Back To the Nineties.

Nineties was the era, or suffice to say, the last era of simplicity. I don’t intend to critique the present generation in any way as that would be deviating from the main topic.

The idiot box

Television, especially in India, was trying to expand through various broadcasting networks, during the 90s. Dish antenna was unheard of, and there used to be a monthly argument with the cable operators, regarding bad reception of some channels. The most sublime moment was asking the operators to play our favorite movies on their private channel. This was a time before torrents, and I remember my excitement when I first watched SpiderMan movie on television (via this separate channel). There were quite a few great TV shows at our disposal, as well. The time slots had been divided effectively among various age-groups though. 

Mornings were for the elders and their devotional programs. 

Afternoons were for homemakers. 

Evenings were for kids and teenagers, who used to watch music programs or cartoons. 

Nights were for families, when everyone enjoyed wholesome shows.

The small soldiers

Children could be found outside in the evenings; playing, fighting, quarreling, consoling, laughing, running, falling, and getting bruises along with their friends. Applying cotton balls dabbed with dettol, on the cuts, used to be an experience which cannot be expressed in words.

The immortal ring

In all this kerfuffle, suddenly, you could hear a loud “Tring- Tring”. It was the telephone, popularly known as ‘landline’, which was a commonality for the entire family members. People used to wait for their calls…and it used to be exciting.

 “Line is dead!” is an extinct phrase which was quite common those days.

The wrap-up

There were only a few news channels, and they used to deliver reports which were not dramatized. 

Video games in the shape of Mario, Contra, and others had entered the life of kids.

Mall culture was in development, but had not been realized completely. Shouting at the top of your voices in a crowded grocery store, to make your presence felt, was a daily routine.

Internet was not a necessity. 

Organic socializing was preferred over virtual.

Smartphones were yet to invented. 

Cricket matches were not so frequent, but when it happened, it used to be a big event.

TV was entertaining and informative. Censorship was lenient. 

People with knowledge on topics used to voice their opinion on matters that they knew about.

Hatred was not so evident, and difference in opinion used to be more than welcome.

Those were the simpler times. Wish it had stayed the same.


So, how was it to grow in the 90s?

To summarize in one sentence: 

“Things were cheap, and relationships were valued.”

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Lost Children of the Millennium

In the year 2001, the percentage of population under the age of 21 in India was found to be 47.9% (Census of India, 2001). As far as total size of Indian population is concerned, this is a huge number. It also needs to be noticed that this census had come a little over a decade after the Indian economy had opened up to the world market. Globalization brought with itself a resurgence of hope. Money started flowing in. With such a huge number of young population, rapid growth seemed feasible. Terms such as “90s generation” and “The millennium children” were thrust upon the oblivious kids born during that period. Hopes were high, and it was not impractical. After all, a young population means more energy, more enthusiasm, more creativity, and more innovation. Sixteen years later, however, all those high hopes seem to have been lost in obscurity. The “generation next” has, sadly, become the most misguided one.

 

Rupak De Chowdhuri | Reuters || cnbc.com

Back in 2000s, landline phone used to be a prized possession for the few families who were fortunate enough to buy it. Slowly, influx of technology in our life started taking dominance and in about fifteen years it changed the whole society, directly or indirectly. The rise in telecommunication has been unprecedented. As per the records, “the smartphone user base in India crossed 300 million in 2016” (Gadgets 360, 2017). Simultaneously, there has been an overall expansion in the number of people having access to internet as well. Statistics suggests that “the number of mobile internet users in India reached 371 million by June 2016, and is on track to cross 500 million users by 2017.” (Neha Alawadhi, 2016). The number is indeed huge. With such an easy access to smartphones and internet, people have the ability to reach out to the world with the tip of their fingers. As is the case with any technology, smartphones also brought with itself a plethora of problems.
Advancements in internet led to a rise in the number of social-networking sites. What was supposed to be a platform for reaching out to our friends and families took a whole different turn when people, primarily the young population, started getting addicted to it. Development and modifications in mobile sector brought new varieties of apps to keep people engaged. Enhancements were done in cameras, particularly the front camera, leading to the foundation of selfie. Young people suddenly found too much power in their hand. They wanted to let the world know about their day-to-day life. They started craving for more attention. Ironically, the social networking sites which were made to reach out to people, ultimately, made them more distant to the actual physical social ties. Almost every day people can be seen coming to restaurants or coffee houses with the ulterior motive of hanging out with their loved ones, but end up spending time looking at their mobiles screens. The fundamental beauty of communication has somewhere been broken. Situation has reached to a point where the elderly have started struggling to learn these new gadgets, so as to keep up with the fast paced world and find a mode of communication with their children. Even toddlers can be seen fidgeting with their parent’s mobiles; unlocking the phone and playing games. It is disheartening to see that the feel of falling and hurting oneself is fading out among the kids. Playing games in a virtual world would never make one realize the beauty of breathlessness after running around with mortal friends.
Technology has given a voice to almost everyone. Gone are the days when only a selected panel of journalists used to pen their opinion in newspapers and magazines. Nowadays, even people with no knowledge of a particular topic give their piece of mind confidently. For instance, the demonetization step taken by the government of India led some people, having no prior knowledge of economics or finance, to comment: “The Prime-Minister has done a commendable job.” or “The Prime-Minister has taken a faulty step”. The big question here is: Do the people in support or against have any concrete reason or theory to support their claim? Opinions are supposed to be backed by a proper logic, and not pure sentiments. This can be said for almost every single issue happening in our country. Whether it is religious, regionalism, crime, Kashmir, or art and culture, people (mostly youngsters) find a way to outrage without properly researching about it. This vast conundrum of negligence among the masses will most certainly leave the country in utter chaos. Opinionated for the sake of it is never a healthy sign.
The present era can be termed as the era of excess. The movies, the superhero franchises, and the reality T.V shows are just a few examples. Trending has become such a craze among the current generation that they go to the extent of making idiotic videos of themselves. People share these clips among themselves so as to mock the person in the video. However, they are quite naïve to the fact that the person who has made the video is the true winner here. The joke is on the people. Another misplaced sense of proving how one is different from the rest is by voicing against a popular opinion. Take any movie forums, for example, there would always be a section of people who feel elated to comment any widely loved movie as over-rated. Undoubtedly, different opinions should be encouraged but making hollow comments to show superiority is highly demeaning to the craft. Art should be respected and debated, but not blindly bashed.
A popular topic prevailing among the youth is passion. Rags to riches stories of some pioneers in Silicon Valley, movie industries, art and culture, sports, and politics have made a lot of them to fall blindly into the rabbit hole of dreams. Passion and ambition is not wrong. After all these are the traits which give a person reason to fight and survive in this world. At the same time, following something one is not talented enough for can be disastrous. The notion that 9-5 jobs are monotonous and sad is highly misplaced. There are many people who are content, secured and live a happy life doing that job. Corporate job never means that a stopper would be put on the creativity side of people. There are abundant things to learn there as well if one really puts oneself to testing waters.
There is no denying the fact that the youth of today are crippled with innumerable issues. Most of them are forced to choose a particular career. They unknowingly get pushed into the rat race. The level of dependency on parents or someone elder is so high that their legs start shaking when the time comes to take the big, monumental step on their own. They find themselves in the darkness. Indecisiveness has crept in the young society. Technology has certainly made our work easier. Blaming technological advancements alone for the current scenario would be unfair. However, one cannot deny its repercussions. Too much reliance on technology has made people inefficient to put in an extra amount of labour. Almost everyone in the 21-30 age bracket are dissatisfied with their life. All the negative comments are direct result of this mindset. There is jealousy and this has taken the shape of hatred. A brigade is formed which are more interested in selfies than enjoying the true beauty of the world. Knowledge is acquired through internet feeds rather than books and newspaper. Mediocrity is prevalent. The entire situation is worrisome, and sadly, everyone, including you and me, are responsible for it. The young population has the potential. It needs to be tapped before it gets exhausted. And this can only be done when dissatisfaction, jealousy, hatred and mediocrity are replaced with resilience, admiration, deliberation and excellence.

 

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digit.in

Sources:
Census of India. (2001). Population in different age groups and their proportions to total population. Retrieved from http://censusindia.gov.in/Census_And_You/age_structure_and_marital_status.aspx

 
Gadgets 360°. (2017, January). India’s smartphone user base tops 300 million in Q4 2016. Retrieved from http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/news/indias-smartphone-user-base-tops-300-million-in-q4-2016-counterpoint-1652209

 
Economic Times. (2016, November). India to have over 500 million mobile internet users by 2017. Retrieved from http://economictimes.indiatimes.com/magazines/panache/india-to-have-over-500-million-mobile-internet-users-by-2017/articleshow/55543589.cms
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RUINS OF INDIAN CINEMA FOUNDED BY INDIAN AUDIENCE!

Last week I went for a Hindi movie, Aligarh. The movie is inspired from the life of Dr Shrinivas Ramchandra Siras. He was a Marathi professor in Aligarh Muslim University but was sacked when a video of him having gay-intercourse surfaced.

aligarh


Manoj Bajpai plays the character of Prof. Siras and oh! with such elan and class. His dialogue delivery, quite desperation and eyes filled with river of emotions never for a second makes you feel that this is the same guy who had played the malicious, womanizer and revengeful Sardar Khan in Gangs of Wasseypur. And that’s where an actor wins. When an actor is known by his character and not by his name. He is very well supported by another talented actor, Rajkumar Yadav.

So, why does it make an Indian sad?

To say the least, the audience. Here is what the people around me were speaking in between some scenes of the movie:

The beginning scene where Prof. Siras’ house is shown from outside for roughly five minutes.

Comments: Pssst…Yaar kya bore kar raha hai….uff (Geez! why they are boring us with this scene!)

There is a scene where Prof Siras enjoys his whisky alone while listening(at the same time murmuring the lyrics) to Lata Mangeshkar’s song:”Aapki Nazron ne Samjha

Comments: Kya yaar…ab isko gaate hue kyu dikha ra hai? (Why man! Why are they showing him singing the song?)

In one scene Prof Siras says how he hates his emotions being confined to the three letter word,Gay.

Comments: Huh…ok!

These are just a few of the many comments which people were passing throughout the movie. Only they didn’t realise that the house signified the imprisonment of the poor guy from the wicked world, once his privacy was sabotaged in that very house. The song was his elixir which liberated his troubled soul from all the worries of the world even if it would have been for a few seconds. Homosexuality was his sexual orientation and he felt violated when this  was narrowed down to a three letter word.

Oh! I forgot to mention one important detail :

I watched this movie in a multiplex where it is assumed that the audience is sophisticated and capable of reasoning. God, I had so misunderstood!

But people did seem excited at some places. For instance, when a love making scene between a guy and a girl on terrace was cut to homosexual love making scene, people were laughing and enjoying. Because hey, a gay make-out scene is  freakishly funny!

Also, towards the end of the movie, the screen throws a trivia stating that theSupreme Court of India has upheld section 377, thereby criminalizing homosexual activity. To this one “funny” guy told his friend to keep his hands away from him or else they will be jailed. Both started laughing fanatically.

So much for broad-mindedness.

What I find weird here is that this is the same audience who say Indian movies have no standard. These are the same people who loathe Shah Rukh Khan saying he has degraded nowadays. These are the same people who went ecstatic over Leonardo Di Caprio’s maiden Oscar win.

If such treatment is given to a class movie like Aligarh then why should anyone dare to make a strong movie? Why should SRK waste his energy when he knows people just like to see him shake his leg and romancing with girls half his age and not electrifying villages?

We love Leo,right? So proud that he won, aren’t we?But was The Revenant an entertaining movie? No!

The Revenant was a very slow movie with very few dialogues. Same goes with other masterpieces like The Godfather, The Shawshank Redemption, Interstellar,Inception, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, The Imitation Games, The Theory Of Everything and many more. Aren’t these our favorite movies? So, either we are so downright double -standard people that we fail to recognize the gems of our own country or we are simply those who love the imported products in order to shine our status in public.

Aligarh was a  tragic movie which ends on a sad note but people were hardly moved. A guy next to me said to his friend-“Third-class movie!”.Besides, people were busy making their way out. After all,the exit doors are open for few milliseconds!

End result: A movie so strong in both its story-telling, narration, direction and acting failed to impress anyone…well mostly.

I agree everyone has their own opinion. Forcing everyone to like a particular movie is downright stupidity. But when you hear a collective outburst against such a nice movie, one does feel very sad. Truly speaking,the scenario of Indian movies are never going to change. We won’t let it change.

In the end I would just say that Aligarh was not about preaching about Gay-rights or moral values. It was more about a person living through his troubled times with a glass of whisky and Lata Mangeshkar songs as his only solace.

So if you just want to sit back and laugh at every gay references or have a misplaced sense of “Dostana” expectation from this movie then please don’t watch it or even take trouble of downloading it!


 

TEA-DEALER

I was never pampered as a kid which I am pretty sure my 14 year old self would not take very positively. Since my father used to be mostly away for work and my sister was pursuing her education from Delhi, a major chuck of my teenage days at home was spent with only my mother. She made me do all sorts of errands like buying vegetables,milk,eggs,groceries etc. So, yeah in a way she made me a little worldly-wise. But that’s frivolous. Most of us have ended up doing these “duties” one time or the other. Its the little thing which our parents do(in this case, mother) that latches to our characteristics forever.

For me, one such trait which I acquired from my mother will be:

“An obsessive, compulsive and desperate need for tea, three times a day!”

Winding back the clock a good ten years back, there used to be a maid in our house whose name to this day I am not aware of for we used to call her “Munchan ki Ma”(Mother of Munchan). See, it is a nomenclature for addressing people used widely by people in North India especially Bihar.

My mother loves tea and she always used to prepare it while the maid was on the verge of completing her work so that she can have a company whilst enjoying the aromatic beverage. Now, my mother has a habit of preparing everything extra. So, whenever the cups couldn’t take any more of the tea, she used to pull out an extra one and give me half of it along with a bread.

Time passed and months turned into years. The half tea turned to full and biscuits substituted bread. So much so that I eventually learned to make tea. My mother stepped down from “tea department” and passed the baton to my resourceful hands. I became the official tea-maker of the family.

A day comes in everyone’s life when one has to step out of the house. Its been five years since I moved out of the house for studies and job but whenever I go home on vacations, I immediately resume the duty of a tea-maker. In a way it is also funny because when I come back from the holidays,the first thing my mother says is-“I miss your tea!”

Maybe,its the tea which is holding a mother and a son together.

I don’t fail to relate this story to anyone who starts questioning my passionate love for tea. To some people I am even a tea-addict. But I am okay with it for whenever I drink tea, I always remember the person responsible for this addiction.

To the 14 year old me, all this will be a piece of mindless crap. Well, maybe he will understand the innocence of it 10 years later…

My Tea-Dealer:

Mother

This is the my most cherished photograph with my mother. Though, I look like an idiot eating away pieces of cake!

I am pretty sure I won’t live a day after I stop having tea…so yeah my chances of forgetting her is almost zero…Love you truly, mother!


THE NEW YEAR 2016!

The sudden bursting of crackers reminiscent of the parade of platoons made me jump and look at the time. It was 12 :00 and its the NEW YEAR 2016.  

 

Happy-New-Year-Images-2016-advance

I could hear people going crazy, shouting and celebrating as if challenging the dead silence of the night. Somewhere, people are singing songs on a karaoke  which miraculously penetrates its way through all this cheering and noises.The phone is constantly buzzing with WhatsApp notifications and the following sentence took me a while to write as some loud cracker shook my concentration. The involuntary motion of my fingers opened a new tab -“Facebook” and the message “Happy New Year Nikhil” shows up which made me feel that the Facebook people truly consider me important. The Google doodle also welcomed the New Year in what I must admit, cute fashion.

So, where exactly am I amidst all this jubilation?

Well, if a word could justly define, it has to be “alone”. My roommate is away to meet his parents so its basically me sitting on the bean bag feeling quite pathetic about how dull this new year has started for me. So alone in this small flat that I can actually hear the silence quite distinctly. The friends who used to take all kinds of promises like “Not leaving each other” or “Always be there for you” have drifted so far apart. While people may assert this sudden change in their attitudes as disloyalty, I would just say its maturity.

What a pathetic mess!

But New Year is not supposed to be sad. After all the prefix
“Happy” is almost subconsciously added to New Year,isn’t it?

Still the question lingers:

So, where exactly am I amidst all this jubilation?

Well, the reminder set by the crackers made me a little excited. I went to the terrace to watch the charcoal black sky brighten up with wonderful crackers. It is one of those plenty sights which one should never miss. Especially when you are all alone, this visual delight becomes all the more relevant. All the brightness seems to caress you with the gentle wind whispering to you-“Hey you not all alone!”

I come down and my roommate calls me up in the good old-fashioned way to wish me “Happy New Year” reasserting my faith in friendship,however small this act may seem. I call up my mother and she breaks the”HELLO” stereotype with “Happy New Year”. My father is well,asleep. So, probably I will wish him in the morning. I ask the silence to stop talking so as to listen to the karaoke. God they sound so pleasant.

Bangalore is known for its traffic miseries. Everyday I see a kerfuffle…people always in a hurry. But this jubilation just makes me smile. People enjoying these little moments. So wonderful!

Its well past an hour since the New Year now. The karaoke has stopped and crackers have bid their goodbye. Silence is still waiting outside my door. But I won’t let him in. I turn off my net. I just can’t stand that constant buzzing.Being a music lover, I am playing the songs which are in my playlist (mix of Hindi and English songs). I am having soft drink (the pack of which ironically screams “PARTY!”)and chips. I have put FRIENDS on my laptop  which I will watch in just a few moments…maybe followed by a nice movie.

Back when I was a kid, my mother used to say-“If you study in New Year, you will study for the rest of the year and do good in your studies!” And Here I am writing, thing which I love the most. So, if my “Mother’s Postulate” holds true then I may well write a lot this year.

So, being alone on a New Year is not the worst thing afterall. I enjoyed with the crackers. I kissed the soft drink. I eavesdropped on the neighbors karaoke.I grooved to the music I like. I will watch shows and movies which I am so passionate about. And I am writing all these experiences down.

And this pretty much sums up how I celebrated the New Year

…correction…

This is how I enjoyed my New Year alone!