Well I was in 10th standard when I first heard the term “Unity in Diversity” in my civics class. That was an attempt to teach the kids about the greatness of our country and the different languages and cultures India posses from Jammu to KanyaKumari. It was 15 years ago and when I look back now I feel what have we learnt?
People talk about creative freedom, secularism but for me it boils down to just common sense. The things that have been happening in Tami Nadu are unfair on the brilliant creator that is Mr Kamal Hassan. I am a big admirer of Kamal Hassan’s work. Let me be clear I am no fan boy. I love good cinema and Kamal Hassan has provided that in abundance.
When Viswaroopam released and when I learnt that it deals with terrorism I did not expect it to create such a furor. We have had countless movies releasing in India on similar themes, so I thought this movie will be considered one among them but that is not to be. Viswaroopam was banned by Tamil Nadu government and subsequently by other governments in India and abroad.
I can’t believe that in this day and age people actually believe that a movie can cause security issue. It is sad that one of India’s finest creators has to suffer due to some political agenda.
Kamal Hassan has talked about moving out of Tamil Nadu and even the country if the justice is not served. It will be a shame for the nation/state if such a thing happens. Creative people like Kamal Hassan are nation’s pride. The kind of jewel we all need to cherish and celebrate. India is the only country where their legends are treated with so much contempt. The government needs to wake up and put an end to this madness.
The creative freedom on an actor and creator needs to be upheld. It is sad to see the great man talking about bankruptcy and losing his home. It is even astonishing that the government hasn’t done anything to avert this situation. The perplexing thing is that the Tamil film association has kept mum on this issue. Few actors including our superstar have voiced in their support but as an association they should have stood behind their own.
It is nice to see the support of the fans for the movie. I hope that everyone continues to support the movie and keep our beloved icon in his home state. I hope that the Supreme Court intervenes and overturns the ban on the film. An icon like Kamal deserves better and we cannot let the constitution down.
Kamal Hassan is one of India’s finest actor/director. He has given us numerous classics and is very much responsible for taking Indian cinema overseas.
Shahrukh’s recent brawl with the MCA (Mumbai Cricket Association) staff and the security personnel has made the headlines all over. It seems as though the film personalities cannot keep themselves away from the media albeit for the wrong reasons. I was obviously not at the scene of the incident nor do I know what exactly happened and who was at fault. But in India justice and law is different for celebrity and for a common man. Everybody starts judging the common man based on the arrest. Common man probably loses his job for his antics. His life gets turned upside down.
Common man’s kids play on the ground. Security personnel man handles them (According to what Shahrukh told the press). Common man gets angry, screams at them using lots of expletives and pushes them around. MCA staff comes in gets a mouth full from the common man. Police come in and arrest the common man, put him in jail.
Celebrity’s kids play on the ground. Security personnel man handles them (According to what Shahrukh told the press). Celebrity gets angry, screams at them using lots of expletives and pushes them around. MCA staff comes in to pacify, gets mouthful from the celebrity, even the ACP isn’t spared. Celebrity walks out of the ground free with his family. Comes out and gives press statement. Celebrity gets banned from entering the ground for 5 years. His colleagues and well-wishers (also celebrities) extend lots of support giving character witness. Chief Ministers and BCCI chiefs get involved and ask the MCA staff to call truce, drop the charges. Everything is hunky dory for the celebrity, life is back to normal. Gets great publicity for his upcoming movie releases (if any).
This is India for you.
Aamir Khan’s “Satyameva Jayate” has for sure been the talk of the town since the first episode aired last week. The show obviously has the heart in the right place. Aamir Khan’s show is just trying to create awareness and nothing more than that. There have been various shows in the past on the same lines but this is the first one with a premier star hosting it. Vijay TV (Star TV’s Tamil network) had a similar program with actress Lakshmi at the helm. It had the same concept but obviously not as high profile as Satyameva Jayate.
First things first we need to appreciate Aamir for taking such a show to venture into television. At least he has the intention to take the already known problems to the living rooms of the people. At least this will get the people thinking. There have been lots of articles online about the show and there have been criticisms. The criticisms are unwarranted as this is a TV show with a social message. Take what you can from the show and if possible change the way you look at the issue or else just consider it as an awareness show. Don’t expect Aamir Khan to be the messiah to save people from their troubles. No TV show or movie can accomplish that. It always lies in the hands of the individuals.
This is the problem with the Indian society, we are extremely defensive. If someone points out an issue in the society we will not believe and if someone points that out with the statistic we expect them to do more than that. It is always someone who has to change things. Life is not a movie where a hero will come in and abolish all the social evils that exist. The TV show is supposed to make people aware and since it is hosted by a celebrity it will grab the attention of the big leaders too which might actually help the people affected. The message will also reach the masses as at least they will watch this to see their star Aamir Khan hosting it.
It is a known fact that India only listens to celebrities. The two journalists who took so much risk in exposing the doctors running these centers did not receive any help from the government. This is absolute appalling and the fact that they are made to run around to different courts in Rajasthan is even more ridiculous. As soon as “Satyameva Jayate” aired on TV Rajasthan chief minister took action on the sonography clinics, shows how even the politicians listen only to movie stars. But we can be happy that something came out of the show.
The only thing I would say that female feticide is a serious issue in India and Satyameva Jayate has just brought it to light and obviously the seriousness of the issue. There are many other social issues which need to be tackled in our country and these sorts of shows are the need of the hour. Instead of criticizing the show I would be happy if the people try embracing such shows by trying to bring some change in the society. We don’t need to question the intention of the show but just look at the good things the show might do. It is like this when some celebrity or a millionaire does some charity we don’t appreciate them because we think that it is done to save on taxes, but we need to think that at least they did charity and the money went to some good cause. How many of us will even do that?
We think that life around us is rosy and nothing is wrong with the society around us. There is no need to get defensive about our country. Unless we embrace the issues we cannot eradicate them. The country grows and improves only if the issues are tackled. India as a country for ages has always ignored the serious issues and we always want to live in a fantasy land. If we see a video of child labor in India we cry and then complain why that video is even put online instead of thinking of ways to help those children in some way. We only think why someone posted that video to disrupt our great, smooth life. We don’t want to even think about issues faced by others nor do we want to help anyone. The only thing we can do is write some articles to criticize someone who is at least doing something. He might not eradicate female feticide, Child labor or various other issues in India but at least he is trying to educate people.
Satyameva Jayate is a show which is the need of the hour. Take the show for what it is. Try to think that the show is to educate people rather than a one which is started to make sweeping changes. There cannot be a Robin Hood who will come in and eradicate all the problems and especially a TV show which will never accomplish that. I like the show and I think it deserves all the accolades it is getting and definitely does not deserve the criticism. I would like to ask all the writers who have questioned the intention or the effect of the show as to what they have done to tackle the social issues in India, have they even written about it before the show was aired? Think about it and you will get the answer. As of now Aamir has done as great job with the first episode and I hope that he continues to tackle more such issues and people living in defensive mindset realize life isn’t as rosy as they think. This is not a movie, this shows real life and real people and we need to realize that these people are around us.
No news has grabbed the headlines in the past few days more than Shahrukh’s detention at the US airport. Even swine flu had to take a back seat on the Indian media. Was the Indian superstar making a huge deal of the incident to promote his upcoming movie which is based on the same theme? May be, but Shahrukh has denied such claims.
Sports in India have always been synonymous with Cricket. Even though we have had famous personalities in other sports, they hardly get the kind of recognition and press as the cricket personalities do. I have decided to dig some names and personalities who are the future of Indian sports which includes non-cricketing superstars. This article only covers the sports personalities from my home town as Chennai/Tamil Nadu has always been a place which has produced variety of sports personalities. I am just naming few of the current stars.
She is born in Chennai and this 20 year old is a squash champion. She is the highest ranked squash player from India and is currently at 14th in the world. She has three WISPA (Women’s International Squash Players Association) titles and was the first Indian player to make the Quarter finals of world squash open. She also became the youngest Indian player to reach the summit clash of a silver event when she made it to the finals of “Tournament of Champions” Squash event in New York.
Dipika is a very talented squash player and has achieved a lot at a young age. Again Squash is a very low profile sport in India and she does not get too much of press as she should. Congrats to Dipika on a great 2011 where she climbed from 29th in the world to 14th at the end of it, hopefully she will have a better 2012.
Nope he is not the Tamil actor. He is India’s first MotoGP racer in the 125 cc category. He is another racer from Chennai keeping the legacy of the city known for producing 2 formula 1 racers. The 20 year old Indian is the fastest rider in Indian class and was the first to break the 2 minute barrier on an Indian bake at the circuit. Another talented Indian sports personality who only got decent press due to him being the first Indian to ride in Moto GP. I hope he has a great 2012 and does well in the chances he gets.
He is yet another Indian sports personality who hardly gets enough press but is famous enough. Probably he is known the most around India among the names I have already mentioned. He is India’s number one table tennis player and has remained at the top for 4 years now. He won the gold at commonwealth games in 2006 and also has the distinction of being the first Indian to win an ITTF Pro title when he won at the Egypt open. He also captained the Indian team which defeated the English team who were the favorites and 9 time champions at the Egypt open in the same year.
This is one person I found hardly any news about apart from a Chennai tabloid blog. The 2008 women’s world carom champion fought poverty to reach the pinnacle in the sport. She won the title in 2008 in France. The nation which was caught in the euphoria of the IPL completely missed the return of the triumphant Ilavazhagi’s return. The two time SAARC champion finally got the recognition when the State Government announced cash prize of 10 lakhs after her interviews in the media.
People who fight adversity and achieve great things need support of the media and the government. Champions like Ilavazhagi can actually inspire young people to achieve something and also teach them to fight to reach their goals. Kudos to her for the title and hope she goes on to do India proud at the world level once again.
Yet another racer from Chennai following in the footsteps of Narain Karthikeyan, Karun Chandhok and Parthiva Sureshwaran, Armaan is the son of legendary Akbar Ebrahim who is the former British F3 champion. Armaan is a talented racer who competed in the Formula 2 championship in the years 2010 and 2011. He will be racing in the Firestone Indy lights in 2012. He has a great future and has very good reputation on circuit. Hope he has a great 2012 and wins quite a lot of races in the Indy lights. Another sports person who hardly finds any press
Tennis Scene in Chennai
Tennis and Chennai have always been hand in hand. The great father son duo of Ramanathan Krishnan and Ramesh Krishnan were from Chennai and so were the Amritraj brothers. Ramanathan Krishnan was probably the highest seeded Indian in Wimbledon when he was #4 in the 1962 championship. He has had multiple appearances in the Grand Slam Semi-Finals. His son Ramesh Krishnan also was a famous tennis icon in the 80’s. Following in the father’s footsteps, Ramesh also won the junior Wimbledon title in the late 70’s. Ramesh reached the quarter-finals of Wimbledon once and US Open twice in his career. Ramesh reached his highest singles ranking of 23 in the year 1985.
Following in the tennis legacy of Chennai was Vijay Amritraj. Yet another great player from the Chennai shores. Amritraj was the highest ranked Singles player from India in the open era. His highest ranking was 16th in the world. Amritraj also reached the quarter-finals of US Open and Wimbledon and also had an impressive 384-296 W/L record in singles.
The greatness of the tennis scene did not stop with the Krishnan’s and the Amritraj brothers. It is to be noted that Leander Paes and current Indian number 1 Somdev Devvarman learned their trade in Chennai. Leander is the aluminous of the famous Loyola College in Chennai and did his schooling in the famous Madras Christian College. Chennai boasts of the famous Numgambakkam tennis stadium where the prestigious Chennai Open takes place every year. The Krishnan tennis center and the Britannia Amritraj tennis academy train lots of young players in India.
Chennai is also the home for the famous MRF pace foundation which has given the Indian cricket team lots of famous pace bowlers under the tutelage of legendary Dennis Lillie.
Chennai has always had a multi-faceted sporting culture. We have legends from tennis, Chess, Carom, table tennis and off course cricket. Chess champion and world number 1 Viswanathan Anand comes from Chennai and so do lots of Grand Masters following in his footsteps. This article is just the tip of the ice berg, there are number of other young achievers I might have missed. There are for sure lots of other sports achievers throughout the country who are not that well known through India. I just did this for Chennai and I already feel exhausted and I have not even included every young achiever in the city. Just imagine how many would be there throughout the country. Please add to the list if you know of such sports personalities. These stars require as much recognition and press as a cricketer does.
The 58th National awards were announced yesterday in India and the major awards were collected by Tamil and Malayalam movies. Dhanush won the best actor award for his realistic portrayal in the film Aadukalam along with Malayalam actor Salim Kumar who won it for his brilliant performance in the film Adaminte Makan Abu. The best feature film award went to Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu.
Aadukalam was the star of the National Film awards announced yesterday as it bagged 6 awards including the Best actor, Best Director (Vetrimaran), Best Original Screenplay (Vetrimaran), Best Editing (TE Kishore), and Best Choreography (Dinesh Kumar).
Saranya Ponvannan won the best actress award for the film Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru along with Marathi actress Mitalee Jagtap Varadkar for Baboo Band Baaja.
The best supporting actor award went to actor Thambi Rammaih for his excellent performance in Mynaa and the supporting actress award went to actress Sukumari for the Tamil film Namma Grammam.
Namma Grammam also won the award for costume design for Indrans Jayan.Enthiran also bagged couple of awards for best production design (Saby cyril) and Special Effects (V Srinivas M Mohan). Vairamuthu won the best lyricist award for Thenmerkku Paruvakkatru.
With all the awards going to the regional movies Dabaang winning “Wholesome Entertainer” award was kind of a consolation for Hindi films. Vishal Bharadwaj also won the Best Music award for the film Ishqiya. His wife Rekha Bharadwaj won the best Playback singer award for the same movie. Do Dooni Chaar won the “Best Hindi Film” award.Ishqiya also won the award for Best Audiography (Debajit Changmai).
The Best Backgound Score award went to Issak Thomas Kottakapally for the Malayalam film Adaminte Makan Abu. The Best Cinematography award went to Madhu Ambat for Adaminte Makan Abu (Malayalam).
Nargis Dutt award for the Best film on National Integration went to Bengali film Moner Manush. The Best Film on Social issues went to Marathi film Champions. Indhira Gandhi award for Best Debut Film of a Director went to Marathi Film Baboo Band Baaja.
So overall it was a great day for Regional movies this time. Tamil movies bagged 14 awards in various categories and Malayalam films bagged 6. The 58th National Awards was great one for the Southern Film industries and a particularly proud one for Tamil. Congratulations to all the winners and hope that the winners will strive to achieve greater success in the coming years.
Note – I haven’t published all the award winners, just a few of the important ones are mentioned in this post.
Another major event in India and we have yet another controversy. This time it is the cricket world cup. ICC recently conducted their review of the stadiums hosting world cup games and found that Eden Gardens, Kolkata was not up to the mark. They snatched the India-England game which was scheduled to take place there on the 27th of this month and are contemplating taking away the other games too. This is really a shame on the part of both the CAB (Cricket Association of Bengal) and BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India).
All the stadiums had ample time to prepare for the world cup. It’s not as if the venues were decided at the last minute. The tier 1 test grounds in India hardly get international games, so there is no reason for them to fall behind the schedule. Apart from the IPL, the only International game I can think of last year was the test match between India and South Africa in Feb 2010. Surely money cannot be the issue either considering the wealth the BCCI has at their disposal. So what can be the reason for this debacle? It’s for sure the mismanagement of the Indian administrators. I am not sure when the administrators will realize that such mismanagement affects the pride of the country overall.
When ICC (International Cricket Council) said that Eden was not up to scratch, BCCI was immediate in washing their hands of the matter. The BCCI said that they should not be blamed for this scenario. It’s very strange that the cricket board of a country in which a mega event is about to take place make such a statement. But BCCI for sure had the guts to ask ICC to provide an extension, why would they do so? The World Cup was about to begin in 2 weeks and if the stadium wasn’t ready, it deserved to be pulled out.
Bangalore was finally announced as the venue for the India-England game and the decision is still pending on the rest of the games. I just feel sad for the cricket fans of Bengal as they would be really disappointed to miss out on a high profile clash. The cricket fans of Bengal are one of the most passionate followers of the game. Eden Gardens might not be the best stadium in India but is a very historic and high profile venue and it is a shame that they would not be hosting the games if the ICC decides to pull out the rest of the games too. The CAB and the BCCI are to be blamed collectively for this oversight. Even though the games will go on and the ICC or the BCCI would not lose their sleep over the change of venue, the only loss will be of the fans. I don’t think the BCCI or the CAB cares about them anyways.
It’s great for Bangalore though as they have gotten another big game in their kitty but again, the only people to suffer as always are the fans.
Recently I heard a Kannada song and got instantly hooked on to the same. Even though I did not understand much in terms of lyrics, the song was so addictive. This brings me to the question that why people put so much emphasis on language. I remember few years back when I was in college here in the US, I happened to go out with a bunch of other south Indian friends. I had just landed in the US, so I happened to have some movie audio cassettes in my mother tongue with me at that time. I took those with me during that trip and since no one had any other options, offered to play them. These were songs from a movie which was popular in all the languages but the guys were completely opposed to playing that cassette. They were ready to listen to the radio but not that song in any other language. The reason given was that they were not able to understand the lyrics and this was a song which was there in their language already. This is just an example and there are people from various languages who despise listening to any song which he/she does not understand.
That was very strange to me. The reason I am calling that strange is that, we hear so many international songs which we don’t understand. Take for example, Ricky Martin’s 1998 world cup soccer song or the “Livin’ la Vida Loca” song after that. Everybody was crazy about those songs at that time but very few actually understood what those songs meant. They enjoyed it because of the rhythm and the music in those songs. I have seen people listening to Spanish songs, how many of us understand or speak Spanish? We are ready to listen to Korean, Arabic, Spanish, German etc but not songs from other Indian languages. Is our so called diversity coming into play here too?
I feel that music is something which is beyond boundaries. I can hear to any song in any language and just appreciate the music and forget about the rest. I know there are lots of them like myself in that regard. India is varied and has different languages. Each language has their own style of music which is enjoyable in terms of their uniqueness. I listen and enjoy any song to which I am exposed to. It can be any language, any meaning I don’t care, if the music is good I will listen. Music has such a quality which brings down the barriers. How do you explain a Hindi song winning the “Best Original Song” at the Oscars? I am sure neither the international audience nor the jury had a clue what the song meant. That’s the power of music, it’s a universal language.
I currently have a CD with me which has Tamil, Malayalam, Telugu and Kannada songs in them. I have an entire CD with just Hindi songs. Except Hindi the other languages I can understand a little bit when spoken but have no clue what any of those songs mean in the entirety. If I like a song from a language which I don’t understand I make a conscious effort to find out the meaning. In this day and age, technology also helps in bridging the gap as anything and everything is available over the internet. I always appreciate people who post comments on internet such as“The song is beautiful, can someone explain the lyrics please?” That shows that the person is a music lover and is making an effort to try and put meaning to what he is listening.
People in Indian speak about national integration and keep fighting over languages all the time but at least they can keep music out of it. I hope that this does not come out as preaching as it is not meant to be that way. I was just trying to make a simple point about how music can bring people together and we should not block ourselves out of that unity. If we do allow ourselves to enjoy and appreciate music from other Indian languages, we might actually grow to appreciate the varying cultures within our country. We might even see that our country might actually be able to give a meaning to the phrase “Unity in Diversity”, which I feel still exists only in books.
Please leave your thoughts and tell me what you feel about the topic.
Couple of days back I was watching our legendary film director K Balachander (KB) on an interview on NDTV-Hindu. Balachander has always struck me as a person who has very naturally transitioned to the modern cinema and has not be caught in a time warp like few others from his generation. He has been pretty gracious in appreciating work of current directors and has often publicly praised them in the media. KB also was the first movie director who forayed into satellite television. He produced and directed various down to earth, high quality television serials.
His serials had the realism and were never over the top. So that brings me to the current topic, when the interviewer asked him about the current television scenario, he said that news channels are more interesting to watch than the mega-serials and reality shows. I kind of agree with him. If you think, aside from the sports channels and News channels, the rest of the programming can be categorized into, movies, serials and Reality shows.
The mega serials are over the top, hard to believe and mostly a cry-fest. The reality shows contrary to their name has hardly any realism and movie shows are well, movie shows. The advent of reality shows in Indian television has eaten into the primetime for most of the TV channels in India. The shows look like scripted and rehearsed with no realism. They are also sometimes inappropriate and not a “Watch with the family” types. So let’s look at what the news channels bring to the plate. They have the same star interviews, news around the world, debate shows, showcase sports and other talents across India.
To be frank I feel that a channel like NDTV-Hindu has much more interesting programming compared to probably a Sun TV or a Sony TV. The news channel interviews do not use the regular superlatives to introduce an actor, like probably a Karan Johar does on “Koffee with Karan”. The interviews are much more interesting to watch and actually give a better perspective of the person than watching them on a regular entertainment channel. There are few exceptions though like Star Vijay which has much more balanced programming. Having said that I believe that to each their own and respect individual preferences.
But do I enjoy watching a NDTV-Hindu more than a Sun TV? Yes I do and I totally agree with KB sir. He also said that he would be directing another television serial pretty soon and I am sure that he will bring the necessary realism to television which has been missing altogether in recent times.