Friday, March 24, 2006


The purist in me - A true story

The story so far: We are planning a film festival of mega-movies at a particular time slot, every day in the month of April. To promote it, our on-air promos team was briefed to make a generic promo, without mentioning any film names or telecast dates, to inform viewers about the festival, and attract them enough for them to come and sample our movies during April. The promo got ready yesterday, and I and my boss checked it.

The conversation:
Me: Don't you think this promo is 'cheating'?
Boss: Why? What's wrong with it?
Me: We are showing footage of even those movies in the promo that we are not showing during this festival,in fact,not even during this month. Isn't this misleading the viewers?
Boss: Noooooooo, because we are not telling them that this specific movie is being shown at this time. We are just telling them that movies of this scale are being shown in this slot, throughout this month.
Me: But that IS cheating.
Boss: No, we're not specifying a telecast date and time.
Me: That is just a technicality, ethically we are misleading the public.
Boss (slightly irritated now): You can't look at everything from a purist point of view. It doesn't work this way, especially in marketing, and in this industry.

End of conversation.

The conversation ended but I wasn't convinced. I'm still not convinced. This was the 2nd such incident yesterday. The first one was regarding a promo that I checked and found that in one of the 'supers' (the text that appears on the screen during an ad/promo), the word 'hook-ups' was spelt as 'hook-up's'. I wanted to stop the promo from being despatched with what in my eyes was a horrible mistake. But I was over-ruled, and told that though I was right (of course), it was too minor an error and most people would not even notice it. Anyways, we needed to put it on-air asap, so it HAD to be despatched, and we could despatch a corrected version by Monday. But for 2 days, the 0.01% of our viewers who will notice it, will laugh at us, and think of us as incompetent jokers. At least that is what I do when I see such errors on screen! But then, maybe that is just the point of view of a purist!

I've always been like this. All my regular readers know about my OCD when it comes to grammar. Till some time ago, I even used to type complete grammatical sentences on SMS. It was so painful that I've now moved on to using shorter versions of words, but I've somehow managed not to compromise on the grammar part :-)

It affects me in other fields also. Whenever I listen to a remixed version of an old classic, I cringe. Its almost like a physical shock. How can someone mess around with someone else's creative product? Who has given him/her that right? If there are laws against murdering a human being, why is there no law against murdering a song?

The same is true in the case of movies. I was apalled when I saw 'The Bourne Identity' 3-4 years ago. I'd obviously read Robert Ludlum's original work, and it remains one of my all-time favorite thrillers. But here was a movie, which was supposedly based on that book, and even borrowed its name, but massacred the original story so badly that it became totally unrecognizable, especially towards the end. I was so scandalized that I couldn't gather the courage to watch 'The Bourne Supremacy' when it was released last year.

Its all the fault of the purist in me. He wants everything to be correct, and ideal. He wants people to behave as they SHOULD, to use the language that is 'proper', to show respect for other people's intellectual rights. Maybe I'm unrealistic, but that's not my fault. It's the purist in me!

May the Force be with you.

Friday, March 17, 2006


Guilty guilty guilty mujhe log bolein...

Beth, of Beth Loves Bollywood fame (and I mean 'fame' literally, what with podcast interviews, and a global fan following), has very gracefully tagged me to do 'a meme about guilt', in the process forcing me to come out of my hibernation. The tag involves revealing things that you feel guilty about, in 5 specified categories (at least that's what I have understood)! So, here goes nothing...

Culinary guilt: This is easy. NONE! I am very particular about what I eat, in the sense that I eat what I like eating and don't touch what I don't like eating (e.g. coriander)! I'm very clear on this, I like to enjoy what I eat, so there's no way that i'm going to feel guilty about it... ever!

Literary guilt: Two distinct guilts... I keep buying books and end up keeping them aside for reading later, or at times, starting them and leaving them mid-way, to be continued later. Only, the 'later' never comes, since more books have come on the priority list by then. But I'm sure I will read those books when I am in the right frame of mind... and when I have the time... and when I have nothing more interesting and 'urgent' to read... yeah, I'm sure!!!
My 2nd literary guilt is that I hardly read any non-fiction stuff anymore. There was a time when my reading was fairly varied, with books on history being strong favorites with me. Unfortunately, have somehow stopped reading non-fiction almost totally. Need a story to read a book...

Audio-visual guilt: Again, two major guilts in this category. First, on the movies front - I call myself a movie-buff, but I am yet to see many of the all-time great movies in Hindi (Mughal-E-Azam, Mother India...) and English (most of the classics, including Hitchcock).
Second, on the Television front, have totally stopped watching television except for my own channel (for monitoring purposes), or surfing channels at a crazy speed. Really feel I will love watching the History Channel, but never get down to it.

Musical guilt: Hardly listen to good music anymore. No opportunity... don't own a music system. Have been planning to buy one for a long time, but then, end up delaying the purchase since I don't have time, and also don't want to start investing in CDs right now, as it is, am spending enough on books!

Celebrity guilt: Don't know what this means. I am completely star-struck, and am not ashamed of it at all. When I first saw Amitabh Bachchan, during the red carpet premiere of Waqt - The Race Against Time, I went to his seat and took his autograph during the interval! That answers the 'guilt' part of this category methinks!

All rightie... task completed. Must admit that this one was fairly easy to write, unlike some of the stuff that had come up previously. Only, have been really pressed for time, so kept delaying this post for so many days, and again, it took me 5 hours to complete this because of the frequent and long interruptions.

Here's wishing all of you a guilt-free life...
May the Force be with you.

Monday, March 06, 2006



Seems like ages since I wrote anything. Actually, it IS ages since I wrote! My already messy life has become even more messy since the last couple of weeks. Need to sleep, or I think I'll just slump off on my seat one of these days. Seems like ages since I slept a full night's sleep!Don't seem to have the energy, or the time, or the inclination to write on my blog anymore. Seems like ages since I wrote anything. Wait... I've already said that, haven't I???

Don't even want to think about my work right now. Badly need a break. So, till the time I am finally able to take that break that I've been promising myself (going to the Himalyas for a week and doing nothing except reading and drinking), I think it is a good idea to try and keep writing. One of the best stress-busters I know of! So, what should I write about? In her comment a couple of weeks ago in response to the list of my favorite movies, AFJ had suggested that I write about my books. Now I don't usually write about them, because I think books are a very personal subject, much more so than movies for example. But I think I'll write something nonetheless, hopefully writing about my love will make my mood lighter! Let me tell you about my affair with the fantasy genre. Read on...

Long years ago, in a galaxy far far away...I read my first comic. It must have been a Phantom or a Mandrake, though I obviously don't remember which comic it was, but definitely Indrajal! Went on to discover other superheroes like Superman, Batman, Spiderman and He-Man(him through TV, not books)! This, I believe, was the foundation stone of this affair which has lasted a lifetime! Unlike other kids my age, I did not graduate to Enid Blyton after that (unfortunately, since I discovered the joy of reading Blyton many years late), but moved straight to Hardy Boys/Nancy Drew and Co. The next few years were spent in reading classics and thrillers and stuff. Also, the fantasy genre was not that popular in those days, and so I was never exposed to classics like Lord Of The Rings. An exception was CS Lewis - I got 'The Magician's Nephew' of the Chronicles of Narnia as a prize in school (I came first in Class IVth, I am ashamed to admit), and fell head-over-heels in love with it. It became my dream to get my hands on all other books in the series. Two factors were a hindrance to this: No access to a bookshop which had those, and more importantly, no money! So, I suppressed my desire and kept on reading whatever I could borrow from my friends, from the school library, or the Delhi Public Library, of which I was a member.

Anyways, to cut an already long story short, once I reached the stage where I had access to book-shops, and had the money, and the time, I went berserk, and actively started collecting books from this genre. Some of these, which are extremely close to my heart, are:

Harry Potter - The complete series: 'The boy who lived' was already a global phenomenon by the time I discovered him in early 2001. I generally avoid books/movies with too much hype around them, so I started reading The Philosopher's Stone with a certain amount of scepticism. But boy, was I in for a surprise or what! A compelling story of good vs. evil, set in a magical world, with characters you can relate to, and great take-outs like fidelity, bravery, integrity, and most importantly - FUN!

Lord Of The Rings: As the great Lord Budhha said, "The English speaking world is divided into two halves - those who have read the Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit, and those who are going to read them." Its as cult as cult can be in this genre. Again, an extremely simple story of good vs. evil, and heroes who do not have extraordinary superpowers, but have their own weaknesses and chinks in their armour. But when it comes to the crunch, they stand up for what is right!

Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy: Discovered it quite late, around an year ago. Had read a lot about Pullman, but never came across it. One day at Crossword, it almost literally fell into my lap... and is still there! In terms of take-outs from a book, this is probably the book that has influenced me the most, after 'Godfather'! A story of friendship, of the ills of organized religion, of love, of doing what one believes in.

The Hitchihiker's Guide to the Galaxy: The entry on earth in this freaked out masterpiece has two words : Mostly Harmless. The answer to the ultimate question on The Life, the Universe, and Everything is: 42! Need I say more about this classic?

The Chronicles of Narnia: Finally bought all the 7 books around 2.5 years ago in Bangalore. That was when I was finally able to read the other 6 books, including The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. A magical world, with a strongly Christian message according to critics, including Pullman. But if we do not get into all that mess, it is still an extremely feel-good and magical series, and if Good-will-finally-triumph-over-evil is a religious message, why should I have any issues with it?

The Bartimaeus Trilogy: Jonathan Stroud's trilogy about a djini called Bartiameus, and his master 'Nathaniel'. A book that speaks volumes about the dangers of an elite aristocracy(in this case - magicians) ruling the ordinary citizens.

Ashok Banker's Ramayana: For those who have not yet tried reading this, my sincere recommendation - pls read the 1st 10 pages of the 1st book in the series. A story that we've all read when we were young, we've seen it on TV, but this version actually leaves one speechless. Banker attempts a feat which seems stupid and impossible, but succeeds against all odds. Brilliant storytelling, makes the world of that era come alive, in a way which we never thought possible.

Artemis Fowl - The Series: Eoin Colfer's rogue Hero Artemis Fowl is a criminal mastermind, having inherited his father's crime empire at the age of 12. Imagine a 'hero' for whom stealing paintings, money, fairy a passion, not just business. But deep underneath, he has a heart! Reminds you of someone? Yup, Bollywood heroes have been like this for a long time now, so you know why I love this series!

The Gameworld Trilogy: I bought the first part of this trilogy (The Simoquin Prophecies) when I read that its author - Samit Basu, wrote it at the age of 23, and dropped out of IIM-A to write it. I somehow felt that it was my duty to supprt him, so bought the book without too many expectations (My experience with Indian authors hasn't been too great, but that's another story). But I was pleasantly surprised at the sheer madness of the book, and how, despite being inspired by many sources including The Ramayana, Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, and even The Matrix, this was still an original work. Just finished reading The Manticore's Secret (part 2 of the trilogy), and found that it was much more evolved than the first part... and equally great fun.

Besides this, there is a lot of stuff that I keep on buying and stashing away - like Eragon, Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrel, The Lightening Thief, Inkheart, works by Tom Holt...

Sometimes, I start wondering if reading so much fantasy stuff means that I am an escapist, and want to turn my back to reality? Then, I stop thinking and get lost in this magical world, a world where good triumphs over evil despite all odds, a world where qualities like integrity and honesty are not extinct yet, a world where I can believe for some time that the basic goodness of human nature will always come out tops!

May the Force be with you.

p.s. Phew! Finally wrote, and a loooooong one at that. I told you its a good idea to write about books, even though it took me 6 hours (with long breaks ) to complete this novella!

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