Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Newsworthy?


In keeping with the increasing crappiness in standards of journalism of our times, a substantial amount of media attention is devoted to "Page 3 celebs" and people who in all probability, do not deserve any of it.
Now do not ask me what kind of people qualify to be Page 3 celebs. For I do not know myself.

Here's a glossary of sorts to elucidate further on who and why or how exactly they land up in the news, although you know THAT already, I guess :-

Ranbir Kapoor:- For whoring his way through tinsel town. Be it some married older socialite, or coochie-cooing with Anushka Sharma/Katrina Kaif or getting all hot and heavy with some model-turned-wannabe-actress (Angela Johnson? or was it Thompson?) his exploits in the can't-keep-it-in-my-pants department make for a great page-turner.

Sonam Kapoor:- For wearing good clothes. And accessorizing them with good shoes. And you know, good bags. And good jewellery. And making appearances at events for...reasons best known to her and the event-organizers.

Mallika Sherawat: For not wearing clothes.

Uday Chopra: For realizing too late that he should've retired from acting right after his debut.

Shah Rukh Khan: For his latest version of Himani Navaratna Tel ad. Or a jibe at Aamir Khan. Or giving an impassioned speech (punctuated with barely-concealed self-admiration) while receiving an award for best acting, nobody gives a shit about. Also for being at the receiving end of the wrath of few disgruntled IIPM students.

Abhishek Bachchan: For his "Pa", ma, wife, unborn kid(s) OR an Idea ad.

Katrina Kaif: For denying relationships with Akshay Kumar and Ranbir Kapoor and Salman Khan. Also for being the only Bollywood actress who doesn't have to fake a foreign accent.

Salman Khan: For assaulting people (psychologically or otherwise) with his fabulously shitty movies and shittier driving. Or for trying to threaten ex-girlfriend's current beau into submission, by calling him up n number of times.

Aamir Khan: For deciding to flaunt a bizarre new mustache for random declared-hit-even-before-release movie.

Imran Khan: For the above mentioned person.

Deepika Padukone: For fuming over being dumped unceremoniously.

Ekta Kapoor: For changing her astrologer/numerologist/tarot card reader for the 97462354th time. Also for generating widespread alarm on dropping the letter "K" from her serial names.

Arindam Chaudhuri: For well...being the author of books which become best-sellers even before launch and running an institution which guarantees 100% fictional MBA degrees with 100% placements in 100% fictional organizations.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali: For making a movie with a supposedly ground-breaking new theme, which often turns out to be a scene-by-scene copy of some phoren filum few people have heard of.

Aishwarya Rai: For making fashion faux passes at Cannes and Oprah and the Oscars every alternate year and posing for photographs, with that famous plastic smile intact.

Ram Gopal Verma: For expressing support for a psychopath murderer so that some people finally take note of the fact that he is still around making movies.

Chetan Bhagat: For posting intelligent tweets and deleting them later on 'cause they proved to be too intelligent for ordinary people to comprehend.

Karan Johar: For threatening to make a sequel to Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham, (possibly pissed off with all the gay jokes on twitter).

Last but not the least,

Wait...I can't remember if I actually have dementia or if it is my lawyer's idea to get me out of jail!!
Suresh Kalmadi: Previously, for pretending he does not know anything. Now in the news for actually not knowing anything anymore.

(Since I'm unsure about who a Page-3 celeb actually is and given the obscene amount of coverage he has been given since last year, Honourable current Tihar-Jail-inmate Mr Suresh Kalmadi surely deserves a special mention in this department)

P.S: Feel free to add names to this list, in the comment box.
__
Photo courtesy: Google Images



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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Farewell Harry: The end of an era

On a certain cold December evening, a little over a decade back, I had ventured outside the cozy quarters of our apartment, parents in tow, for the sake of a visit to the local book fair. It was a pleasure trip and I had no plans for any specific purchases. Being the ardent Enid Blyton fan that I was (still am) I would've in all probability bought a book of the The Malory Towers series or maybe a classic or two. But fate had other plans.
My eyes landed on a very colorful cardboard box in a certain shabby-looking stall and upon further inspection I made out the names "Harry Potter Boxed Set" engraved on it.

The 11-year old me wasn't exactly what you call aware of the latest developments in the world of fiction but still the name "Harry Potter" did ring a bell.
Although I couldn't quite remember where I had heard of it, the brief summary written on either side of the box was enough to excite my curiosity and TADA. I knew I had to unravel the mysteries that the 4 books held inside.
Back then I had no idea that I was bringing something home which was going to be a part of my life forever, something which was going to enrich me as a reader in more ways than one and cement my relationship with reading into a permanent bond.

Come this Friday and the mad hysteria, the unbridled frenzy, the ground-breaking publishing phenomenon named Harry Potter is about to reach its conclusion, with the release of the final movie - The Deathly Hallows Part 2.
The saga that was conceived as a mere idea in J.K. Rowling's head on a train trip from Manchester to London, back in 1990, will come to an inevitable but sad end with the last movie of the immensely successful franchise.
The final book of the series had released back in 2006 and despite earnest requests from fans worldwide to continue with the series or atleast author a spin-off based on it, Rowling hasn't shown signs of ever writing another Harry Potter book. She thinks she has closure with Harry although she says it had been fun while it lasted.

For millions across the globe, especially those in my age-group, the Harry Potter books formed a part of our staple reader diet.
We grew up on the books. We grew up on the movies. We grew up with Harry, Hermione, Ron and their adventures.
Even the Harry Potter stars, Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint and Emma Watson grew up with the movies.

Image source: www.leowo.com


Being the owner of any HP book was a matter of prestige back in my high-school days.

I still remember the envious glances directed my way, as I would take out a HP book from my backpack and read during lunch hours...how people who never showed any signs of becoming friends otherwise, would approach me very cautiously to ask me if they can borrow one of them.

I also remember those, who would openly go about dissing the books, because supposedly it was all "kindergarten fantasy crap". It was quite amusing to find people passing expert judgement on a series of books they've never read.
Not that it was unexpected. If something earns popularity, then it will gain its fair share of haters as well.

However fame and uncharted stardom weren't the only things associated with Rowling's brainchild. Controversies, acerbic critique and accusations of the central idea and character sketches being plagiarized from Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings followed.
But somehow none of this deterred Harry Potter from attaining a cult status in the world of juvenile/fantasy fiction or came even close to preventing it from turning into the entertainment behemoth that it is today.


The books brought millions of children/adolescents back to reading, introduced major changes in the landscape of creative freedom in movie-making. Rowling had asked Warner Bros to be true to the spirit of the books while making the movies. And even though they may not always have lived up to the expectations of the fans, they surely did enough to bring the magical world of Harry Potter come alive on screen.

I can't help but experience an odd sense of nostalgia, when I think of the very first chapter of the very first book- "The Boy Who Lived". When I had turned over the first page, I had been blissfully unaware that the story which was just starting to unfold will eventually transform into an epic tale of good triumphing over evil, friendship, trust, betrayal, courage, love and every possible human emotion ever felt. That it would acquaint me with a bunch of sometimes-lovable, sometimes-quirky, sometimes-obnoxious, sometimes-mysterious or sometimes-downright-evil characters I would hold dear for the rest of my life.

Even though profound sadness envelopes me as I realize that this long but extremely fulfilling journey has come to an end, I feel the magic contained in the 7 books and 8 movies will continue to live on forever.
"The Chosen One" will never fade out from our memories or our lives.


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Saturday, July 09, 2011

Unsaid

Dearest love,
                    Things would never be the same between us. You were just a habit anyway, a reluctance to face reality head-on, a fear of embracing loneliness. The most convenient way of letting myself know that I was fine. But how could this change the truth? The truth never fades away even if you seek comfort in a thousand lies. Like the blinding light of the resplendent morning sun triumphing over darkness, it washes away all the uncertainties.
The truth hurts.

The truth is I never loved you to begin with. I do not believe in things such as love. Nothing is done without a purpose in this world. Nothing without any value is cherished. Whatever it is that you felt for me wasn't love either. It was just like a child-like longing to be the proud owner of the object of its fascination. It was an obsession of a kind.
And that is why I have to go.
The truth leaves permanent marks of damage but it also heals you in a way. It teaches you to be braver, it teaches you to be patient, it teaches you to make amends.

There are things in this world worth fighting for, worth living for. Better and greater things than love. Love is just an over-rated emotion anyway. When an infant dies of starvation in a poverty-stricken nation, when a woman is gang-raped in some corner of the world, love is the last thing on their minds. They seek a morsel of food at the end of the day. They seek the right to stay alive. They seek protection from all evils.
Love, marriage, a fulfilling family life....these are but luxuries only the high and mighty can afford. For the ones who are far less privileged, life is like a series of tortuous battles waged against uncountable evils.

I digress.
To tell the truth I don't even know why I'm writing all of this down on a stray piece of paper. It's like a stupid little self-justification for the choices I've made. Like one last ditch attempt to hold on to the frail reality, I was so absorbed in once upon a time.
Love is just a shallow excuse for carrying on with the facade of life as we know it. A clever way of masking the most primitive biological drive for survival. Love is the biggest misnomer of all.
It was never meant for someone like me.

I'm about to go far, far away...to a place full of unknown faces. A place where colorful dreams are forbidden from entering. A place so deeply enmeshed in the cold darkness of despair, that hope is alien. A country ravaged by the brutalities of war and geo-political tension, where millions are in need of warm clothes, food and a refuge from atrocities.
A place with people who need tender care, concern, empathy and love.
And as I work for their welfare, I may think of you sometimes. I may shed tears at the thought of what could have been.
And who knows? Some day, I may come to realize that I loved you after all.

__                                                                                                 

P.S: This post was lying as a draft among several other half-written posts. Finally published. 
P.P.S: Also it is fictional.

Image courtesy : http://fictional-fearless.blogspot.com/

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Friday, July 01, 2011

Deconstructing Google+

Finally after months (if not years) of speculation Google has released a new social network named Google+, which has been primarily made with a view to rivaling Facebook's sky-rocketing popularity and re-instate Google as the undisputed boss of the internet.
Photo courtesy : mashable

Now irrespective of the fact that the term "Orkutiya" is now used on twitter to poke fun at hapless users with no sense of grammar or English, the fact remains that Orkut was one of the pioneers in the field of social networking (alongside MySpace and the rest). Then came Facebook. Then Twitter.
And Orkut was abandoned as users migrated to Facebook tempted by the prospect of a neater user interface, better privacy controls and a variety of (sometimes lameass) applications. Next (inane) flash games were introduced and people were hooked.
But only recently have people started to tire of Facebook due to a number of reasons and Google couldn't have chosen a better time to launch its competitor in the market.
Now let's pit Google+ and Facebook against each other and find the positives in Google's latest offering-

  • Before social networking only meant adding other people to your "friend's list'. It basically meant, a person once in your network, will be able to access all the information you post until and unless you tweak your privacy settings and hide stuff from a particular person. This was a hindrance no doubt. But thanks to Google+ none of that is needed now. You can now organize the people you add to your network as "Friends","Family" or "Co-workers" etc. You can conveniently put people in a group and share things exclusively with them. People in another circle do not need to know. Information concerning your circles is strictly yours. A member of a circle doesn't exactly know which circle he/she is a part of.
  • Once you post a status update or a comment in Facebook, it cannot be altered or edited. You need to delete and re-post if you have to correct a typo. But Google+ has included the very nifty option of editing both a post and a comment.
  • In terms of the chat feature, Facebook doesn't even come close to comparing with Google+ which comes with gtalk integration(same as Orkut). Personally I hated the FB chat because first of all, it would log me out often without permission and then it would lag considerably while transmitting messages at times. Gtalk, it goes without saying, is as smooth as smooth can be. Besides we have the additional Hangout feature(which I'm yet to try out) by which Google has no doubt tried to integrate a Skype-like gadget into Google+. It allows you to have a video chat or voice chat. Something which Facebook lacks. 
  • Sparks is yet another innovative feature which is missing from other social networking sites. Here you can find information regarding any subject of your choice right from the search bar itself and share it with others. Best thing is only you get to see the subjects of interest you have added. Although the stream of information available in Sparks may not always be the latest. I am keeping my fingers crossed for Google to refine this feature to perfection later on.
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  • There's another extremely convenient option where all videos and pictures taken with your cellphone camera are automatically uploaded to a secure private album and you're free to make those public any time you want. You are free to enable or disable this option. I guess this is only available to people who will be using the Google+ mobile app.
  • Google+ notifications are just like the Facebook ones but here you get to respond to a comment merely from the notification bar itself. There's no need to visit the post or the necessary link to perform this action. This is again something Facebook doesn't have.
Coming to the cons, 
  • The first and foremost problem with Google+ is with photo privacy. I'm not particularly pleased with the option of having to share your Picasa albums publicly. Also settings don't enable us to really keep our pictures private that much.
  • Anybody, absolutely anybody, can add you to their circles and you wouldn't even know which circle you're being added to. At the most you can choose to block that person though, or adding that account to your "blocked" circle in Google+ jargon. A very twitter-ish feature in my opinion. Good and bad at the same time. 
  • Every post that you share with a circle or a group of a select few can be re-shared by anyone from that circle. That is unless you disable re-sharing of that particular post. There's no specific setting yet to disable re-sharing altogether. But Google has promised to refine the settings in the days to come.
  • There's nothing like a group or discussion forum which are both available in Orkut and Facebook. 
Apart from these things, Google+ seems good to go for now. What I like most about it is it allows you to keep a low-profile yet achieve your purpose of keeping in touch with others as well. It has generally steered clear of being too open in the same way as Facebook is, where you have a field to fill for every damn thing that goes in your life- relationships, work, education, recreational activities and whatnot. I guess this is what made Facebook such a hit with all netizens in the first place. But maybe that appeal too has ran its course.

Google+ provides you with the option of keeping things private as much as possible. Whereas the general tone of Facebook is one which goads you to be more open.

Despite the promising start, Google+ doesn't have enough to give Facebook some serious competition. Atleast not right now. Given for some users, the main attraction of Facebook is Farmville(and Yoville and Mafia Wars and so on).
But then again Google Plus has achieved its first goal, which is to grab the limelight and compel users to atleast spend more time exploring all its features.
Even Mark Zuckerberg couldn't resist getting a first-hand experience himself. So what are you waiting for?

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