The Ad Revolution – Airtel

Indian Cinema, India’s new age folklore is replete with tales of men in power who marry women in power only to disown them later as their bruised egos cannot handle such a strong wife. India sitcoms are, of course, no less. Every woman is expected to have just one goal in life: to want to get married and to have that has her prime responsibility and expectation. Her career takes a back seat unless she is a devious, ‘modern’, man-hating machines who is eventually ‘cured’ by a man who loves her and teaches her the ‘true’ value of life and proceeds to her to marry and joyously spring forth another generation of  mindless patriarchs.

Any sitcom today will proudly take you through the suited, working men and ‘suited’ (salwar kameez, or sarrees) house bound women. Another variation, that Indian sitcom cannot do without is that of falling in love with your boss. The proverbial ‘abla naari’ applies for a job and then falls in love with her boss etc etc. Point being that the man always has the upper hand.

So naturally advertisements mirrors this trend and incorporated it in some form into everything from tea to clothes to even cars. Today however, I saw an amazing ad that could possibly be one of my favorites this year. It not only reflects the growing change in our country’s young adults and their attitudes but also manages to portray a beautiful relationship between a man and his female boss who also happens to be his wife. It shows a growing trend of women leaders who aren’t afraid to allocate tasks, and take firm action all while juggling a home, marriage and a job. And more importantly, it shows the man, as accepting and maybe for the first time ever, as non egotistical, whose manliness isn’t defined by who he works under.  My words cannot do justice as to how beautifully and subtly, emotions are shown, expressed and ultimately brought to life in this one minute advertisement.

Airtel is hitting all the right notes with this advertisement.

Don’t believe me?

See it yourself.

 

Sania Mirza- An Individual, Maybe?

The television won’t stop screaming about how Sania Mirza is or is not Indian. Our minister has made his stand rather clear when he says “Sania is Pakistan’s daughter in law”. Some people have ‘supported’ Sania Mirza and claimed that she is ‘India’s daughter’. The battle rages on but I am stunned as I see something a lot of people, educated people missed.

Is that all she is? An entity? An association? A daughter or a daughter-in-law? Is she not an entire being in herself? How sickening is our patriarchy, and how much power does it exert over us that we forget to see her as an individual and see her instead as a link. Born, brought up and excelled in India, her marriage changed all of that. Now she is only a wife or daughter in law? Is that all women are reduced to? Is that all they should aspire towards? Being content as a daughter or a mother or a wife or a daughter in law? Who she married, why she married, is simply her prerogative but no, we have made it our business. Why? Because we can. Because our society promotes such intense patriarchy that she isn’t even being deemed “Indian” it is only, either “India’s daughter” or “Pakistan’s daughter-in-law”.

She was the first Indian player to win a WTA Tour title, became the third Indian to win a grand Slam, was named in one of the ’50 Heros of Asia’ and in 2010, he economic times named her one of the “33 women who made India proud” but suddenly none of that matters. Her marriage to a man of her choice (which left Indians flabbergasted and angry) is now the only criteria.

Is that going to be the fate of women who are strong enough to exert their choices? Is that what we are teaching our young aspiring girls to work towards? This needs to stop. Women are NOT merely associations. They are individuals first. And that is what should count. Who she is and what she has achieved, not who she married and this change needs to start with Sania Mirza, an individual first, a daughter later.

Why Feminism?

Some words are crystal clear. Rape, violence, abuse are some words that have it ‘easy’ as compared to their counterparts. They are definite. They are an entity within themselves. They convey without hesitation and haunt without restriction. Then comes a stark contrast in words that by a meager glance would seem absolute but dwell deep within and you are caught, off guard, in a an ocean of contempt, hatred, power but at its basic a word misplaced.

Feminism, like most new, badly ‘translated’ words is under fire. It pops up every now and then on our facebook/twitter/tumblr feeds and every time it does it leaves a sour aftertaste and often a raging disgust. Unlike assault, murder, or rape this word [feminism], which at its very essence is merely an 8 letter word, is a misunderstood cause in today’s world.

So here is my attempt to explain feminism not to convince you or deviously manipulate you, but simply to make you aware of the available choice to choose to be associated with the word.  Feminism is a movement. It is a spiritual, physical, virtual movement. A movement or cause that promises equality and respect at all fronts for both men and women. Why do we need feminism? We need feminism because every time a one individual gets paid 77cents and the other makes a dollar, for the same work because of the category society put them in, we take away equality. We need feminism for every time a woman who is sexually assaulted is asked to ‘keep it quite’ or is in turn blamed for the assault while her perpetuator roams the streets free.

Contrary to popular belief feminism doesn’t aim to take power or jobs away from men, we (for I am a proud feminist) are here to enable equal opportunity for women and to share the power with men.  Many times people, especially men (go to any article and you’ll see this heinous trend) love to berate the fact that feminists ‘hate’ men.

Why? Because feminist want women to be able to be credible engineers and scientists? Because feminist know that women are as good as men at math?  Because women, like men should have the right to choose a career over marriage? Because a woman’s clothing shouldn’t determine her character?

And that compels me to think, as a woman, is loving yourself, equivalent to hating someone else?  Why is it that when women stand up for themselves and for their bodies, for their choices they are shamed and bullied for it? Whereas when men do the same they are applauded for it? Feminism wasn’t born out of a figment or illusionary context, it was a seed that was sowed and matured after years of harassment, sexism, discrimination towards women and women being treated as inferior to and by men (and women).

To enable equal opportunity, individuals need to be seen as equal irrespective of gender. And as simple as that concept sounds, we still struggle with it in this 21st century. Everywhere we look, women are the ‘lesser’ beings. Hollywood, Bollywood, engineering, chefs you name it, and this is evident by the fact that every time a woman does well in engineering or computer science or math or is made a CEO, she is such a token commodity that Huffington post and The Guardian make her a symbol of hope and proclaim a rarity that ought to empower other women.  This is not to disregard the great work women do or have done in the past, but this is to highlight the fact that a woman doing well is still newsworthy. Yeah, if she discovered the cure to cancer, she will be one in a million but to do well in computer science or math or be made a CEO, you shouldn’t have to be the only one.

Feminism isn’t petty. It has various forms, various definitions, various branches, if you will, as does every movement, and some of which I do not necessarily agree with, and some which I actively defy and that is bound to happen. In a world where so many opinions and experiences exist, perspectives will differ and they must. Differing perspectives lead to better solution but they also lead to misunderstanding, conflict and hate . However, most, if not all schools feminist movements aim to empower women, They sought to give women a choice, a choice to live her life however she wills it. A choice to have sex (gasp!), to not have babies (even bigger gasp!), to wear what she wants but most of all to recognize them first as individuals and then as women and not just as baby making machines.

Women are not an entity. They are no one’s right and they owe ‘society’ anything.  They are a whole being not a link and that is what feminism is reminding us.

Feminism aims to ensure equality. That’s it. Not so complicated now, is it?

 

50 Shades Of Grey – A Review

“I gasp, and I’m Eve in the Garden of Eden, and he is the serpent, and I cannot resist.”

If I were to quote every sorry excuse for an analogy from this book, I’d probably be left with only 2 pages worth of a book, both pages containing vivid details of sadistic love making. I read  the first 250 pages in misery and the rest in pure agony, there is only so much bad writing I can take and with this book my quota of bad writing is full.This book was a total downer for me. This is a short and to the point book review and  I’ve broken it up into categories for you. Take what I say with a pinch of salt for my style and preference in, and for a book may be totally different from yours. However, give the review a read and see what I have to say!

Here goes:

1. Writing Style And Story Pace

The writing style is one I never comment on, for everyone’s style is unique. Just so that you know this authors style is informal and to the point.

One thing the books that was bang on was pacing. The story was evenly paced and kept abreast throughout the cruel 300 something pages of wasted paper.

 

  1. The Plot

Wait. Plot? What is that? Is it a new kind of food? In short, there is no plot. The characters shallow, the places boring, and the sex unappealing (who knew that was possible, right?). The sex comes off as exciting to begin with, as it presented in segments, but in retrospect the sex is nothing unheard of, or unusual. There are no twists nor turns and unfortunately (but expectantly) the book is super predictable and boring.The male and female protagonists alternate between half hearted conflicts and ‘rough’ contract based sex.

 

  1. Characters

The characters are straight up shallow. There is no depth of character. There is a hint at a moral conflict within the protagonist, but that conflict is never explored making the reader feel disconnected from the character and her thoughts. Actually none of the characters have any kind of connection with the reader. I can say this without a doubt that Winnie the Pooh had more depth in him.

There are no dilemmas, frustrations, conflicts, nothing. They lack an identity except that she’s a 21 year old virgin, and he’s a 26(?) year old billionaire. There has been no ‘showing’(except for the raunchy sex scenes) of the personalities in the book, it’s only barking at you.

 

      4.     Story Line

Rich billionaire brat with issues, falls for a middle class college going 21 year old virgin with lesser issues. At first it’s for sex and then he falls for her innocence.  Her conscious calls her a ‘ho’ (that is her deepest level of conflict) every so often and every time it does, she goes and sleeps with her billionaire boyfriend/master again. That is pretty much it.

 

Of course, this sounds rather brutal, and some of you may disagree. I, however, have endured enough of the book and have plenty ammunition to combat your best defenses.

This is coming from someone who values plot, character, and story line very heavily. If you couldn’t care a rat’s hoof about any of that, you might like the book! Who knows? I know 100 million people did.

 

My final verdict: 50 Shades of Grey gets a 1 out of 5 in my books. (See what I did there?)

Is Religion Overrated?

Religion is a funny topic to dwell upon. It instantly conjures peace and turbulence in my mind and leaves me drained of all energy by the time my chaotic mind has rested. Born a Muslim and chosen to follow it, I am constantly at cross roads with my religion, my equation with my God and other followers of Islam and their expectations of me and my religion.

We follow the same holy book, no doubt, but our leaders are different. My leader is no one but God, but theirs is sometimes a human. A flawed, imperfect human; a human who aims to direct other people’s lives not by the intention that God would have enabled but by intentions fueled by his own innate desires for power. To claim as such is a mighty accusation in some eyes, however in my eyes another human ought not to be decreed better merely because he ‘chose’ to. He is after all human too and humans are prone to mistakes.

For God never made one being better than the other. He/she (for I don’t know if gender exist even within my God’s Kingdom) didn’t dictate gender, nor race. God didn’t divide the land nor money. In short God isn’t petty. Religion isn’t petty. The people of the religion are and so are it’s leaders.

Religion to me is a choice. But to some it’s a compulsion and yet to others it’s a façade. People who don’t believe in religion often point out the various reasons a non believer and a believer are acquainted with. “You can’t see it”, “it’s all bullshit”, “it’s a matter of fooling people”, blah, blah, blah.

I get the sentiment, I really do. Maybe had I been more skeptical than I already am, I would have fallen for those arguments too, but for me, religion isn’t overrated, isn’t bullshit and doesn’t matter is I cannot see it.

It is simply a reason to believe. For me, it is an idea that reminds me to humble, grateful and kind. For  me, for a flawed individual it urges me to be the strongest I can and to believe in what I cannot see, especially if that belief is directed towards myself and my achievements and betterment that I cannot see just yet.

Religion is a belief, a faith, but most of all, it is a reminder that you are never truly alone.

“Let’s go!” “Only if you aren’t my roommate!”

As if friends weren’t annoying enough, here is a list of a few travelers we all tend to find in our groups. And yes, you’ll know where you fit in, but don’t worry I won’t judge. ;)

The Elephant memory:

Every bad idea of yours is permanently stored in their minds with an automatic revival mechanism that is activated every time you suggest something they don’t want to do. They literally never forget anything that ever went wrong (unless they did it) and then hold that one (or maybe 2 or 3) thing that you did against you for EVER.

The Bathroom Robbers:

It happens almost like clockwork. You reach your destination and an instant later they have a sheepish smile and puppy dog eyes just so that they can borrow your things. It could be anything to a toothpaste to your shampoo, but they must.

The Hogs:

Every morning, afternoon, evening, dawn, dusk, you name it and this particular individual has the amazing capacity to hog the bathroom/toilet JUST when anyone else needs it. How they do it, I don’t know but they manage to do so with such punctuality that they might as well have a career in it.

The Kittens:

Water? K.Bye. Literally where there is water, they will not be seen. They have magical hiding powers that activate every time water is mentioned. Pools, ponds, rivers anything. They will hide till it’s too late to drag them out and often make it a point to tell you how much they enjoyed sitting in the glum sun less day while sipping on their coke all the while sounding actually convincing.

The Mittens:

 Paranoid about dirt and the unhealthy places you visit. Toilets are ‘visited’ only in restraints or if inspected by someone else before and they carry an entire pack (or two) of hand sanitizer. Not only do they refrain from any and all ‘dirt’ inducing activities, but they also judge you when you do not .

The Target Inspired:

They carry everything you could possibly need. From a sewing needle to extra… I don’t know yet, but I’m sure they got it. They logic is simple: you never know what you need! Yes, clearly I’m going to need a calculator on our trip to Cancun, because I will be working on math….

The Confused Activist:

Usually the MOST excited beings who cannot get over their trip excitement. In that excitement they want to do everything and hence they suggest everything but because they were so busy trying to do everything, they don’t do any of it. They are literally always on the wrong side of the fence.

The ‘Dora the Explorer’:

They cannot sit still. EVER. They want to do it all and actually have the energy to do it too! That’s it, these people are so annoying. They find their niche instantly and explore everything there is to explore, take amazing photos, create great memories, all while you just about managed to say ‘aloha’.

Mr Scrooge:

Yup! You know if you’re it.

The Death Wish:

No idea that they come up with is safe. They have a knack for picking out weird, particularly forbidden and life threatening activities. They also have amazing persuasion powers that surpass all logic and in retrospect when you can think of everything that could have gone wrong your conscience is shaken up and worried for the fortnight to follow. But hey! Carpe diem, right?

 Why Money Can Never Be Overrated

5659908590_a2fb90dfc0_b

It’s like a drug, in fact it is one. With every pinch, we crave some more, for every ounce we wish to double it. And like a drug, unless medicinal, it is berated with ugly slangs by the poet in khakis, or the dreamer in his or her journal. But for me, now my stance is clear. It’s not an epiphany, it’s been a process, it’s not an end, it’s a result and the outcome of which, money, those little green notes, can never be overrated.

Often the tranquility of my declaration is disturbed by the adage ‘money can’t buy you happiness’ and every time it is, I have ventured into the world of adages and their influences, and am greeted with angry, anxious, naïve thoughts that implore me to give up my worldly acquisitions and see within myself or outside for the beauty of the trees, of nature, of the wonders of a lovers touch and the happiness that beauty enables me. These young, inspirational, pure raw hearts try to persuade me, my thoughts and my actions by compelling me quit my materialistic ways and to look towards loved ones and the blessings I’ve been bestowed with.

In my younger years, I did too. I too sat in the comfort of my room, huddled up in my warm bed, rebuking the importance of money in our lives. Often my young, idealistic, easily moldable heart would  persuade itself that money is just another facet in our lives. But then one day, I grew up. I finally saw the ugly zoos that once gave me joy and then I realized how entrapped within the hypocrisy of society I had become, that I too had let myself sway right into the arms of the ostensible idealists and had stopped thinking for myself, for my need, of my wants, of my desires for the fear of being called ‘materialistic’, ‘rich’ and ‘spoilt’.  I had at one point cursed destiny for the affluence I was born into, because society compelled me too. Was I naïve? Yes. Was society wrong? I don’t care.

The autonomy, the security, the means to happiness that these green notes have enables me, have also compelled me to work towards keeping them safe and forever flowing into my life. I am almost instantly conflicted, for I see myself as greedy and the conflicted by my stance, yet again I look for reasons to believe otherwise, to believe that money cannot buy anyone happiness, that it cannot buy you peace of mind, that it cannot replace loved ones and often I feel liberated to see the truth in those statements. But an instant later I am drawn back to reality that smiles down at me and reminds me that a hungry stomach cannot harbor love for long. A homeless man, cannot provide for the love of his life, no matter how genuine his heart maybe. Naked, hurt feet cannot bring upon a smile, in the hot summer roads; that the storm is pretty when the window’s shut, but it won’t stop for your roofless hut.

Balanced in thought and matured in years, I finally arrived at my seemingly materialistic view; money can never be underestimated, or devalued and to do so would be to turn a blind eye to the rays on your face that touch you so deeply that even thought you feel them, you try to avoid them. Views might differ, they will differ, you might attack my words, hiding behind the comfort of your anonymous nature, huddled up in your Calvin Klein pjs on your mac air, or maybe you’d be sitting in a dim room surrounded by your journals on a big bulky Toshiba and criticize my thought and judge my stance and who I am based off of that stance. No matter how harsh your words would be, I would know one thing for a fact, that both of you were sitting, commenting, hating, from the comfort of a computer which I willing to bet, wasn’t free.

What my hopeful heart is glad about though, is that with my little green notes can provide for a lover, not create one, that my little green notes can medicate an open wound, but not a scared heart, that even though they can provide an education, they cannot guarantee a conscience and that though I cannot do without my notes, often they cannot do without me either. So though they bestow the means of happiness, happiness cannot be provided by them. 

Picture Credits: Aaron Patterson 

The Transformers- Age of Extinction

OptimusPrimeBumblebeeBank

Being the 4th in its series, the movie was bound to slack. What is heartening though is that it didn’t make you cringe nor cry out of agony as it did not inflict as much pain as some sequels inflict.
The movie, as expected underwent some minor cosmetic surgeries that confined rather well with societal norms. Yes, even machines became more ‘masculine’ and were seen sporting weapons of all sorts. Women did have some pseudo major roles but again the movie was primarily male dominated, a trend that seriously needs to take a double check.
However here is a quick, concise review:

Plot:
While most actors were brilliant, some were plain redundant. Nicola Peltz and Jack Reymore, though super cute, were an absolute waste of time, effort and make up. The main plot, as is with every transformer movie is a classic good versus bad, and as redundant as it may sound wasn’t too bad to bear however the love story between Nicola and Jack was shallow, under developed and completely unnecessary. This movie had no sub plot except the love story which failed miserably and made you want to hope that the love story had been simply taken from a Taylor Swift song, because even that would’ve been better than Nicola and Jack’s love story in the movie.

Characters:
The characters were a little confused. Some characters were better defined than others and those that weren’t didn’t connect well with the audience. Most characters were ‘weak’ to say the least. Stanley Tucci’s character was however, my favorite. Extremely well played and well thought out, again the only consistent issue was the lack of depth and conflict that is often a key factor in movies like Transformers that aim to function on the ‘inherent goodness’ of its characters.

Pace:
No complains here. Fast paced and easy to follow.

Direction:
The direction was good. There were times it could have been better, but well on a whole I had other things to worry about and criticize.

Dialogues:
This was rather sad. There were definitely many attempts at punch lines which failed to have any impact. The dialogue delivery was okay, but the dialogues itself lacked any and all ‘punch’ that the director hoped. It was disappointing that certain scenes where one expected good, witty sappy dialogues all we got was at most a ‘you’re welcome’ and that was just not enough.

Final Rating:
I’m going with 2.5 stars out of 5.

 

 

* Featured Image Source: http://transformerslive.blogspot.in/2014/04/new-image-of-transformers-4-optimus.html

Fair and Lovely – The Regime Lives On And I Won’t Stop It

You know what fair and lovely and politics have in common? Neither is fair nor lovely.

Usually a fair and lovely (let’s call it FnL for simplicity) ad has two variations- one she can’t get into some job or audition until she uses the cream and second she can’t get the guy to look because of how dark she is. These pretty much sum up all of FnL creative teams ideas and I’m quite used to seeing and critiquing the latest variation they came up with.

The new FnL ad is no different and once again the FnL’s creative teams is so marvelous that, in less than thirty seconds, it manages not only to link skin color with ability but also with tackles every girl’s biggest insecurity- marriage.

How? Well it starts with the father daughter duo in a park talking about the girls marriage to a man who is able and earns well, the woman is visibly conflicted. Back at home, she tells her ‘fairer’, hence wiser friend about her decision to listen to her dad and marry the guy. To this her wise friend hands her a fair and lovely cream (she carries a new tube in her purse) and tells her other ‘darker’ friends to get ready.

The ‘darker’ friend then reflects for a minute, all while washing her face and comes back to dad, 7 shades fairer and decidedly wiser and tells him she’ll marry the guy in three years so that she can get a job, a house and a bank balance and then she’ll be equal to the guy so she can marry him. End of ad.

And I left out nothing nor added anything. If you thought that was torture to read, this of the millions of girls who are likely to believe this ad and equate skin color to ability. There is nothing more to add to be honest. It’s my daily dose of practiced writing. However, those of you, who do end up reading this (and you aren’t Caucasian) try getting fairer for a day and see if people treat you differently. They will.

I’ve seen it in my own life and continue to see it wherever I go. If you’re fairer, you’re nicer, more able and of course more deserving. But you know why FnL ads don’t bother me? Because somewhere down the line, they help someone feel about themselves because it’s not the ad, not the brand, not the cream that are responsible for this mentality. They never were. They reflect the society we live in.We perpetuate these cycles (fair, young, skinny) and then people sell other people what they think they want. I could blame the companies for putting up ads as shallow as these but I won’t.

I will instead let the ads run, smoothly and happily till the day we stop perpetuating these ads and stereotypes. Of course, a lot of you will have mouth full to say to me, and will tell me how these multinational, rich greedy companies are exploiting people and I’ll just smile and wonder why you talk so much. I’m not fair, and I never needed my TV to tell me that. My TV provided a way out for me and a way to make me feel better about myself and then almost instantly when I found joy in my TV, you told I’m perfect the way I am.

When we didn’t have FnL, no one thought to remind our young girls that ‘fair’ is not the only definition of beautiful. But when FnL exists now we tell them it isn’t. When we didn’t have anti aging, we forgot to tell our mothers how pretty they are, now that we do have anti aging, we tell then that they are perfect. We’ve only told our mothers, daughter, sisters how perfect they are when they discovered their flaws, but by then it’s too late, for they believe themselves and their flaws before they believe you.  And why not? They knew their flaws before they even knew their strengths.

So today remind your mums and daughters and sister how perfect they are that their ‘flaws’ merely make them human. That being ‘dark’ or ‘fair’ or ‘skinny’ or ‘fat’ doesn’t define them.

Only they define themselves and always will.

Robin Thicke Blurring Lines Once Again – Everything You Didn’t Miss

 If Blurred Lines wasn’t enough to sicken every woman’s heart, Robin Thicke is back with his second album, ‘Paula’, which focuses entirely on his efforts to win back his estranged wife, Paula Patton.  Now, this doesn’t seem that bad, however his lead single ‘Get Her Back’ is replete with Robin Thicke’s bloody face, a drowning woman, and on screen messages that escalate in intensity from apologetic to downright threatening.

 Robin Thicke’s idea of romance is unfortunately not lost on this generation, which often idealizes obsessive tendencies as a sign of ‘true love’. Sitcoms, movies, and of course, popular culture continue to hint, sometimes subtly or sometimes piercingly, at these romanticized notions of love. There is a stark contrast between popular media that fantasizes this notion and that which rejects it. However, this huge divide often gives the impression that these two notions are independent of each other, that their distinction lies in the context, when in reality these notorious concepts coexist in the same situations, only in varying degrees.

 Little is known of Robin Thicke’s and Paula Patton’s relationship beside the fact that they were high school sweethearts who married in 2005. The speculative aspects of the internet are brimming with giddy, excited gossip that Thicke’s alleged affair was the key factor in the separation.

During his Washington D.C tour this year, Thicke dedicated his 2007 single to Paula, saying “For y’all that don’t know me and my wife separated, but I’m trying to get my girl back. When you find someone that loves you… Don’t give up on that love!” Though the message was a sweet gesture, it also brought everyone’s attention to his desperate public attempts to pressurize his ex wife to get back with him.

 His latest album- the aforementioned ‘Paula’- attempts to do the same. The messages shown in Get Her Back are rumored to be real conversations between the couple, and there is a loud scene in the video in which he’s pointing a finger gun at his temple. This video echoes the terrible truth that lies within our society: that men being obsessive is simply a form of persuasion.  This further highlights the discrepancy in the awareness of the concepts of ‘pursuing’ and ‘stalking’.

 The video ends with Thicke disappearing in to the light and a message bubble saying this is just the beginning.  How the album will fare is yet to be seen- however, the concept is one that needs desperate attention, and of course elimination.