Monthly Archives: September 2014

Dear ToI, You Deserve The Slap You Got.

The recent ‘OMG Deepika Padukone shows cleavage’ controversy was mighty cathartic for me.

A newspaper is the first thing I look at in the morning, and the pain I felt every morning, for years, is indescribable. You hold the newspaper in your hand; you want to see what’s happening in the world. A supplement slips out on to the ground, with an article ‘Bips’ dog fucks Sushmita’s cat’. The rest of your day is shit.

The first newspaper I ever read was The Asian Age. They were gossipy too, but back in those days, even gossiping was done with class, I guess. At school, when I began to read the newspaper for cricket, it was The Hindu.

In my +2, I got to pick my own newspaper.

The Oriya newspapers were all printed on re-recycled paper, their pages greyish, their images blurred. Among English newspapers, The Hindu would arrive in the evening, so fat lot of good that did me. The other papers – The Indian Express, The Telegraph, The Statesman – were all published from Calcutta and carried news from there. The Times of India had a desk of their own in Bhubaneswar, and also, their pages were colourful and glossy.

And so, like a monkey that goes for a jangly toy, I chose The Times of India.

Shifting to Hyderabad meant a rekindling with The Hindu, and in spite of all its problems, it still is a better newspaper to read. They say ‘Tell Me Your Company, I’ll Tell You Who You Are’. I would say, what newspaper a person reads is also a parameter for me.

“If your window to the world is a sleazy money-minting newspaper, I wouldn’t credit you with much.”

– Judge Judgerson.

1. Gimmicky: The Times of India, especially if you read the mobile version, hits you as extremely gimmicky. Their headlines put the Sen in sensational. And what can I say about their entertainment articles!

All ToI entertainment articles are written in a certain way. It’s like the editor got a bit of news, it’s placed on the table, and the sub-editors are asked to make it as KLPD-ish for the readers as possible.

                                   ACTRESS CAUGHT TALKING ‘DIRTY’!

by Anjali Fakesurnamewali

Bollywood heartthrob Simran Shetty got ‘dirty’ on Wednesday while promoting her film ‘HairBrain’.

During the media interaction, the smouldering actress was asked what was her favourite city. When asked what she liked the most about Chandigarh, she said that it is the cleanest city.

She went on to add that all other cities should take steps to keep their cities clean and recycle their waste. Hmm, we wonder what made the actress to talk ‘dirty’ in public. Her fans sure want to know.

2. No Respect for Privacy of Any Sort:

While it preaches about the representation of women and stuff in its editorials, the entertainment section seems to have Shakti Kapoor as Chief Editor.
If Aishwarya Rai turns up at Cannes (which she does, every year), our brothers at ToI will publish an article saying ‘Aish’s hottest dresses at Cannes’. Shweta Basu was caught in the prostitution racket, there will be an article called ‘Actresses who were caught in sex scandals’. Out of which there will be two genuine cases, the rest would be ‘allegations’.
And not content with having people surf through such tripe, ToI ensures that they earn money while they are at it. So each of those articles will be in the form of a slide show, so you keep paying a little bit of your internet costs to educate yourself.
 
 
 
3. No Moral Compass Whatsoever: 
 
When the Times Group got into entertainment, it wasn’t in the GEC category, it was the entertainment section, in the form of ‘Zoom’, perhaps the most useless channel in the history of useless channels. For a group that claims to be the largest media conglomerate, encompassing TV, print, radio, and news, the quality of the channel seems like it has come from the Ramsay stable. 
 
Zoom leaves no ambiguity in what it wants you to do. Zoom – Isko Dekho. Isko dekho aur hippopotamus jaisa IQ pao. What passes off as ‘news’ on the channel would make even our sleazy brothers at TV9 – another torchbearer of sleaze – go ‘Yeh toh bada ToI hai’. Take for example this news about scratches on Deepika Padukone’s back. Which by the way was the reason for rising crude oil prices in the Middle East. 
 
 
 
4. Paid News: While the terms is freely thrown around in political battles and random bitching about the media, paid news is a highly problematic phenomenon. And our brothers at ToI are leading the way. You’ll regularly find articles called ‘Advertorials’ singing paeans about a company, institution, or personality. While it sounds like an oxymoron – how can ‘news’ be ‘paid’ for? – reading the Times of India first thing in the morning is a sureshot way to end up in an asylum. 
 

And in spite of the rather lame justifications for it, paid news is not the only problem. The front page of the newspaper is filled with ads for toothpaste, real estate, and underwears. And who can forget the fiasco they created when they entered Tamil Nadu. For those of you who live on Uranus, here is what happened.

The Times of India was entering Chennai, traditionally the stronghold of The Hindu. In true ToI style, they released an ad depicting The Hindu as a newspaper that puts people to sleep.

 
The Hindu reacted in stellar style, delivering one of the greatest bitch-slaps ever delivered, with an ad that showed Times of India for what it really is – an encyclopaedia of who dated whom. 
 
 
5.  Coverage of Rape/Violence News: In spite of parroting lines like ‘We shouldn’t shame the victim’ and other such rhetoric, the Times of India has its own unique way of reporting stories pertaining to rapes and molestations. Every story will have an image of a woman crying out, or covering her head in shame, or screaming in fear. These graphics stand out, adding further sensation to the stories, which aren’t really reported with much sensitivity. 
 
times of india

Every story has an image like this.

 

So here’s the deal, dear Times of India. You might be the largest read English newspaper in the country, but that is more due to the spectacular spawning rate we Indians maintain. It is hardly surprising that someone like Arnab Goswami heads your TV channel. Reading your newspapers feels like entering his brain for half an hour every day. 
 
If you really take pride in being the largest read newspaper in the world, grow a spine. Act like the largest read newspaper in the world, not like a sleazy daily version of Manohar Kahaaniyan. 
 
I am glad someone gave it back to you. You really had it coming. 

***

Reviewing Fanny

I always thought Indians would connect to Finding Fanny. The men, at least.

Since the time we turn 18, much of our energies, talents and thoughts are expended on chasing pussy.

Now that I have made the customary first joke so that you open the link, here’s the review.

I have been mostly ambivalent towards Homi Adajania’s films. Being Cyrus was mildly interesting, but it didn’t blow my mind or anything. Just about tickled it with a feather, probably. Cocktail was problematic on different levels.

Finding Fanny, right from the first scene, makes it clear that it isn’t going to pander to you. You have to sit through the man sitting three rows behind you slurp on his Coke and say ‘Slow hai, behenchod’.

The film takes its time picking itself up, which could either pique your interest, or leave you bored. At the risk of doing a Rajeev Masand, who has a spectacular knack for revealing important plot points, let me try to summarise the plot.

Or wait, fuck it. Why should I?

*

Finding Fanny Movie Cast Poster Wallpaper

One look at the trailer, and you know there are interesting things in store for you. A cast of Naseeruddin Shah and Pankaj Kapur is a coup on any given day. The others – Dimple Kapadia, Deepika Padukone, and Arjun Kapoor – are merely playing catch up with the senior pro bros.

Watching Finding Fanny is a reflection of the difference between great and moderate actors. You see Dimple Kapadia act out a scene, just managing to walk the tightrope, in a laborious, onerous manner. And then Pankaj Kapur turns to her, smiles, and waltzes through his scene.

Deepika Padukone is skating on thin ice throughout the film. There are scenes where she spins around in a beautiful routine. And then there are others where her shoe is stuck in a soft patch of ice. But that could also be because I watched the Hindi version and when there is no link between lips moving and sound coming, I feel ill at ease.

What Padukone manages spot on, however, is to look smashingly pretty throughout. Which also makes you wonder, when someone is so naturally pretty, why do other directors paint her face till she looks like an Anime vamp ?

Arjun Kapoor, the actor who last gave us the heartwarming 2 States – The Story of My Two Expressions, puts in an honest effort. But there isn’t much you can do when your face doesn’t emote too much. He looks stoned all through, which might not be such a bad thing since he is [random Goan generalisation about Goa, hash, hippie, peace yo, cool brother, Boom Shiva].

*

Most of the reviews I hear from people said that the film didn’t move them enough. Which makes me wonder – are we constantly looking for films to move us? For films to shake the foundations of our emotional core in three hours? Look at our biggest hits, and most of them are epic, grandiose, larger than wife.

Finding Fanny might have its problems, but just the fact that the casting team did their work right, should give you enough reason to watch the film.

Don’t go in looking for the film to transform your life. One, it’s stupid. Two, if a three hour film can transform your life, you shouldn’t be walking into theatres. What with Arbaaz Khan directing Salman Khan in an Sohail Khan production, you might be a threat to society around you.

Finding Fanny is bold, and it is cheeky, and it expects a friend of you, not a devotee.

In a way, the film is like ordering food in a Goan shack. The cook steps out every half an hour, smokes a cigarette, and then walks back to the kitchen. When you ask him how long, he smiles.

The food finally arrives, slowly, swinging from this side to that.

How much you enjoy it depends on how hungry you are.

***

My new favourite state.

I have a new favourite state, and I do not mean ‘intoxicated’.

Himachal Pradesh.

Having spent the last two weeks in five states – Goa, Punjab, Himachal Pradesh, Orissa, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh (see what KCR did there?), I have arrived at the conclusion that Himachal Pradesh is undoubtedly the most beautiful state there is in the country.

Granted, a few of you will say ‘Kashmir’, but Kashmir has other issues, and I would rather spend my time speaking to Shiva than meeting him in person. And so it is with the confidence and the deep knowledge of someone who has spent exactly one single day in the state, that I declare Himachal Pradesh as my favourite state.

Which takes me back to the seedy Social Science text books that we learnt from in school. When I think of Himachal Pradesh, the images that came to mind were – Apples, boys and girls wearing cute traditional gowns, and … ahem, nothing else.

Another point in HP’s benefit was that we had spent the previous two days at Punjab. Which, by the way, was a KLPD of Sabu-ean proportions.

Now, think of everything that I knew about Punjab – lots of fields, lots of Rajs and Simrans, pretty girls, dhabas with friendly Punjabi men serving delicious tandoori chicken, etc.

However, Chandigarh was a gigantic disappointment. Primarily because of everybody’s insistence to go check out ‘Sector 17’. Sector 17 apparently has the hottest women of Chandigarh frolicking about like Biblical princesses, and everybody we met spoke about it.

Now, I am no greek god and cannot claim to have wooed women merely by my looks, but I have always wondered what is the point of the exercise. What does one do at these places where there are pretty women around?

We don’t live in a culture where we can walk up to women and ask for their number. Even if you did, there’s a good possibility the woman might shriek, and Ramu Kaka from across the road might smash your head to pulp, while asking if there are any female members in your house.

In such a scenario, what does one really do at Sector 17? It’s not like one can have intercourse merely by staring at someone. I am yet to meet a single man who stared at a woman till she came, and then flushed, and slipped him a note saying ‘It was great. We should stare at each other again. Here’s my number.’

Not surprisingly, Sector 17 contained other chutiyas like us, who had gone to ogle at the pretty women.

The next thing on my list was to eat at a dhaba. The kind of dhaba they show us in Bollywood movies – a cot on the outside, trucks whizzing past, a cold beer by the side. Turns out, ‘dhaba’ is a generic word for restaurants.

The ‘dhabas’ are just restaurants with tables, chairs, and annoying posters of babies laughing for no reason. Determined to get the true Punjabi dhaba experience, we went to a dhaba on the outskirts, by the way, which had cots laid out in the front. Gurdaas Maan invited us into ‘Sethi ka dhaba’.

Once inside, we realized what a massive fan of Gurdaas Maan the owner of the dhaba was. All along the walls, were pictures of Gurdaas Maan singing, Gurdaas Maan dancing, Gurdaas Maan playing cricket, Gurdaas Maan being Gurdaas Maan.

The food of course, wasn’t much of a disappointment. And in my extremely short stay at Punjab, the food was the only saving grace. Which also makes you realize, that the food being passed off as ‘Punjabi’ food in Hyderabad is not really Punjabi in any way. It is an extremely poor attempt at replication – like Aurangzeb trying to pass off as Pope Francis.

Tired of all the disappointments that Chandigarh handed us, we decided we must visit Himachal Pradesh.

*

hp

Himachal Pradesh, my friends, is pretty.

Everything in Himachal Pradesh is beautiful. The mountains, the houses on the mountains, the people who live in the houses on the mountains. The hash smells like someone stole it from Shiva’s chillum. The stray dogs look like they came off a shoot in TLC, women look pretty without looking like Sonakshi Sinha. Babas look like they are on a BBC documentary, roads look like they belong to a different era.

Even a gutter in Himachal Pradesh is beautiful.

Because, Himachal Pradesh.

It is commonly believed that to enjoy HP in all its beauty, one must carry Shiva along. However, what they don’t tell you is that just by himself, Shiva is not much use. One also needs Lakshmi, and Durga.

And armed with Lakshmi, Shiva, Durga, the three of us stood near the mountains and turned around to see the mountains change colours every few minutes. We watched as clouds formed beautiful shapes, we listened as birds and trees and streams came together in a beautiful symphony.

As we zooming down the zig-zag roads, and our Punjabi driver was educating us on the amazing therapeutic effects of opium, I said goodbye to Himachal Pradesh.

Probably my opinion is coloured in pink because my stay there was extremely short-lived. May be there are people in HP too who scratch their balls when they see women, and shit by the side of the roads.

But I wasn’t there for long enough to see them.

And that is why Himachal Pradesh is my new favourite state in the country.