Thursday, December 4, 2008

Time for security for politicians to go!

Much has been said about the horrific attack on Mumbai. My purpose today is not to talk about that as I am still very angry and will only end up bashing politicians and bureaucrats. More politician bashing is only going to be more and won't really serve a purpose.

One of the recurring themes through the course of this week has been to withdraw state provided security from politicians and bureaucrats. This suggestion makes a lot of sense to me. It is not because I think that would 'serve them right' as a lot of people believe. I think a larger more important policy shift can be achieved from this move.

In India neta’s (small, big or pint sized), bureaucrats, public servants and even the neighborhood paanwalla get a PSO for their personal security. This decision is based on an analysis of threat perception done by the police. In plain speak it says that our law and order situation is so bad that the police cannot hope to protect it’s citizens without assigning a posse of personal security guards to them. And only a lucky few who are in positions of power get it.

My rational is simply this; if you remove this security cover from everyone, except for a handful ministers in government, there will be added incentive for these people to invest their time and energies in providing a law and order apparatus that provides basic safety to all citizens. Their stakes in our safety will suddenly be different as it will also affect their safety. Police will have to account for lapses if any in a way that they don’t have to right now. I believe courts will be set up at double speed for speedy disposal of cases. Basically it will create an environment where being associated with crime will become a bad business decision.

In most developed countries politicians don’t need personal security. Average legislators go about their business like regular people. They have enough faith in the law and order machinery to provide them with protection. Why can’t we build our systems to provide for such security for the average citizens?

On a different note: For the life of me I cannot imagine why an Indian politician who has scores of murder cases against him needs the police to protect him.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Apathy or resilience?

As another set of bombs went off in India killing 25 people one is left wondering if it is apathy or resilience that makes India tick. This is one in a long series of blasts and frankly I don’t see Indians either being scared or caring.

Reams have been written about Mumbai’s train blasts and the subsequent revival of the system and the great Mumbikar spirit. That the Mumbikar’s were riding the same trains less than 24 hours later has been hailed as a great victory over terrorism. But I think it has nothing to do with courage. Over the years everybody has got so used to attacks and other such tragedies that they are dismissed as non issues. ‘As long as I and mine aren’t directly affected it is okay’ attitude is more the way of life.

We have gotten so used to seeing home minister after home minister making the same promises on TV that by now we don’t even need to hear them to know what they are saying. Basically the poor sod is on mute in real life and no one is listening. The cops whose duty it is to keep tabs on terrorists, crooks and other such are doing such a fine job that people have zero faith in their abilities to either investigate or intercept the terrorists. We don’t expect to be safe at all. In fact we expect to be bombed and attacked all the time. When we get home in one piece it is a blessing.

In all of this there is a great lesson for the terrorist. Surely by now they must realize that all their best efforts are futile. The very purpose of bomb blasts is defeated if we don’t care. The idea is to scare a society, but this society doesn’t care enough to be scared. I have a suggestion for Osama and his like. Do something that will shock us like say building a hospital. Do something out of the script. I am sure everyone will stop what they are doing and take notice.

Thursday, August 28, 2008

I hope it's well done!

I woke up in the morning with a hangover to beat all hangovers. Hiroo (The DOP) called later in the day asking if anyone got the number of the truck. Even now much later in the following evening the wooziness is still there. I think we got a little smashed at the wrap party and a little silly later by drinking some more at home. But it felt well deserved.

Mastang Mama (50% Mast- 50% Tang) wrapped last night with the filming of the ‘Paisa’ song. I am looking back with a mixture of happiness and sadness. The road ahead is both inviting and daunting. Also now the realization that the die has been cast is finally hitting home. We are committed to the visuals we have shot, there is no going back from here. I do hope we have done them well. At this point I have no perspective on what we have created. Everything looks great and crappy at the same time. The only consolation is that better filmmakers than me have gone through this phase.

As I move on into the post production phase the mind is now looking ahead. What should I take on next, where is the next one coming from? There are a few scripts ready but it is still early days to commit to any one story. There have been feelers but it is still early to get into any active discussions. I am keeping my options open.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Arundhati Roy strikes again

Once again Arundhati Roy has political parties of all hues frothing at the mouth. This time it is her comments on Kashmir that have both side of the spectrum coming together. It is amazing see her achieve something so monumental by simply speaking her mind. Even major national calamities don’t have these parties speaking in the same voice.
Though I don’t generally agree with much of what she says on this one occasion I feel she has a point. For a very long time I have held the view that you cannot live with someone who doesn’t want to live with you. It is a simplistic argument but it holds true in any relationship. Be it a partner in a marriage or a grown child in a parent’s house or, on a larger scale, entire communities living in a country. This is especially true for a country like India which is an amalgamation of diverse identities who have come together to live under one constitution. The simple assumption is that we must want to belong to India for India as an idea to work.
In light of this India’s obsession with Kashmir just doesn’t make sense to me. Here is a community that hates Indians. They have been reluctant ‘Indians’ from the very beginning. They don’t feel the need to contribute to India in anyway. They have their own little world that is sustained by monies paid by the Indian tax payer. The Indian state has bent over backwards in trying to keep them happy over the last 6 decades. Special economic packages and constitutional acts have done nothing to endear the Indian state to the people of the valley. The political rhetoric is so strong that nothing India ever does will be good enough. The calls for azadi are today louder than ever. Frankly I think the time has come for India to cut its losses and let Kashmir go. India has spent far too much in human and economic terms on a piece of territory that is unproductive for Indian purposes and wholly unresponsive to any efforts made in amalgamating them in the Indian mainstream. In the end they have to want to be a part of India, they have to want to contribute to India and they have want to let their identities merge with India for this relationship to work. Otherwise it is a one way street. We give and give. They take and spit on us back. I quite agree with Arundhati; India needs azadi from Kashmir too.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

All Quiet

After the hectic shooting schedule there is a sudden lull in my life. Two songs were to be filmed this week but have been put off for a variety of reasons. First week of August seems most likely now.
Post production has started but at this point there isn’t much for me to do. Initial briefings have been done and the editor has taken charge. The editor needs a free hand with the material so I am staying clear of the editing room. I guess my inputs will be needed only after a couple of weeks.
So, what do I do? Maybe I’ll start work on another script. A couple of scripts are in need of a re-look so maybe that.
In the mean time the political happenings are interesting to watch. It seems that the government has finally had enough of the bulling dished out by the left front. About time too. With just 61 MP’s (or 12% representation) they were allowed to dictate policy for far too long. That the new partners are a dodgy lot is like saying the ocean has water. Given the global slow down these partners will add to the misery of the country. Dr. Singh will need a lot of antacids to deal with them.
I’ll sign in again next week- hopefully and discuss the progress on my work as well as give my gyan on the fast developing political situation.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Almost a year!

It’s been almost a year since I last posted anything. Time flies, especially when you are having fun. At least that is what I’d like to believe. The last year or so has been a roller coaster of sorts. It’s had both highs and lows for me. The several near misses followed by the signing and the making of MASTANG MAMA (50% mast, 50% tang) have all contributed to make the last 12 months huge for me.

We are now nearly done with MASTANG MAMA’s shoot and things are looking good. It is a small fun film that should have the audiences in splits. As I head into the post production there are a million small anecdotes that come to mind. Maybe on another day when I have more time I will share some of them. At this point I am confused about how to feel. I am happy with the way things are going but the sense of insecurity and anticipation of things to come keep the tensions levels high. I hope to post more, if possible on a weekly basis. That way I will have a record of all I felt while MM was happening.