Saturday, March 28, 2009

Spot the next Prime Minister

In less than two months from now, India would have its 18th Prime Minister and the 15th Lok Sabha. One thing that India so different from other countries is that there can be no generalisation of any topics. Anti incumbency is no more a huge factor and one can never predict the way Indian voter will swing. A situation a week ago could be entirely different in the week after as they say " A week is a very long time in Indian politics". For instance, who would have thought that a timid soft spoken Varun Gandhi would hijack the entire campaign of the BJP and become its new poster boy in league with Narendra Modi. So, who do you think our next PM is going to be? My guess is as good as yours.

With each passing day, the national parties seem to be become less relevant. It is becoming increasingly difficult for the Congress led UPA and the BJP led NDA to come back to power.

The Congress has been isolated by all its allies. With the RJD, the SP and the LJP forming a separate front in UP-Bihar, the PMK going with the AIADMK, the NCP growing closeness with the Shiv Sena and the Left, the UPA is divided. It is looking as the BJP was in 2004.The only consolation being forming an alliance with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, though the party privately admits Ms. Bannerjee cannot be relied upon. There is another theory that is being speculated. The Congress is looking at 2014 rather than 2009, and wants to sit in Opposition with Rahul Gandhi as the leader of the Opposition to groom him for the top job in 2014.

The BJP which calls itself a party with a difference is a party with differences. The public spat between Rajnath Singh and Arun Jaitley, and a leadership crisis among its leaders, with the party still not sure of the role of Mr. Narendra Modi, the change of leadership in the RSS and the Varun Gandhi debacle has put the party in tatters. Moreover, it has no issues to fight upon. Mr. Advani keeps on calling Dr. Manmohan Singh as the weakest PM but doesn't have issues to raise upon. The NDA was a grand alliance but now there are just a handful of parties left which may switch sides post elections. The Shiv Sena, the INLD, the RLD, the JD and the SAD are some of them. The BJD gave a googly to the BJP after severing their decade old ties with the BJP.

Inspite of the shape of the national parties and strong reservations against Mr. Advani being the BJP candidate, I still feel the contest should be bipolar- either Congress or the BJP. The Third Front should not come to power. It is a bunch of mercurial men and women who are hungry for power (though this could be said for all). The Third Front has as many PM candidates as the number of its parties. I shudder to think what would happen if someone like Mayawati or Jayalalitha becomes the PM. Have these people any vision for India? Has the third front any common agenda that they agree upon? Do we know what is Mayawati's position on the relationship with Pakistan? How to solve the economic crisis?The Left which till the other day was calling Chandrababu Naidu a corporate dog, doesn't even think for a second to join their hands with him. The Left called the BSP a casteist party is now licking Mayawati's shoes for her support. Mayawati and Jayalalitha cannot see eye to eye and how to expect them to form a united front, though these women would be the first to switch sides and join the NDA or the UPA, opportunism is their only ideology.The Left parties have totally destroyed West Bengal and they would destroy India too. What Common minimum programme would they agree upon? One must read Vir Sanghvi's Counterpoint to see how terrible it would be if the Third Front comes to power.The third front whatever happens should not come to power, who can forget the terrible days of HD Deve Gowda being the PM!

It is very sad that the next election would be fought upon caste, money power, religion and guns. The real issues of development and security and the economy would not be touched. The ideology is dead in Indian politics. It is just that whosoever reaches the magic figure of 272 would be our next PM. India is heading for a period of political, social and economic instability. On a more lighter note, as Barkha Dutt says " Who needs a T20 match when we have the elections to entertain us?" Absolutely agree, these elections promise a nail biting finish which the T20 cannot!!

Friday, March 27, 2009

A Glass Half Full.....

In spite of me being an eternal pessimist :( I am writing this post about death though I am not having suicidal tendencies. Jade Goody died this week and her last wish was that her death be celebrated. It made me think about my own death. We all hear people planning about future and how they want their life to be, but neither of us think how our death should be. The past few weeks I have been hearing such traumatic incidents about how people have lost their lives. Aman Kachroo died of injuries, Soumya Vishwanathan and Jigisha were shot at, Jade Goody died of cancer, the tragic death of all the members of the family on the Dwarka-Palam flyover, or the countless accidents on the Gurgaon expressway. I shudder to think of how painful it would have been. I am not scared of death, it is a fact of life that it would come to an end and we all will die, I am more scared of how I die. I don't want to die in painful way. I wish I get a painless death which I hope is not an oxymoron. I just hope death comes in sleep and takes me to heaven or hell wherever I deserve to be, though I am pretty sure I would be sent to hell ;) I don't want to be alive till 80 or 90. I hope to live my life till 60 ( hard to imagine myself as a 60 year old!!). I hope my dying doesn't make people sad. Even I think, my death should be celebrated. I reiterate that I am not having suicidal tendencies, its just that we should embrace that life would come to an end. Wish me luck for the life in hell:)

Saturday, March 21, 2009


After showing her acting prowess in films like Fire, Earth, Bawander, Nandita Das brings to us her directorial venture which has won accolades at film festivals abroad,the film Firaaq. Firaaq means quest and separation at the same time. The movie is set one month after the horrific Gujarat riots in 2002 which deeply polarised the society. Firaaq begins by a pile of bodies being dumped in the graveyard and it shows us the sign of the things to come. Unlike Parzania, there are no explicit violent scenes but one could almost feel the tension and fear that victims have in their minds waging a mental battle more frightening than the physical bloodbath.

It consists of many stories linked together with each other by the riots. A mentally tormented wife (Deepti Naval) plagued by the guilt of not helping a mob victim at her doorstep inflicts pain on her self while her husband (Paresh Rawal), a Muslim basher is an accomplice in the riots. A seven year old boy (Mohammad Samad) whose family is butchered in front of his own eyes is in quest of his father. Another one is about a Hindu Muslim couple Anuradha and Sameer (Tisca Chopra and Sanjay Suri) struggling to come to terms after Sameer and his partner's store was looted, a mehndiwalli (Shahana Goswami ) coming to terms with life and struggling to maintain her friendship with her Hindu friend, a music teacher (Naseerudin Shah) who is not aware of the troubled conditions and finally a gang of Muslim men who are planning to revenge. With such veteran actors, performances are par excellence. Ravi K Chandran's photography is splendid and beautifully captures the city. The music though very little of it and that too background fits the film. The film though drags at places but Nandita, no doubt has done an excellent job.

The film is a very disturbing and haunting film. It made me ask certain questions which I am struggling to find answers to. The images of the refugee camp remain etched in mind after the film is over. There are certain scenes which have a universal appeal. The notion of all Muslims as terrorists or Pakistanis, the role of the State administration in abetting riots, the difficulties in a inter religion marriage, the communal divide depicted make you think. In one particular scene, when Munira comes back and sees her house burnt down, how would you feel if your house was burnt down? The boy Mohsin says "Aurton ke kapde utar kar unhe jalaya, aadmiyon ke nahi utare". Sameer in one scene says that he has to think twice before praising a Pakistani cricketer, has to hang his head in shame for some jehadi's acts. Anuradha saya to her friend "Did you blame the entire community when your maid ran away with the valuables?".The most beautiful line was by Naseeruddin Shah " Saat suron me aisi takat kahan, jo aisi nafrat ka samna kar sake". There are a number of troubling scenes that make you question about life and wonder about the brutality of human nature. If you care about good quality cinema that evokes your conscience, watch Firaaq- Based on a 1000 true stories.

I have never been a Modi supporter and probably hate him even more after this. People say he had no role in the riots and it is just English-media-saying-We-hate Narendra-Modi syndrome but how can anyone defend him after the speeches he made berating Muslims in his Mia style during election campaigns. Muslims were butchered post Godhra, how can we run away from truth? Why do all people have to face the consequences of a few rotten apples? I am not a fan of Congress or the Left either who are pseudo secularists and consider secularism as minority appeasement. Every one criticises Hindu fundamentalists when they threaten MF Hussain but no one has the guts to speak against those Muslim fundamentalists who issue fatwas against Taslima Nasreen. The idea of India is in danger if we continue to do this. We have to stand against the fanatics irrespective of religion. And we can make a start by not allowing Varun Gandhi to get off so easily.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Week That Was...

Some really tragic and shocking events took place in the week gone by.

The pointless and senseless death of Aman Kachroo due to injuries suffered during ragging at a medical college in Himachal Pradesh. The irony is that it were the people who were aspiring to be doctors who save lives caused his untimely death. Just think of Aman's parents who lost their young son. Ragging still takes place in all colleges, it is a fact. But nothing is done, even the Supreme Court's recommendations have not been implemented. Aman belonged to a well to do Kashmiri Pandit family, but this event though it has national repercussions I guess alienates the Kashmiri pandits even more who are already finding it difficult to make ends meet. Now no parent would want to send their children to far off colleges.

The bone chilling footage of the 26/11 attack at Trident was released. The way those bastards were roaming and killing people just sends shivers down the spine. There were hotel staff roaming about without thinking that death was lurking at the corner. The scars have still not healed and here comes another shocker as I write, US asks India to withdraw troops from the border. Why should we? To give a free path to those terrorists to stage another attack. No, Mr. Obama, not acceptable.

Even as the world was coming to terms with the horrific event of Joseph Fritzl who was convicted of charges of incest by raping his daughter for 24 years and fathering 7 children, the news of a business man from Mumbai, who had been raping his daughter for 9 years acting on the advice of a 'tantrik' that by committing such acts he would get rich and lead a better life! That son of a bitch did not see that by ruining his daughter's life, how could he be happy. Shocking!

Varun Gandhi's remarks about the Muslims as Pakistanis and his mockery of their names and comparison to Osama Bin Laden are absolutely astonishing. His father Sanjay Gandhi was a thug and he seems to be going the communal way. What a contrast to come from one of world's best known families!! He says the tapes are doctored, people are not idiots Varun! He thinks that the BJP won't get Muslim votes anyway, so why not target Hindu vote but Mr. Gandhi think it this way, by such distasteful statements you end up alienating the moderate Hindu vote leaving you just with right wing fanatics. Use your brain!

There is so much happening every single day at the political scene,more so because of the General Elections arriving. It has just started and I am pretty sure, a whole bonanza of such events in the political arena awaits us. Watch this space.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Hopeless Emptiness....

I watched two Kate Winslet's films -Revolutionary Road and The Reader- back to back and I really liked them both. Though I will only write about Revolutionary Road ;)
Revolutionary Road-
Directed by Sam Mendes, who also made American Beauty and who is also Kate Winslet's husband, the film is about the Wheelers whose marriage is falling apart in the suburban America in the 1950s. The film is really really sad though those who have read the book by Richard Yates of the same name say the book is more depressing than the film:( It is not an easy film to watch and there were a lot of hermeneutic scenes open to interpretation of the viewer. I am not sure whether I really got the film's message because as I said before it is not an easy film to watch. One needs time to think and understand it. Though the film has its flaws like I found Leonardo was overacting in some places and the couple's children were missing at very important moments, but I liked the film a lot especially the character of John played by Michael Shannon. He plays a mentally challenged person but as they say the insane speak the sane, it was some of his scenes that were so powerful like when he says that "we run for life running from the hopeless emptiness of the whole life here, right?", "most people know the emptiness, it takes real guts to see the hopelessness".
I probably think that the film tried to portray that ultimately after a period of time everything gets boring, love seems to evaporate and everything is like a routine and this is tragic but true. Like the very last scene, when John's father Howard switches off the button of the hearing aid when his wife Helen who had sold the house to Wheelers goes on criticising them. It was probably his way of escaping from his own sadness. Or when the Wheelers' neighbours who also are unhappy in their lives but don't say so, like the way they reacted after the Wheelers told that they were moving to Paris, Milly, Shep's wife starts crying.There was a lot of his frustration with Shep's domestic life in a very quiet scene where he sees his boys in front of the television. He says hello and asks them what they are watching. They don’t even look at him. He goes outside with the first of many beers and stands in the backyard, staring. Until April appears, with Milly.
There was another beautiful scene when Frank explains to Kate that he is entering computer business, he shows and draws a lot of vacuum tubes, and April says, "Oh really", probably thinking of the vacuum in her own life.

Even whether April committed suicide or her death was an accident, a lot of debate has been going on about it , though I am confused I feel it could be both. Kate was lovely in the film I will watch it again and probably read the book too:)

The Reader-
Watch it for Kate Winslet's performance, but the film is equally good. It is also a very very sad film:(

Monday, March 9, 2009

Yes, we have managed to get back Gandhi's spectacles but what about his vision?

Finally, the auction of Gandhi's items took place and they were bought by Vijay Mallya for a stupendous amount of 1.8 million dollars ( more than the price of Kevin Pieterson in IPL!! ). But the one thing that amazes me is the hypocrisy of the people. As you are aware, news channels these days show feed messages at the bottom of the screen. During on such programme on discussion about this auction, I was surprised at the kind of messages that people sent in. Almost 99% of the people blamed the government for letting it happen and wanted the government to buy them. I totally disregard it when people blame everything on the government whatever it does and blame all responsibility on the government. Run a country as diverse as India and say what have you done for your country.I mean why should they tell the government to buy the items, if they love Gandhi so much why not go get it yourself. The government would do whatever it feels right.

Barkha Dutt in her weekly column Third Eye writes

As Indians, we have a fatal flaw. We are high on sentiment and low on substance. So, we love Gandhi in the same way we admire the Indian soldier. We are loyalists as long as we have to commit nothing of ourselves. We like the idea in abstraction, but couldn't be bothered with its intricacies in our everyday lives. Then, of course, we suffer from that other congenitally desi trait of only valuing something when the rest of the world wants it. We needed California, for example, to make yoga cool for the rest of us. And pathetic though it is, international validation of Gandhi makes us feel prouder of him than we would have felt otherwise. So when Time magazine nominates him as the person of the century we boastfully celebrate him. When we discover that his cult wire-frame glasses may be sold off to a moneybag who may not be Indian, we suddenly rediscover our nationalism. But for the rest of the year, we couldn’t be bothered to even pause and think about him.

We teach Gandhi to our children in literal and dull textbook homilies. We have failed to contemporarise his politics. It took a Munnabhai to make Gandhi briefly fashionable again. But for the most part, we keep Gandhi confined to museums and tomes, and we forbid modern, dynamic interpretations of what he could stand for today.

I am totally in sync with her. I still remember the scene from Lage Raho Munnabhai, when Munnabhai visits the museum, the curator is surprised that a visitor has come and asking for books on Gandhi which are gathering dust for years. How many have us have read and understood Gandhian philosophy apart from the non violence and his three monkeys? I haven't but I will not shout at the government to bring his memorabilia back which I presume would be forgotten in a week and have dust on them in a museum which no one will visit. Does anyone remember that in 2007 also there was such a brouhaha over Gandhi's last letter which was to be auctioned by the Christie's. Where are they now? Does anyone really care? How many of us saw Gandhi My Father which showed an altogether different aspect of Gandhi? So let us not be that emotional about this and rather understand his vision for India that even great men such as Martin Luther King and Barack Obama consider Gandhi as their idol.Today's editorial in HT The Pundit writes a beautiful saying and I will end it by using the same "Yes, we have managed to get back Gandhi's glasses but what about his vision?"

Friday, March 6, 2009

#%*&%!@- Can't think of a title for this

It is a week since I wrote last. A lot of things have been happening and I thought to write them.So it is going to be a boring post, give it a skip because most of it is going to be a crib post.

1. All my friends have so much good happening in their lives (touch wood!) and am so happy for them. S got through Microsoft, A got in Bain, S got in DE Shaw, S has got calls from IIMA and MDI, R has got a call from MDI, L got calls from all IIMs-BLACKI, V got through UCLA, K is in Dartmouth, Y's friend is going to Germany, S friend got through Stanford (gasp!!). And when I look at my life, it seems to be going nowhere. It makes me feel like that I did not achieve anything. I want to go to Oxford or Harvard, but deep inside your heart you know what is made for you :(

2.My project going nowhere I have been reading up so much stuff but it seems directionless, made more difficult by events not under my control :(

3. I missed a golden chance of being a jury member of a film festival. I thought who would make me a member from the college, when there is so much intellectual pool available. I somehow missed the event where they had to screen some films for jury selection and lo! what do I find, only 15-17 people attended it. I could have become a jury member of a film festival!!! I have just three things in my life- books, films and news. Lost opportunity :(

4. My pathetic writing skills, I have come across such amazing bloggers who write so brilliantly that the saying "Chullu bhar paani me doob mar" just suits me. I wish I could write well. I want to write a sexy book some day, not Chetan Bhagat types but something different like The Last Song of Dusk or The Lost Flamingos of Bombay by Siddharth Dhanvant Shanghvi ( who as rediff tells us wants to study Sex!!, er..who doesn't? )But somehow I would never be able to write:(

5. And there is this Gender Analyzer test that identifies your gender by your blog tells that I am 61% woman, WTF! I am fascinated by each human's individuality like unique fingerprints, DNA, or for that matter unique keystrokes( the way you press your keyboard keys is different for each of us), unique gait or unique handwriting, unique ways of braking your vehicle, but identifying a gender by blog posts!! See the pic :(

7. I won a diary from Vogue. My fashion designer cousin Y reads Vogue, I was flipping through the magazine and what I found a sms competition to name the next cover girl of Vogue and at that very instant, NDTV was showing a report that Freida Pinto is the next cover girl and what next, sent a sms and after a week got a courier giving me the gift, kuch to mila I take part in so many of these competitions thinking I will win. Last year, I got coupons worth Rs.1000 from Roadies and Nach Baliye voting. I bought 3 books-Freakonomics, Jane Eyre and The Ground Beneath Her Feet and watched Taare Zameen Par at Select City Walk ;)

8. I am currently reading Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy. For the last six years I have been wanting to read this but kept postponing because its huge ( 1400 pages, small print and big page size), but this time I brought it and will read it, and I am liking it abhi tak, read 100 pages till now:)
Well, enough for now though I still have so much to crib about :(
I will now stop this crap.