Sunday, September 28, 2008

A Tale Of Two Movies (And A Journalistic Test!)

I was curious to hear Rajeev Masand's review of 'Singh is Kinng' on CNN-IBN. Not because I adore Rajeev but because that movie was co-produced by Studio 18 and distributed by Indian Film Company, both Network 18 companies and sister concerns of CNN-IBN. 

In other words it was a test of Network 18's editorial integrity that whether they keep commerce above journalism or vice-versa. I am happy that they passed the test and whatever else the channel might have done to promote the movie (which is routine stuff nowdays) they didn't use Rajeev Masand to cheat the viewers.

This weekend Times group was taking the test. 'Hari Puttar - A comedy of terrors' produced by Mirchi Movies, a Times Group Company was released and I was eager to read Nikhat Kazmi's review. 

Now I must admit that I have not watched the movie so I can't condemn/corroborate Ms Kazmi's opinion of the movie. As a matter of fact by looking at the trailer itself I had anticipated that this is a blatant copy of 'Home Alone' and had decided to miss this movie (and the promos also!). 

However the TOI rating of 'Hari Puttar' is astounding 3.5 stars! And that keeps it in the league of 'Mumbai Meri Jaan'!!! Can you believe that?

(To put things in proper context this film ('Hari Puttar') has got 0/5 from Rajeev Masand (CNN-IBN), 1/5 from Taran Adarsh ( and 1/5 from Khalid Mohammad (Hindustan Times). NDTV's Anupama Chopra doesn't give ratings but she says for this movie "Steer clear and Rent Home Alone instead.")

Surely Ms. Kazmi has a different taste from her counterparts. And she has every right to stand apart from others undoubtedly. However I wanted to mention another 'news article' titled "Hari Puttar casts a spell' that appeared in Hyderabad Times on friday. It was about an 'exclusive premier' of the film. (I am not saying what T.N. Ninan had said!)

Ummm... ahh... well what is your verdict about Times Group's performance in aforementioned test? 

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Sunday, September 21, 2008

My Crime. Your Crime.

This must be the only sane thing that the state convenor of Karnataka Bajrang Dal, Mahendra Kumar must have done in his entire life. He had held a press conference and claimed that his gang (Bajrang Dal) was responsible for responsible for attacks on churches in several districts of Karnataka.

This confession and his subsequent arrest put an end to all those speculations and conspiracy theories which claimed that center was trying to falsely implicate this Hindu extremist group in order to strike a balance between its tough stance against the Muslim extremists SIMI. Raghav actually asked a vaild question, why is Bajrang Dal always suspected whenever there is an attack on churches. Well now we have the answer! Not only these thugs do attack the churches but also have the guts to boast about that.

But now a bigger debate is brewing up. Should Bajrang Dal be banned?

Why not? After all Bajrang Dal is involved in communal violence and they have a history of attacks on churches in Orissa, Chhatisgarh, Jharkhand and Karnataka. This is apart from their outings on Valentine's Day when they go out ransacking gift shops and restaurants claiming to be saviours of Indian culture. And ofcourse attacks on cinema halls when they feel Indian culture is at stake.

But what complicates the matter is the issue of Minority Appeasement. Is this just a balancing act to protect muslim vote bank? A sinister move to neutralize the ban on SIMI and excesses against Muslims by banning a powerful Hindu organization? This may sound a conspiracy theory but has its roots in the statements made by senior leaders like Laloo Yadav and Mulayam Singh Yadav when they had first raised the demand of ban on Bajrang Dal during court case for continuation of ban on SIMI. It was a shameful display of vote bank politics that was enough to tarnish entire Government.

So should the Bajrang Dal be banned? I would say yes and here's why.

I don't think any self respecting Hindu will try to justify their acts. They may be protesting against conversions of tribal hindus by christians but attacking churches and killing people is not the way to protest. Moreover who says that they can't go ahead and try to convert christians to hindus if they want to! I think the best way to stop conversions is to eradicate the reasons (like poverty, untouchability and other social ills) due to which tribals are lured by the missionaries to cross over to Christianity. With the kind of resources available to them Bajrang Dal could have done this.

I don't want them to be made the martyrs but a stern action against them would give clear message to all these politically aligned outfits who tend to consider themselves above law just because their political masters may be in power. (I remember a few years ago some members of Samajwadi Party had stoned a tourist bus in Agra. I don't know if any action was taken against them.) Bajrang Dal have a history of crime and they must pay for it.

A stern message must go out to everyone that India is a secular country and neither would minorities be pampered nor would majority Hindus be treated above law. Whoever messes with law must be dealt with severely irrespective of what flag he carries: green or saffron.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Breaking News: Indian Home Minister is a Eunuch

Move over Shabnam Mausi and Suraiya Nayak the eunuchs who were content just being mayor or MLA. Indian home minister Shivraj Patil has done eunuchs proud by reaching to topmost echelons of Indian politics.

But eunuchs have all reasons to be upset with him since he has not revealed the fact publically till date. It is very difficult to find about sexuality of people in India and that too of a senior minister, it were his actions which gave away the secret.

However many experts on this matter do not agree to this report as they say whatever may be the personality traits of eunuchs they are assertive and not undecisive as the minister. They are deeply pained by their community members and take any act of violence against them very seriously, whereas Mr. Patil doesn't do anything except lipservice by condemning the blasts that take place regularly. If he was even a little bit concerned about lives of his countrymen there would not be serial blasts all over the country.

Few other experts say that Mr. Patil could be physically and mentally handicapped person since there is no hint of any action in whatever he does. (These experts went on to add that the fact that a mentally disabled person has reached such a top post shows that India is a disabled-friendly country.)

Whatever be the sexuality of Shivraj Patil he has won many 'nationalist' friends who call themselves fondly as 'Indian Mujahideen'. Their messages expressing love and respect for Mr. Patil can't be published here due to space constraint.

And not everyone is concerned with his sexuality as reporters in Jaipur, Ahmedabad, Bangalore and Delhi tell us that when they asked people about their opinion on this, they got same reply: "Shivraj Patil, fuck off!"

Eunuch Speak

This is what Shivraj Patil spoke about Delhi blasts:
1) "Whether it is Rajasthan or Gujarat, we always have intelligence information about such attacks, but we never know where and at what time the attacks may take place. We always try to stop such things."
What he meant: India is a big country and anyone can attack anywhere. I CAN'T DO ANYTHING!

"Let us not play politics over this issue. I am not aware of what Advani has said. He is a responsible person. We are all responsible people and should behave responsibly."
What he meant: OK, he was a better home minister. So what I will speak some gobbledygook!

3) "We should not jump to conclusions. Stringent punishment would be given to whoever is responsible for this."
What he meant: We should not jump to silly conclusions like anybody will ever be caught!

(This post was written on the night of Delhi blasts. My deepest condolences with bereaved families.)

Thursday, September 04, 2008

'Do No Evil', Be A Hypocrite!

"The New York Times reports that Microsoft's new Internet browser includes a search box in the upper-right corner that is typically set up to send users to Microsoft's MSN search service. Google contends that this puts Microsoft in a position to unfairly grab Web traffic and advertising dollars from its competitors."

This was what Google was shouting from rooftops when IE7 was launched. And they conveniently made the world forget that Apple's Safari and Mozilla Firefox always had Google as their default search engine. But it seems that someone is celebrating 'Make Microsoft Look God Day' and to commemorate this, they launched a browser!

Unlike IE, FF or Safari you don't have a separate browser in-built search box in Chrome. To search for anything you simply need to type search term in address bar and press enter. This may sound very cool but you can do this in any of above mentioned browsers too! For IE by default this is MSN/Live Search and for FF it is Google. (Try it now, in another tab. Not this one!). And obviously you can reset the defaults.

By removing the search box from Chrome, Google has ensured that nobody is going to bother with changing the search engine. Currently I have many search engines in my search box (see image below) and
I use them as and when needed. So when I want to search a YouTube video I choose YouTube Video Search. Or IMDB when I want to find some movie. Or Yahoo India search when I want a portal like view for information.

But now all that is over. Chrome still gives you option of changing default search (Go to Options->Default search) but it has been made so complicated that nobody will bother to. I am not going to set IMDB/Youtube as default even if I want to search for movie/video. I WILL have to do it on Google!
I have written custom search plugins for browsers which let me add my company's Bug Database and People Search applications, so I can search these intranet applications without opening these applications. These do not work on Chrome!

How convenient isn't it! The instant media blitzkrieg that Google will get is sure to translate in millions of downloads.

I can see Wallstreet smiling already!