Aug 29, 2011

The Lawmakers' Revenge

No, This is not the title of a movie. Nor is this another attempt on my part to write a good short story. This is a simple story of a country and its lawmakers. More than 700 of them.
Saturdays are always sexy, I have believed. There is a genuine sense of relief, restiveness and calmness around this day of the week. The fact that a certain Sunday comes just after it, tilts the scale in favor of Saturday, big time. Anyways. Last Saturday was far from restive and calm for India, its people and their representatives.

Indian Parliament, for the first time since independence, sacrificed its Saturday Holiday to discuss the three contentious issues raised by Team Anna for inclusion in the much-debated Lokpal Bill. Let's not discuss what those three points were or how the events unfolded on the fateful day. We all know about it. Or at least think that we know. Media makes people believe.

Anna Hazare's intentions were never under the cloud. Nor was the significance of the cause taken up by him. However, as his agitation intensified, his demands became more and more unreasonable and methods questionable. There was a gang of activists around him, which left no stone unturned in turning the table on its head, till the very last moment. During the fag end of the agitation, uncalled for remarks were made against politicians from the dias in the Ramlila ground. A visibly drunk Om Puri's outburst was the most noticeable of all the tirades against politicians. Anna did nothing to stop it. Kiran Bedi did her own little skit to mock politicians. It was shameful to see her do so. Being an activist does not give you the right to demean politicians, who after all oversee most of the affairs of this country, howsoever lousily.

But as the saying goes, its your actions that speak louder than the words. Indian lawmakers did exactly the same by raising the bar when it was most required. They rose above the party lines and showed remarkable maturity, unity and composure in what was definitely a mini-crisis of sorts for them.

Whether it was sophisticated lawyer cum politician Arun Jaitley or a rustic grass-root level old warhorse like Sharad Yadav, they all gained some excellent brownie points against the self-appointed civil society members. The unanimous voice of the parliament condemned attempts to thwart the parliamentary procedure. By their sense of urgency, members of parliament showed that they can, in fact, carry out important business in a dignified and sensible manner.

I don't know whether Lokpal Bill will root out corruption from India or not. But, it has already made our defunct parliament functional. It was one of those few moments, when I felt proud of my country's 'parliamentary' democracy. I also hope that this good sense, urgency and togetherness of Indian Parliament continues. Saturday's proceeding was a slap on faces of those who hate politicians as if they were some undesired ice cream flavor. 

It was a revenge well-taken by that crucial leg of democracy, that we so love to trample upon. 

In the Parliament Lies Heart of the Indian Democracy

P.S.: Oh, I so loved Sharad Yadav's barbs at 'Dabba' (TV) and that 'Babu Moshay' News Anchor!

Aug 22, 2011

Seeking Krishna Consciousness

If there was a survey or a poll to establish which of the many Hindu Gods is the most 'popular' or followed, in all probability, Krishna would top the list. But sadly the media is too obsessed with the so-called celebrities and their love lives, or our 'oh-so-efficient' politicians and their sinful deeds. Also, conducting such a poll may amount to breach of secularism, which we so proudly flaunt, Home Minister may even term it Saffron terror. (Pun intended)

But the concept of Krishna Consciousness goes beyond Hinduism. It involves subtle nationalism, profound spiritualism and the oneness of all faiths. Interestingly, Krishna happens to be the only Hindu God, Who is considered as a prophet in an Islamic Sect. The Ahmaddiya Sect revers Krishna as a great prophet (Avatar as we call it) of Hindus. Buddhism and Jainism, being offshoots of Hinduism, have their own special connection with Kanha.Even Baha'i Faith worships krishna and lists him in the elite company of Zoroaster, Buddha, Muhammad, Jesus Christ, the Báb, and the founder of the Bahá'í Faith, Bahá'u'lláh. Clearly, the dude is India's one of the earliest and finest global exports.

Krishna is perhaps the 'most approachable' of all Gods. He is the one with whom we can relate, collate and communicate. While Ram is the ideal one, with values and virtues, that are hard to match (Specially in the present times), Krishna is more delightful in his offerings. He is shrewd, tactful, unmatched diplomat, savior of mankind and benevolent.

Hindus have always looked up to the various manifestations of Vishnu to gain inspiration. "Which is the ideal path", we often wonder. Krishna offers an almost instant noodle solution. So a kid can emulate his prank-ridden childhood, a youngster can take tuition on love matters and an adult can learn the nuances of diplomacy, righteousness and compassion.

In an India, where love birds are tormented and killed in the name of honor, Krishna is the way forward. For a political class so spineless and unimaginative, Krishna's lessons on diplomacy are nothing sort of a treatise.

It's time all the Madhavs, Govindas, Kanhaiyas, Gopals and Mohans stood up and act as saviors, on the lines of  their Illustrious namesake. When Krishna said that He comes down to earth every time chaos takes toll, he did not mean it literally. It was a call for Us, the mortals, to carry forward his legacy, to act on his behalf. So lets clean up the dirt, folks!

P.S.- All of us are pleasure-seeking creatures. So you can say that directly or indirectly we are all seeking Krishna. Chanting Hare Krishna is a way of seeking Krishna directly.

First Published on Facebook on Thursday, September 2, 2010 at 8:47pm on Occasion of Janmashtami

Aug 20, 2011

Not A (Great) Love Story!

Ram Gopal Verma divides opinion, there is little doubt over this fact. While some loathe his mannerism, outspoken nature and even his body of work, others praise his distinctive style, courage and 'never say never' attitude. However, neither I intend to discuss the enigma called RGV here nor do I wish to tear apart his 'infant terrible' stature. I just wish to present an honest opinion on RGV's latest directorial venture 'Not a Love Story', based on the infamous Neeraj Grover Murder Case.

Lets make few things clear at the onset. This film seems to be made in a tearing hurry, to cash on the public attention the Neeraj Grover case is getting. To make sure that a good film is made in the given limited time span, the director has smartly used young (student-level) technicians, who come up with an over-all refined product. Students of a leading media school have managed to give a very slick look to the film. Not a Love Story boasts of snazzy editing, competent sound design and excellent special effects. This, for me, is the high point of the film.

The film also has excellent background score (Sandeep Chowta, Remember him?) and some very competent performances. Mahie Gill shines in the role of a aspiring actress whose dream of making it big in the dream city turns sour. Zakir Hussain, as the investigating cop, infuses life into the otherwise dull second half. Surprisingly, Deepak Dobriyal, otherwise a very fine actor, looks out of touch in the role of Mahie's obsessive boyfriend. RGV just makes a caricature of that gruesome murderer in form of Dobriyal.

Not A Love Story lacks drama. It merely tries to depict the circumstances and events that led to murder of Ashish (Ajay Gehi) on that fateful morning in Mumbai. Sadly, the killing and the subsequent chopping of the dead body fail to incite fear, nausea and tension in the viewers' mind. Expectedly, it is the famed 'camera angle' of RGV that irritates, nauseates and suffocates you. He goes overboard with his camera fixation and ends up zooming in on bosoms and underpants of the lead protagonist. Towards the end, you develop a strong feeling that camera in the film has been used for pretentious reasons, for hiding the glaring loopholes in story and screenplay. What else explains, a 'shaky' camera in the courtroom!

Unlike other crime dramas like No One Killed Jessica, Verma's Not a Love Story lacks substance, conclusion and conviction. The ending is bizzare and leaves a very bad taste in your mouth. A fine talent like Deepak Dobriyal has been terribly wasted. His only job is to pop out his yellow eyes and suck the life out of Mahie Gill's mouth. The middle portions of the film lack pace and hence, even a two-hours length seems to be treacherous. The director also does not bother to take the audience inside the mind of such a ruthless murderer. The 'psychological angle' would have been welcome, but all we get is a funny 'nightmare' scene, with RGV written all over it!

Verma's treatment of the subject in the final reels in amateurish and stupid in many ways. Yes, the case is still sub-judice and one does not expect the director to pass a judgement on the murder. Yet, the ending makes you laugh at the sheer audacity and stupidity of the director!

To give credit to makers of the film, the entire package is not that bad, thanks to strong technical aspects of the film. But, as the cliche goes, nothing can replace the soul and substance. Watch it (if at all) for Mahie Gill's riveting performance and some crash course in editing & sound design! And Yes, this is not RGV's 'best work' by any stretch of imagination.

Average- **!

Aug 18, 2011

An Initiative Gone Awry

Anna Hazare and his team is back. This time, presumably, with a greater support and even more rigid demands. When Anna sat on indefinite hunger strike for the first time in April, it was largely driven by a selfless and honest ambition to root out corruption from India and demand formulation of a strong Lokpal Bill. Three months since 73-year old Gandhian rose to national limelight, the circumstances have changed a lot, plenty of political water has flown through various terrains of India.

Anti-corruption movement seems to be have been sabotaged by a self-elected civil society, half-baked political aspirants like Ramdev, and there is an increasing tendency to challenge every damn thing that the Government of India does. Credibility of the government is abysmally low and it is largely being perceived to be the most corrupt regime to have ruled India since independence. But again, one should not forget that perception is built through actions and hence, government itself is to be blamed for its misery. The Prime Minister seems to be lost in his own world, with little knowledge of whats happening in his cabinet. He is a crippled head of the government with little power to exercise and is mostly ill-advised by a bunch of sophisticated law-educated ministers. There is a serious lack of good governance and smart decision-making at the moment.

Nobody questions the sanctity of the cause taken up by Anna Hazare. I was more than willing to extend my support, in every possible way, to Anna when he first undertook fast unto death in April. But now, the current agitation seems to be a clear ego tussle between an arrogant government and a stubborn social activist. Anna's tactics are quite similar to black-mailing and set a very wrong precedent in a democratic country like India. The authority and supremacy of parliament can not be challenged, laws can not be made by 'civil society' activists. Yes, government's version of Lokpal is toothless and incompetent. But, fast unto death is not the only way to challenge the government.

But more than anybody else, it is the central government which needs to be blamed for taking a series of stupid decisions and paving way for such a logjam. What went wrong?

  • Government failed to gauge the mood of the common public. There is popular anger against corruption, which is neither sponsored by US or fueled by RSS. It is a spontaneous upheaval among the masses, which is reeling under a series of infamous scams.
  • Government failed to take opposition in confidence on Lokpal Issue. Anna initiated the movement against corruption in political class as a whole. By excluding opposition from all negotiations, the government made it an Anna Vs Govt Battle!
  • Manish Tiwary, the young foul-mouthed spokesperson of congress crossed all limits of decency while taking on Anna. His personal tirade against the veteran activist has further infuriated the supporters as well as even those who were not very sure of supporting Anna.
  • Arresting Anna Hazare even before he could move out of his house was perhaps a decision sillier than ordering that late night clean up action at Ramlila Grounds. Anna was made to look like a martyr even before he actually made any sacrifice! This move was a typical case of legal wiz-kids taking up wrong political decisions.
In totality, it does appear to be a silly deadlock. Anna Hazare must realize that the ultimate power of formulating and passing a bill lies with the parliament. He can, of course, put forward his view but that should not amount to blackmailing. He has all the legal options open. Yes, protesting is his right, the government was foolish to restrict it. Anna can move to the court and seek relief. Government, on the other hand, must shed its arrogance of power. Because, power, ultimately, is temporary. It should learn a few lessons from what Arun Jaitley said after PM's statement on Hazare's arrest in parliament yesterday.

The Greatest Misfortune of This Country is that it has a Prime Minister who simply does not know how to put forward his views. He is a terrible speaker. Even a sneezing Arun Jaitley and a Coughing Sushma Swaraj can outshine him. This naked reality was on full display yesterday in parliament, when BJP tore into PM Singh's statement. And all he did was to sit and listen!

Oratory skills are to politics what ink is to writing. Anna Hazare, even with strictly okay Hindi, is a fantastic speaker. He speaks his mind and hence, is able to connect with people immediately. Arun Jaitley is fluent both in Hindi and English, his reply to PM's statement was nothing short of historic. Manhoman Singh may not be a gifted speaker but he can at least try. He needs to take bold decisions. He can not expect a Chidambaram to rescue him all the time. These are historic times. Coming generations would judge Anna Hazare, Manmohan Singh and the others on the basis of how well they conduct themselves and put forward their sides of story in the coming days.

Aug 12, 2011

This Independence Day

Yeah, It's been a while since we met. A week to be precise. You see, I have often used this blog as my opinion mouthpiece. But there are times when there is nothing much you can write about. However, this is a welcome change. I mean, I need not write every time. Sometimes, I can be just me. I can talk about my life, my friends, the world around, the rain, the upcoming Independence day. This is an original post ladies and gentlemen. I am not a writer here. I am not pretending. I am not trying to be wise, witty, sharp, blunt and things like that.

The last two weeks have been very special for me. I got into a college that I so wished to get into. I am a student again. I attend classes. What if they start at 9 and end at 5. The atmosphere around is brilliant. The 'feeling' of getting into India's premier media institute is pretty much there. Yes, it is the worst and best of the feelings that leave an impression in your life. Rest of it is just there to make up numbers.

This is a rare three-day weekend. Apart from Aarakshan and Raksha Bandhan (Do these two words rhyme?), there is our 64th Independence Day to look forward to. Sigh. There is a question circulating on Facebook, which asks "What does the Independence Day actually mean to you?". My good friends have given good answers. They are as wise as me. Some are even wiser than me.

Yes, its a day dedicated to my nation. I am a very very proud Indian. What if these are gloomy days, there is chaos in the government, unrest and tussle between rich and the poor. This week, I spoke a lot. Participated in heated debates over issues that my country is facing. Most of them were depressing issues. Issues of corruption, government's impotency and things like that. Even our beloved cricket team has done no good to Independence Day celebration mood. I think, I am venting my opinion again. I promised, I will not. Cut it.

Times change. Things will change. You see, the people from whom we gained our independence, the ones who ruled us, ruthlessly exploiting our differences and shortcomings, are themselves reeling under an unprecedented uproar. Britain's famed formula of assimilation has tanked. They should learn a few lessons from us. Not on policing, not on politics. But on tolerance, healing and 'getting used to' habit. Yes, There were blasts in Mumbai last month.

This reminds me, I am all set for my first trip to Bombay in October. I have traveled very little in life. But, I have seen India from close quarters. My home state, Bihar, is a case study in all things Indian. I live in Delhi, somewhere close to India's heart. But still I feel, my idea of India would not be well-rounded till I visit Bombay. It must be a fantastic city, I am sure. I have many friends there. They all are chasing their dreams. I look forward to spend a few days and nights with them.

People often ask me what do I want to become. And, I have often given conflicting answers to the same. I wish, I could tell them that my life is brilliant. God has been very kind to me. I want to contribute to life in many ways. I am sure, I will not end up doing just one thing. I may not earn a living out of everything that I do. But yes, I want to die a happy man. 

This Independence Day, I don't just feel patriotic, I feel responsible.

By the way, Soumya has arrived in Delhi for this weekend. I will meet her. She will bring some much-needed charm and warmth to my life. I miss her eyes and smile. Sandeep is also expected to come. Oh, I so wish to talk to him at times, show him the good things that I do, tell him the bad experiences that I had. All of this reminds me of another question that is circulating on Facebook, "Whats truly the beginning of Dosti ka Shubh Aarambh?" I answered 'When Silences are Comfortable'. So did Sandeep.

You can kill me. But you can not kill that Facebookie in me.

Happy weekend folks. Happy Independence Day in advance. No issues, if you do not read this post during the weekend. You have every right to celebrate. And also, my posts are always relevant. (Wink). 

Jai Hind. 

P.S: Independence is when you can come out of your comfort zone and smile.

Aug 5, 2011

Just A Morning Wish

I woke up to an unusual morning
There was silence around the ceiling fan
The dim light lamp burnt bright
And there was you, lying by my side

You looked at me through the half-moon
Stocky Soldiers guarding your betel-nut eyes
Your smile lit the room further
My hands moved to touch their fate

How much did I miss you all this while
Coffee tasted bitter, grumpiness was all around
Is that you, I used to wonder on every foot tap
Without you, even melody was ordinary sound

Now that you are here, I can cry
And tell you to be with me forever
Because it is you that all I Want
Nothing Else seems to be as paramount

Seeing you is so pious
Your touch makes me a theist
Reside in my mind or take my heart
You are the deity, I am the priest

I love the way you wake me up
My senses never go numb
The caress and kiss keep me alive
Sleep and night slowly succumb

But as I rise holding you tight in my arms
I find no one around to hug, to kiss
The light is dim, there is a noise in the ceiling fan
Tears Remind me, It was Just A Morning Wish.

Aug 2, 2011

India Defeated: The Way Forward

India's Tour of England: Mid-Series Analysis

Dignity is of paramount importance. Men who fail to guard their dignity are worse than those who do not have any dignity at first place. Dhoni and  his Men suffered second humiliating defeat in a row at the hands of a rampaging English side, which seems to be getting better with every single match. Those 319 runs were not just mere numbers but a reminder to the Indian Team that it can not take its No. 1 test spot for granted. England outplayed India in all departments of the game by putting up a remarkable team effort. This humiliating loss has tarnished the very 'seat' of World's No.1 Test Team. More than loss, it was the manner in which we lost, will haunt us for a long time.

At the halfway stage, series is heavily dominated by England with a commanding 2-0 lead, which only needs to be maintained or bettered to occupy the No.1 test status. England are a very well balanced side with genuine fast bowlers and quality all-rounders, two category of gems that India lacks. India have lot to ponder upon. Lets find out what troubles India and what can be done to restore some of the lost pride in the next two tests:
  • Touted as the mainstay of the team, India's batting has failed to deliver. Barring Dravid, no other batsman has shown the guts to stand before the English trio of Anderson, Bresnan and Broad. Abhinav Mukund seems to have been pushed into test arena, a bit too early. Laxman has not been able to convert starts into something significant. Sachin has looked patchy and uncertain. Raina and Yuvraj are unpredictable. MS Dhoni's horrible test record is only getting worse.
  • The only quick remedy for batting woes seems to be Virender Sehwag. When Sehwag fires at top, the middle order usually responds with batting masterpieces. Without a good opening stand, India's middle order fails to deliver, most of the times.
  • Injuries seem to have developed a special liking for Indians. Blame it on excessive cricket or overall poor fitness of Indian cricketers, but we surely missed Zaheer, Sehwag and Gambhir. But I believe, World's Best Test Team should have a lizard's tail. These 3 should have been missed. But they were made to look like indispensables!
  • If Gambhir and Sehwag do come back for the next game, India should get its batting order in place. There is too much confusion in the middle. There is uncertainty and disorder in the Indian ranks.
  • Harbhajan Singh should be dropped. No arguments. Period.
  • MS Dhoni: Next time you win the toss, elect to bat first. By electing to field, you not only underplay what you consider as the greatest strength of your team but also end up playing 'catch up' game throughout the match. 

The morale of Indian team must be in the dire straits. It needs that one moment of celebration, inspiration and probably one-handed brilliance to resurrect its fortunes. It could, ideally, be any one or a combination of more than one, of the following events:
  • Sachin scores his 100th 100 and you will suddenly see a changed Indian team. There would be a spring in the feets and reassurance in the dressing room.
  • Sehwag gives India a flying start, scores blazing hundred on Day 1 of the next match. India end up with nearly 400 runs on first day with only a couple of wickets down!
  • Sreesanth rips through English top order, bags a fiver for himself. And breaks into a jig.
  • The captain cool silences all critics with a responsible hundred. His first on foreign soil.

This is not wishful thinking. Nor is this fanciful summer retreat. All of this has happened before. And there is no reason why it can not happen again (what if there are some 'firsts' in the list!). We have our hopes and prayers intact.

P.S- On what has been a very poor series for Indians so far, Two Captains of the team have Glittered Brightly. While MS Dhoni, the man in-charge of the operations right now, perhaps took the most intelligent decision of his career by recalling Bell Post-Tea, Sourav Ganguly, India's Original Captain Courageous, beautifully deflated Miachel Vaughan's cheap publicity campaign, both in and out of the studio. Till we have great captains like them, there is always bucket full of hopes.