Thursday, October 4, 2007

Indian Idol - Dreams happening!!

Sony TV would have little expected the response that the third series of Indian idol has generated among the public. The TV show has directly managed to achieve what was urgently needed – to bring a region that has long been neglected by the mainstream media and the press into the limelight at least for a few weeks.

What talent shows like Indian idol do is offer the Indian public some change form boring television serials that constantly show the Indian women in extravagant attire and long bindis backbiting and plotting against each other. I have little knowledge of music and am in no position to comment on the relative talents of singers who were part of this series and compare their abilities with people who were part of other like shows.

I vaguely remember watching the first series of the show and how the song ‘Mohabatten Lutaoonga’ was on everybody’s lips. Abhijeet has had some success so far but a start was made for Indian television nevertheless. I did not watch the second series but when this third series started, I was glued to it right from the preliminary stage of the show.

The show had its share of drama with Richa and Suhit – the former, a girl about whom the public seemed undecided as they could not figure out whether she was childish or putting on an act and the latter a stylish Delhi lad who had the attitude but not the matching talent to get him through. Ankita and Chang are two contestants the public would have found hard to vote out because of their very personalities. Ankita, a STD XII student made almost every judge dance with her boyish approach and choice of songs. Chang, a professional dentist whose ancestors are Chinese impressed all the judges with his mastery of pronunciation and originality of voice.

Among others, Abhishek from Bangalore could have been a dark horse but had only himself to blame for getting voted out. Parleen had a charming personality but couldn’t raise his standards when it was required. Deepali and Charu were unlucky to be voted out early in the finals. I was most impressed by Deepali as she was able to live up the judges’ expectation but couldn’t influence the public voting to stay in the contest.

Each contestant that made to the top twelve deserved their place. From there, it was one elimination each week ending in a final that saw three young boys vying for the top spot.

Most girls felt that the talent of the boys who made it to the finals was superior while the views of the boys was more in accordance with the judges and ultimately this got reflected in the early elimination of many girls.

Emon with his likeness to Sonu Nigam certainly deserved his place in the top three. Amit Paul from Shillong was too good in every department in which the contestants were judged but had to be satisfied with the second place ultimately. Prashant Tamang, a police constable from Darjeeling with no professional learning has finally bagged the title and his triumph means the north east has finally something to cheer.

The response and enthusiasm that the contest has managed to inspire in the people there makes one feel that it is still not late to make an effort towards lending an ear to their genuine concerns and addressing them.

The Indian public’s response to the show is understandable as they see ‘one among them’ trying to live out his/her dreams. So, the public laughed and cried with the contestants and discussed their favorite idols’ in their living rooms. It gives the common man hope that if he dreams big and works hard, his dreams too can one day see the light of the day.

Chak De - A refreshing start

When my friends suggested that I see ‘Chak De’, I thought ‘why should I?’ as at the outset it seemed like another masala movie in which the aged hero romances girls half his age.

The first half of the movie is a little too dramatic but the second half more than compensates with its doses of reality. Hindi cinema has of late made some bold starts with respect to the subjects it has chosen to handle but they have not been met with expected appreciation and encouragement. Movies like Swadesh, Black, Water and Omkara have proved that our filmmakers are not afraid to experiment at the cost of commercial losses.

Chak De does what very few movies have managed to do. It has the potential to make the average Indian movie-goer question his stereotypical mindset when it comes to the abilities of the sexes.

Shahrukh deserves some praise for boldly accepting to play the hockey coach of a girls’ team. In his own style, he has done credit to the role and is in most part responsible for the movie’s success. The hockey stick wielding girls have fit their roles perfectly and one is able to believe when they doubt their abilities and cheer when they defy stereotypes and beat odds.

What is the reaction of friends, lovers and parents when women want to make it big in their careers? What is the status of a sport that so badly needs encouragement if it has to be in the nation’s consciousness? Ingrained societal outlook is challenged in the movie and that is why it deserves to be seen.

The girls have managed to portray emotions to the right degrees and the viewer is forced to cheer and laugh with them when they prove to the world that if they believe in themselves, they can accomplish what they aspire to. Special mention should be of Vidya Malwade and Chitrashi Rawat who play the Captain and young forward respectively.

A movie well worth the time spent…

Maximum City - Reality revealed

It was with a little hesitation that I started ‘Maximum City’ by Suketu Mehta for I am not much of a non-fiction lover. But, the first person narrative soon drew me in and I was deeply satisfied when I completed it.

The book starts with the longing of the author in his childhood to be back in Bombay. When he does come, he has to adjust to the Indian way of how things move. The manner in which he has described the lack of proper planning of flats offers an insight into how people are duped by the builders and the maintenance staff into paying for stopgap facilities endlessly.

Each of us would have seen many Bollywood movies where the hero comes to the city with high hopes and aspirations and triumphs in the end beating innumerable odds. There is a difference though in the lives of such people one comes across in this book. They are strange, have dreams, tire hard but reality wins ultimately. Gang lords, hit men, politicians, slum heads, police men, actors – one gets a glimpse of their routine and interesting lives in a sense that is totally different form the movies.

Many of us would have come across such characters but it needs the observation of a writer to convey how dangerous and unpredictable a life they lead in a city that cares little for its citizens but ceaselessly accepts many people like them into its fold. As one reads the interactions of the author with such people one gets a vision of Bombay that is chilling, sad and ruthless.

What drives the bar dancers, encounter specialists and the gang lords of the city to behave in the manner they do? How does one change gangs and give oneself up to the demands of his leader? How does a woman begin to love the attention that she gets by dancing even as yearning and hungry eyes watch? What sort of a life does she crave and long for and why does she become susceptible to fits of depression?

How does a superhero come to terms with his sudden imprisonment? How do political parties exploit the poverty and innocence of loyal and ignorant folk? What are the fears of the city’s rich even as they try to hide their wealth for fear of extortion? How do warring gang leaders manage to evade the law? What goes on in the mind of people who abandon their homes and hope to make it big in the cine field? The questions that the author has posed and tried to answer with the help of people he has met are endless…

There are passages in the book in which the human spirit triumphs and there are some in which the characters are doomed to their sorry destinies. On the whole, the book is a great read if one has some patience and interest to know about how lives are lived in India’s most populous city.