Monday, 28 November 2016

Is Koffee with Karan becoming the worst TV show ever? : Blog #280

Is Koffee with Karan becoming the worst TV show ever?

I am a self-confessed Bollywood buff. Not the kind that gets intrigued only by Gurudutt’s Pyaasa or Shyam Bengal’s Zubeida or Mahesh Bhatt’s Arth. I enjoy a Veer Zara and a Devdas and a Kal ho Na ho and a Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and a Barfi and a Ye Jawani Hai Deewani too. I understand the business enough to know why movies like Chennai Express and an Ek tha tiger exist and how they work the box office.
Koffee with Karan, Star World, TV show, Talk show, Karan Johar

I understand the fact that Karan Johar is an astute film maker. He understands the world of cinema in a way few other directors of his time does. This does not mean he is the best director around. What I mean to say is his grasp of cinema is far superior to his contemporaries. I am one of those who enjoy his kind of cinema – light hearted, emotional stories with soul touching music and dance with good looking people and stunning locales. I used to look forward to Koffee with Karan the way we look forward to an episode of Crown these days or Game of Thrones in the recent past. May be this is why I found the Koffee with Karan episode featuring Ranbir Kapoor and Ranvir Singh completely pointless.

My grudge is not against the innuendos or the insider jokes or the gestures dripping with vulgarity. Those are what the ‘complete-freedom-of-expression’ brigade calls “comedy”. The bone I have to pick with is regarding the utter pointlessness of the whole interview. After watching it for an hour, there was nothing worthwhile at all. It had nothing to offer but a void.

To begin with, the overt familiarity between the interviewer and interviewees was too appalling to say the least. If the idea is to showcase Karan and friends having a banter, then put up a home video on YouTube. There is no need for a show on TV! There were no sensible questions. And the answers were equally senseless too. Most of the time, the three of them kept talking together making it difficult to know what they were talking about.

You might say that well, Koffee with Karan was never meant to be a sensible show. I beg to disagree. There were times when some tough questions were asked and some very brave answers were given. In one episode, Sanjay Dutt asks Sushmita Sen as to why she hadn’t given up smoking. The one with Juhi and Madhuri was very interesting to watch. It was intriguing to see them taking an effort to be appreciative of each other and yet not succeeding much. The one with Mahesh Bhatt and Alia Bhatt was honesty at its best. The ones with Abhishek Bachchan were quite witty and entertaining. So were the ones with Priyanka Chopra.

From those interviews filled with fun, entertainment and trivia to wither away to something of today’s format which can be described as hollow at best is truly saddening. What is worrying though is how most of today's popular shows are following suit. But then again, when we ourselves spend time in finding the best selfies and keeping track of the narcissistic reinforcements through 'likes', how can we complain!

Sunday, 13 November 2016

A letter to Zuckerberg: Blog# 279

A letter to Zuckerberg

The past week has been nothing short of an opinion DELUGE. There has been a barrage of information all around. Be it the deafening TRUMPet at US or the dark blindfold of black money in India or the corporate opera being performed at the Bombay house in the shrillest of voices, one could not escape opinions.
Zuckerberg, Mark zuckerberg, Facebook, Social Media

I am someone who thoroughly enjoys such dramatic turn of events and is in awe of the fact that how social media amplifies the drama. What got to me though was the umpteen repetitive forwards and posts which kept on coming with no end in sight. Everyone, including me with a keypad at their disposal opined about all of the above topics.

If you are someone who pays attention to social media, you would have heard of how Twitter became too LOUD for anyone to be on the platform and thus led to its limited growth. This was because of too many people taking extreme positions about various subjects on Twitter which led to a lot of hatred and thus people being put off. Somehow I feel Facebook is headed the same way.

Among people, there is almost a compelling urge to put up an update the moment we hear (not learn or understand) about something. We HAVE to show that we too are aware about the ongoing around the world. The only research that goes in before putting up the posts is in understanding of taking which side would enhance one’s social currency. Should I post pro Trump or pro Hillary? Should the prime minister be criticized or appreciated? Should I be on TATA’s side or should I stand with Mistry (as if either of them are bothered).This leads to extreme positions. If one doesn’t put up a status, there is always a “well posted” (not well read) friend of yours asking you if you are aware of the latest event or not.

Now about how the posts are becoming repetitive and thus boring.  No one is taking the effort to think through a situation. Let alone analyzing it. There is no question of reading up about a topic. Almost all of it is borrowed thoughts. There are little or very few posts which explore the grey area.

            I think all of this has something to do with what we are taught in our schools/colleges/workplaces. We are all told to speak up, to express ourselves, to TALK. When was the last time you heard someone asking you to LISTEN? I can’t remember having heard that in the recent past. Almost all the workshops in effective communication is about delivering content effectively. Nobody talks about the need for mindful listening.

            What I would urge Mr. Zuckerberg is to include a ‘Listening’ option on Facebook. This should give people informative, qualified, researched articles about a trending topic which will show the positive and negative reactions regarding a topic. . There should be an option to show to the world that the person is ‘Listening’. Something like ‘Listening about Trump’ or ‘Listening about black money’. This is critical because people HAVE to show that they are in the loop. Such an option will bring back reading, research and will reduce rhetoric. The decibel levels on Facebook will reduce and sanity will prevail.

Let us make listening cool again.

Arun Babu

Thursday, 3 November 2016

Pictories #1 ~ Of pictures and the stories they tell ~ Blog # 278

Pictories #1 ~ Of pictures and the stories they tell

                   I have always admired people who can capture a moment in time more beautifully than we, the lesser mortals see it. Yes, the magicians who create magic with a lens and a click – Photographers! Such talented people. I shared some of my pictures with one of my friends, who is a very talented artist. He told me “Yea, these are ok. You will get better”. I was not exactly excited to hear those words. But I know what he meant and he is too earnest a friend J. It takes a lot of patience, an eye for detail and an eye for beauty that we see around us to get that perfect click. So I will keep trying.  

            Meanwhile, I thought I will try and share what was going through my mind when I was clicking these pictures. It is indeed true that a picture speaks a 1000 words. And the best part, it speaks different sets of words to each of us. So here goes J

Trees, Road, Infosys, Infosys Office, Infosys Chennai

This was clicked at the Infosys office in Chennai. In that moment, I was thinking, how much ever we try, we rarely come close to what nature can achieve. Look at the magnificent canopy that nature has created for itself and for us! Do you see the little patches of light on the road? Intricate, isn’t it? And many a time, we get so caught up with our work and life to pause and take a look around. It is all that takes to make our day. 
Jalebi, Yellow Jalebi, Desserts, Indian Deserts

Looks can be deceptive. These Jalebis were not as tasty as they looked. I wish if I hadn’t eaten them before taking a click. Had I not tasted, I would have had a happy memory around this pic. Now when I see it, all I can think of is the mild disappointment. I always eat the dessert first if it’s on my plate. Patience doesn’t really come to my help in those moments. How about you?

I feel there isn’t even one color in the world which is not present in this picture. These are handmade, little flowers made out of palm and coconut leaves. I have always been drawn to handicraft. What intrigues me is the fact that each and every one of these little things is made by a person. It is not created by the mere movement of machines. There is a story behind each of them.

Words fail when we try to describe the beauty of fire. My wife and I were out for a stroll at night. There was this fire burning by the road side. Being in Bangalore, fire and its warmth from the distance is quite welcome. I stopped and stared for a while admiring how fascinating fire is. Very few things in life can destroy with as much grace and poise the way fire does.

Well, Kerala, Kitchen, Kerala Kitchen

Now, those of you who have spent your childhood in Kerala would relate to this picture. This is a little bucket resting on the pavement of a well waiting to be flung in. In olden houses of Kerala, these windows will open out to the well from the kitchen. There will be a similar window on the other side of the well that opens to the bathroom. Much before motor pumps started humming, water used to come up in these little buckets. This picture brings back memories of childhood.

Like the above pics? Want to be bombarded with such images on a regular basis? ;). Please follow me on Instagram. My Insta handle is roamdworld .

Check out the other Pictories:

Find Pictory #2 here
Find Pictory#3 here
Find Pictory#4 here

Thank you dear Nandakumar uncle for putting this idea of Phlogging (Photo – Blogging, as he calls it) in my head.