Letters | Jun 21, 2004
  • So, What Is New?
    Jun 21, 2004

    The impression I got from reading your cover story The New Bollywood (June 7) was the presence of a conspicuous negative strain. It outlines the trends, procedures and effects of contemporary filmmaking/film and music directors but concludes the discussion on a somewhat sceptical note. There’s definitely a different cinema germinating in Bollywood and it has a feelgood to it. Only with experimentation and fusion with the conventional or known Bollywood will it sustain and improve.
    Amit Phatak, New York, US

    New Bollywood! Give me a break. Outlook, in its usual premature giddiness, is painting a distorted picture. I’m a novice scriptwriter who has been making the rounds of Bollywood and am sickened by the sycophancy and nepotism in the industry. Perhaps my screenplay is terrible but getting people to even read it is an exercise in futility. There are simply no avenues, platforms or forums for new talent. And the effect shows in the quality of our films. How many globally critically acclaimed movies has the industry produced in the last few years? Path-breaking directors? Novel storylines? Don’t be fooled, it’s the same old garbage, in slicker garbage cans!
    Narayan Mani, on e-mail

    Having followed Anurag Kashyap’s work over the years, from his script for Satya to his directorial debut Paanch, one can understand what he and a hazaar other filmmakers are seeking. Just a departure from the current state of things (We’re All Running a Donkey’s Race). Indeed, if the Indian film has to make its presence felt abroad, sooner or later it will have to be on pure storytelling and not the wedding videos that bigger Indian filmmakers or filmmakers of Indian origin are cashing in on. And that too before the genre ‘crossover’ becomes yet another crossing fad and a butt of ridicule. It’s B2B time for Bollywood, that is, Back to the Basics.
    Vishwajyoti Ghosh, New Delhi

    Your tracing of beauty in India cinema (Devika Rani to Aishwarya: The Whole Shebang) completely sidelined the ’60s, as it did Sadhna, the beautiful style icon of that decade. Be it the bangs that came to be known as the Sadhna cut or the fitted churidars she brought into mainstream fashion in Waqt, Sadhna was the most copied actress of her time. She brought a western chic into Indian cinema; she was like luscious peach ice-cream when other actresses were rotund gulab-jamuns!
    P. Prahlad, on e-mail

    The trend towards movies getting more and more explicit is not surprising (Steamer Rides). It is cinema retaining its essence while keeping up with the times. All one needs to take care of now is to have a story and script to match so that a film is not reduced to a mere strip show.
    Milind Kher, on e-mail

    No matter how much one bares or dares, Bollywood can never be out of the woods. The wiles of the wild plagiarists may be food for the copycats but will continue to be fodder for even the remotely Indian psyches. If our culture, tradition, heritage and what not, as we often feign to boast of, still meant something to us, the transgression of the name Hollywood would not have decorated the Dadasaheb legacy. When the name’s pirated, the game has to be X-rated. Your Bollywood bonanza could only promote the cause of soft porn for improving the news media’s box-office returns.
    Mrinmoy Prasad Goswami, Nagaon, Assam

    Indian audiences need to grow up. The observations in your article vis-vis The New Bollywood scenario are so dull and so played out as if to convince the layman that there is something out there waiting to be discovered. The average moviegoer is looking for some entertainment, delectable contours pleasing to the eye, froth and frolic, chocolate-faced actors emoting fuschia-coloured dreams that don’t match reality. For thrills, they want gore, violence and vulgarity. Cluelessness is the genre. It is a far cry from the artistic excellence of the cinema of the past which delved into the complex machinations of the human mind while gripping the imagination and capturing the human spirit.
    Chitra Panicker Amarnath, New Delhi

    Your cover story on Bollywood was interesting. The likes of Ajay Devgan, Ram Gopal Verma, Preity Zinta have electrified Bollywood with their unconventional acting and directing. But the film that paved the way for this renaissance was Verma’s Company, the highlight of which was how the police was portrayed, played to perfection by Mohanlal. Ever since, inspired clones have made an appearance as in Khakee and now in Dev.
    Joseph K. Joseph, Kochi

  • The Great Divide
    Jun 21, 2004

    The week Outlook does an article on farmer suicides (Till Debt Do Us Part, June 7), the papers here carry news of the £30 million wedding for Lakshmi Mittal’s daughter. Mittal may be a British citizen but the need for such lavish conspicuous consumption weddings is surely Indian. And governments are merely a reflection of society. As long as we remain a heedless, uncaring society and culture, with a profligate upper class without concern for the lower strata of society, no government change is going to make a difference.
    Anuradha Moulee, Sydney, Australia

  • Jun 21, 2004

    Apropos the Outlook interview with Natwar Singh ("bjp couldn’t tell foreign policy from diplomacy", Jun 7), I think he is hung up on his ifs stiff neck and obsolete ideas. He has to move on rather than live in history and repeat the mistakes of the past. The Congress must be clear about its aim. And that should be to stay and provide good governance and not waste time undoing what the bjp did. It should instead build on the good job done by the nda and not repeat their mistakes.
    Madhu Singh, Ambala Cantt.

    The difference between Congress’ foreign policy objectives and those of the bjp is that the Congress assumes that making the PM and the external affairs minister the toast of the wine-and-cheese circuit is the ultimate goal, while the nda believed naked pursuit of our national interest abroad to be the real target. Guess which benefits India more?
    Srinivas Ramdas Sunder, Austin, Texas

  • Hands-off Enablers
    Jun 21, 2004

    Apropos Paranjoy Guha Thakurta’s A Loss-Making Venture (June 7), how do you resuscitate white elephants in the psus with the same political mindset that established them in the first place? The primary and fundamental argument for divestments is that the government should focus on vastly improving governance, that is, deliver the public services it is obliged to, effectively and efficiently. It should leave the job of production, distribution, marketing and selling to people skilled in those areas and who have a stake in the success of their enterprise. The government and lawmakers should become enablers and pave the way for expanding the spirit of entrepreneurship.
    K. Girishankar, Marlton, US

    Even an illiterate vegetable vendor will tell Paranjoy Guha Thakurta that what is good and fresh fetches a higher price and what is rotten does not sell (A Loss-Making Venture, June 7). We must first privatise profit-making psus and use the funds to revive the loss-making ones and then sell them off too. The government has no business running hotels, airlines or making bread and biscuits.
    Abhilash Thadhani, on e-mail

    It all started with the sale of Modern Bakery. And continued with some hotels. What does the government have to do with bakeries and hotels anyway? Arun Shourie started well but then went into his own trip. Let’s hope the new dispensation at the Centre can do better without a minister for disinvestment.
    C.N. Shanker, Chennai

  • Attaboy Jha
    Jun 21, 2004

    Prem Shankar Jha has, as usual, in his column Watch the Other Pack (June 7) done a nice job of glorifying the Congress and the Nehru-Gandhi parivar. He seems to be laying the ground for putting the blame on the Left Front and others when the imminent failure comes to pass. However, Jha should do well to remember that the nda government faced the very same challenges which exist before the Congress government today. They faced the additional handicap of never having governed the country for any extended period of time. Yet they did a commendable job. So, when Jha sits down to write the obituary of the upa government and comments on the negative role played by the Left, he should perhaps mention a line giving credit to the nda government for having succeeded where the Congress failed.
    Kumar Sambhav, New Delhi

  • Jun 21, 2004

    Soli Sorabjee has again proved to be intelligent and tactical ("I wish Vajpayee had been more decisive", May 7). He accepted a post from the bjp but also evolved some face-saving techniques. He is tactical because he praises Vajpayee and Arun Jaitley on the one hand but criticises the bjp on the other. He could have as well resigned from his post when Muslims and Christians were being targeted if he felt so strongly. Now we will be forced to judge him only on this basis—that he is power-hungry and an opportunist.
    C. Swanthana, on e-mail

  • Jun 21, 2004

    I appreciate the kudos you offered to the great, ordinary people of India, Mr Mehta (You can’t buy the people of India, May 24) who have shown to the world that their old-age wisdom far surpasses that of the clever, powerful media managers. It is sometimes alleged that poor voters are bought by politicians for a few bucks. Election 2004 has shown that it’s not the poor, but the rich media managers and editors who were for sale. Having been a reader of Outlook, I was surprised to note your sudden tilt saffronwards. You were immediately rewarded with seven full pages of colour ads. What happened to the inner voice of Outlook?
    Fr. Francis D’Britto, Mumbai

  • God Shave You
    Jun 21, 2004

    For the kind information of Congress-rented fake dharmacharyas, shankaracharyas and swamis, tonsuring of hair is an auspicious offering, not an anti-Hindu-anti-scriptures act suitable only at the time of death (Newsbag, May 31). The tonsuring of head is a preferred ritual of vow fulfilment, penance, gratitude or sacrifice to the God, as practised by Hindus over the ages. Their practice starts from the birth of a child to the death of elders. Outlook and these bogus un-Hindu gurus should attend a mundan ceremony or go to a temple like Tirupati to observe thousands of children, men and women undergoing voluntary tonsuring of head in reverence to god.
    Geeta Gupta, New Delhi

  • The Smaller Spy
    Jun 21, 2004

    C’mon Outlook, why bother about Americans spying (Port Hole, May 7) when the country’s top job almost handed on a platter to a foreigner? I don’t think that spying on just one of our naval bases would do much more damage than placing the A to Z of India’s defence files before Sonia.
    Sunil N. Rangaiah, Nanjangud

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