Spent a lively afternoon at Mood Indigo, billed as the world's largest youth festival. Held at the sprawling Powai campus, it was easy to fool myself I was anywhere but in Mumbai! The panel discussion was on Media Ethics and Censorship. Hmmmm. Some tough questions from the audience. Anything less would have been a disappointment~
This appeared in Bombay Times on monday...
Is X’Mas in the air? You tell me! Going by the December heat, it’s pretty hard to believe we are in the last few days of 2011. And as always, everybody is sighing and saying, " God! Can’t believe how fast this year has flown by…” Well, it’s been a comme- si- comme- ca year, with more ‘goodbyes’ than ‘hellos’ to mark it. Far too many legends passed away – starting with M.F. Husain and Jehangir Sabavala.These two stalwarts were the first to go, followed by Gautam Rajadhyakha, Bhupen Hazarika, Shammi Kapoor, Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi, Dev Anand and Mario Miranda. I am holding my breath and hoping we don’t receive more tragic news before the year is finally over. But at least there were two brand new celeb arrivals to cheer us up – Bitiya B, and Azad. The arrival of Aishwarya Rai Bachchan’s daughter was perhaps the most anticipated birth announcement ever. Aamir Khan and Kiran Rao’s little boy arrived with less fanfare but an equal amount of joy. More star babies are in the offing – Lara Dutta’s and Shilpa Shetty’s ,at last count.
The biggest surprise package (googly!) of the year turned out to be Vidya Balan, whose performance as Silk in ‘Dirty Picture’ set not just screens but collective male imagination on fire. As a mass circulated text message succinctly put it, “Critics’ verdict for ‘Dirty Picture’? Blouse-full!” Another one recommended a Best Supporting Role award for Balan’s white bra! Sandwiched between all these naughty jokes was Balan’s bindaas, uninhibited performance that won her widespread praise, not just from fans but from her own fraternity. ‘Vidya is the only hero in Bollywood’, it was dramatically declared. The statement did not go down particularly well with the male megalomaniacs in the business. Especially with those superstars who were still sulking over their own lackluster box office showings. Who would have thought a modestly budgeted movie about a dead porn star from the South, would lead to such hysteria? And who could have predicted the madness generated by a nonsensical, tuneless song that went viral? Not only has ‘Kolaveri Di’ wiped the floor with far more established competition, it has triggered off an unprecedented wave of really clever versions in countless languages. My personal favourites are the Panju and Gujju attempts. I hear the Japanese one is pretty good, too. As is the Chipmunks’ number. The Harvinder ( ‘Thappad Sardar’) Singh send-up is also excellent. With this one freak internet video hit, a semi-unknown guy has become a national figure overnight. Take a bow, Dhanush! The stupendous success of Balan and Kolaveri Di, proves just one thing: If you have it and are willing to boldly flaunt it, there are countless enthusiastic takers out there. But … you’ve got to have it in the first place. There is no explanation, no logic behind the unbelievable success of either Balan as Silk, or Dhanush and Kolaveri Di. When something goes viral, it goes viral! That’s it! No manipulation required. It is obvious we really adore our homegrown folk heroes. For all their international status and fame, a Lady Gaga leaves most Indians cold, and cannot match Vidya’s sizzle. And even a Tom Cruise needs hired fans when he comes to India, while Anil Kapoor walks away with all the attention! Ajeeb? Not really. Let’s call it confidence. We don’t need imports when our own ‘products’ are world class. Why not indulge in some chest thumping and plain jingoism as another year comes to a close?Sentimentality rocks!