Sunday, August 25

The making of a Beast: Social Media

Network 18 mass terminated about 300 of its staff. You can read more about it here (http://www.newslaundry.com/2013/08/network-18-skeleton-crew/). A facebook status and the argument that ensued threw up some interesting ways of looking at the things.

It is common knowledge that most media houses are making losses almost every quarter. From NDTV (http://www.newslaundry.com/2013/06/the-last-mogul/) to TV 18, no one knows how to deal with the downsliding market. This is what Outlook group did earlier this month. http://www.newslaundry.com/2013/07/will-all-lifestyle-mags-die/ 

This article (http://www.livemint.com/Politics/DEG6BaujIgGV146TtJWPAN/News-channels-revenues-hit-as-adtime-shrinks.html)  presents the most clear picture of News media industry as it stands today. 

Basically, it is all about surviving. Cost-cutting is the only option. 

What brought this upon the indsutry? 


(The following is a theory by the writer which MAY prove wrong in the long run so if you are nosy about facts, please close the tab.)

It is true that there is little money in this sector and the unplanned growth had to lead to the present-day scenario. But this writer believes that the biggest role in this downturn has been played by social media. When every individual becomes a broadcaster, the ones who are in the business of broadcasting feel the pinch. As the internet penetration has increased and brought in about 130-140 million people (in India) in its fold, the social media users have increased exponentially.

Today, a 18 year old from Saharanpur has as 'valid' an opinion as Prannoy Roy. The halo is lost forever. The industry has responded by featuring 'twitter trends' as news in the name of keeping up with time. When specialists indulge in generalisation, quality as well quantity are hit. If they are going to air news that is already available on Twitter, why will anyone watch it on TV. It doesn't help that the standard of journalism is downright pathetic (in any number of cases). 

Falling viewership is simply a result of 'I'm not interested in News, only the ones that concern me.' People have moved beyond the regular 'Subah aur shaam ko news dekh liya.' Digitisation, which is the industry's big hope, is only going to give more accurate figures, it is not going to increase viewership. 

The situation is going to worsen in the next decade as the internet penetration is going to increase. Industry veterans are already talking about 'niche viewership' but if the new media continues to play the role of a catalyst, 'no viewership' will also become a distinct possibilty. The media will have to react innovatively and creatively. The market is too harsh and won't give anyone a second chance. 

In any case, and the writer genuinely believes, social media will not complement the formal media, it is going to replace it, sooner or later.

The worrying factor is not the 'doom for TV'. It is 'what after social media takes over?' How will it impact the dynamic of a volatile country like India where Freedom of Speech and Expression is not absolute. A backlash maybe? From the ones who'll be left behind in the development race?

It's high time the unchecked growth of social media is taken into consideration in policy formation at all levels. Because the day every individual becomes a broadcaster, there won't be any viewers left. And that day is not too far in the future.

If you think, these opinions/predictions are out of place, please comment.

Sunday, February 5

Imtiaz Ali

Note: This is not a profile or a review.


In December 2007, I saw a film called 'Jab We Met'. I was all alone at home, it was around 3.30 am. After about 2 and a half hours, I felt the story was about me. Neither I come from an affluent family like Aditya does nor I'm as talkative as Geet. They are two individuals I've never met, though, I understand them.


The only thing I identify with is the honesty. It takes courage to say 'haan, wo meri maa thi jo kisi aur ke saath bhaag gayi thi'. It takes courage to say, 'shaadi ke baad tum apna pehla affair mere saath kar lena'. There is pain but more than that, there is honesty. Aditya, a character from our world doesn't seem like the rich brat we expect him to be. He has seen life and faced the most difficult situation in life- saw his mother with another man. Shaken from within, his love also leaves him. It's difficult to be yourself amidst such circumstances. To sit in a hotel room with a young and attractive woman and behave the way he did, is dignity. Not every day, you come across such people.


But not every one accidentally meets a Geet. In a society, where a woman is supposed to be within limits, she extends them. She has her fears, but she braves them. She talks and talks and talks, as she doesn't want to restrict herself.  She lives for herself, but doesn't forget others in her life. 'Main apni favourite hun', is a difficult to thing to say. It's not the arrogance with which people speak. It's just the belief in her that is untouched. She gives everything her all. Even if it means being in pain. It takes a lot of Grace to thank someone whom she doesn't need to thank.


Their pain connects them, but their honesty brings them together.


This honesty is nothing but a reflection of a man who doesn't know how to lie. With all the fun he has, the one thing that refuses to leave his hand is his honesty  It's his dignified self that Aditya represents while Geet is his Gracious side. In a world full of hypocrites, he is untouched. Neither he is manipulative nor he is sitting on a pedestal. His characters are rooted, just like him. Be it Love Aaj Kal or Rockstar, what doesn't change is the fact that his characters are nothing but different sides of Imtiaz Ali. No male protagonist is undignified with women and no female protagonist is chained by the society. They are as free as he his. The 'away' in the Rumi couplet is nothing but his own world. Pure, untouched and uncompromised.


What he creates is beyond art, which is why what he leaves us with are more than just stories. 


Thank you Sir, for such honest stories.




P.S- I'm on a 'revisiting spree'!

Saturday, November 12

Heartfelt

I remember when my mother was pregnant with my sister, she went to her maternal house in Lucknow while I stayed with my father on a condition that he will show me any film which I'd ask him to take me for. I was 5 and it would have been difficult for him to convince me not to go with her, so he agreed. To his credit, he kept his word. We lived in a small town in eastern U.P called Deoria. There were only three theatres (now only two of them exist) then.

The first film that I saw was 'Mr. & Mrs. Khiladi' in Sooraj Talkies. I don't think I had laughed that much ever before. The second film was 'Jurassic Park: The Lost World' in Hindi at Vijay Talkies. It was winter and my father would take me for 9 pm shows. He would sleep in the empty theatres and I would just look at that those old screens with bad projection, almost transfixed. I was thrilled to see that film. Still am. With not just that film, but numerous others that I saw there and in Allahabad and in Lucknow and while travelling. When others used to go for sight-seeing, I used to watch films. I saw 'Dulhan Hum Le Jayenge' when we visited Dehradun in April 2000.    

 I can recount thousands of instances where if anyone were to gift /reward me, it had to be through a film. 'Mann' was the prize for getting 3rd rank in 3rd standard's quarterly exams. Most of these would be night shows. I would be as happy as I could ever be. I would smile for days if liked the film. I would sulk for days if I didn't like it. But my faith was firm, someday I would find something in this.

That I had inherited from my father, the love for cinema.  

In 2009, a strange thing happened. I enrolled in a media school, full of students from the higher strata of society. Though I'm not poor, I'm not so well off either. I was suddenly surrounded by people who would talk about camera lenses and framing and sound design. College taught, film-making is a craft. It is more than going loony over an actor. 

But I couldn't figure out why the importance of watching a film was unimportant now. It was about 'analysing the frames' solely and not for the feeling of watching a film itself. 

I thought watching a film on the screen meant that I surrender myself to the world of the film. It was to go and appreciate the effort in bringing those stories alive. To search for what I could see. Not what others told me. I never asked anyone 'how did he/she liked a film or should I see it?' It's personal. It's like praying. You do it for yourself. You don't tell others how you pray or why you pray or whether it's bearing fruits. It always does, sometime or the other.

But no, everyone believes it's about see how honed the craft of the film maker is. 

I think the danger of craft is that it needs to be in a second position to what it is that you're doing.
-Charlie Kaufman

The intention or the honesty is immaterial. I'm a paying customer. The product or so it is called, must be worth my time and money. I must get my return on investment. Or else, I'll go to Facebook/Twitter and tell everyone, Don't see the film. I can go to the extent that I'll call the film 'Randi picture' if I don't like it. No, I won't stop. I'll continue till the film is killed. Till half the people have already decided that this prayer doesn't bear fruits. It doesn't lead me to God. 
It's immaterial that it tells some other things. Some other things that might be important to someone else. Maybe, a person would have seen that 'Randi Picture' and found it similar to his own life, if I wasn't arrogant that my way of reaching God is the only way. It's a mild form of Fanaticism. But that's okay. As long as I've a few people supporting my viewpoint,  I'm fine with this Fanaticism. 

After all, how can there be something in it if I didn't see it. Maybe, I was texting on my BBM and something whizzed past.  

Of course, there are experts too. They have an even more certain way of measuring devotion of film makers. They give stars. They measure the prayer by a completely different parameter. If I reach this level of spirituality, I'll give it these many stars. Okay. 

This has become routine now. I'm still a 5 year old when I enter a theatre. The feeling of getting inside as early as I can, not missing the credits (including the end credits) is still important to my happiness. But what has changed are the reactions. No one is ready to sit through a 3 hour long old world kind of cinema (Mausam and Rockstar), it seems 'stretched'. A better way to put it, it was edited badly. 
And failure is not an option (Ra.One). You have to succeed. At all costs. Because I'm going to see the film on the basis of how the marketing was done. You know, I've a certain expectation. And as a paid slave, you must entertain me or I'll kill your 'Randi Picture'. It's a different thing that I'll ask opportunities when making college degree film. But you must succeed. 

Yeah, a lot has changed in terms of media to see a film. But so has the way of watching a film. It must give something to me.  

It's not an accident then that three films I liked this year were tore apart by 'critics' and public alike. They were boring, unoriginal and long. It's not even a cause to rethink that someone put so much heart and soul, honesty to bring the story alive. So what if he failed. Failure is the way to learn. All three were made over two or more years each. But the junta's verdict is final. FLOP. 

The innocence and excitement in watching a story unfold in a theatre is not attractive anymore. The searing honesty is not appreciated by people who revel in artificiality of people/events. 

"I think Rockstar has been my most difficult film. I didn't make the film as a director should, my emotional side took over. I made irrational decisions, but they are heartfelt"
-Imtiaz Ali  

Wednesday, May 19

ROCK ON!!

Well, this post is dedicated to Malvika Asher, the first and only person till date who has asked me to update my blog!

So, this post is for you, Ei what re?

I was watching Rock On recently and suddenly realized the answers of many unanswered questions of my life. I never ever noticed the character of Rob. He wanted to live his life to the fullest for one last time. He had the support of his friends who wished to fulfill his desire. He died after living his dream, that of creating music with the people he wanted to. His character could have been showed in the light which we have seen in many earlier Hindi films, making him die of ‘LINFO CERCOMA OF THE INTESTINE’ (Anand was a great film and by no chance I’m trying to be demeaning). But Rob was not in pain. He was at peace. He knew what would happen and made agreement to it. He was ambitious and fought to make it happen. He died but only after he did what he wanted to. His passion got hold of lives of so many. They all came together because of him. He not only had achieved his goal but he also had peace. What is amazing is the fact that it is not because he bought peace, but he managed to somehow understand the meaning of it.

I was watching the film for the nth number of time but Rob never occurred to me. But today I understood the meaning of peace in bits (no one can understand it in its entirety as no one is god including God!). And it is immensely satisfying to know of certain things about life. At least to know that they exist.

It’s been ages since I last updated my blog because of all which was happening in my life. Most of it was concerned with COMPENSATING my attendance, to take it up to 90! It took me 38 hours in college and 6 days over all. And finally I left for home!!!!!!!!!!!!

I was excited, happy, sad and sadder, and mostly unsatisfied. I hadn’t expected to finish the term in such a way. It was one real bad phase of my life. And I mean it when I say ‘bad phase’. There are two reasons for me to call it so, first being that many events were simply undesirable and many were just too heavy to accept, and the other being that it has finished finally so I can call it a ‘phase’.

I wanted to get on with life and be with my dear ones. It was almost suffocating to be there anymore than I did. I left the city with a little bit of joy and mostly pain. I wish if it could have been a little better! But then, to experience these things are necessary in making a life, complete.

Life is definitely better here. I think just not better but fulfilling, to see people who care for you, and want you in their life. They really make life worth living. I needed them just at this moment and I have them. They have revitalized me and I’m back on track now. It’s like a new life and I’m living every bit of it.

Honestly, it’s peace which is all I need at this point in life.

Moral of the story- keep looking for different characters in films. Who knows you might get something new!!

Wednesday, May 5

ONCE UPON A TIME...





The given is a story about this village landlord in the region of Bengal who is in his mid 40’s. He has a young child who adores his father for his integrity. The landlord gets a letter one day which leaves him baffled as he has to leave his land, because of being unable to repay a loan taken from the government. He tries through all means to repay but is unable to do so. His son understands his plight and sees him taking to alcoholism. Soon, after fighting a lot with himself, he succumbs to liver cancer leaving his child alone to take care of his mother.

( I thought I should also put up my assignment)
:)

Tuesday, April 13

YET AGAIN...

Finally, KKR is out of IPL officially and this is the third consecutive occasion. Tired of Dada and SRK apologizing time and again. Just not happening for them. They try hard every time but sometimes it just doesn't go your way. This was one such unfortunate incident.

The team tries to play well but when it comes close to a win, they just lose. Every loss could be felt when one looked at those fiery eyes of Dada turning sad. Just now Shah Rukh Khan said that he will not promise anything for the next season as it is futile to talk about. Their chances are not bleak,their efforts are. That is what bothers everyone. Not that they don't work in the right direction, the output is not worth it!
Sadly, we are out this season also!!
:(

Sometimes, your efforts go unnoticed and unrecognized. Now, I understand! Doesn't matter how hard you hard you try, its the final result which is you are known for! And I can guarantee I have understood this really well now. I always believed in this theory but its understanding was not as much. Really life teaches you every day, every moment!

Last couple of weeks haven't been that great, to put it mildly. Every step taken was either wrong or proved to be so. In fact the consequences have been a little undesirable. Yeah. So what if I didn't intend to do anything which could cause troubles to anyone, from friends to foes to none. But the thing is that it turned out to be exactly the case. Maybe, once again, I got it all wrong. Sometimes the third person perspective is so much more convenient and soothing. Can we opt to live as a third person and watch our lives unfolding in front of us without being affected? No we can't. Honestly, I don't want it to happen that way. It will limit my perspective. Also, these roller coaster rides will also be denied by life for 'supposedly COWARDS' if they don't want to experience it first hand.

The efforts to better what you did last time around also goes waste because half your energies are wasted on inconsequential elements while the other half goes on lamenting what happened previously.More often than not, these pessimistic thoughts are passed onto the near ones and because they are 'near', they also manage to cause problems for themselves. In other words, "all izzz NOT well".

This is the your real test. This is the time when you need to get up and dust yourself. This is the time when you need to reinstate faith in yourself and commit yourself to fighting these situations. This is the challenge which life puts across to you.Fight it or perish.This is what makes you a winner or a loser....

The most successful captain of INDIAN cricket was once shown the doorway. A very clearly chalked out strategy was used to keep him away. He was told to retire. He said "I WON'T". He fought. He fought with great determination and 2 years later, he was brought back. He outplayed everyone on the ground. In fact, he outplayed himself. He was called the 'MASTER OF COMEBACKS'. He won that battle because he fought.
He always have been and will continue to do so forever...

"Saamne vijay ho ya parajay, yodha ka dharm hai larna. Akhri saans tak, khoon ke aakhri katre tak, larna".

Fighting is life's essence, and winning is the way especially if you have lost something....

Monday, April 5

HEY RAM!

The other day I saw Hey Ram for the first time (ashamed of it). I guess it was shown for the brilliance of it and not otherwise!
I was in a state of trance for sometime. I didn't know whom to talk to or whom to shout at? I was just unhappy and sad. The reason was the same old cliched question- where is the 'unity in diversity'?

Cliched, I know.

But what I don't know is till when are we going to do this to none but ourselves? Till when?
I am brought up in a place which has a history of communal riots, last one happened couple of years ago(not huge but still). That divide is still there and growing deeper and deeper. I was always told to be apprehensive of 'these' people. I never understood it. Never. In fact, my school had more students from a particular area where people from a particular community lived. I was terrified with the way people from a particular community treated the others. I was horrified. Thanks to my upbringing and some films,I understood the cause (just a bit) very early. I was away from that divide yet always near. The most important element of all this is the fact that not a single person could furnish me a concrete answer to this question- "why are they different from us?". Some would say that they are traitors, some would say they are 'Kaafir'. I could not believe my ears. Any rational Indian wouldn't. They had no answer whatsoever!
I tried to do some research and find out why and when this all started.

It all began in the late 19th century when both the communities were getting united to fight for independence. Their unity was short lived because British were clever enough to use the policy still used for the same- 'Divide and Rule'. The result was a Muslim League formed by Mohammed Ali Jinnah, historically believed to be one of the most secular leaders. What followed was battle for supremacy and in some years we got independence. We got India minus Pakistan. That was the seed planted by the then leaders and we bear the brunt of it till today and will continue to do so forever.
There were wars in 1948, 65 and 71. We won every time but what we lost is trust. Trust in ourselves.

I don't care for Pakistan because that is a mistake which cannot be undone now. So lets grant that.
What I care for is what happened to people who live in our country. We were supposed to be the most diverse country, culturally. What happened to us?
We forgot that some people chose to live in India while some never wanted to go. They became a part of the UNION OF INDIA.

They are part of India. But what have we done? We have written history with each other's blood, at many instances. Some popular cases are the 89 riots,Babri demolition, 93 riots and many more. We have exploited all the chances to the utmost and will continue to do so.

We have some really worthy leaders like Varun Gandhi who believe in 'chopping off hands' while others believe in questioning national icons who have done the country proud so many times because they are of A particular community.They don't consider the fact that the other person's father was one of the youngest freedom fighters while they haven't done anything worth mentioning. I am sorry, I forgot they gave us Babri demolition,93 riots. But they would say what about the 'Bombay' blasts and my answer is simple- "hang the guilty, not the people who unfortunately belong to a religion these murderers say they belong to".

Many a times, sorry all the time the sufferer is no one but the common man who wants bread and a roof. Thats all that he needs. But he gets things more than that so many times. We can take names from that of the three ruling Khans(common example) to the former president APJ Abdul Kalam, from Mir Ranjan Negi to Irfan Pathan and Ashfaqullah Khan to Bhagat Singh. Some have died and others will follow but they will never be able to prove that these religions have become a part of India's DNA now!
You cant deny that if not accept it.

Everyone who says that he/she wants to safeguard the interest of a particular community is lying because religion is practiced behind closed doors. It is the vested interest which becomes the driving force and the common man suffers. The whole country suffers. India suffers.!

A child who is too innocent to understand all this is made to understand that he is different from another child of his age because he wears a white cap on Fridays!

History has it that you cannot isolate these two but it also has that you cant get them together.

Maybe we will continue to write novels, make films and do whatever we can to bring them together, fact is we cant unless they want.
Maybe I don't agree with Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi but I agree with him once,when i hear

HEY RAM!