Sunday, August 31, 2008

What's in a name?

This is another post on me. Yeah, I am self obsessed. But I think it’s not just me, others are obsessed with me too. They can’t get enough of me. How else would you define the numerous names I have been adorned with over the years? We all give each others names, some in zest, some to just pull somebody's leg. Whatever be the reason, we just love calling each other names. Like my copy partner Anshumani is forever been ‘Ladiz’ to me!! A name coined by Nima, our boss, as she was the only ‘lady’ in our group. And then our friend Anirban, who we call ‘Baadi’(Bengali for home) because at 5.30-6 in the evening he would want to go back home, which is the utmost luxury you ask for in advertising. He eventually did go back home( Anirban is back in Calcutta). Mihir is Manchu(rian) Chanchu for his love of Chinese food. Biswajit is called Khecha, god knows why. Enough of you people. This is my blog. Let’s get back to my favourite subject.

So yeah, I have been called so many names, I thought I’ll list some down. The most common is mota-motay, take your pick, no need to explain why I am called that. Then Rohit coined the name Burger for me, which became big mac and now maharaja mac, which people love. Do I love it too? Does it really matter?? Kanishka calls me a Barrel, and a Big Slab Of Meat. Tarannum thinks I am The Thing of Fantastic Four. Not exactly flattering. But then…

But of all the names that I have been called by, the one I find most creative is given by Marina, an Anglo Indian receptionist at my last office in Calcutta. She called me PHATNOM. I love this one. Makes me sound like a superhero.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Peeping Tom, Pinky and Harry

Just when you think that it can’t get any better (or worse or perverse), the reality TV scene in India has taken a whole new turn with a new show on Star called The Moment of Truth. It’s an American ‘reality’ show where a person is asked the most intimate questions about his or her life. Prior to the show, the contestant is hooked up to a polygraph and asked more than 50 questions. Without knowing the results of the polygraph, he or she is asked 21 of those same questions again on the program, each becoming progressively more personal in nature. The questions vary, increasing in difficulty and degree of personal nature of the questions. Sample this, “Have you in all these years of your marriage ever cheated on your wife?” or this, “Have you gambled away any of your kids’ college fund?” Sometimes, a "surprise guest" - such as an ex-partner or a good friend - will come on the stage and ask a particularly difficult question. The more you answer the more you go on winning and the jackpot amount is $500,000, which no one, by the way, has won so far. You can imagine how popular the show is that we have it beamed in India now.

We humans are voyeuristic and we, the Indians, have forever been a pretty nosey and voyeuristic society. From the mundane “who’s daughter is going out with whom” to more serious nosey business, we just think it’s our right to know. The idea of ‘private space’ was never there. It still is not. No wonder the reality TV format with its camera shoved into people’s bedrooms works wonders in our country. Be it an adventurous Roadies or the very stupid, very perverse Splitsvilla, where 2 losers get to ‘dump’ girls on their way to choosing the ultimate girl for them (though it’s a different thing that the girls on the show are no better) to song and dance competitions to the Indian version of Stand Up, reality TV is there on all channels.

Another reason for the popularity of reality based programs is that anybody, be it a post office clerk from Jabalpur or an automobile workshop owner in Jalandhar can be on TV and have his 15 minutes of fame. I had read somewhere that each of us have our Oscar speech. Reality based programmes gives people an opportunity to read that out to the world. Reality TV churns out celebrities every week, every episode. People come on TV, they sing and dance, and if that doesn’t work, they cry and do everything in the world to garner support and sympathy. Perverse, you might say, but it’s working. Contestants find a launching pad, people get their voyeurism satiated and a sense of pride that their vote made the contestant win (no matter what the reason for voting, no matter how good or deserving the contestant actually is) and channels laugh all the way to their bank.

Pornography is the biggest form of voyeurism. In the eighties the porn industry fought and adapted and eventually boomed manifolds on the internet. So now, a Jenna Jameson ends up fighting for attention with an aunty from Lajpat Nagar thanks to the MMS craze. People want ‘live’ action, they want to know what’s happening in their stars lives, or even in the lives of others. The more we become insulated and isolated as a society, the more we want to voyuer into the other people’s lives. We might not be friends with our neighbour but we surely would love to anonymously be privy to what’s going on with them. What more it even gives us a chance to simulate their action, control their fate, however much of a make-belief control it actually might be. And Reality TV provides us with that opportunity. Call it perverse, intrusive, entertaining, immoral whatver you may, but one thing is for sure that Reality TV is here and it is here to stay.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Jaya He!

Words fail me. A cynic that i am, i didn't think i would see this day. Well, F#@* me!!

India wins it's first Olympic gold ever in individual performance. What an amazing feeling. What a moment!! It's so overwhelming to hear our National Anthem on the international podium, and to see the tricolour hoisted higher than other flags. Thanks, Abhinav Bindra.

I am a believer again. And a little greedy as well. One of my wishes is to watch India play world cup football final one day and sing our National Anthem. I'd die a happy man if i drop dead the next moment.

Thanks again Abhinav. A heartiest pat for your achievement before the Cola and Eye care and other such people corrupt you and turn you into a media circus.

You can watch the moment here

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Bombay Calling

Some weeks back, I was in Bombay for a shoot. The shoot was wrapped up before the schedule and I had plenty of time left to myself including a weekend thrown in. I was anyway planning to go to Bombay to meet Anshumani. We owed each other a big bear hug for our Cannes thing. So this shoot couldn’t have been better timed. But this sudden timing also had its pitfall, that is, I couldn’t meet Mihir, Vanita, Jaideep or Megha, as either my phone failed me or they were busy with their prior commitments. Unlike most Delhiwallas, I like Bombay (But then I am not a Delhiwala anyway). I like Bombay as it reminds me of Calcutta. Crowded roads, a sea of people anywhere you look, old Victorian-style buildings (built mostly by Parsis) and its proximity to water. I had a really tiring day at the shoot which got over by 8 in the evening. Ritabrata dropped me at Bandra from where I took an auto to Khar for Rs.12 flat, (if you travel in Delhi autos, you almost feel like hugging the Bombay auto and cab guys for their professionalism). Anshumani and Timsy, her current art partner, both looked great and we went to Zenzi. Needless to say I was quite awkward at a page 3 place like that, and that too wearing the same clothes I was shooting the whole day in. So we settled down, gulped a couple of beers, and then when they shooed us out at 1, we picked up some more beer, headed home and continued our yakking and catching up on anything and everything till 4 in the morning. I was scheduled to be picked up by Ritabrata at 6.30 in the morning for a day long trek. I had no clue how I’d manage it. But anyway, he called me at 6 and at 6.30, four of us (Meenaz, Sneha, Ritabrata and me) were in his car, on our way to Tikona. Initially I couldn’t keep my eyes open in the car and was cursing myself for coming along. I was sure I was going to embarrass them, as they are all certified advance climbers from HMI or NIM. This trek was like a walk in the backyard for them, and I haven’t walked that much of late so I was tense whether I’ll embarrass them. But I guess, I didn’t. Okay I slipped like a thousand times on our way down, but in my defence, I was wearing a shoe with a flat sole and the mud was slippery due to rain :)

After our stopover in Navi Mumbai for breakfast, I slept in the car for some time. And then when I opened my eyes, the view of the Bombay-Pune Expressway was so good that I couldn’t sleep anymore. But the best was yet to come. Tikona Fort (3633ft, also known as Vitangagad) is the dominant hill fort in Maval in Shaihadris. It is located near Kamshet around 125 kms from Mumbai. The 3500 ft high hill is pyramidal in shape and hence it's called Tikona. There is a lake at the summit. It’s a small weekend trekking destination for seasoned trekkers like my friends, and for Pune Symbiosis and such college types who hoot and make weird noises and whoop at the summit, “its amaaaaaaaaazing!! BEAUTIFUL!!! I feel close to HIM from up here!!(yeah dude, wonder what will you say when you are at Mount Everest…woohooo, I feel so close I can smell HIS ass from here). Hahahaha. Priti, not criticising, just joking! ;). Sneha took most of the pictures and they look good. Meenaz was guiding me throughout

Bombay monsoon
Like Bombay, like Calcutta
At Leopold
The Lion, Singh and Khanne :P

Bombay-Pune Expressway

The Good, the Bad and the that order :)


A sadhu's retreat, complete with his private swimming pool

A temple, on the way to the top

Sneha and Ritabrata

Our we-feel-so-close-to-HIM moment :P

And yeah, i got another tattoo done :)