Social Media over Mainstream Media?

Is social media is becoming a real media – to many (including me), becImageoming a more trusted media for news and information than the current mainstream media.

Scams the flurry of breaking news has made the mainstream media a bit over the top; contests for TRP, circulation etc has made them more sensational than Informative; too many linkages and vested interests to political parties, powerful people has made them non-independent and less trusted.

Over a period of time, a genuine observer could see the shift in the outlook and focus of mainstream media. That doesnt mean the social media is only giving truths out. But you know those are individual view points. And it provides an equal platform for both (or multiple parties) involved in a specific context to respond, debate, or put across their views instantaneously.

Inherently, I am big fan of reading, hearing or viewing contents that describe clear, specific view points; irrespective or right or wrong, in line with my thoughts/beliefs or against it. This, in comparison to structured, reviewed, edited and polished contents. I prefer interviews and debates to documentaries or articles. I get to know more about a person through his spontaneous reactions and views and reactions.

This could be the reason probably that makes me go for social media platforms like twitter than a news channel or news website. I do read those, but the moment I sense some important development, I go to twitter. I get immediate access to first hand, second hand and further hands of information – as long as I know whom to follow, or at least how to search!

I don’t see the same informative angle in Facebook, though. It is more inclined towards personal use, entertainment etc. I don’t know the real reason behind why two platforms are  perceived so much differently; but I see a marked difference there.

On the professional front, I use LinkedIn a lot. It is a great social networking platform at a business/professional level: be it business connections, references, job seeking, job posting and so on. I found much better hit rate through job postings, surprisingly even better than even dedicated job portals like Naukri or Monster. I had a business partner who never met me in person agreed to get into the partnership because he ‘trusted my linkedin profile’! I do get a lot of first hand industry and domain information on LinkedIn too – but there I feel twitter is faster!

Another platform that need special mention is Youtube -where everything combines: information, news, knowledge, business etc. The use of videos for all those needs has been redefined to some extent. I know many people (and I did in many instances my self) who search youtube for some information/instructions even bypassing the real encyclopedia of today: Google!

Just like Internet – a great platform offers a large set of risks as well. Social media too falls into that category. There are great uses of Twitter and facebook – and there are plenty of wrong uses as well. It is upto the individual to use the platforms available to more positive use, and gain the maximum benefits from them…

Satyamev Jayate – An impressive start!

Some people set and re-set standards themselves, and everyone starts expecting some thing profound from them each and every time. No I am not talking about Sachin Tendulkar;  I am talking about Aamir Khan!

I am sure everyone knew he will bring in some thing new and good, when he announced his TV debut through the show Satyamev Jayate. But am not sure if there are many who felt what they saw on TV today was “Meeting expectations” or “below expectations”. Most would have rated it as “exceeding expectations” if not “by far”!  Twitter, the microblogging plat form was abuzz… the terms related to the show (like #satyamevjayate, #smj #aamerkhan were top trending topics whole day – even as I write this). I will leave the twitter part, with a few entries that summarizes what I am trying to point out:

“I absolutely loved #satyamevjayate. at least aamir is doing what all of us only talk about”

“Aamir’s biggest achievement is not being a ‘man-who-would-be-messiah.’ He’s just you&me recognizing we are the solution”

“Now Television will no longer be called an idiot box,the VISION of Television broadens up with #SatyamevJayate !!!”

This show is not about TRPs and ratings – but I am not sure, judging by the reactions in the social media, even those won’t be lagging behind.

The line associated with the program read: ” Dil par lagegi, toh baat banegi”.  Did it touch the heart?  Personally, I can’t remember crying while watching any tv shows. But I did today: not just teary eyes (which I had multiple times), I wept at least once.

What are the positives of the program in my mind? Continue reading

India needs Leaders and Champions – Not any more Gods and Demi-Gods!

Indian democracy seems to be facing a peculiar challenge, which has been, (and might continue for a while) to hold India from becoming a true powerful republic:

– The inability of the people to view leaders, champions and Achievers as just that; and stop making them Gods or Demigods.

Leaders and people showing excellence suddenly are elevated to demi-god status and suddenly they become the toast of nation. They seems to be responsible for all positive happenings; they are filled with only appreciable values; they are made case-studies in various areas of professional and personal lives; there seems nothing wrong can be done by them. Luckily building temples are not yet a wide-spread phenomenon!

Indians are passionate about Cricket – and for all the good things that were happening in Indian Cricket for the last few years, they found a champion – Sachin Tendulkar. Later, they found a champion leader who led Indian Cricket to further heights- M S Dhoni. Tendulkar is seen and even called “GOD” for the past few years; and with the frenzy of the Worldcup win, M S Dhoni has become another demi-god (luckily not another god , not yet at least).

Within days, India got another demi-god who led and initiative about corruption – Anna Hazare. He even surprised Indian themselves with the ability to gather public support across India into one of the biggest public movements in independent India – and succeed in the objective.

The similarities in these two scenarios is very concerning to the advancement of India:

Cricket teamnwins are seen as victories of Sachins and Dhonis. They are hailed as ‘The ones’. Social movement success is viewed as the victory of Anna Hazare.

Everyone wanted ‘Bharata Ratna’ for Tendulkar, now the same for Anna Hazare, even if it means Tendulkar may have to wait. (as the nomination for both have to ideally come from Maharashtra Government).

These are just two scenarios quoted here – but in no way isolated cases. We have gods and semi (or demi) gods in Film stars,artists, Sports persons, Politicians (rare these days) and now in Social workers. This is if you even try and ignore the age old phenomenon of Spiritual leaders and ‘Saints’ becoming Gods and God-men (or God-women!).

Such behavior not only is a challenge to India’s journey forward as a powerful democracy, but also totally unfair to many of these great leaders and champions – and even to those spiritual leaders (except some of those who seemingly enjoy such a privilege).

The reasons why it is unfair to those leaders and achievers are:

  • It take the focus away from their true capabilities and achievements
  • It puts immense pressure of expectations on them to be perfect and successful. Many of them would know, and would have experienced that they will be dropped down to the other extreme of hatred and condemnment whenever their ‘performances’ start show any signs of less-than-perfection!
  • Most often than not, motives are suddenly casted on their decisions, words and actions, once the intial euphoria is gone. After all, they “deserve it” as they were hailed when they did well – there goes the public opinion!

The reason why it is a challenge to India’s progress is:

  • The power of people and teamwork is ignored and personal achievements are hailed. The majority end up being ignorant or ignoring the real power behind the achievements and think these can be achieved by only “special people”. The belief system gets strengthened further that we need such ‘incarnations’ to solve our problems and challenges. In short, the people starts losing confidence in themselves and expect some body to come out of the blue and take lead.

Anna Hazare, M S Dhoni and Tendulkar (or a Rajnikanth or should be cases of creating more belief in the people that they are ‘just like us’ and so we can do it! It should motivate the young Indians to take lead in their domains.

Let us just hope the success of the Lokpal bill movement by Anna leads our people to have greater belief in power of people and togetherness for a cause, rather than making another ‘god’ from Anna Hazare.

Let us hope India get into habit of being proud of, and making real use of our heroes than ‘worshipping’ them. India a land of countless ‘Gods’ already, don’t need more Gods, but we can do a lot with our real leaders, champions and excellence.

The process and outcome

I was eagerly watching a close contest in Indian Premier League (IPL) this week.

My 7-yr old son, who is not that keen in cricket, watched my enthusiasm and asked a question: “Which team do you want to win?”

Since the teams that I normally support more were not involved in that particular match, I replied: “It doesn’t really matter, let any of them win”

He looked puzzled and questioned: “ Then why are you watching this game with such an interest?”

While I really struggled to make him understand the fact that you can enjoy the game of cricket without caring about the outcome. He didn’t look convinced at all.

A couple of days before, I had questioned why he is not playing the Wii games for last few days; he answered: that was because he always get defeated in the game!

My suggestion to him in both the cases was – there are many cases where there a need to enjoy the process itself (watching the match as it turns out, playing the game – even when you end up losing) without giving so much importance to the end or outcome. 

Of course I could not use the terms  like ‘process’, and ‘outcome’ with him – or else either he will walk out on me or will spoil my entire evening in an attempt to explain that in simpler terms!

But the bigger realization I had at that point of time was : How many times we ourselves fall into the trap of giving all the importance to the outcome and none to the process.

We tend to ignore the experience and learning the ‘process can give, irrespective of the outcome.

  • stop reading some book midway – in a belief it is not going to help anyway (in the current objectives –professional or personal) and move on to another book
  • judge a training program from the outcome (certification success etc) alone
  • feel guilty of blogging or writing articles so many times – as it does not add any ‘revenue’ or ‘business outcome’
  • regret sleeping one hour longer as that one hour is unproductive
  • stop exercising as it doesn’t show the weight reduction that was expected
  • stop visiting temple/church/mosque or the respective religious places – as there is no visible benefits or outcome from it

The list can go on and on…

The point is – children are not alone in the trap of focusing and giving importance on outcomes, it is a problem with all of us, and we don’t realize what we miss by doing that.

I had stopped travelling in trains (unless absolutely necessary) as I found it boring, or non-productive or simply waste of time. 

Then I was forced to make a couple of trips in train – and the realization about the benefits of the ‘experience’ started occurring to me. Enough time to observe the people, interact with them, learn from them, make contacts, observe the nature and places around, observe the business of small time vendors, experience a peaceful time with self, and so on…

To summarize: many a time, (of course not always) the intangible or indirect outcomes that we receive by going through the process might be much more worthwhile than the expected end-result itself.

My father – As he silently left us…

My father left us silently.  Without bothering to show signs of the imminent death arriving;  In a sleep that was his sole characteristic on a few past days.

If there is a thing that people call ‘natural death’ (though I personally feel all deaths are natural, it is all ‘written’) , this was it, ever so peaceful. His body and soul prepared itself towards the end gradually. Reduced the food intake over a period of time to almost nothing for multiple days, towards the end. 

One of the toughest decision to make, and even tougher to stick with, was not to hospitalize him when his condition worsened (at least from the observer’s point of view – He was sleeping all the while ever so peacefully). 

The Doctor who took care of him all these while was not sure – not sure if there was enough reason for him to be hospitalized: No disease to name, no BP nor sugar problems, no organ failure, no breathing problems etc etc. As some one else summed it up: “There is no medicine for old age;  unless the body is ready, no medicine can be of any use…”.

The most probable outcome of hospitalization would be him getting ventilated in an ICU ; which, in my view would have only meant that the same number of days that were left in him would have been ‘supported by’ chemicals and machineries in a place that he dreaded most in his life!

As it was impossible to ask my father what he want us to do, I asked my mother. She didn’t want to hospitalize either – her reason was even simpler: At home at least we can see and take care of him. Even when he was not eating or drinking anything for days together, she didn’t allow nasal feeding to be installed. She could not bear the thought itself, and I thought she was right – My father would have been terribly unhappy if we did so.

It even got worse, when he stopped turning sides on his own and that started creating bed-sour on his skin. Not being diabetic helped, the injuries were healing quickly. But seeing the wounds was painful – a real understatement! And that produced further trouble in our mind: If it continued like that or even worsened, we would be left with no other option than getting him hospitalized. That thought lingered and pained me all through my journey to Bangalore on a Tuesday. I had to, as there was a client commitment of training to honour.

But my father had better plans. On Thursday morning, he asked my mother for water. Drank well. A few minutes later, when my mother wanted to check if he wanted some more water, he was not responding. He had left… ever so peacefully.

I was interrupted in my class by the client’s training coordinator who called me outside the training room. A passing look at my cell phone made me realize the situation immediately: The phone kept in silent mode had numerous missed calls. I knew instantly what the situation was.

I am quite grateful to the client who allowed me to break the program and leave immediately. Lack of any flights to my home town made me take a call to drive down, though it was a 9-10 hours drive.

I felt a vacuum getting created at one portion of my mind (or heart what ever you want to call it). But definitely there was an amount of relief that my father is free from any further suffering…

As it must be so for everyone, death of own father turns a major leaf in one’s life. It cannot be and will not be the same after that.  I just hope it gives me, my mother and my entire family greater strength to take life forward. I am sure it will, as my father always did while he was alive…

‘Palerimanikyam’ – A brilliant work in Malayalam Cinema!

It is not very often one watch a movie made from a book and get at least the same experience. Years ago, ‘Agnisakshi’ directed by Shyamprasad outdid my expectations to give a brilliant visual portrayal of the great novel by same name from the great malayalam writer:  Lalithambika Antharjanam. Most often than not, a movie disappoints the reader in you. And that is given, with the enormous possibilities of a written work, to play on the imagination of the reader.

I have read the novel “Paleri manikyam – oru pathirakolapathakathinte katha” in book form. While I liked the novel, I felt it was a wrong take by writer-director Renjith to attempt to make it into visual media. The complexity of the story and characters along with the plethora of plots and undercurrents etc made it look to be an impossible task.paleri-title

All that, till I watched the final product – the film. I have to admit : Renjith has done an outstanding job: in adopting the story into screenplay without losing the essence or the gist of the story, in creating the atmosphere for the audience the same as that of the reader, deriving outstanding performance from a cast filled with amateurs (at least in the movie arena).

As the reviews have been proclaiming across different media. This is one of the finest mainstream cinema malayalam has witnessed (if not the whole India). Definitely one among the best in the recent times.

The fact that the movie with such finesse (including recreation of events, village, characters of 50 years ago) is completed in a moderate budget of less than Rs 3 crores is truly commendable.

The script has adapted the novel in the best possible way – selecting only the most suitable and needed parts , at the same time without losing the gist of the story and feel to even a least extent. The unique presentations of some of the shots and way of interlinking the past and present etc has been very effective. And I personally liked the cinematic freedom taken, to recreate the climax different from that in the novel. I liked it better that way!

For starters, it is a story of double murder occurred in a village (Paleri) in Kerala on a midnight, more than 50 years ago. A private detective, along with his companion start investigating the incidents that happened 5 decades ago. Along with the investigative crime story, there is a handful of threads entwined all along – of feudal landlords, communism, political situation in the state at the time, Police corruptions, sex and social practices. It amazes the viewer on how relevant all those are in today’s world – and there lies the success of the writer and director.

And, the movie presents yet another outstanding (if not one of the best) performance from the lead actor: none other than Mammootty. It won’t be a surprise if he receives his record 4th national award for this brilliant work. He portrays 3 different characters (with different getup and character ) He gets into the three characters and make them distinct with very minute and calculated mannerisms.

And for those new faces who did excellent job in the movie, this will definitely be a turning point in their career.

Let’s Talk!

Frankly, I didn’t know of such a film existed in India! Accidentally stumbled upon a DVD copy in a books and music store : “Let’s Talk” . And to note that it was a movie that was made 7 years back! lets_talk

What attracted me to the movie was one key factor – Boman Irani, the lead actor of the film. Also, the synopsis on the back cover.

The movie is about a couple – ‘not-so-young’, (as I would hate myself called ‘middle-aged’);  The situation is this: The wife, Radhika Sareen, is having an affair at 33 and she is bearing a child whose father her husband is not!  She is confused on what to do – she want to tell her husband Mr. Sareen about it – but when, what, how! She is absolutely unsure about his reaction. Her best friend is helpless or not able to convince her.

The major portion of the movie consists different flavours of the conversation and associated behaviour played in her mind! Her imaginary reflections on what happens between her and her husband, when she breaks the news to him!

I don’t know anything about the originality of the concept/script/story – but I felt one thing at the end: Truly commendable!

Boman Irani’s act is nothing short of ‘Brilliant’. At the same time, you cannot take any thing away from the natural act performed by the leading lady(Maia Katrak) as well – she is totally believable in the role of a confused, urban, trying-to-be-modern housewife on the verge of stress attack. Even as the only other considerable character in the movie, as Radhika’s best friend, Anahita Oberoi is very good.

While watching the film, I doubted the script could be written by one person – either male or female. My thoughts turned right – when the name of four people (Including Mr. Boman Irani himself) rolled up in the ending credits for screenplay.

Ram Madhvani’s Direction is creative to say the least – the getting in and out of her imaginary sequences is excellently taken.

Most of the sequences surprise you, shock you, makes you laugh and most of them, more importantly, make you think– which, according to me, is one thing any serious or meaningful art should do!

Hats off !