Saturday, January 31, 2009

Don't Mess with Barkha Dutt

And what if you do? You might ask "What are you gonna do? Charge me with libel?" as Ms. Catherine Tramell did ask in Basic Instinct, when told not to smoke in the interrogation room, albeit with a puff of white smoke. What follows this is history, as they say. If you don't know this part of the story, I advise you rent the CD/DVD from the friendly neighborhood video store and get ready for some unexpected insights (pun intended). Whatever, leave Sharon Stone now and come back to our heroine here. Yes, I am talking about Ms. Dutt.

If you are not aware of the ongoing extreme anti-Barkha storm raging in Indian blogosphere, just give a search in Google blog search (or better click here).

What did she do to earn the wrath of the bloggers? Bloggers, as we know are rather harmless souls. Well, one poor soul named Chyetanya Kunte, gave his opinion about Barkha Dutt's coverage of 26/11 in his blog. Barkha and NDTV threatened him with legal action and made him withdraw his post (Google cache, scroll to very bottom) and publish an unconditional apology.

Desipundit is an aggregator of interesting indian blogs (it's great!) and they have two marathon posts linking all the major blogs commenting on this issue. Here and here.

Ms. Dutt was mainly enraged because, Kunte mentioned the allegation that she crossed the line while covering Kargil war and gave away Indian artillery positions (Kunte quoted it from in her wiki-article, which has now changed a little bit by now).

Funny thing is, our Navy chief Admiral Suresh Mehta shares the same opinion about her. Wonder why she has not threatened him with legal action so far!

It's funny when our media claims the right to criticize each and everybody and becomes so defensive while someone else do it to them. They cry about less government control, denies the necessity of censor and when blamed for irresponsible behavior during 26/11, they tell govt. hasn't made any rules. Like small children caught stealing sweet... "Nobody told me not to steal".

Also, this is not the first Barkha vs. Blogger clash. Last year (or in 2007) she did an episode of "We the People" on "Blogging in India". To quote GB,

In a 45 minute program that I felt squeezed in every journalistic no-no possible (sensationalism, poor research, blatant bias and lack of objectivity), the presenter, motivated no doubt by her antagonism towards blogs which she said had spread malicious rumors about her, presented “English language” blogs as exclusively frivolous “web graffiti” that are created to spread gossip, discuss people’s personal lives and to make confessions of a prurient kind.

Naturally, bloggers didn't take it well. And there were posts criticizing the show and how she conducted the show. Maybe it started at that time... Man she keeps grudges for long!

I wish she does an episode of her show based on this very topic and see what the people think about her. I know it's just a wish, still I would love to see her face. Will it show 'genuine' concern like always and "Oh my God.. I'm so sorry, aren't you angry/worried/grieved!!!" comments.

More than that I am apalled at the apathy and lack of understanding from NDTV, in a topic like this. A channel where they have a show called "Newsnet 2.0", and the website which is one of the most popular news sites among Indians, they should understand internet in general and blogs in particular is here to stay. It is a platform where people can talk freely, where nobody is spared, where people of any kind of background/interests can have a conversation (not chat shows with talking heads). And that's what make it so great. And mainstream media must learn how to live with that. The sooner the better for them.

Update : This post found a place in Blogbharti. Blogbharti is another aggregator of indian blogs like Desipundit. :D

Saturday, January 3, 2009

The Loser

When does a character becomes a metaphor? A 'tag', which you can put on people you know and say he has become 'so-on-so'. They become such an identifiable but at the same time larger-than-life persona, they create a category of their own. Take for an instance James Bond. Do we need to ever attempt to describe what a 007 is. No. Never. And that's why he is so popular. Year after year they'll make films starring Bond and people will run to the theater. Another example is superman.

There is one thing common among these guys. They are heroes. Heroes with generous amount of out-of-the-world power, be it simply raw strength or deadly gadgets. With that you add charisma and cool quotient. You know... tall, fair, handsome... etc etc. And most importantly, they have been a long lasting character on paper before coming to the screen. Their charm is not created in one day.

But, what about being similar long-lasting, memorable character just by being the biggest loser... A character who has become another tag, another adjective, being used in everyday language, with abandon.

Yes I'm talking about Devdas. Sounds familiar? Yes. We all know Devdas. He is one character created for the eponymous novel back in 1917. Novel was a success (but then, everything from the pen of Sharat Chatujjey was a success). After nine films in Bengali, Hindi, Assamese and Tamil, most of us know what are the characteristics to label one as Devdas. And none of them can be termed as heroic or ideal or anything similar. He is one guy who is famous for losing it. Losing it all. Albeit losing it in style. You know that dialog? "Haar ke jeetnewalo ko..." Yeah that one. No wonder SRK was the latest avatar of Devdas!

And guess what. He is back. No, not SRK (come on, he is always there, if not in this, then the next channel). As you may have guessed I am talking about the coming-soon Dev.D (statutory warning: link not for minors). Lets start with a quote from the director himself.

Abhay told me he had an idea, a story. I said ,”OK tell me”. He narrated me a story of a stripper in a LA strip club and a guy who is attracted to her. The guy had a back story, an unrealized love story. After he narrated the whole story, he asked me guess what is it. I couldn’t. He then told me it is Devdas. I looked at him. I never thought before that moment, that Devdas could be retold like that. That was where Dev.D was born.
Read the full thing here. And you can catch the trailer in youtube. Man, I love the term "emosanal atyachaar". :)
Whatever, this post is not 'bout the film, but the character. What is there which has made him so memorable and popular. Whenever I think 'loser' is the word comes to my mind.
Is it the romanticism, killing yourself for that 'one luv' idea which attracts us.
I don't know. Maybe its not just pyaar-ishq-mohabbat. It is the self-destruction. We love fools. Fools for a cause. Any damn cause. Because we all are fools.
Fools who make mistakes, take the wrong turn, get hit by the truck of fate when they were looking at the opposite direction. It hurts. And for a moment it feels nothing is worth anymore. So what's the point of trying. Let it slide.
Off course being the sensible and wise types we come back to our senses. For sometime things look only black and white. After some time (which can be very long) things start falling into places.
Think about those soldiers you saw in the WWII film. End of battle, no ammunition, completely surrounded by enemy forces. Surrender is the only option. And there will be one guy who'll take a knife and run into the bullet-rain, shouting "Hail Hitler" or "God save the queen" depending on the film. In a second there will be so many holes in his body it is almost semi-transparent.
What about the guy next to him. He also takes the knife. Take a step ahead. And then he stops. He knows it is worthless. He can't die like fool. He puts it down and surrenders. He knows he has done the right thing. But there will be that feeling biting inside him.
"I wish I could do that..."
And that's why we love Devdas. He did it. What we could not think of doing. People talk about the one love and life is worthless if they don't get it. But we know that's bullshit. Only a fool will do that. Well, Devdas was a fool and he died a fool. He had the guts to show the finger to the world. Of course being son of a zamindar helps. Having great actors portraying you on screen helps.
And that is my friend is the ever-lasting charm of being 'The Loser'. You have to be the biggest of all. And the masses will adore you, making you the Martyr-of-Mohabbat. And lots of broken hearted young souls will stop shaving and run to the pub to contribute for Vijay Mallya's next sportscar or IPL team!
So cheers to Devdas (he will like that). He showed being a loser is cool sometimes if you can do it right.
May his soul rest in peace.