Wednesday, 23 May 2007

Butter and Mashed Banana


I usually reserve my weekend afternoons for some serious snoring business but this Sunday I was distracted by a rather delightful play. Butter and Mashed Banana, written and directed by Ajay Krishnan largely dealt with the ‘demons’ in democracy (so to speak) but was mercifully without the pedantic and preachy trappings. With gay abandon we journey along with the protagonist, right from his reluctant entry into this world (born out of an ‘ill-advised’ relationship between a Leftist and a Rightist) to his becoming a writer, celebrity, politician, confused politician and finally, a lost politician.
Initially, the play reminded me of Volker Schlondorff’s 1979 film Tin Drum, where the movie’s young hero refuses to grow up, or speak, in the turbulent pre-WW II period. In BMB, the protagonist refuses to leave the womb, anxious about the choices he will be forced to make once he is out.
Again, both the film and the play make liberal use of the drum beats for effect (and do so successfully).
The play took a tongue-in-cheek take on censorship in India, where freedom comes with clauses attached. I found the play endearing because of some ‘direct connects’ it established with me, and our tribe of sinners. Like, when the protagonist, as a successful political writer, is forced to confess in a press conference that he uses Sunsilk shampoo. “The public needs to know,” he was told.
I laughed out a bit too loudly. I think it was guilt. I still remember calling up Ramachandra Guha in my early days as a reporter and asking him, very seriously, what he likes to do on a rainy afternoon. I can’t remember what he replied but I am sure it wasn’t something polite. I am also guilty of hanging around Windsor Manor a day after Enrique Iglesias’ show to do a story on a towel he left behind. Five para story, carried with picture (of the sea green towel). The public needs to know, you see!
However, too many plots spoiled the play for my architect friends, who found the script quite unfocused and acting a bit immature. While I did catch the actors faltering over a line or two, I wouldn’t be so harsh on them. They were having fun on stage, and I found their spirit contagious. As for the script, I agree that the writer tried to squeeze in as many ideas as he could to fill in an hour, almost turning it into a tedious One Minute game show.
And perhaps the fact that it took me a Google Search to find out the relevance of ‘Butter and Mashed Banana’ says quite a bit.
PS for the curious: Butter and Mashed Banana are used to soften the noose before hanging.

Tuesday, 15 May 2007

Confession

“I am zero, 100% zero.”
Said without anger, disappointment, resentment.

Stated with pride, vanity even. Spoken loudly.
By a toothless 75 year old.
Profound.

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Unreality Bites

Just when you think that reality shows couldn’t get any more unreal, it just does. Till now, I have been watching the Miss Indias’ and Indian Idols with cynical amusement, but the latest from the House of Reality Shows has hit me where it hurts most.
CNBC Aawaz recently concluded a talent hunt for…(Ouch!)…Reporters!!
Gone were the khadis, the jholas and chappals; gone the frustrated frowns that cloud the brows of the overworked and underpaid; gone the intense respect for the written word and right spellings.
Before me, on the television screen, stood two women, looking straight out of an Ekta Kapoor’s soap. Judging them was Sushmita Sen, sultry, husky and a complete misfit.

Proud parents beamed and clapped, making me wonder if it were only my parents who objected to my not taking up a good-job, my late hours, my socializing with criminals and crime reporters, and not having a rupee in savings.
The two young finalists gave stock replies – “Entertainment is as important as information,” mouthed one (Or was it “World Peace”?... Who cares? Same thing.). “I strongly believe in values, and I know I don’t have to compromise in a value-centric organization like CNBC,” said her opponent (or something to that effect). And they both promised to change the world.
More claps, and both won an internship each.
What are these girls talking about? Do they even know what they are getting into? Do they know how much compromising they have to do? Not just in terms of values, which is the easiest to overlook (or am I being too cynical here?), but in terms of time, energy, money, friends, and breathing space as well.

What can I say? May God bless them.
Or better, spare them!

Tuesday, 8 May 2007

To laugh or not to Laugh

Recounting this to my Conscience Keeper last night triggered an unexpected argument.
No, it wasn’t about the falling standards of journalism (though ideally it should have led to it). It was whether this was worth laughing about in the first place. He definitely didn’t think so.
“A teacher should teach and guide, not mock and make her students a butt of her jokes in public,” I was indignantly informed.
This left me pondering. As politically incorrect I may have seemed to my dear CK, I am still not convinced that I was wrong.
To begin with, I am no teacher – I am a journalist, and a sleaze lover at that! Should a role change for a day change me?
Should I carry my personality to my role, or suit my personality to my role?
Should I suddenly get involved with my subjects, like a teacher, and stop being cynically detached, which I believe is my strength as a journalist?
I am still pondering…

Saturday, 5 May 2007

Creativity out-stretched

As an external examiner, I had been correcting answer scripts on Media Laws and Ethics for post-graduate journalism students of a well-known college last week. And here are some pearls of wisdom coming straight from the future generation of journalists.
· .... according to Young Mind (Harmful) Act, 1952.
· Sedition is the act of sexually exploiting someone through words, literature, pictures, movies and actions.

· Ethics are a code of principles to which a journalist must adhere to or at least feel guilty if he doesn’t.
· Gandhi was charged with sedition, but the funny part was that he pleaded guilty.
· This has been quoted straight from the Constitution of India: "The Constitution has made India into a Sovereign Socialist Secular Democratic Republic to make sure that there is freedom of speech and....."
· One wrote an endless piece on free and fair reporting, ending with "the above are the salient features of legitimate reporting". The subject was Provisions of "Legislative" reporting. · Another on the same subject of Provisions for Legislative Reporting: "Journalists covering the Rajya Sabha must be careful about their Press Cards, or else they might lose them".

Back with (hopefully) a Bang

Two posts recovered from the past and put under a new identity. They were lying unacknowledged in the Big Blog World for the last six months.

Dawn to Dust

It is funny that when I finally decide to revive my almost-gasping-for-its-last-breath blog account, all I can think of is complain about the door-to-door carpeting in my new office. I think a constantly running nose, and a choked throat, can put all ideas and ideologies out of the window, and reduce one into a phlegm-obsessed creature helplessly grappling with the onslaught of dust mites.
According to doctors, there are no quick fixes for dust allergy. So here I am, sneezing and sniffing and coughing and cribbing so much that my new colleagues have already given me up for a dead bore. I sneeze as soon as I enter the office, making the more superstitious of my office lot resort to a quick prayer. Their ‘How are you’s’, more motivated by formality than concern, are met with my long list of woes nonetheless. I feel a little guilty later, about this over-sharing of my troubles, but long term invisible results have proved that I feel 0.1 per cent better after each crib trip. I guess where medicines can’t help, cribs can.
However, the root cause of my ills – the carpeting – continues to be as dusty as Bangalore's pothole-ridden streets. I tried hinting to the HR manager, who only looked despondently at the carpet, then looked despondently at the ceiling, rubbed his nose, and told me that my employee registration form was still pending! The personal secretary to Big Boss was not helpful either; she instead updated me on the achievements of her children since their LKG.
And I cannot complain to the Big Boss – the Vice-President whom I report to.
For, he is on leave. Last heard, he was suffering from dust allergy too!

What brings me here

The jump from being a laidback blog reader to bare-it-all blog writer was not meant to be this quick. It has just been three weeks, I think, since I stumbled my way into blogdom. Frankly I was, for all these days, quite happy playing the part of an unobtrusive observer. A good break for an overworked writer, I thought.
(Now should I call myself that? A ‘writer’? I write. I mean, hey, I am a journalist, it’s supposed to be my job. But I don’t weigh my writerly skills in thoughts and meanings and nuances. “350 words, 515 words, 450-words-edited-to-250-words, Happy-Boss?” – well, that’s me!!)
So why did I choose to give up the best seat on the viewers’ gallery to actually join the rest of the bloggers?
I guess the blame goes to my raging hormones. My raging ‘gossip’ hormones, which made me foolishly believe that no two ‘sources’ (forgive my journalism jargons) can ever get together. It was meant to be that way, with happy endings attached. But I was wrong. My few lucky stars were sucked into a black hole. My cosmic karma got the better of me.
It happened this way. My 'G' strings pulled, I did some to and fro deliveries of some ‘keep-it-to-yourself-secrets’ between my boyfriend and best friend, while scheming strategies to ensure the twain never meet. It didn’t work. Somewhere, somehow, the two found each other.
On that fateful night.
It was a cool evening, the lights were dim, the beers beckoning…what happened next was perhaps inevitable. The two did what I feared most: exchanged notes.
Now they both accuse me of betrayal. I plead ‘slightly guilty’. But then why, oh why, do I feel most betrayed?That is why I come to you, dear bloggers. Bloggers whom I don’t know, who don’t know me. And who (Thank God!) don’t know my boyfriend and my best friend.
AAAhhhhh! Delicious anonymity. Slurp!