Music, Movies & TV, Soulful Musings

Cultural Appropriation & Stereotypes


Before I say anything else, let me explicitly state that I love and admire Emma in her endeavors towards women empowerment and eradicating ‘myths’ surrounding the big F word today, feminism. For just speaking up when our world desperately needs for the rationals to talk some sense. And of course, for she’s brought to life, Hermoine Granger on the celluloid screen.

So my thoughts are not specifically about her or her video. But certainly, I was “triggered” to finally pen down my thoughts, which have developed over a period of time on seeing this video on my newsfeed.

It is actually getting a little bit ridiculous to watch the unfolding of the sudden awareness in Hollywood about India as an Indian.

After years of cultural appropriation, and ridicule it’s like a bulb has been switched on in this western film fraternity that there’s a multi-billion dollar market that they can tap into so much more. So, let’s get all our “Namastes” in order and oh yeah, pitches for people to watch our movies.

It’s no coincidence that 2 leading Indian film actresses (so far) have been cast as ‘normal people and/or characters’ and not merely stereotypical caricatures in ethnically restricted roles in a big TV film franchise (XXX) and a TV Series (Quantico). More and more actors are suddenly speaking up about their love for ‘Indian fans’ and ‘saag Paneer’. (Which I must admit, was pretty thrilling to know that someone was actually aware of anything beyond the misnomer ‘curry’ when referring to the Indian cuisine. ‘Saag’ and ‘Paneer’. Double brownie points.)

Anyhow, if this phenomenon brings about better awareness of India and its people. If it helps to do away with the stereotypes deeply rooted in ignorance and bigotry. If it helps for people to finally understand that many of us are indeed ‘native English speakers’. It’d be a very welcome change.

I’d be personally delighted to not to be doubted for my English language skills just because I don’t “look” the prejudiced part being “brown” and all of that. Or because I don’t speak in a certain “accent” namely, American, Canadian, Australian, British… you get the drift. It would also be thrilling to see something a whole lot better than music videos like “Lean On” and characters like “Appus & Rajesh” on the celluloid screen to begin with.

So, here’s me hoping that this is just a start for the better. A start for a less prejudiced, more aware world. And, not just towards Indians or India but other ethnicities and countries too. Even if at the moment, it’s all rooted in business calculations and motives.

Namaste.

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Music, Movies & TV

The Hunger Games

Hope is the only thing stronger than fear.

Has it ever happened to you that you had something with you- a TV Series, a film, a novel- lying around with you since a long time. Because, you never got around to really watching/reading it for some odd reason? And then, when you finally did got around to it… it made you wonder why hadn’t you gotten to it sooner? Suddenly, you realise that there is this whole world, this whole amazing experience that you were missing. Like discovering a gem within your own acquired belonging.

This happened to me, sometime last week. When I finally sat down to watch The Hunger Games. Understandably, as any fan would know… it was impossible for me to stop, and luckily I already had the 1st two instalments lying in my movies folder.

As I watched both these movies into the wee hours of the morning I realised my heart growing fiercely fond of Katniss Everdeen. And, I am happy to say that I have finally found my favourite female ‘heroic’ character. The way I see it, she is the female Batman of sorts, sans the super power or the wealth, which makes her even more human and real, if you might say so.

Katniss Everdeen, could literally be the girl next doors. A girl who can be lost in the crowds, easily overlooked by the layman’s eyes. But she possesses something fierce within, much like some of us out there.

What I particularly found commendable about the movies was how they have not try to bring in and play with the sexuality or the sensuality of this remarkable female character. By way of dressing her up in a certain way or otherwise. This, I believe has never happened before. Take for example, someone like Lara Croft whose ‘gender’ is an intrinsic part of her character. And, there are plenty of more examples as such. However, with Katniss… this is truly (and thankfully) not the case.

Parts of me found myself identifying with Katniss and her raw, fierce emotions… which are a sort of diminishing entities these days, if I may say so. She’s not your typical fearless hero. What makes her a hero to me is her humanity. She loves, cries, fears, fights, sacrifices and even schemes just like a normal human being. Yet, there is much more to her than that.

Surely enough, I was thrilled and had a good rest after feasting on the 1st two instalments only waking up to downloading the 3rd one they moment I opened my eyes. Luckily enough, I have also managed to find the ePub of the first book. And, have read a couple of chapters. Hopefully, I will manage to enjoy the book despite the university schedule and other obligations of life. And, will be sharing much more with you.

This is just the beginning.

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Music, Movies & TV, Soulful Musings

Moving On

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At some point in our lives, we all have been forced to move on from something, someone or someplace. It is a passage of rite that we all must go through in some from or the other, with varying degrees of intensity in our lives. Yet, one hears/reads of some story every now and then that leaves one awestruck. Or simply in a state of wonder…

Have you ever found yourself lost in deep thought, thinking how did he/she do it? Maybe it seems something impossible to you, maybe it triggers the emotion of fear within you… because while the act of ‘carrying on’, you realise is necessary and admirable. It also highlights the underlying pain, struggle and loss faced by the person. And most importantly, the realisation of the fact that everything cannot be explained or understood. Everything cannot be put into words, no matter how hard we try; and even then… something always gets lost in translation. For there are things in life which need to be experienced and lived through by oneself to really get acquainted with them. There’s always something more to be felt, experienced, understood and explored. Always. And, that is the abundance of this mystery called life.

As a person who’s moving on from something which formed a gigantic part of my life, a person who’s trying to move on to something new, I can tell you this- It doesn’t happen in one day. It is, in fact, an everyday process.

There’s a wise exchange between the pivotal characters in the movie Rabit Hole which describes it pretty well:

Becca: Does it ever go away?

Nat: No, I don’t think it does. Not for me, it hasn’t – has gone on for eleven years. But it changes though.

Becca: How?

Nat: I don’t know… the weight of it, I guess. At some point, it becomes bearable. It turns into something that you can crawl out from under and… carry around like a brick in your pocket. And you… you even forget it, for a while. But then you reach in for whatever reason and – there it is. Oh right, that. Which could be aweful – not all the time. It’s kinda…

[deep breath]

Nat: not that you’d like it exactly, but it’s what you’ve got instead of your <whatever you have lost/ what you had to let go off>. So, you carry it around. And uh… it doesn’t go away. Which is…

Becca: Which is what?

Nat: Fine, actually.

Somedays, you’d find yourself reminiscing about happy memories and instances from the past, even if it was something unpleasant and hurtful, say, a bad relationship. Somedays, you’d find yourself getting flashbacks of what was wrong… reminding you how you had to do what you did, and how you did the right thing by leaving it all behind. And somedays, you’d find yourself in the shackles of misplaced guilt. Specially, if you’re a person (like me) who is his/her own worst critic.

But you know, what’d be most important? The most important part would be when you’ll have to just keep putting one foot in front of the other and keep on walking ahead. No matter how tempting it’d be on somedays, the desire to look back. And, the only time you would; it would be to see how far you’ve come. And, that… in itself would become the source of strength which you’d need to draw from… every. single. day.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have a friendly face around you and supportive hands on your shoulders. But if you aren’t so lucky on that front, stay strong. Remember that someone somewhere is out there, just like you and hence, you are never really alone.

Run

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There’s a sort of weird peace you find in accurately predicting things for yourself. Even if those things are anything but pleasant.

It’s kind of masochistically satisfying to know that you always knew. They weren’t just “bad thoughts” like people like to write everything off as.

That you know yourself (and your life) so well.

Kind of makes you (unfortunately) surer of yourself.
You know how this ends, how you end.

Hope is indeed, the greatest of all evils.
Makes me wonder, why I am still here…
What’s tying me down? Apart from the fact that I wouldn’t ever want to put someone through what I am going through, just to make it easier for myself.

But the question is, how much longer can I sustain?

Music, Movies & TV, Soulful Musings

For the Intellectual Indian

I just spent the better part of an entirely sleepless night watching this marvellous show called Chivas Studio- Gentleman’s Code. Finally, there is some brilliant Indian Television being telecast.

I remember that it had caught my eye when the trailer was being aired on Star World India but for some unknown reason, I hadn’t been recording it and had thus, been missing it. But it was one of those things, which never really left my mind. So, I happened to YouTube it last night and couldn’t stop until I completed watching the whole of the 1st two 50 minute episodes! And, I only stopped because the sun started to shine brightly through my curtains that are drawn, and it’s 8:31 am. Also, so that I could soak in what I had just unraveled!

Man, I am a very happy person at the moment. It is just the kind of thing that my heart deeply yearns for in life! It was always the case wit not only the books that I read, and movies & TV that I watch, but also with the kind of real-time human relations that I want to build and have in my life. The relations that I truly seek, which enrich me and make me feel alive! It’s totally full of the essence of what I deeply crave in real time human interactions which are so rare and hard to come by; that I’ve now started to fearfully doubt my chance of even finding any ever!

The easy-going, urbane, knowledge rich, intellectual content of the show makes my heart weep with joy! It talks about Indian Men, their take on love, women, sex, work, style etc and tries to bridge the gap between the ghastly male-female dynamic which is sadly being seen in my country today. This is the kind of show that India needs today. Instead of those never ending primetime shows with sobbing daughter-in-laws with evil, plotting mother-in-laws and husbands.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for a good family drama, or dramas in general. But I’m often disgusted to see how the most prominent channels of our country telecast regressive, unpalatable ideas on a daily basis at prime time, and this garbage is consumed by millions of women and families all over the country! It’s amazing how in this really sad and shameful time for the world’s largest democracy, there are so many Indian TV Series showing only repressed women, who are helpless and take everything lying down like they are meant to do so. Sure there are shows- few as 1 or 2- who talk a little about women empowerment or try to sensitise the Indian male, or Indian Society in general towards the idea of broadening and updating their mindsets. But, the need of the hour is to only have more of these. And not the other kind, at all!

So, it’s just a HUGE relief to finally see a show, even if it’s from the male audiences’ perspective, which talks about sensitive issues. Sensitive issues concerning the men & women both; urging the men to realize and to see women as more, to stop viewing women as a “different species” but as fellow human beings along with familiarising women with what the men think- their struggles, and ambitions as well. And most of all, for people like me… for girls and women like me, and for men like us… who already find themselves thinking in this way; and hence, more often than not find themselves alone, and disconnected from the brazen rouge masses, who are just content with gossiping about the celebrities over coffee, or bitching about the problems of this country without actually putting any thought towards the solution or having a healthy discussion about these “tough” topics! It’s a boon for us. For it makes you feel less alone, and more importantly it makes you feel hopeful by way of addressing these issues, by just conducting great discussion and a sort of virtual conversation. And, showing that there are other people in this world, in this country who are thinking on the same lines. They maybe a diminishing entity, but they still exist and they are now making an effort to be heard! There’s still hope! They are reaching out to us, and encouraging us subtly… to keep on going strong. To not to lose hope and to relegate ourselves to the same ignorance and insensitivity of the masses that irk us, in order to just fit in or for any other reason whatsoever.

Picture Source: pocketperspectives.wordpress.com

Picture Source: pocketperspectives.wordpress.com

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