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Archive for the ‘rant’ Category

The unfortunate shelving of the movie ‘Heroine’ by Madhur Bhandarkar and the subsequent drama that has ensued has cemented my view that Bollywood is as misogynistic as I thought it was.

A pregnant woman is kicked out of a movie, the reason cited for that is the movie is heavily dependent on the lead actress, and she is required to be shown smoking, drinking etc, and the schedule is hectic. While it is true that pregnancy tires a woman out, it is not a disease or a condition. A pregnant woman gets as much work done as a non-pregnant one does. Also, the actress in question was not going to really smoke or drink anyway, shew as only going to act like she was, on-screen. And it is only the Indian directors that are doing this, Penelope Cruz was working on Prates of the Caribbean - 3 throughout her pregnancy, and no one kicked her out or blamed her for being pregnant. The worst part is that the said director of the movie actually blamed this actress and said he is shelving this movie for her own good and that this whole process has caused him a lot of anguish. Wah, talk about being dishonest.

Not only is it unfair to Aishwarya Rai that she is being discriminated on, she is also being blamed for the movie being canceled and the subsequent loss of jobs for hundreds of technicians, artists etc. When she signed on the movie she was given a schedule that stated that filming would be over by the end of July, which meant that she would be done with it by the time she was 5 months pregnant, and let’s face it, most women don’t even show the first 5-6  months. And while the first trimester brings with it glorious nausea and fatigue, surely there are ways to get to work in spite of that. We all have worked 8 hour days through out first trimesters, we weren’t kicked out of our jobs for being pregnant. And if Bhandarkar was so worried about Aishwarya’s health he would have made the movie but would have been extra careful about her, not just gone to the press saying she caused him anguish. Way to treat an expectant woman. If he was more worried that she would start putting on weight, and would not look the part, he should have come out and given that reason, rather than hide behind the “oh this is all for her good” wall like a coward.

While some might call her unprofessional, and I agree to an extent, it is not fair to expect a woman in her first trimester to go announcing to the whole world that she is having a baby, when most gynecologists and everyone else keeps warning her about an early miscarriage, throwing the high first trimester, first pregnancy miscarriage statistics in her face.

Finally, I feel like if the woman in question has no complaints about her working when pregnant, and when she is physically able to perform her duties, and look the part, in this case, there is no valid reason for kicking her out except that there is this huge reservation in the Indian psyche about the lack of desirability of a mother. While men can get married, have children, grow a paunch and still get roles as teenagers, women, God forbid so much as have a baby(while still looking smoking hot) are relegated to bit parts or bhabhi, ma roles. Way to kick her while she is down, Bollywood.

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De ghuma ke…errr…..

Watching the India England match this sunday made me squirm.

We got up early and sharp on Sunday to watch the match, having just paid a decent sum to ‘buy’ the online World Cup 2011 package. Sure, I wanted all the World cup matches to be paisa vasool, but not even in my nightmares did I ever think that a total in excess of 300 was paltry. When England started the chase, and they were above the required run rate, I thought One Day cricket had changed from 4 years ago, when 280 was a big target, and the chasing team had a task on their hands. On sunday it did not seem like England even had a task on their hands, let alone a battle. Catches were dropped, there was an absence of ‘good’ bowlers, as usual, and there were no appeals for caught behinds that should have been appealed. The Indian team’s shoulders were hunched over, and they lacked all motivation to win. Maybe a loss would have shaken them up, a tie does not help them fight this slumber off. One look at Chawla ‘celebrating’ the loss of Bresnan, after giving away 15 runs off that over was a pathetic display that make me throw up in my mouth! While the glares Dhoni was giving his fielders after every misfiled were understandable, I could not understand how Dhoni ended up not accepting that we were pathetic in all departments except batting. And that is why I keep thinking a loss would have drilled the fear of an early ouster from the World cup in their heads. Not they are all happy and cozy, thinking they haven’t lost. (Dhoni did not even say that the tie was probably not a desirable result, he said he was glad it was not a loss…WTH)! Sure we will win against Ireland and minions like that, but we would have to eventually face better teams like South Africa, Australia, even Pakistan. Then what? More and more it seems like our dream of being World Cup champions this go around will remain just that, a dream!

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Apathy to human suffering

This past weekend we started and finished watching the 6 part PBS movie series Auschwitz: Inside the Nazi State and I have been trying to gather my thoughts about it. Firstly, it was extremely hard for me to understand how a group of people can, without emotion or humanity, kill millions of fellow human beings out of prejudice. Since lots has already been said about the suffering of Jews, Gypsies, Homosexuals, and everyone else who was different, in Nazi Germany, I don’t want to talk about that. What can you say about something as horrific as the holocaust?

What I want to talk about is something I discussed with my husband while we were watching the movie. One of the commentators at the end of the first part said that there is nothing to be learnt from the holocaust. There is nothing worth learning, because trying to get some meaning out of the incident would be equivalent to trying to rationalize what happened, and there is no way such monstrosity can be rationalized.

That seems so true. If human beings had anything at all to learn from the Holocaust, we would not have had the Rwandan Genocide, or Darfur, or Pol Pot committing atrocities in Cambodia, or 1 million would not have been killed during Indo-Pak partition. The Wikipedia article on Genocide lists the various stages of genocide and possible measures to prevent each stage. Most of the early stages are about classification of people into ‘us’ or ‘them’, manufacturing causes to hate ‘them’ enough to deny ‘them’ their basic rights, organizing military units to persecute ‘them’. In most cases of genocide, ‘them’ are always different from ‘us’ either in religion or culture or both. Most of the early stage preventive measures talk about forbidding hate speech, banning military or organized hate groups etc. These preventive measures put most of the onus on the internal government of a country and the UN, which in turn means world leaders like the United States, UK, China, France, Russia, etc. The assumption here is that the countries that constitute the governing body of the United Nations will be strong enough to openly declare that the atrocities are indeed genocide, and that they will do anything in their power to prevent it. Well, look at what happened in most genocides. The UN Security Council did not want the UN to get involved in the conflict, the US did not want to label it a genocide initially, calling it a “local conflict”, as a result of all this, a mass killing that would have been prevented had the world powers gotten involved early, went on for 100 days, and about a million people were killed. A similar thing happened when people were being killed in Darfur, Sudan. People all over the US had to protest against the government, because the government, yet again, refused to label it genocide.

There is really no point to my post. The depiction of atrocities at Auschwitz shook my faith in humanity so much that now I am certain that as long as people keep their racial, sexual and other prejudices in place, as long as there is an ‘us’ vs ‘them’ mentality, there is no way to prevent killing of innocent people. And the more we keep quiet, because we are not getting affected by the events, the closer we are to meeting the same fate. As is well put in this poem:

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

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Food network ramblings

I wonder if the food network chefs ever taste their own food? Or if they do, if they really like it.

Take for example Sandra Lee. In her show, Semi-Homemade with Sandra Lee, Sandra once made a Broccoli pie, where she basically boiled some Broccoli, arranged it in a dish, and put some ranch dressing on it like you would do on a pie. And she did not even bother to taste it. This is what it looked like(Oh, and she decorated it with cherry tomatoes):

Or take Paula Deen. She made this Oyster Shooters. She poached/fried oysters in butter(4 pounds of butter), then she cut up the oyster and put them in shot glasses, poured a couple of tablespoons of melted butter in each glass and drank it up! YUCK YUKKITY YUCK is what I felt. And YUCK YUKKITY YUCK is what her face looked like, but her mouth said “it is so good y’all”!

Next up we have Giada. First of all, this is what she told the interviewer in the February issue of the Redbook magazine:

All men want to be treated like kings in a relationship, and I think if women don’t indulge that sometimes, their men are likely to stray and look for someone who can give that to them.

My first feelings were of anger (WTH is she saying), then I went from anger to mere acceptance of the fact that there are people who will spout nonsense and I will do well to ignore them. So aside from this mention, I shall not say much about her comment. Her food is decent but she looks like she NEVER eats her own food. And have you seen what she wears? It seems like food network focuses more on the region between her head and her waist than what she cooks. Oh, well!

Oh Ina, Ina Ina! Ina Garten has an interesting background. She was a Whitehouse nuclear policy analyst for Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter, eventually giving up her high stress career to one of a celebrity chef and entertainer in the Hamptons. So her shows feature her making breakfasts and lunches and dinners for her friends. I normally like her food. It is clean and looks tasty. What irks me is her language. She keeps saying use “good olive oil”, “good vanilla”, etc. By good, I think she means $100.00 an ounce! And then there is her trademark phrase – “How easy is that?” or “If you don’t grow your own blah blah, store-bought is fine!”. Oh, well Ina, if we had access to the awesome multi-million dollar gadgets and “good” products that you do, sure it is easy! All there irks aside, I do quite like her. But for fun, this picture from foodnetworkhumor.com sums up some of the best bits of her shows.

Then we have the Neelys. The less said about them the better. They are too busy trying to make up sexual innuendos to cook a decent meal. Sample this:Big mama, fat daddy, gimme your pork chops big daddy, etc. Enough said!

Talk about Rachael Ray. I used to love her, until she started over-doing her making up of words/phrases. Like EVOO, Stoup, Spoonula, Sammie, eyeball-it, yumm-oo, delish and then the most annoying mmm-mmm-mmm-mmm! I still love her food though, looks easy, and most times, pretty tasty, and her show is intense!

Last but not the least, Guy Fieri. How does this guy’s hair not catch on fire, given that he puts on loads of hair spray? And what is with the sunglasses at the back of his head, does his chota brain need to be shielded from the light? One look at him, and tell me if you would eat his food:

So is there anyone on the food network I really loooove? Oh yeah, Alton Brown! Have a look at an episode of Good Eats if you get a chance and see how simple his shows are and how delicious the food looks. His shows ooze food-telligence, deep knowledge of food and no big words or big gadgets to hold you back. The best part is that the man eats his own food :) Oh, and that he is good-looking is only a plus!

 

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Jealous kara ja?

Are any of you watching the latest season of Jhalak Dikhla jaa? Don’t you think the point of the whole season is to make us lesser mortals(women) feel horrible about our bodies? What then is the point of having a stunningly beautiful 43-year-old mother of two and a my-body-never-reveals-my-age 37-year-old mother of one, be judges on the show, and having them dance every other episode?

I mean, HAVE YOU SEEN MADHURI AND MALAIKA ON THE SHOW?

The season opener where they showed a clip of 43-year-old Madhuri dancing to her old tunes made me go and take an hour-long walk to burn my heavy dinner off(not that the walk would help). It is not just about how fit and pretty she still is, her thumkas and matkas haven’t diminished one bit, neither has her dazzling smile faded. Everytime I see her, my heart warms at how beautiful yet simple she is, and at the same time I am green with envy. If I even looked 10% as good as she does, now, I wouldn’t be writing this post.

And what chakki ka atta does Malaika eat(or does not eat)? Granted she must have loads of time on her hands to burn her fat off, and the woman dresses more in your face sexy than most of us can tolerate, but I have to give it to her that her body has not changed much from her MTV VJing days(ok maybe she got 2 crow’s feet and 2-3 wrinkles…..).

Someone just bury the man/woman who came up with this brilliant idea of having these women show up week after week, to get us to feel like slobs. Past seasons of Jhalak always compensated for the one stunning judge by throwing in a Farah Khan or a Saroj Khan, but this time they HAD to do this to us!

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Please adjust.

This post got me thinking. Why is asking for divorce such a big deal that women are asked to stay in unhappy marriages than have a happy divorce?

A good friend was working in an MNC, a very smart girl, very independent and her family loved in a cosmopolitan city, not in the city where most of the people of her community live. When it came time for marriage, since she was ok with it, the parents started to look for a suitable partner from the community. Since she was well-educated and working, it was hard to find a match, and this is where she made her first mistake. In order to appease her parents, she agreed to marry this guy who she barely interacted with.

The wedding happened amidst all fanfare (and dowry/gifts) and the married couple moved to Bangalore where she had a job(he was apparently working too) and that is when her troubles began. Seemingly there was no problem. Like people reminded her time and again, he did not beat her, or verbally abuse her, well, he just did not talk. About anything at all. His mom would show up every few months and shout commands at the DIL while the son sat on his fat ass, watching TV, or sometimes just staring into space. She was frustrated, and did not know what he thought about her, whether he liked her, or did not like her, cared about her or not. Because there was NO TALKING AT ALL. Needless to say, their marriage was not consummated even after 6 months after the wedding. She talked to her mom. Her mom asked her to ‘have patience’ because according to her most arranged marriages are like that. She waited, for another 6 months, until the point that she could not take it anymore. She had dreams of a happy marriage, of a loving partner. She talked to her parents, this time about separation. They were livid. They thought they had given their daughter ‘too much freedom’ and that she was finding it hard to adjust to married life because she had too many expectations. Does he abuse you? Does he have a mistress? Does he drink or do drugs? The answers to all these questions was a NO. She could not tell them that she was still a virgin, after a year of being married, that her husband never looked at her with love or even so much as smiled at her. There was something wrong with him, is what she believed, and so, against her parents’ wishes she started the separation proceedings. The first lawyer she went to(a woman) asked her to ‘adjust’. She dumped her and went to another, who heard her story, this time she also told him that the marriage wasn’t consummated as yet, and those were the grounds for a separation. Today she is single, happy and much more relaxed. The demons of her past still haunt her when she visits her parents and they cry about her being divorced, but she does not care. She says she has been happier in the last few months of her being separated, than she had even been married. Whenever someone asks her why her husband left her, she says I left him. And lives with her head high. She does not know what would have happened had she adjusted, but the one year that she did she was not happy. And that is what matters.

The reason for narrating this story is that a lot of people say if there are no red flags in a marriage you should always try to make it work, and in my friend’s story there were NO RED FLAGS, the kind that most people care about, anyway, and still she was unhappy and miserable.

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Barkha Dutt

Barkha Dutt has been on my radar for quite a while now. When she is not screaming her guts out at the camera, or interrupting her interviewees with her smart-alec remarks or suing the pants off honest bloggers, she can be seen(or heard) making backroom deals with lobbyists. Even when you don’t know anything about her karname, one look at her show and you feel like she comes off as an extremely haughty and holier than thou.

I still remember the hullabaloo that followed Chaitanya Kunte’s post about Barkha’s abysmal reporting during the 26-11 attacks on Mumbai. Everyone who watched NDTV’s reporting, particularly Barkha’s would agree that her relaying minute by minute information of what the commandos were doing might have hurt the rescue efforts. In fact, it did become clear later that there was a control room from where the terrorists were tracking news channels and other outlets for live rescue information. And what happened to Chaitanya Kunte? He was bullied into taking his post down and apologizing. Shame on Barkha and NDTV for that.

Now with the Radia tapes, it has become clear what kind of ethics Barka espouses. The ones of convenience. Whenever it is convenient for her, she is ethical, but as soon as she sees an opening for a story, or something to influence the goings on, she ditches those so-called ethics. The tapes might have been doctored, as she claims they are, but this incident cements in my head the perception that Barkha is as fallible and normal as they all get. Get off your high horse Barkha!

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I was reading this post by IHM and then this original post by Desi Ghee and Coffee that prompted IHM’s. The original article was about how divorces have become so common because feminism has been taken too far by women. As expected, there are a lot of provoking and thought-provoking things said in both posts, and have been covered really well by both bloggers, but one that stood out to me was this:

Men will always be men. They are all stupid. They can never adapt to anything.

In one statement, this person has effectively painted all the men on earth with this generic brush that shows men as weak, stubborn and stupid individuals who will not lift a finger to do anything to make their relationship better.

I want to know what “Men will always be men” means.

Does it mean they will never change to include another person in their life and that they need their wives to be like their mothers, always providing, and never expecting anything in return?

Does it mean they will never show any empathy for this person they married, never treat her like an equal?

Does it mean they need to be mothered all the time, and there cannot be any expectations of them?

Does it mean they will beat the shit out of the wife if she so much as tries to ask for what is her right? Does it mean they will be nothing more than a wall flower at home while the wife breaks her back with all the chores?

Why is men adapting such a big deal anyway? Don’t men adapt when they change jobs, or if the boss changes and has different ways of working? Don’t they adapt when the company policy changes? Why, then, are they unable to adapt when there is another person to share their life with?

What does it say about the thousands of men/husbands who wake up everyday, make the morning coffee, take a shower before the wife does and give her the time she needs in the morning to get herself up and ready for the day ahead? What does it say about those husbands who change diapers, load the dishwashers, clean the bathroom and vacuum the floors?

It is such regressive ideas about men that are doing most men a disservice. Most men I know, especially of my generation, are equally, if not more, invested as their wives are in the household. Are they not ‘men’ because they have adapted to a life of give AND take?

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Rang roop vesh bhusha chache anek hain.

Remember that animated movie on Doordarshan? Sure all that is bullshit. When it comes to cold hard facts, Hind desh ke nivasi are always fighting over language, region, religion, caste, class, skin colour, and whatever else suits our fancy.

The North Indians are irked by the South Indians and the South Indians don’t really ooze love for their Northern counterparts. Heck, even people from two neighboring states don’t get along very well. Amidst all this are the stupid politicians and people in the public eye who are constantly riling people up, talking about preserving regional language and culture and making life hell for people from other cities who are making a living in theirs.

But then, we all know that already, don’t we? And we are not really shocked by such behavior. But amidst all this, somewhere deep down, we are accepting of all kinds of people. We fight, but then we are a people of all kinds of cultures, religions and habits, living together, and not splitting into a 100 different countries, just because we are different. We also accept all kinds of people who can express themselves in different ways. Sure, authors, artists and other creative personalities have faced a lot of anger or violence sometimes, because their expression has hurt some people, but still, I believe we are way better than any other countries around us. Imagine my shock then, when I learnt what M.F. Hussain had to recently say about India when he accepted the citizenship of Qatar(and some of the things he had to say about his new country shocked me too). He said he loves India but the country rejected him. I feel for him, that he had to go away from his country for having expressed his creativity, but I can also understand how some people could have gotten hurt by his ‘expression’ of Hindu goddesses in sexual ways. Well, people like you and me can just brush that away but for some others it is hard. Well, I only have one question for Hussain, would he ‘express his creativity’ by depicting any other religion’s sacred symbols in the same way?

And get this,

“I enjoy complete freedom in Qatar. Now Qatar is my place. Here no one controls my freedom of expression. I am very happy here,”

Ahem! All I want to say is, Dude, just try your antics with Islam and you would see how much freedom you then enjoy!

PS: The point of this post is not to diss any particular religion, far from it. I am not a religious person, nor do I care about any such differences. I was just angry that this man, who enjoyed immense publicity and celebrity in India, went out and said that about India, and more than that, he says no one controls his freedom of expression in his new country. It is just a little hard to digest. I guess, other than that, there is really no point to this post!

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The other day my Facebook status read

The CWG opening ceremony was good and all and I am thrilled. BUT are we forgetting the crores of rupees Kalmadi and Co have swindled out of taxpayers?

It seems like everyone is rejoicing over Facebook, Twitter, news media and elsewhere about how Kalmadi and India have had their revenge and how we cocked a nose at the world. But pray tell me, have you forgotten the bloated budget? So you get a piece of candy and you forget that the person who gave you the candy actually stole money from you in the first place?

News media, which was going berserk over the money being wasted and over how bad the status of the Games Village was is now singing Kalmadi’s praises. One went so far as to say that Kalmadi had the last laugh? I agree. The very fact that no one will now ask him to be accountable for all the money spent means that Kalmadi has had the last laugh! How come our media is so aaya ram gaya ram? Whenever there is a story breaking out, everyone jumps on it. As soon as it becomes even a little lukewarm, even though the issue hasn’t been addressed yet, they jump to the next big story. Which in this case happens to be the opening ceremony.

How come we have such short attention spans? Collectively, it seems like we all suffer from Attention Deficit Disorder. We make noise, and rightfully so, about taxpayer money being misused, and they swing a balloon over our heads and we start jumping with delight? Really, who needs a billion dollar hot air balloon when they could have cut down on the budget by that much amount? And how many people are going to remember that? All this Indian pride and chest thumping seems like a bunch of hot air from the said balloon. I might sound like a traitor, and criticize me all you want, but I am going to keep making a noise and reminding people in my social circle about the initial budget of $364.5 million vs the actual $2.6 billion. Enough said!

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