Of Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and the traditional woman

We prefer traditional, steriotypical roles, especially for women, don’t we?
The famed film KKHH is not stranger to these stereotypes. Read from the horses mouth (or rather Karan Johar’s), reported by The News Minutes.com
“It was ridiculous of me to have done that,” Johar said of Kajol’s transformation from a tomboy to a feminine character in the movie.
TNM Staff| Monday, December 5, 2016 – 18:04

Eighteen years after his directorial debut with Kuch Kuch Hota Hai, filmmaker Karan Johar has apologised for the “transformation” of Anjali (Kajol’s character in the film) from a tomboy to suit more conventional notions of how a woman ought to look, The Times of India reported.

In the movie- also starring Shah Rukh Khan Rani Mukerji- Anjali, a chilled-out tomboy with short hair, only gets the hero’s love years later after she transforms into a long-haired “traditional” beauty draped in monochrome saris with slippery pallus!

At an interactive session with Filmfare editor Jitesh Pillai, Johar said, “It was ridiculous of me to have done that. Shabana Azmi called me after she watched the movie and asked why was it that Anjali found only rejection when she had short hair and played basketball, and later, when she was shown as a sari-wearing, feminine woman with long hair, she finds love.”

“It was really stupid. I apologise,” http://www.thenewsminute.com/article/18-years-later-karan-johar-apologises-anjali-s-transformation-kuch-kuch-hota-hai-53880

Sombre mood at IFFI-2016

I don’t like to miss any film festival, if I can manage to attend it. And have been attending the famed International Film Festival of India (IFFI) since 1999. After it was located permanently in Goa, I started getting my mass communication students as entire batches.

It was  good, initially. But I also had an inkling of other international film sizeably big festivals like of Kerala, Pune, Mumbai and Bangalore. Over the years, I have noticed and many others have supported my suspicions : IFFI has been missing the mark. It has been steadily but surely degenerating into a show of tax-payers’ money power. Since it is heavily funded by the Government of India, besides supported handsomely by corporates, money is not an issue at all. So, there you go!

In the last few year, IFFI has brought in a ridiculous rule: ticketing! Cinebuff need not pay for their tickets, but have to stand in queues and book their tickets. That paved the way for controlling  (or , politically speaking, dictating) how much a cinefan watches.

Now, I guess for the last three years, the organisers of IFFI have decided that cinefans should not watch more than THREE films a day in a film festival! Can a film festival get more ridiculous than this? If not for watching and enjoying, why else is a film festival (for cinefans) held?

Like the festivals I have participated in, and the way IFFI itself did it earlier, why can’t it permit us to view whatever and however much we want to? Follow the first-come-first-served policy. Once the hall is full, close the doors; let the later-comers view whatever is available to them on the menu, next. But restricting viewings is  irrational, and brings disrepute to a country already facing the heat for its ‘don’t see’, ‘don’t speak’, ‘don’t eat’, ‘don’t go with xyz’, etc. totalitarian policies.

The overall feel of IFFI, this year was melancholic – thanks to Narendra Modi’s hitting in our stomachs with his demonitisation; people don’t have money. Hence, very few people. Then, like the very melancholic feel of many of the films, there was a very dull, pessimistic feeling at the poor organisation of IFFI. Frad Sayb (St Francis Xavier), pray for us!

In Goa- IFFI 2016

For the nth time, I am in Goa. This time for multi-purpose (as usual, of course!)

The second purpose is to attend the badly conducted International Film Festival of India, its 47th version

Since I didn’t want to bring my camera to  Goa this time, for a change, I clicked a few mobile pictures – which I don’t like to do at all.

And internet (where I am staying!) can be a huge headache. Can’t use phone data to shift or upload pictures.

And you see verticals becoming horizontal on this blog! My God!

[Well , it looks I can’t even upload these photos for now! May be I will come again sometime later!]

The Indian Express Editor Schooled Modi In Journalism & The PM’s Expression Was Priceless

by Premankur Biswas

The Ramnath Goenka Excellence in Journalism Award, instituted by the Indian Express Newspaper in honour of its founder, is handed out to journalists every year  in acknowledgment of their exceptional work across 28 categories in print, broadcast and online journalism in English, Hindi and regional languages.

This year, however, the award ceremony was mired in controversies galore. Apparently, some senior editors of the paper were not very happy with the management’s decision to invite Narendra Modi to the ceremony.

Yesterday’s award ceremony was boycotted  by one award winner, Akshaya Mukul, a senior journalist from the Times of India. “I cannot live with the idea of Modi and me in the same frame, smiling at the camera even as he hands over the award to me,” Mukul told Caravan.

At the award ceremony, Modi applauded  the contribution of the paper to Indian journalism, pointing out how its founder, Ramnath Goenka, was a brave voice of…


The question of Triple Talaq and PMs Concern for his Muslim sisters

27 Oct. Sara Abubakar, a well-known Kannada writer writes about Triple Talaq in today’s (27 Oct. 2016) Prajavani Kannada daily. The things she refers to are atrocious! I mean she quotes a few Muslim leaders in Kerala – who justify polygamy (or polygyny) in the name of menstruation.

One of those prominent Muslim leaders feels that women have menstrual cycles every (approximately) 28-32 days. And, men have a right for their sexual pleasures even on those days! (Therefore, he needs multiple wives!) Now, that is atrocious. These guys simply are blind to human dignity. And that is why some like him, justify taking multiple wives, as if they were taking multiple cats and dogs.

That brings me to the question, is triple talaq justified? (Talaq is a practice among some Muslims. Here,  a man, who wants to divorce his wife, may pronounce the word ‘talaq’ three times, and divorce takes place) The wife has no say in a talaq. It could be said in a letter, over a phone call, in an email, etc., and there are instances of it. In fact, Sara Abubakar cites an example from her life where a man wrote a letter to his wife with ‘talaq’ three times, and the mother of the wife was heart-broken. But there was no escaping the unilateral divorce! Abubakar also says Islamic countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, a few Arabic countries have done away with talaq. Then why not India?

In this context, BJP government and Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s initiative on doing away with triple talaq is praiseworthy. Modi has gone a step ahead proclaiming that he won’t tolerate his Muslim sisters being subjugated to such inhumanities! Bravo, Modi. When did these Muslim women become your sisters?

Sisters! Remember Godhra 2002? They were not your sisters and brothers (or call it ‘brothers-in-law’, if you don’t like it)? Remember your statement to a reporter who asked if you felt remorse over Gujarat pogrom? You compared the very Muslims -the victims of state-sponsored genocide- to dogs! Bravo, Prime Minister!

So, what is behind your ‘Fake‘ concern for your Muslim sisters? The impending Uttar Pradesh elections, which are hardly 4-5 months away? Probably, this will serve you in multiple ways: it will divide the Muslim community and fetch you a big part of the huge Muslim vote bank. May be it will portray as Muslim men (and by extension, the entire Muslim community) as evil, ‘sexually dangerous’, deviant and villainous. May be, it will portray you as the saviour of women (whom your own right-wing keeps attacking), and of minorities and secular-minded citizens (whom your minions keep assaulting all the time as ‘sick-ular’, and you are so happy about it!). May be it will pitch you as someone standing for human rights, even if Gujarat looms large! Bravo, Modi.

One more thing: how much of your concern for women is genuine? There is Jashodaben, your wife in Gujarat, eagerly waiting for you to return to her and accept her as your wife, and you simply refuse even acknowledge her your wife! She tried convincing you to accept her through the media; you turned a deaf ear. It was married to you for no fault of hers; it is the custom of the society you came from; besides, you married her, then!

Mrs Jashodaben filed RTI applications asking for your details to know what marital status you had mentioned of your own self in the documents like your Passport and election nominations. But even these are turned down. You know, RTI applications can’t be rejected unless they are against the country’s security. It is mandatory to provide information; and Mrs Jashodaben is an aggrieved party. But you are a politician and know how to beat the system.

While I support your crusade for your “suffering Muslim sisters” in the run up to the UP elections, I want to plead your caring self to accept your wife Jashodaben. And accept her publicly. Please, for the sake of the many suffering Hindu  sisters, who are married much before they know what is marriage, who are married without their consent, who are married because your society has constructed a custom to support the exploiting patriarchy. Please, will you?

Before you or I forget, you remember that lady from Bangalore, whom your Gujarat police followed? That lady, whom you sanctioned contracts when you were chief minister of Gujarat? That lady, who was followed by your police at the behest of the president of your party (then in Gujarat, and now at the national level), for he said, ‘saab ko uski zaroothi hai‘ (The boss needs her)?

Accept her, to avoid such unfortunate things done to women! She will be happy, and so will be Mrs Jashodaben.

Gujarati Dalit Leader Mewani in Bangalore

Jignesh is an interesting person. With a diploma in Journalism and a degree in the same subject from Mumbai University, Jignesh -one would expect to- should be a paid member of a media house.jignesh_cu

But Jignesh prefers something else – to repay the perpetrators of casteism and its dehumanising practices, in the same coin.

The young dalit (the oppressed caste) leader is the beacon of hope for the millions of dalits in India, who have been isolated by ‘upper caste’ Hindus for the last 4,000 years. These marginalised continue to be oppressed and denied of social privileges even today by the right wing Hindu organisations in the name of ‘purity’ and ‘supremacy’. India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a member of such a right wing association called RSS or National Volunteer Association – the mother of all right wingers in the country, after whom the term ‘Sangh Parivar’ or ‘Association Family’ coined. Unfortunately, many well-meaning Hindus as well as the blind followers of these cults, don’t realise the harm these self-proclaimed ‘representatives’ of Hinduism to their religion and a majority of Hindus themselves.

Mewani was in the news in mid-September 2016 in Gujarat. After a few upper caste Hindus beat up some ‘untouchables’ or the dalits for skinning a dead cow (thinking that they had killed their ‘cow mother’) in Una, Mewani took charge of the dalit community. The tens of thousands of lower caste Hindus took pledge not to lift any carcass of animals from the upper castes. Ever since, they have not! Peeved by this, and suffering  the ignominy of having their dead cow in the vicinity, an upper caste family beat up a lower caste family, for refusing to lift the carcass, in the last week of September.jignesh_gauri

PM Modi visited Gujarat in mid-September, to impress upon its deserting voters. But then, before he could land in Ahmedabad airport, police arrested Mewani, fearing backlash for ill-treating the dalits. And Mewani became more popular!

In the last two days, Mewani has been in Bangalore. On 10 October, Mewani visited St Josephs College to address socially-conscious activists. Though it is holiday season, and the College was closed, the Xavier Hall was full, to listen to and interact with Mewani! Such is the fame of this young leader.

Gauri Lankesh, the  activist editor moderated the  session.

Research and the pressure cooker

2 Oct. Everytime you think, ‘after this one work, I will be free,’ more work comes up. And busier you get!

With politics all around and I in search peace, I expected to be much freer this academic year and focus on research – both the College research and my own personal research.

But something triggered a landslide. This May, one international journal (SAGE) sent its Call for Papers (CfP) on social media. And I was quick to respond with an abstract. Just as I was completing this paper abstract, another international journal came up with a CfPs too! It was on New Media Technologies in Higher Education. Another of favourite topics. And I could not resist the temptation.


My second abstract required me to collect field data, traveling to various parts of Karnataka. So, to utilise and to exploit the time and resources I would have to invest on New Media and Higher Education project to the hilt, I thought of another research project on social media and relationships with friends and family to go with my second plan.

And I started reading and taking down notes, discussing with my colleagues in the Department and the College. And the classes for the new academic year started. I was to teach two four-credit modules, in addition to teaching a seminar for a class of 30. That was too much! You how I make my students present seminars? Make them read, and read, and read! And everytime discuss their progress with me, and then revise plans and work. Only upon four signed sittings and an additional demo of the same by them, are they permitted to present their seminars. No doubt, most of my students love their seminars, even though many of them don’t like the grind it entails. No doubt, the discussions and debates they generate can put anyone on cloud nine!research2

In spite of all this melee, all was going on well. Just then, another local college requested me to present a paper on impact of social media on society. Though I knew where it was coming from (the man who contacted me didn’t know me, and he was tipped by a politician). They wanted to publish the papers, he told me. Yet, I accepted the request, since I was already researching on social media and family and friends.

Gradually it became clear this college seminar was very different from the typical seminars, and chalk and cheese vis-a-vis my social media project. So, extra work! Never mind, I said. “I will make it!’

Come September, and our Department annual conference (MediaCon-2016) team was worried that they were not getting sufficient abstracts for their planned conference in November. Then, I said, why not I? I have presented papers at other college seminars and submitted to others’ journals; why not to mine own?

So, another paper on Media  and Political Transformation. This time I decided to write in the area of my expertise – films. That made four papers! And two more of my students have been keen on reworking on their well-prepared seminar papers. It’s a good idea, me thought. Why not work with them? I could rework. I am yet to begin my work these two – that means, working afresh.

In the meantime, someone got a bright idea – why not St Josephs College apply to be upgraded to Deemed University -DU? Though someone else was put in charge of the DU committee, it was shifted to me. Now, that was a huge job!

A few weeks into the committee, two committees -masquerading as one- came looking for me. Did I have a choice? Did I give in without a thought to myself? Probably, yes!

In any case, these Committees were top priorities with deadlines – that is the problem when some managements appoint you. They get ideas very late, but deadlines too soon. And these took almost all my time they took away all my time and energy – from mid-July to late August 2016, with no help coming from anyone to whom it concerned – except from three faculty of my own College – Drs Etienne Rassendren, Michael Rajamathi, and Ronald Mascarenhas. There was Dr Cheriyan with his wholehearted support, though he was not in the DU committee.

After I submitted the reports – there was some relief. So, I got back to my research. And then we started by encouraging our College faculty to apply for College-funded seed money for research (which also we completed the formalities of shortlisting, finding internal and external referees, presentations, and sanctioning!) One more – we planned (are working on) a research workshop for our faculty, in the first week of October! Thank God, we have some good and zealous faculty who have been solid supports and shouldering the responsibilities.

Last week I managed to complete a paper on New Media and Higher Education; submitted too. Within next two days, I presented the paper on impact of social media on society. That was sort of a ‘ok’ project given the confusion of that seminar. I don’t think publishing this work interests me!

With two down, and this odd-semester in the College over, I am looking eagerly for these few ‘revision holidays’ for students – during which I can focus on some of my planned research work.

It is pressure cooker. No doubt, in a climate in which people simply don’t understand research, its exigencies, and implications, and think education is nothing but having teachers dictate their teachers’ and ‘grand’-teachers’ notes collected at Masters level, what more can you do? May be repeat, ‘research!’

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,…