>What Is Bollywood?

>Frankly,I do not understand the term.There is no known meaning for the word “Bollywood”.As if this wasn’t enough,we have many more woods.We have the Malayalam film industry called Kollywood,Tamil and Telugu movie industries called Tollywood and a Gujarati film industry called Gollywood.For that matter,what does Hollywood mean?Somebody please enlighten me.I think I agree with what Amitabh Bacchhan said about all these woods,specifically our Bollywood.He condemned the usage of the word,terming it derogatory and copied from the West.I do not have his exact words but yes,the above line sure captures the effect.He has emphasized on calling it the “Indian film fraternity or industry” which I find to be very dignified and agreeable.
Why do we have this innate urge to copy the Western ways,mannerisms and movies?Why can’t we give our rusting brains a much needed exercise instead of spending valuable manpower and resources on diligently copying a movie reel by reel?There are umpteen examples,a few being:
Kyunki Main Jhoot Nahi Bolta copied from Liar Liar.
God Tussi Great Ho from Bruce Almighty
Raaz from What Lies Beneath
Tarzan-the wonder car from Christine
Kuchh To Hai from I Know What You Did Last Summer
Partner from Hitch
Mr. Ya Miss from Its A Boy Girl Thing/The Hot Chick

(refer http://www.bwtorrents.com/showthread.php?t=182059 for the entire list.You might also want to check out http://sxg.in/board/showthread.php/list-of-bollywood-movies-copied-from-hollywood-movies-52172.html)

When asked,the directors and producers of the movies will always tell you that the original was a source of “inspiration” for the current movie.Inspiration,really?Desperation,more like.If you check out the movies made during the 1940s and 50s,the meaning of inspiration becomes clear.No doubt,some movies of those eras were also imitations of old Western classics(sorry,couldn’t get the names),but they were certainly not so blatantly copied and renamed and released.The screenplay writers did permutate and infuse their own essence to the original storyline which made all the difference.
The modern films,with their super luscious locales,glossy looking lead actors and a bunch of song-and-dance sequences thrown in,are a poor poor adaptation of the original one.The percentage of realistic cinema,as far as “Bollywood” is concerned is quite negligable.
Our country produces the most number of movies in the world,according to the Guinness Book of World Records.Doesn’t that count for something?We have incredible talent in every nook and corner of this country.Regional films,made in states like West Bengal,Karnataka,rural Rajasthan etc are worth a watch.And yet we fawn over Sylvester Stallone,Denise Richards and a certain Barbara Mori.The actors are,undeniably,very good at their craft,but why do we need to worship them like demigods?I haven’t had the heart to watch Slumdog Millionnaire after watching the Oscars.I felt so downright ashamed of my country when I saw Rahman perform the much acclaimed Jai Ho with a host of dancers.Why haven’t we been able to get the fact straight that it was a foreign film,made entirely by foreigners.Only the location and the actors were of Indian origin.When Shilpa Shetty won the Bigg Brother,nothing else was discussed and printed in the tabloids for a month.Why all this hoopla?Just coz’ she won a reality show?Or was it because it was a UK based reality show.Would we have cared that much if she had won the Big Boss here in India?When an Indian American wins the spelling bee contest in the US,its great news back here.When one of our actors collaborates with the Western people,we are on cloud nine.A reality check.What happened to the much publicized and much talked about Ash’s role in Pink Panther?Similarly,Sushmita’s Karma confessions and Holi,a project with Robert deNiro’s daughter Drena was a dud.
In spite of all the rejections,we still harbour positive feelings for the Western industry and still hope to become an integral part of it.My question is,why?For God’s sake,why?Don’t we have any sort of self respect left anymore?All our movies which are sent to the Oscar committee with a lot of smugness on the part of the producers and a lot of aplomb on the part of the Indian people,not one has ever made it to the top five.Reason?None of them are original in thought nor they have a solid storyline.Because we lack a strong script,we attempt to fill the void with meaningless dances,weird sounding dialogues and a general poor finish to the already dwindling story.No wonder our movies are never considered for their top five.
Another question.Why do we standardize the Oscar as the most important and most valued award in the world?What is wrong with our own National Awards?Why is it that only if you wear an Armani suit or a Versache gown and splatter yourself with Swarovski crystals and walk on the red carpet with your arm candy are you considered successful in the movie business?Is there a heavenly order which says,”Thy shall consider the Oscar to be the ultimate award?”.No.The Oscar is just another award,which is given to the best in the Western film industry.Just like the Filmfare awards are given over here.I suspect that all the awards are rigged,but that is another topic.If an actor gets a National Award,he must consider himself lucky to get a paragraph’s worth of attention in the papers the next day.National award winners are,for some unfathomable reason,considered to be serious,nonsmiling actors and also given roles which reinforces the absurd notion.Have you seen Seema Biswas dancing around an oak?Have you ever seen Om Puri or a Sanjeev Kapoor doing anything but the so called “character actor” roles?We all have a PhD in stereotyping people and actors are no exception.If a mainstream actor does an “offbeat” role,he or she is showered with accolades and the Critics’ awards.Nowhere else do we have categories like “art film” and “mainstream” and “masala film”.Masala film?What did you put in it,ground cardamom and fenugreek?Are you making a movie or an eatable?
What was my point anyway?Oh,Bollywood.All I am saying is,instead of having the Mumbai film industry dominate the rest of the country,the other states should actively promote their own kind of films.India is not made up of Mumbai alone,there are a lot many states with a whole lot of talent which are yet to be tapped.If we start looking inwards instead of outwards,there will be no more reason to ape the West and get “inspired”.The West will look towards us.


>College Collage

>I was not in the best frame of mind when I finished my 12th.Quite frankly,I was tired,relieved and fed up of studying.Not that I had done much of it,but the very sight of books left me with an indelible sense of anger and worthlessness.Long before I was done with school,I knew where my calling lay.If anything,after successfully scaling the peak of 12th standard,albeit with a lot of recriminations thrown in,I decided to take stock of my life.Having realized that continuing with science would amount to suicide,I shifted my attention elsewhere.Being utterly hopeless with accounts and math,commerce was dropped out of the picture like Galileo dropped the iron balls from the tower of Pisa.Ahem…Arts.Having being encouraged by my teachers and family to take up English as a further course of action,I excitedly decided to take up literature as my major and began daydreaming about the wonderful books I was going to write and how the whole world will take notice of my work.Why is it that reality always hits you when you are least expecting it?And boy,does it hit hard.It so happened that the cut off list for literature was way,way beyond my meagre sixty nine percent,which I managed to score in the 12th.Disheartened,I tried looking at other options.Economics always made me want to run away to Siberia so that was out.Sanskrit wasn’t looking too good either so I enrolled in the only subject which was left.Psychology.
Xaviers has the very healthy reputation of being one of the best colleges in the city and the country and the 2005 edition of India Today had ranked the psychology program among the best 10 in the country.I had absolutely no clue about what I was going to expect while at college nor had I any inkling about the course,which sounded so darn professional and scary.
I’ve lived my life in the reverse gear.In school,I did everything I shouldn’t have been doing.I bunked classes,ran around the whole school with a couple of friends trying to hide from the teacher whose lecture we had bunked,sneaked away during the recess,failed to complete any sort of homework and was always at the bottom five of my class.College was a complete and utter turnover,as I was about to discover.
In one word,Xaviers equals discipline.The three years I spent there were the best years of my life and I cannot thank God enough to have given me the opportunity.All the Arts courses started at 7:45 am sharp and woe betide any unlucky student who reached late.All my professors were gems,their teaching superlative.Attendance was placed just next to breathing.Even if you fell short of one percent than what was required,you had to make endless rounds to Father Principal’s office,pleading with him to let you sit in the exam.An attendance blacklist would be put up after every quartet,and we used to behold the sight of the never ending line of defaulters.
The college provided me with something I had never hoped to encounter again in my life:confidence.My already diminishing confidence was irrevocably and totally murdered by the Loch Ness Monster of India,the 12th standard boards.I regained it part by part,and for the first time ever in my life,I started to top the class at studies.I also began enjoying the whole process of learning and studying,arguing and disagreeing with the professors and generally got my groove back.School,unfortunately,could never provide me with that.
Our college was more like a convent controlled premises with stringent rules and regulations,but it’s only due to those that we could regularize our lives and schedules.We lived in constant awe and terror of the Principal and I remember all of us actually holding our breaths that one time when he had come to class to address an issue.Propriety,stability,perseverance,the value of time,respect for people,event and crowd management and honesty with oneself were some of the life’s truths Xaviers taught me.Won’t be forgetting those lessons in a hurry.

>No More Board-om

>The recent announcement by the education minister(or is it the education council,I forget which) to have an optional board exam has thrown the students of India into great turmoil and apprehension.The parents are not far behind in their anxiety over such a revolutionary statement.Board exams optional????
I remember my own tryst with the boards.The years 2003 and 2005 will forever remain etched in my mind,for those were the “Terrible Two” in my life.Well,not actually.Tenth standard was a blurred film.I hardly have any idea what I wrote in the allocated time of three hours.I was neither tense about the exams nor was I in any way concerned about the results.Tenth just happened and faded away.
Twelfth,on the other hand,was a very different ball game altogether.For the first time ever,before the physics exam,I felt the stirrings of fear.Of course,I didn’t know a thing about physics.I was too busy daydreaming and getting scolded by the teacher when the classes were on.I was troubled by the fact that if I failed,I’d lose a year of my life and I was not,repeat,not going to waste another year studying the same electromagnetic theories and Ohm’s laws.I managed to write some sensible looking stuff and drew a few very neatly labelled diagrams which I drew,re drew and tampered around with until it was time to leave the exam room.My sigh of relief was premature,because the very next exam was chemistry.
Ah,chemistry.Kya mystery hai.All through 11th and 12th,I sat listening to our teacher,who misspelt and mispronounced every other word,droning on about polymers,stereochemistry and formation of crystals.I did struggle in vain to understand why were the reactions between sulphuric acid and hydrogen sulphate so important.Was I ever going to use the deadly acid anytime in my life?Was my learning the balanced equations the answer to reducing global warming and stopping the impending nuclear war?(Of course there is not going to be a nuclear war anytime soon,but it does sound scary,doesn’t it).Organic chemistry was the bane of my life.It was my nemesis from the word go.The double and triple bonds with their menacing catalysts always threatened to strangle me.
Anyways,back to the examination hall.When I opened the paper,I was greeted by black words on white paper.I spent ten minutes just reading and re reading the questions,which were really devils in disguise.Then I wrote my name,roll number,date etcetra.That took another five minutes.Then,finally,taking a deep breath,I wrote 1 in the margin of the answer paper.Chewing the end of my pen for two seconds,I put a dot next to the 1 so it became 1.Gazing around lightly,I was unnerved to see all heads bent over their papers answering the monstrous questions diligently.Realizing that if I sat there idle anymore,I would be looked upon with suspicion,I began writing the simplest of answers I could recover from my memory.After about forty five minutes,my store of chemistry related knowledge depleted and I sat back reviewing my beautifully written(I am just referring to the penmanship) answers.During the next two hours or so,I put up a great show of writing busily and frowning when I had made a mistake.Ah,some acting that.
The rest of the papers went astonishingly well but as the time of the results drew close,I was almost positive that I’d fail miserably in physics and chemistry.But lo and behold,I managed to garner pass marks in both.Bless the examiners who endured my papers and bestowed their kindness on me.
Coming back to the original point,if this optional board system had been announced back then,I might have lapped it up.I really do not think that the boards are in any way a measure of a student’s capacity,ability and ingenuity.On the contrary,the very mention of board exams sends off students and parents into a tizzy.Perfoming well in the boards is the life’s ambition of many and when they cannot,they just end their lives.Why don’t the parents realize that exams are just a very minuscule part of the very large picture called life.Failing in the boards is not the end of life.I think this optional board idea is fantastic.Wish I was in the 10th or 12th to have availed the chance.

>The World Inside A Railway Carriage


I always prefer a train journey to a flight unless inevitable,because firstly,the train is at ground level and any mishaps need not always prove fatal.But mostly,I love train journeys since they afford me the luxury of idling away a minimum of twenty hours by the window(if I am that lucky).Just staring at the passing landscape,gazing at the star studded sky at night and feeling the caress of the breeze feels like heaven.Of course,your co-passengers are a pivotal aspect of redeeming this luxury.If a bawling two year old decides to make the window seat his throne,there is really very little you can do about it.

My journeys to and from Ahmedabad to Hyderabad take twenty four hours if the weatherman gives us the green signal and more if not.Earlier,we used to travel to Hyderabad only for special occasions and the summer vacations.But ever since I enrolled in a university over there,my sole self has been making these journeys.And it is really a liberating feeling to travel alone amongst hundreds of strangers.When you are on your own,the entire onus of packing,getting sundry things ready,reaching the station on time,boarding the right train and compartment,and most importantly,ensuring the security of your luggage as well as yourself is on you.All the aforementioned features make you feel important and responsible.

No matter which class you travel by in a train,there are some quaint details which almost refuse to change.The innumerable hawkers,chai wallahs,coffee wallahs,chai and coffee wallahs,people selling an incredible variety of eatables,drinkables and even clothes.These people roam about the whole length of the train with a sense of cheeriness and optimism which is quite hard to believe.Watching them urge the passengers to try out their wares or wheedling them to sample some of their eatables almost moves you to compassion.There is a whole world inside a train compartment.People of all shapes,sizes,color and religion can be found inside one.Their mannerisms,little quirks of personalities,their eating habits and way of addressing a fellow passenger are amusing and entertaining to watch.

Beggars traversing the length of the train ceaselessly,waiting for some kind hearted soul to drop a few pennies into their boxes,are another sight to behold.Some are maimed,some blind,some have hapless children tucked into their arms for garnering more sympathy.But there is one rather disconcerting feature about them.As far as my experience goes,almost all the beggars have powerful voices and sing really well.Their vocal pitch is incredible to say the least.If groomed properly and given enough exposure,there is no doubt that these people will go far.”What a pipe dream!” exclaims my inner voice.And I shut up.

There are cerain pitfalls too.Like,when you are travelling second class,the entire compartment filled to capacity,and you also have a couple of kids who keep throwing stuff down from the top berths to any unfortunate heads they see down.It is also beyond horrible when it starts pouring outside,the train is forced to halt in the middle of nowhere and you are stuck in a compartment like I mentioned above.Before you know it,the entire floor is covered with rain water which is trickling through the ill maintained window grills.And along with the rain water float bits and pieces of hair which the buxom lady sitting across you just combed,maybe the half eaten pieces of biscuits and peanuts which are the generous gift of the brats sitting above.Your stomach churns but what can you do?

Trains will come and trains will go.All of them crammed with thousands of folk,each with his own story.The kind of camaraderie and sense of belongingness you experience in a train can never be the same anywhere.Go,hop in.

>Spaced out

>The idea for this particular post came from a very unusual source.The incessant and very annoying twittering of a pair of mynah birds outside my bedroom window provided fodder for thought.Mynahs are essentially small birds with an exceptional vocal range.I say exceptional because their persistent tweeting manages to rouse me from my slumber.For all those who know me,I sleep like a log.Maybe even logs will get up given enough evolutionary space but not me.So that is why I say that those little birds are exceptional.
Now,I believe that my family should probably give up all academic pursuits and spend its time opening an aviary.We’ve raised at least four generations of pigeons,one of sparrows and two of mynahs in our bedroom windows.And all of these birds have incredible memories.They keep coming back to visit us time and again when we least expect it.I have a tremendous birdophobia..or is it,avophobia.Whatever it is,these unwelcome guests always leave me with a sense of profound terror and sometimes I feel that the house belongs to them,not us.
Almost all of these birds first make their cosy and comfortable nests either in the window sill or in the exhaust fan placed in the kitchen balcony.I begin enlightening my mother about the “nesty” state of affairs,and more often than not,my observations are brushed off with,”Oh okay,I will look into it.” I wait.Some days later,I notice,with trepidation,that there are eggs in the nest.My apprehension increases now and I repeat my earlier statements with more force.Now my mother looks at me like I’ve dyed my hair purple and says,”Eggs?There are eggs in it?How can I remove them now?Let them stay and hatch.” My helpless stare and open mouth go unnoticed.Days pass.The eggs hatch and out come batches of little birds.After about a couple of weeks,the family leaves and I heave a sigh of relief.Now my life will be somewhat my own,I mistakenly think.The very thought of roaming about in my house,in a jaunty,fearless manner is stopped short as I hear with horror another set of chirps coming from the window sill.There.Another set of parents ready to start a family.
Why do birds build their havens in people’s houses?Why do they not go and live in forests,as they were originally supposed to do?Why do they risk being chased away and even killed by us humans and our gadgets?We all know the answer.It’s all our doing.During the last two or three decades,we have destroyed an enormous amount of wildlife,trees and natural products.We have very smartly and as I might add,arrogantly,usurped the rights of millions of animals and birds,by taking away their habitats and flora.It’s only natural then,that these homeless and defenceless creatures try and live in alien spaces like window sills of apartments and small confined holes in walls.We have effectively and cruelly made life hell for things which are non-people.We think smugly of our advanced technologies which have made our lives super easy,but not a moment is spared in reflecting about those unfortunate and hapless fauna whose lives we have wrecked.
We think we are invincible,right?Well,we live on a very small planet which is revolving around an average sized star,situated in a small galaxy which is just one amongst billions of its kind,many even bigger than it.How is that for a perspective?The way I look at it,if God was a man living in a house called the Universe,and Earth was one of the window sills,if He had decided to kill oxygen and water and food supplies,where would all of us go?What if He had banned the entry of any human on his window sill?We would all perish in a matter of a few days.That is precisely what we are doing to other livestock.God has created a space for each and every living being on this Earth,from the tiny bacterium to the gigantic blue whale,and it would really be better for all of us to give every mortal his or her designated space.Just the way He intended it to be.