Freedom of Expression, Indian style

Even if you live under a rock, you’ve heard of AIB Knockout, a roast of Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh, hosted by Karan Johar and conceived by the comedy collective All India Bakchod. The live event was held in December last year and at the end of January, AIB released a set of three videos that gave everyone a glimpse of what went down that night. As you might be able to tell from this piece I wrote, the aesthetics of a roast aren’t exactly my cup of tea.  However, that doesn’t mean I’m going to go out and file a police … Continue reading Freedom of Expression, Indian style

Remembering RK Laxman

This was first published on Firstpost.com. The year 1957 was both important and unremarkable for India. Jawaharlal Nehru was the prime minister of the country. The States Reorganisation Act had been passed the year before and India was now organised along linguistic lines. The now-dismantled Planning Commission’s second Five Year Plan for the young nation was in motion. In 1957, the second Lok Sabha was elected, five years after the first. An interesting bit of trivia about the general elections of 1957: although Nehru’s Congress won easily, a significant 19.3 percent of the votes went to independent candidates. Fittingly, in … Continue reading Remembering RK Laxman

Ah, the bringers of mirth that are Firstpost commenters…

I wrote this on the business of “ghar wapsi“, which is the term for the Hindu right in UP has coined for mass conversions of Muslims and Christians. And here’s why I love the people who leave comments on Firstpost: they are immensely entertaining. Obviously the Hindutva brigade is not amused at my attempt at keeping tongue in cheek, but this is a rather glorious comment to leave on a piece about the cause, validity and effect of Hindu conversion ceremonies. Bengalis are also by nature anarchic and not amenable to discipline because of their laziness and aversion to work. … Continue reading Ah, the bringers of mirth that are Firstpost commenters…

Links: The Grand Budapest Hotel in India

There was a time when we were grateful when a foreign film got an India release. Now that Hollywood blockbusters come to India almost at the same time as they are released everywhere else, some of us are becoming a bit more demanding. So while it’s lovely that The Grand Budapest Hotel has been released in India, it’s deeply disappointing that the Censor Board decreed that four minutes of it be snipped off. Which four minutes and why were they objectionable? Glad you asked. the Censor Board doesn’t want The Grand Budapest Hotel to teach Indian audiences how to break out of jail … Continue reading Links: The Grand Budapest Hotel in India

Links: Madhu Kishwar, Mary Kom and more

Don’t go by her Twitter feed alone. Madhu Kishwar can make excellent, sensible arguments.  Her critique of the existing Women’s Reservation Bill is bang on target. In stark contrast to some of the opinions Kishwar puts forward on Twitter, these are all well thought-out and sensible ideas that respond much more sensitively to the lopsided gender balance in Indian politics than the existing bill. The alternative bill is discussed in greater detail here. As the document observes, “the participation of women in [Indian] politics has actually declined since the days of freedom movement.” It’s a statistical fact that tends to go … Continue reading Links: Madhu Kishwar, Mary Kom and more

Links: When Hari Got Married, The Strife of Love in A Dream

When Hari Got Married is a sweet little documentary about a taxi driver named Hari, who lives and works in Himachal Pradesh, and is about to get married: It’s the stuff of a romantic comedy, made all the more poignant because it’s real. In Hari, a Pahadi taxi driver from Dharamsala, documentary filmmakers Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam have a shuddh desi hero. He’s the little guy that you can’t help but warm up to because he’s just so utterly adorable. Pocket-sized and a motor-mouth, Hari chatters his way through When Hari Got Married. As he candidly talks about everything … Continue reading Links: When Hari Got Married, The Strife of Love in A Dream