Friday, August 25, 2006

An Ordinary Rant

A few days back, on a rare occasion, I happened to be watching news on TV.

On a certain channel they carried a story, which made me believe that fact was really rarer than fiction. Six members of a family in Rajasthan were stranded in the middle of a flood-swollen river, when their car got washed off a bridge. In the five hours, which followed, hundreds of people hearing their desperate pleas trooped to the banks of the river. This included a state minister who apparently arrived with much fanfare.

However, while the entire episode was captured on cameras- including the poignant moans, as they held on to each other for dear life, nothing could be done to save them. Not one chopper was in sight, not a single Navy diver. Nothing. Just the six of them, and hundreds of people on the banks. And time, ticking away. One by one, tired by a desperate fight for life, they let go, and were washed away by the merciless waters.

It makes me wonder how little we value human-life in our country. I mean for all the technological advances, and the 8 per cent economic growth, our people still live like cattle- sometimes getting washed away in rains, or are packed into trains like livestock, twice daily. What a living.

And I wonder, what must be going on through the minds of the men when they find themselves in a situation like this. For a while, a fresh hope with each development on the banks of the river, each arrival. And then after a while, hope evaporates, and is probably replaced by a panorama of your life, a bitterness for what you did to deserve this agony; the people who you have helped in your life, and why they couldn’t be here today. The great harvest this season, the baby on the way, savings for junior’s college education, the new roof. Five fucking long hours, to think about such shit that doesn’t matter anymore. And finally, flashes of your loved ones at home, and how this will change their lives forever, and then the final prayer, and the decision to let go.

I think today’s news channels are the single biggest contributors to a social befuddlement and a mass erosion of the national IQ. Take the media’s handling of KANK. I haven’t seen the movie, but am told by even those who douse themselves daily in the sentimental lather of the variety dished by Karan Johar, swear that they are not going back for more. I don’t intend to see the movie, but I am told that it is a soapy handling of a mature subject. Kjo, it seems, has broken paradigms of Indian cinema and thrust the ugly face of human infidelity upon the ordinary moviegoer. Thus, in the eyes of the media persons, he is a champion, a path breaker- someone who has taken the road less traveled, risking social ostracism. Well, then what about Silsila, and those many other movies? How about Arth? Apparently, they were not mainstream enough.

My problem is this. Someone makes a bold but crappy movie. It will recover costs, but definitely never be a box office hit. Unfortunately, the director is not used to such treatment at the hands of the average Indian audience. So he takes to the streets, or worse, the TV screen. And the media just panders to it. On a certain show on NDTV, where 80 per cent of the talk time is hogged by Shah Rukh and Kjo, who incidentally have hogged practically 100 per cent of the screen time in a 3 hour 45 min, are found explaining their stance on the subject- and how the movie does justice to it. Great! I have no problems on who spends their money how- even if it is to buy airtime, but it makes me sad to see the media pander to mediocrity.

In my humble opinion, even though it is a serious issue, there is nothing new to infidelity in any society. People by nature are polygamous, and by conditioning monogamous. I have never been married, but feel that everyone feels a stirring, down under or up there, every once in a while. But then society and individuals who make it up, have been dealing with it since mankind made the transition from trees to caves. Sometimes the stirring wins, sometimes the inertia. But we have dealt with it. Debating the merits of something so basic to humans, though makes for interesting conversation, is unlikely to serve any purpose. So of course there is nothing ground-breaking about this movie.

Of course, I am the wrong person for such a debate- I have a congenital commitment problem anyway.

Anyway, I had a wonderful time watching Manhattan. The audio was a bit screwed, till about I figured what was wrong with the configuration. Beautiful shots of New York- the city of a million dreams, and a few passions. In monochrome. Just wonderful. Woody Allen’s impeccable portrayal of the complexity of human relationships, how we come together and how we tear apart. And what we do with all the despondency that goes with it. And at the end of it all the single, looming question- Why?

I do so want to watch Factotum, but can’t just get my hands on the DVD!!! Any leads?


Anuja said...

Can't believe what I just read on your blog - those guys weren't rescued after all the media coverage and fanfare galore??!! Someone should really be sued and jailed for such gross negligence.

Actually came to your blog to give the news - you've been tagged.

dazedandconfused said...

Ah..vintage T.O. at last. Some sadness, a little ramble and a personal touch. You now know what makes me come back here again and again.

Happy-Go-Lucky said...

Never heard of this news before. Things like this make me wonder if there is any administration at all in India.

Well the media...less said the better.
Between media and the society, I dont know who is dumbing down whom.. Probably its a complimentary chain reaction..

Mumbai Monsoon said...

While I did feel the same outrage as you, I must add that I also read that two jawaans were killed while attempting to save the family. If that is indeed true, I applaud their daring and selfless attempt and offer my deepest sympathies to their families. But yes, I find it ridiculous that even with hundreds of people and media coverage, nothing could be done to save them.

The One said...

Anuja: Unbelievable. Btw, the Tag is done.

D&C: Vintage is a polite form of ageing. Anyway, thanks.

HGL: I guess it is a good time to say "No news is good news"

MM: Nice ommission I must say on the part of the TV channel. Anyway, did you know that one of the persons on the banks of the river was the State Minister for Forests?