Thursday, May 24, 2012

Finally, some music stuff on MTV

The channel MTV or Music Television, in India, for little less than a decade, has been known for Roadies, Splitsvilla and like reality shows. These reality shows have featured the same scheme of dumping ground, vote out mechanisms, politics vs performance quotients, excessive bitching and wild card entries over these years, making it all clearly trite. 

A welcome change ushered in the form of a music show Desi Beats/Rock ON, the first season of which was judged by Ram Sampath and Kailash Kher, who in my opinion, have actually contributed something original to music - from colorful Bollywood music to advertisement jingles. The second season of this music show featuring Pritam (Hindi music director with maximum hits to his name and an equal number of plagiarism charges) and Indian Ocean's Rahul Ram (whose only standing credit till day remains the Kandisa song, a prayer in Aramaic uttered in Sryian Orthodox Churches) did not pack the required punch. 

There was a strange lull after this when it came to airing music related shows. Now, the breather comes in the form of a new show - Sound Trippin aired on the channel every Saturday from 8-9 pm. The show features Sneha Kanwalkhar, a young and chirpy,  budding Hindi film music director who travels to different parts of India, captures many sounds specific to that region, picks up some impressive local/folk tunes and creates a song out of it all. Sounds and music strips collected from locals in these places on her gizmo - an Intel notebook are taken back to the studio where she and her proficient team of music technicians carefully compose a song. The song comes along with a befitting video and is first shown to people of the town/region who really contributed to it and to us too at the end of the show. 

Six episodes of this show have been aired till now with the first five shows taking Sneha to Punjab (fun filled, bold music), Benares (mystic with sounds of bells and hymns), Yellapur (a village in coastal Karnataka where a tribe called Siddhis live and perform),  Goa (sounds of church gong with generous amount of English thrown in) and Kanpur (sounds of leather factory set the background for some whacky, mischievous lyrics). The last (sixth) episode was a summary of all these travels, primarily focusing on efforts put in by sound technicians and accounts of their experiences with sounds of various kinds.  

I would rate this show with a 7 on scale of 10 - Reasons? 

Finally, something related to music and making music appears on MTV. There are no money tasks/immunity tasks, battle ground/dumping ground rows in this show.

Two excellent songs out of 5 composed until now on the show - one in Punjab in episode 1 and another in Yellapur in episode 3. 

One can check out the videos of these brilliant music pieces from the links below - 
2. Yere (from Yellapur, lyrics and primary rhythm provided by Siddhi tribe who have their roots in Africa but have made India their home for long)  - 

Truly, remarkable efforts go in to make a song and this is shown convincingly to the audience through this show. 

Why not more than a 7 on 10? Reasons - 
2 out of 5 songs stand out, call for repeated hearing with fitting videos. So that's ony 40% excellence. 
There are many more episodes, more sounds to be captured - so it is a wait and watch before the show gets an upgraded rating. 

However, on an ending note, this is a show I look forward to on MTV, turn to for respite from livid auditions, excessive foul mouthing, roadies journey and bitching splitsvillians. 

Monday, May 14, 2012

60 years of Parliament

Seldom a newspaper like Times of India presents collection of facts, some serious and sensible stuff for readers. All and most other times, it is full of advertisements which come in bigger doses on special days like Mother's day, Friendship's day and Akshaya Trithiya etc.

I have always expressed displeasure at reading TOI. The Hindu, Bangalore edition fails to impress me, being nowhere close to the Chennai edition I grew up reading. Both Deccan Chronicle and Deccan Herald cover national news in a myopic manner. Given the junk that gets published in a well pronounced fashion in TOI, Bangalore in form of Bangalore Times and many glossy supplements, I think the decision to resort to other options is just around the corner.

Anyways, May 13, 2012 saw completion of 60 years of Indian Parliament and there was some information to take back from page 16 of the day's print - Sunday Times, Bangalore.
Ramachandra Guha, in his book - India after Gandhi describes how many felt India would never work as parliamentary democracy given differences were wide and occurred in many categories than similarities that actually could bind a nation together, that too a nation fresh from severe partition woes. If we were to argue on whether we have succeeded as a democracy and squashed many wrong notions, whether we really deserve to be applauded as the world's largest democracy etc - it would take publishing many more books; more analyses from historians like Guha and daily debates on news channels for years together.

There are many times where you feel the country has failed miserably as a democracy, it is only a banana republic. There are very few occasions where you may concede to believing that the scenario is not so bleak. I am writing this post on my blog only to make an entry of some important facts I garnered from reading the newspaper Times of India, Bangalore, dated May 13, 2012.

The House Story  
Parliament house was originally known as Council House. 
It was planned initially to be a part of Rashtrapati Bhavan. 
It was decided that this building will be the Indian Parliament in 1919 Montague-Chelmsford Reforms. 

The building was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and Sir Herbert Baker, various designs - from triangular to colosseum Rome like were thought over before finalizing upon the circular design. 

The Parliament has 200 pillars, foundation stone laid in 1921 by Prince Arthur, it uses black marble in columns of chambers brought from Gaya, white marble for lining walls in the library from Makrana, teak for doors from Assam and Burma, rosewood from South India and pale and red Dholpur sandstone. 

The building was inaugurated on Jan 18, 1927 and it was on May 13, 1952 that the Parliament had its first sitting. 

What's special for 60 years of Parliament? 
Release of a stamp and a coin to commemorate the day. 
Joint sitting of the house in Central Hall at 5 pm. 
Veteran parliamentarians honoring ceremony presided over by President Prathiba Patil where - Rishang Keishing (92 yrs) stands out as the oldest Rajya Sabha member, the only sitting MP until day, a veteran Naga leader, he was elected to the first Lok Sabha (1952-57). 
Also, Reshamlal Jhange from Bilaspur (Chattisgarh), aged 88 years will be honored. 

Other important points discussed in the article in TOI 
The first LS has 22 lady members. 
The Parlimentary proceedings were televised for the first time during 1991-96 with Shivraj Patil as the speaker. 
The Parliament faces a terrorist attack on Dec 13, 2001. 
Many low points in parliamentary proceedings are also discussed in the newspaper in this article, many of these lows occuring during the tenure of Indira Gandhi as the PM - the time when corruption brewed in legislation without adulteration and in no dilution. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Truth alone Triumphs

A show on television with Aamir Khan as the host, a trailer that shows him traveling to different places in India, from Kochi to Ladakh meeting people there, a song written and composed brilliantly well as an earmark of the show, the many ads and promos, all in a way that instill interest; there were, I must admit, more than ample reasons to wait for 11 am, May 6, 2012 and tune into Star Plus channel. 

When one has huge expectations, reality's bound to fall short and going along that line, personally, I was left little disappointed when I saw Aamir Khan walk into a chic, air conditioned studio with audience seated in a  gallery around him. May be it was the snippet of the show aired repeatedly that made me think Aamir will travel places, gather information about local problems of people, highlight them and treat them wisely, with a difference and garner public support in favor of solving them. I grew little upset when Aamir called out few names and talked to these selected few on a one on one basis, it only brought back memories of the once very popular Aap Ki Adalat show by Rajat Sharma and Aap ki Kacheri show by Kiran Bedi. The formats do not match exactly since Aamir keeps repeating during the show that individual cases discussed are under judicial question and he is none to judge/provide opinion but somewhere, there's a meek prayer that this new initiative by the perfectionist of the film industry must not fall into the same league as shows that have been aired before. 

The disappointment did not abate as the issue discussed was female foeticide, an issue so pernicious in our country that it is too difficult to address it on TV and in one episode. Aamir questions different people, from a not so well educated lady to a doctor by practice about their personal grievances in this subject; we get to know that irrespective of where they hail from, their social, literary and economic background they all have been meted out the same treatment and have faced brutal discrimination; they have been both a criminal and a victim. Aamir fervently tries to impart knowledge by telling that the mother in no way determines the sex of an unborn child in a few sentences, even then I cannot applaud this effort. Reasons - literacy does not help, economic well being does not also help, even passage of time and generations does not help, nothing appears to eradicate this evil. 

I am sure a few hundreds listened to Aamir when he said Athithi Devo Bhava and stopped spitting and throwing trash on the streets, may be even stopped stalking foreign visitors in crowded markets. But for the message sent out last Sunday afternoon, I cannot believe even a 0.001 % change will ensue in the positive direction for no domestic, national or international voice has ever been able to batter this evil notion. 

Aamir chose to end the first episode with some light moments when he interviewed a group of men in a village in Haryana, all above 35 years of age and yet unmarried, unmarried due to dearth of girls in their community. These men requested Aamir to solve their problem and cheerfully said they would even nominate Salman Khan as their team captain. There were ripples of laughter but the bleak truth was lying barren in front of us all. 

It is said that the website dedicated to this show crashed the same day due to heavy online traffic, there were thousands of tweets congratulating the show and its makers, true and well deserved, I am very happy for it. But there is something amiss as far as I am concerned, few more Sundays would be required for me to conclude if TRUTH REALLY TRIUMPHS.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Inspired ...

I have always wanted to highlight the creations of this special friend of mine on my blog space. Guess here comes the right moment for it. Readers of this post are requested to visit - 

This website is maintained by my colleague and friend, she posts all her cards, scrapbooks and many other creations here. I am proud that I have been the recipient of some of Juhi's lovely cards, in fact, many of them and they occupy a very special and notable place in my showcase at home. 

I am providing the links of some of the cards Juhi made for me on various occasions since year 2009 - 

I never requested her to make a scrapbook for me but I must admit that she has some really ravishing stuff in that category too. She makes fantastic mini albums, photo frames and step cards (which can be placed on the center table). One side step card that she made specially for me carries a very beautiful message (Courtesy: side-step-card

Okay .. so by now, a lot of WOW s, amazing, "really great stuff" and similar expressions of awe and wonder would have struck you all :) 

I tried my hand at making some cards at home recently; inspired by my friend. Nothing can parallel Juhi's work for she is heart and soul into crafts and card making and really takes painstaking efforts to make each and every creation perfect and pleasant. 

Quite inspired by her efforts, I made cards for my nephews' (two of them) birthday which is round the corner. They are turning 3 years old and am sure when they grow up they will cherish this card from their aunt. I was immensely happy and satisfied making them :) I had, long back, procured some hand made paper, ready to paste flowers/feathers (from makers: ITSY BITSY) from a Reliance Timeout outlet and used them for making these cards. Here is a picture of the two cards ... yippee :) I wrote a sweet message wishing my nephews a very happy birthday in bright, bold colors on the inside, drew some cool stuff and put in more stickers; marked one of the margins with a satin ribbon that was lying at home for completion. 

Pic of cards with envelopes made