The Slumdog and Millionaire debate

I just watched Slumdog Millionaire. I had to. What if so much is being written and said about the film. Ever since, Big B reportedly expressed his disagreement about the film, the debate has heated up.

Not only the Indian media but also the International media paid their respect to Big B’s comments. The Guardian as well as BBC had reports about the Bollywood star’s views.

One question that both the critics and supporters of the film have raised is:

If this film was made by a local director and not by a Western biggie, would our reaction to the film have been the same?

Whether it is the seasoned blogger, Amit Verma who has heaved praise on the film or the critical Arindam Choudhuri who has urged Indians not to waste their time in watching the film, the same question has been raised.

But, the truth is, the film has not been made by a local Indian director and therefore the question remains unanswerable.

It is true that the film illogically shows every negative thing about India happening in the protagonist’s life...slums, open-air lavatories, riots, underworld, prostitution, brothels, begging, child labour, blinding and maiming of kids to make them into “better beggars”, petty pedlars, traffic jams, irresponsible call centre executives... It fails to provide a balanced view.

That the maestro A.R. Rahman has secured three Oscar nominations is one convincing factor. Nonetheless, it can also be asked: Is his music in Slumdog Millionaire his best performance? Has he not scored music in Indian music that was even better?

Contrarily if Slumdog Millionaire offends or pleases, it is in the nature of art to do so.

Still confused? Watch it for yourself and decide.

A treat for Hindi literature lovers

To encourage Hindi Literature in its own way, Premchand Archives of Jamia Millia Islamia has organized a literary exhibition, based on the life of famous Hindi writer Pt. Banarasidas Chaturvedi.

A feel of the colourful North East

Seven states, each with a distinct culture and subcultures within them. Yet, we call them the North East. Their differences might not be so obvious to someone from any other part of India. Here’s a chance.

The Purvottari Festival also being called the spirit of North East is being celebrated at Delhi’s Indira Gandhi National Centre for the Arts (IGNCA).

The nine-day festival showcases the culture, dance, music, handicrafts and food of all the eight States of the region Assam, Meghalaya, Arunachal Pradesh, Nagaland, Manipur, Mizoram, Sikkim and Tripura besides presenting documentaries on the region and holding seminars.

By: Dipu Shaw

For smokers and non smokers

A man walks past a No smoking Zone advertisement

“The ban on smoking is a move in the right direction” - this is one thing that smokers, non-smokers or the busybodies of the anti-smoking lobby, all agree on. However, three months after the ban came into force, there are still doubts over how much it has worked.

Smoking already accounts for 900,000 deaths a year in India, according to a study of the New England Journal of Medicine. By 2010, this toll is expected to increase to 1 million people a year, the study points out.
Government of India has notified revised rules on the Prohibition of Smoking in Public Places and geared up to prohibit smoking in public zone strictly from 2nd of October, 2008.

As per the revised rules, the pubic zone has been categorized as shopping malls, cinema halls, public/private work places, hotels, banquet halls, discotheques, canteens, coffee houses, pubs, bars, airport lounges and railway stations.

But, making people aware of such no smoking zones is still a big challenge for officials.
“There are problems in executing the ban on smoking. Many people do not know how to identify these public places”, says Mohd. Iqbal, S. H. O. of Jamia Nagar police station.

However, a lot of people, mostly non-smokers believe that the ban is in the larger interest of the society. Prof. Manjula Batra of the Faculty of Law, Jamia Millia Islamia says that the objective of such an act is to promote the health of the people not only for this generation of people, but also of the future of the nation”.
She suggests methods to spread awareness among the people. “We need to educate them. Media has an effective role to play. Arranging seminars, lectures, public speaking to make people aware about the ban on the public places are available options”, she says.

Dr Sanjoy Gogia, physician, Internal Medicine in Max Hospital, New Delhi, is also one of the proponents of the ban.
“This step is basically for the non-smokers. Passive smoking is equally harmful for people just like active smoking does”, he says.

Not everyone buys the views of the supporters of no smoking zones. “We know about the pros and cons of smoking. If we are uncomfortable with someone smoking in front of us, we can straightway go and tell that person not to smoke”, says Mukut Sharma, a student of the Indira Gandhi National Open University.

There are others in the student community who are demanding for Smoking Zones where they can go and smoke without affecting the non-smokers. Mayank Khurana, a 3rd year statistics student of Hindu College, a regular smoker, feels that making the entire University campus a No Smoking Zone is not the best idea.

The Act has provisions for creating places where smokers can light up their fags and smoke freely.
Dr. Batra of Max Hospital says, “This act has clearly laid down that whereas in a hotel or a restaurant has the capacity of housing 30 people or more than that, then, it can have a separate smoking zone for it so that the general public is not affected”.
Nevertheless, places like University and college campuses do not fall in that category.

As of now, shutting your eyes to the “No Smoking Zone” boards and lighting your cigarette is a one way ticket to the police station.