Monday, August 31, 2009

Goodbye, Ganpu!

When my children were much younger, they believed ( and still do!), that Ganpati was their BFF. Their pet names for the deity varied from 'Gannu' to 'Ganpu'. Well, later this afternoon, I'll be visiting the mighty Lalbaug Chha Raja with two of them, and praying for all of them.... and several other people I love dearly. I'll also be praying equally fervently for Mumbai itself. And India.... the world. What can I say? In the limited time one gets for the darshan, one tries sincerely to fit everybody and everything into the prayer.
After that spiritually uplifting experience, I shall watch " Quick Gun Murugan, " and share my reactions with all of you in the next post. Till then ... mind it.... the rascalla has already captured my heart.

Pudhchya Varshi Lavkar Ya…

Just a few days off from D-Day (Ganpati visarjan), and I am filled with anxiety. We are coming closer and closer to the dreaded 26\11 anniversary, and our city continues to be on red alert. Twelve long months have gone by, and what have we done to further secure our city and reassure its people? It is such a strange thing about us Mumbaikars – either we are far too fatalistic to bother about our own safety, or we are suicidal. There is such a puzzling nonchalance about our indifference to key issues ( evident in the disturbingly low turnout at the polls earlier this year), that I wonder sometimes whether we ask for it – on multiple levels. The state government’s utter apathy in most matters, be it civic affairs, mismanagement of crises and related lapses, we are all too ready to forgive and forget. But there is some hope – at least a few vigilant and concerned citizens continue to soldier on, braving the odds and keeping awareness campaigns going….at least in areas that concern our polluted environment . Kirti Oza is one such relentless person. I remember being introduced to her more than a decade ago as Mumbai’s ‘Kachra Lady.” Perhaps the man who described her thus was trying to be funny. But Kunti had no problems with the tag – she was a woman on a mission. It was her commitment to ‘kachra’ ( separating wet from dry ) and its disposal that made a lot of building societies sit up and follow the sensible practice. Today, it has become mandatory to do so all over the city. Did Kunti get any recognition for her initiative?? If she did, I am not aware of it. Well, she is still at it. This year she has roped in dabbawallas and other groups to try and ensure the Visarjan is conducted in as eco-friendly a manner as possible. Following the same principle of sifting through the puja ka saaman that is disposed off in the sea when the deity is immersed, the Nirmalaya group is trying to get various sarvajanik mandals to co-operate and sort out the flowers, garlands, leaves and other such material, from whatever else that has been used during the 10 days of worship. Colour coded bags will be provided, and all citizens have to do is use the gigantic bins at various immersion points , following simple instructions that will enable the BMC to do its clear up job more effectively. Is that too much to ask?

Mumbai needs many more ‘Kachra Ladies’, who work tirelessly for the causes they believe in… with zero acknowledgement. Often when I see the lists released by various social service organizations giving awards to pretty undeserving candidates , only because they happen to be pushy and well connected, I feel like recommending more deserving people like Kunti . And to think not so long ago, some of these same award givers would run in the opposite direction at the sight of Kunti, knowing she’d collar them and demand more civic responsibility! I ran into her the other night at one of those art events that attracts the same old kadka crowd evening after evening. There she was sitting quietly at Priyashri Patodia’s auction, watching other aggressive women hustling mediawallas and grandly hogging the credit for the initiative even though they had very little to do with it. And there were the talented kids from the Dr. Ambedkar School, largely left out of the frame, all on account of these preening, pretentious ladies walking around dishing out empty, self- promoting quotes. Priyashri herself was caught in a bind, since the whole idea was to generate sufficient interest in the works of these kids from under privileged backgrounds, so has to replicate the model and include several other municipal schools where kids do not get the exposure to art or the chance to explore their own creative potential in different ways. I hope Priyashri doesn’t get discouraged and goes after corporates and persuades them to come forward and support this movement in a more meaningful manner. Meanwhile, it is a pity, our mediawallas report such events so superficially and carelessly, preferring to focus on the same old vacuous attendees who go from one art show to the next mainly for the free wine, superior snacks,and those infernal photo-ops.
When I wrote about ‘Kaminey’ on my blog and voiced my utter disappointment, I received so much hate mail, it made me wonder why we create these sacred cows in the first place. There were those who posted comments comparing Bharadwaj to Tarantino and asking me cheekily if I’d heard of him ( Tarantino, that is). Of course, I didn’t bother to respond ( I never do), but being a Bharadwaj fan, alarm bells did go off inside my head. The day people put these sort of original and powerful directors on a pedestal, it spells the end of their creativity – they join the Bollywood bandwagon and start believing in their own mythology. I hope that never happens to Bharadwaj ( he has another film coming up), but I am not at all surprised ‘Kaminey’ didn’t set the box office on fire, nor the fact that audiences came away puzzled - had they’d watched a spoof or an action thriller? No such confusion with the uber clever ‘Quick Gun Murugun”, though. The rascalla has hit bull’s eye!


The Unsure Ascetic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Hi Shobha,

Its always tough to be a movie critic in India with all the movie fanatics around. You are experienced enough to handle this. I hope you have a good laugh watching 'Quick Gun Murugun', i had a good time watching it this weekend. Waiting to see your response.

Have a nice day.


Unknown said...

Dont worry about hatemail. There is a lot of intolerance even among the educated. Hope Vishal will learn and give us another shakesperean experience with a fresh set of actors. How about a lesser known Winter's Tale or one of the Richard and Henry dramas?
The Kunti you mentioned is what we need badly. Kachra or trash is more in civilised societies and the simple eco friendly ganesha and durga will make festivals more welcome and less disturbing.
Ganpati visarjan is like bidaii of a dear soul.

Unknown said...

Ganpu's little brother is karthikeya, subrahmanya or murugan. Murugan is the name given by tamilians or adi dravidians. The tambrahm prefers the name subrahmanya or kartikeya while the other prominent tamil communities prefer only murugan. Among these names kartikeya became the fashionable kartik. Though there is a vinayagan's temple at every street corner, the popular god is murugan with his trishul and boyish charm. Do we sense a subtle rivalry between the brothers? Ganpu took the easier and clever way of winning a reality contest by going round his parents while his brother set off to really work hard and go round the universe. And in those times no airlines offering round the world trips in the lessest possible time.

Latha said...

Murugan does not have a Trishul. He has a 'Vel' (a lance) in his hand to protect his devotees (Let him protect us from 'Let'). It is his father Shiva who has the Trishul or the trident.
Shoba, you have a chinese fan. Click on the sqares above & you'll see.

Theyoginme said...

Seems like someone has already one-upped me on the request to pray for us, and by that I mean your blogdost family or if I may dare plagiarize BigB - your "FMExt"... though I am sure we nicely fit in the world.

Regarding Kachra, you talk about the puja waste, but what about the chemicals and toxic material used to create the idols of Ganpati. That needs to be changed and people should use clay instead of plaster of paris and natural colors. This is a major pollutant to the waters.

I totally agree with you on the rest of the Kachra post. We have been recycling through kabari walas for as long as I can remember. Even today I could hear one on the streets of kothrud in Pune...but at the same time I was appalled to see the amount of plastic waste that littered Bangalore (Bengaluru!). That city has no character left - just one expanse of chaos, traffic and garbage!!!

Unknown said...

Latha, thanks for the input. Thats how that velmuruga song is there.

Gia Fernandes said...

I finally watched Kaminey today and I agree with you. It is highly overrated. I guess if your staple diet has been Bollywood blockbusters a la Chopra, Ghai and Bhansali, then Kaminey might seem like a welcome change. But for someone with a voracious appetite for world cinema, the movie falls short in more ways than one. Sadly, Mr Bharadwaj comes across as a Tarantino wannabe. Priyanka Chopra was a big mistake as Sweety. Shahid was pretty good, but I think getting Amol Gupte to play Bhope Bhau was a real casting coup!

Hope you enjoyed your darshan at Lalbaug. I am planning to visit all the beautiful Ganpatis at Matunga tomorrow. Like your kids, I love Gannu too :-)

Unknown said...

so nice of you its my pleasure to read you .................

चंद्रमौलेश्वर प्रसाद said...

"visiting the mighty Lalbaug Chha Raja with two of them, and praying for all of them."

I think prayers are to be made in the serene and tranquil atmosphere which may be found in a temple. In this hub-hub of rush, do you or can you really get in touch with God? Are people like us not responsible for the noise and water pollution attached to the like of these festivals?

Anonymous said...

queue ???

Unknown said...

mz de, it's a free world - so, one may hate kaminay and love "q g murugun" , i say! i love it when people could swallow "black" without any problems and then hunt for logic in kaminay. "snatch" was a trend-setter and if vishal bharadwaj wants to experiment, ok. no one said anything about kashyap's "dev.d" - they are just for our entertainment.

why don't you sugggest to the maharashtra govt that they should come up with a memorial to 26/11. all that 350 crores in the hands of politicians makes me nervous!! they should construct a hall which can shelter 1 lakh people in times of crisis, or make storm drains and elevated train stations, or clean up mumbai by providing bins and garbage collection trucks, or .... i could go and on.
or help mz kunti and others like her. next time you are attending a glitzy event, where a celebrity comes and cuts a ribbon and zips off, you may want to mention all this!!

Anonymous said...

as far your Kameeney take on Vishal Bharadwaj, the same logic follows on writers like your tend to believe that your takes in on some moral high ground and others just have to jump to your bandwagon...Kaminey is a symbolic film, shot beautifully and loved by the youth. If people like you do not understand this symbolism then its not Vishal's problem. He has done good work and we look forward to his new works.

Sidhusaaheb said...

I think there are too many people in this country who are unable to think independently and form their own opinions, which explains the hate-mail you got regarding your comments on Vishal Bharadwaj's latest film.

Sun said...

Shobhaa, you mean you are the only one who can have strident opinions on various matters? If someone takes a somewhat strong exception to your opinion, does that become 'hate mail'? If you can blast people and make some absolutely below-the-belt comments about them, why not be sporting enough when some such are directed at you?

As for your statement that you 'never bother to respond' to what you are calling hate mail, (you are sounding like Barkha Dutt, post 26/11 - sacrilege to criticize the diva? ), you just did - in this post.

And well, you think Kaminey was such and such, Shekhar Kapur thinks Vishal Bhardwaj surpassed Tarantino in the flick.

About people believing their own mythology, I somehow don't think Vishal Bhardwaj is currently in any danger of that. I wonder about you though.

disclaimer : this isn't hate mail. just differing opinion.

fkay said...

love the fact that you think your opinion matters to the world, esp wrt Kaminey, critics be damned...yr just vindicated by the 'supposed' box office results. well, all the 'hate' mail you rcvd should tell you that people feel otherwise. Kaminey is one of the best hindi films ever made (and no,vishal bharadwaj didn't pay me to say this), its slick, fast paced, very different with a youth appeal, maybe thats why i guess, it didnt appeal to a geriatric like you. Vishal B is a classy director who possesses something called humility (heard of it?) so dont get more worry lines (you'll just nedd more botox) thinking all the well deserved praise he is getting for the movie will go to his head). And pls do not reply to us mere mortals from yr exalted position in your make belief world. Honestly nobody gives a shit what you think. Take a break from spewing so much venom and hate thru your columns, jeez what irks you, frustrates you so much? Maybe join Osho or something...and no they didn't pay me to advertise either..take care. Buy a DVD of Kaminey when it releases..pause and play alot and maybe you'll appreciate it better:-)

stan said...

@ Sun, you have said it what i wanted to say & i could not have said better than you.
Shobha, it may be time for you to retire .. just think of it..It's always challenging to catch up younger generation & you are getting too old with your thoughts..

Again, this is not a hate mail :)

Another Kiran In NYC said...

Haan toh Quick Gun was great fun. Subversive and clever and very crisp script. The lead actor was awsome.

I still have to rouse myself to see Kaminey.

aa said...

I'm just amazed that you think any one with an opinion different from yours has been brain-washed or has created a sacred cow- and if they dare say so, it is "hate mail". It reeks of arrogance. Maybe the truth is you just can't stand people not agreeing with you and looking up to you all the time- but what have you done that should be so reverently regarded, anyway? And since when has box-office success been an indicator of a film's quality? Are you saying that because Kambakht Ishq made a lot of money it's a great movie?? Earth calling Shobha...get real.

muthu said...

hmhm, I sort of agnostic. I think that -- If you believe in god, then the least you can do is put trust in him enough to leave things to him.


And yeah, I think being apathetic to whatever that doest concern us in an immediate fashion, is the greatest sin, a man can commit.

Sin may be a tough and a larger than life word to use.

But lets consider the situation once again Ms.De,

The attacks that we had last year were because we were not taking enough progressive actions to block the terrorist infiltration...

And taking progressive actions against terrorist infiltration is not really what they show in films.. a country cannot be saved by a couple of hero s & tightly clad heroines jumping around with guns.

It is more detailed and a rigorous process than that. It means millions of more vigilant people. thousands of more active and determined cops and border patrol. hundreds of better people who can manage the border with the resources that are available. a good lot of cops who would put home security before their own interests.

Thats reality. And apathy in any level will automatically spread to the other levels- making the entire system deficit.

So thats why I say, Apathy is the greatest sin.

Ignoring and allowing mistakes to happen is the same as making the mistakes themselves....


And I bow to the Kachra Lady that you have mentioned.

Such people inspire me. I am happy to have read about her.

Pioneers such as her, who are willing to move forward are what tomorrows India is going to depend upon.

As small as the change that she is making, it is significant in it's own way.

Every small thing are just a preliminary to the large things that follow behind.


And yeah about Kaminae, I haven t yet seen the movie and I did not really read your review until just now to pacify my curiosity on how you felt abt the movie and what you wrote really triggered that sort of comments.

I think you wrote what you felt...

And People I think sometimes fail to see a misfire of a good creator of what it really is, clouded by his earlier achievements....

Yeah, Quentin Jerome Tarantino is a great director who has given some stunning movies such as -- kill bill, reservoir dogs & pulp fiction

but He still made a movie called

Grind house: death proof -- that was so shitty that makes you wonder whether he must have directed the movie completely drunken... That movie is that much of a piece of shit.

So, a good fan has the duty t be a good critic.

I love Quentin Tarantino s movies but that did not cloud me enough to see his movie 4 what it really is.

I loved OMKARA. & I havent yet seen kaminae & will see it by this week end. It should be an interesting exp considering everything i read about it.

Harish said...

I so love Ganpu... he is one of the sweetest looking gods. There's always an argument by atheists who'd say that Ganesh is a non-possibility and a figment of our imagination. Even if so, what a beautiful imagination it is! The metaphors that one could draw are countless.

yes we are coming close to the visarjan! and this time along, im not that depressed, as there is better environmental awareness about the issue of water pollution. Most of the ones in Pune are made of paper/alum etc. which is something that i always wished happened. Though we have a long way to go still.

this was a forward I recd last year, pictures depicting the aftermath of ganesh visarjan

Kachra ladies need a pat on their back... we often even forget their existance after ganesh chaturti, we at times behave very distanced from the reality... People like Kirti Oza are the ones who need to be given an award... not some mad filmsstars and hyperventilating activists.


Art is a media fart.

People like Kunti should be focused on, but every Kunti kintu-parantu is overshadowed by the rich and the Nouveau riche.

The power of a hearty hug is much more than the arty air kisses.

I firmly believe real untapped potential is in schools of the ilk of ambedkar ... The rawness and the groundedness of theirs cannot be ever matched with the high winged convent/international school students with gizmo lollipops . (Though, there are "some" exceptions to the rule)


Hate Mail for kaminay???? We need to grow up! seriously! Film Criticism is always a personal view. And none of the reviews could be termed as the absolute truth. I found kaminay to be a classic if I thought of it to be a cult film.. but sadly violent movies don't interest me. its just not a genre that i relate to.



i feel it was again a film that could have done away with violence. I expected a comedy film, and was treated with dishkyov dishkyov...Its a dangerous trend where we have started treating violence and bloodshed as comedy.

I loved the songs... and it ws very southy in certain areas... my mom still screams at me if I dont sign off with "yours truly/sincerely" duniya palat gayee par some TamBrahms are wahi ke wahi. lol.

sharad said...

@Sun @ Fkay- got the right point and right words... perhaps people who are on high pedestal (!) rarely want there place to be shared. If we have put Vishal B on this pedestal ten it is threatning for some mortal souls...

Another Kiran In NYC said...


I think it was graphic violence juxtasposed against a clever crisp tongue in cheek and very economic with words, script that made Quick gun so subversive and dare I say it... a fun watch. It was the unexpectedness of it all. I think I just like subversive!

I cannot say enough about the lead actor. The man knew just when to draw in the reins.

I have never seen the quick gun shorts before on TV so it was all fresh to me.

Ketaki... said...

Oh Shobhaa,

I completely agree with whatever wrote about Kaminey. Ugach bhaltey salte picture kadhun fakta Vishal Bharadwaj chya name tag khali tyala "lai bhari" asa mhanna faltu aahe.. Aaplya kade tase hi wichitra goshtina audience halli uchlun dharta..
Frankly speaking, i am disturbed that a movie like Kambhakkht IshQ is a blockbuster, TV show rakhi ka swayamwar gets the highest TRP.. I am afraid about the sensibilities of Indian viewers. Not to mention the four star ratings to Love Aaj Kal and Kaminey.
I don't know if you are catching up on Farah Khan's latest chat show on TV. If you are, I am pretty sure you have interesting things to say about it. She's such a drama queen. All that mom-son connection, ghar-ka-beta farce is annoying. Addition to misery, is the part where common people come up and share their stories. I wonder if its just me or there are others who also feel embarrassed?

Unknown said...

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