Thursday, July 07, 2016

Bhai Bhai Phenomenon

I was never a big fan of Salman Khan. After attaining a minimum conscience about the external world and starting to judge movies by their content and not by their mere specter of entertainment, I built an opinion that Salman Khan not only lacked sensible acting skills but also the skills I see in a responsible citizen of the country.
In spite calling myself a movie-buff, I simply could not sit through his stupid movies residing far away from the reality. It was an arduous task for me to watch the very forgettable Dabang and that experience facilitated me to avoid his next set of 100 crore-club movies. I did not let my lack of appreciation deter anyone else. I saw his success at the box office as a unique case study. This was a case in which an actor lacked the very basic acting skills was outshining everyone else around, one movie after another. Although I am not an academy judge or a Cannes Critic, using whatever I have heard and read about acting, Salman Khan has always been the “how not to” example of every detail. But the box office loves him, and that is all that matters in our country, and why not! After a hard working week, there’s no price for guessing which movie the tired souls will flock to, a simple entertainer called Ek Tha Tiger, or a mind-boggling convoluted Nolan masterpiece Inception. And the result is out and loud. Salman Khan has grown out of his age and even after 28 years in the industry, has become the most sought after and producer-friendly actor of the current age. But letting someone like him rule the popularity of such high repute is nothing less than a disgrace we are living with every day.
His personality is exactly what is wrong with India today. He is mired in controversies. He has been tried in court for culpable homicide after his car ran over street dwellers in Mumbai. After getting bail, the prime witness in the case was kidnapped and eventually killed which allowed him to walk free because of the lack of evidence. His very public relationship with Aishwarya Rai later turned into an ugly one. Aishwariya Rai accused him of harassing her and lodged a complaint. He and some of his friends were charged with the crime of hunting an endangered species. He blamed the Indian security forces after the attacks of 26/11 and thought that Pakistan was not to be blamed. He sympathized with Yakub Memon and tweeted Nawaz Shariff to make him heard. The list goes on and on and on. And the strangest thing is, his popularity increased with every controversy he faced. He became that son of the Indian house, who is loved by his parents unconditionally even if he commits the gravest of crimes. Indian audience accepted him with wide open arms every time he proved to be a wrong human being. His being out in the open in spite of such a tattered certificate of character is inspiration to the Indian youth. No doubt his fan following is unparalleled. He is called Bhai in Indian households, and people try to copy his looks, his body, his style and very sadly his personality as well. People get motivated that in spite of the crimes one commits, there is always a way out in our system.  Although I am not saying Salman Khan is the only catalyst in this mindset but I won’t be wrong if I say he is at least one of the role models.
His recent comment about his troubles after a lengthy physically straining shot for his Eid movie Sultan was no less than some utter rubbish out of a nincompoop's mouth.  What he said could not be left unnoticed. It was not one of those media air blowing the balloon out of proportions but a rightful coverage of a foolish man with a sick mentality giving an insight into his real self. Salman Khan hardly makes any non-scripted media appearances. All his lines, everything he says is carefully curated by his team of managers who preserve his public image. And every time Salman Khan steps out without his restrictors around, he says or does something that creates headlines. His callous responses to some important questions reflect the mindless characters he plays in his 100 crore movies. They are thoughtless, baseless and often hurt someone’s sentiment. I know these celebrities live a difficult life with cameras covering their every movement and recorders sniffing their every breath.  But every good thing in life comes with responsibility and privacy is one of the perks them actors have to let go off. It is more like an occupational hazard that we all live with. Exposed to such scrutiny, it is the star’s responsibility to behave and utter correct words. He should know how and where his words matter. He should be able to perceive his power and how his words can mold society and bring about change. He should be responsible that the change occurs for good. Trivializing a grave issue like rape which has become a household name in our country and a demon our society is fighting against every day is an act of shame. I am forced to think under which circumstances these words might have come out.
One, he is not educated enough to understand the gravity of the situation and the significance of his spoken words. It was just a casual banter with the reporter and the audience and his sick sense of humor allowed him to let those words out. He may not be meaning to hurt anybody’s sentiment, and it is our fault to portray him in that dark light. Had that been the case, an apology the very next day would have been a responsible action. It would have been a brave act. It could have deterred those people who idolize him and would use this “walked like a raped woman” comment to signify how tired they were, from using such a tragic event with such casualty. His apology would have been a gentleman’s gesture and would have gone well with his “being human” brand image. Nobody is perfect, and there is no harm in accepting that one was wrong. But Bhai, our family’s notorious brother did nothing of that sort. His father came out to rescue and publicly apologized, but Bhai with the ego as thick as his steroid rich biceps did not bow down to the pressure and did not apologize.  Maybe he thinks that he can balance this all out by making hefty donations to charity through his Being Human trust but he should realize that charity does not give him the right to insult anyone. Had he been raped, such a comment couldn’t have come out of him.
Two, he has forgotten about the incident, and he cares too less to read newspapers and controversies. He is cut from the outside-the-gym world and does not bother to remember his bad deeds because there are so many of them. So he wakes up the next day feeling like a fresh woman and starts his new day afresh. In that case, we should blacken his face with coal tar (not literally) and strip him of the star status and throw him out of the country in no time. He is a disease one should get rid of immediately.
Three, he believes rape to be a trivial issue, and the comment was what he wanted to tell the world about himself. He is too casual to realize his mistake and too pampered to have any remorse. He is proud of what he has said because everyone else says shit on television and he doesn’t want to be the exception. Every superstar has his / her share of controversies and people slowly forget everything. They are garlanded by producers as they have become more popular. Whatsoever be their path to popularity, they charge more money to create box office records. So our Bhai feels that he alone should not be targeted, and people should solve all the controversial cases/ comments in series and then reach him after solving everything else. That is exactly how people get the courage to utter anything without thinking twice. Superstars are idolized by masses and hence should carry the burden of being famous and being quoted. Stars like Salman Khan touch a million lives, and that is why it is their prime duty to keep their hands clean.
Enough said, as a fellow countryman, I feel insulted that Salman Khan is somehow related to me. I think it is the time we boycott watching his mindless movies and teach this naughty useless boy a lesson and some culture.

Friday, March 04, 2016

The dilution of Photography

When you have enough time, when you are far away from the raised eyebrows of the critical world around, then you can do things you like without caring. Call me the self-obsessed one, but I was just flipping through my Facebook albums and one photo after another I time-travelled from 2016 to 2009. And I did not even realize that half an hour had already passed by. Some photos brought back such good memories that I kept on staring at them for a good minute or so. Living that time, at that very moment, I kept wondering how fast time flies by.
There was this tradition in my home when I was a child. My parents loved photography, and they did not care much about the 36 snap film roll. There had been times when my father refilled our Kodak Kroma once every month, and we used to get one album full of pictures. The knack of clicking random objects and, later on trying hard to make sense of them, have been passed on to me from my parents. And when anybody used to visit us for the evening tea, going through the latest album was a must. My parents would take turns to explain why a photo was clicked, or what had happened at that very moment and our guests would smile. We did not care whether they liked them or not, but they kept coming back and did not mind even repeating some of the albums.
With time, we graduated to smartphones and digital cameras. My parents still do not know how to operate them. They click pictures in phones but cannot connect it to a computer to see them full size. Even the number the guests visiting us have become less. I wonder whether this is true for everybody or only us as we moved out of Durgapur. People do not now randomly ring the doorbell and request for a cup of tea from my mother at 10 in the night. I think my parents miss this randomness. They also miss showing off photographs and telling the stories behind them. My mother has recently taken to Facebook, and she puts a picture every morning wishing her friends a good morning. I like them religiously, just to cheer her up. :-)
Well coming back, I think with the advent of this digital age camera in my life, the photography has lost charm. For me, it was better caring for the number of snaps left in a roll and then using the remaining snaps judiciously. To capture that very particular moment. Nowadays I click everything I see and hence as the supply has become much more than the demand, I care less about the pics I click. Just for an example, the other day I met my friends in Saket and just to show off my new glam cam phone, we took around 100 photographs. These all were taken at the same location and of the same people. Only the expressions changed slightly but apart from that nothing much changed in all those photos. One of my friends held the chicken leg piece and clicked a picture. Looking at him, everybody took turns to do the same. Even I did. But the sad fact is, after coming back home and sharing the good ones over WhatsApp, I haven't opened them again to relive those moments. It is not that I do not value my friends enough, but the photos are just too readily available to me now. So I think I just don't care. On the other hand, when I was in Haldia for a month, I did something similar, yet it has become entirely different.
On my second weekend in Haldia, just to get rid of the fearful first-semester hostel environment, four of us friends thought to roam around the Haldia City. It was a Saturday evening, and it was 2006. Although camera phones had infamously arrived on the market, none of us middle-class pockets had one of those. After a nice outing, it started raining as we were coming back. After getting down at the bus stop near our college, we had to run to find some shelter under the extended asbestos of a photo studio. While waiting outside, Aritra suggested that we go in and get ourselves clicked. The idea seemed stupid at first, but we obliged. And what I got in return is one my best memories captured in a 10cm by a 6cm piece of paper. I cherish that photograph to date and have never felt the need to put it up on facebook or anywhere else. Although I am not in contact with all of them anymore, I still love that photograph and the story of it.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

The Al Mubabba Fly Experiment

The man is a social animal. While learning this in the school days, little did I realize that how correct this simple line is. For a pseudo-extrovert like me, who loves his alone time as much as the time spent with others, I used to think that it is not a big deal to live without society. Why would one not enjoy being alone?
But these days, I am getting a hands on experience to make myself aware of this powerfully real line,
On paper, today is my 11th day in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. I was pretty excited to come here. I gauged the possibilities that this place could offer. I weighed those against the pain I'd face being without Sham and I thought it was okay. Sham supported my decision as she was confident that I could manage well in situations unknown. Given the smooth stay experience of Chicago, even I was convinced that a month or two here will not seem to be too long. But I was wrong.
To elaborate, let me first justify the title of this post.
Last Friday, a fly came into my room from somewhere. Maybe the banana peels thrown into the dustbin had invited it for a sweet treat, or perhaps it was the wet tea leaves in the kitchen bin. I did not care. I spotted it around noon and tried to get rid of it. Opened the gates of the balcony, shooed it away, but all went in vain, My visitor liked my company. It went to the bedroom, saw the bathroom, wandered around the kitchen and then finally sat on the sofa opposite mine in the drawing room. It stayed there as long as I sat. Then somehow, I forgot that it was even there. I went about doing my chores, and little did I care about it. Friday over.
Comes Saturday morning,
As I was having breakfast, I spotted it once again. But this time, I did not try to get rid of it. Instead I let it be there. And it was then that it struck me how much I miss someone's company.
We as individuals tend to ignore the basic things in life. We get involved with our good-bad, black-white reasoning so much that we ignore things that cause them. We care about the effect more than the cause and our response to the stimuli is often what makes us who we are. Some of us complain, some ignore, some enjoy whatever is going on around us. But when a time comes when we really get to observe things from a null point of view, when we dive in the darkness which is eternal and more permanent than light, we get to reflect upon our lives. We get to look at ourselves from the universe's point of view, and it is then we know how truly lonely we are. We appreciate the causes more than the response when the response is zero. If you do not have someone to talk to, then you do not know how to feel. If you don't have anything or anyone to be angry about, you don't know how to feel angry. And in such a way, all your traits, all that makes you, you, vanishes one by one. People in your life make you the person you are. People around you entertain your brain. Whichever fashion it may be, be it a drama, or mystery or a thriller, or be it a comedy, your brain is what answers to the events and these responses take you forward.
I love driving to work and back. It presents a lot of things in front of me, in a short amount of time. Someone peeing by the side of the road, some driver callously spitting out of their windows, some guy zig-zagging and over speeding only to get stuck at the next red light, someone getting out of their vehicle to argue with the next car. So many things happen in the canvas in a span of 2 hours that amount of entertainment I derive out of it is incomparable. And I have only realized it here in Saudi where I am not getting to experience it. The moment the response to a particular stimulus goes missing in your life, it is then you appreciate the causes more.
So get out folks, and look at things that entertain you and watch your response and smile at your involvement and say a silent thank you to the uninvited flies in all your life rooms.