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Sunday High Tea: Wrong Turns & Right Entertainment

The best, and worst, of the week gone by

A new talk show, 20 years of a blockbuster, art gone wrong and a few good books

The more things change, the more they remain the same, don’t they? So the newly elected BJP government is busy retracting it’s pre-election stance on a slew of issues, principal amongst them being the reluctance to bring more transparency into the functioning of political parties in India.  So much for maximum governance. Meanwhile, the Indian cricket team has been brought to its knees by a significantly below par English team – which begs us to ask once again, why are you still watching cricket?

But there’s almost always a speck of bright blue hidden behind the dark grey : the aversion of the flooding of the Kosi, the celebration of Eid, and two long weekends in August – if you haven’t planned your holiday already, take a look at these four destinations for your great escape. So as we gear up to celebrate the 67th year of our liberation from the British (Gosh, it’s been a while!), here are a few things that caught our imagination in the week gone by.

India Today

Can a fashion shoot help create awareness about an issue that has also been discussed and debated in microscopic detail? And does depicting a fashionably dressed lone woman surrounded by male models in a bus help pitch the cause of equality, of how no one – not even the rich and famous – are safe from prying hands?

Photographer Raj Shetye’s series “The Wrong Turn” kicked up a huge storm on the internet for exploiting the Nirbhaya rape case under the guise of creative interpretation. After looking at the images, we can’t help but agree.

The photographer has pulled down the images from his website, so you can only see those that were re-published on news sites – and in the spirit of not giving any more publicity to the distasteful pictures, we refuse to share them here.

 

Movies & Television

We tried so hard, but we can’t resist jumping upon the bandwagon discussing 20 years of Hum Aapke Hain Kaun. And we can’t help wonder, once again, what made the movie such a phenomenal success – after all, the current obsession with “100 crore club” is all thanks to this 206 minute blockbuster.

Was it the double wattage smile power of Madhuri Dixit & Renuka Shahane, or Dixit’s purple lehenga that catapulted her to the front page of India Today, who declared her as India’s next superstar after Bachchan? Was it Salman Khan’s boyish charm in Pehla Pehla Pyaar Hai, the absence of a villian or Alok Nath’s sanskars? Or was it simply the endless song and dance routine and the tail-wagging by Tuffy the dog?

No one can say. But if the success of Deewar, Sholay, Zanzeer and Silsila was a telling commentary of the times we lived in, what does the success of HAHK tell us? Karan Johar said that this was the movie that changed his life, for he “realized Indian cinema is about values, tradition, subtlety, romance. There is so much soul in it.”  Many critics claimed that the biggest legacy of the movie was a break away from the violence of the past, and a celebration of romance and family.

20 years later, we can’t say with certainty that this is necessarily a good thing. For the eulogies to romance and tradition have also been accompanied by a dutiful striving for the perfect selves, perfect families and perfect photos;  a return to medieval prudishness  under the garb of values; and the blinding belief that All Izz Well, despite signs to the contrary.

 

Meanwhile, don’t you feel like smashing the TV screen every time the Look Who’s Talking With Niranjan advertisement comes up on the telly? There’s a lot that we want to whine about : the yawn-inducing host Nilanjan, who is treated like a celebrity when he’s clearly far from one; the shameless lifting of of an already jaded show (Season 4 of Coffee With Karan demonstrated once again how KJo is still miserably stuck in the 90s); the wearisomely same cast of stars repeating the same inconsequential antics – the women squealing, the men strutting and Kajol giving stiff competition to Maria Sharapova’s grunts. But what has our hackles up the most is the lazy assumption that catching hold of a bunch of celebrities for a seemingly intimate gupshup is all that is needed to get the TRPs soaring – script, host and most importantly the public be damned.

We really don’t care to hear, once again, that Salman Khan is a 40 year virgin and any man in PeeCee’s life needs to match up to her father. If there’s one thing the show’s got right – it’s the blessings of super savvy marketeer Karan Johar – whose semi-controversial statements in the opening episode will guarantee some eyeballs (hint: KJo’s virginity came up for discussion).

 

Books

Haruki Murakami’s much awaited Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage - part of MBRB’s summer reading list – has hit the stands. And though the reviews are mixed, we certainly can’t wait to sink our teeth into this tale of the “colourless” and low on confidence Tsukuru Tazaki, and his alienation from his four “bright” friends. Currently available only on Amazon in India.

Meanwhile, The Curve has an interesting gender perspective on Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century. Focusing on the problem of increasing gender equality being accompanied with declining economic equality, the discussion comes up with several interesting perspectives for women – from raising minimum wages, investing in education, encouraging flexible working hours to recognizing the income of the informal sector (such as tips earned by waitresses).

Cover image courtesy: Wikimedia Commons 

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