Faridoon Shahryar's Blog


Sunday, January 31, 2016

Investing in Smiles

Investing in Smiles
A Poem by Faridoon Shahryar

I've lived in the dark forest
Of despair
Where the cold blooded animals
Revel in manifesting
Their ruthless temerity
To surprise you
With new ways of
Spilling blood and then
Walking away from the scene
As if nothing happened.
I started being on the lookout
For new assault,
Each day
Maybe I was getting a
Vicarious pleasure,
Somehow I became
A part of the violence
Painting a smudged picture
Smeared in tears.
Why don't I try
The unobvious
Peddling hope
In the heart lamps
Low on fuel;
Why shouldn't I
Try to invest in smiles
After all
We are sum total of our Surroundings;
Laughter may
Beget more laughter
Grass is greener
On the side of happiness
Let's stop proving a point
Let's start a new way
As we welcome a new day
Let me try and change
My Path
No it's not an escape
Maybe it's the way to
Retain hope
That yes
Life goes on
And so should we....


Sunday, December 27, 2015

Open Letter To Shah Rukh Khan: "Please don't give up"

Open Letter to Shah Rukh Khan: "Please don't give up. Your silence is a big loss for the world"
I get emails from many people from all across the world. Many want me to send their messages or gifts to their favourite stars. I don't respond to such emails as I am a Journalist, not a messenger. Some mails touch me deeply. The mail that I've received today from Bahar Rashidian from Tehran, Iran, a 28 year old Computer Engineer has deeply moved me. We've heard about Iranian love for movies. I had a first hand experience of it today as Bahar seems to have a deep understanding of movies. So in this post, you can read Bahar's email to me and then her Open Letter to Mr Shah Rukh Khan

Dear Mr.Shahryar
Sometime it is strange how people get their first impression from each other. The first time I got to see you were through your interview with Katrina Kaif for movie New York. I was in college and one of my friend gave me DVD with movie and the interview and she suggested to watch it and her reason to encouraging me was "believe me Bahar it doesn't have even one of that stupid dancing and singing, it is realistic move"( she didn't and doesn't know that sometimes watching that dancing and singing is my guilty pleasure)  for some reasons in urban society of Iran watching Hindi movies isn't something you can be proud of.
the first thing that I notice about you was your name at first I thought you were Iranian because فریدون is Persian name as well as شهریار your first name with this spelling Freydun is the name of an Iranian mythical king and hero but there was something else about you interview . I am from very filmi family I have watched movies from all over the world since I was six so I think I know one or two things about the cinema.
You have talked with all of the these superstars from your country but you are always so honest, normal and humble without being either star-struck or rude and aggressive like many other journalist that I see even in my country and I respect you a lot because of these qualities but these aren't reason I decided to write you a letter.
I have never been a person who would be fascinated by actor so much to read most of their interview and following their film (there is only two exceptions James Dean & Leonardo DiCaprio) but I have to confess there is something fascinating about Mr.Shahrukh Khan as an actor and an individual. (I will explain this in my letter)
I have these hobbit to check entertainments website once or twice a week so I knew that there is movie with Mr.Khan & Kajol but a few weeks ago I saw article about intolerance in India in yahoo maktob and I was curious so I checked few web sites and I was shocked but living in Iran I'm using to be in shocked and life is go on until the movie was released and oh my god. I can believe the commend I read on the sites or reactions but the worst one was one of the Mr.Khan interview I watched on YouTube ( his interviews have always been my favorite not just because he has unique sense of humor or witty answers but because there are a lot to learn this inspiring man when he speaks)he said he is sad and heartbroken but he decided to not talk about ant thing more than his work not because he is afraid because he did not see reason to clarified his love for his country to some people who even did not read his interview but the sad part for me as his fan was the part he said his silent bothers him because in all of these years he learned and experienced so much that he wanted to share with everyone but now that anything that he says misinterpreted he prefer to just do his work
If even one week ago someone told me you would write an email for some reporter about Mr.Khan, I would laugh so hard and probably called him crazy but sometime you think you have to do something even it doesn't reach to any place.
So I am here seating in my room in Tehran after reading so much about your country which is one of my favorite place in the world with magical aura and asking you that if somehow you can reach my story somehow to Mr.Shahrukh Khan(a letter attached to this email ) but I completely understand if you can't or if you won't; there are probably millions emails or letters just like this but for me this is just once and this is something I have never done and probably never do but I trust you to do the best because in all these chaos you were the only reporter who were brave to stand by truth.
P.S.I have not watch Dilwale for obvious reason (in Iran we can't watch these movie in theater) so I don't know it is good or bad or average as movie but this is not about movie
P.P.S I am 28 girl and computer engineer (in case you want to know which kind of person writing this email to you)
Best Regards
Bahar Rashidian
  
OPEN LETTER TO SHAH RUKH KHAN
By Bahar Rashidian
Dear MrKhan
I know there are more than million fans and people who send you messages and gifts and letter Oct. Honestly, I don't think that you would ever read this, but something in my guts tells me I should do it so  like to imagine that by some miracle you read this letter.
I came from family that watching movies and reading book was AT the same level of priority as having dinner mostly because of my mother who was a teacher. When I was a kid having a VHS player was against a law, but we had one and at the weekend my father rented movies from some guy who worked illegally and all the family used to gather at our house. My favorite ones were westerns. My first memory of Hindi movie was one that even now I can't forget it was about a beautiful girl in a village whom a half of her face was burn she used to sit beside a lake and one day a wealthy and handsome boy from the city saw her and the rest I can't remember but it was like a fairy tale. There were two more one Amar Akbar Antony and of course Sholay, I hated Sholay because my favorite hero got killed at the end and left the heroine. (For some unknown reasons, most people in Tehran known Mr. Bachchan for years as Vijay). I was about 9 years old when I first watched your movie and I remember just four things from that movie your big nose, your intense eyes, I liked you so you were my hero and you got killed as a kid, I live with my heroes including Alain Delon,James Dean,Vijay and you why all of you had to get killed. I know how silly it sounds right now.
The time passed, I was in secondary school and Iran was going through a bad phase just like now it was after the war with Iraq. There were so limitations. We had to wear only black dress and scarf for school there was not any color or music in our school or TV. One night my mom putt a movie on player for me and the magic began I watched that movie 10 times just in a week without subtitle but I was enchanted and I was happy . There were color, light, music, laugh. People could laugh and cry without fear of judgment and god I loved the dresses .The name of the movie was Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and my new hero was Kajol. I loved everything about her. It took 2 years for me to have a version with the subtitle it was the start of a new period in my life escaping from reality my real life had become so hard that as a teenager, I preferred an exaggerated fantasy and happy endings of your movies it had become a temporary healing system ,but like everything in life, it had to be finished  with me growing up I had to back to real life as a mature person although I was always missing that magic but because books and movies are inseparable parts of me I could not stop enjoying them but Bollywood was not my cup of tea any more
I started college and my now my favourate dirctot were Nolan and Fincher and Farhadi when one of my roommates gave me very respected magazine in Iran Donyaye Tasveer and I started reading and part of magazine belonged to your biography and translation of one of your interviews, I started out of curiosity and 30 minutes later I was stunned and proud to somehow know even a little about this wonderful man(maybe you think I am biased or obsessed fan but I assure I am not) and after that I was and I am a huge fan of Mr. Shahrukh Khan as an artist as an achiever and most importantly as a human. I enjoy watching most of your movies ( I confess I have not any intrested in some of your movies like Happy new year) and I am huge fan of your pairing with Kajol even if it would be your 50th film togethere just like many others in Iran I love to watch you two together and I don't even care what the movie is about ( see how cheep our taste could be) but neither of these are the purpose of this letter.
Mr Khan in Farsi Shahrukh means a man with a face of a king and it is a powerful name that suits you . During all these years as a twenty something girl more than following your movies I follow your interview or the documents which based on your life, not because I want to know about your personal life because you have so much valuable experience to share with us you are full of life and passion and love that it is beyond inspiring.I can see in your eyes that after so much achievement you are as eager as some newcomer and you are so humble and down to earth regardless of your achievement.I saw after winning so many awards if you win an award you would hold it like it is the most valuable things in the world and like it is your first time.
Sometimes it seems to me that even you don't know how much others can learn from you and I don't mean in the entertainment industry. Let me not bother you more and make it short,I live in a society with so much pressure and stress and negative atmosphere even with my closest friend and family that reaching my simplest dream is like thinking about impossible .Unfortunately,my county is so isolated and our  people are lost even my family is trapped by the daily routine of these lifestyle, but did you know some dark days that I thought I trapped in this loop what happened? I saw or read one of your interview I saw how motivated you were in start of your career and without any backup system and you were succeed, then I know that even if I have just 1% chance to reach my dream I owe it to myself to try harder for what I want and for some strange reason you feel familiar and closer to my heart rather than Bill Gates or Steve Jobes.
So imagine how much I was heartbroken and sad when I watched an interview your interviews have always been my favorite not just because you have unique sense of humor or witty answers but because there are a lot to learn  you said you are sad and heartbroken but you decided to not talk about anything more than your work not because you are afraid because you do not not see any reason to clarified your love for your country to some people who even did not read your interview but the sad part for me as your fan was the part that you said your silent bothers you because in all of these years you have learned and experienced so much that you wanted to share with everyone but now that anything that you says misinterpreted you prefer to just do his work .
I am not Indian but I believe you makes India proud by your works and and you inspire any person that there is more of you want. I am proud to know just small part of this man as a fan.
One last request please don't give up up us. Your silence is a big loss for world and Sometimes your positive energy are closer to us than negative energy of our city .you are a big role model as a human ( not that you are not great actor).
Best Regard
P.S. So sad that I cant watch Dilwale in Iran .(I missed seeing you and Kajol together and I have seen all your 6 films together )

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

"We've seen the way Aamir, Salman, SRK have been attacked": Kabir Khan

"We've seen the way Aamir, Salman and SRK have been attacked": Kabir Khan
By Faridoon Shahryar

"When Shah Rukh was talking about the issue, he didn't utter the word Pakistan. No reference to Pakistan. First thing is, Pakistan chale jao. Oh he's the same as Hafiz Saeed. What is that man talking about," said a visibly agitated Kabir Khan in a Bollywood Hungama video interview with Content Head Head Broadband Faridoon Shahryar. "A lot of talk has happened about this intolerance issue in the last two-three months with historians, filmmakers protesting, lot of people are saying there is no intolerance, but the fact is that there is intolerance," Kabir said. "Any form of dissent is being looked at as being Anti National. If you follow this line then you're being patriotic and nationalistic, otherwise you're not. It is stupid. There is a big difference between being patriotic and being jingoistic," Kabir said matter of factly. 

FS: You have said recently that you chose to take the subject of Bajrangi Bhaijaan to Salman Khan because of his secular leanings.

KK: What I was talking about is that post Ek Tha Tiger, I spent a lot of time with Salman. I realized he had strong views, opinion about certain issues, one of them being the secular fabric of India. Over the past few years, the social fabric is being stretched, tattered at places. I thought that he feels so strongly about this issue but it hasn't been articulated properly in any medium. When a superstar like Salman throws his weight behind a certain subject then the reach is very wide. You can make a small film about such issues but unfortunately it becomes preaching to the converted. You don't really reach the audience that you need to. When I took the subject of Bajrangi Bhaijaan to Salman, and he reacted so positively to it, I knew that this will be a significant film. Taking the context of what is happening in our country right now, to have Salman, a film that talks about tolerance, love across communities, bringing down artificial boundaries (not only in terms of India-Pakistan, but the borders within). What was more important for me was the border within, first half of Bajrangi deals with that, the preconceived notions (about communities), the intolerance that we are going through, that is why I was so happy that Salman was so excited that he put his weight behind it. He decided to produce it.

FS: You are talking about secularism but a few instances that we've seen in the film industry when Aamir was targeted post the release of PK just because he belongs to a particular religion. Almost immediately post the release of Bajrangi Bhaijaan, Salman was targeted when he tweeted on Yakub Memon hanging and there were ugly protests outside his house. Shah Rukh Khan recently spoke about the secular fabric of India and he was torn apart by certain groups in the most unsavory manner.  No one at the top really condemned it. Does it bother you?

KK: Absolutely! A lot of talk has happened about this intolerance issue in the last two-three months with historians, filmmakers protesting, lot of people are saying there is no intolerance, but the fact is that there is intolerance. As a normal common man of India even I'm perceiving it. I know the sort of hate mail I get, the sort of tweets I get, I know the sort of people who target me because of my Muslim identity or target my wife because she married me. To say that intolerance is not there is rubbish. It is definitely there. We've seen it in the case the way Aamir, Salman and Shah Rukh have been attacked. And not just them, across the board we are definitely seeing a certain section that is ready to pick certain issues and become pretty ugly and nasty about it. There is no attempt to control these elements. It is time that people who have certain weight in civil society they must speak up about it. I am glad people are talking about it.

FS: People like Kundan Shah and Dibakar Banerji have ben targeted for returning their national awards. A bizarre argument is being given for their action is that, "aap tab kahan the jab…".

KK: That is ridiculous which means that if you haven't spoken up then you don't speak up for the rest of your life. You speak up when you feel the need to speak up. Sometimes what happens is that a lot of things lead up to your patience being tested and then you speak up. A lot of fuss is being made about the form of protest. It is not about the person giving back the award. Let us not discuss that. Let us discuss what are they talking about! The core issue is what are they talking about? They may do it by returning awards, walking on the street, by doing interviews. The important point is what is the issue at hand? You go on a tangent when you talk about the form of protest.

FS: The Ghulam Ali concert being forcefully cancelled, Pakistani actors being asked that they can't shoot or promote their films In India. Don't you feel hatred will only breed hatred?

KK: It is completely unnecessarily. It is rhetoric. We really need to keep culture, art, and any people to people exchange away from politics. Play politics at a certain level. But the moment it starts getting into the way people exchange ideas, culture, musicians coming here, we going there, it really needs to be kept apart. Ultimately we will move forward when there will be more people to people exchange. When it comes to politics, unfortunately we will keep going at it for years and years. I think what will bring the two countries closer is that there is a lot of people to people exchange. Like in Bajrangi Bhaijaan, my whole point was that when a common man from the street of Chandni Chowk goes up to meet Chaand Navaab on the street of Pakistan, there is bound to be friendship and warmth. That is very important. Unfortunately people to people exchange between India and Pakistan becomes victim of politics between the two countries. The moment there is a terrorist attack, the entire atmosphere gets so vitiated, that nobody dares to extend the hand of friendship. It is important to make the distinction between who are the people who are carrying out acts of terror and the general public. That distinction is important. Even media at times makes it Us and Them. We can't look at a country as an amorphous mass. We are suffering here, they are suffering there. There needs to be a sense of balance.

FS: In most of your movies there is a strong sense of nationalism especially Phantom in recent times. Do you feel that today the definition of Patriotism is being distorted? If you are not adapting a certain line you are labeled as Anti National. Do you find it disturbing?

Kk: It is disturbing. Any form of dissent is being looked at as being Anti National. If you follow this line then you're being patriotic and nationalistic, otherwise you're not. It is stupid. There is a big difference between being patriotic and being jingoistic. We definitely need to be level headed, look at perspectives with an open mind. You can't be following one strict line that anyone going off this line is being anti national. We are in a Democracy. Democracy is all about debate, dissent and being able to argue our point out. The moment you argue against the government policy you can't be called an anti national. God forbid if you are having a Muslim name, then you become anti national and Pakistani. Where does Pakistan come into it! When Shah Rukh was talking about the issue, he didn't utter the word Pakistan. No reference to Pakistan. First thing is, Pakistan chale jao. Oh he's the same as Hafiz Saeed. What is that man talking about, either he's not hearing what Shah Rukh is talking about, or he doesn't know what Hafiz Saeed talks about. To make such absurd statements, and these are elected representatives of the ruling party. Two days later you can't say that they are making their own statement. 

My interview with Kabir Khan has been published on Bollywood Hungama. Here is the link:

http://www.bollywoodhungama.com/movies/features/type/view/id/9293

Monday, November 16, 2015

Zubin Mehta's 'The Score Of My Life': 200 Pages of Preciousness

Book Review:

Zubin Mehta's 'The Score Of My Life': 200 Pages of Preciousness
By Faridoon Shahryar

"I think people should try to talk to each other instead of shooting at each other," says world renowned Western Music Conductor #ZubinMehta in his auto biography #TheScoreOfMyLife. Mehta had told his life story to Renate Grafin Matuschka and it has been translated from German to English by Anu Pande (Roli Books). What I found most interesting about this book is Mehta's many encounters with extreme political situations all around the world and how he tried his best to bring peace in whatever way possible.

As an eighteen year old music lover Zubin landed in Vienna. Cold war had gripped  Europe as it was trying to recover from the catastrophic aftermath of the second world war. The bond of loyalty that Mr Mehta developed due to his various associations is something that he held very close to his heart. After becoming a Conductor of eminence, Mehta got associated with Israel Philaharmonic Orchestra.  During the Arab-Israel 6 day war in 1967, he flew into Israel against all opposition and under very intense circumstances. He organised concerts free of cost to lessen the stress of people. He repeated the gesture during the Gulf War as Saddam Husain's Scud missiles were plundering the Israeli soil. Mehta comes across as someone who has always been very neutral and has never supported anyone because of the religion they belonged to. He was born a Parsi and has a lot of pride in his roots. But that doesn't stop him from criticising the conservative nature of Parsi religion that bars an individual if he/she marries a non Parsi. Mehta laments that due to this lack of liberalism, Parsi religion may get extinct in 100 years.

Zubin candidly talks about his personal life. He was married to Carmin Lasky. They got divorced and Lasky married Mehta's brother Zarin. At no point he's critical of Lasky or the fact that she married his brother. The second marriage was with Nancy Kovack, to whom he's still happily married. Zubin admits to a child out of a casual relationship between the two marriages. He also admits to another child which was born a couple of decades ago out of a brief affair with an Israeli woman. He profusely apologised to Nancy for his 'misadventure'. The book also delves in detail about Zubin's immense regard for his father Mehli Mehta, who was a self taught Violinist and who inspired the son to develop a keen interest in music. What is most notable is that at no point of time does Mehta deride any of his close relatives. Many a times celebrities use auto biography as a perfect platform to hit back at people who let them down in anyways. Mehta is too big a Man for such cheapness.

Mehta laments that today the Art of Western Music is primarily having patrons amongst the older generation. He hopes that some serious steps will be taken to create an interest for Western Music amongst the younger generation. In fact, almost half the book is dedicated to the many Concerts that the maestro was part of, the various organisations that he got associated with, the various Orchestras he headed, their problems, how he learnt from the criticism, why he didn't take the reviews of his Concerts too seriously and how it is tough for the older generation of musicians as they hit a certain age. Somehow this part of Zubin's life story will be best appreciated by those who understand Western Music to some extent or have a keen interest in this Art form. Regular readers may not make much sense of these portions.

Zubin Mehta's #TheScoreOfMyLife makes for a wonderful read if you are inspired by Western Music. If you're not, still, this man has lived one hell of an interestingly inspiring life. Do catch hold of a copy. It is 200 pages of preciousness.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

India Has Won...Long Live..The 'Idea Of India'

Today, India has Won. Long live...the 'Idea of India'
By Faridoon Shahryar

It was an uneasy morning. As the results of Bihar assembly elections started coming in, the excitement soared. It was a clear lead for NDA. Firecrackers started bursting outside BJP office in Patna with slogans of 'Jai Sri Ram' being chanted in full bloom. Kailash Vijayvargia, the BJP leader who burst into national scene recently with his unwarranted and unsubstantiated attack on Shah Rukh Khan, congratulated Amit Shah and Narendra Modi.

Generally when the early trends give a clear lead, it means the game is over. But this Bihar election has been filled with suspense. The pre poll surveys and then the exit polls, there were no clear favourites. Suddenly the game changed and news started trickling in that Maha Gathbandhan of Nitish Kumar, Lalu Yadav and Sonia Gandhi has made a dramatic come back. A friend had earlier told me that the once the counting in rural Bihar starts, it will benefit JDU+. The news channels showed contrasting leads. Some gave a clear lead to NDA, while others gave a lead to JDU+. By 10:30 it became clear that there's only one winner and that's the Grand Alliance of JDU, RJD and Congress. It is proving to be a huge defeat for NDA with Grand Alliance cobbling in around 177 while NDA has been decimated. Nitish Kumar called it a verdict against 'Intolerance in India' and a victory for Democracy in the country. RJD is having the maximum seats in the assembly but Lalu Yadav has said that Nitish is his younger brother and that he (Lalu) won't play the super boss. Congress has made solid gains. Rahul Gandhi clearly stated that the divisive politics of BJP has been rejected by the people of Bihar.

I am thrilled with the results in Bihar elections. The vitiated and vulgar atmosphere created by the politics of religion that has been played by BJP and its parent group RSS is extremely dangerous for the secular federal structure of India. Sardar Patel had banned RSS from contesting elections after it was revealed that they were behind the murder of Mahatma Gandhi. Why is the present government giving a report card to RSS? Why is the RSS involved in assigning ministries in the center as well as the state (case in point is Culture Minister Mahesh Sharma who has made the most uncultured noises. Haryana chief minister Khattar was an unknown commodity till he became CM of Haryana only because he's a part of RSS for the last 4 decades. He statement that "If Muslims want to stay in India they will have to give up Beef" is most uncalled for and certainly not befitting chief minister of a state). The fringe-element-leaders like Yogi Adityanath (most controversial and inane statements have been made by this apology of a sadhu. Why is he not arrested for many of his acts and statements yet is a question mark), Sadhvi Prachi (looks menacing and is one of the accused in Muzaffarnagar riots. She should be behind bars not giving bytes on TV channels), Giriraj Singh (the BJP leader who's proficient at being the minister for Pakistan tourism) are a BIG question mark on Indian Democracy. Such people have shoved India into backwardness and they are constantly giving India a bad name. PM Modi conveniently stays silent (even though he's extremely talkative on social media).

The movement against Intolerance will get a big boost from this very decisive victory of secular forces in Bihar. The text books are being blatantly saffronised, wrong facts are being published, Urdu writers were removed from Rajasthan text books recently, more such cultural intolerance will follow soon. All this needs to be stopped before its too late. The progressive and liberal forces must come together and save India from being polarised. Reason must prevail. Amity must be strengthened. Equality must be celebrated. Mutual respect amongst communities has to be an organic process and for that a positive atmosphere is a must.

Today, India has won. Long live....the 'Idea of India'. Saare jahan se achcha, Hindustan hamaara!

Monday, November 2, 2015

Happy Birthday To SRK Who Deals In Unadulterated Love

Happy Birthday To SRK Who Deals In Unadulterated Love
By Faridoon Shahryar

So a long day is finally coming to an end. It was a day dedicated to #ShahRukhKhan as it is his 50th birthday. I happened to see the latest teaser of #Fan very early in the morning. My daughter Insha goes to school early morning and I check my mobile rather early in the morning. Loved the uniqueness and the mystery and the aura that's being built in Manish Sharma's film that releases in April next year.

One of the biggest fan clubs of Shah Rukh Khan, 'SRK Universe' had brought together lots of SRK fans from all across India and countries as diverse as Austria, USA, Canada, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Russia, Sudan, Belgium etc. Around 100 such fans converged at Sahara Star hotel in Mumbai today morning. I went for some time, had fun watching the proceedings as fans dressed in various characters epitomised by SRK on screen enacting their own version of it, mouthing dialogues, dancing to his songs and finally a huge cake was cut by the fans. I spoke to quite a few of them on video. It was a really interesting interaction. And a unique one too.

Shah Rukh Khan as always interacted with media this year as well on the occasion of his 50th birthday. This time around his palatial bungalow 'Mannat' was not the venue. Instead we were invited to 'Taj Lands End' hotel in Bandra. The food was excellent and there was a lot of variety. Mr Khan and his team always ensures that media is genuinely taken well care of. Most of the journalists don't want anything except being treated nicely. SRK and his team scores very highly on that front. Mr Khan chatted with journalists for a long time. He answered any and every query. He was funny, thoughtful and shared his aspirations for the future. He shall be spending the later part of the evening by spending time with his fans. Very few stars give such genuine time and appreciation to their fans. Shah Rukh Khan ranks right on top on that front. As I headed back home and my car crossed SRK's bungalow Mannat, a sea of fans was still gathered outside with placards in hands and a wish to see their favourite star one more time.

If so many people all across the world love Shah Rukh Khan, there must be something really unique in the man. He deals in Love. Genuine, unadulterated and selfless love. One can't put a price on that. It can touch your heart deep down. That's what makes him truly one of the unanimous and best ambassadors of the Idea of India. Happy Birthday Mr Khan. More power to you!!

Best Regards.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

WOWED BY RAJDEEP SARDESAI AND INSPIRED BY HARSH MANDAR

WOWED BY RAJDEEP SARDESAI AND INSPIRED BY HARSH MANDAR
By Faridoon Shahryar

1) The first session that I attended today at the #TataLiteratureFestival2015 was: Uncovering the truth in an ocean of headlines. The panel comprised of noted journalists Rajdeep Sardesai, Avirook Sen, author-journalist Lorraine Adams and it was chaired by another noted journalist Sreenivasan Jain of NDTV. It was such a brilliant session that one hour was way too short. To add to it, the session was organised at the magnificent Prithvi Theatre. The lights dimmed amongst the audience and the spotlight was on the august panel. Wow!

The discussion was on the state of journalism in India today. It was observed that as per Outlook, amongst the top 10 upcoming journalists in India most of them belonged to the print medium. So is there a saturation in the growth of the television medium? Jain said that by 6 in the evening, the reporters are done for the day and then the 'Opinion' takes over on news channels. Noisy debates take place raising the collective decibel level of the country. Sardesai observed that the rhetoric and war mongering in the news rooms become so much at times that it can actually escalate into a war. The lust for TRPs is pushing the country to war, which is bizarre. As Mr Sardesai spoke and spoke a bit more, the ex Washington Post journalist Lorraine observed that, "This guy is the most entertaining amongst all of us." Lorraine on her part brought in some funny moments when she expressed her unequivocal disdain for Republican contender in the forthcoming US elections Donald Trump.

Rajdeep Sardesai laid emphasis on how the future belongs to the digital world, how the online news will rule the roost. Sreenivasan Jain gave an example of how #Guardian went digital before their competitors and how they ended up earning humongous money without compromising on the basic principles of journalism.

2) The second session that I attended today was: Rising inequalities and prejudices in New India. Panelists were Social Worker and Writer Harsh Mander, Political Scientist Prerna Singh and it was chaired by senior Journalist with #TheHindu Kalpana Sharma

I had read Mr Mandar's columns on secular thought and I have always found it very intriguing. That was the reason for me to attend this session. It was an enriching experience. Mr Mandar gave instances of homeless little girls being raped, the callous disregard for riot victims and the rooted inequalities in #India and the world in general. He espoused Empathy as an important tool that can make the world more tolerant. Prerna Singh made some pertinent points when she spoke about the egalitarian society of #Kerala and how various communities naturally coexisted. It was a wonderful session.

I purchased Mr Mandar's latest book #LookingAway ...which is on 'Inequality, Prejudice and Indifference in New India' and got it autographed. For a few minutes that I spent with him, I could feel an immense warmth and compassion. Can't wait to read the book. A Sunday well spent!