Samsher Sikander Chaddie Buddy – & other such fallacies

August 4, 2008

Title of the post translated – Samsher Sikander Underwear Buddies!

Sitting on a Kingfisher flight staring at the in-flight entertainment system with most channels showing up as scrambled, and therefore flipping channels – and this is what I see. Is this what kids watch these days? Unbelievable!!!

It’s good to be proud of one’s mother tongue and maintain that sense of national integrity, but translating all good shows/movies into the Hindi language is a serious sin. I mean – Stanley Kubrick will turn in his grave if he hears the cult satire – Dr. Strangelove being recited by a bunch of Hindi-speaking jokers reciting the dialogues made infamous by Peter Sellers and George C. Scott.

One of the funniest translations that I have ever come across was for the movie Jurassic Park, where the humongous dinosaurs were referred to as ‘dekho dekho, itna bada chhipkali’ (for those uninitiated to the Hindi language or those who want to fake it) the literal translation is ‘look, look! Such a huge lizard’. blech – how could they even come up with something like that?

Coming back to the wonderful show that triggered my fingers off to blog about this immediately, this cartoon show is about a boy who has a monkey as a friend and they play pranks. The funny part is that at the introduction of the show, where the boy (am assuming he is Samsher) is introducing his monkey (Sikander), while the monkey introduces himself by bearing his behind and slapping his rear repeatedly shouting out his name. Anyway – all the best to the kids who are watching this kind of nonsense and their parents.

I really miss watching all the shows that really made cartoons what they are supposed to be – innocent and fun-loving. The original Tom & Jerry cartoons…not the trash that Hanna Barbara or whoever is churning out these days by turning old foes into friends (is the Cold War really over?), Popeye Show, Disney Cartoons, and of course, those good old Looney Tunes characters – Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Elmer Fudd (wabbit hunter), Tweety & Sylvester, Lode Runner & Coyote, the list goes on. Absolutely brilliant!

The show that still tickles my funny bone and that I have the fortune of catching once in a while in English is Johnny Bravo. Agreed that it’s not the classic, traditional rib-tickler, and is for the slightly older audience (read teenagers), but heck – it makes me laugh.

I guess one of the reasons that most of these shows have gone off the air is because of the fact that they have seen rerun after rerun and the cartoon channels need to offer variety in order to keep advertisers interested. The good thing about this entire thing though is the fact that many animation movies are being churned out these days, and I am happy to say that most of the stuff is pretty entertaining and is full ‘paisa vasool’.

Animated movies such as the Shrek Trilogy, Finding Nemo, Lion King series, various Disney animated movies, Dreamworks productions, and yes – South Park too for those who just enjoy nonsensical shows, these programs/movies offer great entertainment value. Sometimes I prefer watching these animated movies to the trash that some Hollywood producers (not to mention bad Bollywood movie houses) churn out. At least you know that you will laugh at the points where the writer/producer’s intend you to.

All this writing really reminds me that there are quite a few animated movies that I need to catch up on. I just hope that these fellas don’t go overboard in the quest to make hay while the sun shines and this genre is still a very safeguarded and specialized one.

Bollywood has tried it’s best to cash in on the trends that the Hollywood guys have set by producing some animation flicks of their own. Unfortunately, as always, we have made an utter mess of what could have been a wonderful opportunity. Animated movies such as Ghatotkacha (the spelling always confuses me!), Ganesha, Shri Krishna, Hanuman, etc. (what’s the deal with these god-obsessed, illiterate movie producers?) have completely sidelined their audience and restricted them to children. It’s surprising. I thought Hindi productions were made to cater to the masses, but this came as a complete surprise to me. Badly animated, poor script execution, terrible production are just some of the hallmarks of our Indian attempts at making animated movies.

Well – that in a nutshell my friends are my views on what the state of the animated caricatures of entertainment productions are here. Feel free to disagree. Until next time – tally ho!


Wildlife, Humanity, and Television

May 27, 2008

Wildlife is fine, until humans decide to butt in. Battered by humans over the millennia, even today, it is the self-appointed preservationists who are adding to the damage their ancestors have caused to wildlife. I crave leave to expand later.

My first objection is to our humans’ definitions of “intelligence”, and closely allied is our way of trying to judge everybody and everything, by our own wonky standards. I was looking at a group of so-called scientists studying the intelligence level in monkeys. They had managed to procure a few hapless creatures to justify their own employment, but that’s another story. Monkeys were asked to put colored square pegs in square holes and round ones in round and triangular ones in triangular ones, and so on. The monkeys who were able to do it were labeled as ‘having the intelligence of a three-year-old human’. There was no mention about the monkeys who could not accomplish this Einsteinian feat (other futile exercises monkeys have been subjected to include finding a hidden marble, or pressing appropriate areas of a touch-screen), or who merely considered us humans too stupid to oblige by doing an act which was of no consequence to them.

Now, let’s examine the flip side.

Let’s have a group of monkeys catch hold of a few full-grown humans and put them to the test to see how well these humans can leap from tree to tree. Obviously, the humans will fail miserably, by monkey standards. Now, the monkeys should conclude that even as adults, humans do not possess the skills of even a baby monkey. Now, these scientists will argue that this would be a test of physical skill, as opposed to mental skill. OK. Let the most physically competent human athlete try and come even close to what a monkey can achieve in the branches. Similarly, are these scientists trying to say that trapeze artistes do not require any mental skills to perform their feats?

In short, we humans declare any species whose language or behaviour we can’t understand as unintelligent. The fact is that we are too stupid to be able to understand them. They get along just fine without us, and have been doing so for millions of years before us; we can’t get along without them – at the most elementary level, what will we do for food, if animals cease to exist in all their designated forms?!

We humans have ruthlessly destroyed most of the habitat of wild animals. We are responsible for their destruction – and we humans are such hypocrites (or, troubled by our consciences) that we are now declaring certain species as endangered and are trying to ‘protect’ them. To add insult to injury, our TV ads never talk about looking after animals for their love, but only so that we save ourselves from destruction if these animals are not allowed to perish. Oh, the selfish irony!

Again, there a such a lot of hype being created about preservation of wildlife and stopping cruelty to animals, but I think that’s reserved for the big cats, crocs, bears and other larger, or, more exotic animals. Else, what in the world can explain a large ear being grown on the back of a mouse? Or, other terrible drugs being tried out, legally and surreptitiously, on all kinds of animals, in the name of science? Luring killer sharks with decoys to measure the strength of their bite? How stupid can humans get?

It is said that cell phones carried near the heart (in the breast pocket) is harmful for humans. Aren’t radio transmitters that are fitted to animals the same thing? Add to that the inconvenience of having something artificial strapped to an animal, especially in the wild, where every little bit counts for survival – I mean, most creatures have done away with unnecessary appendages not essential to their survival, if Darwin’s theories have any bit of truth in them – why then burden the poor animals with a radio collar? Further, could not the radio signals be affecting the way they communicate or navigate, since many of the methods of communication between animals is unknown to us even now? The electricity and magnetism these collars would generate are sure to have some impact. Worst of all is that of late “critter-cams” have come into vogue. An even larger appendage and even more signals! These scientists claim to love and respect animals – what about the animals’ rights to privacy? I say it’s all hogwash. The truth is these scientists care more about their livelihoods than the “critters”. And they go ahead and endanger the very lives they claim to have “reintroduced to the wild”. I can’t understand this kind of love.

If scientists wish to study animals, let them do it without interfering with them or handling them in any way. For all one knows, mass slaughter of animals may have been passed on from the hunters of yore to these scientists who are pretending to be concerned about nature and the planet. They will argue that the numbers of certain animals are increasing. Who has permitted these scientists to play this numbers game with nature? Fellas, their numbers are increasing not because of you, but in spite of you. Legislation that bans killing of wildlife is the only thing humans are capable of doing to help animals; let them make no mistake about their other imagined capabilities.


A Storm In Our Midst – 20-20 Cricket.

May 25, 2008

Move over one-dayers; take a break five-dayers. With the shortage of time and the rush that people are in, 20-20 is a welcome change in the form of the game that we all love – cricket. It provides pure, fast-paced, adrenalin-pumping, nerve-wrecking, unadulterated, sheer entertainment.

It’s good to see the greats of the game return to take the field in BCCI’s brainchild – the DLF IPL T20. Were it not for this event, we would have probably never seen McGrath get pissed over inside edges, Tendulkar & Jayasuriya open the batting together, Warne bowl his flippers, Pollock bowl his economical spells…the list could go on and on.

It’s a good response to Zee’s Indian Cricket League. In fact, the ICL managed to get some mileage once BCCI announced it’s Indian Premier League plans. Not that the ICL does not have players that are worth watching or a format that is any different from the current IPL series. It’s the sheer media coverage that the IPL has received that has benefitted ICL as well. Overall, it’s good for the game, and that’s the bottom line.

Honestly, if you ask me, it was just a matter of time before this franchisee model took off. It’s been done successfully in the US with the NBA, the Baseball Leagues, and even Ice Hockey. In fact, I was a bit surprised about the fact that it took so long for the BCCI to get this off the ground and they had to resort to this as a response to the ICL initiated by the Zee Group. Guess they must have had their own reasons.

To be very honest with you, my interest in the IPL was out of curiosity in the beginning, waned in the middle, and finally peaked with Tendulkar’s return to the game. After watching a few matches in the beginning, I just felt that there was too much cricket going on and considering the fact that I am a service-class citizen, I found it a little difficult to ignore work every day for the next 2 months and concentrate on watching cricket. Suggestion to the organizers the next time around – take it easy…space it out…and for God’s sake – don’t force the poor guys to play in the summer heat of India in horribly humid and hot places such as Kolkata, Chennai, Delhi, etc.

I wonder what the outcome of this new format will be on the cricket lovers all around the country and the globe in general. Is it going to draw crowds away from the one-dayers and test matches? Or, on the other hand, is it going to increase the viewership of the game of cricket? Will this format of the game (20-20) be adopted all over the world in all the leagues of the cricket fraternity? Will it tire out the existing international players considering the frequency of the games being played?

Looking at the kind of money that is floating around and is involved in this tournament along with all the glitz and glamour that has become associated with this format, am just regretful of 2 things:

1 – Is cricket being commodotized? These stars and starlets, with celebrities attending the matches…somehow, it’s just not reminiscent of the skill and hardcore genius that should be involved in the proceedings of the game…there’s just something amiss about the whole thing – things that I miss, especially cricket!

2 – Why wasn’t I born a cricketer considering the kind of money that even an under-19 player is getting? People…sit up and take notice. You want your kids to grow rich – turn your kids into cricketers and damn good ones at that.