Cinema and provided it an impetus'. Well may be in terms of overseas distribution IIFA has done its bit but what else?

What is big deal in conducting another-of-the-zillion award functions that we Indians have to suffer? (I guess you have heard that Rakesh Roshan tried to get 'Kaho Na Pyaar Hai' a place in Guiness Book of World Records for highest number of awards it won! Thankfully Guiness Book brushed his claim away) There was a Filmfare (however controversial it was, it had some respect) and then came Screen-Videocon, Hero Honda-Stardust, Lux-Zee and others I don't even remember the names of. Each award is associated with a corporate and is telecast on a particular channel and you don't need to be Sherlock Holmes to understand that every award is just another 'event' for these TRP-hungry channels rather than celebrating Indian Cinema and honouring it's real talent. And very honestly presence of Amitabh Bachchan (he is the brand ambassador of IIFA) does very little to differentiate IIFA Awards from others (and if you care to visit and read about them, the award ceremony is the highest and only thing they seem to talk about).

Excuse me if you think I am being a cynic, IIFA does some good things like 'showcasing best of Indian Cinema', what I want to convey is that do these execises in foreign lands bring Indian Cinema the real prestige it deserves? Till a few years ago no one had heard about Chinese Cinema. It took only a 'Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon' to change the global outlook towards them. I don't know if Chinese, Japanese or Koreans organize any annual award ceremonies in other countries to popularize their movies. Then why the world's largest film industry has to?

Now can you relate this scenario to one I mentioned in the beginning? Rather than going abroad singing and dancing (we have enough of that already, no?), should we not try to bring in a little more originality in our movies (favorite of every award jury, 'Black' has been 'inspired' from Krzysztof Kieslowski's 'Blue').

I agree that many of our film makers are doing good but frankly I believe that one of our movies winning an Oscar (or even a series of nominations) will do us more good than all the IIFA ceremonies put together! And may be Mahesh Bhatt is not interested in Oscar (with the kind of movies he is involved with now, he can't win it anyway!), I will be very happy and very proud that day.