Dostana the Karan Johar Film:Having your cake and eating it too

There are some issues which Indian film makers have traditionally preferred to stay clear of.  Same sex relationship is one such contentious issue which has remained untouched even by enterprising film producers and Directors for the reason that one can never be sure as to what would be the acceptance level for such a presentation by the multicultural Indian audience. At least on this count i.e. for venturing in an unexplored territory, the producer and Director of Dostana  need to be complemented along with the two lead players Abhishake Bacchan and Arjun Ramphal. But that is the only count after  which the appreciation ends.

The plot which unfolds in the movie is not connected with the acceptance or rejection of the concept or with  sensitive portrayal of the issue involved. Off course this was not expected in a light hearted comedy film like this one but still the manner in which the issue has been dealt with throws up a host of questions.

As the story proceeds, the two lead male characters have to pretend to be gay for getting to rent an apartment which was open for hiring only for females. The property owner permits them to stay as tenants only after they pretend to be gay (and thereby are considered to be  harmless to other female inmates in the same house and accepted as tenants !).

Countless heroes and heroines have tackled the issue of changed identity for short term gains in HIndi movies. Oldest example being that of Ek Phool Char Kante where Sunil Dutt had to play different roles to impress  the four uncles of his lady love for securing her hand. Close by Kamlahasan came up with appreciative portrayal of a house maid in Chachi 420.

But Dostana overflowing with gloss and glamour but lacking the class and intellectual content of these films while trying  to give one laughter a minute, mauls the subject of same sex relations with an approach which is rather painful for a sensitive audience. After watching the film the question which comes to mind is what right did the film makers have for presenting the same sex oriented males as buffoons, pathetic and despicable characters salivating over male honchos. Is there an awareness over the hurt which the portrayal would cause to the image of males who are trapped in a body which is naturally inclined towards such relationships. . At a time when people are getting bold enough to openly come out with acceptance of this concept, the irresponsible image of same sex relationship   which the film throws up seems  quite out of sync with the changing times.

 On the other hand imagine the plight of that class of audience which has different views and  which finds the concept of same sex relationship  revolting and unacceptable. The film shows similar contemptuous attitude towards this category of filmgoers.

The Director did not wish to let go a single opportunity for giving subtle hints of homosexuality in shot after shot climaxing in the male to male kissing scene between the two lead players . Horribly enough., the suffering of the viewers does not end  even thereafter  as the female lead character Priyanka Chopra asks an absolutely unnecessary question as to whether the two characters developed some feelings for each other after the kiss.

 The movie while trying to cash on the tiltating influence of this sequence on the viewers  for whom  the act might have  been pleasing or comical totally  ignores the viewers with opposite mindset who would be definitely disgusted at the level to which art of film making has declined.

The film shot in foreign settings may have appeal for youngsters or NRIs due to their exposure to such situations .Yet even amongst such viewers the generation which has  grown up with comedy films of Rishi Da  and Gulzar may feel that Indian films churned out by Directors of this genre have nothing to offer for us old men.


Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion-a climbedown from Chandani Bar

Since we did not have anything interesting for the weekend we decided to spend the evening in the local theatre showing Madhur Bhandarkar’s Fashion. Not being a regular Cinema buff the last Bhandarkar movie which I could  recall having seen is Chandani Bar and do also recall having been moved by the sensitivity of the director to the plight of the women caught in the profession of singing and dancing at places of entertainment. Chandani Bar had an interesting storyline with many unpredictable twists and turns which kept the intelligent audience involved throughout the progress of the movie. Besides focussing on the life style of these professionals the film also gave the viewer an insight into the impossible options which confront a criminal trying to reform and lead a settled family life. It also painted a very sensitive picture of sufferings of the innocent youngster who has to carry the name tag of his dead parent who was in world of crime.

But sadly the latest movie  which seeks to reflect the dilemma of the girls from respectable background who aspire to be fashion models has nothing of that sort to offer to a sensitive movie goer. The oft repeated theme of cruel exploitation of newcomers to the world of showbiz and the consequent heartbreaks and depression pushing them in realm of drug addiction has inspired creativity over the ages in fiction and films -remember Valley of Dolls from  seventies . The present attempt by Bhandarker however proceeds on the presumption that the glare of repeated clips of fashion shows would  make the audience forget the need for story line in the movie. The end product is glossary of fashion fare which may bring financial returns  through wide eyed front benchers and teen agers from B grade cities but is sure to leave the intelligent audience frustrated over loss of time and money spent in the theatre.

Every step in the movie from the stage of entry of central character (a chartered accountant turned model from Chandigarh with a Kayastha  surname and an officious looking father) in the fashion world to the “happily lived thereafter ending” has element of predictability. In the first half of the film audience is kept tossing over the fashion shows with big names , the music trying to build an exciting state of mind without much success. The depiction of fashion world which seems to have more than fair share of crooks and exploiters with their eccentric ways may be quite close to reality but it does not offer anything more than the page 3 information which any metro dweller is exposed to as a routine. Since one gets this feeling of crookery right from beginning of the film therefore the sweet smiling guy (excellently portrayed by Arbaz Khan) also appears to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing -which he ultimately turns out to be.

By the time reality dawns on the central character it has already been in and out of three bedroom scenes and thereby generated enough financial prospects for the film by way an adult tag and gate money. Since after first ten reels the movie was still marching ahead in fashion documentary format one wondered whether it would end up as a suicide or with a question mark. But Bhandarkar had no such risky options in mind , so ultimately a handful of good guys and girls joined together to stage a comeback and give an inferiority complex to big bad guys and girls and relief to the tired audience.

In an attempt  give the film a realistic touch  the Director has cornered the incident of falling of model’s top in a fashion show and has incorporated it in his movie. Bhandarkar himself appears in the movie for a few seconds and a character speaks about him sarcastically.  Being impressed by his keenness to keep it close to reality ,we wondered why the Director failed to cash on the beach murders in Goa to give a realistic touch to the death of a drug addict character in his movie. Maybe next time. So let us keep our fingers crossed till then .


NANO to the rescue of NAMO

The decision of Tatas to shift the Nano Car project to Gujrat  after the bitter experience at West Bengal has given an opportunity to the State to  have some good cheer  for the festival  season. The Modi Government which has been facing international criticism for it’s human rights violations and for it’s insensitivity to plight of population displaced by ambitious developmental projects has seized the god sent (or Mamta sent) opportunity to tout this development as a tribute to State’s investor friendly climate. So much is the feeling of elation that some fans of Narendra Modi find the similarity between his abbreviated name  (NAMO) to NANO rather exciting .

The State does deserve substantial credit for having facilitated this quick transfer due to decisive abilities of it’s CM. The fact that the State was able to quickly start the process for acquisition for land required for approach roads and it’s ability to mange the same without protest from the affected farmers speaks for it’s management techniques.

an obituary for victims of violence

       On reading the latest news about the bomb blast at Mehrauli in New Delhi many thoughts  came to mind. The first one was  as to how the human mindset changes by recurrence of a particular experience. Another bomb blast in Delhi is not a sensational news item nowadays.The headcounts in the recurring tragedies perhaps only contribute to some statistical notebook in some Ministry or the crime records of some Police Station. For vast majority of the people given the task of running the country the sadness of the events perhaps matters not much more than the loss of a one day match. The pictures of wailing mothers and wives of the persons lost in the senseless violence evoke less emotional response than the loss of a participant in the bigboss or other reality show. Something worth being forgotten by the next morning. For, if this amnesia was not there some of the decision makers would have taken shelter in some distant Himalayan monastry having found it impossible to forget the haunting faces of innocent humans whose lives were snuffed out for the reason that some people in their greed for power consider it necessary to keep the society divided in blood thirsty warring groups.

       Other thought  which struck me was about the metamorphosis which would result in the society  if all the the ultras in the subcontinent joined the mainstream and became peace loving people . Surely for a lot many people such turn of events  would be a tragedy of immense magnitude.  So many TV anchors and talk show coordinators would be out of job and would not be able to aspire for recognition which is conferred as a consequence of their fiery oratorical skills. Absence of bloodshed and tears would certainly be a horrenduos development for those who live by the fire power of anchor’s mike and also for the barons of news paper industry who perhaps secretly crave for a blood spattered front page to make the impact of screaming headlines more commercially viable. 

         And lastly does anyone spare a few thoughts for the families caught in the tragedies, after the initial dust and din is settled. How the children mange after losing parents , how the wives of cops lost in the course of duty manage after loss of the bread winner. Also does anybody try to find out as to what went wrong in the society so that so many  educated young men at an impressionable age were tempted to follow the path of violence instead of a dignified existence bringing up families instead of destroying lives. Does anyone spare a few tears for the mother who had given a healthy and intelligent child to the society ,but to whom the society returned back the coffin of a bullet ridden terrorist. Are we doing anything to change the scenario ?

Sixth CPC Benefits:That sinking feeling

    Since the first round of calculations after notification of Govt. decisions is over, there     is a sinking feeling amongst many of the employees. The Pay Commission benefits      which   appeared to be too good to be true to some at one stage, now seem to be           gradually slipping away after realization of the Income Tax liabilities. Since the tax on   the   entire amount of arrears is to be paid in this financial year and there is no precise commitment about the date by which the balance of arrears would be paid, the picture is a bit despondent. Here are some sample calculations to find out as to how much would be left out to employees. (These are just random sample calculations  which were attempted for sake of having a clear picture . Please do not make requests for advice on individual cases). Since all circulars are available on the net (and some calculators have also been hosted on individual blogs) making individual calculations is not difficult. There is possibility of calculation errors also.If any mistakes are noted,suggestions would be welcome. Income Tax calculations would differ for each case .What is shown here is only approximation.

Sixth CPC Report(xvi):Announcement Regarding Allowances

The Ministry Of Finance has on 29th August 2008 notified the rates of DA and other allowances which are admissible to Central Govt. Employees on basis of recommendations of the Sixth CPC. The details are available on the Ministry website. The revised rates for pension are also available on the same website along with the resolution containing Govt’s approvals relating to benefits for the pensioners.

Sixth CPC:What is the latest

The decisions of the Govt. Of India on recommendations of the Sixth Central Pay Commission (CPC) were notified on 29th August 2008 by the Department of Expenditure , Ministry Of Finance.

The recommendations which are modified include changes in Pay Bands PB-1 (now pushed higher at Rs.5200-20200), PB-2 (now increased to  Rs. 9300-34800) and PB-4 (now starting  lower at Rs.37400-67000)

Grade pay has been increased in several cases over the recommendations oF VIth CPC, the increase  ranges from Rs.500/- to Rs.1000/-,

A new grade is carved out of PB-4 which is to be designated as HAG (Rs.75500-80000/-).

Govt. have approved a multiplication factor of 1.86 (to be rounded off to next multiple of 10) for calculation of corresponding stage in the new scales and rate of annual increment is increased to 3% (4% for achievers) of the sum total of basic pay and Grade Pay.

The Group B Services OF Delhi & Andaman Nicobar Islands Civil & Police Services as well as the cadre of Section Officers in the Central Secretariat Service and Department of Posts shall be placed in PB-2 at induction stage and shall move to PB-3 after 4 years of regular service in Grade Pay of Rs. 5400/- on non functional basis. Somewhat similar benefits have been approved for IAAD officers in whose case all posts of Section Officers , Asstt Accounts/Audit Officers  are to be merged into one .

The Gr, B Officers in Railways and the Audit/Accounts Officers in IAAD are to get grade pay of Rs.5400/-in PB-3 instead of PB-2 as recommended by the Commission.

Scientists in Space, Atomic Energy and Defence Research & Development Organisations have been given various benefits ranging from Rs.1000/- to 2000/- for recognition of good performance. 

The Govt’s approval for revised pay-scales is to be implemented w.e.f 1st Jan. 2006. However the arrears for various allowances such as Transport Allowance,HRA shall be payable at the revised rates  from 1st Sept.08 only   . As announced earlier 40% of the arrears are payable in Fy 2008-09 and rest 60% in subsequent year.

For the Purpose of Calculation  Of Dearness Allowance the All India Consumer Price Index 2001 is to be adopted This index presently stands somewhere around 140 and was around 116 in 2006. (The approximate rate of DA payable was found on a Govt Officials’ blog.)

Other major decisions concerning administrative reforms relate to approval Of Assured Career Progression Scheme (ACP) with provision for promotion after 10,20 and 30 years and setting up of Anomalies Committees to take care of grievance regarding unfair treatment  Cadre review and empanelment of Gr.A Services is to be updated in one year.

The CPMF Officers of the rank of Commandant and below are to be considered for payment of allowances comparable to Army while deployed in terrorism infested/difficult  areas. However the officers would be losing some personal privilege since the posts of personal attendants known as Suraksh Sahayak are to be abolished . The posts of Addl.DIG upgraded to DIG level  in CPMF shall continue to be manned by their Officers.

The Ministry of Finance has subsequently brought out Revised CCS Pay Rules  2008 for Central Govt. Employees which were followed with instructions Dt. 30th August 2008 which provide the tables for calculation of matching pay and Grade Pay and the methodology for calculation and payment of arrears. This we shall take up in subsequent posts.

Later…..Please see the latest post on this site for exact rates for DA and other allowances