Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Want to listen to my story?

I have a story to tell you!

Children, have you heard of Mickey Mouse?
Now, have you heard of Val-Mickey Mouse?

Ha ha! This is how the story telling workshop(as a part of launch of two Tulika books, Vyasa's Mahabharath and Hanuman's Ramayan) started.

House full of kids. I and Benjie struggling to handle them. But nevertheless, we did a good job. We had a real good time!

The Authors' of the books were really happy to see us enliven the characters in their books by becoming Banana trees, Bridge, Musk rat, Ganesha, Cat, Hanuman and what not!

We goofed up here and there because the kids were hyper-active. Whatever it was, it was fun! Children are these lovely little things! Such a nice feeling it left in the end! After all, that is the most important thing. Right?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Pseudo Patriotism!

Zoom and Times of India remake Mile Sur Mera Tumara and launch "Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara"on the occasion of our 61st Republic Day.

Mile Sur Mera Tumhara is a timeless classic which has lived through decades. I have grown up seeing this wonderful piece of art which instills a higher degree of patriotism, sense of belonging and oneness, pride about the rich and varied heritage of my mother land, India. When I came to know that a remake was being made, I had very high expectations that we would get to see another classic, master piece which would showcase the richness of our nation and make it an enjoyable experience to watch it.

First the good things:

The songs starts with our A R Rahman sporting a green kurta, playing a saffron fingerboard with white buildings as background. I am not sure if the tricolor was the idea they were trying to bring out, but I thought it was nice!

The song features a few talented but not very popular people like Amaan and Ayaan who play the Sarod. It also featured Vijendra Singh, our Olympic Champion Abhinav Bhindra et al.

A few elements represented contemporary references like the piece from drummer Sivamani, The Taj Mahal Palace & Hotel background which has stood the test of time in the 26/11 terror attack, the trio band of Shankar Eshaan Loy et al.

It was inclusive enough to feature children with disability (Minus Sallu, of course!)

It has a special coverage on the defense forces towards the end.(Though it appears to be an after-thought soon after a brick hit their head making them realize that there is too much of Bollywood in it!)

Shobana's Bharathnatyam at the Shore temple in Mahabalipuram, Gurdaas Maann and Juhi's Punjabi hymn with the Golden Temple Background, Zakir Hussain's tabla, Sivamani's Drumming, Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and his sons - Amaan and Ayaan playing the Sarod, Kerala's bit with Kaikottikali, Snake Boat race et al in the backdrop were nice!

Now the not-so-good things:

There is too much of Bollywood-ism in it. It completely failed to capture the original India, the common man, the cultural wealth, traditions, et al. Of course they have captured various parts of India. But the various parts of India does not necessarily mean Physical features geographically and the buildings ought there. The native people, featuring their culture was completely absent.

Every Bollywood personality was claiming his/her own share of glory than contributing to the objective of the video.

It was more like a 'Family affair' of the Bachans. Thankfully, Big Bachan appears separately in the beginning. Else it would have been like the Kajra re - season 2. Aish Bachan and Abhi Bachan romancing by holding hands on the sets of the Ajanta-Ellora (I hope I got the place right!)

Each Star was so busy building his/her own identity. SRK was trying to make his mark with his Kal Ho Na Ho looks and expressions, Aamir his 'Aye Kya Bolthee Tu' style singing.

It did not pay attention to small details. Rangoli is not a part of the keralite tradition whereas the traditional pookalam was not to be seen. They showed Rangoli instead! Well, the big details themselves were a big blunder, how one earth will they get the minute details right?

Some parts of India were completely forgotten. Goa did not feature. So was Assam, Meghalaya, Manipur et al. Bhupen Hazarika was the only reference to the North-East. Disappointing!

If sports persons are being featured, why is it like an eyewash? They come and go in a flash. What happened to the rest? Hockey - the national game of India? Cricket - the most popular game of India?Mahesh Boopathy? Leander Peas? Vishwanath Anand? Sania Mirza? Vijay Amrithraj? Karnam Malleshwari? They have brought numerous accolades for the country. None of them are featured.

If they were trying to Showcase progress on Science and Technology, what happened to Chandrayaan? The numerous PSLVs? The Nuclear Tests? Role of entrepreneurs in urbanization and technology revolution? NRN? Azim Premji? Tatas? Birlas? Ambanis? Indhra Nooyi? Nandan? Green Revolution? M S Swaminathan? They are a very integral part of India playing a pivotal role in changing faces of India bringing in people' progress. I could only relate Vijendra Singh to medicine from the entire clip.

Few things that were really sad:

Vikram dint look as though he was a part of a patriotic video. It appeared as though he was singing a romantic duet with an eye-candy heroine.

I dont know what patriotism is invoked by Deepika Padukone's wet body and bare legs!

What was the overgrown musk rat aka Sallu doing in the patriotic video with torn jeans and exposed muscles? Mr. Musk Rat dint have any idea as to what exactly he was doing in that video! In the making of the video clipping he told that the video's message is that we are in the same plane, no rich, no poor, no cast, no creed, no color. Whereas the idea was not that. We do have all these differences, yet united as Indians!

I completely fail to understand what good does Ranbir do to the video. Neither do I connect with the purpose of Shahid Kapoor holding the mike in POP star fashion with disco lights behind and bark!

In short

Most of it was bad. What a waste of time, energy, effort, money and resources!

I understand that times have changed, country has progressed which they have tried to showcase with by featuring tall buildings, glass houses, western clothes, Solar power gadgets in the backgrounds et al.

The original one was a 6 min video, an awe-inspiring one! This one, though spans for 16 mins, it does not convey what it is trying to convey. A sheer failure! It is painful to see the blasphemy of our very own pristine "Mile Sur Mera Tumhara"!


Mile sur Mera Tumhara - Original Video
Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara - Part 1
Phir Mile Sur Mera Tumhara - Part 2

Republic Day!

India celebrates its 61st Republic day today! On this occasion, the patriot in me wants to write about it! Yes, the right to freedom and speech, on of the six fundamental rights recognized by the Constitution; Making full use of it!

Why January 26th, 1950?

Republic Day, celebrated on January 26th every year, is one of India’s most important national events. The constitution of India came into force on this day when it became a truly Sovereign, Democratic and Republic state. The significance of this day dates back to 1929 when the Indian National Congress took pledge to work towards a 'sovereign democratic republic' of India.

The constitution

The constituent Assembly, with Dr. B R Ambedkar as the Chairperson, drafted the longest written constitution in the world. It contains 444 articles and 12 schedules, Total of 117,369 words in the English language version. OMG!

Dr. Rajendra Prasad was elected as the first president of India with the constitution coming into effect on the Republic Day.

Republic Day Celebrations

To commemorate the occasion of Republic day, a parade is held showcasing India's military might and cultural diversity. It covers an 8 km route, starting from the Rashtrapati Bhavan through the Rajpath all the way upto the India Gate and winds up at the historic Red Fort in Old Delhi.

The Republic day events begin with the Prime Minister visiting the Amar Jawan Jyothi at the India Gate. He then arrives to the central enclosure and awaits the arrival of the President of India and the Chief Guest who, generally, is a Head of another Country.

The President, after his arrival, meets the dignitaries present and unfurls the National Flag, followed by the National Anthem with a 21-gun salute to the National Flag.

Gallantry Awards

A brief investiture ceremony takes place during which the President presents India's top gallantry awards, the Param Veer Chakra, the Veer Chakra and the Maha Veer Chakra are awarded to the outstanding soldiers from the defense services.

Republic Day Parade

Four helicopters from the armed forces fly past the parade area showering rose petals. Each chopper carries a flag - the first being the Indian flag and the other three carry the flags of the Army, the Navy, and the Air Force.

The march past begins immediately after the fly past. The President, as the Supreme Commander of the Defense Forces, takes the salute of the mechanized, mounted and marching contingents of the Army, Air Force, Navy, Paramilitary forces, Police and the National Cadet Corps.

Following the parade is the spectacular displays from the different states of the country. The Exhibits depict various scenes of activities of people in those states, their music,songs and art forms.This is the most colorful part of the parade demonstrating the vast cultural heritage our motherland possesses!

Bravery Awards for Children

After the march past and the cultural extravaganza from Various states, the Children winning the Bravery Awards enter the celebration area over decorated elephants. Now this is something unique which unfortunately is to be discontinued. The Children are to arrive on Jeeps instead of the elephants this year onwards.

Beating of the Retreat

After three days of Republic Day parade, a closing ceremony known as "Beating Retreat" is held at the Vijay Chowk in New Delhi. Beating Retreat is performed by the bands of the three wings of the military, the Indian Army, Indian Navy and Indian Air Force on the evening of 29th January. The Chief Guest of the function is the President of India. With a Bugle call, the National Flag is lowered, marking the formal end of the Republic Day celebrations.

Did you know?

1. They actually took 2 years, 11 months and 17 days to prepare the Constitution!
2. There is no Republic Day speech by the President or the Prime Minister!
3. The Param Veer Chakra was designed by someone born to Hungarian Mother and a Russian Father!
4. The Bravery Award for Children was Conceived on Gandhi Jayanthi - 2nd Oct 1957; Announced every year on Children's Day - 14th Nov; Presented on the eve of Republic Day - 26th January!
5. Ideals of Liberty, Equality and Fraternity in the Preamble of our constitution was borrowed from the French!