Sunday, June 4, 2017

Entertain Us! (Part I)

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As a child of the 1980’s, I like most of my peers had three forms of entertainment.  The first were the weekly comic strips that were listed on the last page of newspapers like The Time of India.  From Monday to Friday, my friends and I would rush home from school, fling our bags and bottles to one side and grab the newspaper, which for me meant snatching it from my ever loving and kind grandfather, plonking myself on the sofa and with bated breath see how The Phantom and Mandrake battled evil doers and villains.  The stark black and white images, which in retrospect seem dull and boring, never once dampened my enthusiasm back then.  Shortly thereafter we had a children’s comic newspaper called “The World In Pictures” if I do remember correctly and my brain has not fogged up that badly.  Though it did not last very long, it gave us another way to understand the world around us and also something to look forward to each month, in the mail.  One might say, though in a poorer way, it gave us a sense of anticipation to watch out for the postman, just like children our age in the U.S.A. did when they waited for their latest comic issues of Batman and Spiderman


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The second form of entertainment came when the only television channel in the country named Doordarshan, which we kids called “The Big D” lost its sense of being a master of boring content and twice in a year showed a small ounce of mercy by screening a few television kids’ shows during the holiday seasons.  These cartoons included He-Man and the Masters of the Universe and G.I. Joe.  At those times, even if someone had yelled fire, there was no way any of us would have left our spots in front of the old black and white or in some cases grainy color screens that graced our homes back then.  In relation to that the third form of entertainment was in watching movies that aired once a week on The Big D or lo and behold on a VCP (Video Cassette Player) or VCR (Video Cassette Recorder) at a rich relative’s home.  Going to the theater was not as accessible to us as it is nowadays.  But while we often heard through other friends and family who had either traveled to or settled abroad about the great wonders of entertainment that were on offer in the West, we never felt deprived in any sense.  To make up for what was lacking we had outdoor games and shops that sold a range of toys that we could amuse ourselves with.  Life overall seemed pretty complete.  But then came the economic liberalization of 1991 and with it our lives would never be the same again.  With the advent of Star TV and numerous consumer brands entering the country over the next few years, my peers and I along with the rest of India were about to awaken to a new era of what true entertainment could be like and more importantly how we could also play a role in it. Next Take please! 


(To Be Continued) 

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Bad Is The New Good!


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Quite a few people know that I am a diehard comic book lover.  From Batman to Spider-Man I have voraciously gobbled up every detail about various characters from both the DC and Marvel universes.  Not to mention I have watched endless hours of film and cartoon adaptations as well as had the good fortune in recent years to be able to attend the new wave of annual Comic-Con events that are being hosted in the country.  Plus, as you would guess I also collect graphic novels and have a pretty neat collection nicely wrapped up for posterity.  But while I do enjoy all of this, there is one thing about this pop culture universe that I have begun to pay more attention to over the past few years.  Unlike yesteryear movies and cartoons from the 60’s to the 90’s, the 2000’s, according to me, have depicted a very different image of comic book heroes presented on the silver screen. 

Image Source: figures.com
Back when I was growing up, comic heroes and heroines were respected and loved by the publics that they protected and served.  The good guys were praised and even when their behavior came into question, the world at large gave them the benefit of doubt and allowed them the opportunity to set things right.  On the other side, bad guys were as you can imagine disliked and almost always incurred the scorn of society.  The balance of what was good and bad was quite close to black and white.  However, with the advent of the 2000’s things took a “different turn.”  But before I continue I’ll admit an error on my part here, which is that I felt that this “different turn” could be traced back to 2005 when the first of Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies appeared.  But only recently was I made aware that this happened years before such as in 1986 with the release of the elite comic title – The Dark Knight Returns.  Nonetheless, the “different turn” I’m referring to, was that while comic heroes continued to put themselves at personal risk and selflessly work to safeguard their cities or humanity at large, the larger public regarded these defenders of justice with skepticism at best and repulsion at worst.  It also seemed that the bad guys were being revered and dare I say forgiven very quickly for their crimes, while the heroes were being crucified and condemned. 

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Somewhere it seems to have become fashionable with comic and film storytelling to paint those that stood up for justice and the punishment of wrong doing as the actual villains, while henchman and their crime bosses were hardly called out for their actions.  Plus, there was a great sense of ingratitude on the part of the larger public.  Case in point The Dark Knight movie.  But taking it one step further is the recent Captain America: Civil War movie.  Clearly Iron Man was in the right but yet everyone on the Avengers team turns against him and sides with the movie’s namesake.  Captain America in his love quest to save his friend Bucky, acts like a complete douchebag by breaking laws, annihilating innocent security personnel and nearly killing Tony Stark in the process.  Some of course may try to justify his act by saying that Bucky was brainwashed and was not responsible for the crimes he committed.  However, my take would be that still does not justify his crimes.  Better still is that most comic fans I know sided with Captain America.  But you can tell that I didn’t! :-) 

Image Source: lasertimepodcast.com
That aside, if I think about it a bit more, maybe these comics and movies are a reflection of the world that we live in today that has turned into many shades of grey, where we cannot clearly call out what is good and bad without someone else or another group totally losing their minds about it.  Nonetheless, I yearn to see a positive change in comic and celluloid storytelling, where we can salute those heroes and heroines for who they are and for what they do and see that larger public applaud their efforts.  Perhaps I’m way too old school (or taking this more seriously than it should be).  But either ways, until that happens, it seems that for now we must continue to accept that being “bad is the new good!”  Next Take please!

Monday, October 17, 2016

Dream Crazy!

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Holding on to a dream and trying to make it come to life is no doubt a daunting task.  It is not easy in any way.  You wouldn’t be wrong for giving up on it or perhaps them.   Sometimes our dreams do not come to life because either we are short of time, money or influence or that the world is not yet ready to experience what we have to offer.  This is why it is so important to build one’s ability to persevere as well as grow one’s own individual wisdom as they both help a person navigate the course to tangibly bring to life a thought that germinated in their mind.  But strengthening those two elements is only possible by remaining observant and engaged in living.  Letting things run on an auto-pilot mode or adopting a ‘go with the flow’ attitude will only lead one down a road to ruin, where their dream(s) as Paulo Coelho says will become the stuff of nightmares that haunt a person with regret in their later years. Yet while many know that, they tend to slip towards the latter. 

So, how does a person stay the course when all else seems to have failed or when nothing seems to be working?  Well as many wise sages have always said that it is important to regard failure is an enabler and not a ridiculer.  It is vital to learn and keep challenging oneself to try something new, which is different from their previous attempt(s).  Equally important is the need to keep one’s hobbies and passions alive, for by doing so will one be able to get the energy they need to think, ask the right questions and figure out how they can attempt to succeed at what others consider crazy. 

Essentially, a dream is a unique mission bestowed upon those who are capable of making them happen.  So the next time you get a strange thought in your head, which urges you to spur yourself into action to achieve something significant, please heed that thought.  In other words, dream crazy.  Next Take please! 


Monday, September 12, 2016

Go Fish!

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The grayish pool of water lay before me, stretching away towards the horizons.  Breaking through at various points across its shimmering surface lay a string of boulders that to any onlooker, would indicate how treacherous a journey it would be to cross over to the other side.  I continued walking along the boulevard and thought to myself if what I was about to do was worth it.  I had made many journeys in my life, but none were quite like this one.  It was different because the decision to undertake it and the possible consequences that it could have would not only affect me but a few others as well.  If I failed, several innocent lives would be badly hurt.  Perhaps that was what was making me feel so uncomfortable.  “Taking responsibility will be mine alone,” I said to myself in a soft whisper. 

My Photograph
I saw the throng of strangers as they walked by on this evening, oblivious to the battle raging within my mind.  I stopped and cast my eyes towards the distant buildings that embellished the bay, while I wondered if I should postpone the inevitable.  “If you do, then you won’t grow,” said a voice behind me.  I had no reason to turn around quickly as I knew who the owner of those words was.  I slowly shifted towards my right and said, “Well I think I’ve grown enough and honestly, I don’t think that I need to grow any further.”  I heard his footsteps reach my side and as I continued my sojourn I glanced to my right to see the smiling face of Ali Mehdi.   “That’s true my friend but as scary as it is, you need to know that if you ignore what’s really going on within your heart and keep pushing away what you really should be doing then you’re doing a great disservice to the entire universe.  Trust me I would know that,” he said.  “But Ali, I’ve seen failure happen before.  I’ve seen dreams become nightmares and I’ve seen how the price paid for falling short of a goal is far too overbearing,” I said.  “I know you have but unlike before you have the means of understanding what faith really is and that will help you overcome any challenge there is.  You mustn’t give up!” he said.

My Photograph
I glanced at him and stopped near to where some fishing boats were anchored.  “You see these boats.  Every time a fisherman goes out, he risks everything from his life, his money, his crew and everything else.  But he does not let the fear of those risks get to him.  Whether there’s no catch for the day or a storm occurs or his boat may sink due to a crack in the wood, he still goes out there.  Do you know why?” Ali asked.  “Because he needs the money?” I said indifferently.  “No because it’s the adventure of a new day and with it comes the challenge he relishes of knowing he is going to beat the odds.  For when he does so and stays brave in the face of danger, he knows that the universe will reward him,” said Ali. I turned slowly to look at him. “It is the fisherman’s acceptance of the challenge into the great unknown that makes him receive the blessing that life has to offer.  Even though he knows he may fail, he realizes that to accept fear is to accept a prison sentence of slow death.  You may not see it happen just yet but over time your mind, body and heart wither away, leaving a hollow shell within which you suffer greatly.  Fighting for what your heart truly believes in, keeps your spirit fresh and vibrant and even though times may get rough, the universe will always shower you with life giving rain, which in the end makes you grow to heights you cannot even begin to imagine.  Think about that!” said Ali and he turned and walked away along the path leading to the setting Sun. Next Take please!

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Prophets Of Doom

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I had touched upon this topic several years ago in another article (see: Doomsday) but felt compelled to revisit it once again.  It seems that there is a growing intensity in the media as well as in popular culture that includes movies, documentaries, television shows, books as well as online platforms, where a bulk of people seem to be obsessed with “end of the world” concepts and scenarios.  It is true that there are many things going horribly wrong in our times such as war, terrorism, famines, global warming etc.  No doubt these issues need to be tackled with potent counter measures and intelligent leaders, who are willing to walk their talk.  But if one were to take a step back and look at the bigger picture, they would find that the world has been plagued by similar adversities for many centuries now.  Poverty and disaster are not new issues that cropped up exclusively in the 21st century.

Image Source: inquisitr.com
Further, a closer inspection reveals that many positive changes have occurred in equal measure and in some cases overflowed the embankments of their epicenters and spread around the globe.  Sadly though, these seemed to be completely ignored.  Instead, conversations, news reports and thoughts seem to be gravitating with more intensity towards the negative, with far less leaning in favor of what is positive and right with the world.  Equally disturbing at times, is how a lot of people seem to relish the supposed omens or premonitions, which point to worldwide doom, where they even cite various prophecies by say Nostradamus and Vanga to corroborate their views. 

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While Nostradamus may have predicted certain events, which many claim have occurred just as he foretold, he also wrote other material, where he implored humanity to reflect on its current actions.  From that point, he strongly contended that if humanity could transform itself, where the hearts of people spewed out the venom of prejudice and absorbed the nectar of love and compassion, then the future itself could alter its course away from the highway of destruction he foresaw ahead.  Nostradamus himself believed in the transformative power humanity possessed and did have faith that the world would move ahead in a more progressive and positive direction.  However, those responsible for making that happen include the one who has written these words and ones who are reading them right now.  Next Take please!