Friday, October 29, 2004

Telly Tamasha - 29/10/04

> Indian Idol
Did any of you see all the new shows that debuted yesterday? I wanted to catch Paris Hilton's A Simple Life, but the Haryana Vidyut Board ensured my curiosity remains piqued and not satiated. Instead, at about 10.30 p.m. I managed to catch a few glimpses of Indian Idol. This is one show that I feel will click. And I have to say, since I've started tracking TV, I haven't been terribly wrong. After watching the first episodes of each of these shows, I wrote that they won't/may not click.
> Kahin Na Kahin Koi Hain - Madhuri Dixit's TV debut on Sony
> Shekhar Suman's avtar of Movers & Shakers on Zee
> Love Story on Zee
> Dekho Magar Pyar Se on Star Plus
> Karishma on Sahara
> Malini Iyer on Sahara

And with Indian Idol, inspite of the overdose of reality and the same staged expressions of joy and sorrow, there's something that I think will make it work. One is the backing of Fremantle which is the original producer of the show, and has ensured the winning formula is replicated with alarming levels of success in in every country, and the second is that India is music obsessed. We love music -- all forms of it -- we communicate through music. The third is that this show unlike Popstars etc is actually cutting across class by giving even a sweeper a chance to try his luck at becoming an Indian Idol. And there is really something in seeing someone genuinely talented able to prove his/her mettle without being subjected to the usual embarrassment, ridicule and rejection that he/she would have to face had they tried their hand at the regular route -- knocking on the doors of music directors/record lables etc.
Plus Sonu Nigam, Anu Malik and Farah Khan make a good team. While Sonu speaks less, praises more, Malik does a muted version of Simon Cowell. yesterday he told a girl she was beautiful, had beautiful eyes and a beautiful voice and had made it to the next level, but, he added: "your voice doesn't move me". Watch the show, it should be an interesting journey. And I think, one thing that reality shows are doing rather well is actually bringing in front of our eyes a live survey of the Indian youth -- how it dreams, aspires, and as was shown in the Musafir itme Bomb hunt -- what lengths it will go to achieve stardom and money; the new currency the younger generation understands and relates to.

K serials
> Saw some of the K serials last night. For one, whoever is designing Kashish's clothes in Kahiin To Hoga, is finally getting it right. You can't show someone from such an affluent family with such pathetic taste in clothes all the time. Now, some of her saris are actually attractive, inviting further scrutiny. I think Ekta Kapoor has taken on board someone else (apart from her masi) to design the clothes for some of her shows. Now the criticism. Why doesn't Balaji realise that it has cross serial viewers (not to be confused with cross dressers please). And that it's quite stupid to see one set as Molly's drawing room in Shimla (in Kahiin To Hoga) and then see the same set just after, as a drawing room in K Street Pali Hill, set in Mumbai..

> Ekta seems to be using Parvati as her mouthpiece
I also think Ekta is increasingly using Parvati in Kahaani Ghar Ghar Kii as her mouthpiece for progressive views. So while they live in a joint family, most of the couples in Kahaani have only one child and do not propagate the more-kids-the-better-for-business. Two. She encourages daughter Shruti to work. Three. She encourages the daughter to also walk out of a bad marriage and is very cut up with her husband for putting indirect pressure on the daughter to resettle with the same man. Four. She is the only one who has tried to explain to others in the family (like Shilpa) that you cannot hope to instill any amount of discipline by following your teenaged daughter to college. If you don't befriend your child, you are working towards a hopeless future. Five. Again the only one in the family to support Krishna when he wants to give up the family business and instead, become a filmmaker. Let the children follow their dreams is her advice.

More TV reviews on A Simple Life and the other new shows on Star World, soon.....

Effing VIP movements

I walked into office this morning bristling with anger. Now that I'm calmer, I can write. Left home a bit late and was driving a bigger car than I ususally drive, which means I have to be a bit more careful, and suddenly as the light turns green on the highway at the Trident cross-section, a dilapidated police jeep intercepts the road and confused policemen who don't know what the eff... to do, decide to divert traffic. Of course an explanation would be too much to ask for, so assuming it's VIP movement (Very Irritating & Painful) we are steered left on the Trident Udyog Vihar road to nowhere. I honestly have no clue where the road's going and neither do most people blindly following the bumper in front of them. Let me message a colleague, I think, but when bad becomes worse there's nothing you can do. The battery dies on me, so there I am, late for work, no phone, and aimlessly following a bumper that changes and takes readjusting every time a car overtakes me. Worse, there are just hordes of people walking on the road. And not on the left and the right, but across the breadth -- and it is a broad breadth -- of the road. Probably workers making it to the several factories in Udyog Vihar. I slow down -- I don't want to hit them -- and the pot-holed road isn't inviting to zip on either. A T-junction; instinctively, I take a right -- my sense of direction is pretty good -- and I'm onto the old Jaipur highway. No, you don't want to go there. Meandering through Kapasehra and Samalkha -- by now I'm convinced I'm in Sehwag territory -- I pass another thousand odd people making their way to work. If someone tear gassed this place with a poisonous substance at precisely 10 to 9 am the population would be down by at least 5000 people. Anyhow, now I'm at a red light and something tells me I should turn right, but I decide to go bumper to bumper and follow the cars. I'm now even slower, trying to dodge people and pot-holes at the same time. And the cell, I try to switch it on twice but it just can't keep its eyes open with electronic resuscitation. Why can't the cops have at least planned an alternative route, put up some makeshift signboards so you don't feel like you're driving to Ropar when all you're trying to do is make it to CP, on time, might I add. Finally the road ends up at a cross section we normally access from the other side. And I actually breathe a sigh of relief. Oh! The relief of familiarity! I speed up to 80, throw my head back and drive on to work.

Wednesday, October 27, 2004

Strangers

My Marius tour

Day One
Marius W Hanson
I hadn't even heard the name 24 hours ago, and here I was, thrown together with a complete stranger, touring sites (not particularly nice ones; both being hospitals) in Delhi for shoots. Hanson is a UK-based photographer we've brought in to shoot our annual calendar, and he's touring some 11 cities we operate in to shoot key external contacts our departments work with, to feature in the calendar. So, in one city, it could be the head of an NGO who our Governance and Social Justice dept works with, in another it could be a film director or musician or playwright our Arts team works with. You get the drift. I was accompanying him on the North India shoots.
So there I was, making polite conversation with Marius, age 35 (it said so in the Shatabdi ticket). An aside: another thing about me since I've switched sides: I've become friendlier (yes I've been accused of being 'snotty'). Corporate Communciations means no ego. Zero, zilch. Got to go, shake hands, say hi. And now in any small party when someone new walks in and the host or person accompanying them has forgotten to do the introductions, I promptly make eye contact and introduce myself (earlier I would have gone all evening averting eye contact and ensuring I didn't have to be close enough to say hi).
So anyway I found myself talking to Marius, while he just listened. He did talk, but hardly. We walked around the Indian Spinal Injuries Centre to scout for locations to shoot a visually impaired lady who works closely with the hospital and the National Human Rights Commission. What struck me very obviously at the hospital was that patients have no privacy. The person showing us around took us right into the wards and straight to the beds. I wanted to run away and was more embarrassed than the patients. We finally made our way out, even as the over enthusiastic presenter (for whom the hospital was something to show off, the patients its prized possessions, just as the owner of a pirnting press may go around showing off his cutting edge machinery) wanted to take us to the nth unexplored corner...
Next stop: A centre for the blind, housed in a modest Hauz Khas plot. The people here make some really pretty recycled paper handbags, purses, and are booked for orders for a year! The trainer at the computer institute provided us valuable insight (pardon the pun) when he showed us the spekaing software blind people use (each key speaks out) so they know what they are writing by the sound. He then switched off the monitor and told us that when the electricity goes, the UPS' can't run the monitors since they consume a lot of power. "But we blind people don't need the monitor since we can't see it anyway. We only hear it."
Oh My God! Can you ever imagine working without a monitor... I wouldn't be able to see any of this...

Day Two
Picked up Marius at 7 am, took the Shatabdi to Chandigarh. Shot the head of an institute called Regional Institute of English. Then headed for Nek Chand's Rock Garden, which I've seen several times since I have lived in Chandigarh. But never before have I been so hassled. The minute someone would see Marius, 6 feet 2 inches and all white, they would come up say hello, and want to shake hands with us. I, of course, very rudely refused to extend my hand (ignore corp comm bullshit written earlier). They (read young rowdy guys) even wanted to click a photo with us. I once again refused to comply and let Marius bathe in this unexpected popularity. Why are we so white-skin obsessed? I mean what would a guy clicked with a white stranger show the picture and tell his folks/friends? Maybe he'd cook up a nice story that he and Marius in fact became good friends etc. Indians live on dreams. So it would make him happy and popular. Good for him. Anyway, we walked on, and there was this portion of the wall that looked like sandbags but were cemented and Marius happily tapped his knuckles on it much to his chagrin. That helped to crack the ice between us. We then saw the lake, had lunch and then headed to the Modern Gallery of Art. Here, something happened. The details of Marius' background weren't fitting in. He said he had just graduated (but his ticket said his age was 35 I'm thinking) and then he lives alone, eats microwaved stuff and doesn't have a studio.
"Just how old are you" I ask him.
"25" he says.
"What? The ticket said 35."
"Gosh, where did they get that. I hope I don't look 35."
Suddenly he had dropped 10 years.
Whoever said age doesn't matter can take a hike. When you're talking to someone you think is 35 (and therefore older than you) and then you figure they're actually 25 (and therefore, younger) the equation sort of changes. For one, I immediately felt more responsible.
From then on, conversation flowed. The entire train jouney back we were dying to sleep, but were kept awake by what a co-passenger termed an 'Indian nasal explosion'. Yes, someone had the weirdest snore I've ever heard and he snorted for the entire 3 hour 10 minutes. We giggled and laughed like school children pretending to adjust our seats but actually peeping at the snorer for all of 2 hrs and 45 minutes. The stranger was becoming an acquaintance.

Day Three
Shoot in Delhi. The lady in question (visually impaired) walks in to meet us at the ramp (a site we've agreed on since it represents a barrier-free hospital) and immediately takes my arm. Imagine just taking the arm of a stranger? How difficult that must be... Anyway she's weraing a nice, mauve sari and matching accessories and tells me "I was wearing a brown sari and my mom told me 'what is this dull, drab sari you're wearing', so I changed." I mulled over that and later asked Marius how a blind person can talk about mauves and browns and what their perception of colour must be. We figured she must be recognising her clothes by the feel of the fabric, and a colour must be later attached by an external source only as a tag, an adjective. At one point Marius asked her to look away from the camera but the minute she heard the click of the camera she immediately turned towards it. "I'm sorry", she laughed. "It's just instinctive for us to react to the sound of something just as one may (I think she meant you may) be attracted to a visually appealing object."
I asked Marius if he had every shot a blind person before. He said he hadn't. Both of us were richer by the experience.
Day Four follows in a bit...

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Telly Tamasha

I've been having withdrawal symptoms. Eight days and no blog. Last night I almost got desperate to find a computer and write, but I controlled the urge. And now that I'm here I have so much to say, I don't know where to start. So let's make this the TV blog. I haven't written my TV column in about three weeks, and it's high time I restarted it.
So here's Telly Tamasha.

> TV is booming. It's going absolutely overboard. Ever since Sahara Manoranjan stole Star's channel name and rechristened itself Sahara One, the industry has been abuzz. Now, deciding to go with the same name, Star One is all set to hit the airwaves on November 1. And I'm waiting to see how the Indian team at Star interprets a Hindi Star World because that's precisely what they've pegged the new channel as. No, not Star World shows dubbed in Hindi but shows in the same vein, for the metro, non saas-bahu watching professionals. You and me. (Since I don't have to 'watch' the K-stuff anymore, I almost hardly ever watch it. Same for Jassi. Totally switched off it.) Besides, there are a host of news shows everywhere; in fact it's becoming difficult to track them. Hello Dollie debuted on Star Plus yesterday as did something on Zee (can't even remember the name). Also, MTV's first soap Kitni Mast Hai Zindagi, made by Balaji also debuted yesterday. Needless to say, I missed all. Was watching Mute Witness, a thriller I picked up from the British Council Library, which was really quite scary. An American crew is filming a movie in Moscow, and a mute make up artist witnesses a real murder. Chiller, as the TV industry would say (chills + thriller).

> TV may finally get movie style ratings. Read this story. After the Anupam Kher fiasco and all the minutes of footage devoted by channels like NDTV to the 'TV needs censorship' debate, this is something India can definitely start, rightaway. The I&B Minsitry needs to formulate a framework (after it agrees to come under the Censor Board in the first place) to rate shows and serials as U, PG (Parental Guidance) etc. Also the rating should stay on the show throughout as the channel logo does, because a lot of times you may miss the beginning and hence the rating. This way, whenever you switch on, you can figure out the rating.

> A columnist with a leading daily wrote in her TV column almost exactly the same stuff I said about Zoom a week or so before her. So I am happy. In short; Zoom is not available in most places yet. And Zoom needs to zoom up its content big time. The fillers are more fun than the shows. And I have no idea why (maybe the Balaji hangover) I almost always end up tuning in to Simone Singh and Sunita Menon's Cosmic Chat without ever wanting to... pardon me Kosmic Chat. Don't ever undermine the K...

> Interesting... TOP TEN FILM CATCHPHRASES OF A SURVEY I FOUND ON THE NET
1. "You talkin' to me?" - Taxi Driver (1976)
2. "The name's Bond, James Bond" - Dr No (1962)
3. "What's it all about?" - Alfie (1966)
4. "Frankly my dear, I don't give a damn" - Gone with the Wind (1939)
5. "We're gonna need a bigger boat" - Jaws (1975)
6. "No one puts baby in the corner" - Dirty Dancing (1987)
7. "You're only supposed to blow the bloody doors off!" - The Italian Job (1969)
8. "May the force be with you" - Star Wars (1977)
9. "Show me the money!" - Jerry Maguire (1996)
10. "Yeah baby, yeah!" - Austin Powers (1997)
Odeon Cinemas

MY TOP TEN HINDI FILM CATCHPHRASES
Tied at first spot.
* Kitney Aadmi Thhey - Sholay
* Mere Paas Maa Hai - Deewar
Both Amitabh Bachchan movies but none of the dialogues have been spoken by him.

Other top phrases...
* Main kabhi pheke hue paise nahin leta - Deewar
*Friendship mein no sorry no thank you - Maine Pyar Kiya
*Yeh haath mujhe de de thakur - Sholay
* Rishtey main to hum tumhare baap lagte hain... naam hai Shahenshah - Shahenshah

> Former bosses at Channel 4 are slamming the overdose of reality TV on the show. Economist also carried a story some editions ago on how Simon Cowell (American Idol) and Simon Fuller (the creator of the show) were in a fight. I think this is the right time for Indian channels to pull the brakes on reality TV and think out-of-the-box new stuff because it is really getting irritating and repetitive. On MTV the other day VJ Sophia Choudhary walked into the homes of the Mumbai finalists and woke them up and pulled them out of their quilts in front of the camera as they gasped in awe and contrived shock. Pathetic. I could see Aishwarya Rai and Sushmita Sen covering their mouths way back in 1994, awe, shock and horror writ large on their faces, on winning their respective crowns.
Till next Monday, bye.

Friday, October 15, 2004

I wnat a new life

I want a new life. A totally different life, in another country, with another face, another name. I want to run away and start afresh. No, I'm not miserable, I'm not on the cliff; this is just one of those recurring thoughts/dreams I've had for a long, long time. It seems quite incredulous but when I was younger, much younger I was actually fascinated by the life of the poor (yes Naipaul was here). I lived in what can be described as a sprawling tea estate, about 4 acres, on a hillock, which housed a swimming pool, a tennis court, a TT table and of course a vegetable garden that would out DDA flats (and my house now) to shame. My older sister was at boarding and while my parents had their afternoon siesta -- a habit I still can't inculcate -- afternoons were spent cooking mock curry and tea (bhaji-tarkari) and feeding it to the dhobiwala who dutifully sipped the air from the teacup and licked his lips while declaring that it was absolutely yum. And this was my routine, each and every day. Sometimes, I would force my mum to lend me one of her old saris and I would doll up in a sari and pretend to be memsahib.
There's not much you can do as a five-year-old to occupy your freewheeling mind when you're in the heart of Assam, your only friends the pet mynah, rabbits, guinea pigs, cows and of course your dogs. I even had a turtle, but the servants told me it ran away. I was too naive to know that turtle meat was a delicacy.
So anyway, coming back to my days there; if the dhobiwala decided to not show up, the sweeper would have the great honour of taking me to the local pond where I would fancy myself a great fish-baiter; the other game we often played was finding the fruit. I would hide guavas in a haystack and Babul, the sweeper, would spend long minutes finding them. And then, again I'd hide them...
At other times, I would invent a picnic. My maid and I would walk down to the mali-bari (vegetable garden) and I would ask if I could pull the ripe carrots from the earth. Then we'd go down to the swimming pool (it was filled with dirty rain water with lots of frogs) and eat the spoils of the earth: that was my picnic.
I don't know when exactly it happened, but one day I noticed that the chowkidar, whose hut was just below our bungalow, had a daughter who always looked happy. She had siblings, and I never saw her cry. Whenever I would peep down I could see her building sand castles in her front yard and she looked the happiest person in the world. What I would give to change places with her back then. My two biggest bugbears (drinking milk and studying) were obviously tortures she wasn't subjected to. And I wished and wished that God would make me poor so I wouldn't have to drink milk. This was simply because my mom had figured out all my devious ways of disposing off the white evil. I had poured it into the gamlas (flower pots) not realising that unlike water, milk does not immediately dissolve and hence, leaves a white film on the mud making itself all the more visible. I had even tried to pour it into my dog's plate, but hear this: some dogs do not like milk. Mine certainly didn't. Even flushing the milk down the pot worked only sometimes. So, I thought, the only way I'd never have to drink milk was if my family couldn't afford it.
How I'd love to have that life again.
Looking back, it really seems like another life, another country, another name and another face.

Thursday, October 14, 2004

Onscreen chemistry and I hate Titanic

So Sky Movies has commissioned a study to find the formula to create chemistry on screen. And one of my all-time favourite movies When Harry Met Sally (I know, it's on top of most people's list but I think a lot of people just say it because it makes them sound all sensitive and mushy; I consider myself neither of the two) has come out tops of the survey. A balding Billy Crystal (those tufts of hair back in the eighties when the movie was released notwithstanding) as one half of the most romantic pair... Anyhow, though I've attached the link below, I don't really know if I'm convinced that looking at several films and figuring out which couple rocks is an accurate way of measuring couple chemistry, simple because the entire thing is just too subjective to categorise in a random survey. The eyes may do it for some, but holding hands may be it for another. The only thing I agree with is that Leo and Kate had zero chemistry in Titanic -- a movie I loathe -- even though it continues to adorn V-day posters, stickers, caps and other such rubbish year after year.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/entertainment/3740076.stm

Day 2, Mothers & Daughters, Fathers & Sons.... (Neil Diamond bless you)

After some pretty encouraging comments and emails, I'm ready to roar (being a Leo, it comes kinda naturally). Have actually been resisting posting a message since the morning, waiting for inspiration to strike, to come across something meaningful, but then I checked myself: this is not a report or an article, or a story, it's a blog. So free-flowing it's gonna be. Like last evening when I was driving back home, I saw a young twentysomething driving a car, a lady who looked like her grandmom in the passenger seat next to her and a lady who liked like her mother in the back seat. Now while the young girl and her grandmom chatted freely the mother was sitting quietly, looking out of the window. This could totally be my own imagination at work (the lady in the back may not even be related to the others, in fact none of them could be related) but you know, I was struck by a thought. How come we bond so well with our grandparents yet feel this uneasy tension with parents? This is more so when you're younger and whoever said teens are the best years got it so wrong. Grandparents on the other hand seem to understand the exuberance of youth -- maybe it's a state they long for or maybe they're nearing it, remember old age is like a second childhood -- and resist the temptation of watering it down. Also, I think their crows-feet creases have seen enough suns and moons to realise that there is no point trying to school your child in your ways: ultimately they will do exactly as they wish, and will learn only from their own mistakes. This, I think, sets them apart from parents, who, in an attempt to avoid doing to their children what wrong they think their parents did to them, end up doing exactly that. Poor parents! Treading that fine line is not easy; to be a better parent than your parents and yet to try and understand and accommodate your child's preferences, however weird and crazy they seem, isn't easy. I know there are many parents who, trying to be over pally with their kids, end up getting it all horribly mixed up, and I've seen young boys and their fathers; there is such an awkward tension in the air. An acknowledgement of each other's presence yes, but an acknowledgement of each other's existence: no.
Wonder if Karan Johar, who tried to make Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham to address this question (why do we stop hugging our fathers or telling them we love them) found the answers?

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Bad food memories

Why is it that bad food memories are so clearly etched in one's memory? I'm sure they go to the permanent and not to the temporal lobe in the brain (that one that was damaged in 50 First Dates so Drew Barrymore would go to sleep and wake up the next day with no memory of the day gone by: she had totally lost her ability to store short-term memory).
> Anyway, we were just talking about samosas, and disgust clearly registered on my face: I don't despise samosas, but I can remember ever so clearly that once I was given one where the potato inside (which serves as the filling) hadn't been peeled, and the masala was obviously too much because the filling lacked the familiar haldi (turmeric) yellow shade we Indians so love to add to everything -- instead of rang de basanti chola it should be rang de basanti chhola) OK that was awful but you get the drift -- and the filling was brown; so I am perpetually wary of unpeeled potatoes inside samosas.
> The second bad food memory I have is of kheer with malai. At boarding school they couldn't be bothered to strain the milk while making kheer and hence I tried, one unsuccessful afternoon, to spread my kheer on my quarter plate and then press my katori down on it, so I would conceal the kheer and avoid eating it (they even tried some horrible versions like orange kheer and brown kheer). As luck would have it, a vigilant teacher saw me and threatened to debadge me (which back then was worse than being court martialled and having your medals stripped from your uniform). And what badge did I have, or what post did I hold? Library official if you please, of the junior school, which meant I had to help the librarian store books, look out for vandalism, maintain ledgers... Anyway...
> The third memory is kadi. Yes, again the bright yellow curry made of besan with the pakodas in it. I distinctly remember the onions in the stuffing being left raw and I hated kadi therefore. My mom desperately tried to undo the damage school had done (as if making me eat was the standard by which I would measure her love) but my hate relationship with kadi took a lot of healing time... Now I can still eat it once in a while.
> Mutton. Hated it for years because of the way it was cooked in school, Don't want to launch into a tirade because even hard-core carnivores may feel sick after the description. Suffice to say, it looked and tasted puke-worthy. So I became a vegetarian for four months in school afer which I'd go home and go back to being a non-veg.
That's all I can remember right now, full as I am after eating a paneer pakoda and a bread pakoda.



Quote Unquote

I like this quote.

Anu Aga, ex Chairperson, Thermax, to Shekhar Gupta in NDTV's Walk The Talk (and reprinted in The Indian Express today):

"Without breathing you and I can't live, but if you ask me what is the purpose of my life and if I say breathing, it is such a narrow way to define it."

To all my male friends out there

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2087-1302640,00.html
If Only He Held His Drink Like A Woman....

Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Hiya

Everyone out there in cyberspace, hiya. I've finally managed to set up a blog, and I'll save you the details of how long it took me to set it up. No, I'm not techno-shy, but this is not Maggi noodles stuff (it definitely takes more than two minutes). Anyway, to cut the long story short, I'm here. Who am I? Profundity apart, I'm a writer. I used to think this designation is as ambiguous as it can get when I was a journalist (and I was one until three weeks ago or will I always remain one) but when you're not chasing designations any more, it's relaxing and sort of nice to slip back into 'writer' mode. Because at heart that's what you are, whether you're a scribe or a communications manager, which is what I'm now. Here's something I wrote when I just quit journalism (after being in it for 7 years):

Beyond nine-to-five
My decision to give journalism a break and move to corporate communications may have had something to do with the seven-year itch. I do realise that the seven-year itch is most commonly referred to in marriages, but then in journalism you are literally married to the job – minus of course the rituals. It’s one of those commitments that’s hard to break, because it’s so much more than a job. Journalism is a way of life. You have to keep your eyes and ears open all the time; most of your stories come to you at the oddest of places and moments, not when you’re sitting at your desk and writing one e-mail after another, but when you’re two Bacardis down, chatting with an old friend, or when you’re making polite conversation with someone from the neighbourhood who just dropped in and is now going on about a series of thefts that’s taken place. Which is why when people are asked in a job interview why they want to pursue a career in journalism, many are likely to say “I can’t do a nine-to-five.” I have never quite understood what this means; journalism is not a nine to five, yes, it’s a nine to-nine. Twelve hours of sheer madness, chaos, and of course lots of fun. The one principle (and this is advocated in the Fish philosophy) that governed my last job was ‘you can take your work seriously but you don’t have to take yourself seriously’. You can crack a joke, keep the atmosphere light and I can bet the productivity will be higher. There’s really no need to work in a room where the aura is so heavy you almost choke. So why was I, at the helm of a successful career in journalism ready to give up the heady passion of an unending affair for a staid, and maybe boring relationship? Like I said the seven-year itch, not of being in a marriage but of being in a perpetual state of chaos and flux and stress and perhaps, declining creativity (I know this contradicts what I said earlier). But, for example, there’s no way in hell that I would even have the freedom of mind to write what I’m writing right now. And more than that, I’m beginning to realise, it’s best to be a writer in exile. No, I’m not retreating into the Himalayas; what I mean is that being a journalist often open doors for you but almost as often closes doors, closes doors of access to real people. The minute you say you’re a journo, that’s it, the surest way of making people retreat into a shell of clichés. So, I’m beginning to figure out that by being a corp comm executive, I may actually manage insights into people, some famous, some not so famous. How did I stumble upon this realisation? This is how:

The other day, a famous, top league film actress was in the city for one of our events and we had organised some one-on-one interviews with the press. Having interviewed celebs earlier, I realised she'd have her share of starry tantrums, but what I found instead was this: the actress had asked a for a list of who was interviewing her, knew the names of the papers, and was ready when she said she would be -- no tantrums at all. Journalists on the other hand, were the pits. One of them from a leading newspaper, I wouldn’t mention which, asked me in the lift why the actress was here. She had the time to call us before to ask for a car to pick and drop her but didn’t have the time to do any research for the interview. Geez! That's whay we're such a hated community, I though. Correction: not we, they.
You think stars lose their cool for nothing? One journalist asked the star about her childhood and how she entered the line (she had 5 minutes with the star). The actress cut her short. “Please let’s not go into childhood. And as for how I entered this line, you should have done your homework.” Later, she was alsmot fuming. “Gosh,” she said, “asking me about my childhood is like asking me about my past life. You know, yesterday I was asking the curator of the show the details of the event in case the journos asked me about it, and mid-way we stopped and said ‘you know they’re never going to bother asking anything about the festival. They’ll only want to know about my movies etc’.”
Till that point, I was trying to tell people I was a journalist, for seven years, so maybe they’d take me seriously, and not dismiss me as those ‘PR types’, a bracket I would try hard not to fall into. But at that point standing there hear the actress talk about the questions she was asked time after time, I had no intention of hiding behind the ‘I was a journalist’ barricade I had built for myself. I wanted to squirm.
The actress continued, “You know they keep saying I don’t do interviews, I feel like telling them ‘have you seen the demented questionnaire you come with?’ They ask me ‘what do you like to do in your free time?’ I want to tell them 'I want to kick your face in my free time that’s what I want to do’.” I laughed and told her this was explosive material and I wished I could give it to a newspaper.
The actress had me stunned. In all the years that I had interviewed celebrities, and I had interviewed quite a few, I had never ever managed such a candid confession. Never managed to get beyond the façade; maybe my questions were as demented, or maybe the minute a celeb hears you’re a journo they just switch off.
Now you know why my blog's called what it is. I'm going to be a writer in exile. Nine to nine. Ciao.