Monday, January 26, 2009

Recession is in the paper!

Firing, lay-off, termination... For us, journalists, all these were terms related to the IT sector. Slowdown was directly hitting them. We, at the most, had expected a reduction in the number of pages and full-page advertisements. Pages were cut, advertisements continued. And we had a party.

Our veteran boss was retiring after his decades-long stint with our company. The top-brass of the company descended from Mumbai and Delhi to our office. Speeches, drinks and food... and the very next day, news of sacking.

Marketing, which they call ‘response,’ team was reduced by 10, advertisements by 8... rumours, unconfirmed numbers flew like hell. And finally, a casualty from the editorial: Our friend, a capable, talented young man. And performance was clearly not the yardstick, for there were underperformers who were favoured by their immediate bosses.

This is what happens when a media organisation has other interests. When a unit is hit, you compensate it by trimming the ‘lesser important’ ones. Recession is really turning big, at least that’s what my bosses say.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

'Slumdog Millionaire' hurts

I am desperately searching for a person who can point out one single positive character in the hyped-in-unheard-degree movie ‘Slumdog Millionaire.’

I just loved the way the story is executed, effectively portraying the struggle of an underdog to claim his love though a TV show, fame being the bonus point. The basic thread of the story is really unique. A boy, in search of his lady love, ends up in a live quiz show. And he knew all the answers because of many disturbing events he had to go through. But somehow I felt that in the process of turning Vikas Swarup’s ‘Q&A’ into ‘Slumdog..,’ the scriptwriters have just painted an entire nation bad.

Children are either small-time crooks or made to beg. Growing up, the boys end up becoming bigger crooks or call-centre workers and the girls turn either prostitutes or concubines.

India is portrayed as a nation were a child would jump into a pool of excreta to escape a closed lavatory, just to see his matinee idol in close range. Well-dressed elders are either crooks or are heavily selfish upper-middle-class snobs. Foreign tourists are tricked to the maximum by cunning teenagers.

Finally, the quiz master, an underdog-turned-topdog himself, so vile that he can’t stand a kid winning the money and the laurels. He tries to deceive him. And when that doesn’t work out, he hands the teenager to police. About the characterisation of Mumbai police, the lesser said the better.

Agreed that there are heavy shades of grey everywhere, and that stares at your face in a huge city like Mumbai. But that doesn’t mean that you can portray an entire nation bad.

And finally, the Rahman score. It’s fate that ‘Roja’ or ‘Dil Se’ wasn’t born in Hollywood. The 'Slumdog..' music in the media because SOME ‘gora saahibs’ found the tunes hummable. For us, it’s not even the shadow of the genius.

I admired the way the storyline went, but what was shown as the entire country was really just a part of it’s dark alleys. What a pity!