Tuesday, July 13, 2004


Ever since I am in my final year specialising in journalism, it has been tremendous amount of fun. I love everybit of our lectures one of the main reson being they are so interactive. Also the projects are damn cool. I will narrate some of the funniest experiences I have had.

We had a guest lecturer who came and gave us a lecture on Investigative reporting. She also gave us an assignment wherein we were supposed to hunt for an investigative story (very small scale) urs truly was totally lost. i couldn't figure out anything at all. Finally I decided upon an idea. (Bigtime cliched, but well, doesn't matter) One is not supposed to sell cigarettes within 100 metres of an educational institution. But well, as usual the laws are flouted merrily. There is a paanwala shop near my college who sells ciggies on a sly. I planned to go and buy a packet of cigarettes and I had to ask for a bill too, otherwise no proof! Ok..people, I don't smoke. Never ever gone near a pan beedi shop in my whole damn life. So I went to this shop tagging a friend alongside me. I asked for a packet of ciggies and he slowly turned back, opened his black plastic bag wherein he had hid his ciggies and gave me a packet. I asked him for a bill saying that "Acoounts karna hain Bhaiyya, bill chahiye!" {Wot crap, what account, what bull shit! } and that man gave me a bill immediately. I was like YO! MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Now I wanted to try again. So I went to another shop. I asked for a pack of ciggies again. I asked the guy for a bill and he didn't have a bill. He said he will write it down in a piece of paper and give it to me. I readily agreed. But well.... only wrote the price and he gave. I asked him,"Bhaiyya, dukaan ka naam nahi likhoge?" He was like, "Dukaan ka nam bhi chahiye kya?" hmmmmmmm. He bent down and suddenly he got up and he began glancing at our I-cards which as per our college rules we always have to tie it around our neck like a kutte ka ptha! Huh! He asked me how old I am, I said was as 19. Convinced he gave us the bill. Then he says," Mereko bahut tension hota hain Cigarettes bechte samay! " I was like," tension hoita hain toh bechta kyun hain re!" Wanted to scream at him but well, my work over and I fled. Since my prof wanted only a chotu story, I just went and tried my luck at 2 shops around my college. If she would have asked us to work on it full-on then maybe I might have covered majority of colleges in Mumbai. I as so excited....heehhee! investigative thingy is fun...total fun! :D :D :D

Now me at home:
My Appa is busy reading newspaper. I wanted to do some keeda (mast). So I went up to him and I saw him deeply engrossed in the newspaper. I started with all seriousness...
Appa, See what I brought today!!! Saying this I flung my ciggy packet on his newspaper. And I proceeded. "Appa, I have decided to start smoking. I am being very honest with you and I am telling you beforehand." Appa's face became numb. He didn't know what to do. Oh shesssssh! Watta Kodak moment! HAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAA! I couldn't control it any more. I blurted out, "Appa, I'm joking. It is for a project." Appa still couldn't understand what kind of college project was it which required me to buy cigarette packets! HAHAHAAHHAHAA! I explained him the entire idea and burst out laughing. heheheheheheeee! So much fun! Poor sweet dad of mine! awwwwwww! heheheheheeee! ;)

We have this subject called niche magazine and journalism. So what is a niche magazine? A niche magazine is a speciality type magazine which only caters to a specific interest (photography), relegion, particular profession etc. etc. So my professor one day brought whole load of niche magazines in our class. It had nice magazines I have never even heard the names of. Asian timber, Asian Dentist, Dhanvaarta bazaar patrika, Competition success review, GK Today etc. etc. and some really weird weird ones too. We were asked to pick up any of the two magazines and pass it on to our immediate neighbour. And then we were supposed to have a glance at them and we were given some 15-odd minutes to read them. Sudden;ly one of friends started laughing loudly. Since urs is a very small class (only 13 students) we get distractd very easily. The whole class turned to her and burst out laughing. She had a copy of debonair. Oh yea...U read it right ppl.........The porn magazine! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Well porn has a niche of its own own (Do I need to add that? :P) I mean porn magazines are considered niche magazines and our professor was planning to have like a discussion on them too. We are a class of 11 girls and 2 guys and in that particular class only one guy as present. So we girls really didn't bother to flip the pages with great interest (Well, I know for the fact that there are no lesbians in my class :P) We started flipping through the agony aunt column. AHHAHAHAHAAHAHAHAHAHHA! It was some March 1986 issue. The agony aunt columns were hilarious to say the least. Sample one of these, it had the class into splits.

I am a a 30 yr old man. I am happily married to my wife who is very beautiful, smart and slim. But I have this fascination for old, mature and obese women. Whenever I make love to my wife, I always imagine old, mature, obese women. Is there anything wrong in me? and y doo I think they way I think?

Oh shesssssssssssssh! It was just too much.....People burst out laughing .Total ruckus in my tiny classroom. Our professor finally interrupted and we had to proceed to another magazine. But it was so much fun! HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! :p:p

TRIVIA: India's first porn magazine was in Hindi. It was called MASTRAM (LOLOLOLOLOL), was started in the 1950s. :P

Sunday, July 11, 2004

Bowling for Columbine

I recently watched Michael Moore's Bowling for Columbine. So many thoughts stormed in my tiny head after watching the documentary. Bowling for Columbine talks about USA's gun culture and subsequently reflects on the fear psychosis which has gripped the nation. I thought it was a well made documentary. More on it later...

Bowling for Columbine starts with the basic premise of Columbine school bombings. For those unaware about the shootout at the high school in Columbine, here it goes....

On April 20, 1999, in the small, suburban town of Littleton, Colorado, two high-school seniors, Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris, enacted an all-out assault on Columbine High School during the middle of the school day which resulted into the killing of 12 students and a teacher. Later they shot themselves. Read more.... This incident shocked the nation and also the world coz never in the wildest dreams did anyone think that children in a school would be a target of gunmen who were children themselves.

Ok....The documentary starts with the Columbine school shootout. Moore delves into the issue in detail. He shows how everybody in Littleton possessed guns apparently for self defense and how arms were so easily accessible. Some of the scenes are heart wrenching. For example, he shows the scenes where the school librarian calls up a TV Show crying out in anguish narrating the shootouts and screaming for help. The juxtaposition of such scenes is remarkable. But I was disappointed that Moore does not go deep into the psyche of the 2 accused viz. Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris. He speaks to some of their classmates who describe them as "WEIRDOES, INTROVERTS" etc.. But the fact is that both of them maintained personal diaries. It has not been explored at all. One could have got a fabulous insight of the minds of the teens who committed such a heinous crime. Moreover even their families feature nowhere in picture.

I thought Moore wasn't objective at all throughout the whole movie but well, he took a stand at least. The scene where the then president Clinton announces about the bombings in Kosovo with such a firm demeanour and his change of tone as he hears about the Columbine school shootout is amazingly put. I mean it was an awesome display of the hypocrisy. Their attitude of Hamara khoon khoon, doosron ka khoon paani....is so aptly shown. I loved Moore for that. I like the way he fearlessly takes stands.

Moore showed how the USA society is such an insecure society. Media also was responsible to a large extent. He showed how media plays an important role in cashing in on the inherent fear of the American public. It was interesting to note when Moore says that during a particular year (I don't remember now)how the crime rate in USA actually fell but well media thought totally otherwise and if one were to go by the USA media, USA was the unsafest place in the whole world. Moore showed how TV news cameraman waited for an encounter, a police chase everyday at a particular place but well weren't bothered about the rising pollution in LA coz of which even the HOLLYWOOD banner wasn't visible at all. It simply wasn't of any news material. He also talks about the shows like COPS etc and the generalisation In the USA media where every criminal was a black man.

In order to show something was really wrong with the USA society Moore goes to Canada to show how safe a society it is inspite of an easy access of arms and ammunition. There are more guns per household in Canada than in the United States, yet the death toll, even when adjusted to consider the unequal populations, is much lower. He shows as to how Canadians don't keep their doors closed at all and how safe they still feel. To emphasises this point Moore barges into people's houses to show how the doors arenÂ’t closed at all. But how do I believe him? It could have easily been pre arranged before the shoot. There's an obvious loophole.

He also delves into the issue of a 6yr-old killing his classmate. It was a horrific piece of news. But well, we don't get to know what happens to the boy at all. Its really weird coz both the times, the perpetrators of the shootouts have not been covered at all. I mean there is always a question mark hanging in there. It is shown that immediately after the shootout Charles Heston, the chairperson of National Rifles Association (NRA) has a public meeting in Littleton asserting the fundamental right to own a gun to safeguard our lives thereby completely ignoring the protests of the local public and the media. Michael Moore grills Charles Heston in an interview in the movie so much so that Heston walks out mid way even without answering the questions. The interview was a tad dramatic and I felt Moore did go overboard. Moore condemns the role of NRA throughout but it is really ironic that he also is a very member of NRA.

This documentary touches upon several issues. Columbine school shootout, Gun culture in America, fear psychosis, Role of American media, Canadian society, National rifles Association, Okhlahoma Bombings, Role of USA in the bombings of other countries etc. etc. But well the audience doesnÂ’t get lost and well....the point is well conveyed. This documentary makes more sense now especially in wake of the stringent and may I add stooped security measures adopted by the USA government. This is just one of the articles which reflect the growing paranoia. I like it when Brazil openly challenges USA and starts finger printing USA citizens visiting the country. TIT FOR TAT. Really cool! I sometimes just wonder what all measures should India resort to especially after being the victim of several terrorists' attacks. But well different rules apply to USA and the rest of the world, don't they?

People who haven't yet seen the documentary, do see it. Makes a very good viewing despite the loopholes. I am now desperately waiting for Fahrenheit 9/11 to release in India.

Wednesday, July 07, 2004


It was just a simple discussion in my class. But well it turned out to be something else. Something that disheartened me completely. I am sad...period.

It was a discussion my prof initiated about MEDIANET. Well for all who are wondering what medianet is all about, lemme brief u guys a bit. MEDIANET is a creation of Times of India. It is an arrangement by which anybody can pay a fixed sum of money to get artciles published and having their picture on their front page. (Height of vanity, aint it!) This report will explain it all.

Medianet was an open secret atleast among the journalistic fraternity. But well, Mid-day kind of bought it out in open.

Mid Day has since found out that a front page photograph in Bombay Times is priced at Rs 1,254 per square cm. This means a 240 sq cm photograph on the front page in Mumbai costs Rs 3,00,960. The rate gets progressively lower with more insertions. The straight Q/A feature, also on the front page of the Bombay Times, is also up for sale. The 160-sq-cm article is on the lower part of the page and called the anchor in journalistic parlance. So if you want to be interviewed for that section, be ready to shell out Rs 1,91,520.

So all u junta reading Bombay Times, Pune Times, Ahmedabad times, Bangalore times etc. well whole load of articles are paid for and that's y they are in the newspaper. Well no other reason. Pure commerce......! Keep an eye on the front page photos. If u happen to find a small ENCIRCLED "M", then that picture is paid for being featured in the Bombay Times.

There are many things to this which i feel strongly about.

1) Journalism involves reportage of facts. Unbiased reporting......if I can add. newspapers in india cannot be regarded as totally unbiased or totally non-prejudiced, they more or less adhere to that. The presence of an article in a newspaper fulfills the basic duty of journalism. informing people. The basic work of a journalist is to report, collect facts and present it to the public. Well s/he is paid for doing that. His/her views wud definitely come into picture, Journos are human beings after all.

But when a newspaper demand money for publishing an article................its sick. I mean it is not journalism. It wud be something else. TOI publishes paid articles as if it is it's own article with the journalist's name (byline) too. Well u then just fooling people, arent u! if thr is a restaurant serving fukol food and u praise it sky high just coz the restaurant pays u like an awesome sum of money, pray tell me U JUST PLAIN FOOLIJNG THE GUILLIBLE PUBLIC. Ok.....this is a very frivolous example. but I am giving this example b'coz BT is known to be an entertainment and lifestyle newspaper. So the example given was something related to newspaper. Another example which i can give is, imagine a product pays to get itself featured and the newspaper agrees to it. the product might be bad, but since the newspaper is endorsing it...(mind u not an ad, its an article, thus credibility factor increases, many people might definitely buy it. There is a clear distinction between advertisements and editorial. Please for god's sake don't try to mix it up which is precisely what TOI is doing. These kind of paid articles are now referred to by a new term, "EDVETORIALS"
I used to think newspapers have like the sole authority and the POWER towrite influence people, public opinion. But well......suhc initiatives only make a huge, big joke of what journalism stands for. I know newspapers have to make money. But well, what we see now is a total mockery of well..... ETHICS ......HAHAHAHAHA....of journalism. and well the saddest fact of my life is..........TOI has the maximum circulation amongst the English reading dailies.

What happned in my class was which was shocking for me atleast was that majority of them didn't object to medianet. While some thought it was an excellent marketing strategy, others thought its, just Bombay times and not Times of India. Well....marketing gimmick..well i thought I was attending a journalism lecture. Huh! Ok...u start with bombay times........then u go to the main TOI too. Greed knows no boundaries........

It is reported that TOi earned like an 20 odd crore in the last yr. What a price to pay just to earn 20 crores when u otherwise earn like so much more than that! U just get bitched about everywhr, loose ur reputation u've earned for so long.......well...really sad!

What real saddened me was that some of them actually defended medianet saying that who cares....Its stoopid entertainment news anyways. So what if it is entertainment......the rot has begun and if it is not stemmed, it sure is bound to spread. And when u have the future journalists not flinching their eyebrows at this development,it is really really sad. It's just that nobody gives a damn. if this is what the future journalists are gonna be, its a sad prospect to even imagine. I don't think that they have imagined what dangers Medianet holds. i am sure it is not gonna stay within the limits of BombayTimes. it sure would extend it to themain supplement too. Well, any tom, dick or harry would be able to put forth anything they wanna see published just by paying money.

To be a journalist has been my highschool dream. I am kinda idealistic (it doesnt help at all) and have big dreams and hopes of doing good work. I would hate to compromise on journalistic ethics. It frightens me to think what the journo world holds in store for me in wake of developments like this. Will an idealistic me ever find a footing? I know, reality is often different. So many things change. But well, I wudnt prefer to compromise on ethics, atleast. It is a scary proposition for me. I am all confused and jittery. *Sigh*

P.S. any journos reading this, please comment!!!!