Wednesday, July 15, 2009

City Of God among other things.

Saw the internationally acclaimed Brazillian film, Cidadede Deus - City of God on DVD last night. Had the film with me for ages but never got down to seeing it because I was afraid I would get all gloomy about it. Thankfully nothing of the sort happened. The movie, which is "based on a real life story" is gripping from the word go. Starting from the end and then taking us back to introduce the various people that come together, the movie does a "pulp fiction" with finesse. Rio de Janeiro,the city that immediately brings to mind an aerial shot of Jesus with his arms outstretched,over the city, is shown only in its ugly side in this film. The director's camera however, does not allow you time to brood. Quick pans that have the handycam effect are means to a gripping narrative so that you refuse to blink. Billiant film.

While watching the film I couldn't help comparing the miserable conditions of living (of the characters shown in the film) with that of slum-dwellers in Mumbai. While the violence must exarcebate the misery of poverty, at least the Brazillians have shelter, AND water AND sewage. They even have a proper road in the midlle of their houses. Their living quarters are actually organised into neat rows. Exactly where does one begin to feel sorry for Indians on this count? The places where people - hard-working, self-respecting people(like our domestic help)- live, do not even have water connections. A toilet in the house would be considered a luxury. Families of 6to 10people squeeze themselves to sleep in bed-sized areas. And, inexplicably, kids happen. Actually kids are swarming all over the place. Obviously a "standard of living" is simply not a consideration. The Indian mindset seems hell-bent on proving - "I reproduce, therefore I am."

Thursday, July 2, 2009


Section 377 violates the right to life, liberty and equality - thus judged the Delhi HC. Thank You! Der aaye durust aaye.

With Hindustan Times carrying out a series of articles on racism in Mumbai - a self-analysis, post the Oz brouhaha - it looks like we may have matured enough to realise that we have some overhauling to do. Like throwing off old attitudes about what is mockable and what isn't. Fat, Black, Gay or as it still happens with Hindi films, Women, should not be seen as easy targets. Dostana took the smart track - it did not actually have a gay couple but it explored the idea in a funny, non-judgemental way that has never been seen on Hindi screens. Lighten up!was the message, not the yucky "tum logon ki biraadri aaj kal kuchh zyaada hi badh rahi hai" type of dialogue seen in films like "Welcome".

I have known no one who is a gay in my life but as a teen I saw it as an "abnormality" that was perhaps the result of debauched ideas or unfortunate abuse. When my MBBS cousin told me that some people were just born, "wired" that way, I told him in no uncertain terms - "what rubbish". His ten years of analysing the human physiology did not after all make him a superior judge of such things as far as I was concerned.

Today, I feel glad that this silly ignorance which is essentially based on the fear that things that don't conform could be dangerous, has given way to a more accepting outlook. After the media-bashing in the last post, I have to admit that the media has played no mean role in nudging this belief into me. The only time I came across a gay couple was on a bus ride to the Grand Canyon from Vegas. They were young and good looking and ridiculously quiet throughout the journey - clearly self-conscious. It made me think why the sight of them holding hands should offend anyone so much. The pursuit of happiness is a noble goal after all.

If finding love in the unusual way is your means to it, it should definitely not be anybody else's problem.
Here's hoping that society stops agonising over these non-issues and takes to conserving it's energy for something positive.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

I was watching an episode of a serial on Nick which goes by the name of Maruko. It is about a Japanese (I think) girl who lives with her parents, sister and grandparents. It is sweet in a non-cloying, heartening way. At a time when most kid's serials are about overtly aggressive behaviour and scarily adult themes like vengeance, this one felt like a breath of fresh air. Maruko's best friend is her doting grandfather - an emotional person given to shedding tears at the drop of a hat. The serial actually mocks his sentimentality - but in a way that endears him. It is often deprecatory to the main characters but what emerges is the reassuring feeling that things like family and love and affection, and the small things in life are important enough to make a story about.

Simple situations and characters are all but extinct in the media today. Whereas our lives will involve precisely these factors. Entertainment that touches this chord sensibly will surely be rewarded with a loyal viewership. The apathy towards most issues among people today has a lot to do with exaggerated, negative, media concerns. And then, despite all the sensationalism and "breaking news" attitude, the media does nothing to help change the lives of people where it matters most - by ensuring better governance. For all its relevance today the media may as well only give us the economic analysis - socially it has only helped foster cynicism. Even the political news is mere reporting and is very often nothing more than the dictated gossip of some power-that-is.