Bollywood has rediscovered the KISS (Keep It Short and Simple) rule, at least where film titles are concerned. Having had its fill of long names — Bollywood’s now high on short words, and most of them straight off the English vocabulary rack. (via ‘English titles chalta hai!’ – The Times of India).
Bollywood, Tollywood, Kollywood
This is an interesting (though superficial) article on how Hindi film industry, out of Mumbai, uses English. As far back as my memory goes, Hindi film industry (out of Mumbai) used English in all their print material. Whether it was Mother India or Mera Naam Joker, all text was in English. If the film was based on an Indian-English novel like RK Narayan’s Guide or a Bengali classic like Devdas, the language was English.
Hindi film posters always used English. In the age of LP records, LP sleeves of Hindi film music were in English. Later cassette covers were also in English – and now CDs, DVDs also come in English jackets. Even though a vast majority of the Hindi-film audience had no knowledge of English, Hindi film industry persisted with English.
Interesting! Just why did Hindi cinema end up using English so extensively! I could think of three reasons.
The law of the land
Was it because the Censor Board certification happened in English? The Censor Board bench for South India is different – and standards and norms followed by them are different. Did the South India Censor Board accept South Indian languages – which may have allowed South Indian film industry to use local languages.
Censor legislation was introduced in India at a time (1918) when her British rulers were determined that cinema should serve, unflinchingly, their colonial interests. There was no indigenous film industry at that time and the canons of censorship targeted films imported from the west, especially the US. The British wanted these films to create a rosy picture about the west and the western people’s intentions in the colonies. The Regional Censor Boards, were constituted in 1920 and each one technically autonomous … (from From Coercion to Power Relations: Film Censorship in Post-Colonial India by Someswar Bhowmik).
Ours is not to reason why …
Was it because the scripts had to be typed in English. Remember, no Hindi type writers, till the 1960s and Hindi typists were rare and far in between. Or was it because multinationals controlled the Indian music scene till the late 80s – and the gora bosses did not know Hindi.
Kodambakkam (home of Tamil and for some time Telugu cinema) used Tamil and Telugu mostly on their cassette covers. Tamil and Telugu posters were also in Tamil and Telugu respectively.
That ‘insecure’ feeling
The Mumbai film industry always had a complex about not being ‘good enough’ in comparison to Hollywood. Bollywood (Bombay based film industry), Kollywood (Kodambakkam based Tamil/Telugu industry) and Tollywood (for Telugu film industry) were deprecating names used by the gossip journalists – which stuck.
The Tamil and Telugu film industry had no such insecurities – and were always clear about their audience. The look and feel of the Tamil /Telugu films is also different from Mumbai-Hindi film industry.
Between 1967 upto nearly 1973, Chennai invaded the Hindi turf. Using actors like Jeetendra and Mumtaz, they worked on lower costs films, raunchier choreography of the songs and invited the description of ‘spaghetti’ Bollywood. Curiously, it coincided with the spaghetti wave in Hollywood. The second invasion of Chennai into the Hindi turf happened during the 1980-1990 decade. This time with major stars like Amitabh Bachchan in tow.
The glory of the English
There is the usual argument trotted out that English serves as the ‘link language in the Mumbai film industry. As can be seen from some simple data, this argument is fallacious.
The South Indian film industry is significantly insular – catering to its specific clientele, attracting artistes from its home ground. But the Mumbai film industry attracts people from all over India. Is it that they found it easier to deal with each other in English – than in Hindi? Doubtful.
90% of the movers and shakers in Mumbai film industry are either Muslim or Punjabis. There is a token presence from the rest of the communities. It would have been easy for the Punjabis and Muslims to work in Urdu or Hindi. Till about the 60s, Indian actors had to change their name – from Yusufbhai to Dilip Kumar for instance.
All this raises more questions in my mind – and maybe some readers will have answers.
The director’s sister-in-law Mathilde Seigner hinted that the leader has been instrumental to the recent development.
“I wouldn’t go so far as to say that it is thanks to the President that Roman has been freed, but he has been super. The President has been very effective,” Times Online quoted her as telling Le Parisien newspaper.
Sarkozy had earlier expressed his views on the director being held on a US warrant for having unlawful sex with a 13-year-old girl in 1977. (via Nicolas Sarkozy ‘helped’ Roman Polanski get bail).
Joseph Wambaugh on Hollywood
For years now, I have been avid reader of Joseph Wambaugh – a policeman turned writer. His comedies, wrapped in (mostly) LA or (sometimes) New York milieu, are in the style of Raymond Chandler under halogen lamp. The darker areas get better light. The chrome glints more. Glamour quotient gets mixed with large doses of warmth and understanding. Unlike Chandler, Wambaugh’s is never judgmental – which make his characters very real.
I read Wambaugh’s Glitter Dome, and twenty years later I remember one of his interesting observations on Hollywood,
Parking, not pussy, is at a premium around these parts, they said.
Sex, Cinema and Fashion
Hollywood, Bollywood (a patronizing name by which Indian film industry calls itself), haute couture businesses have a rather blase attitude about sex. Hence, to hold Hollywood to ordinary behavioural norms, has a puritanical air about it. In the Polanski affaire, the alleged victim, Samantha Geimer, wants the case closed.
But anyway, coming to why this story gets me curious, is why did Anand Jon, a haute couture designer get such a harsh sentence. Unwilling /semi-willing /actively willing sex in Hollywood /Bollywood /haute couture businesses is what (I have been given to believe is) normal. I mean these days, stars /starlets ‘leak’ sex tapes on the internet.
And no one has ever been seriously prosecuted, convicted and sentenced – as Anand Jon has been!
Where is the balance
I am assuming that Anand Jon is guilty. Is it the first time that models have tried advancing their career by sleeping with designers? Has it not happened before? I wonder what is it that Anand Jon did, which brought down the entire American judicial establishment onto him like ton of bricks. The case of the Sri Lankan Rajarathnam has similar smell to it.
The US prosecuting authority, Preet Bharara, the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, alleges that the Galleon Fund made some US$20 million out of this insider trading. I am sure that Galleon Fund (more than US$5 billion in assets under management) spent more than US$20 million on tea, coffee, espresso, soda, Evian and paper napkins. Rajrathnam’s own net worth was estimated by “Forbes” to be US$ 1.3 billion.
Is there any sense, any balance to these cases. Is Preet Bharara, indulging in reverse ‘affirmative action’ by prosecuting Rajarathnam? Is Preet Bharara trying to prove that he is colour blind?
“If you’re a wealthy trader, you aren’t special,” Bloomberg quoted Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara as saying at a press conference. “Knock on our door before we come knocking on yours.”
If you ask me, he should investigate Hank Paulson, the Former Treasury Secretary, under whose watch many bankruptcies happened conveniently in favour of JP Morgan and Goldman Sachs.
More than three-quarters of young black men aged between 18 and 35 are on the system, the report said. Set up in 1995, the database contains the DNA profiles of five million citizens, eight percent of the population, making it the world’s biggest in proportion to population size. “Parliament has never formally debated the establishment of the National DNA Database and safeguards around it,” commission chairman Professor Jonathan Montgomery said in a statement.
“It has developed through amendments to laws designed to regulate the taking of fingerprints and physical evidence before DNA profiling was developed.
“It is not clear how far holding DNA profiles on a central database improves police investigations.” (via U.K. cops arrest people ‘just for the DNA’ – Europe- msnbc.com).
Big brother is definitely here
As post-WW2 European society was taking shape, one man warned the world – Big Brother Is Watching You!
George Orwell’s 1984, a simple, dark and melancholic book warned the world of the specter of a looming police state looming. The book was portrayed as warning against the ‘impending’ threat of Communism. George Orwell himself joined the British Government in its propaganda effort, against the Germans during WW2.
Would George Orwell, a confused imperialist, have imagined that Britain, the citadel of freedom, itself would becoming the Mother Of Big Brother societies – with the largest number surveillance cameras and DNA data bank and a back-breaking prison population.
In the land of the free
The US prison population at more than 20 lakhs (2 million) is travesty of justice and humanity. The US competes with China and the erstwhile USSR, (the largest totalitarian regimes) in the world, with its rate of incarceration.
USA, with a population of 30 crores (300 million), has a criminal population of 70 lakhs (7 million) – behind bars, on probation or on parole. US Government estimates a figure of 20 lakhs (2 million) people serving prison sentences.
A concerned editorial in New York Times newspaper summed up the situation.
More than 1 in 100 American adults are behind bars. One in nine black men, ages 20 to 34, are serving time, as are 1 in 36 adult Hispanic men. Nationwide, the prison population … (of the US) surpasses all other countries for which there are reliable figures. The 50 states last year spent about $44 billion in tax dollars on corrections, up from nearly $11 billion in 1987. Vermont, Connecticut, Delaware, Michigan and Oregon devote as much money or more to corrections as they do to higher education.
Persuading public officials to adopt a more rational, cost-effective approach to prison policy is a daunting prospect, however, not least because building and running jailhouses has become a major industry.
… the relationship between imprisonment and crime control is murky. States that lagged behind the national average in rising incarceration rates during the 1990’s actually experienced a steeper decline in crime rates than states above the national average … (ellipsis and bracketed text mine).
Across the pond
Some time back there was another report, on the state of prisons in UK.
There are almost 10,000 Muslims in Britain’s jails— with 90 of them serving time for terror offences … they fear more and more young lags are being converted and radicalised in prison. A … source said: “You are talking about rootless young men at the bottom of society. They’re in jail and someone gives them some purpose. ”
In top-security jails such as Whitemoor, Cambs, 35 per cent of inmates are Muslim—and they have converted numerous other prisoners to Islam. (via MI5 spy chiefs are putting undercover officers into Britain’s jails | News Of The World).
Slice and dice …
Britain has an estimated 1.6 million Muslims – a 2.8% of the British population. Of this a 10,000 are in prison – which means about 0.6% of the British Muslim population is in prison. India has 16 crore Muslims – which a 100 times higher population.
What if …
The British policy of imprisonment, if India were to follow, Indian Muslims inside prisons would be in 10 lakhs (or 1 million). India’s total prison population ranges between 2.5 lakhs to 3.5 lakhs – of all peoples, of all religions, races, crimes etc.
Of course, Indian society handles crime vastly differently. Technically, India could create a legal system which would ease the ability of the police to imprison people, or better still hang them – and hide its social problems.
Freedom, imprisonment, racism, development, genocide
What is the difference between a ‘banana republic’ where people disappear – and in the Anglo-Saxon Bloc which has the world largest prison population? Maybe, my being from a backward country, stops me from understanding this great ‘progress’ that these countries seemed to have made!
The sight of the West, strutting as a protector of freedom on the global stage is a hoax. How can the West have a problem with Native American tribes (aka Red Indians) and the Aborigines – if there are none left. The West which has the highest levels of prison populations in the world – raucously reminds the world of lessons in freedom.
What is assimilation and integration
The West speaks of protecting individual freedom, whereas the calls for ‘assimilation’ integration are nothing but refurbished implementation of the ‘settled’ principle in the Desert Bloc of Cuius regio, eius religio’ (meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) – the ruler decided his people’s religion.
The West can speak from both sides of the mouth. Nicholas Sarkozy can tell Indians (i.e.Manmohan Singh) to respect foreign missionaries, who want to convert Indians to their religion – while the West can continue with this demonization of Islam. Would Sarkozy like to mention any other country where such a large minority Muslim population, has greater freedom and opportunity, than in India? Would you like to suggest France instead?
This is freedom – from both sides. For the West.
After WWII, as old European powers were retreating, the US was building a new imperial system. Pax Americana.
- Superpower China: Emerging From 60 years Of American Shadow? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- When China Becomes The Biggest Economy? (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Mao proposed sending 10 million Chinese women to US as China has too many women (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- Drugs Use & Abuse: Why Some Estimates & Reports Make Me Wonder about Scale of Addiction to Narcotics (quicktake.wordpress.com)
- China’s ‘naked’ officials (2ndlook.wordpress.com)
- China and the EU: Building a reciprocal relationship (theglobeandmail.com)
- Americans Are Figuring Out Who Is World’s No. 1: William Pesek (businessweek.com)
- Charlemagne: Mr China goes shopping (economist.com)
- Geithner Presses China on Yuan (online.wsj.com)
- The era of ‘owned by China’ (guardian.co.uk)
- EU Wants to Clip China’s Technology Purchasing Power (globalthoughtz.com)
- Lessons for China in India blackout, says state-run paper (thehindu.com)
- Washington Wired for War: Why Syria Could Spell World Catastrophe (globalresearch.ca)
- China has territorial claims to nearly 20 countries (english.pravda.ru)
- ‘War of nerves’ over islands of discord in China Seas (english.ruvr.ru)
- What does China want for its $20 billion to Africa? (foreignpolicy.com)
Last week, eyebrows were raised over yet another media appearance by the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief, Mohan Rao Bhagwat. This time, the fuss centred on his categorical public announcement that the next national president of the Bharatiya Janata Party would not be a Delhi-based leader, and that L.K. Advani would soon relinquish his post as leader of the Opposition. Fortuitously for the Indian foreign policy establishment, his prognosis that Pakistan and Afghanistan “are a part of us and will return one day” did not arouse corresponding attention. (via The Telegraph – Calcutta (Kolkata) | Opinion | A shift in position).
From Ashvakan to Afghans
The task of subduing the Afghan, (a possibly corrupt form of Ashvakan, meaning horse specialists in Sanskrit), from the time of Alexander to the latest Russian and American misadventures in Afghanistan underscores, the nature of the Indo-Afghan relationship. From the time of Tomyris (Thamyris), when Indian elephant units helped the Afghans to massacre Persian invaders under Cyrus the Great, or when the Afghans hopelessly tied up Alexander.
Alexander’s Indo-Afghan campaign ‘gave him the runs’ (dysentery), his soldiers deserted him in droves, he had to make a marriage alliance, pay nearly 1000 talents (25,000 kg in gold) for an alliance, his dear horse Bucephalus died, he was himself injured twice, made to release prisoners (without a ransom).
End result – he massacred defenceless non-combatant populations and armies alike, when ‘opportunities’ presented themselves.
Islamic ‘conquest’ of India
While Islamic armies were marauding Europe, Central Asia, Africa, India held out. When Genghis Khan’s Mongol armies were running rampant, Islamic refugees found shelter in India, during the reign of Iltutmish. In 1221 Genghis Khan‘s Mongol armies pushed Khwarezm-Shah and other Persian refugees across the Indus into the Punjab, India.
During early Islamic rule, when India was still viewed as militarily difficult target, the Mongols did not think of attacking India. Remember, that the Mongols attempted to invade Japan, a rather poor country then, without the Sado gold mines! The Japanese blessed their good fortune, when typhoons or (‘The Divine Wind” is what the grateful Japanese called) the Kamikaze, that scattered the Mongol invasion fleet in 1274 and 1281. The Kublai Khan himself barely escaped the fury of the typhoon during the second invasion.
India, the richest economy of the world at that time, with known and famous for its wealth, was spared by Genghis Khan! Just why would history’s foremost looter, invader, pillager spare India?
Encyclopedia Britannica says ‘Fortunately, the Mongols were content to send raiding parties no further than the …” (emphasis mine). As Indian military reputation waned under foreign Islamic rule, the Mongols mounted a military expedition. The Mongols could succeed in India only under the foreign rule of the much-derided Islamic Tughlaks. (in the northern Punjab region), which Iltutmish wisely ignored
End of foreign Islamic rule
The 200-year foreign-Islamic rule from 1206 AD to 1400 AD ended when Ibrahim Lodi, an Afghan horse trader, cobbled together an alliance and sent the incompetent foreign rulers packing. The Lodis, were in turn deposed by another Afghan family, the Mughals.
The Mughals realized, early on, that freedom to Indians was non-negotiable – and enlisted Indian generals, kings, allies to expand their boundaries. The depredations of the foreign ‘Islamic’ rulers were partly reversed by these rulers of Afghan extract – with land reforms, tax reforms, reduction in forceful conversions, et al. The Lodis and Mughals partially reformed the Indic political model – deformed beyond recognition, during the 200 years of foreign Islamic rule. Land holdings remained concentrated in a few hands. Taxes were imposed and increased on the trading classes. Licenses and firmaans were reduced – but remained.
In the last 200 years
The only people who could win against the Afghans were the Indians – last under Ranjit Singhji. The British, and more recently, the Russians and Americans have failed miserably. British possessions of Afghanistan and Balochistan, which were handed to Pakistan on a platter, were a part of the Sikh-Punjab Empire, which fell into the British lap.
Till about 1960’s India-Afghanistan trade and relations were close and neighbourly. Rabindranath Tagore wrote the short story, ‘Kabuliwalla’. Subhash Chandra Bose escaped from Colonial Raj imprisonment during WW2, using the Afghan route to reach Germany finally.
In early 1970s, in Hyderabad, कागजी बेदाना अनार (seedless pomegranates) from Kabul, were available at around Rs.4 a kg – at today’s value is about Rs.100 a kg (based on gold prices). Local varieties were sold at less than Rs.1 a kg.
Between 1950 to the post-1973, Nixon Chop world, saw increasing of walls, barriers, battening down of national boundaries. Marxism-Communism seemed relentless and inevitable. Closed economies were seen as the panacea of all problems. Trade was a dirty word. During this period, something momentous happened – a complete and total closure of the Indian mind. India’s international profile underwent a profound change. Indians, who earlier saw the world as a their stage, suddenly retreated into a shell.
Right and wrong
So, yes RSS view is right.
India and Pakistan are a part of the Indic family. What this means is to see Pakistan and Afghanistan not as troublesome neighbours, but as prospective future allies. The Indian political construct was always to surround the Indian heartland by buffer states – like Bangladesh, Nepal, Tibet, Pakistan and Afghanistan. It was not to take over these countries and expand into an unwieldy land mass.
So, when RSS, dreams of an Akhand Bharat, they are wrong. The idea of Bharat was value driven and not power-driven or ruler driven. What Bharat needs to focus on is not to create an Akhand Bharat, but a real Bharat, which will become a model for other countries, especially of the Greater India.
Back to the future
But the Indic model was never to have one king who ruled over others. The Indic model allowed for smaller kingdoms to compete for populations – based on opportunities, freedom, equity. Land holdings in the hands of the populations remained a unique Indian feature for thousands of years – and the West saw this feature only in the last 150-250 years. Religious restrictions in India were not even discussed – unlike the Desert Bloc where the ‘Cuius regio, eius religio’ principle (meaning whose land, his religion; CRER) was established.
In the Desert Bloc, the land, the religion and the very life of all subjects belonged to the king – unlike in India. And that is the Akhand Bharat that we all need to work for!