Why so many former pinups in the Indian parliament?

Jason Overdorf writes in his column On India in the globalpost:

Doordarshan, kept showing Jaya Bachchan’s face during the induction of fellow former Bollywood starlet Rekha. Rekha was always rumored to have a thing going with Jaya’s husband Amitabh back when they were all stars.

India has the world’s worst famous people. They want all the adulation (and perks like unmerited posts in the government), but none of the “baseless” rumors, malicious gossip and catty remarks. But this has been a particularly good spring for schadenfreude.  

First, there was a long-running bit of journalistic comedy (yes!) after the Indian Express devoted the entire front page to a non-existent coup.  (I know, I know: “We never used the C word!”… tell it to your lawyer).  

Then everybody piled on to attack a rather clever, 60-year-old political cartoon in a stunning show of solidarity with India’s otherwise-mostly-still-despised erstwhile untouchables, the Dalits. (It shows B.R. Ambedkar, the Dalit politician who wrote India’s constitution, riding on a snail labeled “Constitution” while then-Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru urges the beast onward with a whip.  The trouble is now it’s in the school textbooks, and people have decided it looks like Nehru is whipping Ambedkar, even though the Dalit leader is also holding a whip).

And, finally, today Bollywood queen bee and member of parliament Jaya Bachchan (wife of Amitabh Bachchan, mother of Abhishek Bachchan, mother-in-law of Aishwarya Rai, and an actress in her own right) reportedly blew a gasket because the state-run television channel, Doordarshan, kept showing her face during the induction of fellow former Bollywood starlet Rekha into the Rajya Sabha as well.  (The honorable members of India’s version of the House of Lords later denied that Jaya made a fuss).

….The subtext here was that Rekha was always rumored to have a thing going with Jaya’s husband back when they were all stars. In all likelihood there was nothing to it, since Bollywood’s idea of PR is to leak rumors of such “link-ups” between the stars of upcoming releases.  

Tell it to Shekhar Gupta, the once respected editor-in-chief of the Indian Express, who also seems determined to trash his own reputation. … For awhile some folks tried valiantly ….. But in the end it all turned into a big joke, which long-time Outlook magazine editor Vinod Mehta described as “the mother of all mistakes”…

Are Indians oversensitive? Was Nehru really that skinny? Why are there so many former pinups in the Indian parliament? Why are Bollywood rumors always “baseless”? ..And, of course, should newspaper editors really be fighting against free speech?

Read the full column in globalpost: Oversensitive Indians: From Jaya Bachchan to Shekhar Gupta, everybody is aggrieved

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India’s 1st 500 crore defamation case to/fro Media: Will it be free-for-all now ??

In MXM India, Pradyuman Maheshwari and Shruti Pushkarna takes quotes from some senior journalists of India about the first every defamation case filed by a Media against another Media in India.

 On April 4, The Indian Express carried a story by editor-in-chief Shekhar Gupta with Ritu Sarin and Pranab Dhal Samanta on two key army units moving towards New Delhi without informing the government. Ajmer Singh contributed to the report.There was outrage and denials issued by all and sundry in the government and armed forces. However, save the outbursts, it wasn’t proven that the Express story was incorrect.

…..Those in print may have been a lot more gentle, but a few television discussions were indeed scathing. And then came this interview with Outlook’s editorial President (and former editor-in-chief) Vinod Mehta in newsmag Open on the issue. The headline of the interview said it all: The Mother of All Mistakes (issue dated April 21, 2012). In his inimitable style, Mr Mehta suggested that Mr Gupta was taken in by a story that was planted on the Express.

…The notice asks for an apology and pulling the story off Open’s internet edition openthemagazine.com. At the time of filing this report, Open hasn’t done either and two senior staffers told MxMIndia that the magazine does not intend to do either.

The notice also demands damages of Rs 100 crore each to the lawyer’s clients. That’s five of them – the Indian Express, Shekhar Gupta, Ritu Sarin, Pranab Dhal Samanta and Ajmer Singh. The Rs 500 crore damages have to be paid regardless of the apology.

MxMIndia asked a few senior editors for their views on the issue. While many of them did not want to be drawn into the controversy, there were a few who told us that they didn’t know enough of the matter to be able to comment.

Our questions were: Is the media too sensitive to criticism? Just as the Express, Shekhar Gupta & Co sent a legal notice to Open and Vinod Mehta, can governments, politicians, businesspersons and even film-makers who are critiqued by the media also send notices and ask for crores as damages?

Here are reactions from four veteran commentators:

Dileep Padgaonkar, former editor-in-chief, The Times of India:

…As it is, the censorship of cartoons was a dismal warning of the sensitivity of the political establishment. Now if media is going to go at another section of media, there is going to be a free-for-all and the big casualty out here would be good, decent, honest journalism.

 

Sevanti Ninan, editor, The Hoot, columnist and media-watcher:

….You are saying the chief editor and his colleague are susceptible to plants, thereby seriously questioning their credibility. So I guess the Express could hardly ignore it. IE did come in for a lot of criticism on the import of the story and the display given, including a critical editorial in the Hindu but nothing quite as damning as Mehta’s statements.

Paranjoy Guha Thakurta, independent journalist and commentator:

I think The Indian Express has over reacted. I think it’s gone a little over the top. … my personal view is that it’s a point of view which obviously the Express doesn’t agree with but I don’t think that what Mr Mehta has said can be construed to be criminally defamatory. …I mean these are ridiculous sums of money. I think we’ve become an extremely intolerant society. ….I think even sections of the media are becoming extremely intolerant of criticism. If you are in a democracy, you have to give the right to everybody to disagree with you.

Sucheta Dalal, senior journalist and commentator, consulting editor, Moneylife:

… It’s the first time that somebody in the media is suing another person in the media, we need to look at how it goes… Otherwise the notice is also a way of making a point, it’s a way of putting pressure. It’s not just Vinod Mehta, if he looks at what was said about that story on the social media, then there are a lot more people that they would probably need to sue. So maybe he is making a case out of Vinod Mehta and Open magazine, we need to see whether they follow through. I would say that the test is not in the legal notice, the test is in seeing whether they are actually going to follow through, stand in court and argue it out.

Read the full feature in MXM India: Apology + Rs 500cr: Is Indian Express right in sending Open a legal notice?

Shah Rukh Khan – The Real Angry Man in Bollywood

Is there more to the story than what is being reported in the media, or is it a simple case of a stress-fuelled midlife crisis that has finally snapped Khan into picking fights with friends?

Shahrukh Khan may have many a time played the bad guy in the movies but in real life is always loved and adored by one and all. In the recent past though Shahrukh has been in the news more for his controversial fights than anything else. It looks like Shah Rukh Khan’s ‘brawl days’ are still not over. A few months after his infamous fight with Farah Khan’s husband Shirish Kunder, the star finds him in the midst of yet another controversy and this time it involves the Indian Premier League (IPL).

With the original bad boy of Bollywood, Salman Khan, having tamed his wayward ways of late, it seems that King Khan is eager to fill that throne, irrespective of how many punches he needs to throw to get there.

Bollywood King Khan’s ‘wankhede brawl & ban’ has comes very soon after the lucrative T-20 tournament was rocked by a sting operation conducted by a TV news channel, in which five IPL players were purportedly caught on camera indulging in spot-fixing and other “murky deals.” The actor has been caught in controversy at the Wankhede before when he was seen smoking much to the disapproval of many.

In the past five years, the award-winning actor has slowly but surely managed to alienate himself from several members of the Indian film fraternity with a spate of brawls in his wake, while his own personal life has come under scrutiny with rumour mills churning that all is not blissful in the marital bond between Khan and wife Gauri.

SRK has never spared anyone close to him, so to say. It may be her partner friend Juhi Chawla, Aamir Khan, Shirish Kunder, Karan Johar, Arjun Rampal, Farah Khan, Amar Singh, Amitabh Bachchan, Akshay Kumar and of all his onetime ‘chuddy buddy’ Salman Khan !!

For those who can’t recall, the brawl between the two superstars erupted nearly three years ago at Katrina Kaif’s birthday bash, where the verbal sparring almost headed towards fisticuffs before Aamir Khan intervened and broke them apart.  The war still continues, with Salman saying at Mukesh Ambani’s party for Sachin Tendulkar’s 100th 100: “Sachin kaa record todnaa mushkil hi nahi naamumkin hein. Aur yeh Don nahi main bol rahaa hun (No one can break Sachin’s record; and it’s not Don, but me saying this).”

One-time best buddies, Khan and Arjun Rampal were inseparable – even spending New Year’s Eve together in Dubai – but all went sour post “Ra.One” and the rift is for all to see. The rift was also over an argument the Rampals had with Khan, defending Gauri when the actor’s ‘close relationship’ with co-star Priyanka Chopra came under scrutiny. Khan wasn’t impressed with the intrusion and Mrs Rampal made it clear whose side she was on.

Earlier in 2012, the superstar actor’s professional & personal frustration finally culminated in the ‘slap-gate’ affair, which saw him allegedly assault former friend and filmmaker Shirish Kunder, husband of Farah Khan, also a close family friend of SRKs. Relations soured between the three when SRK rejected “Tees Maar Khan”, Kunder’s directorial venture.

Khan’s status as a faithful husband was never brought into question. Not until people started to whisper a certain name: Priyanka Chopra. It was widely gossiped that Khan’s co-star in several films, PC and him apparently started to get cozy during the shoot of “Don 2”. But those whispers became talk when stories filtered out that Gauri refused to let Priyanka into her house for the film’s wrap up party. Bollywood pundits say, ‘all is not well in the Khan household. Both SRK & Gauri has not been snapped together since quite a while”

Is there more to the story than what is being reported in the media, or is it a simple case of a stress-fuelled midlife crisis that has finally snapped Khan into picking fights with friends? Could that have given rise to the anger and frustration that led to yet another ‘slap-gate’ incident at Wankhede Stadium? He only can tell.

Whistle blower homemaker Vidyut Kale at receiving end of IT Rules

Vidyut, a housewife having little income is at serious risk of being attacked by a team of seasoned lawyers with money to burn for daring expose corrupt practices.

Remember Vidyut Kale, daredevil homemaker-cum-blogger that blogged to draw attention to the Keenan and Reuben murders when mainstream media had reported the story and let it go & due to her efforts led to large-scale media attention that helped the poor families get attention to their case and prevent the killers from going scot-free…??

Now, Vidyut is chased by a batteries of lawyers to delete the contents on her blog aamjanta.com about her expose on history of alleged financial misdoings by Belvedere yacht party fame Lt Col (retd) Gautam Dutta and Anju Datta of Marine Solutions..  She has received a take down notice for her article being defamatory. The IT Rules are so arbitrary that she has no chance to defend herself against the takedown, because no explanation or even verification of the premise of the take down notice being correct is required.

Legal voices on Twitter have pointed out that the legal notice that Vidyut received is stupid, as Vidyut is the author, not an intermediary, and the IT bill applies only to intermediaries. This means, that she does not have to take down her content, but the lawyers can make her ISP block her website if she does not, yes, without a court hearing. In short, the IT bill is evil, but has not legally been used against her yet.

In reporting stories from the RTI documents related to sailing scams she was again covering an area that is not big enough for mainstream media, but an important leak of money as well as integrity for the country. Not to mention the illegal practices around sailing making it a security risk through norms of “looking the other way”.

Anand Philip (Cerebral Salad/Anand Philip Blog) a friend of Vidyut appeals on his blog:

Vidyut, who is a housewife and has little income is at serious risk of being attacked by a team of seasoned lawyers with money to burnfor daring expose corrupt practices. This is a very concerning sign for freedom of speech and whistle blowing in our country. Any media attention highlighting her situation and precarious situation of smaller content producers in India like bloggers, independent artists, cartoonists, etc and the role played by the IT Rules will go a long way in protecting their rights and drawing attention to their victimization. 

Bangla Bloggers’ siege Home Ministry for murdered journalist couple

Dhaka, Bangladesh. 15th May 2012 — Police set up a barricade to stop journalists advancing forward as they declared a ‘Home Ministry siege programme’ demanding justice for the journalist couple Sagar and Runi. — Journalists demonstrate in front of the Secretariat demanding justice for the journalist couple Sagar and Runi who were gunned down in their own bedroom. (C:Demotix)

Crossing various hurdles, the Bangla bloggers conducted their programme of singing protest songs in public. Comments by the police commissioner that “permissions will be required”, not allowing the required temporary electricity connection at the protest venue, and even sudden rains during part of the evening, nothing could stop the bloggers, journalists, students and ordinary citizens from showing solidarity and participating in singing the protest songs

Bloggers have once again taken to the street, demanding justice for the murdered journalist couple Sagar Sarwar and his wife Meherun Runi.. On 11th May, 2012, they organized a protest in front of the public library in Shahbagh, Dhaka. This was their fourth protest gathering. In the early hours of 11th February, 2012, the couple was found brutally murdered in their West Rajabajar apartment in Dhaka.

At the end of the day’s event, the next steps and upcoming protest programmes were announced. Among the future protests being planned by journalists and bloggers are the following:

1. 20th May to 15th June – Public meetings at all the media houses
2. 5th June – March to the Parliament and submit a memorandum to the Speaker of the House, demanding arrest and trial of the killers of Sagar-Runi
3. 26th June – Protest march towards the Prime Minister’s Office.
4. If the administration still fails to deliver justice, all journalists across the country will stop work and undertake a ‘pen down’ programme.

Three months have passed since the murder and till date, the police have been unsuccessful in discovering any clues or leads that would help them to solve the case. The Bangladesh High Court has expressed dissatisfaction with the progress (or lack of it) of the Detective Branch (DB) of police investigating the murder. The case has since then been transferred to the anti-crime and anti-terrorism unit – Rapid Action Battalion (RAB). The bodies have already been exhumed for a repeat postmortem. However, till date, there has been little progress in the investigation.

Sai Paranjpe: a leading women director of Indian cinema

Captured by ace lensman Jagdish Aurangabadkar, this picture shows how Sai was a hands-on filmmaker.

Saeed Jaffrey, the cigarette shop owner Lallan Miyan had a customer Siddharth aka Farooq Shaikh, who unluckily couldn’t smoke. And thus, on the sets of the 1981 comedy Chashme Buddoor, director Sai Paranjpe had to take it on herself to teach her hero how to puff his way into the scene.

Captured by ace lensman Jagdish Aurangabadkar, this picture shows how Sai was a hands-on filmmaker. In India, where women smokers are still looked down upon, Sai had no qualms teaching her male lead actor Farooq how to smoke. As the two actors stare at their director, Sai lights up with a coir rope hanging from the cigarette shop.
And those were the days when Coke had still not made its second entry into the subcontinent. So there was the celebrated replacement Cola – Campa! And there was Ship matches. And of course, there was the absence of designer wardrobe, director’s hats, and too many assistants. There was a saree-clad filmmaker who took the reins of her project and led it forward. And that, as we call it, makes history! (courtesy: Bangalore Mirror)