Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Sach suno....

This appeared in Bombay Times today. Meanwhile, Aham is getting a fantastic response . So am I. Two German journos who were here for an interview last afternoon are keen to cover Aham's Gateway of India peaceful protest on sunday after I spoke to them at length as to what our objectives were.

I'm doing an interview for Karan Thapar ( yes, again!), tomorrow afternoon, along with Girija Vyas, who heads the National Commission for Women, on an even more terrifying subject - according to a recent study conducted by the British medical journal The Lancet, 10 women in India are burnt every hour on average, most of these deaths are tied to domestic abuse.

Wake up, women. You too, men.

On a lighter, brighter note, I watched Pink Panther -2 last night and fell off my chair laughing. Our Ash has a decent enough role in the movie and has done a decent enough job, given that it is a crazy, illogical, silly spoof. I only wish they'd hired a better make up artist for her ( who's the villain?), a better lighting director ( no amount of concealor can take care of those dark rings under the eyes, but great lighting helps reduce them on camera)), and of course, a better stylist ( frumpy, unflattering suits? For Ash??? What were they thinking?). Anyway, from all her recent interviews it does appear that Bahurani has thrown in the towel as far as Hollywood is concerned. Ab Freida ka waqt aa gayaa hai, doston. Mind it.

Slumkids from Kadka-nagar

They still live in Garib Nagar. That pretty much says it all. Garib Nagar is such a cruel, direct and obvious name for a shanty town. A wretched slum. The one that has produced those incredibly talented kids the world is going gaga over. Yes, I know Boyle and the producer of the multi –million- dollar –and- still- raking- it- in global hit, are sincere about plans to educate these kids and provide for them. May Boyle’s efforts yield better results than Mira Nayar’s a few years ago. Her actors were also promised many wonderful things following the success of ‘Salaam Bombay’. But just last week, the main guy, who is now 32, gave a scathing interview to a tabloid in which he claimed he was thrown right back into the gutter from which he’d been fished out by Mira to star in her film. He’s a lowly auto rick driver now, and pretty bitter about the experience.Whatever happened to the trust that had been set up amidst much fanfare at the time? I remember the premiere at Eros cinema clearly, when these street kids had arrived at the venue in brightly decorated ghoda gaadis, wearing Salaam Bombay t-shirts, and been greeted by cheering fans as they danced to the soundtrack with gay abandon. During the intermission, Mira had got them up on stage with her and danced along as cameras rolled. Everybody agreed it was a fantastic moment and how happy those kids looked. Then what happened ? Sab log unhe bhool gayey. Well… Mira went back. She went on to other films, other concerns. Everybody else lost interest. And that was that.
How different is it likely to be this time? Let’s wait and watch. There are other questions to consider – for example, one argument goes that Boyle’s producers have paid the kids whatever amount was agreed upon. According to them that amount is very generous and much more than the kids would earn otherwise. They’ve been quoted as saying it is three times the money an adult from that background would make in a year. I’m sure they are right. That takes care of the legalese. But now comes the trickier question of dealing with a moral obligation. Should Boyle be stuck with these bachchas for the rest of his life? After all, they have been paid for their work. Right now, with emotions running high, Boyle has gone out of his way to ensure the kids get a fair deal. His plan on paper looks very sound and well thought through. Setting up a trust with clauses that safeguard the kids’ interests and pays for their education is noble of Danny indeed. Is that enough? Will it work? Why be cynical. Perhaps it will, if the kids want it to, and if their minders don’t turn greedy\exploitative and plain cussed. We saw how Rubaina’s biological mother nearly clawed her way to grab the daughter she had turned her back on. We watched in horror as the family fought over this tiny child, suffering from jet lag and a major culture shock. We saw Azharuddin cowering in a corner of his hut after being slapped by his father for not obliging presswallas. Was anybody really thinking of the bachchas? These are highly vulnerable tots who have been through an extraordinary , life- transforming experience. But the fairy tale is now over. What’s next?
I find it somewhat grotesque that the state government has promptly jumped on to the band wagon and offered flats to two of the kids. What for? “ For bringing glory to India,” said a minister. Such irony! What of the other kids? What of millions of homeless kids like them which Mumbai is full of? A case of misplaced charity. These two are super privileged kids in comparison to countless others. In fact their transformed lives can lead to a Slumdog -2 script. Child psychologists may have an interesting perspective on what this incredible experience has done to the psyche of these young actors. It goes beyond a fantasy. From the sewers of Mumbai to the swishiest boulevards of Hollywood , and on to the most glam awards ceremony in the world! Wow! Imagine the dizzying pace of LA - being greeted, feted and hugged by some of the most famous people on earth, visiting Disneyland and dancing on stage for a global audience, this has surely been one hell of a trip. Uske baad? Back to the squalor they’ve been born into? How disorienting and depressing is that? Can they ever reconnect to that sordid life without something snapping inside their heads? Never! These children have changed, perhaps forever. What they need is counseling. Once reality kicks in, they are going to ask questions and demand answers. That could lead to frustration, depression … even something far more drastic like a major mental breakdown. Boyle won’t be around to handle such a crisis.So, before we go any further with our OTT conduct, it’s time to evaluate a few things soberly. We are dealing with tender lives, not commodities. Boyle has done his bit. It’s time for us to do ours.


Zlaek said...

Yeah, it was actually looking all too good to be true.. for these kids. I mean Danny can't adopt them after all.

And now there are so many unanswered questions. What becomes of them? It's all too complicated. Hell!

Anon said...

Wow! Way to go Shobhaa. You are seriously doing an amazing job of drawing attention to deserving causes. I truly admire your guts your conviction & your unflinching attitude! We need more Shobhaa De's it would make this world a far better place to live in.

Unknown said...

Shobha,I love you deary!
You call a spade,a spade! Too much for a man's ego to take somebody as frank as you!!!The more shobha's,the better.I follow Mr Amitabh Bachchan's blog and ofcourse yours.I am sure he must be getting many humiliating messages like you get.Difference-he cuts them out,puts only the goody goody ones.You put everything!!!kudos!mmmuahh mmuahh mmuahhh.

लावण्यम्` ~ अन्तर्मन्` said...

Bravo Shoba !!
& also found your wonderful blog via "chokherbali "
[ एक ब्लॉग दोस्त हैं शोभा डे। मैने बचपन से ही उनका बहुत नाम सुना है।अब ब्लॉग भी देख रही हूँ।] that
I'm part of ...& will be a reguler reader from now on.
Slumdog surely is a 'slam dunk' but not for those kids ...wish they get a decent education at least.

warm rgds,
- Lavanya

vesa50 said...

Right about the kids if their dreams are flustered.

Aur iske bare me kia keh sakti he aap:

don't have to of course ( I mean about the issue; provocation of course)

Subhajit said...

I hope Karan does not start Raj's issue again!!!

But a nice post anyways. Love you for speaking the hard realities time & again.

In fact I'm posting something on you on my blog as I had a confrontation with my friends regarding your credibility. So I am going to tell them who exactly is Shobhaa De.

Nice post...keep on blogging Ma'm.

Sidhusaaheb said...

Well, Mr. Boyle's plan does seem better than making a lump-sum payment.

I join you in hoping that it works.

Mohammad Umar Baba (Byline: Baba Umar) said...

"10 women in India are burnt every hour on average, most of these deaths are tied to domestic abuse".....and i read it somewhere that 52 percent of the children are physically abused before the age of 12.

I guess 'pink chadii' supporters must stop for a while and instigate a fresh onslaught to bring the above figure down...

thanks and regards,

Anonymous said...

Hi Shobaa,

You have put out such a thought provoking post. I like your frankness and admire the way you write although most of the time I disagree with you. Hope you don't have any problem with me contradicting your views.
You have no difficulty in expressing what you feel & present your thoughts so well. you've also spilled the beans about Mira Nair. I have nothing to comment about people like her, but I wonder if such vain promises would do her any good.

Tongue-fu Lady said...

Hail Sita Sene! Shobhaji I think we should exploit the technology fully to propagate this Pan-India movement. User groups should be set up subsequently in all the major social networks like Facebook... Let the voice be heard!

mystiquedew said...

Er..well the children have seen more glory than u or i ever would in our lifetimes.

That doesnt seem so bad.

Secondly, I hear you say the tender minds would break; But I dont hear you say I'll adopt them or even help them. But we want Danny to adopt them, is it?

Passing the buck is not calling spade a spade;

Lastly, don't forget Children are extremely resilient, they might take better care of themselves than wot u think

Harish said...

Tongue-fu Lady >>>

we do have a facebbok group. i dont know how many would actually turn up that evening... though calls, and emails and responses have been really good. Following your suggestion and many others, i have thought of an alternate plan... capturing whistle-blowing-females on camera at not just gateway but at different places of bombay.. you are also encourages to pick up a handy cam, buy a whistle... ask women to blow the whistle and capture the moment on camera... upload the same on the S.I.T.A. sena you tube channel. Just remember to mention from which place you are... tokyo, trichy or timbuktu.. no tension... you could participate...

And we will share this channel with the world.

Jogeshwar said...

Yes, I completely agree with you these children have changed forever, facing reality will be hard for them.
They need counselling. I Hope Boyle’s plan works for them.

Karan Rajpal said...

Ms. De,

Have been reading your blog off and on for some time now, and have enjoyed parts of it.

About Mira Nair's attempt after Salaam Bombay. The organisation is working and working well. Called the Salaam Balak Trust, they have some wonderful work in Delhi, Gurgaon and Mumbai. I was interning with them about 6 months back, and they've been fulfilling their promises of uplifting street children.

I worked at a small center in Delhi headed by a man who was a street kid once. And he's now a fully grown man, with a family and kids.

I would rather hope a person of your eminence and exposure would do a little research before passing comments on issues that are factual in nature.

Karan Rajpal

Kush said...

you raise pertinent questions. they cant be treated as commodities.

SumanSpeaksTech said...

Dear Shobha,
A very good morning and I am writing after a long time. I was too busy with the stock market as it was falling and falling.....Hey!! How much did you pay those two German journos for covering your events?! I do not know what your objectives are, but one can always protest against any injustice in societies. But why is Ur movement limited to India??!! Just see the world around you, especially in Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Afghanistan, Iran, etc. how women are being treated as commodities.
You should have your branches there instead of in India. In India also you should have demonstrated in Delhi first and and then in Bombay, where the women are in much better shape as compared to the former. I think you know in Delhi how a Congress politician baked a women in Tandoor!
In the middle-east the women are subject to all sorts of mental and physical torture before they are forced to comply to religious dictats of clergies, which is more dangerous.
Hence, I would fell pity for Times of India (which supported the British or which was an official newspaper of the Imperial rule in India) and those Two German journos.
I think this is an easy way to gain cheap publicity. The objective of such groups which has such catch-lines, "Seeti Bajao, Khud Ko Bachao", can be understood without going too deep.
However, any protest against any injustice in societies is necessary, in a democratic set up.
But even then, this attempt is just a waste of time and energy at a time when everyone is busy with elections and when so much has been spoken about this in the last few months--too much of everything is bad.
In Bengali (or Bangla) there is a saying, "laboo beshi tiple teto hoye jay" (If one squeezes a lemon too much it become bitter)--Indians are too tired of such gimmicks!! Moreover NO one talks of men who are the victims of the atrocities of women. Are any women hearing??!!
Best wishes,
Suman Mukherjee

gaia said...

umm...I just now checked the sena post and found out about it through my yahoo page...but better late than never right? I'm a bit confused as to how German journos can contribute to the cause...unless this event is just another event. Is it? Are guys from the Salaam Balak trust in any other cities? I feel that the kids got a chance at life which is enough...but if they are taken advantage because of it, that would be horrible...yes counselling would be good, for their parents that is...How NOT to treat a kid who earns more than you. And also for the fickle politicians..How NOT to forget your promises:a complete guide in memory retention. And you are absolutely right about the misplaced charity!!!! Thankyou for sharing these views...I would have said the same things if 1) I could write as great as you 2) I wasn't so lazy. :) Internet humour aside, I wish Aham the best for his event...And please check out my comment on the first sita sena post...I've posted some queries there..

The Unsure Ascetic said...

Depression and frustration can happen to any human being in this world and they are the most overlooked features of ou existence. I think it is fair enough to think about these children. There are a few million more children(young and old) that ourcountry is to deal with.Keep up the good work through your writing!!!

Haritha P Singh said...

a gr8 post as usual n well thx for a kinda imaginary view on pink panther -2

BGI said...

hey shobha...

The one thin i really enjoy about reading your blogs is ..they are abt all topics under the sun....makes it alot more interesting to read than other blogs.... anyways...i totally agree abt wat u said abt the slum dog kids...initially wen there was soooo much " hungama" on tv ,, in de form of interviews and stuff.. i felt so horrible not bein able to see the tiny tots.. dat made de movie wat it was all abt.. and finally wen they went to oscars .. that got me all happy again.... but now like u said.. if they are back where they are... then ...i really wish someones appointed to see dese kids go the rite way and dont get manipulated by the lil time of fame they enjoyed.....

This whole thin.. opened our eyes to somethin else..actually if each affluent Indian..plans to take care of one slum child's education...jus imagine how much change dis wud bring about in the next generation.... we have enuff rich ppl in our country and if each one cud do dis.. it wud surely .. truly make many home for the future.....

Darklover2009 said...

Shobhaa De...A very sexy name and a very sexy figure as well.....When i look at you i see a desperate angry who has not had a good decent fuck for a long long time....And all the sexual anger vomits its way out........
Tell me how can i help you......How can i fulfill your every increasing desire....your longing for intimacy..
Believe me you will function normal after a good time in bed. All your sarcasm, negativity and gossip instincts will be washed away in a flood of desire.
Will you allow me to help you horny lady???

Theyoginme said...

Shobaa, The fact that you would let such an obnoxious comment from darklover2009 to be posted on your blog tells me "you're the real thing.."!

I agree with you these kids will need some counseling and reality check. They have been put in the limelight. I saw them on TV (Oscars), and you couldn't tell they came from slums, their confidence, their poise and how the conducted themselves on the red carpet - the press was all gaga about them, but I would think other kids of slums, maybe no different and this day and age of TV, Internet, IMs in India.

I sponsored a deserving kid for college in Pune and then hired him on, he is the best engineer I have ever hired there and he will go places. He worked hard though and I guess slums or not the same rules apply, unless ofcourse you have khandani Rs flowing to you. Then you are a spoilt desi brat! In my experience that may only last a generation too.....

I think the reality check for us who live "high" up in the class rank, is that just because you grew up in trash, doesn't make you any less deserved of overnight success and doesn't make you any less prone to faltering and losing it all. I fear for what their own families will do to them. The best weapon is education and that is why I think Danny Boyle has done the right thing. Education will save these children, as will other children in the slums. There are many efforts happening, Parikrama in Bangalore, that I support and one other which is more national but started in Mumbai for primary education in the slums. I am actually very bullish and optimistic on our slumdogs, the younger generation, they will take India to the next level.

Unknown said...

all the best...

Work from home India