Thursday, 13 August 2015

Movie Review : Lokmanya Ek Yugpurush




There are two ways to tell the story of an important individual : you can tell his lifestory chronologically, picking and focusing on important events to take the story forward smoothly; or you can do what Om Raut and Kaustubh Savarkar have pulled off in the one-of-a-kind “Lokmanya Ek Yugpurush”, treading new ground, and making a movie that belongs right up there in one of the hardest hitting, and yet deeply engrossing & entertaining movies to emerge out of India, a movie that strikes boldly out on its own into uncharted territory, giving a strong message and invoking deep thoughts in the bargain…


Lokmanya – Ek Yugpurush is not the story of Lokmanya Tilak; it is the story of his ideology, his thoughts, and his love his country. It is the story of a thought process, ek vichaardhaaraa; it is far beyond the story of just one mortal man. And, in doing so, it has left a deep impression on the viewer, and created a powerful medium for an impact on the human mind. It is the story of deep belief in ones’ culture and heritage; it is the story of pride and joy in just being Indian; it is the story of the rise & journey of one man from the ordinary Balwant Gangadhar Tilak… to the title of “Lokmanya”, by which all of Modern India remembers him till this day…


Where the narrative scores is the relative new method adopted : that of interleaving two stories, one the story of Lokmanya, and the other the modern day story of a young journalist. The journalist’s angle has been skillfully woven in & interleaved with the main theme, and focuses on what is wrong in Modern Indians, implying that we as a people have forgotten about the lessons of the independence struggle and the past. The twin themes in the modern story are the increasing penchant of Indians wanting to leave India and settle abroad, and the agrarian situation of farmer suicides.


The hardest hit is when the scenes of Lokmanya and his patriotism, his ideology come just after the modern scenes, leaving open the question : have we forgotten their sacrifices, and are we taking things for granted, are we creating the India they dreamt of? On one side, you have the freedom fighters who gave their all, as shown in the sacrifices of Lokmanya; and on the other, you have the modern educated Indian wanting to leave India or not focusing on real development of the rural majority among other things;  the same India they shed blood, sweat and tears for. On the one side, you have Lokmanya using education as a means of uplifting society and people,  leading to overall improvement in the people; and on the other, you have the modern Indian, chucking India for the West, or busy in his own self.



Subodh Bhave has delivered a stunner, an awesome performance, dominating the entire scene and movie with his stellar portrayal of Lokmanya. It had to be good to do justice to the individual : he was portraying a man who virtually every Indian can identify with, a man who is known just by one title : Lokmanya - throughout the length and breadth of India; a man known as the founder freedom fighter, the man called as the leader of the Independence struggle that eventually led to freedom. And Subodh has lived upto the role, the individual; so powerful is his portrayal, so brilliant, that it will be a long time before you forget this one.


Image result for subodh bhave



Image result for lokmanya ek yugpurush


Most important events of his life have been covered; that said – the focus is on the telling of his ideology, and juxtaposing Modern India and its manifest flaws vis-à-vis what Lokmanya represented. The film has many powerful secondary messages, like the one told through the child marriage issue. Lokmanya was opposed to any law on raising marriage age; and was insisting that true reform can only happen from within a society & religion through contact, discourse, discussion and education. You cannot legislate on these matters – especially if you do not understand the underlying social factors and precepts and the repercussions of intervention on the people.


Sadly, the movie also exposes brutally and bluntly the reality, the sad spectacle of Indian betraying Indian; a sorry story of how Indians cooperated willingly, fully and completely with the Raj; this is also evident in another Marathi Classic : Vasudev Balwant Phadke {the story of a revolutionary who attacked the British Raj, and was sold to them by treachery of Indians, with Ajinkya Deo also giving a blinder of a performance in the title role}. This exposes the social fractures and problem areas, as well as the penchant of treachery and placing oneself over the nation




The songs are classic,  both in the music and the lyrics, including one song based on the verses from Geeta : Karmanye Vaadhikaaraste Maaphaleshu Kadaachana, unique blend of a musical rendition of the verse interspersed with the commentary or interpretation, a deeply moving, educational and engrossing experience, an effort which is the stuff of legend. Add to that the class He Jeevan Aaple Saarth Karaa Re, and you have an ensemble of songs that are a collectors’ edition, moving, and powerful. Fully in keeping with the theme of the movie as well as doing justice to the memory of Lokmanya, as per me.  






All in all, this is a movie that is a hard-hitting, brutally blunt and yet entertaining movie that belongs right up there among the best movies ever made in any language in India; an effort of sheer class that is simultaneously educational as well as thought-provoking. Some comparisons the movie makes in the Modern settings may be an exaggeration, or even objectionable as it seems to equate the British with the corrupt modern people; but the inference and the implied message – that we might just be drifting far away from the ideals of our freedom fighters is an assumption well-founded in the current reality.



This is best summed up in the inference drawn by the Modern hero-heroine of the movie, that the stories of our freedom fighters as well as their ideology, their dreams and their passion needs to be translated and communicated in  the modern Indian; that there is a strong and felt need for telling, educating and convincing the people of Modern India and provoking their thoughts, kindling the same ideas within them and letting them understand what people like Lokmanya stood for, and how their ideas hold contemporary lessons for us. This is best told through the movement of one person from admiring the people moving to the USA – and moving her to an active contributor in making Modern India a better place, and striving to create a better India, rather than leave. Rated 5 stars; in closing, let me just place the stunning lyrics of the song He Jeevan Aaple Saarth Karaa Re : {S: Geetmanjusha.com - http://geetmanjusha.com/lyrics/12350-ya-jeevan-aaple-sarth-kara-re-या-जीवन-आपले-सार्थ-करा-रे} feel them! 


या जीवन आपले सार्थ करा रे 
राष्ट्रभक्ती निःस्वार्थ करा रे 
एकजुटीने कार्य करा या देशाचे 
या साथी बना अन सार्थ करा रे, मातृभूमी ही आज पुकारे 
जागृत होऊन कंकण बांधू दिवसरात्र जगण्याचे
मातेच्या पायाशी हे अर्पण प्राणांचे 
फेडूया ऋण आम्हा हा जन्म लाभला त्याचे 
घेऊ हे ब्रीद हाती आसेतुसिंधू नव हिंदुस्तानाचे 


भीती न आम्हा ह्या वज्र मुठींनी कातळ भेदू 
सीमा न कुठली हुंकार असा गगनाला छेदू 
ठाम निश्चय हा दुर्दम्य आमुची इच्छाशक्ती
हृदय पोलादी ना सोडी कधी राष्ट्रभक्ती
मातेच्या पायाशी हे अर्पण प्राणांचे 
फेडूया ऋण आम्हा हा जन्म लाभला त्याचे 
घेऊ हे ब्रीद हाती आसेतुसिंधू नव हिंदुस्तानाचे 


जन्म हा माझा होई सार्थ साचा, मुक्त माता होता 
हे एकची माझे ध्येय आता राष्ट्र असे घडवावे
हे भारतभू तुजसाठी आता जीवन अर्पावे


ज्योत ज्ञानाची स्फुल्लिंग मनाचे पेटून उठले 
स्वाभिमानाचे हे कुंड मनाचे मग धगधगले 
शृंखला तोडी हे दास्य आता ना साही कोणा
देश हा अमुचा स्वातंत्र्याचा अमुचा बाणा
मातेच्या पायाशी हे अर्पण प्राणांचे 
फेडूया ऋण आम्हा हा जन्म लाभला त्याचे 
घेऊ हे ब्रीद हाती आसेतुसिंधू नव हिंदुस्तानाचे

Wednesday, 12 August 2015

Reparations and Neo-Colonialism

The current narrative around reparations is that of ignoring it, focusing on our own development, and blaming ourselves {blaming ourselves is something I look at in future articles}. It is considered a sign of weakness by some, and is generally regarded as impractical by most Indians. In the previous article – { http://reflectionsvvk.blogspot.in/2015/07/retribution-reparation-and-colonialism.html } we had looked at neo-colonialism, and had concluded with the following questions :

Why should we ask for compensation? How should we go about it? What form should this compensation take? What are the strategic repercussions or alternatives, and what are our internal pressures and realities? How is colonialism not yet dead? This is what I look at in this article


WHY DEMAND COMPENSATION?
For understanding that, let us take a look at two current parameters - the current geopolitical situation to make a current point - not one placed in the historical damage; and the concept of Neo-Colonialism or Colonialism 2.0.  

Country A gives weapons and training to country B to instigate violence in Country C because of enmity of Country A with Country D. Now things get interesting. Country B uses these weapons, gives them to its own people to go into Country E and kill civilians. {E is nowhere in the picture from start to finish. Btw - E is India}. A knows that B is killing civilians in E, and ignores this.  


That is being human? Or is this being an Animal? If this is humanity, the definition of both civilised, civilisation and humanity needs changing in all dictionaries. Or take what happened in Iraq, Or take 1971, and almost a million of dead & refugees were ignored by the Great West because of an approach to China {
http://reflectionsvvk.blogspot.in/2013/10/book-review-blood-telegram-indias.html}. Or any other hot-spot in the world.


More to the point, it can be readily seen that this current geo-political construct is the outcome of the colonial past and the world order that emerged out of the past. Not only that, it also proves that we are still paying for the Colonial experience in current and practical terms : for the blind support to Country B at the expense of Country E is a direct outcome of The Second Great European War {So-Called WW2}, as the historical record proves {taken up on my blog with proof elsewhere}

In point of fact, all I am really asking is for Humans to become Humans again, not Animals. And for that to happen - you have no option but to opt for a higher objective, a nobler objective; howsoever outlandish it may seem at the current point in time. This seemingly noble and Gandhian statement has at its core a set of eminently practical parameters arising out of real-world issues and problems with a series of current repercussions. Basis current evidence, this is not happening : we are all of us, adamant on “moving on”!

But that observation yet again points to our pusillanimous subservience to The West : why else do we keep silent when their organisations scream Human Rights Violations in The East? The worst violators of Human Rights are the Western Nations themselves - this isnt even in debate! Any point, any way you look at it - high time we of the Orient, specifically Indians, started calling a spade a spade! But no, just the pusillanimous silence! And this silence and silent acceptance leads to serious issues for us as a people... that is also beyond debate!


Or we can also look at the Economic and Trade aspect: Colonialism 2.0 or Neo-Colonialism. Be it trade, economics, culture - any field; why this western universalist viewpoint? Why cant people just accept the differences and learn to live with them? And why is it so much of a problem if somone in the East tries and corrects the problem, at times going overboard in the other direction - RSS, as an excellent example? Why must we toe the obviously incorrect western created narrative?


That mindset is the core issue here - West can pay damages to the West, and no one says a word. But the East isnt even thinking of asking damages from the West, and looking inward instead. Why? The international system dictates so is one reason - western created, by the way. If we are to realise our dreams of being developed, this mindset has to go; we have to believe in ourselves, our culture, our history, our heritage, our lifestyle - everything. Apeing only creates - .....


Apes. Not tigers. It is for us to decide - are we Apes, or are we Tigers? We claim to be tigers, but behave like apes! And tigers make their own path... unless we make our own path, we will remain Apes. And be regarded as such. Tigers listen to no one; once a Tiger, always a Tiger.


NEO-COLONIALISM : THE UGLY REALITY
Next, the former colonial masters. Will they give it back? Willingly, they wont. Does that mean we put our tail between our legs and slink away beaten? Why were other nations made to pay reparations? Because the losers were Europeans? Why does the same principle not apply to India? Just because of some ludicrous stupidity that Germany lost a war? Germany is but one example, what matters is our own reality, history, justice and needs.



What about current trade policies, which are manifestly pro-western, and designed to benefit The West at the cost of the East? Why should we be forced to cut Carbon Emissions - whereas facts clearly who is damaging the Earth to what extent as just one example? Thus, we are subsidising the Western lifestyle, paying through our nose? What is different? This is rape in a different form! Ditto IPRs on pharmaceuticals, and innumerable other examples? Like the nonsense on AMS, or our food security - for which we had to fight tooth and nail against those fell-fed and rich nations? {The food security thing may be good for us, or bad, That is beside the point}


Any which way you look at it, Colonialism is alive and well. Look at the UN. Look at Arms to Pakistan. Why do we need to spend on fighting on our borders so much? Why should be have to fight terror in our own backyard? Because these  westerners looked the other way and gave free arms to Pakistan. That is a fact! There is a British former PM on record saying we should have listened to India. Indian Blood was worse than mud then, and as I see it, it still counts less than mud in 2015. Had it been otherwise, they would have stopped giving arms to Pakistan! We are still paying in blood and money, 67 years after independence!

What scares me is that we arent dealing with a race and a people known for intelligence; foresight and intelligence are not the hallmarks of The Western Civilization. We are dealing with a people with a defined and well-underscored penchant for total callousness, complete amorality, and in-your-face selfishness. This has been proven through the slavery and the colonial experience; problem is that the situation is still the same. They havent changed : witness what happened in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, or to India in 1971, or through the 80s decades. Despite unquestionable evidence of the harm of their policies in terms of blood {To India}, they went ahead for their strategic gains. This continues till date.


That is indicative of extreme callousness and brutality of an unimaginable order. It is like I said - Indian blood is cheaper than mud to them. {Sorry for the bad words- but the lovely bullets you give to my cousin Pakistan are used to kill my brethren in India. Dont expect me to be delighted about it}. The saddest aspect is that some among us strive to reach precisely those shores and that civilization that harms India no end, but that is another story 


This is also evident in all economic policies of the developed world, which are, not to put too fine a point to it, reprehensible in the extreme. I recall one such statement : "we are standing up today for the rights of our domestic producers". The incident alluded to above – and there are others  - indicates the complete unwillingness of the West to accommodate {let alone repay or adjust or apologise} genuine eastern needs, wants and developmental challenges. That is why I fear the repercussions that would be inevitable; therefore, I advise caution. We are dealing with established idiots and fools {It takes stupidity on quite a stupendous scale to do what these idiots have done in the past 250 years}.



It has to stop. Enough is enough. How do we do it? Fight them - and we lose. That is why we are willingly reducing Carbon Emissions, despite the manifest unfairness {as a small example}. It is our land, and we have to take care of it. Using underhanded tactics is also idiotic, as the West should have - but hasnt - learnt yet. We arent that stupid.


What then? Ask them to pay? They will never pay; not willingly. Had they been that intelligent, they would never have done any number of rank stupidities as is evident from History. {Shashi Tharoor has rightly ripped into the UK in a few short and blunt lines - The British were the only people stupid enough in history to make enemies of the Americans! I extend that to the entire West}. Had they been that smart, they would have read the situation that is arising, negotiated a mutual settlement. They didnt - and carried on into Neo Colonialism. The rest is history : itihaas gawaah hai!

What are we to do then?



The only logical answer : Khudi Ko Kar Buland Itna, Ke Upar Waalaa Khud Poochhe - Bataa Teri Razaa Kyaa Hai!... this is what I look at in the third and concluding article in this mini-series

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Book Review : The Indian Media Business - 4th Edition

The Indian Media Business 4th Edition  
ByVanita Kohli  Khandekar

Image result for the indian media business (english) 4th editionThis is the updated 4th edition of the Book “The Indian Media Business”; if you are a deep student of Indian Business / Indian Media, then don’t miss this updated edition; but if you have read the 3rd edition, and are not too serious about Business in India as a student or analyst, then you can give this a pass. This edition has many changes to it that warrants its listing as a separate book almost; these flesh out the previous material, and make for an interesting and absorbing read. There is a new introductory chapter in the beginning of the book, as well as an analytical section in each chapter, updated data and more relevant graphics, more relevant and updated regulations, changes and history, making it overall a far superior effort to the previous one




THE FUTURE OF INDIAN MEDIA – {Introduction}

This is a short, 3-4 page analysis of the trends in Indian Media, taking a look at investment, profitability, fragmentation, consumer trends and segmentation; and is replete with excellent supportive data on reach, growth in media, time spent, revenues, investment, Media Groups etc
·                   The constant comparison {or, to be more precise, examples of  and from} with the developed markets, throughout the book, seems premature and out of place for the Indian scenario. This is a significant downside of the book – although it does give interesting insights of the international scene. Since this concerns Media – differences in Economic Status, Culture, Stage Of Development of the Industry renders any comparative look irrelevant.
·                   The notation – the consistent western notations make no sense, as we are attuned to thinking in terms of Lakh and Crore; thus, notations in Million and Billion are, frankly, useless, and are a major strain os you struggle to compare with other numbers you have read, or place it in perspective with Indian Data. This is a major problem throughout the book.
·                   The value-judgement on segmentation along linguistic or cultural lines has been treated, in my opinion, in a dismissive fashion – when the reality could just as well be that this is what is actually firming cultural ties, preventing domination of one tongue, leading to deepening democracy and prevention of fissiparous tendencies In its own small way



PRINT : {The Indian Print Industries Death-Defying Growth will continue for some some}
The analysis on print is excellent, the objections notwithstanding; with a superb presentation of why Print is in no danger, and will continue strong in India. It also identifies the threat of corruption of content very accurately in a separate segment, which is top-class, alongwith the presented linkage to advertising revenues. It presents a complete overview of the entire print scenario spanning magazines as well as dailies, regulations, metrics, valuations, changing readership trends etc
·                   Again, Language Newspapers and Media has not got the attention it deserves; this book is largely focused on the English Media, although around 90% of the material is generic and applicable to Print in general, and extensive data for even language media has been presented. That said, the focus in terms of analysis, space in the book and interpretation is lacking
·                   To be fair, the author has herself identified this with an exemplary case study on Hindi Newspapers, with some tough questions, like the over-emphasis by advertisers on the English Media – leading to the question, are brands reaching the right consumers? More research is needed-  but there, we are absent in both universities and companies…




TELEVISION : {The Indian Television Market is finally coming into its own}

One of the best chapters of the book – exhaustive, detailed, comprehensive and spectacular in content as well as analysis.
·                   Virtually flawless in its entirety, with an excellent coverage of issues , though it does tend to, yet again, miss the chance of analyzing the rise of regional channels fully, as well as advertising revenues by language
·                   The preference, in my humble opinion, of pay revenues begets the question – is this model workable in India? Can all Indians pay high fees? What about the regulation? The identified problem of cartelization in the book advocates a more measured response, and that regulated pricing is the only way forward; in a limited competition, the risk of rising prices cannot be negated.
·                   Further, the comparison with developed markets is again premature, as the paying power of consumers is much lesser in India; the elitist focus on pay models, or the opinion on exclusive broadcast rights of national events comes across as being pro-Corporate; the Indian consumer cannot afford to pay for access that the focus on pay or exclusivity will inevitably bring




FILMS : {In its 100th year, Indian Cinema look young, fit, and with it}
An excellent chapter, which identifies trends and developments that will surprise the reader; this is a chapter that is riveting and well presented, with several deep learnings and take-aways

·                   Again the comparison with Developed Markets! How can you compare ticket prices across India and the USA? What about the difference in purchasing power?Are we reaching all audiences? Can the poor afford your multiplexes? The pay models? Don’t they have a right to fun?What about developing alternative models for them, and not just in films? Cant some out-of-the-box thinking create a market out of that?
·                   “underworld money - industry is absolutely clean” : on what basis? No proof presented…
·                   The fragmentation of the market between NRI preferences and Resident Indian Preferences, local and regional preference variation elevates this chapter to the stuff of legend, with proof; as is the divide between A and B class cities in India.




MUSIC : {The music industry best symbolizes the possibilities and perils of digital}

The story of how an industry can adjust, revive and ride to glory, overcoming all converting challenges into opportunities… The story of music is, in the words of the author herself, is  “that digital can really trouble you, disrupt your business and make life miserable for you, but if you can harness it, it can still deliver”. That about sums it up; all other industries can learn from this excellent chapter! The big surprise of the chapter is the fact that of the Music Industry’s  Rs. 1060 Crore sales  in 2012, 60% came from new formats or non-physical sales.
·                   A flawless in its entirety, I could not find anything out of place in this entire chapter; which is replete with facts, is free from any assumptions unlike the previous ones…




RADIO : {The Radio business really needs to move on}

Yet another thought-provoking chapter, this goes deep into the Radio mess, looking at all issues relating to the current mess, from license fees to roll-out to content to localization in a very well-crafted chapter. The main take-away from the chapter is a superb detailed analysis of the Licensing norms and process, and a small examination of how decision paralysis is impacting the industry and spectrum both. That said, this chapter could have been better :
·                   Focus on content, especially localized content, could have been greater; while it is true that localization has, for the first time in the book,  got adequate space, the focus in not on the nature, language, content of the programmes; that could have been attempted. Content is the product – not radio; further, how will radio fare against Saavn, Hungama etc? How can FM differentiate and make itself more relevant? This I missed in the chapter
·                   A small notation : radio, with its relative ease of setting up, needs regulation more than most, imho : due to security considerations primarily, I don’t think this can be argued with




DIGITAL : { Stop, take a breath, Digital. Think about where you are headed }
A fantastic and deep look at the current status of digital and telecom, and emphasizes the felt need for a re-look, a re-think and the requirement of a sense of direction. The prologue successfully tackles the belief that Digital is a panacea in a sharp 5-6 page critical analysis, proving that it is anything but a panacea and a utopian ideal, using data, facts and figures to make its point. This one is a genuine surprise in some parts. It deals with convergence, fragmentation, ROI, Scale, Consolidation in a few behemoths, that no one is trying to grow the medium strategically and that there exist huge errors in companies in this field,
·                   I will just paraphrase the author here for emphasis : I cannot put it better. “This chapter then is an attempt to create a structure around all the forms of media emerging as a result of the affairs and marriages between old and new formats, between technology and content, between the medium and the message. It collapses the two old chapters on Internet and Telecom into one overarching one”. Top stuff- convergence is the future!




OUT-OF-HOME { The similarities between out of home media and cable TV are startling } & EVENTS { Everything is an event }

The last two chapters deal with the underdogs in media – out of home, and events. These two are deeply interesting, as for the first time, adequate attention has been paid to these two step-daughters of Media, given their historical treatment by us not from the Media trade at least. As in the rest of the chapters, everything from valuation, regulation, how the business works, history to current issues and major players to growth challenges have been covered in detail, making for a most absorbing read! The only miss is that the out-of-home completely ignores {apart from one mention in a table} Wall-Paintings, which were the mainstay in rural India; one can still spot these wall-paintings.


CONCLUSION
The book is a one-of-a-kind, placing in one place regulations, business internal, valuations, metrics, history, operation, challenges, issues, current operational methods,  – making it a top-notch resource if you want to have a overall understanding of the Indian Media business, as well as a starting point for deep studies. Reading this gives one a comprehensive idea of the trade in at least the basics. A must read for everyone in  Marketing, to be honest.

The book is good at tracing the genesis on each industry right to its beginnings, studying the interplay of market forces and regulations, also interventions, that lead to the current state of affairs – giving deep insights into both market forces as well as the good side of regulation & the perils of over-regulation. It identifies burning issues like Consolidation, content corruption, regulatory hurdles while also going deep into the genesis of some of these issues, while also examining how these industries actually operate, making this book a unique resource, and easily one of the best Business Books I have read.