Uff! How vividly I remember that summer day – during the start of our summer vacations in class eleventh – when I went to watch this iconic film called QSQT. First day, first show. At the Paras cinema hall in South Delhi. All alone. Because of Juhi Chawla! Yes, only because of her, as I had become a fan of hers ever since she became Miss India! My friends had no such extra love for her and they refused to accompany me! I remember that the hall was as good as empty, with a handful of couples sitting far and wide! And what a film I enjoyed in the emptiness of that hall! For the next seven days, I kept going back to see the same movie with a different set of friends each time (with the last set of friends coming back repeatedly) as the crowds kept swelling. By the time we were watching the movie on the 8th day after buying tickets in ‘black’, QSQT was on its way to become one of the biggest blockbusters ever of Bollywood, and Aamir Khan one of the country’s biggest ever heartthrobs – at least for the next seven years till a certain DDLJ brought in a new Khan! And yes, my friends too had finally realised why I loved Juhi so much! QSQT was a pure love story in its true sense – as pure as the emotions of love could get – conveyed through a clean and beautiful film with great direction, music and acting.

Those indeed were amazing days. They used to more often make films which one could see time and again!

And while getting nostalgic one recent evening reading about QSQT’s 25 year celebrations, I wondered whether a QSQT will work again in today’s times. Coincidentally, after hearing praise aplenty from the student community, I went to see Aashiqui 2 the same evening and got my answer.

Aashiqui 2 is a Mahesh Bhatt film. He necessarily is someone who finds his place in the top 25 all-time influencers from the world of Bollywood. A top intellectual without doubt – even if his films are often nowadays branded on the borderline of soft porn. He started off with some of the greatest art-house films and realised that to survive in Bollywood, one needs commercial success. And since he couldn’t make unrealistic films, he and his extremely bold and talented family members decided to make films largely on some of the most real passions of humanity, and those that sell the most – sex and crime (what every media house of India today thrives on while often hypocritically criticising his films). With a tremendous and rare sense of music – always keeping ahead of its times – he is today the man behind one of the most commercially successful production houses. And someone who can sit back and claim that he never made popcorn movies that looked unreal! So I went to see Aashiqui 2 expecting a lot of passion and realism.   Read More....

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While the media demands special privileges because they claim that the press is the fourth pillar of Indian democracy and serves a national purpose, the sad reality, especially over the last two decades is, social conscience and pursuit of public good have been replaced by total commercialization of media. “As Rekha takes oath, the camera kept focussing on Jaya Bachchan’s priceless expressions”... Thus went the first few lines of articles on the first pages of all national dailies the day after Rekha took her oath in Rajya Sabha, and that is exactly what TV channels had done the day before! Add to that the shameless gossip about Amitabh and Rekha.What national purpose does this story serve? And that too as headlines in the front pages of respectable dailies? Or even as the key stories of TV channels? Yes, Rekha is a big star, and her swearing in makes news. But is this the way to cover the event? Aren’t there enough Bollywood shows on TV and entertainment pages in newspapers where such news could have been easily showcased? For that matter, a few days before this incident, the biggest stories were to do with the ‘hurt’ of our so called respectable MPs due to some cartoons in NCERT textbooks. Or for that matter the front page outcry over SRK’s detention in the US airport or Salman Rushdie not being allowed to attend the Jaipur Literature Festival or whom Oprah Winfrey met during her India visit or Robert Vadra saying he wants to join politics or the entire Sunny Leone saga or the scores of lines on who killed Aarushi Talwar or the two kids taken away by welfare authorities in Norway or for that matter even the entire big deal made out of Rahul Gandhi’s UP campaign!

Are the above the real issues that concern India? Of course not! The real issues that confront Indians are farmer suicides, crisis in Indian agriculture, pathetic human development indicators, a virtual collapse of the public health and education system, and rampant corruption because of a paralyzed judicial system.

The only issues highlighted by our media are very, very high profile corruption cases... that too without any follow-up. For example, it is almost a decade since the Ghaziabad PF scam came to light but who cares about following it up? Many witnesses have died mysteriously and keep dying regularly in each and every high profile case and how... Yet, there is hardly any follow up coverage in the media. Because – as I wrote in my earlier editorial – just like no lost child can wake this country up and change laws or school rules, similarly, no killed witnesses will wake this country up or change laws for their protection! And while our mothers keep dying at childbirth and our children keep dying before the age of 5 (in both these counts, our figures are shamefully comparable to those of sub-Saharan Africa while China’s are comparable to the most developed nations of the world), our media will keep our masses busy, feeding them the ‘Silsilas’ in our Rajya Sabha.  Read More....

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