Saturday, December 29, 2012

India and her Women


Anger. Pain. Hurt. Shame. Four words that pop into my head when I think about the current state of affairs in India. Women are under attack.

With the brutal gang rape and subsequent death of a 23-year old woman, in the heart of New Delhi, a culture of indifference and disrespect against woman has been unraveled. In this week alone, I have lost count on the number of women who have been reportedly gang raped in the country. After Amanat's unfortunate ordeal, I heard news of the rape and murder of a 2-year old, the rape and murder of a 42-year old house wife in Kolkata and more. Like every other individual, with a heart and brain, I'm left numb and enraged at what's happening in a nation, where goddesses are worshiped and heroines are cherished. 

In the days following the rape and hospitalization of the innocent medical student (known as Amanat, Nirbhaya and Damini), I have read hundreds of articles that reason out why India is going through a "rape crisis". I have read first hand accounts of abuse, eve-teasing and harassment. I'm not even going to attempt at examining the reasons for which all this is happening because the issue is so incredibly deep and sensitive that I couldn't do it justice.

However, anyone who has even a slight understanding of Indian culture, will realize that:

Indian culture produces men, which have blatant disregard for women. The culture, for hundreds of years, has repressed woman; rape is only one of the outcomes that stems from the lack of women's rights. It's the CULTURE and lack of MORALS instilled into men which cause such atrocities to occur.

I think this concept is quite simple. Laws, which the incompetent government has little interest in making, will surely cause change in society and the number of crimes committed against women. However, laws will achieve little, in the long run. It's the mindset that must change. It's the mindset that's going to make men respect women, not fear of law.

This brings me to my next point. Movies. More often than not, I hear about Hindi film and music being the reason for increased rapes in India. If a rape scene is shown in a movie's climax or a music video depicts stalking, automatically, the entertainment industry is at fault for spurring crime. Supposedly, people watch movies and follow. 
They watch rape. They rape. They watch murder. They murder.

Now, that is the STUPIDEST reasoning I have ever heard for why crime is on the rise, in India. The entertainment industry is not at fault. 

First of all, if an individual is stupid enough to follow scenes in a movie that causes them to do something as pathetic as rape, they shouldn't be watching films. Period. They evidently do not have the mental capacity to differentiate between fiction and reality. Secondly, film or television, has never glamorized rape. Those who rape or murder, in film, are almost always the villains. I have never seen a "hero" disrespect a woman or commit a crime. A hero is the one who fights the criminal, fights for the common man, protects the weak. So, if the audience is mindlessly emulating the heroes (which they often do), there is no reason for the audience to engage in heinous crimes, right?

How much are film directors and writers supposed to dumb down their films? Should they stop showing everything negative? Should they start making their films a hundred percent rosy and picture perfect? NO! No one should have to compromise on their films because a small section of society are too brain dead to make right decisions.

And since when are films supposed to be the barometer for morality? Hollywood films are dozens of times more provocative. Sex scenes are the norm in film and television. Kissing scenes are even shown on the Disney channel! Please explain to me why the United States has such a drastically lower level of crime against women. Shouldn't the US have more crime since they have so much more sexuality in their entertainment. And who can forget, their girls show much more skin too! *gasp*

So, next time anyone says that Indian film, television and music are the root cause for rape and similar crimes, they need to introspect. The reasons are much, much deeper than that. The answers are within. Within society. Not in make-believe land! 

Best albums of 2012

Hindi cinema thrives on music and so do I. As the year comes to a close, I choose my favorite albums from the past year. Though there weren't tons of albums that I had on replay, there were a few that took me over!
Jab Tak Hai Jaan

I've developed a theory on AR Rehman's music capabilities. His style of music direction and composition is so progressive that it takes time for audience members to fully comprehend and register the music, which he creates. In all honesty, the first few listens of the Jab Tak Hai Jaan soundtrack left me cold. I was left with sheer disappointment simply because the soundtrack was so different from what I had expected. It's only normal to compare the film's music with Chopra's earlier Veer-Zaara, which is undeniably a classic (and one of my all time favorites). However, despite my qualms with the discrepancies between Chopra's soundtracks, Rehman's tunes just can't help but grow on you with every listen. The instrumentals, the vocals, the melodies... everything is so very filmi, yet still, so very innovative. And that is precisely why AR Rehman is so respected in the musical world. Composers like Pritam and Himesh Reshamiya will always make popular, chart-busting songs, but who is going to fondly remember them, in the years to come. JTHJ pushes the bar and that is why it's one of my most beloved soundtracks of the year.

Also,  a standing ovation for Rehman, who despite being a full-blooded Tamilian, produced two of the most authentically Punjabi songs to come out of Hindi cinema, "Heer" and "Challa". Kudos to him! 

Student of the Year

SOTY, with music composed by duo Vishal-Shekhar and lyrics penned by Anvita Dutt Guptan, was probably my most listened to soundtrack of the year. The songs were definitely not "innovative" like JTHJ's songs were, but they surely gave me a dose of "filminess", which this year's other soundtracks were greatly lacking. After a long time, SOTY gave listeners "wholesome" dance songs, like"Radha" and "Disco Deewane", which weren't just the usual raunchy item numbers. Overall, the soundtrack succeeded in what it sought out to be: young and fresh. In these confusing times, those terms, "young" and "fresh" have unfortunately become synonymous with "western" or "American" for a fare share of music directors. However, tracks like "Kukkad Kamaal Da", "Ishq Wala Love", rightfully prove that "young" and "fresh" surely do not coincide with western, but also, good ol' Hindi rhythms.

Ekk Deewana Tha

This movie, starring Prateik Babbar and Amy Jackson, was a remake of the Tamil Vinnaithaandi Varuvaayaa, with music by AR Rehman. The Hindi remake retained the original music, but with Hindi lyrics, written by Javed Akhtar. To be honest, I am quite surprised that the music from the film was so easily forgotten by music lovers. I adored the soundtrack and found it extremely refreshing for the reasons, I had listed earlier for JTHJ. AR Rehman's chooses to fight against the waves, not ride with them. Ekk Deewana Tha's music is experimental, yet still extremely influenced by South Indian classical music. Various types of sounds and music styles are brought together into this album to form an amalgamation of pure romance. "Hosanna", "Sharminda Hoon", "Phoolon Jaisi Ladki" and "Sun Lo Zara"  have constantly been on my playlist. Thank you, AR Rehman. Keep at it!

Dabangg 2

The soundtrack from Dabangg 2 is heavily influenced by the original Dabangg's soundtrack. For every track in the first film, there's a new song that replaces it in the sequel; "Dagabaaz Re" revisits "Tere Mast Mast Do Nain", "Saanson Ne" rehashes "Chori Kiya Re", even "Fevicol Se" redoes a "Munni Badnaam". Though not every song from the sequel is as catchy as it's original counterpart, I'm definitely not complaining. With the exception of "Fevicol Se", Dabangg 2's track-list either enhances or largely measures up to Dabangg's songs. The album's soundtrack fulfills all my musical desires with fantastic romantic numbers, dance songs and adrenaline increasing remixes. I enjoyed the film very much, largely because of the music, which did full justice to this year's last film...last Salman film! Surely, an event in itself.

Monday, December 10, 2012

I'm ready

I never thought I would ever say this...but I am ready! I am ready to let our beloved, 40+ heroes take the back seat and let Gen Y take over as the next line of heroes! (woohoo, I let it out!)

Now, that's what you call fandom!
We all love the Khans and the rest of the 40+ brigade! They have a screen presence that transcends mere acting talent or good looks. They've got a certain it factor when it comes to the way they carry themselves, on-screen and off-screen. The older stars have been able to maintain their it factor and keep the audiences asking for more, despite their decades in the industry: definitely, not an easy feat. Their unique persona's and attitudes have made them, not only actors, but stars and moreover, heroes (rightly so). However, it's impossible to deny that...they aren't as young as they used to be!
They've all aged gracefully and very much still have the star power and charisma that can reel in the crowds at the box office. As I said earlier, they're "heroes", not only actors, but there is so much they can no longer do, given their age restrictions. When I say do. I don't mean action or romance roles (please, Salman and Shahrukh do those fabulously), but the "new" roles that have come about with the influx of the "new age" in Hindi cinema. They all just seem out of place in the new, "younger" cinema that's developing in India. "Massy", masala films will always remain an integral part of Hindi entertainment, but "alternate" mainstream movies are definitely coming to stay, as well. Admit it or not, but the current superstars just don't fit into the roles of this new (highly welcomed) phase in cinema.
Could Salman do justice to a Barfi?

Could Akshay do justice to a Gangs of Wasseypur II?

Could Ajay do justice to a Vicky Donor? 
I'm afraid not. The older generation actors undeniably have the acting ability to do such diverse roles, but they just don't fit the characters. Along with their increasing age (Saif Ali Khan's not twenty five?!), their public image just cannot suffice for such discrepancies from what they've always done in the movies. Whether it's beating up goons or just straight romancing heroine, the Khans have always done it BIG! Their public image just cannot suffice for the "flawed" characters prominant in today's cinema. Frankly speaking, no one is interested in seeing them play deaf/mute characters or sperm donors. No one is ready for a change after more than twenty years...I can only imagine one of the Khan's doing Ayushmann Khurana's role in Vicky Donor *shivers down my spine* 
The freshness that the new age actors are bringing onto the table is superb. I'm so so ready to let them take the front seat. They have the talent, looks and, if I can say so, quite a formidable it factor too!