As government cancelled Greenpeace India's registration under Foreign Contribution Regulations Act (FCRA) recently, for allegedly working against the country's economic progress, the NGO that works for a sustainable environment came up with a unique campaign to "reclaim right to dissent" by recreating nine iconic Bollywood film posters to highlight the Indian environmental predicament.
“While our continued existence has been no less dramatic than the best of Bollywood, with twists and turns every day, our story is far from unique. Similar clampdowns have been seen all across the country, but we are confident that people will join our campaign, and send a clear message to those in power: you can’t muzzle dissent in a democracy," said Vinuta Gopal, interim co-Executive Director of Greenpeace India in a press statement.
The recreated posters are also accompanied by a similarly rewritten plot summary for the movie.
1) Swades: We the people
Set in modern day India, Swades is a film that tackles the big issues of freedom, nationalism and what it means to be Indian, through the protagonists’ struggle to defend people’s rights, and define the diverse country that we call “home”.
2) Mahan: Once upon a time in India
The year is 2013 and India’s greed for coal is growing unchecked. Raess, an Indian steel and power conglomerate, has just secured rights to mine for coal - but their plans will destroy Mahan, one of Asia’s oldest forests. Outraged, the forest community has rallied together as ‘Mahan Sangharsh Samiti’ (MSS) to save their homes and livelihoods. They challenge Mr Ivar Urai, the owner of Raess, to a game of ‘Gram Sabha: a game of real democracy’, a sport that has been forgotten by the ruling powers. If MSS can defeat the Raess team, not only will they save their home, but also protect more than 50 lakh trees and the livelihoods of more than 50,000 people.
3) Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham: Its all about loving your country
Campaigning together for a sustainable future, the Greenpeace India shows great passion for their country. But the Ministry of Home Affairs has other ideas, and launches a protracted war against the family. As baseless allegations and false charges throw the family into dire circumstances, this also makes them realise that they need to stick together in hard times and speak up for their beliefs and love for the country.
4) Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron
A dark satire on the rampant corruption in bureaucracy, news media and business, featuring two bumbling Greenpeace campaigners who accidentally discover the shady side of the Indian tea industry. Supported by a cast of skilled comics, they expose the Indian tea industry’s ‘standard practice’ of selling pesticide laden tea, and mobilise an entire nation to challenge the tea industry to adopt clean and sustainable farming technologies. Is this modern day Mahabharat going to veer away from the original and go the way of the villains or is there still hope?
5) A Wednesday
Greenpeace India staff and supporters remember the fateful Wednesday that changed their lives. 11th of June 2014, the day a leaked alleged Intelligence Bureau report branded the organisation as a ‘threat to national economic security’. A day that has altered the way they function - the case of an organisation fighting for India’s environment, a leaked and malicious government document and more than 75000 Indians backing the organisation.
6) Andaz Apna Apna
In this tragi-comedy that has acquired a cult status since the first Intelligence report was suspiciously leaked to the media in June 2014, protagonists try and dodge villains. Watch their hilarious journey as local courts, high courts, tax and immigration departments get involved, playing an elaborate game of hide-and-seek. The recurring twists come via court judgements which keep favouring the protagonists, though the villains blithely ignore the law. Who will win in the end?
7) Dil Chahta Hai
Three inseparable childhood friends are just out of college. Nothing comes between them - until circumstances force them to choose between a shared love for their city, and love, life, even personal health. Will one last bid for clean air bring them back?
8) Mr. India
A large-hearted farmer must risk it all and come up with clever ways to save his family farm when he discovers the evil genius Sonmanto’s plans to release Genetically Modified Organisms into their fields. Will he be able to save his community - and all of India - from the clutches of the megalomaniac organisation? Or will “Sonmanto khush hua” be the last thing he hears as he loses everything?
9) 3 idiots
A classic coming-of-age comedy sees college classmates reunited in a search for their long-lost friend. Reprising poignant memories of their mad youth, as they railed against social injustice together, they follow a tumultuous trail to track him down and ask him to help tell the world their stories today. Will he be ready to ignite a new generation?
Greenpeace India, the NGO that has been at loggerheads with the government over unharnessed coal mining, deforestation and nuclear projects, accuses the government of waging a "malicious campaign" against it and that the NGO will not be deterred by the attempt to "silence" its campaign.
Government's decision can be seen as a big setback for the NGOs operating in India, says a report in The Guardian:
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The latest decision marks another setback for foreign charities operating in India, after the country placed the US-based Ford Foundation and Christian charity Caritas on a watchlist.
Modi’s nationalist government, in power since last year, has cancelled the foreign funding licenses of about 9,000 charities since a major crackdown began in April.
The powers of social media. All it took was a tweet:
The Finding Fanny star, rightly outraged with a tweet (since deleted) by a news outlet, followed it up with two more tweets:
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So you grew up hearing about the insane popularity of songs such as Aawara HuuN in Russia? Meet Tajik Jimmy. In the words of the New York Times:
The rise of Mr. Allaberiyev, widely known as Tajik Jimmy, a migrant worker in a provincial Russian stockroom who delivers astonishing renditions of Bollywood musical numbers, is one more testament to the strange power of the Internet.
A little more than a year after one of his performances was filmed by a co-worker with a cellphone and posted online, Mr. Allaberiyev cannot walk through a crowd in the Russian capital without being stopped by fans. This is especially remarkable given the place that Central Asian migrants occupy in Russian society: members of a vast and nearly invisible work force, targets of derision and occasional violence...
...Indeed, the voice seems to come out of nowhere — a clear, warbling Hindi falsetto, complete with percussion and twanging sitar solos. For an impoverished boy growing up on a Tajik collective farm, there was no greater pleasure than Bollywood films, which were approved by the Communist Party as a politically safe diversion. Mr. Allaberiyev’s family understood that he had a gift; by the age of 7 or 8, he could commit songs to memory and repeat them with eerie accuracy, after watching a movie twice.
...HE sang as he watched 1,700 sheep and fed cows for a wealthy Uzbek trade..
Clearly, Bappi Da has one more hit to crow about. More at the NYT: On Web, Storeroom Crooner From Tajikistan Is a Star
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Sandip Roy in Colorlines:
I remember the age of the underwear-smugglers.
When I left India almost two decades ago to come to America, my mother folded every spice I could possibly need into my underwear. Turmeric, cumin, little green pods of cardamom—all packed carefully between layers of underwear, socks and computer science textbooks. I wasn’t the only one. I’ve met Indians who smuggled in mangos, homemade pickles and ready-to-fry puris stuffed with peas. In those days before 9/11, customs officials were not very interested in me—a young, single, brown man from a turbulent part of the world. They (and their sniffing dogs) were much more preoccupied with middle-aged Indian women visiting their sons. They were rifling through their luggage, searching for contraband mangos and gourds.
Fast-forward 20 years...
India is everywhere. It’s in Booker Prize lists, spelling bees and specially-for-you nuclear deals. It’s in Sukhi’s homecooked chicken tikka masala paste at Whole Foods. It’s in Bhangra aerobics classes and Britney remixes. Newsweek called South Asians the “new American masala.” Five hundred years after Christopher Columbus thought he had discovered Indians, we are truly found.
And I am not sure how I feel about that.
HT: CM Naim
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My big Bollywood break came while I was walking down a side street in Mumbai,
talking on a cell phone to a man named Imran.
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"How many people with you?" he asked.
"No problem. You got long hair, short hair?"
"No hair," I said.
"No problem. You how old?