Archive for the ‘Controversies’ Category

The Wall Project: Boycott Aladin, Canvas, Gair & London Dreams For Boorish Publicity Actions

About two months back, I wrote about the exciting experience of being part of The Wall Project in Mumbai. A BMC initiative, a number of citizens turned out to beautify and place their own mark on the wall running along Tulsi Pipe Road, between Mahim and Matunga Road.

Yesterday, we commenced on Phase II of the drive, this time taking the street art concept to Lower Parel, opposite Phoenix Mills and simultaneously pulling off the cause of education-through-art with The Alphabet Project at the Mahim end of the same road. I was waiting to collate all the photographs that are still appearing across the net, to write the post about it.

Then earlier this evening, we discovered that a different sort of vandalism had happened. Movie posters of Aladin, Canvas and Gair have turned up, pasted over the paintings, less than 24 hours later. I’m rusty on the legalities of these movie advertisements that appear all over the city. All I can say is that Wall Project was a BMC initiative and certainly not meant to be a backdrop for the marketing of Bollywood.

Posters

As outrage spreads across Twitter, even as I write, Ritesh Deshmukh and Sujoy Ghosh have been notified and have both issued apologies. But an apology I say, is not enough. It is enough of effort getting past the apathy of citizens to drive forward something like The Wall Project. Asking people to come out of their houses on a Sunday and spend a searingly hot day painting a rough wall for free is not an easy task. So much for the so-called indifference of this city, the numbers of people that turned out are testimony to the fact that Mumbaikers do indeed care. But after such an episode, would a citizen want to take the initiative?

My guess is that this will boil down to #wallproject becoming a popular Twitter topic for a few days; there will be a few media mentions about the outrage of social media users after a citizen drive and a clean-up PR effort with apologies by the people in the limelight. At some level, I expect some poor poster-paster will get yelled at or even lose his job. Is the onus of this to be laid on him? No, I say, the onus of this must be borne by the people who well understand the power of advertising and publicity, the people with the moolah, the people who have the most to gain from publicity, of any sort. Blaming the poster company or the person who put up the posters is not enough; the responsibility lies with the people who gain from the effort of the publicity. I say turn that idea around and make sure that the negative publicity hurts right where it should. Every person who stands to gain from the movies’ good collections holds responsibility for the end result and hence must bear the consequences of such an action.

See the before and after pictures courtesy @wanderblah

Aladin

ALADIN

Canvas

CANVAS

Gair

GAIR

London Dreams

LONDON DREAMS

If this is our city and its state is our concern, we have the right to stay outraged. I say, boycott the movies Aladin, Canvas, Gair and London Dreams, whose posters vandalize a community drive. Commissioning those posters not only hurts the sentiments of those whose painted walls have been covered, it cocks-a-snook at the Mumbaiker while saying,

To hell with your sensibilities. Advertising my movie is more important. I don’t care if a citizen effort that managed to raise such civic consciousness so successfully, is scuttled.

If you participated in The Wall Project or know someone who did, add value to that effort by passing this message on. If you are a blogger or a Twitter user, re-tweet this, blog about it, link to other posts about this. If you are reading this at all, you probably have access to the internet and a mobile phone. Use them to pass on the message. Spread the outrage, it needs to be felt.

Mumbai Limps Back To Life

I traveled into town today, in the aftermath of the terror that Mumbai has lived in the past week. The reason was a Tweet-up/Peace walk/gathering at Colaba Causeway. Honestly? I stand in deep respect of the police force, the fire-fighters and the NSG who delivered us from the terror. And I’m going to wear white tomorrow to symbolize our mourning as well as a plea for peace. Yes, I will also light a candle and thank every police-person I see for the bravery of their comrades. But mostly I went out today for myself. To reassure myself that I still could. I needed to. If as a Mumbaiker, this city’s spirit resides in me, then I speak for the city when I say I’m battered, I’m crawling, I am gasping for breath.

Traffic was light as it has been since Wednesday night, even for a Sunday afternoon/evening. Even so, the journey took us a half and hour either way. We passed shops that were open, people out for a stroll with their families, cars driving down…but there was an air of barely concealed tension. I had my camera out for the better part of the journey and I know I drew some curious (and not necessarily friendly) glances from the other cars. In case you’re wondering what an atmosphere of terror looks like, come to Mumbai right now.

The photos I took today of Mumbai in post-terror trauma….

Here’s the media jumping onto the sympathy-brand visibility bandwagon, over the Western Express flyover. DNA asks…

Spirit of Mumbai
FOR HOW LONG?

1-bandra-flyover.jpg

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Smooth Traffic & Funny Mails: Thank You, Mr.Thackeray

Raj Thackeray was arrested yesterday. Ho hum, so what else is new?

I woke up to the news channels airing footage shot hours ago, of the MNS chief being escorted into the police van at Ratnagiri and a few fancy-looking maps showing blinking dots in the areas of Borivili, Andheri, Dadar and Worli.

Violence has erupted in parts of the city.

…the TV anchor informed me over my breakfast. And..

MNS workers have been protesting the arrest. This comes in the light of the weekend attack on the railway examination centers to protest under-representation of Maharashtrians in the test.

I was still yawning, glued to the television as I was. And then I snapped the set shut, got ready and left for work.

The roads were not empty. They were the way a civilised, metropolitan city’s roads should be. Vehicles running at least 2 feet from each other in parallel lanes, a few stray pedestrians crossing only during the traffic signals, short signal wait-times, no undue honking. My normal 45-minute commute took all of 20 minutes. Thank you Mr.Thackeray for giving us one day of normal commuting.

People came into work. But of course. No, I’m not going to go on about the resilient spirit of Mumbaikers, our courage, our bravery etc. I’m no braver than the next person. All I am, is practical. Between floods, riots, bandhs, public transport strikes, communal clashes, infrastructure breakdowns and politico arrests, I have a job to do. And every day brings a new reason to not go to work. Yet, we do. That’s not courage, it’s just acceptance of the way things are.

From the last time this happened, I figured the media was just creating a hullaballoo as usual. No one who goes out in this city everyday really believes the news channels anymore (and certainly not a certain Dilli-based channel which thinks that Mumbai starts and ends at Churchgate and that Tardeo and Juhu are far-flung railway stations). Sure enough, come evening and I had a smooth commute back home as well. No, I did not spot any blood on the streets, no slapped-around taxi drivers, I did not get pelted with stones and the city seemed no scarder than usual.

If anything, the highlights of the day were how people chose to deal with the chaos. My Little Lord received the following email from HR:

Dear All

Due Unstable environment with regards to Raj Thackeray arrest, management has decided that all associates can leave by 4.00pm.

With Warm Regards,
HR Manager

Tue, Oct 21, 2008 at 4:11 PM

My colleagues were far more prompt and shot off the following (very convincing) mail:

There is a slight issue here at the Mumbai office. Due to some political issues there is absolute civil unrest and the city is at the brink of riots breaking out. The team will need to rush home. Im not sure if we’d be able to make it to the call today.

* So I’m jaded and cynical. Go read the full story here.

Is it time for abortion laws to change?

Am sure all of you who are reading this have seen the overly stressed out Nikita Mehta with her big belly running around the TV screens. I wonder what was the judge thinking while refusing aborting a 26-week fetus with a serious heart defect after rejecting the mother’s plea to terminate the pregnancy in a case torn between trauma and ethical issues. Guess what this silly decision is going cost the couple their entire life of trips to the hospitals, medical bills, extra efforts to generate money and the list goes on.
Haven’t the court thought about the aftermath of this decision? If yes then have they offered any kind of medical assistance for the couple? If not then why not? Has the Indian court become so insensitive towards the public? If the laws can be tweaked for actors and politicians whose actions have cost zillions of rupees (Yes our blood and sweat which we pay as taxes) and many lives (Yes am hinting here) then why not for Nikita Mehta’s case?

In the end am sure that Nikita would want to take a double barrel gun and shoot the judge and then the rest who help him make this decision. Also the gov/ law have set a bad example with this incident. First it is not that we have hundreds of Nikita’s walking in every day asking for court’s help to abort a child. Secondly the one person who has faith in the laws and wanted to go about the right way has been bowled out. After this I don’t think that people will have any hopes of receiving the justice to any issue. The moral of the story is such incidents will make the people loose faith in law and justice. And more importantly its is high time for India to change/amend certain laws.

"Khabardaar, Marathila hath laval tar…"

This is what Bal Thackeray has to say to BMC through his newspaper – Samna editorial section. Read More Here.

“Khabardaar, Marathila hath laval tar…” roars Bal Thackeray in his editorial in the Shiv Sena mouthpiece Saamna today.

Thackeray warns all Sena corporators to be very particular about speaking in Marathi and said he would not be lenient with people who do not.

“We will not tolerate any language other than Marathi in the BMC,” said Thackeray.

His statement comes a week after Congress corporator and leader of the Opposition in the BMC, Rajhans Singh’s proposal.

‘If you are a lion, we are tigers’

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An axe to grind, an axe to fall

Raj Thackeray has just been arrested and is being driven to Vikroli for the court hearing. Now what? Let’s see. This titbit has enjoyed much more publicity in the past week in Mumbai than the falling temperatures, the art festival and all such mundane things as national news.
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MNS and the "outsiders"

On Sunday, violence erupted in Mumbai (not again…). Taxi-drivers, paan-wallas and ‘outsiders’ (read UPites and Biharis) were the target of assault by frenzied MNS supporters. In an is-it-related-or-not incident, Amitabh Bachchan’s house was attacked the next day, spurred by resentment towards his move to set up a girls’ school in Uttar Pradesh rather than Maharashtra.

I was at home on Horror Monday (Can we call it that? – We’d probably have to name at least one day each month for the sundry episodes of communal clashes that errupt so frequently in this so-called cosmopolitan metropolis). The news channels had a field day running and re-running the clips of a taxi-driver being dragged out of his car and beaten to pulp and soundbytes with the public expressing their outrage at this breach of peace.
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Big Brother Is Watching You Surf

While the whole city is stuck on the scumbag being released from prison on bail, our civil rights are being trampled upon.

In an effort to root out terrorism the city police is in the process of putting on key logging software on computers in internet cafés.

The Mumbai police will soon have khabris deployed (not physically) at over 500 cyber cafes in the city. A new software will allows cops to swoop down on terrorists the moment a keystroke is pressed at any cyber café across the city.

Investigations into the recent Hyderabad and Mumbai blasts have revealed that the planning was done using the Internet especially, chat rooms. [link]

Personally I think it is a breach of privacy of the individual user and frankly if the terrorist planners know that their communication is being recorded, they will use other means and methods of communication. But as a result of this draconian law, we will loose our right to privacy. Yes terrorism is a threat, but it cant come at the cost of our rights. If it does, then the terrorists have won, so you can pack up and go home !!

And what’s the gaurantee that the same police force wont leak out information of people visiting Orkut communities like this one and this one. Now when the Shiv Sena burns down a cybercafe, they will at least have proof that someone did logon to these communities.

Amit Varma, an ex-Mumbai Metblogger, has some tips for you to avoid being key logged if you ever need to use a cybercafe.

Goodbye, My Sallu.

Okay, I know he hasn’t been arrested as yet but it’s just matter of sometime now.

Sessions Court in Jodhpur which upheld the five-year jail term for actor Salman Khan in the Chinkara poaching case, turning down the actor’s appeal against his sentencing last year. The actor failed to appear for the hearing, saying he missed the flight to Jodhpur from Hyderabad where he is currently shooting.

Salman will now be arrested unless he surrenders before the court himself. [IBN Live]

It’s astonishing isn’t it, the way our thinking works? When Sanjay Dutt was handed with 6 years prison sentence, I felt a little bad but overall was happy with the outcome. As they say, “Justice had prevailed”, though I know there are many who would argue with me on this.

But the thing that bothered me the most since Sanjay Dutt’s punishment was what would become of my favorite Salman Khan. To make things clear, no I am not delusional – I am well aware of the fact that many across the nation are more sympathetic towards Sanjay but not Salman. To the actor’s disadvantage, his past (besides the crimes committed) has a lot to do with it as well – troubled relationships, scandals, (rumored) underworld connection, dadagiri and the likes.

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Is The D-Day for Mr. Dutt Finally Here? Yes, I Hope So.

Okay, now before you get the wrong impression – it’s not that I have some personal vendetta against actor Sanjay Dutt and so what if I get teased (a lot) as his long-distance twin. What truly bothers me here is the lengthy time-line taken by our judiciary system, to come to a decision. But then again this isn’t just a one off trail; the same “delay” continues to be smacked upon tons and tons of cases nation-wide.

Hopefully July 31st would put an end to the ever-going Sanjay Dutt Trail – either the man’s probation plea gets rejected or he is allowed to walk off with freedom for good.

Judge Kode had earlier declared that Dutt was not a terrorist but had found him guilty under the Arms Act for illegal possession of an AK-47 and other weapons. If the actor’s probation plea for suspension of sentence (on grounds of good conduct) is tossed out, then he could be sent behind bars for a maximum term of five years.

And if one takes into account Judge Kode tough stance, he has sentenced as many as 11 convicts to death; the above scenario seems to be the most likely outcome. Plus sitting behind Yakub Menon in the TADA court while he was handed with “death sentence” must have surely done some damage to Dutt’s moral.

Personally speaking, I think Sanjay Dutt’s probation plea should be rejected. Since he has been convicted under the Arms Act, he needs to be suitably punished for it. As they say – You do the Crime, You do the Time. Obviously the sentencing should take into account his 18 months already served in prison, I guess a slightly lenient term of a year sounds more appropriate.

On the other hand, if Dutt is set free, this decision may not go down well with the certain sections of the society and many others prosecuted under the 1993 blasts case.

Now whether his blue striped shirt and denim pants would help clean out the voodoo off him (and Bollywood), well only time will tell – me just praying for an end, once and for all.

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