Does Bollywood normalise stalking?

A defence lawyer in Australia successfully claimed that his client’s aggressive pursuit of women was ‘quite normal behaviour’ for Bollywood fans. Sadly, it’s all too easy to concur

An inspirational tale … Darr: A Violent Love Story
An inspirational tale … Darr: A Violent Love Story, starring Juhi Chawla and Shah Rukh Khan. Photograph: PR

In Australia, a 32-year-old Indian security guard has escaped a jail term after his attorney argued his harassment of women with unwanted texts, messages and personal advances was a by-product of his film fanaticism. What for some might be seen as stalking was, for Bollywood aficionados it was argued, “quite normal behaviour” as the movies encourage the idea that a woman will eventually fall in love with a man if he pursues her hard enough.

Quite a contention, yet it holds cultural weight. Rachel Dwyer, a professor in Indian cinema at SOAS, University of London, points out that the “often relentless” nature of the Bollywood leading man’s pursuit can be tracked through decades of examples, which she examines in her book Bollywood’s India. In the 60s, for example, screen heroes such as Shammi Kapoor, a pretty-boy famous for his cheeky on-screen persona, “would flirt and dance in front of the heroine, who initially rejected him but was won over when she found out his real worth”.


Yet this peacocking has recently morphed into something sinister – and, moreover, still in the mainstream. In Yash Chopra’s Darr: A Violent Love Story (1993), Rahul (Shah Rukh Khan) is obsessed with Kiran (Juhi Chawla), who is engaged to Sunil, a navy officer. Rahul carves her name on his chest with a knife,…

Tamil film industry glorifies the stalking of women, activists say

Makers of ‘Kollywood’ movies urged to rethink plotlines rather than depicting the act as an ‘acceptable way to woo a woman’

People watch a film at drive-in cinema in Chennai, southern India
People watch a film at a drive-in cinema in Chennai, southern India. Photograph: Jonathan Torgovnik/Getty Images

“Never give up on true love,” reads the tagline for Raanjhanaa, a 2013 Bollywood hit starring the Tamil film star Dhanush. Its plot is standard fare, particularly for Kollywood, the Chennai film industry: boy meets girl, falls in love, gets rejected – and pursues her anyway.

But activists in southern India, home to the country’s largest Tamil communities, now argue that plotlines such as Raanjhanaa’s are not just cliched: they are ….

Why Facebook is public enemy number one for newspapers, and journalism

Facebook has emerged as newspapers’ public enemy number one. Hardly a day passes in which there is no negative article about the social media website that is luring away “our” readers and advertisers.

In the past couple of weeks, there has been something of an overload of criticism on a range of topics.

There was the blocking of the image of a girl fleeing a napalm attack in Vietnam. It generated outrage from, among others, Norway’s prime minister Erna Solberg in the Guardian, Jane Fae in the Daily Telegraph and Dominic Lawson in the Sunday Times (an excellent piece).

Facebook’s tax affairs have come under the microscope. Questions were raised about Facebook’s attack on ad-blocking software (as if that isn’t in the interest of every news outlet). And there have been plenty of critical articles about Facebook’s news feeds, notably its “trending topics” feature.

It is argued that this narrows users’ news agenda by advising (or “telling”) them what to read. Evidently, people are bound to follow the herd. According to a Pew Research Center study released in May, 66% of Facebook users get news through the site.

These choices are made by algorithms, which can monitor users’ interests and then “feed” them what it believes they wish to read while filtering out material. ….

‘Censorship of the internet is harmful to dialogue’

Sunetra Sen Narayan and Shalini Narayanan analyse the growth of new media in Digital India in their latest book titled ‘India Connected’

Shalini Narayanan (left); and Sunetra Sen Narayan

Shalini Narayanan (left); and Sunetra Sen Narayan

Editors Sunetra Sen Narayan and Shalini Narayanan analyse the growth of new media in Digital India from a broad communications and interdisciplinary perspective in their latest book titled, India Connected, published by Sage Publications.

The book critically examines the growth of new media in India and offers a perspective on the opportunities and challenges it poses to governance, development, businesses as well as in social marketing efforts.

Narayan has more than 25 years of experience in communications, including in advertising, print journalism, documentary film production and teaching. She is currently associate professor at the Indian Institute of Mass Communication. Narayanan, D.Phil, is an independent media consultant and trainer with two and a half decades of experience in the government and non-government sectors.

In an email interview with Mint, they talk about the purpose of writing the book, the relationship between social media and political movements and whether new media can find a sustainable business model going forward. Edited excerpts:

What was the purpose of writing this book and mapping the impact of new media?

The purpose of writing this book was to present research-based perspectives on new media going beyond anecdotal reportage. The trigger was when we tried to locate a book that had a thorough grounding in theory and was rigorous in its approach to new media in India, and failed. We found that there was no single work that had discussed and analysed the impact of new media in India. The need for such a work was evident given the way new media has transformed social landscapes. Our endeavour was to document different aspects of the change and we feel this book could lead to many other studies on the impact of new media. This is a beginning.

What is the biggest change that new media has brought about in India?

Each time we connect with people sitting continents away on WhatsApp or Facebook, each time a farmer gets an update on weather on his humble feature phone, each time we book a ticket to travel without visiting any booking office, each time a young girl sitting in a remote area of the country gets a message that she can come and collect her Voter ID card locally, we are witness to change brought about by new media. The stories are endless—connecting with celebrities, high-ranking government officials, getting a grievance resolved in a matter of hours—all reflect the changes in our lives by this media. There are many changes as has been documented by the authors in our book. Fundamentally new media has changed the rules of interaction.

Will this new emerging media landscape find a sustainable business model?

As far as India is concerned, business houses having cross-media ownerships are thriving in the new media landscape, using new media as yet another tool to further their content. E-commerce is flourishing. Start-ups like ScoopWhoop, The Better India and many more have shown, in a limited way, the viability of businesses catering only to those on the new media platforms. However, this is an important question and will need more research.

In the economics of the new media world what are the biggest challenges that one needs to deal with?

Researchers have theorized that the impact of media goes much further than just in terms of its uses and gratifications and relates to other social institutions, to the economy and to the formation of ideologies even. In the absence of restrictions on cross-media ownership, the one big challenge would be preserving diversity of voices in our media. Another aspect that needs attention is the collection of huge amount of user information by new media organisations which raises the question of privacy expectations and quality of content. Given also the centrality of telecom to the spread of new media, spectrum pricing and distribution are another area of concern. What would also be of keen interest would be to see how the government’s intervention to bridge the digital divide fares in the near future as equity and access to new media are central to the economics of the new media world.

Social media and political movements seem to intersect across multiple chapters in this book. What makes the two so intrinsically linked?

Studies have shown that political movements have their beginnings in informal networks in which media plays a vital role. Among the crucial elements that help create a social movement are mobilising structures, political opportunities and framing processes of which media forms a big part. Among media, social media with their characteristics of multi-modality, mobility and instantaneity make their appeal not only very personal to the public, the two-way communication enabled by social media raises the profile of participants to activists.

While we must beware of clicktivism or slactivism, the ‘disruptive’ power of social media cannot be underestimated, as pointed out by media scholar Robin Jeffrey. To quote Rheinegold, convergent technologies like the mobile phone and the internet have led people to have “political collective action with people they weren’t able to organise before, in places they weren’t able to organise before and at a speed they weren’t able to muster before”. This phenomenon may manifest itself in different ways when it interacts with social and political factors; it may mobilize people for revolutionary movements (e.g. Arab spring, Nirbhaya movement in India, Jan lokpal) but it may also mobilize people due to confusion and fear and may cause large scale panic and anarchy (e.g. exodus of north-east Indians from Bengaluru, global recruitment and promotion by ISIS).

However, social media cannot take the entire blame for a political movement, it only helps in amplifying the voice of individuals and traditional media messages for a cause to a larger public rather than creating them in the first place. The other aspect to keep in consideration is that social media is equally accessible to those looking to foment social or political unrest; preventing their misuse is an issue that needs urgent thought.

What’s the impact of censorship on the internet?

The sheer volume of internet users in the country makes fair and effective regulation of new media a difficult task. That said, censorship or regulating content on the internet is a double-edged sword. On the one hand, censorship on the internet tends to muddle the understanding of the scope of free speech as there is no consistent standard for when material is to be censored. Of course, it is harmful to dialogue because it removes content that may have provided an important perspective to an issue. On the other hand, because the internet is so open and accessible, censorship is often justified on the ground that one cannot be sure of the effect of allowing certain content to be viewed.

However, in India, the tendency to reactively regulate new media has been seen to be arbitrary in its approach. Our framework of regulation is in dire need of a revamp. The knocking out of Section 66A of the Information Technology Act, 2002 by the Supreme Court last year was a wake-up call for the government.

In its judgement, the highest court of the land said the provision was found to be “vague, arbitrary, contrary to the citizen’s right to know, and easily subject to abuse.” Walking the fine line between an overarching regulatory scheme that may curtail civil and political rights and leaving the internet to self-regulate which again may prove ineffective, is the challenge for the government. We suggest that an extensive consultative process with big and small industry players and concerned citizens could be the way forward. Given the complexities surrounding the development of new technologies, the going will not be easy.

For more, read-

Water violence, and Karnataka ‘bundh’

Now the Cauvery controversy is back in currency. Political parties like BJP and Janata Dal (JD) are happy that there is a huge political controversy, which they can harness to gather votes irrespective  of the lives of the people harmed by the violence unleashed by the anti-social elements.

This is not to say that the Congress party is any better; they are politicians, they too are equally selfish and motivated. It is just that the onus is on them to follow the Supreme Court directive – to release 12 cusec of water every day till 20 September 2016.  They have (neither at the Federal/ Central nor at the State level) done anything to sort out the issue amicably.

One of the questions asked since yesterday is till when would this ‘bundh‘/strike be? Will have College/ classes/ school on Wednesday? Or this entire week?

The answer is YES! The Chief Minister of Karnataka, Mr Siddharamaiah has assured that the public transport and offices/ schools/ colleges will function normally from Wednesday.

The state and the common wo/man  has suffered much, beyond explanation.  Already two men have died; thousands of children and women were inconvenienced, stranded mid-way between their homes and schools/ colleges/ offices.  Billions of dollars worth business has taken a hit because of this bundh in Karnataka and especially in its IT-hub Bangalore. Crores of rupees worth public and private property has been destroyed. That is the state of anarchy in a democracy like ours. Those with muscle/ goonda power rule the roost.

I hope, we will return to normalcy on Wednesday, as promised by the Karnataka state political leaders.

TEN becomes eleven; Sony buys Zee’s sports channels

ZEE sells Ten Sports to Sony for $385 mn


ZEE sells Ten Sports to Sony for $385 mn

With this sale, Zee has essentially exited the sports broadcast business, making the Indian market a duopoly between SPN and Star India

Urvi Malvania  |  Mumbai  September 1, 2016

Marking the second largest deal in media and entertainment in recent times, Networks India (SPN) has bought media firm Enterprises (ZEEL)-owned bouquet of channels for $385 million (approximately Rs 2,600 crore) in an all-cash deal.

With this, SPN has cemented itself as a strong competitor to Star India, increasing its bouquet strength to nine channels in the country. Star India operates eight sports channels under the Star Sports brand.

327% rise in agrarian riots in 2015, NCRB report shows

by Samarth Bansal
Recorded incidents of agrarian riots jumped 327 per cent from 628 in 2014 to 2,683 in 2015.

Incidents of rioting remained almost the same in 2015 as compared to 2014, but as communal riots decreased, big increases were seen in other categories — agrarian, sectarian and student riots and caste conflicts, data from the “Crime in India” report for 2015 released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) on Tuesday show.

Recorded incidents of agrarian riots jumped 327 per cent from 628 in 2014 to 2,683 in 2015.

The number of people arrested increased from 3,540 to 10,353. Sectarian riots — defined as violence
Incidents of rioting remained almost the same in 2015 as compared to 2014, but as communal riots decreased, big increases were seen in other categories — agrarian, sectarian and student riots and cas

Source: 327% rise in agrarian riots in 2015, NCRB report shows

CBCS11: Reading Fandry

After watching the Marathi film Fandry, here is a very short reading – may be useful in getting another view. It’s free online.

Jadhav, Shrikant. ‘Bakha’ in Mulk Raj Anand’s Untouchable and ‘Jabya’ in Nagraj Manjule’s Fandry as Untouchable Characters : A Comparative Analysis., Vol. I, Issue III, July 2015, ISSN: 2395-6968

Rio wins the battle for all screens

For a week, the Olympics dominated TV, Twitter and Facebook with viewers watching and then talking it up on social media

Urvi Malvania  |  Mumbai  August 25, 2016

Viewers went all thumbs out for the Olympics, watching into the late hours on television and then posting and tweeting about it for days, going by the numbers that have just come in from BARC and social media platforms Twitter and Facebook. According to BARC data, Star Sports 3 beat its nearest rival Ten Sports by a huge margin. Facebook said, across the globe, 277 million people had 1.5 billion interactions related to the Olympic Games and among Indian athletes, the photograph of hockey player Poonam Malik with wrestler Sakshi Malik was the most talked about moment. On Twitter, over 187 …

Tata Sky logs into the video revolution

Ten years after its launch, the company is putting the edge on its product, in a bid to keep customers engaged and loyal

Urvi Malvania  |  Mumbai  August 22, 2016

The positioning remains unchanged says Harit Nagpal, CEO at Tata Sky as he leans forward to explain how the brand has grown in the ten years since it made its first public appearance. It has always been about service. “We operate in a highly commoditised sector. Nothing is exclusive – the content, distribution methods and technology all are available to everyone. The pricing also is a challenge as it is not so much governed by what my consumers can pay, but by what the competition is charging. So it leaves us….