Tag Archives: KASHMIR

KASHMIR AND THE DELUGE – A FINE MUDDLE IN A HUGE PUDDLE !

Its early September and Kashmir Valley is in bloom and bustling with tourists.Then it rains for 6 continuous days and soon South Kashmir and the State capital, Srinagar, are submerged under water.With flood waters raging and a dysfunctional State administration the situation became dire and unleashed untold misery on the people, who were left to fend for themselves.

Just prior to the rains, the Pir Panjal Ranges had witnessed heavy snow fall and rapid melting and combined with incessant rains the Jhelum and its tributaries soon brimmed over.Water levels rose steadily and hundreds perished and many thousands remained marooned.

Left to themselves, the local population found its heroes amongst its youth, shikara operators and hundreds others who risked their lives to save others.Make shift rafts, human chains and lines laid across swollen waterways led to the rescue of a huge number of flood victims.At this stage the Indian Army (IA) ,though reeling under the effect of the floods, mobilised more than 250 flood relief columns and went about its job professionally and rescued thousands of people and re-established road and communication links and set up temporary relief camps and dispensaries.The Indian Air Force (IAF) too played its part.

Social media sprung into action and set up numerous links to help those who were stranded in remote areas.Aircel extended its services universally to all mobile users and Indigo airlines joined in as well.NGOs and local youth set up adhoc call centres to provide details of survivors and convey messages from those yet to be recovered.

It was the combined effort of all involved that let to some succour being provided in those harrowing days.

This is when “Peepli Live ” happened.

The media arrived , not at the scene, but in New Delhi and started imagining wild fantasies.Arnab Goswamy shouted and posed questions to which he didnt want answers to.Overnight,it seemed, he had conducted a survey (with the flood waters rising) of every individual in the Valley and arrived at the conclusion (?) that none acknowedged the effort of the IA.

And Barkha Dutt? She went on an aerial survey in a service aircraft and without wetting as much as her little finger assessed all about the situation !

Both these characters and many others like them – self styled (idiots?) custodians of the image of the Security Forces – depicted the people of Kashmir as ungrateful because they had failed to acknowledge the “heroic efforts” of the IA, an institution they reviled, yet were saved by its efforts.Nothing could have been dumber than this and more damaging too!

Did the IA do a favour?No! The institution knows its role and its commitment towards the citizen of the country.It just did its job and sought no reward or recognition.The good work done by the IA was negated by this unwanted media hype.And for old mindsets to change it takes time and not hectoring by the likes of Dutt and Goswamy.

For this yeomen service to the Nation, Barkha and Arnab should permanently travel to the deepest Amazon jungle and cover the “effect of sun light on the menopause of the butterfly” for the rest of their lives.

Interestingly,during the trying times the face of the State administration was Omar Abdullah alone.Where were the others – DC, the Police and the ministers?All had vanished ! They probably thought that if they aren’t around they wouldn’t be blamed at all ! And that after the floods not many would remain to remember it anyway!!!

The Minister for Flood Control didn’t do anything about the measures required while there was time as he thought that his job was to control the flood when it happened and not prevent it !!! (English language !!)

Many blame the CM for not pulling up his colleagues to make them respond during the crisis.But he did “tweet” in his own inimitable style.But could not reach them.So its not their fault, right?After all they are all Cerelac babies and needed to be spoon fed !

The Police too vanished and it seems they have decided to sacrifice themselves to reslove the financial crisis in the State.After this “no show” the Police in the State is now ready to be disbanded and the money thus saved could go towards flood relief !

The Amul ad/ topical on the Kashmir floods depicts a flooded Jhelum and the IA personnel assisting in evacuation of the local population by wading in the raging waters.The Amul Girl is one amongst those being rescued. The strip is showcasing the relief and rescue efforts of the IA but could have done a better job by depicting the efforts of the locals too.

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The Tag Line.Mission Koshishmir..is a play on a hindi movie title “Mission Kashmir” and the hindi word “koshish” which means “to try” and on the name of the Kashmir State.It accentuates upon the mission of the IA to rescue as many people from the floods as possible.

The Punch LineSpread the Word…talks about spreading the word regarding the people still stranded and to be rescued as also subtly endorses the Amul butter.

When Omar Abdullah had been passed on the baton by his father Faroque Abdullah,a lot was expected from the young Chief Minister.With the largesse of lineage to back him he had the mandate to go beyond the normal discourse and stereotype in Kashmiri politics.But he largely failed to control the local “satraps” and in all was a damp squibThis hurt the people of Kashmir when they needed his leadership the most.A previous Amul ad strip on Omar Abdullah had captured the hopes that his elevation in politics had raised.

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The Amul ad shows caricatures representing the father son duo on a shikara (a traditional boat used in Kashmir) with Faroque Abdullah having a reassuring arm over Omar’s shoulder and seemingly presenting him to the people as the new face of the state leadership.The tag line and the Punch line are a take on Omar Abdullah’s name and his elevation to the post of Chief Minister.The Amul Girl is shown rowing the Shikara in the Dal Lake, in traditional Kashmiri attire.

In the final analysis, what emerges is that similar floods have hit Srinagar in 1902 and 1959 as well and the lessons were there for all to pay heed to.Yet the deluge was a direct consequence of the neglect of flood control infrastructure and exploitation of wetlands.Flood-monitoring systems are on all rivers in the country with the exception of J&K as the Indus Water Treaty (IWT) has handed over all of Kashmir’s rivers to Pakistan – but given them no concomitant management rights. Besides, there is no room for storage on Jhelum and limited storage on Chenab.

In 2010 the State government had predicted a massive flood within 5 years and recommended preventive measures.Nothing was done about it.Time is up and there’s no guarantee this wont happen next year as well.Its winters in the Valley and no infrastructure can come up before next summer.So lets just keep our fingers crossed.

For the people of Kashmir – see through the media smokescreen.There was genuine effort from the IA and the entire Nation stood by you and felt your pain.

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NOW SERVING – SHAKESPEAREAN OMELETTE WITH INDIAN CHUTZPAH !

A successful director, a yet-to-prove-himself actor & a Kashmiri journalist as the script writer along with generous support from Shakespeare, have combined to create a critically acclaimed but controversial Bollywood flick – “Haider”.

“Haider” is an adaptation of the Shakespearean classic- Hamlet. Set in the militancy ridden Kashmir of the 1990s the plot has betrayal, love and revenge intricately woven together. Adapting it to Kashmir in a particular period is a challenge well met. Revolving around the revenge that the wronged son seeks for his father’s betrayal and death, from his uncle, the lead characters Shahid Kapoor (Hamlet), Tabu (Queen Gertrude), KK Menon (Uncle Claudius), Irrfan Khan (Ghost), Shraddha Kapoor (Ophelia) have rendered power packed and committed performances. The ability of Vishal Bharadwaj,the Director, to get the best out of the cast is amply showcased as well.

It’s a satisfying finale for Bharadwaj, as with “Haider”, he has successfully (commercially as well) completed his Triology on Shakespearean plays – Maqbool (Macbeth) & Omkara (Othello) being the other two.

“Haider” portrays the rigours of daily life in a strife torn Kashmir way back in the 90s.Its setting and the depiction of the Indian Army’s (IA) role in the conflict in light of the sequence of the destruction of the house while smoking out militants, alleged custodial disappearances as also the supposed torture methods has tended to portray the Army in a negative and controversial shade by the script writer,Basharat Peer.

Some have even lamented that the Indian government “imposed 41 cuts” on “Haider”, through the censor board. Well, 35 of those have been imposed by Bharadwaj himself for getting the length right!

I think the next project that these India baiters and conscience keepers should take up can be a flick on the strife torn areas under the Islamic State (IS), where they will be filming as embedded journalists (without bullet proof jackets- BPJs) and depicting the barbaric nature of the IS fighters and their excesses. The IS has kindly consented not to cut the film short through its censor board (unlike the Indian government!). Instead they have decided to cut a head from the production unit each time they find something objectionable. So, Basharat, Vishal & Shahid would you like to take this on? No censor board.Liberal enough, right?

And why no BPJs? Because the IS made up its own deficiency – so to hell with the film unit!

Okay I made a difficult offer. Why not film in Swat on the dangerous liaison between the ISI and the Taliban. An issue worth taking up( like the supposed excesses of the IA). FYI, Geo TV tried this and their license was withdrawn and offices ransacked ! So, game for it? No?…..Why? After all no censor board, just the Taliban and the ISI…AND YOUR LUCK!

By the way a word about the Pakistan Censor Board. They banned Ranjhana as it showed a love story between a Muslim girl and a Hindu boy (?)! Then they banned Khiladi 786 as the use of the number could hurt religious sentiments (??). Banned Chennai Express as it was against the business interests of the Pakistani film industry (???). And also Agent Vinod because…wait…well that wasn’t way off the target and their Indian counterparts should have done it for the sheer torture it inflicted on the audience!!!

I have a few themes in mind too.

To begin with, an Indianised Charlies Angels as “Subramaniam Swamy’s Angels” starring Jaylalita, “Madame ” Gandhi and our very own Mr Kejriwal.

Then “The Wolf of Raisina Hill” directed by Kapil Sibal designed to expose the guile and cunning of one man who has jettisoned the Grand Old Party into outer space.

Adaptation of “Hum aapke hain kaun” to have a climax in which the dog (as in the original) entrusted with handing over the letter of support from the Shiv Sena (Madhuri Dixit) to the BJP (Salman Khan) mistakenly hands it over to the NCP (Monish Behl).Unlike the original there would be no union between Madhuri & Salman but Monish will do all he can to keep Salman away …oops..confusion…to keep the Shiv Sena away!!!

Not too sure if these will pass the Censor scrutiny though.

The Amul ad/ topical on the movie Haider depicts a scene from the movie with a caricature depicting Shahid Kapoor’s character sitting in the snow with the Amul Girl filling in for Shraddha Kapoor’s character. The detailing is good with the protagonists being shown in the same attire as in the movie complete with the chequered kurtas ,the pink scarf, the umbrella and the facial resemblance.

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The Tag Line….Try with Haider Bread or Rotiis clever play on the ubiquitous acceptability of the Amul butter with any kind of bread or roti (flat bread)as well as on the name of the movie itself.

The Punch Line.. A Modern Day Classicis a subtle way of showcasing the quality of the Amul butter by using the expression that can best describe the cinematic effort that went into creating a critically acclaimed movie.

Lastly, to those who have felt aggrieved at the negative depiction of the IA, be rest assured it’s an institution with intrinsic strength and cannot be swayed by its depiction in a movie. The IA’s actions are there to speak for itself. It is one of the few armies which has not hesitated in taking the harshest actions against its own in order to right a wrong. In a conflict there are many situations when shades of grey emerge, but over time the IA has been able to discern through these too and made sure that its impartial and just image and ethics are upheld at all times.

By the way, the Lion King too was an adaptation of the “Hamlet” (Simba=Hamlet & Scar = evil uncle) and Lion King II…an adaptation of “Romeo & Juliet“!

Shakespearean omelettes always taste good and to make them better add some Chutzpah…yes you can..in India.Other places?Well…they may shoot first and that too to kill !!!

POST SCRIPT

3rd February 2015;In the recently announced 60th Filmfare Awards 2015 winners list saw the Bollywood movies ‘Queen’ and ‘Haider’ sweeping the field with a whopping six and five awards respectivley.

The Amul ad/topical on the Filmfare Awards shows the Amul Girl with the runaway winners of this year’s edition.It shows two caricatures depicting Shahid Kapoor in a tuxedo as he wore on the awards night and Kangana Ranaut in her famous “girl-next-door” attire in the movie “Queen”.They are both shown holding the “black lady” which they have won for the Best Actor and Best Actress roles respectively.

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The Tag Line is in the form of call out boxes with the Amul Girl making an overt attempt to let the readers know about the identity of winners in terms of the movies and the actors themselves.They translate into “Haider-tea is here” and “Kangana-have a bun”.

The Punch Line…Always in a Leading Roleis a take on the awards won by Shaid and Kangana for their leading rooles in the two movies  discussed above and once again subtly promotes the leading status of Amul Butter and the brand in general.

Queen is a 2014 Bollywood comedy-drama starring Kangana Ranaut and Lisa Haydon and Rajkumar Rao in supporting roles. It is directed by Vikas Bahl and produced by Anurag Kashyap and Vikramaditya Motwane.

The plot revolves around Kangana playing the lead role as Rani, an under-confident girl who suffers as her fiancee calls off the wedding at the last moment.Shocked and hurt,Rani decides to proceed alone on her pre-arranged honeymoon.Here she rediscovers herself in the company of staranger.She eventually returns with her fears conquered and inner demons exorcised for good.The fiancee ,Vijay, also learns his lessons when he attempts to make amends.

The movie premiered at the Busan International Film Festival,had received wide critical acclaim for its unique story line,writing,direction and Kangana’s performance.Produced at a cost of Rs 12.5 crores it earned Rs 98 crores at the box office.Previously nominated in 13 categories at the Screen Awards it won three of them including Best Film and Best Director.At the Filmafare Awards 2015 the movie won six including Best Film, Best Director, Best Actress for Kangana Ranaut,Best Editing, Best Cinematography and Best Background Score.

‘Haider’ was a close second with five awards including Best Actor for Shahid Kapoor , Best Actor in Supporting Role (Female) for Tabu, Best Actor in Supporting Role (Male) for KK Menon and also for Best Costume and Best Production Design.

The Filmfare Awards are the Oscar Awards equivalent for Bollywood and have had its share of controversies and ups and downs.These have been attacked for their poor or biased choices in the past but off late have been able to make justified choices more often than not.