Monday, April 20, 2009

I dreamed a dream....

I dreamed a dream in time gone by
When hope was high
And life worth living
I dreamed that love would never die
I dreamed that God would be forgiving

That’s so hopeful, so optimistic, seems like a perfect “Dream”!

Now imagine this: A 47 year old lady who’s unpolished, ugly, fat, unarticulated, not so smart, poor wants to be a professional singer and wants to be as successful as Ellen Paige (highly successful Hollywood actress). Not so perfect Dream! Sounds like an overly dreamy joke, isn’t it? Wait, the story’s not over yet. So what if she’s ugly, poor, not so smart old lady, what if she’s not plastic, fake and sugarcoated like others; she’s got TALENT, and more importantly, HOPE that encouraged her to showcase her talents despite all odds. And guess what? Her “dream” did actually come true; she enthralled everyone so much by her singing and she is now so popular that she actually CAN become a professional singer.

No, it’s not a fairytale; it’s a true story and the lady’s name is Susan Boyle. Susan is a British lady, is unattractive and raw, poor and unemployed, and lives in a “village” (as per her words). Susan participated in a high profile talent competition TV show Britain’s Got Talent (BGT). There, she sang the song “I dreamed a dream” (perfect song for the occasion!!) which I mentioned in the begining and completely floored judges and audiences by her talent. Her performance was widely reported, and tens of millions of people viewed a video of her singing on YouTube. (Check out her performance clip here:

But why were judges and audiences so mesmerized when BGT being a famous talent show boasts of number of talented singers like Susan? What was so different about Susan’s performance? The answer is: From her appearance, nobody “expected” her to perform well and when she did prove everyone wrong, people were “surprised” and that’s what differentiated Susan from all the other talented singers.

What is the similarity between Ms. J.K. Rowling, the movie Slumdog Millionaire and now Susan Boyle? They all were Underdogs, no one believed in them, no one anticipated them to succeed, they were expected to be losers and when they shocked everyone, proved themselves; world got completely captivated by them. Everyone loves underdog fairy tales; they are shocking, mysterious, optimistic and very very fascinating. Such Rags to riches stories gives out an inspiring message to all those who think they are not from “right” backgrounds.

People are so obsessed with the (so called) perfection, that a seemingly imperfect person succeeding makes a very appealing story. As Amanda Holden (a BGT judge) perfectly reflected that sentiment after Susan’s performance by stating, “We were all being so cynical and that’s the biggest wakeup call ever.”

Let’s hope that Susan’s dream continues and she can emerge as a successful singer in future. Meanwhile, after going through Susan’s story, a thought is crossing my mind. Why don’t we have any Underdog success stories in India? Why is it that such incidences happen only in West? Why in India you need to have a “strong family background” to succeed? Why a Rich Daddy and not talent, integrity is considered an indispensible ingredient for a good life here? Why are we considered just an extension of our families rather then being known for our individuality? Maybe that’s how the Indian culture goes.

If we talk about culture, let’s say, how would an unmarried, old, ugly lady will be received on a similar platform in India? People will probably think of her as an overambitious Aunty, will feel sorry about her for still not having “husband and kids”, will consider her miserable, lonely and unhappy, will ridicule her, will advise her to “stay at home and take rest” at this age. What about her dreams? Ambitions? Eternal optimism? Forget all that, After all, the cardinal calling of every Indian woman is to take care of husband and kids, to stay at home and be a “good wife”!! (Sick!!)

I dream a dream in time coming by, when women in India will be more than their ages and looks, when there will be more important tasks for them than kids and husband, when they will not be expected to be unrealistically perfect, when they will have freedom to be themselves, when they will be allowed to be imperfect and still happy and, (more importantly) when they will be able to fly high with the wings of their aspirations.


Tuesday, April 7, 2009

10 Useful Writing Tips

Here, I’ll share some useful tips about writing. Whatever the form of writing is, be it creative writing or technical writing, basic rules should be followed. My tips do not guarantee you to make you a Shakespeare, but you’ll surely be able to produce a decent piece of writing if you apply following rules.

Sort out the thoughts you want to express: Writing is a form of self expression. It’s a mean of communicating ideas. We talk to a lot of people and practice oral communication everyday; which is very different from writing. Oral communication is spontaneous. You speak as you think, so thinking and talking takes place simultaneously. Of course, at times you many have a specific plan of what to talk in mind for example during a presentation; but when you actually engage in a conversation, the mind has to generate ideas instantly. Feedback of oral communication is also quick and can be gauged through body language of the audience as well.

When it comes to writing, you have the time to arrange your thoughts and present them as you want. So, there goes the basic requirement of writing: You should have something to express, to communicate. Sorting out what exactly you want to communicate will help you to present your ideas clearly in the written format.

Stick to your topic for the sake of clarity: Do not deviate from your subject of your article by putting irrelevant information or comments. Unwanted information will make your article vague and unclear.

Watch out the length of the writings: An article shouldn't be excessively long that can bore readers; neither should it be too short which fails to provide any value and information. Editing helps in controlling the length of writings, which I have discussed later.

Avoid grammatical mistakes at any cost: Make sure your basics of the language that you are willing to write in are clear. However interesting your ideas are, if you make grammatical mistakes, readers will not appreciate it; it will make you seem like an amateur, irrespective of your knowledge and experience.

Avoid jargon: When I say “Jargon”, it indicates terminology which is not frequently used and need dictionary/reference to be understood. Putting a lot of literary jargon will not project you as a seasoned writer; in fact readers will not appreciate the article for which they have to search dictionary several times. Avoid unnecessary hassles for your readers by using popular and easily understood vocabulary. Writing complicated and unknown words will make your article vague and unclear and it would kill the basic purpose of writing; which is: To be read and understood.

Form short sentences: This should be particularly applied if you are a budding writer. Short sentences avoid confusion and are easier to understand. Once you get considerable experience and confidence with writing, you can play around with sentences as you want.

Follow a consistent tense: Follow a single tense through out be it past tense or present tense or future tense. Generally, for non fictional articles, present tense is used and for a narrative or a story, past tense is used. Decide which tense to be used and stick with it.

Edit your writings: Editing is vital step in the writing process, it’s often overlooked by some writers but the fact is; editing is as vital as the writing itself. You can correct grammatical mistakes, if any; restructure the sentences, add or delete information during editing. Basically, editing refines the writings. If you find it boring, ask someone else to edit your articles.

Take Feedbacks: This is crucial for writers, whether you are an experienced writer or a newbie. Have others read your writings, no matter how amateurish you think your writings are. Others will perceive your writings from a different point of view and will surely contribute constructively by their opinion. If in case you get appreciation from your readers, it will boost your confidence, if not; use your readers’ criticism as a tool for improvement.

Format your Content: Formatting is ignored and even considered optional by many, but the fact is: well written content attracts more readers. The value of the writing will ultimately be decided by the content but good formatting projects a professional image and indicates the concern of the writer for his article. Good formatting adds value to the writing just the way good packaging adds to the consumer products.

Maintain consistent length of paragraphs, leave enough white space (without it, the article looks clumsy; many would be intimidated and would even avoid reading it despite its useful content), use bullets and numbered list when required.

Those were some basic rules that form building blocks for creating a good piece of writing. Hope it was helpful.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Reader:A Vague Query!!

“The Reader” is based on a German novel of same name by Bernhard Schlink. The plot is based in West Germany; the movie starts with a lawyer Michael Berg’s (Ralph Fiennes, Sad looking) narration of his teenage days in 1958. As a 15 year old boy, he (David Kross, Charming) had an intense physical affair with a 35 year old lady Hanna Schmitz. (Kate Winslet)

Hanna is controlling, has a no nonsense and tough attitude, and loves listening to classic literature narrations. They establish a ritual of Michael reading classic stories to Hanna and lovemaking. Hanna remains emotionally distant from Michael despite having a passionate physical affair with him; however Michael falls head over heels in love with Hanna. He even avoids his friends and family to be with her.

After few months, Hanna leaves the town without leaving any trace and without informing Michael. Michael gets devastated, gets badly hurt but moves on anyways.

The story takes an eight year leap here and we are shown Michael as a law student. As a part of a special seminar, he has to observe a trial of six women who were accused of letting 300 Jewish women die in a burning church when they were SS guards on the death march following the 1944 evacuation of Auschwitz camp. Michael gets the shock of his life when he sees Hanna as one of the six defendants.

Here, we come to know that the movie has a Holocaust angle. From an Indian context, there is not much awareness about Holocaust. Let me explain what it is: Holocaust is the term generally used to describe the deliberate mass murder of approximately six million European Jews during World War II, by Adolf Hitler. Hanna was a guard at Auschwitz concentration camp, so her “job” was to “select” certain people each day for killing in “Gas Chambers” built specially for the brutal murders.

Michael gets terribly disturbed by the situation, gets sad by Hanna’s tragedy but feels guilt and betrayal for having blindly loved and trusted a remorseless criminal.

During the trial, Hanna gullibly tells the truth by stating that Auschwitz was a concentration camp, unlike her fellow defendants.

And why did she take up this job? Because they were “recruiting”!!!

The other guards then accuse Hanna of planning the church fire and writing the report on it. The judge asks for her hand writing sample for verification of the allegation. Hanna gets greatly uncomfortable and finally admits having written the report without giving any writing sample.

Michael suddenly realizes from his past with Hanna that she had hidden something more to him than her Nazi past. She is an illiterate and is so embarrassed about admitting it that for her; the shame of being illiterate is bigger than the shame of having burned 300 women alive!! With Michael’s horror, this act leads her to the life imprisonment.

During Hanna’s imprisonment period, second and final phase of Michael and Hanna’s relationship is shown and like almost all the classics, this one also ends tragically.

Imagine this: A passionate and tragic story of a Nazi SS guard. The story should have been deeply moving but it fails to connect with you in anyways. Maybe because “The Reader” is Michael’s story and not Hanna’s; and Michael’s story (an affair with an older lady and his subsequent failed relationships with the women in his life) isn’t that moving.

Hanna’s character is extremely contradictory, and vague. During her affair with Michael, she comes across as a manipulative and controlling lady who has no qualms in seducing a "kid" and sleeping with him, but during the trial, she innocently tells the truth unlike the other defendants, why is that? How did she suddenly turn so gullible?

Why did she prefer life imprisonment rather than the confession of her illiteracy? Why did she consider illiteracy a bigger crime than mass murders? Why? Why? Why?

Unfortunately, above questions remain unanswered and as a result, you neither feel sympathy nor any hatred for Hanna. Not a hint of Hanna’s background is shown in the movie.

I wish “The Reader” was Hanna’s narration instead of Michael’s. The ending of the movie is equally weird, with Hanna deciding to give her money to the daughter of the camp survivor. On Hanna’s part, was that the act of Repent? Gratefulness? Generosity? Apology? God Knows!! Just way too many questions!

Avoid this movie if you are not comfortable watching nudity and sex. I suggest watching this one on a DVD instead of movie hall; because despite giving it an “A” certificate, a lot of sexually explicit scenes have been cut, which are vital for the story and which spoils the flow of narration. When will our censor guys grow up? (That Sick Indian Mentality!!)

Technically, the movie is brilliant. Intimate scenes between Kate and David Kross have been presented very aesthetically. Kate’s makeup as a 66 year old lady is unbelievably real. It’s an out and out Kate Winslet show. The lady has given her 100% for this courageous, complex role and quite deservingly won every prestigious award for this one.

To summarize, “The Reader” is a love story that doesn’t really portray love; it’s a Holocaust movie which doesn’t really deal with Holocaust. Because of its inexplicability, “The Reader” leaves you with a vague feeling.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Revolutionary Road: The Road to Escapism

Revolutionary Road is a 1950s based movie, it’s about lives of a couple Wheelers living at Revolutionary Road in suburb of Connecticut. When April (Kate Winslet) and Frank (Leonardo DiCaprio) met for the fist time, April was studying to be an actress and Frank didn’t really know what he wanted to do in life. After few years, a marriage and two kids, April Wheeler is a miserable housewife who occasionally does insignificant roles in insignificant local plays. Frank Wheeler has a marketing job at Knox Business Machines, same place where his late father whom he never wanted to emulate worked for 20 years at same position. Frank hates his job, is dissatisfied with the monotonous 9 to 6 routine and occasionally goes out with an available young secretary in the office.

Wheelers have a picture perfect middleclass life comprising a decent house, stable job and cute kids. They also have love for each other; yet, they have frequent fights and are anything but content with their lives. Why? There is no sadder sight than an ambitious person stuck in an inconsequential, mundane life. Wheelers always thought that they were “special”, but did nothing particularly different from their “ordinary” neighbors.

April and Frank are all about unfulfilled dreams, ambitions; yet an inertia to pursue them. Sounds like a familiar story? Well, there are countless Aprils and Franks in any middleclass society, living “secure and stable” life almost in a same predictable pattern that their parents lived ; content in their limited social circle; having the sole aim to raise their kids well.

Twist in the tale comes when Frank returns home on his 30th birthday and April proposes a plan to break free from their current Hopeless and Empty life. She proposes to move to Paris because that’s where Frank lived during “The war” and always felt that is the place to be; In Paris, April would work as a secretary and Frank would “find out” what to do with his life. After initial hesitation, Frank gets convinced and an excitement of new life revives them and their relationship as well.

Neighbors get shocked with their plans and express skepticism over this “unrealistic” venture. After all, this is the message that society gives us: Don't take unnecessary risks, Follow family traditions, Play safe. Who are you to think that you can change the system? Stay in your cocoon. Accept your lot in life, and make the best of it. Go with the flow, and don't rock the boat. Your only hope is that your current life will pull you in a favorable direction in future, till then; just take it as it comes!

Wheelers still decide to execute their plan; but Frank gets a promotion and pay hike in his current job and an unwanted pregnancy happens to April. Do they still choose to move to Paris? Rest of the story revolves around Wheelers trying to salvage their lives.

I’ve named this article as “The Road to Escapism” because every character in the movie tries to escape from real problems instead of facing and solving them; e.g. April decides to move to Paris for the sake of Frank’s unfulfilled and yet unknown dreams, but what about her own unfulfilled dream of becoming an actress? She wishes to break free from the mundane routine of life here (in Connecticut) but won’t a life of a secretary be monotonous as well? This seems to be the path from the ordinariness to indeed, more ordinariness. She’s afraid of pursuing her own dreams so wishes to indulge in a reflected glory of Frank’s probable success, in turn escaping her ambitions. The delay she makes in informing Frank about her pregnancy and the subsequent efforts to end it, her impulsive sexual encounter with the neighbor all indicate escapism.

Frank says he wants to “feel things”, but prefers to escape discovering himself and evades reality in various ways. (Affair with secretary, Reluctance to pursue his dream life despite having a set up for it) The last scene of the movie epitomizes this escapism where an old man (Mr. Giving, Wheelers’ neighbor) puts off his hearing machine to avoid his nagging wife.

The movie ends on an unnecessary tragic note and manages to send a very disturbing message. This is not a story of optimism, achievement or redemption. Do watch this one for the powerhouse acting. Performance from both, Kate and Leo are marvelous. Kate’s surely a Goddess of acting but Leo gives equally brilliant performance as a confused, tad chauvinist, and coward man. Kate is effortless, raw as an ordinary woman, hopelessly in quest of an unordinary life.

Revolutionary Road is meant to be appreciated, not enjoyed.


Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Favourite Websites

Hi All, Internet has become a vital part of our daily lives and if used constructively, it can enrich your life immensely. You can get virtually any sort information, provided you have time and patience to surf thoroughly. Here, I’m presenting a list of my favourite websites which I find immensely helpful and can work for you as well.

1> First is our very own It’s a great platform to share your opinions about different consumer products or the other issues that invoke your interest. The best thing about this site is: reviews/articles are written by the real people like you and me and not by so called “experts”. It’s a good place to develop your writing skills and network with good writers. But I don’t understand why it’s called “Mouth Shut”. Since it encourages consumers to “speak up” and voice their concerns. The site sometimes encourages companies to communicate and answer consumers’ complains. (Check out corporate blogs) So, no body’s “mouth” is really getting “shut” over here. :)

2> Ultimate– This site is a blessing for all the Guitar junkies like me. It has a huge database of chords, tabs of numerous songs. You can locate chords of almost all the English songs here. In 90% cases, the chords are accurate. You can of course change the scales as per your preference. The quality of chords is much better than that of tabs. You can also see the chord diagrams here, which makes it very user friendly. If you play Guitar, don’t forget to add this site to your Favourites list.

(To non-musicians, excuse me for using musical terminology…)

3> This is the Indian version of ultimate–guitar where you can locate chords and tabs of Hindi songs. It’s pretty useful, but not as accurate as ultimate – guitar. You’ll find many versions of same song here. If you can have patience for browsing through different posts and trying out different scales/chords, this site can be quite useful.

4> This is a completely different from the previous sites. It contains Steve Pavlina’s personal development blogs. Steve is Las Vegas based writer/blogger. Generally, I do not read self help jargon and find it pretty useless. Most of the self proclaimed “life coaches” present unreal and exaggerated theories which are precisely, just “theories” with nil practical use. But Steve’s blogs are pleasant exception. This guy surely knows his stuff and writes complete truth. My favourite article from this site is “10 Reasons You Should Never Get a Job”. Steve’s articles are very straightforward and practical to the core. He has written articles about almost all the aspects of life, ranging from simple articles about cooking to complicated relationship issues. Recommended for everyone.

5> It’s a video sharing site and a bit controversial for its possible “misuse”. Here, I’ll concentrate on the positive aspects of Youtube is a revolution in itself; you can virtually share any videos be it your family function, your talents, or just your thoughts with the entire world. It’s best for “How To” videos (for e.g. how to exercise, how to cook, how to play a particular musical instrument etc.), News clips, Movie clips, Song clips, Concert Clips, and TV show clips etc. I use it extensively for its useful Guitar videos.

As far as its objectionable content is concerned, it’s a side effect of technological progress. Some perverts use mobile phones also to transfer offensive content, but that doesn’t stop us from using it constructively.

6> Orkut is a social networking site; it is a twin brother of, which is considered more popular than However, Facebook has never worked for me the way Orkut has. I reunited with so many of my college mates, school mates, ex colleagues on Orkut, none of this happened on Facebook. Orkut’s also more user friendly. You can protect your scraps and pictures by access filters. Orkut also offers different “communities” which act as a great platform to network with people having similar interests.

7> This site offers systematic explanation on various topics such as technological terms, money matters, Astrology, Science, Psychology; you name it and you have it on this site. The best thing about it is: It explains complicated terminology in layman’s language very convincingly. The articles here are very well structured and classified. Its name is quite self explanatory, so if you want to know “how” certain “stuff” “works”, visit this site.

8> Wiki is an online encyclopedia that can be edited by anyone. It’s hugely popular because of its highly resourceful articles. You can find information on anything and everything under the sun. Be it books, celebrities, technology, songs, movies….the list is endless! There’s hardly any information that can not be found here. However, the articles here do not have any standard structure and are not categorized systematically, unlike The articles can be elaborate or short depending on their respective editors. I always resort to Wiki incase of information crisis and in 99% cases, Wiki has never disappointed me.

9> This is a technical Wikipedia; very useful for techies because of its vast collection of technological definitions (not articles). Its user friendly and lucid format makes it resourceful for non techies as well.

10> As the name suggests, it’s an online dictionary; highly useful for its simple explanations of English words and audio pronunciations. They also mail Word of the Day daily, very helpful for improving vocabulary.

11> And last but not the least is the God of internet Google has been my gateway to most of the sites I mentioned above. Google has become integral part of our lives; imagine what we would do without it!!! Countless books and articles have been written about the success story of Google. It’s so user friendly that even a 5 year old can use it quite comfortably. Google has revolutionarized internet and quite deservingly, it’s called the “Most powerful Brand” in the world.


Saturday, March 7, 2009

Milk (Movie): Don't Miss It.....

“Milk” is a biographical movie, based on the life of Harvey Milk, the first openly gay American politician and Gay rights activist to be elected as a member of San Francisco Board of Supervisors. The movie depicts political and personal life of Mr. Milk from 1970 to 1978. He was assassinated in 1978 by his colleague Dan White because of professional Issues. As this is a historical movie, the plot is universally known or can be accessed from numerous sources so I’ll straightaway head to my analysis of the movie.

Moviemakers have beautifully portrayed San Francisco of 70’s and used several real clips of various gay parades, demonstrations of those times to give audiences actual insight of the events. Cinematography is superb. Editing is first rate with hardly any dull moment but the strongest point of the movie is undoubtedly the Acting of lead protagonist (Sean Penn) as well as supporting actors.

As far as the acting is concerned, Sean Penn has transcended all boundaries of excellence in this movie. Playing a historical character is the ultimate challenge for an actor because you have to understand and live through the person you are enacting. You can not put your imagination and perspective to the character, unlike a fictitious character. If you want to know what it’s like to “get into the skin of a character”, watch Sean Penn in this movie. He has literally undergone physical and emotional transformations to portray Harvey Milk.

Physical Transformation: Watch Sean’s looks and mannerisms in the movie and watch photographs or clips of real Harvey Milk. You’d get the feeling that Harvey Milk himself is present on the screen. Sean has aptly portrayed the journey of self conscious Milk to a showy, witty politician. As far as emotional transformation goes, watch the scenes where Milk (Sean) is with his lover(s). He communicated so much with eyes and body language! It must have been certainly very difficult for Sean to play love scenes with a guy, but he did it effortlessly. The man has done his job with 100% commitment.

Sean’s portrayal of the gay man (Milk) was so brilliant that during 81st academy award function; this is what Mr. Robert De Niro had to say “How did he do it? How for so many years did Sean Penn get all those jobs playing a straight man!!” :) Sean eventually won the well deserved academy award for this role.

All the supporting actors have done their job well. James Franco who plays Milk’s love interest (Scott) is particularly impressive. It’s a sheer pain to watch such handsome guy playing a gay man:) He has a million dollar smile!; probably the best smile in Hollywood actors, after from Tom Cruise.

As this movie is about homosexuals, gays mainly, here’s my take on homosexuality. It’s a lifestyle choice just like choice of diet you choose to consume or kind of clothes you prefer to wear. Some scientists say sexual orientation is determined by our genes, some deny the gene theory and say that it depends on psychological and social factors. Nobody has been able to explain the causes of homosexuality accurately.

Homosexuality is still a crime in India and because of which; homos have to face ostracization and inhuman treatment from society. To avoid the discrimination, many of them do not disclose their sexuality and prefer to shelter themselves in fake “marriages”, which indeed turns out to be fatal for all those involved in it. But that’s India!!! People here prefer to live in denial rather than facing problems and addressing them. Instead of looking at real issues, they like to close their eyes and dream and pretend that the problems don’t exist at all. “Marriage” in India is supposed to be a magic stick that is meant to cure ALL problems, including homosexuality!

Few conservative people argue that homosexuality is against nature because it denies reproduction, which is the core responsibility of living creatures towards God. Then what about religious leaders (For e.g. nuns) or others (e.g. Mahatma Gandhi, in past) who practice celibacy? They are also denying themselves reproductive rights, aren’t they? But celibacy is not considered against God/Nature and people who practice it are highly revered and respected in the society. People in fact look up to them and admire them for their simple and “controlled” lifestyle. Doesn’t that indicate double standards?

The fact is: Sexual Orientation is highly personal choice of an individual and society should not interfere with it. Each individual has a right to be happy and make the most of his/her life. West is much more liberal towards homosexuality than the East. Netherlands was the first country to legalize same sex marriages.

Dialogues of the movie are particularly interesting. Here are few dialogues from the scene of public debate over “Proposition 6”, an initiative banning homosexuals from taking up teaching jobs in public schools because of the possible “bad influence” they can have on children.

Proposition 6 Supporter: They (gays) are so interested in becoming teachers because they want to encourage our children to “join” them!

Milk: How do you teach homosexuality? It’s like French?

Milk: I want born of heterosexual parents, taught by heterosexual teachers, in a fiercely heterosexual society, Why then I'm homosexual?

Milk: “If it were true that children mimic their teachers, we'd have hell lot more nuns running around...”

And here is the ultimate one. This conversation was between Dan While and Milk.

Dan White: Can two men reproduce?

Milk: No, but God knows! We keep Trying……..

Don’t miss this movie. It’s a cinematic brilliance.


Thursday, February 26, 2009

How to become a Roadie

Rodies is a highly popular reality game show of MTV. Although I’m not a huge fan of the show; I enjoy watching it due to its unique concept, format, and selection process.

The craze for this show is evident from the thousands of applications they get from wannabe participants, in each city. It differs from the other reality shows in many ways. Here they are not looking for any singers, dancers, actors, pretty faces or so called “celebrities”. It’s an adventure oriented show but they don’t expect the participants to be great athlete or adventure junkies. They generally select teenagers and people in their early twenties, though this is no rule. If judges like you, you can be a “Roadie” irrespective of your age.

All they are looking for is: Rodies. Strangely, they have never clearly stated what qualities they are looking for in the participants. They just want people who are “interesting”. Being interesting or not is highly vague and subjective perception and as a result, anyone and everyone who wants an instant fame tries his/her luck in the Rodies interviews.

Their selection process involves group discussion round and personal interview with the judges. One of the judges is invariably Raghu Ram, who’s the producer of the show. He has virtually given birth to this show, so he can make or break rules, select or throw people out of the show as per his whims and fancies.

The show is made up of series of tasks, which are generally challenging adventurous activities. Based on the participant’s performance in the tasks, few of them get the “immunity”, which means they get immune from the “Vote Out”. At the end of each episode, participants vote one member out who has to leave the show. The Vote outs of the Rodies are high adrenalin drama involving politics, groupism, friendships, hatred, betrayal etc. Add some last minute twists and turns by Raghu and we have the popular game show Roadies!

The most unique thing about Rodies is its selection process is indeed more interesting than the show itself. Raghu quite literally rips apart Wannabe rodies in his own style, which is fun to watch. He’s sharp, witty, funny and has got a great sense of humour. If anyone tries to fake it during the interviews, he/she is gone. He insults and abuses almost all the applicants (including girls). Some of them get insulted so badly, that you wonder why they choose to make fun of themselves on the national television! But, that’s what the sadistic entertainment is all about, isn’t it? It’s always fun to watch others making fun of themselves!!

As I mentioned earlier, there are no predefined criteria to become a Roadie. So based on my observation, I have outlined certain qualities which are must have to become a Roadie.

1> You should be a Punjabi or a Delhiite with a prominent Punjabi accent/tone or Delhi lingo.
This applies to 80% Roadies. I don’t understand this Punjabi and North Indian (Delhi) obsession of Roadies, considering the God of Roadies Raghu is a South Indian. Bollywood is also heavily influenced by this Punjabism, thanks to Chopras and Johars. Every bollywood movie has to have a Sardar. In Bollywood movies, the lead protagonists have to be Punjabis (Remember Raj Malhotra, Simran etc?) C’mon guys, give us a break!!! This is a reality show and not a run off the mill bollywood movie. People from other parts of India are as interesting and funny as Punjabis. This Punjabi overdose has become boring and monotonous. Give us some variety.

2>You must be having impressive vocabulary of abusive words. You should have the ability to swear fluently and abundantly.
Street fighting skills such as shouting, bullying etc. are added advantage!
While watching Rodies or its interviews, one sound which is frequently heard is “beep”. Participants, judges, crew, host abundantly use abusive language on the show. Everyone on show swears around like it’s the vital necessity of their life.

3>You should be irritatingly arrogant.
Here, I’m not using the overly used cliché “attitude” because arrogance is all I can see in the Participants. This so called attitude seems nothing but the fake arrogance.

4>You should not have any talent and should not be an achiever in any sense.
In Chetan Bhagat’s terminology, you should be a “loser” :)

5>You should be endlessly able to bitch, bitch and bitch. More you back bite on the show, more “interesting”, you will turn out to be.

6>You should be highly insecure and jealous of people who are better than you.

7>You should be able to make friends with other losers and plot against those who seem more capable and smarter than you.

If you have above mentioned qualities, you can definitely get selected and even win the show! Just after the show, they telecast Making of Roadies which shows the real efforts and drama behind the scenes. It’s as entertaining as the show. Their team is completely wacky!

The only criticism that I have is the usage of abusive language on the show. It’s really not necessary to swear just to proclaim that you are Cool or Hot or whatever….If abusive language is eliminated from the show, it can appeal to larger audiences. Leave apart abusive language/behaviour and rest of the show is very entertaining.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The 3 Mistakes of My Life: A Big Mistake!!!

The reason why you would want to read “The 3 Mistakes of My Life” is that the author of this book is “Chetan Bhagat”, who’s arguably one of the India’s most popular and (arguably) talented contemporary writers. Just like his two previous books, this book is also based on young people’s lives, their friendships, struggles, etc.

In this book, Chetan Bhagat has played himself. One fine day, a young boy from Ahmadabad writes to him and mentions that he is committing suicide. Chetan Bhagat rushes to Ahmadabad, and after some efforts, manages to locate the boy. Luckily, the boy was saved and he was still alive. Startled by the young boy’s reckless act, he demands an explanation from the boy. The boy then starts explaining 3 mistakes of his life which led him to take such an extreme step.

The boy’s name is Govind. He lives in Ahmadabad with his mother. Govind has two best pals, Ishaan and Omi who later become his business partners. The story revolves around struggles of the three friends, their love lives and their fights. Later in the story, the author weaves religion, cricket and politics which are considered India’s biggest national obsessions.

This book seems more like Chetan Bhagat’s effort to establish himself as a bollywood scriptwriter rather than a genuine fiction. The story is fast paced but the sequences are too implausible. We know that this is a fictional story and not the realistic one, but the fiction has to have logic to be able to impact readers. What one finds in this book is sheer exaggeration and several loop holes in the plot. Climax of the story, which involves a violent fight, is nauseating and gives the feel of a B grade bollywood movie sequence. What’s with the protagonists fighting and killing like criminals? Not convincing at all. The climax fight was meant to be tragic (by author at least!!) but ends up seeming stupid. Even the death of one of the protagonist fails to infuse sympathy in readers due to over dramatization of the scene.

The writing lacks elegance. From literary standards, this can be classified as substandard quality writing. Also, the way Chetan Bhagat describes the female characters in this novel is highly chauvinistic and degrading. Here are some examples:

“Confident women make terrible daughter in laws.”

“Indian mothers have two tasks - to tell children to eat more or study more.”

Many more disgusting sentences can be found out in the book. Such views were certainly not expected from someone who’s IIT and IIM graduate.

The scene where three protagonists visit a beach in Australia and discuss girls’ bodies playing on the beach is extremely sickening. There is a thin line between sexy narration and gross, vulgar description. The author is not literary mature enough to handle the bold inscriptions with grace. As a result, some conversations between protagonists which are meant to be naughty turn out as vulgar.

Chetan Bhagat’s first novel “Five point Someone” is his best work so far. That was the genuine effort from an author and not a wannabe bollywood script writer. Thereafter, the qualities of his novels are declining. Considering the Box Office performance of “Hello” which was adapted from “One night at Call Centre” by Chetan Bhagat, he is better off as an author rather than a script writer. Or maybe Five Point Someone was a mere fluke! We do not want to lose a good author to a mediocre scriptwriter.

Watch a good movie instead of reading this Time Waster.


Friday, January 16, 2009

Slumdog Millionaire - Gross!!!

Slumdog Millionaire is a first India based movie (not Indian) which has won Four Golden Globe Awards and is a strong contender for the Academy Awards. Here comes a British Director (Danny Boyle), portrays life of Mumbai slums and gets laurels for it. The obvious question that comes in the minds of Indians is: What does this movie have that has made it win Golden Globes and kept it in a race for Oscars? Considering the poor records of our movies in the academy Awards.

Is it realistic? No. The movie might portray slum life but the plot can hardly be called “real”. Here is a “Slumdog” who speaks accented English and wins 20 million rupees in a game show, just by sheer luck. Does that sound real?

Is it entertaining? Hardly. Seeing Shit holes, gruesome abuse, poverty, dirt of slums and many more stereotypes about India that westerners have can not be entertaining for Indians at least.

Is the acting extra ordinary? No. Apart from the veterans like Anil Kapoor and Irfan Khan, the new actors are amateurs.

Is the music outstanding? Hardly. Rehman is undoubtedly a musical genius and he deserves every prestigious award on the planet, but he has done much better job in hindi and regional movies. Slumdog Millionaire does not have an extra ordinary soundtrack, if we compare it with Rehman’s previous work.

Then what is it that has helped this mediocre flick win so many laurels? It’s the crass portrayal of the Ugly side of India. Whatever scientific and developmental progress India makes, westerners want to and would like to believe that India is a piece of Garbage and this movie quite literally depicts that mindset. Every country, however developed is, has a dark side. But, when it comes to India, west want to see the “real India” which they think is filthy, poor, and ugly.

Movies that show our creativity, music, culture, scientific and technological progress never interest them. But show them shitty slums, filthy lanes and poor people, they’ll be more than happy to watch it. Poor India and poorer western mindset!!!

The movie plot portrays the journey of a Slum boy Jamaal Malik (Dev Patel, with British Accent) from being a “Slumdog” to the millionaire, by winning a television game show. Each question asked in a show seems to be related to gruesome experiences of the boy’s childhood. Boy manages to answer almost all the questions and is on the verge of winning the show. But then the show host (Anil Kapoor) gets him arrested because he believes that a “Slumdog” can not know the answers and should not win the fortune. (Does that make sense? This is the biggest loophole of this immensely flawed script) Anyways, the boy gets out of the jail, after a considerable torture by police, thanks to the change of heart of the policeman. (Irfan Khan). He then answers the last question and wins the show, despite Anil Kapoor’s reluctance.

And guess why the boy participated in the Game show? To find his childhood sweetheart and not for the money. He thought she must be watching the show. Now that seems ridiculous, but is so much like hindi movie love stories. Nothing “real” about it!!!

The only positive aspect of the movie is well edited script which makes the story fast paced. Please don’t waste your precious money for this movie. Watch it on a borrowed CD or DVD.