MOHALLA ASSI: HOPE FILM DELIVERS WHERE ITS ‘LEAKED’ TRAILER FAILS

Well, it claims to a satirical take on ‘bad side’ of Kashi (or Varanasi or Banaras). Reports say it is loosely based on Kashi Nath Singh’s ‘Kashi Ka Assi’ though the novelist, as some versions say, is not happy with the treatment.

I watched this trailer last night and again this morning after I came to know about this movie. Looks an interesting movie by the trailer though it is certainly about stereotyping something peripheral as the main. What Chandraprakash Dwivedi, the Central Board of Film Certification member, wants to show through this film, he only knows.

The culture of Assi, the social milieu of ghats and the overall culture of Banaras is much deeper and mystical. Hope the movie captures this essence which is certainly not in the trailer. What is bad in Banaras, its Pandas and other bad people (Kashi ke ‘thug’ or cons or fakers), is known from ages. I still find more books on Kashi written by foreigners than by Indians. Yes, the drug menace shown in the trailer is a reality but again it cannot be attributed to everyone. And also, the world knows how dirty has become Varanasi in recent days and needs an infrastructural makeover.

I am from Varanasi, born and brought-up there. I have never used any expletive so far in my life. Also, I don’t know anyone in my circle using expletives as habitually as is shown in the trailer. I still go back to this city to learn from it, to experiment with my thoughts.

Not everyone uses abuses or invectives or cuss words or “gaalis’ there, in day to day life, in routine, while talking. It is not there for everyone, as the trailer makes us to believe so. Mostly, it is between friends. High tempers and rage also see such words flowing. But then, it is not unique to Varanasi. Don’t we find such things in Delhi and in other parts, obviously with localized elements? Such societal elements and habits are always on its periphery and we should not see them as mainstream social elements – as this trailer tells us.

Reports say this one is a leaked trailer of the movie, that is a work in progress since 2011 and has seen many issue derailing its completion. Finally, it may release later this year.

As the movie is being claimed as a work of satire and as the trailer is said to be the ‘leaked’ version, let’s see if the movie has that punch to deliver the honest message here.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

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KOS KOS SHABDKOSH’: A REFRESHING BOOK ON A SUBJECT SO BASIC TO US..

You can’t debate satire. Either you get it or you don’t.
Michael Moore
(According to the Brainy Quote)

And I got it….but in my own way.

A book in your language with an interesting subject matter, now that hasn’t happened with me in a long time.

Until this book happened.

Last year, from the Delhi International Book Fair, I purchased many Hindi language satires but I couldn’t read beyond a few short stories and Srilal Shukla’s ‘Raag Darbari’. But when I had my hands on this book, I could not resist the temptation of reading it and writing on it.

Because I knew the person as a human-being, as an author and above all, as a senior.

‘Kos Kok Shabdkosh’ by Rakesh Kayasth ji or Rakesh sir that I address him is an aptly worded book of thick proportions and is hilariously stinging with its satire and the thing about it is, it touches aspects of our day-to-day lives, intrinsically a part of us, whether we care for, or we don’t care for, or we have to care for. It speaks volumes for it.

Situations in the book are from real life and characters have their presence in our routine thus. Accordingly, the expressions are real life. In a thought-provoking way that we may think, that we may not think, that we have to think.

I have spent time with him and I know a bit about him. I also try to write and I know one has to live the experiences, in a possible way, in any possible way – thinking, feeling, living, observing – to write about them.

And Rakesh sir did it with an élan that made me sit with his book and finish it once I got free. It was thoughtful, the way I look back on after reading it. And it basically arises of the fact that I can correlate with the themes deliberated upon in the book.

Satire is a beautifully meticulous art where we say everything, where we see every one naked metaphorically, where we write about everyone in a similar vein. It may be subtle or it may direct. But it hits hardest, with a thought-provoking theme that runs along.

It is an art form – a very serious art. I knew Rakesh sir had a fine grip over it and therefore, I was waiting for this book.

It talks about our day to day lives the way we experience. His 43 themes are events in our lives that we always notice, that we cannot run away from, if we have the grey-matter. They are situational reports impregnated with dose of satire that locks you with a smile. And while smiling, you also start thinking – a way to go for a work of satire.

He writes with a blend that is natural, that is every day, taking us from the high of a laugher to a high of smile to the high of thinking.

The book includes varied experiences that we live every day, days that make for our weeks – personal and professional – the many lives we live.

He starts from the ubiquitous trait in every one’s life. He begins saying ‘execrating someone and finding to execrate someone and eating’ are essential to humanity – a work that everyone is engaged in. These are so basic and evergreen activities that we do it naturally – day after day – and seldom think about.

Going by the human nature – it is so perfectly said here – a perfect beginning for a satire setting the tone. And it goes on well and it ends well.

On storytelling front, he begins with the perfectionism of bosses, that is all acceptable. Questioning them is like questioning the ethos of the day. He talks about regularity and daily chores of meetings, eternity and universality of foolishness, versatility of having alternatives, ephemeral relevance of a parliament in a democracy of the day in the times we are living in, secularity and non-partisan methodology of a Lokpal that is yet to be institutionalized, linguistic formations of the mother-tongue, Gangetic flow of riots, amenability of employability, usability of the common-man and the wealth that generated commonly for uncommon people and purposes.

Every day routine with elements that happen in our professional lives, shaping or messing with our personal lives. Irrespective of we think or we do not think, we constantly meet with such elements.

I smile and I think.

On the way, he picks up the thread of life in a liquor bottle that is never to be lent out. His words give us the everlasting wisdom of a black & white life that is always grey and tries to find its meaning in any possible way, on any possible platform – in different activities, in different attachments, on different stages and in different phases of life – in life’s intricacies, in life’s simplicities, in its etiquettes, in its methods – in life’s compromises, in life’s sacrifices, in life’s attitude towards living it and in life’s derelictions.

Smiles, laughter – these are boons for life and Rakesh sir reiterates it in his own style contracted to the blessings of life outwitting the effects of a low life and of bad days.

His to-the-pointedness is immaculate when he writes about utility and futility of the likes of Tejpal and their presence and absence in social parlance. Yes, the magnetism of being relevant is always on the lips, like it is being locked there, never to dissolve.

Reaching out to someone to making someone reach out to us may be seen from any perspective. It may have similar or opposing connotations based on life itself. Universality of someone’s greatness is judged by it and is not judged by it – again based on the living the person has.

Like written in a related post, I used to discuss Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption agitation with Rakesh sir and once visited the Ramlila Ground with him after the work. I personally feel betrayed by Arvind Kejriwal now and I loved the way he has written about him, though the book is written well before his second term in Delhi. He is a living example of fall from grace, losing the essentiality of the element of doubt that was there, giving him an upper hand over the others.

His touch in his words is natural, coming from the experiences on developments in life. He reflects on elements happening in lives of Indians – forming the society, forming its polity and forming this country.

If we have to live, we need to relieve ourselves. Yes, we would laugh on this basic observation, but we would accept that it is basic to the living. Like darning someone, eating and relieving oneself is basic to human existence and so satire that runs through these lines, pinched us. It is refreshing to read how politics is one of these basic needs of life and how politics believes in giving us a reflection rather than the real thing – much like the reflection of brand commoditised politically and the viability of a commercially brand.

It’s the matter of baseline and a baseline is always subjective, based on individual preference. People may see it in the mindset because it so individualist, so what if it is almost universal in India. Rakesh sir believes (and most of us believe) that politicians know the art of levitating people’s hopes to win elections, to win the war of sentiments. Being an affluent or being a poor, being a commoner, or even being a terrorist – the baseline is always there – open to individual interpretations – interpretations that are manipulated most of the time.

When he raises the point of playing the national anthem in cinema halls before a movie, he finds many friends there, unlike the ones who are proposing the whole country to get cleaned. This is a mindset problem and requires long and ‘honest’ efforts. These are basically about thoughts first and no ‘photoshop’ is permitted there. After all, commoners usually have not the mercurial temperament like a politician that is adept in stabilizing quickly – based on circumstances.

So far, I have already seen many elements of the book in my day to day life, beautifully (and stingingly) given words.

And to end the book, Rakesh sir chooses the subjects, that are again relevant and are happening in real time. He writes on the ‘selfie fad’ in one of the world’s most rapidly developing mobile and mobile-internet market and his satire deliberates on its socio-political implications. Dussehra inspires him to write on a universal malaise inside, that how we see ourselves sacrosanct, that how we refuse to see the bad inside us accordingly. For us (or most of us), evil is not in us. We find a way to say that ‘we are all good.

kos Kos Shabdkosh_1

It’s not about the subject matter that differentiates an author. It’s about the treatment that places him in a separate league. And Rakesh sir’s book is an example of it. He has shaped this book from his experiences and observations of day to day life. Routine can become a source of joy as well he shows us once again, provided we try to go the extra mile beyond the routine.

Yes, it’s been some years that I spoke with him, yet he is one of the few persons I admire. And like I always do, like many things, I am thinking over Rakesh sir’s work, carrying a self-assessment of it to debate it, even if Michael Moore says that ‘satire cannot be debated’.

What I think a piece of satire or a whole work on it is debatable. A good work is basically about introspection and observation and the subsequent correlation and there are ample takeaways from this book.

It is like visiting him personally while reading the book because I know him as a human-being. I know about the goodness of Hindi as it is my mother-tongue. And of all genres of Hindi, I like satire the most. And I place this book in my league.

What I think he has given us a refreshing book on a subject so basic to us. It is in human nature – criticizing others. Sometime, it becomes a necessity. Sometime, it is all about entertaining our strained souls. Sometime, it is driven by a reason. Sometime, it is self-inflicted. Sometime, it is for fun simply.

Like most of the things in life, it is not without reasons. We imprecate/execrate/darn something or someone all the time.

But we seldom think of a book, something that Rakesh sir thought. And moreover, he went beyond thinking. He wrote a book about it.

For me, reading ‘Kos Kos Shabdkosh’ is like building a vocabulary of related Hindi terms and I enjoyed the exercise.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey – https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/

TEAM PK THANKS VOLUNTEERS OF HINDU OUTFITS FOR THEIR TIMELY SUPPORT

Though it was a tough day, with important news developments like the court decision on discharge plea of Amit Shah, BJP’s national president, Narendra Modi’s Number 2, second most powerful figure of the political establishment running India now, from charges in Sohrabuddin and Tulsi Prajapati fake encounters; the ongoing India-Australia test match; and the ongoing developments in missing AirAsia flight incident, that was bound to take the airwaves time away, the team behind PK, the movie, expressed its gratitude to the round of much needed publicity that accrued to it in past few days.

Their spirit of recognizing self-motivated and selfless efforts remained undaunted, when, in the end, even the reduced coverage that was expected, didn’t come after the shocking news of unexpected resignation’ of Mahendra Singh Dhoni from test cricket swept the agenda of the day.

The Team PK sent praising notes of their heartfelt thanks to the top leadership and members of outfits like Hindu Yuva Vahini, Vishwa Hindu Parishad, Bajrang Dal, Hindu Mahasabha and many others who have been working relentlessly making outreach of PK even wider, when the movie was fading in appeal. Also, the team has sent specially packaged messages to express its feelings to Ramdev and Subramanian Swamy, the two stalwarts of the pack.

After all, because of their efforts, the movie is again in news, is registering more footfalls and is headed for more views.

Though PK, the movie, was an ‘inspired’ production with less of original elements, including the idea, the narrative was developed well around a subject of mass-importance and thus mass-appeal – religion and its quirky and ostentatious elements – and the Team PK hoped to cash on Aamir Khan’s star-power, Rajkumar Hirani’s track-record and a well-crafted marketing strategy to enter the big league, the super-blockbuster league of Indian Cinema, with earning ranging in hundreds of crores.

It worked well, initially, with the star-power, the narrative and the hype keeping the cash stacking up. But, being not the first time, with ample gyaan and slow pace in the 2nd half, it soon became clear that the narrative was not expected to get to the ‘super-blockbuster’ status – until the push to its 2nd life arrived.

As expected, after the days of hype and marketing influence were over, the cash inflow started flattening out and was well on the way to get into the stagnation zone.

And then, it happened. The 2nd life arrived, and in style, keeping the nation and the audiences hooked to the TV screens with intensely debated discourses on the movie.

The Good Samaritans, from the evergreen, overworking Hindu fundamentalist outfits, jumped in the fray, carefully picking elements from the movie to enlighten the nation, pushing more to watch the movie, to know about the elements they were highlighting. There are even the sort of viewers who had watched it earlier but are going to watch it again as they could not notice the element(s) in the context these ‘Good Samaritan publicists’ are presenting.

And there could not be a better timing. It is perfectly opportune, maximizing the resource utilization.

After all, had it coincided with the release, it would have wasted the resources used in marketing and promotion of the movie. Coming after the days that could be attributed to the ‘influence of marketers’, the well crafted, coordinated and increasingly synchronized move is a brilliant exercise in exercising the Public Relations tools.

After the first wave lost its appeal, fully exhausting its capacity levels, the second wave, that was voluntary in nature and had no official access and took time to research and study the finer elements of the PK content to be used as the central themes of their campaigns, had found the opportunity to chip in and they did it with full commitment, and too, without informing the production house and commercial stakeholders of the movie. Such exemplary selflessness is rare and is to be given due notice as has been happening.

Now, it is certainly debatable that how much the movie has earned so far, with differing figures putting the movie in different leagues – from Rs. 200 crore to over Rs. 400 crore clubs (hyped up box-office collections, that is again an increasingly used brilliant film marketing tool) – but it is clearly visible that its cash-pile is adding more stacks now, and at a handsome pace.

And the team that has produced a sensible cinema in PK, the movie, cannot be expected to act insensibly, by not saying thanks to these altruistic well-wishers.

And it also came with perfect timing. The ‘tomorrow’ could not have been better than the ‘today’ to say thanks as it was a frustrating day for the volunteers with Dhoni’s resignation stealing the show and the airwaves even if they worked harder and launched the campaign in many other cities.

The words of recognition, appreciation and gratitude by the Team PK will certainly lift their mood and morale up from today’s frustration and would recharge them for a more action-packed tomorrow.

©/IPR: Santosh Chaubey –https://santoshchaubey.wordpress.com/