Category Archives: Social Commentary

Kiss of a Spectre

So it happened that country with renown visiting places called Ajanta-Ellora and Elephanta caves which were lauded as UN heritage sites; along with Khajuraho Temple, adorned with utmost beautiful depiction of human intimacy and nudity (male/female both) could well be considered as absolutely vulgar by Indian conservative government control bodies such as CBFC. This is just a small example. There is much more places and legacy in Indian culture; say “Kamasutra”, could also well be outright banned if these control body keeps doing the things which they are laughably known for.

SPECTRE-007-Bond-006
License to “proceed”

Why such rage and cry; you may ask. Recently, on the eve of release of the bond movie “Spectre” in India, Central Board of Film Certification, in short CBFC has decided that Bond is smooching too “long” (and without paying any respect to “Indian culture”) on screen. And hence, censored the scenes from movie along with few more “culture-spoiling” cuts. These brought along the painful memory of such incident which I already cried against few years back at release (actually not released) of movie “The Girl with Dragon Tattoo” (Again Daniel Craig, I think there is some debt to pay to Indian government by my all-time favorite Bond).

With already sarcastic and humorous backlash started by intellectual Indian Internet community with hashtag #sanskarijamesbond, there lies a very stark reality that nothing is moving in terms of Indian conservatism and hypocrisy. There must be controlled over such foolish decisions. There must be well-structured model in place against which such bodies has to measure their actions and not do the things on their own whims.

Though movies like “Spectre” has commercial aspect, movie can very well be still considered as art form. Artist must have all the freedom to express it as he/she deems fit. Such governing body must assure that they dole out appropriate rating system so as spectators have their expectations in place while going out for such movies. There is no point in giving a movie “Adult” rating and at the same time cutting out explicit contents (Actually funny thing is I am not sure if passionate and long kiss could be classified as explicit. I need to watch movie, unrated. Of course). Cuts must only be in place if contents have tendency to spark large scale unrest and turmoil due to particular sets of offenses.

Other foolish example:Every time I go for movie here in India, myself and other poor spectators like me are continuously bombarded with “No Smoking” campaigns. I can understand at start but every time one of the character on the screen is about to smoke, these so called control freaks use their “sixth-sense” and flash large “smoking kills” warning all over the place on screen (My mind turned this into little play: as soon as warning flashes on screen, I tried to guess which of the character is “cause” for such torture if there are multiple of them. And sometimes it’s hard to know who actually smoked which caused this warning as some faded out “back-in-the-farthest-corner-of-bar” character might have thought of smoking on screen and these foreteller having “superhuman power” knew and flash the warning before anything happen).

I am pretty much sure now that Smoking is that tenth circle which Dante forgot to mention.

Giving a funny bone a bit rest and considering consequences on serious note, India is nowadays becoming country of bans, censor, denial, protest, rules, laws, prevention and lot more. Necessity is there for rules and laws in formative way and in curing the justice system to reduce “beastly” rape mentalities, but not in such foolish, ridiculous and outright suppressive way. At one point, India churning out most sleazy and vulgar movies with item songs and all, while kisses of Bond not getting away; this itself shows farcical process and sarcastic slap to poor Indian spectators.

Closing with satirical incident: I was hanging out with myself one night in Swiss pub, probably first time such late in evening. Part of my feeble, shackled and conditioned “Indian” brain has blurted out the concern to beautiful bartender: “At what time this closes?”

“9, Sir”

“So early??!!”

“9 in the morning, Sir.” She replied with tender smile.

I still asked the same question here in India whenever I went to pubs and bars on weekends even though I know that it’s going to close at midnight or little after that. But here I earned the “responsible and respected customer” look. Same question. So opposite effects. Welcome to India.

 

Advertisements

Savour: Don’t rush…

Bleak_house

I would like to start with the incident which acted as fertilizer with enough nutrients to sprout the idea of such blog-post.

First of all, I fall in to that rare human species who defined by their avid reading habits. Why rare? As of now, I am able to meet people who read but to meet those individual who read in abundance and to read like “worm-hole”; scrunching everything which comes in the way and nothing escapes once fall within Schwarzschild radius, is rarity. Though reading is the habit which gradually grows with passing time, I have encountered something missing with fresh readers and initiates who are keen to start but restrained by some invisible mental force. So this post is for distributing the key to unlock metal restraints and get going in the wonderful world of books. But before that….

The Incident: so one fine evening one of my family’s acquaints came to visit us and I was taking out books which were on TBR list from long time. I was planning to take up something massive since I finished out with LOTR. I choose Bleak House from Charles Dickens to take the flame from LOTR, intended for marathon reading which would span over months. I can count myself as fast reader but still speed-run is not my cup of tea. Also usually, I chose to have at least 2 books in reading parallel; sometimes more. More than achievement, I would contribute such behavior to compulsion (Yes, you are allowed to say OCD).

So this person who was not much into reading had chance to observe the tome whose covers were elegantly flashing “Bleak House” in large Gothic black font (A lovely new edition which never looked as old classics generally looked). He took the book in one hand and surprised that there are species in this world who read such 700-page behemoth (may be surprised that you need to have proper forehand and biceps exercise to handle its weight during reading). And he raised the probable question which had acted as spark to ignite this blog.

“How could you able to read it? When will you complete? I can never do that in my lifetime.”

Let’s not consider the not-so-happening later events and tackle the question head on.

I believe that reading and in some other sense all other such luxurious habits have one common trait. Don’t rush them. They meant to be tackled with slow pace. Exactly like savoring the exquisite and rare wine which could never be mistreated with “rushed on” approach. Books, especially the large ones tend to be savored “sip-by-sip” chapter or few pages a day than think about finishing them. It’s this thought of “to complete something”, itself makes one put off the idea of getting into start and much worse persevere.

If the book is going to be good (or in other sense, you are good enough fitting reader for the book) than you don’t want book to end, vis-à-vis if you are not into much than however short the book is, you can only trudge and complain later. Don’t you think this same rule apply to lot other aspects of the life and sometimes the life itself ?

Now that I realized this write-up is getting into paradoxical state where I am divulging reading habits for not-so-avid-reader in “reading format” (If they are not reader why they bother to read your blog, Villpower. Rather they should right away start with some book). So I assume all those who going to read this are themselves avid readers which will bring the importance of the whole blog down to nil. So just take the humorous take-away and savor your reading.

Celebrate Feminism

First point: This is not a review. As now everyone knows that movie is absolute awesomeness on its own. It is grand opera or should I say waltzing of vehicular mayhem and breath stealing action sequences. Already internet is exploding with very positive reviews and hence there is no need for one more.

I am here to discuss second more profound but less concentrated aspect of the movie; underlying message, clues and wonderfully distributed social message in the name of post-apocalyptic brutality. There may be possibilities of minor spoilers. And anyhow if you are reading this blog before watching the most fun-filled summer blockbuster than first thing is to get yourself booked for conveniently timed show and save yourself from embarrassment for the lifetime.

There is a split over movie likings which was assumed as Mad Max series was definitely not meant for all. But I believe that even in this split where people criticizing with less involvement of Mad Max (brilliantly portrayed by Tom Hardy), movie has won the battle. George Miller, that veteran old experienced mind who had invented Mad Max could not make such mistake of prioritizing down the main character. Nope. He had played brilliantly with audience and have them use the dirty looking-glass he is going to offer to observe the world which he always wanted them to look at. Movie was never meant for Max. It was just beautiful, grand and opulent celebration of feminism. Not in the traditional way, tipping towards extremism but in rightful way of gender equality and some more.

Let me clear the debris from the path. How many post-apocalyptic media has given rightful position to female? Very few in my knowledge. So when Charlize Theron had such brilliant character, carrying the whole movie on her shoulders, it was the irony and the slap for those expectant who wants to see all men spectacle. For true fans, Mad Max movie was defined by world building and characterization. They least bother with otherwise. In such case Fury Road is a triumph. Miller played with audiences’ idea of portrayal of sexism’ in movies, especially men dominant movies and turned it upside down with brilliant stroke as making Max playing supporting hand to Furiosa played by Charlize Theron.

We can see the underlying social commentary of men-dominating world getting destroyed by female characters once they choose to fight back. You can feel the agony of feminist community in the name of “Breeders”. Pain emanating from such “Breeders” in escaping to distant green land. And then those small but significant visual cues such as snapping out of slave chains, old grandma passing on their legacies, mixed race of “Breeders” to represent larger demographic spread and lot more.

Movie has brilliantly conveyed the idea that however crumbled society is, women are absolute necessity to survive as all things precious possible only by them. Whether it’s advancement of generation through “Breeders” or most valuable “Mother’s milk” in terms of Mad Max world. Also there is node towards upbringing of them through unity and compassion toward each other and not from some savior belonging to male community. All along, it was story of Furiosa who led and took initiative to change the course, bunch of scared girls finding courage to fight back and party of grandma’s using their rare wisdom to noble cause. Of course there will be helping like Mad Max but he was moot spectator to rise of new dominion. More than that Max is wiser. Knew where his place is and how he should act. As part of male community do we also have same courage?

PS: Consider the climax scene where Furiosa was raising higher as prominent leader by War-boys children on platform when she gratuitously eyeing Max who was about to get lost in mass of other people. He is commoner meant to do unexpected. This is true definition of heroism.

PPS: One more allegorical signature move of Miller’s cynicism is where Max decides to take on bullet farmer leader on his own with rising audience expectation for one more action sequence. Cut to the next scene he was returning after completing his task with no on-screen action. Why would Miller betray the audience with such sequence when he already shown how spectacular action this movie can have? My interpretation: one more allegorical node to audience that movie is not about men’s expectations. Max is not important here. His actions are in background with all the action is centered around lead female character Imperator Furiosa.

madmax1

Are we progressing backwards?

Our mind are conditioned in such a manner that “Progress” word becomes synonymous to something positive and appreciable. We’ll take it as positive improvement over something without considering any context or background. A little wordplay of the blog title is nothing but to emphasize the fact that there may be different angle or context to everything which we completely missed out due to our closed perspective and hence take it as offense or against nature. Why so much ranting on simple wordplay, you may ask.

dragon-age-inquisition

Here’s the reason: EA has pulled out the release of its super massive, highly anticipated (by Gamers like me), finale to the Dragon Age universe, final chapter of the trilogy; Dragon Age: Inquisition from India. Reason being presence of gay character and potential story arc where main protagonist can have homosexual relationships. Self-realized reason by EA is not want to be on the other side of future lawsuit because of these portrayals.

Before dissecting EA’s clear conscience, I would really like to make note here in general logical terms regarding to social conventions prevailing in India. From dubious censor rules to ever degenerating public mindset, India is nowhere progressing in terms of acceptance of individuality or expression of art. In fact considering the ancient “Kamasutra” legacy of India, we are progressing backwards (and hence the title). I would like to see social setup where same-sex partners don’t draw a single glance (forget about scornful looks) and be treated as routine or usual. Education won’t work here as I have seen educated people with extreme prejudices and closed minds. This is something else, this is to understand that there may be some other context/perspective from where we never try to analyze the notions. A view beyond our pre-configured, conditioned mind.

Talking about another view, I also need to tackle other side of this rejection also. Not everything wrong with India here it seems. If you rifle through bit of Google search pages and bit of deduction, you realized EA also thinking something else and may be all this “Gay” affair is nothing but safety switch. Already EA has released previous to installments of Dragon Age along with super hit Mass Effect series where you can pursue same-sex romances. Also I am surprised to see positive involvement from India in Gay Pride parade this year. Even I am pretty much sure that not a single Gamer who wants to romp through new Dragon age RPG really care about homo-sexuality (Even they will be happy that Games getting serious on depiction of such sensitive issues nowadays). Even Rockstar is regularly releasing GTA titles in India containing nudity and all. Problem here with EA is the popularity and demand with deep RPGs. I read that EA along with Bathesda (Whose absolutely brilliant Fallout 3 and New Vegas never released in India due to two-headed cow called “Brahmins”) ship only very limited copies to India when it comes to RPG. Potential market is very low here. And considering the fact that EA, Ubisoft, Bathesda, Rockstar are big names now in gaming giants they don’t want to take risk by releasing “law-suite prone” title whose sales are not promising enough to justify the risk of release. They are happy to leave marginal profit rather than spending more money on lawsuit.

This social commentary mixed economic “play” article has two improvement on concluding side. Indian mentality has to claw out to that unreachable edge of garbage dike, at the bottom of which it has managed to settle down after these many years (and still sinking in). At the same time, Gaming needs to be considered as art covering broader age-span which can have serious adult content not appropriate for children (and hence no to be indulged by children, same as Movie and other media). We cannot punish the media just because negligence of audience causing them to hurt their own sensibilities.

PS: EA has stopped all kind of distribution for Dragon Age: Inquisition i.e. physical as well as digital also in India. So either you can import via other country (buy from Amazon US-UK) or try some other digital distribution sites. You know the drill. (I will most probably import).