Showing posts from January, 2012

Vande Mataram

As India celebrates its 63rd Republic Day, a new version of "Vande Mataram" was launched to infuse a feeling of patriotism. The new video has been composed by the tabla player Bickram Ghosh and the video has been directed by Girish Malik while the video has been conceptualized by J.K. Srivastava. 

The new version of the national song brings in 21 eminent singers and musicians from different genres to create a fresh feel. The video infuses a feeling of patriotism as it features Sonu Nigam, Shubha Mudgal, Kaushiki Desikan and Ustad Rashid Khan, Amaan Ali Khan, Pandit Vishwamohan Bhatt, Niladri Kumar, Sunidhi Chauhan, Manoj Tiwari, Pandit Ajoy Chakraborty, Mahalakshmi Iyer, Indian Ocean, Roopkumar Rathod, Palash Sen, Kamal Sabri etc. The video also features Bickram Ghosh playing the tabla, kanjira and percussions. 

India has one of the world's largest population of young people. The new video is an ode to India as a dynamic, vibrant nation and the India of the times we live i…

Censoring Online Content (Part-II)

Geeta Seshu,
Columnist, The Hoot

In subsequent hearings, Google India maintained that it was not a service provider but was a subsidiary of Google Inc. Moreover, it was a separate entity distinct from its holding US-based firm. Advocate Rohatgi agreed that articles that may seem objectionable do keep cropping up on the Internet. "There are probably billions of articles and it would be difficult to filter them all. But, if you do have a grievance, under the amended Information Technology Act, 2000, there was a procedure for registering abuse and making a complaint to all social networking sites about the matter that may be "objectionable", he felt.

"Some solution can be found but this remedy is far worse than the disease," he said, adding that he had never seen any government so proactive on any issue. Google India, he had explained to the court, was only a subsidiary and did not have the werewithal to provide filters or block content or sites. In criminal law, th…

Censorsing Online Content (Part-I)

Geeta Seshu
Columnist, The Hoot 

A whole host of issues, from the definition of "offensive" content, the procedures to take down content deemed offensive and the responsibilities and jurisdiction of intermediaries are all at stake in the ongoing case against Internet Service Providers (ISPs) Google and Facebook. However, the crucial issue is how exactly a civilized society must tackle content that is seen to be "objectionable" at sites that poke fun at holy cows (political leaders included) and utterances or material that seem to be derogatory to different religions or castes or mischievous and defamatory, violative of privacy or hate-filled content that incites violence. 

Print media has had a long history of battles over content that is problematic, with the fundamental right to freedom of speech and expression being tested at every turn. In broadcast media, the struggle over self-regulation by the broadcast industry is still an open one, as the Indian government pe…

मराठी अभिमान गीत

"Marathi Abhimaan Geet" is a song written by noted poet-lyricist the late. Suresh Bhatt and composed by Kaushal S. Inamdar. The idea behind creating the "Marathi Abhimaan Geet" was due to the diminishing respect for Marathi in Maharashtra. When I met Mr. Kaushal Inamdar at a college function, he mentioned two incidents which is why he took it upon himself to record this song. The first incident was about how he was ill-treated at a retail chain in South Mumbai because he chose to speak in Marathi. The second incident was when he was working on a jingle for a radio station and he asked the RJ why the station did not play Marathi songs. He was dumbfounded when the RJ replied that the radio station considered it "downmarket" to play Marathi songs. Thus began the concept of creating this music video in October 2009.

The video consists of nearly 450 accomplished singers with 112 professional singers like Ravindra Sathe, Suresh Wadkar, Sadhana Sargam, Arati Anka…

Bhumika: The Role

The 1977 Hindi film "Bhumika: The Role" is the journey of an actress named Usha/Urvashi (Smita Patil) which goes back and forth in time tracing her journey from childhood till she is in her late 40s. The film derives its inspiration from an actress called Hansa Wadkar from the 1940s. The English playwright Shakespeare famously remarked: "All the world's a stage and we are all mere players." Filmmaker Shyam Benegal was one of the few who understood correctly what Shakespeare said in entirety.

The film has a perfect title which documents the life of a film actor consumed by frustration. The film opens with a lavani dance sequence being choreographed and shot in a film studio. The film keeps alternating between the past and the present using black-and-white for the past and colour for the present. The past speaks on how the young Usha's childhood job was to learn singing from her grandmother, who was a famous singer in her times and to run between her alcoholi…

Mumbai's Lost Relics

Fountains have fascinated and soothed mankind since time immemorial. In India, the first fountains can be traced back to the Mughal era. Most of the gardens founded by the Mughals in India date back to the 17th and 18th century. There are two types of fountains which are predominantly found in India: ornamental and drinking ones. The practice of establishing ornamental fountains has been the legacy of the Mughal and Rajput princes, they have also been symbols of water charities. Water charity was once considered as a noble deed and often water was donated in the name of a deceased family member. It was believed that donating water would allow the soul of the dead to rest in peace.  

The idea of drinking water fountains or pyaus, as they are locally known in Marathi,  took root during the 1860s when the then Governor demolished the ramparts of the old fort and opened up Bombay. The popular Flora Fountain is a relic of that era. Sadly, there are many pyaus across Mumbai which are being d…

Dead Men's Path

Chinua Achebe 

Michael Obi's hopes were fulfilled much earlier than he had expected. He was appointed headmaster of Ndume Central School in January 1949. It had always been an unprogressive school, so the Mission authorities decided to send a young and energetic man to run it. Obi accepted this responsibility with enthusiasm. He had many wonderful ideas and this was an opportunity to put them into practice. He had had sound secondary school education which designated him a "pivotal teacher" in the official records and set him apart from the other headmasters in the mission field. He was outspoken in his condemnation of the narrow views of these older and often less-educated ones. 

"We shall make a good job of it, shan't we?" He asked his young wife when they first heard the joyful news of his promotion. "We shall do our best," she replied. "We shall have such beautiful gardens and everything will be just modern and delightful ..." In their…

You Know You're From Mumbai When....

One of my friends was telling me that the contents on my blog are mostly serious. It got me to try and improve my sense of humour and I finally decided to work towards creating something.  I thought I'd begin with Bombay for a change. The song "Yeh Hain Bombay Meri Jaan" from the 1956 Hindi film CID wonderfully captures the spirit of Bombay and the lives of the people here. Yet, you have these You Know You're From Bombay When... moments, so I thought of listing them out. Though this post is not something I'd like to claim credit for but these pointers are something which would resonate across with anyone who has lived or has had friends from Mumbai. If you know more mannerisms typically Bombay, please do add more in the list.. So, presenting the list I know:

You Know You're From Mumbai When:

*  You take a taxi to get to your health club to exercise
* Your idea of personal space is no one is actually standing on your toes
* You have a minimum "worst auto/cab …

Stars in their eyes

Markandey Katju,
Chairman, Press Council of India

Bol ki labh azaad hain tere
bol zabaan ab tak teri hain
(Speak out for your lips are free,
Speak out for your tongue is still yours)
                                  --Faiz Ahmed Faiz

Recently, a journalist asked me about my opinion on journalists in India. Instead of asking me, I told her, she should ask people selected at random the same question without disclosing that she herself was a member of the tribe. The truth is, the majority of opinions may not be very palatable to journalists. In a panel discussion on television, the senior journalist Madhu Kishwar said that journalists in the country are "bribable" and "manipulable" through freebies involving land, accommodation, etc. I don't agree entirely with Madhu. There are many honourable journalists doing their job excellently. But there is a different public perception about many journalists.

Traditionally, there were two roles of the media: one, to inform the pub…

The Midnight Sham

Discord, disruption, derailment--are some of the most prominent words which we have come to associate with parliamentary proceedings in the recent debates that take place in the Parliament. While we certainly witnessed an intense debate marked by rationality, dissent and even dialogue between Arun Jaitley and Abhishek Manu Singhvi on the floor of the Rajya Sabha which recently took up the Lokpal Bill for discussion. The impassioned debate rose up magnificently above the largely trivial cacophony of recent months, restoring a sense of respect in the highest lawmaking body which appeared to be manned by people of political acuity and intellectual rigour. The proceedings in Parliament brought back memories of a time when towering orators like Jawaharlal Nehru, Piloo Modi and later Atal Bihari Vajpayee who added lustre to debates and discussions through their reasoned arguments by engaging wit and humour. 

However, by afternoon it could be foretold that the Government was not really keen o…