Archive

Archive for the ‘Media’ Category

Cocky Calories

May 27, 2011 Leave a comment

An illustration of “sexy eating” in an ad by the new The V Spot Café+Bar.

One glitch- it’s a sad copy.

Padma Lakshmi's Carl's Jr burger ad, 2009

Advertisements

Death of a Villain

November 1, 2010 Leave a comment

Manish Sharma

Source: movies.ndtv.com

In the recently released movie Rakta Charitra, the performance of Bukka Reddy played menacingly by Abhimanyu Singh has been lauded by everyone. This is after a long gap that Hindi cinema has seen a sinister character being cast in a mainstream movie. The last movie that paid homage to the depleting art of villainy was Aamir Khan’s blockbuster Ghajni that was named after the bad guy in the movie. But, apart from occasional instances it is quite evident that as a breed villains are disappearing from Hindi movies at a much faster rate than the tigers in India.

The gradual phase out of villains should not come as a surprise. In any case, Hindi films have seldom given any thoughts to construe the premise of a debate between hero and anti-hero. Hindi celluloid has always been larger than life in which characters were established on the basis of the artists appearing in them. The hypothesis was mostly flimsy and virtually every Hindi movie was a song and dance drama that preached the didactic victory of the hero in a set piece showdown. Villains had to make customary appearances not to prove a point but to play second fiddle to a hero.  Heroines, comedians and other character artists never had much of a scope in a star dominated industry. Producers and directors milked money till the formula became a caricature of itself.

As the formula ran dry, Hero or the Star who fought with a selfish moneylender or a cruel landlord for most part of 60s and 70s, trained his guns towards the establishment with the advent of angry young persona in late 70s and early 80s. To make the transformation palatable to the viewers, who were still revering about Jai Santoshi Mata on screens, he was given the facade of Robin Hood, the messiah of poor to give an excuse to his vitriolic behaviour.  

During post-liberalisation phase with the advent of urbanisation, the dynamics of movie making changed rapidly. With the parallel wave of cinema losing steam and angry young man losing most of its frustration, most films played safe with love stories where class divide was the focus of attention and parents filled in the shoes of Gabbar with a meek smile rather than a menacing grin.

Source: imageshack.us

In the late 90s financial shenanigans of Harshad Mehta and Ketan Parekh, gang wars of Mumbai underbelly and the dot-com boom were shaping the virgin minds of post liberalization generation and the films too hold forth. The last bastion was crumbling too. Not only in the real life but in the reel life too the distinction between a hero and villain increasingly got fuzzy. In Hindi movies, the antics of hero were becoming quite un-hero like. With materialism taking roots the question of moral and immoral was no longer valid for masses. The hero was no longer an innocent chap but evolved as a street smart guy and the bad guy got relegated to the verge of extinction. Today’s superstar Shahrukh Khan, a novice television actor by then, took the biggest gamble of his life and played a leading man in two films – Baazigar and Darr – that had negative shades. For the first time Indian the leading protagonist resorted to violence like never before and audience cheered his antics. Later Satya, a cult classic on Mumbai underworld, celebrated the sadism on bigger screen and celebrated the violence on bigger screen perhaps for the first time. Its thumping success encouraged other directors like Sanjay Gupta and Mahesh Manjrekar to push the envelope further.

Source: ugc.dhingana.com

Post millennium, in the last few years the evil is being fêted by Bollywood (popular nomenclature of Hindi film industry) with aplomb. Films like D, Johnny Gaddar, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Once upon a time in Mumbai, and lately Rakta Charitra have blurred the line between the good and the bad completely. The façade is finally off.  The treatment, narrative, critical acclaim and commercial success of them finally sealed the fact that the bad is the new good as far as Hindi cinema goes.

If films are a reflection of our society then the death of a villain points towards the blurring distinction between the hero and villain and our own changing moralistic self. The changing moral values, erosion of traditional beliefs and a westernized lifestyle have led to a transformation in our approach towards life as well as in art. So certain symbols, rituals and practices that were associated with villain and vamps of yesteryears have gained acceptance with in our sub-culture so much so that they ceased to exist as bad. 

Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro

October 8, 2010 1 comment

Manish Sharma

Yesterday, I came across a poll on Yahoo aimed at judging the fate of Suresh Kalmadi, media’s favourite whipping boy at the moment. Out of sheer curiosity I submitted my humble opinion and got confounded by the result.

Nearly 50 per cent of the respondents (out of more than 1,000 participants) were of the view that he will escape the imminent sacking that was a mere formality till the beginning of the much talked about opening ceremony of Commonwealth Games.

The fact that he was jeered and booed by the crowd present at the stadium when he stood up to deliver his customary address clearly reflected the anguish of people. However, the amazing opening ceremony act that overwhelmed everyone, including foreign media who have been blithe critics, has unexpectedly boosted the chances of Kalmadi survival. 

That got me thinking- why public opinion that was so one-sided against Kalmadi till last week, has taken a dramatic turnaround since Sunday?

Are we a bunch of pompous and carefree citizens who have forgotten all the ills of poor planning, bad management and rampant corruption and got hypnotized by the glare of that helium balloon? Was all the hype generated by those firecrackers and billion watts of sound justify the sufferings of a common man on the street who has been subjected to the miseries of potholes, serpentine jams, water clogging and political apathy these past many months? Is two hours of spectacle enough to seal our place as the fast progressing country when the infrastructure in the backyard is still creaky? 

Perhaps, the ancient literatures, religious texts and deep rooted cultural beliefs that exemplify a forgiving nature and tolerant behaviour could be one of the reasons behind this compassionate approach. Despite being feted as an emerging economy, we tend to follow the idiom of ‘end justifies the means’ wherein the process fades towards the accomplishment of any feat even if it achieved by shortcuts, tweaking adjustments and haphazard procedures. The fact that we somehow have managed to pull up a feat of measurable standards with our limited means has given us a rare moment of pride in our humdrum existence. Over emphasis on the great Indian untranslatable word jugaad that signifies our ingenuity to come up with unprecedented solutions at the eleventh hour is too ingrained in our day-to-day living.

At a social level we are so used to confusion, commotion and disarray at any public gathering that we have made a virtue of a vice. That’s why no eyebrows were raised when the Delhi Chief Minister (CM) Sheila Dikshit and sports minister M.S. Gill equated CWG with a big fat Indian wedding, and reassured everyone that despite all the chaos everything will culminate miraculously towards the end, as it happens at any public ceremony. In a way, the gratification over the dazzling display of the opening ceremony also typifies the subconscious aspirations of the middle class who has a tendency to show-off at any ceremony be it wedding, festival or any social ritual. In fact, this tendency resonated with our government approach also in the lead up to these games, resulting in unnecessary expenditure on beautifying already well laid roads and footpaths, Connaught place and Khan Market for instance.

The pseudo-nationalist approach adopted by a proliferating media of late that epitomize the acknowledgement of a rising India, particularly by western media, with great fanfare has given further legitimacy and credence to Kalmadi’s half baked efforts.

Commonwealth Games were widely tipped to be a PR’s lost cause by all but now seems to have been salvaged just by a colourful show. Any communication practitioner or PR professional can draw lesson from this to come out of an improbable crisis situation. In the midst of a crisis, relying on symbolism, traditional customs and cultural representation could help in turning the things around your way.  

There are leadership lessons to be learnt as well. The thundering applause received by the Delhi CM Sheila Dikshit who did pretty little in the run up to the Games is now basking in the glory of pulling up a Houdini act. This is on the basis of her brief stay at games village which portends popular perception that wants their leaders to be in the midst of action when the occasion demands. The public lapsed on the fact that Dikshit had brushed aside the scandal of the collapse of a footbridge near the main stadium that had injured many, labeling it “minor glitches”. 

Now the focus is on the closing ceremony. Bolstered by the euphoria of the opening event, Kalmadi has claimed of an encore. The expectations had hit rock bottom just before the opening ceremony, which later played a great role in the eventual success. 

It’s ironic while public may be saying Jaane Bhi Do Yaaro, it will be Kalmadi who would be humming Hum Ho Gaye Kamyaab!

Facebook ousts Orkut from top slot in India

August 25, 2010 Leave a comment

Rohit Sharma 

Social networking site Orkut finally gave away the crowning glory of the ‘highest number of users in India’ to Facebook. According to comScore, Inc., Facebook.com grabbed the number one ranking in the category for the first time in July with 20.9 million visitors, up 179 % versus year ago. 

“Though Facebook has tripled its audience in the past year to pace the growth for the category, several other social networking sites have posted their own sizeable gains.” said Will Hodgman, comScore executive vice president for the Asia-Pacific region, in comScore’s press release. 

More than 33 million Internet users age 15 and older in India visited social networking sites in July, representing 84 % of the total Internet audience. India now ranks as the seventh largest market worldwide for social networking, after the U.S., China, Germany, Russian Federation, Brazil and the U.K. The total Indian social networking audience grew 43% in the past year, more than tripling the rate of growth of the total Internet audience in India.  

Facebook.com posted an especially strong month in July, growing 12% versus June, to capture the top spot in the category with 20.9 million visitors. Orkut ranked second with 19.9 million visitors (up 16% vs. year ago). What’s interesting is to see a Bharatstudent.com taking over popular websites like Twitter and LinkedIn. 

Top Social Networking Sites in India
July 2010 vs. July 2009
Total India – Age 15+, Home & Work Locations*
Source: comScore Media Metrix
India Total Unique Visitors (000)
Jul-2009 Jul-2010 % Change
Total Internet : Total Audience 35,028 39,562 13
Social Networking 23,255 33,158 43
Facebook.com 7,472 20,873 179
Orkut 17,069 19,871 16
Bharatstudent.com 4,292 4,432 3
Yahoo! Pulse N/A 3,507 N/A
Twitter.com 984 3,341 239
LinkedIn.com N/A 3,267 N/A
Zedge.net 1,767 3,206 81
Ibibo.com 1,562 2,960 89
Yahoo! Buzz 542 1,807 233
Shtyle.fm 407 1,550 281

*Excludes visitation from public computers such as Internet cafes or access from mobile phones or PDAs.

White Trash is a trash is a trash

July 7, 2010 13 comments

Rohit Sharma

“I never knew how a bunch of people half a world away chose a random town in New Jersey to populate. Were they from some Indian state that got made fun of by all the other Indian states and didn’t want to give up that feeling? Are the malls in India that bad? Did we accidentally keep numbering our parkway exits all the way to Mumbai?”

-Joel Stein, Time Magazine. Article- My Own Private India.

Here are some reactions on blogosphere-  

“Joel Stein is a racist, xenophobic PIG. The last I checked, pigs were not Kosher.”

“I assume Stein is eating bagel and lox in his mother’s home while she cooks him a brisket.”

“I think America needs geniuses like us to keep you falling in the marsh of drugs and prostitutes. Someone with oiled-hair and extra cologne carrying an intellectual head on his shoulders is far more superior than a typical American pot-head.”

Time Magazine has apologised to the Indian community but has not removed the article from its website.

Joel Stein (who is Jewish) Tweeted- “Didn’t meant to insult Indians with my column this week. Also stupidly assumed their emails would follow that Gandhi non-violence thing.”

Do you accept Time Magazine’s apology?

The Gloves are Off: It’s Facebook vs Orkut vs Google Me

July 1, 2010 1 comment

Rohit Sharma

In February 2010, England based online trafficking agency comScore announced that Google owned Orkut is still number one in India with 46.8% of the nation’s web population using the website. Besides India, Brazil also favours Orkut over other social networking websites but that’s it! Facebook is ruling rest of the social media inclined nations with the website gearing up to cross 500 million users mark worldwide out of which 8 million are from India.

Top networking sites in India (Copyright- INRS)

According to a recent survey conducted by Indiabiz News & Research Services (INRS), Facebook is the number one networking website in India. Get these figures- 85% of users prefer Facebook, 54% of users are on Orkut as well and the much hyped Twitter is preferred only by 30%. Another recent survey by Nielsen says that Orkut is the preferred social networking site but Facebook is gaining market share in India with 50% of social media users claiming to use Facebook most often, compared to 38% for Orkut, with the most common reasons for switching include friends moving sites, preferring the look and feel of the site, and offering more features.

So what makes Orkut so undesirable or simply uncool amongst the networkers? Here’s what I feel-

◘ The homepage takes times to load thanks to ugly themes and applications that just clutter the page.

◘ The main content view has shrunk with the introduction of new template feature. Templates also increased the response time of pages.

◘ Pictures and scrap lock feature have declined the interests. Orkut spoilt us, allowed us to snoop but suddenly becoming prude because Facebook arrived didn’t go down well with the users.

◘ Lack of innovations. Third party applications came in too late along with privacy settings and comments section.

Google is not taking the Facebook threat lying down. There are strong rumours circulating that the biggest online brand will soon be attempting another battle with Facebook, with the launch of reticently titled ‘Google Me’.

Google Buzz was an embarrassing failure (it doesn’t feel good when you wake up to see your email contacts splashed in front of the world) and Google Profile wasn’t a hit either. So Google has now decided to put everything into the blender and churn out something bigger than Facebook. Features from several of its previous networking “experiments” will be used to create something mammoth. But will the heavy user base on Facebook be willing to try out something new and even consider shifting? Google Buzz isn’t a good example. Or Facebook – which has been struggling with the frequently changing privacy norms, settings and questioning users- lose its throne to Google? Will you try Google Me?

5 Examples How Social Media Can Screw You

April 28, 2010 2 comments