2010

Making Ravans on TV

What is wrong with Indian television? The day before the India-Pakistan game, one news channel ran a blaring day-long promo with the headline, ‘Lanka mein Ravan vadh’ with Dhoni being depicted as Ram and Shahid Afridi as a ten-headed Pakistani monster. All right, George Orwell once argued that sport is ‘war minus the shooting’ but […..]

More than just a picture

They whisper in Gandhinagar’s corridors that Narendra Modi is an early riser. Those who know him say the first thing he does before starting work is to update himself on all the news online. If this is true then Mr. Modi would by now have probably seen Shahla Muzaffar’s telling retort that finding her picture […..]

A Council of Aspiration

When Manmohan Singh assessed his first government after one year in power, he gave it a modest 6 out of 10. This time, there were no such headline-making quantitative attributions by the Prime Minister but he clearly takes UPA-II’s first anniversary seriously. The past fortnight saw three important signifiers. First, in a country where Prime […..]

Sorry! All Off the Record

The Army chopper was circling over Bhuj. It was 2001, beneath us was an entire city flattened as if with a sledgehammer and the words had dried up over the helicopter’s headphones. We were filming the first pictures after the deadly earthquake and sitting next to us, the general stuck up a conversation. Pointing to […..]

Tiptoeing Through Landmines

In 1967, three months before Naxalbari first burst upon the collective consciousness of India, the London Times published a series of articles painting the picture of a general “deep sense of defeat”, and fraying of the Indian nation so acute that only the army could be an alternative source of civil authority and social order […..]

Raising the Mandal ghosts

Ramesh Sippy knew the menace of numbers when he made Gabbar Singh intone his immortal “kitne aadmi they” line in Sholay. The silky rough voice of Amjad Khan is a world away from the earthy tones of Lalu Yadav but make no mistake, his winning argument in the Lok Sabha for an OBC Census carries […..]

Feudal Sports, Feudal Politics

By moving against the permanent heads of Indian sport, M.S. Gill has revived a forgotten 2004 initiative by the late Sunil Dutt who as Sport Minister quietly tried and failed in a similar move. In the ongoing battle over Indian sport, there is a deeper question that needs to be asked: why are politicians or […..]