Tuesday, November 23, 2004

"Kid, You need some Supplement"

I call Sunday a day for some 'Good Stuff'. That includes a couple of weekend games in the Premiership and the La Liga, maybe a weekend race, a football match with friends and probably a good book. This list I must say has altered, it has one missing entry that would probably have the first a couple of years ago. That coloured 4-page supplement with the Sunday Times, they now call 'Life!'.
One might say that this article is inappropriate for a blog, which intends to criticize the Pune Times. However one must remember that PT is a welcome absentee on Sunday. The now-extinct 'Review' used to be a welcome change. It probably compensated for the weeklong torture that PT readers had to undergo. The writing talent they had and probably still have was absolutely amazing. Mini Chandran Kurian, Abha Shrivastava, Nona Walia, Priya Pathiyan are some of the excellent journalists still working with the Sunday Times. However the way in which the continuously keep on churning the stupid articles on 'Mobile Phone Hazards', 'Is Bipasha Basu Still the Nation's Sex Symbol', '10 Tests to Know if You and Your Spouse Have Problems' ! Such topics not only waste the latent talent of all the journos working with them. It's like putting Sachin to bat at No.9 or bringing on Wasim Akram when only 2 overs are left.
What the "Review" used to provide was a breath of fresh air. Maybe they did concentrate too much on filmstars, but then again they never neglected the cricketers, the hockey stars, IT czars, writers and maybe sometimes 'Society' types. They never had a supplement without an article on an environmentalist or probably a budding film--maker, probably an amazing article that asked people questions no one ever did before. It was truly a deep insight into people, not fully an interview, not fully a third - person article, it did something which nothing else I remember has managed to match (probably RD). It was an insight in to people's minds. What puts it aside was that unlike books(i.e. biographies and autobiographies) which focus on a single person in extreme detail, it was a glance at a lot of people at the same time. It beautifully encapsulated their lives, their struggles, their moments of victory and probably a very impartial third person, a sort of out-of-the-world synopsis overlooking the small wrinkles and bringing to us the beautiful inner face of the subject. It sometimes wove an unseen thread between the various people featured saying 'all these people fought through the hard times and came out on top. That was truly amazing !
I never remembering Review ever resorting to sensationalism, ever indulging in fruitless, futile gossip (less said the better for PT) or ever specifically glorifying/bringing down the public image of a famous personality. It never targeted anyone specifically but brought a balanced view of things in general. That does not mean it shied away from the tough questions. Esp. with regards to filmstars. I personally am not on the bandwagon, which opposes anything that some of us like to call 'commercial/masala' cinema. I think this is mass cinema, the masses (and sometimes, yours truly too) like these forms of entertainment and therefore The Review cannot be blamed for according the Shah Rukh Khans and the Kareena Kapoors their big coloured centre/main page slot. However what mattered was that some people get too soft while questioning filmstars while some go the HardTalk way and there is nothing but a slurry of futile personal questions. The Review did ask a few hard hitting questions however they never over-emphasised the personal life of their subjects nor did they make such matters the centrestage of their articles.
Then one Sunday morning suddenly people at the Times probably suffer an alien burgling of their minds or maybe they donate their rationality at the Alpha Centauri Local Centre for aiding greater research into the Mostly Harmless ones. They suddenly come up with this seemingly amazing idea of 'Men & Women'. They decide that the erstwhile Review needs a super trimmer programme and make it a four page supplement from the previous 6 pages. They decide that the ad area remains the same (obviously), so that most of the times, most of the paper is staring at us proclaiming that Arrow invented the collar. They come up with this flabbergasting idea of 'comparisons'. The review compared people without actually saying so. It as I said wove them in a sort of spell, M&W made it obvious and therefore tasteless and bland. Also probably some PT rejects were promoted (?) so that when two filmstars were compared they invariably would be Kareena Kapoor and Shahid Kapur. Ummm.. very subtle.. Then sometimes they came up with these weird ideas about how various people relaxed, what they wore etc etc. Notice how again the subtle comparisons of its predecessor is replaced by a more tasteless direct comparison. Still the supplement retained its focus on 'people' but in a much different way. We only knew what XYZ eats. There was no tantalizing foreplay, no more beautiful sign-offs , no more an 'article'. What we had was a collection of n number of facts presented together. That was bad.
They then deal the sucker punch. They give us "Life!". It's supposed to be everything. Health, Entertainment, Food, etc etc etc... It ends up being nothing. Again we do have good long articles but the supplement loses it backbone, - it forgets it focus on 'people'. Now we have long drawn out reasons for sibling rivalry, 10 reasons to find out if you have chosen the right man etc, etc. Even listing the topics would be terrible, let alone reading. Maybe the techno section saves the day, but why not leave that to the Digits and the CHIPs and the C@Hs to sort that out. All we want is a high class, well-written focus on people, as it was before. This is not a case of being old-fashioned, or not accepting change but a simple case of opting for the better. I've heard that the journo community is tuned in, so this is a fervent plea to give all the faithful readers those old times back. Till then, have a good Life!.

(for a change in all seriousness.)

Sunday, November 07, 2004


The evidence to the apparent rise in the readership of the blog can be attributed to the fact that we are witnessing many anonymous comments mostly which I believe are from disgruntled PT staffers who have enlightened us about the insider stories.

But lets all get some points cleared. The objective of this blog is not to make personal attacks at anyone associated with the editorial committee (is there any?), nor in getting the editor or any staff for that matter replaced. Part of the reason is the obvious one that we can do nothing, the other being that we are simply not interested in doing so. The proprietors can do any sh.it they want with the newspaper - i.e. the so-called newspaper. We only revel in poking fun, have a good laugh (and improve writing skills ;-)) since we believe we deserve better as compared to what we get presently. If the editorial board does happen to read this blog, we can only hope they can take some hints instead of resorting to useless tactics like defending their 3rd page. But as long as they are sticking to the hum-nahi.n-suudre.nge policy, Pune Times remains a Cruel Waste of Forests.

Secondly, even though the anonymous comments are not unwelcome, they don't reflect the view of the contributors. So guys, easy on the personal attacks.

Till then, keep the comments coming in!

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Pune kids

Yesterday's PT has this great article on why 'Pune kids are finding more slots on TV than Mumbai actors'. Now, the premise of the article is not that bad, but the article itself is hopeless.

The reporter jots down a few points to tells us why Pune actors strike gold:
1. Fresh and bubbly faces
2. Identifiable looks
3. Theatre background
4. Don't charge hefty fees

Yes, thats right, ONLY Pune 'kids' have these qualities. It is ridiculous to publish such bullshit in the name of reporting. Talking about the theatre background of these personalities, I don't think any of them are from the theatre world.

This article was not an aberration. Everyday, there has to be a mindnumbingly stupid article on the trends in Bollywood, gossip stories on page 1. Aaargh!

Monday, November 01, 2004

Left off Page Three

These are the kinds of things that make reading the IIIrd page of the Pune Times so fascinating and worthwhile. Today (2 Nov's) Pune Times of India has a detailed report of a pre-Karva Chauth bash (I must admit that is a novel idea to me in the saturated space of the party-shaarty world). Assorted women "dressed in pink partied hard while applying mehendi, getting bangles, eating delicacies and dancing to DJ Jiten Singh’s music". Oooh! What fun! As the news report mentions, it must have been one hell of a "rocking Karva Chauth bash".

But bashing KC parties is not what this post is about. There, was quietly ensconced among all that "reportage", this little gem (I'm usually not one to pick bones about typos, for it would be akin to a sinner casting the stone):

Spotted there were socialists Maushmi Sanas, Shalini Lunkad and Preeti Mody.

I didn't know the Left took such a keen interest in social customs and revelry! I must admit it shatters my rather narrow view of them as dull ideologues more at home sipping tea and clashing over the finer nuances of Marxist theory over Leninist revolutionary strategies.

Looking at the picture, I'm sure there were no Leftovers that day.