Losing My Religion

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Chetan Bhagat, one of Time’s Hundred Most Influential People In the World, needs no introduction.

It is said that in whichever corner of India you go to, you will always find a shop that sells Eveready Batteries, Nirodh condoms and copies of Bhagat’s books (not necessarily in that order).

What Timur did to world history, leaving behind mountains of skulls and altering boundaries of kingdoms, Mr. Bhagat has done to Indian literature revolutionizing it in a way that people never thought possible, breaking the strangle-hold of the ivory-towerist, Humanities-graduate, Proust-reading Illuminati over the domain of English writing with his alphanumeric titles (Five point someone, Two States, One Night, Three Mistakes)  bringing literary enlightenment truly to the “pIpL”.

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The Babri Verdict

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There was a time, in the early 90s that we believed, with a passion, that adding jhankar beats to a song was as important as adding salt to food, that Farheen (the heroine of Jaan Tere Naam) would become the next Madhuri Dixit, that Vinod Kambli would be a better batsman than Sachin Tendulkar and tie-die, spandex, acid-wash jeans would be the future of clothing. Now we realize how utterly foolish all of it was. In the same way, I hope that when the Babri Masjid verdict comes out, we as a nation can treat it as yet another 90s folly (I personally found the whole spectacle of grown men dressed in costumes, brandishing arrows and moving on automobiles and calling them “raths” ridiculous even then and this is the person silly enough in the early 90s to detect potential in Avinash Wadhawan after seeing him in “Balma”). And, as a nation, display the maturity to move on with our lives, so that we may deal the follies of today—Trinamool Congress, Neetu Chandra and the recall of Sreesanth.

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A Video Post on Desi Dance

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Video posts are never popular in RTDM. I never understand why. Perhaps people dont have time to play all the videos. Perhaps they don’t like my choice. I don’t know what the exact reason but I do realize I have not done one for years. Years I have spent trolling the alleys of Youtube looking for gems and diamonds, spending hours awash in the kind of joy that Kalmadi feels everytime he signs an approval letter for a contractor at the Commonwealth Games.

So like it or not, here is a video post once again, if only for sharing my pleasure with the world.

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More On Azaadi And Kashmir

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[Long post]

I have always wanted to hear the voices of educated, young rational “Kashmiri”s desirous of “independence”. (Readers will note the quotes around Kashmiri and independence because as I have argued before,  that what is going on in Kashmir is hardly an independence struggle, but more an expression of aggressive Islamic (mostly Sunni) revivalism.)

Sabbah is a Kashmiri woman who does some very worthwhile work in the sphere of education,  and comes across as an erudite young person with a sense of humor. Which is why I read her op-ed in Hindustan Times with much interest, hoping for a even-handed, though passionate, articulation of her stance on the issue, which I knew from reading her blogs, would be “pro-independence”. The piece is worth analyzing because it is a fairly accurate representation of the moderate face of the Kashmiri “independence” struggle and because it , being considered important enough to be published in a newspaper of national importance, has been widely read.

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Dabangg— The Review

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There was a time when Hindi movies were made for men—- working class men, who would settle down in the darkness of the hall with their mates, smelling of sweat and grime. Handkerchiefs around neck and lungis drawn up mid-thigh, they would come to dance, sing, throw chawannis at the screen and whistle at the women on the screen. They couldn’t care less for story arcs and characterization as long as skulls were being cracked, dialogs were being delivered, and women were being drenched. Then things changed.  Multiplexes revolutionized the business of movie distribution and audience targeting. The Johar-Chopra-Shahrukh Khan triumvirate cut off the nation’s throbbing testicles and replaced them with a pair of heart-shaped red balloons. Just as Diet Coke pushed out the Rs 1 colored water sold in plastic seen-through packs (also called jaundice test-tubes since there was a good chance of contacting the disease if you let that water cross your lips),old-time masala “movies for men”, non-stylized and formulaic, looked down upon as a “down-market”, were steadily slowly shunted to the low end of the spectrum, consigned to playing in B and C single-screens in the backwaters.

Last year’s bone-cracking “Wanted”, starring Bollywood’s undisputed Neanderthal and the new-generation Mithun Chakraborty,  resurrected the commercial viability of old masala action. It was only going to be a matter of time when there would try to replicate its success. Enter “Dabangg”, a stunning two-plus hours packed with every cliche of the action thriller, legendary dialogbaazi of the kind you repeat years later (Cheddi Singh, hum tume itne ched karenge ki confuse ho jaoge—- ki saas kaha se le aur pade kaha se) and enough moments to make even the most jaded get off from the seat and do a seat-i.

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The Obfuscation Game

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Normally when the Army is called in to maintain order in the immediate neighborhood of Kolkata, police personnel are injured, places of worship are desecrated, shops of a particular religious community are targeted for looting, and communities escape their home in fear of violence we would consider it to be headlines/breaking news-worthy. Perhaps not as earth-shaking as Shiney Ahuja’s maid withdrawing rape accusations or Formula 1 racing coming to India, but definitely worth front page real estate. Yet if I look at the home pages of NDTV and IBN and TOI (at the time of writing), I find not one mention of these events.

A search on Google news on “Deganga” throws up a handful of articles (thirty one at moment of writing) in mainstream media, and an overwhelming majority of these are so deliberately vague that they sound like a parent trying to explain to a nine-year old kid where babies come from. We are told about the Army staging flag marches (one might think this is a rather regular occurrence in a state like Bengal deserving only a passing mention), groups of people (my friend Rimi told me that’s how the local Bangla papers reported it) fighting each other over a “local issue” , violence over ambiguous disputed structures——–like it is some small passing thing of no importance, or at least nothing as worthy of prime placement as one of the headline items I see on the page of IBN namely “Aamir Khan is India’s national treasure“.

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The Iraqi Quagmire

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On August 31, 2010 President Obama officially called to an end the war in Iraq.  I use the word officially because of the US’s long standing tradition of adhering to the Hotel California principle of troop withdrawal. That is they may check out any time, but they will never leave. Which is why they still have a significant military presence in Europe, Japan, and Korea, decades after they ceased to be theaters of war. Now Iraq will be added to that long list with 50,000 US servicemen staying back, post-withdrawal, to “support” the Iraqi government.

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