Thursday, February 28, 2013

Women in Media & Movies

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Through this blog post, I shall try to represent the role women play in the media and the movies. I shall examine the topic from two viewpoints – one is the portrayal of a woman in the movies & the media and the other is the participation of women in both these fields.

Let us begin with a field which interests us most – Movies. Most of us have grown up watching movies and still enjoy watching them immensely. They say one can lose oneself at the movies and one can also find oneself. It is said that movies have a tremendous impact on our thinking and our perception, though it be unconsciously. Walt Disney said, “Movies can and do have tremendous influence in shaping young lives in the realm of entertainment towards the ideals and objectives of normal adulthood.”

The way women have been portrayed in the movies has changed over the years, especially in India. Previously, there were not many women-centric roles or movies and the heroines were forced to play second fiddle to the hero. They were supposed to be pretty and mouth a few lines of dialogue but beyond that nothing much was expected from them. One can count on one’s hand the number of movies in which a woman could have been said to have made an impact. Arth, Aandhi and Mother India are some of the movies which come to mind.

However, this has changed in recent times. Women are being portrayed as strong and intelligent and quite a few movies have been made where the woman plays a central role. Films like Kahaani, Saat Khoon Maaf, No One Killed Jessica, Fashion etc. have brought to the fore the strength of a woman actor – they were able to carry the entire movie on their shoulders. There will hopefully be a situation where the heroine-oriented movies would be as many as, if not more, than the hero-oriented movies.

In comparison, Hollywood has been churning out plenty of movies where women have a central role with no assistance whatsoever from the hero. They have had movies like Stepmom, Kill Bill, Charlie’s Angels, etc. where women display their prowess in roles ranging from melodrama to action. We definitely need to learn from them!

As far as the participation of women in movies goes, the emancipation of women has definitely aided this. More and more women writers and directors are now entering the realm of movie-making and are not afraid to take risks and make movies. Thus, we are seeing a whole bunch of movies made from the viewpoint of the women wherein the sensitivity and the inherent nurturing aspect of the woman comes to the fore. Recently, names like Juhi Chaturvedi, Gauri Shinde, Zoya Akhtar, Reema Kagti come to mind.

Let us now move onto media. The current boom in the media industry has given rise to several different television channels and many newspapers. Women have been making their mark in this industry as well right from being correspondents to editors to anchors on channels doling out information on general news to indulging in business discussions and expressing their opinions on sports channels. Anchors like Sonia Singh, Shireen Bhan, Menaka Doshi, etc. have made an impact in the field of television.

Needless to say, the opening up of the media has given women immense opportunities. This had led to women reading up on a lot of things, keeping themselves updated and abreast of the recent happenings and discussing current affairs with the who’s who of politics, business, media and sports.

However, the portrayal of women in media is not very encouraging. A lot of advertisers portray women in a negative light – often showing them as objects of desire. Open any newspaper these days and one is subjected to several articles/advertisements showing women in a semi-clad state. This is not respectful to women and needs to be avoided. Advertisers along with the media representatives need to frame policies to address this.

To sum up, as Yves Saint-Laurent, the French fashion designer put it, “Over the years I have learned that what is important in a dress is the woman who is wearing it."

This post has been written for Blog Contest

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

IndiBlogger Meet – An Afternoon of Conversations, Music and Food

I recently had an opportunity to attend an IndiBlogger meet ( It was organized by IndiBlogger  in association with HP and Otto Infinito ( to launch HP’s Connected Music together with Universal Music and Hungama. This was my second blogger meet; having attended the Stayfree Women for Change meet earlier.

The place chosen was beautiful, one has to visit Otto Infinito at BKC to experience it. They have a huge setting outside and an equally huge setting inside. Since it is a Mediterranean restaurant, it has been done up in white and blue colours, reflecting the colours of that region.

After our registration, we were all seated around several tables. Anoop Johnson then started the session. They gave us chart papers and sketch pens and asked us to go around introducing ourselves to each other. It was a mad scramble as people rushed to each other to ensure maximum autographs on their charts. The IndiBlogger team kept distributing headphones in between to keep up the tempo. Headphones were distributed for women with dupattas, guys with headgear and people with the maximum signatures on their charts :)

Then Ranvijit Singh, CMO, HP India, took us through the Connected Music. ( He explained the concept of availability of several genres of music and the ease with which one could search based on a song, an artist or lyrics. One could also give their feedback on the available or not available music options. Also present at the venue were Neeraj Roy, MD & CEO of Hungama and Vinit Thakkar, Digital Head of Universal Music.

Otto kept serving us delicious starters and juices during the event. Their square-shaped thin crust pizza was the highlight. :) 

Next it was the turn of Conroy Saldanha, Otto’s GM and Chef Azaad to take us through their concept of the restaurant and its offerings. Chef explained that it was an all-day dining restaurant with lots of different options for people to try out.

Then it was time for food. Yummy! There was tortellini pasta mixed with beetroot juice and spinach juice giving it a nice red and green colour respectively. There were also mixed vegetable skewers. We really enjoyed the food given that there was a lovely breeze blowing that day.

At the meet, I had the opportunity to meet and catch up with some really lovely bloggers – people who blog about Mumbai, food, fashion, technology, Navi Mumbai, etc.

I also won myself a brunch voucher at Otto for knowing what “Otto Infinito” means. Yippee! For the uninitiated, it means, eight to the power of infinity and stands for the cuisine of the eight major Mediterranean countries (France, Italy, Lebanon, Tunisia, Spain, Greece, Turkey and Morocco).

Finally, to round off the event, we got together in groups based on our music preference and actually sang! Our group was Bollywood numbers and we kept howling, “Tera, tera, tera” – the famous Himesh number. We sang three songs – Fevicol, Munni and Sheila and won each of us headphones. You can imagine how well we sung :)

The event might have come to an end. But the memories will not. And the bonds I forged that day definitely will not. I look forward to interacting with the bloggers again. And I definitely look forward to visiting Otto Infinito once again, at a leisurely pace – to enjoy the desserts, this time around. Thanks IndiBlogger for organizing an afternoon full of animated conversations, good music and tasty food!!!

Book Review: Chanakya’s New Manifesto

This is the first non-fiction book that I am reviewing as a part of the BlogAdda Book Reviews Program. And this book could not have come at a better time. With the entire nation up in arms against a host of issues including corruption, safety of women, prospects for growth, etc., Pavan K. Varma’s Chanakya’s New Manifesto proposes a comprehensive blueprint for change.

As the name of the book suggests, the author has tried to present solutions for the problems which currently plague the nation from Chanakya’s viewpoint, i.e. what would Chanakya do if he were alive today. Chanakya, as we all know, was a great thinker known for his extraordinary ability to devise strategies. As Varma points out in the book, Chanakya had a clear sense of vision, a clear understanding of human behaviour and an ability to analyze complex systems. He also had the courage to work towards what he believed was right.

The author has identified five problem areas which he believes are the reason the mess we are in currently. These are detailed below:

1. Governance: The importance of governance cannot be over-stated. The author suggests identifying the root cause of our poor record on governance and suggests certain ideas including tweaking the current democratic system, having a lock-in period free of political instability, setting up of a Governance Appraisal Panel, etc.

2. Democracy: India is the world’s largest democracy which comes with its own set of challenges. More and more people are perceiving politics as a crooked business which has marred the concept of democracy. To remedy the same, Varma suggests a comprehensive Electoral Reform Bill for changes in our democractic system. He also suggests making political parties’ audited accounts public every year.

3. Corruption: The author makes an interesting observation about Indians finding no contradiction between corruption in their personal lives and condemning it in public. Corruption is often encouraged by the functioning of our public systems. The author suggests the implementation of a Right to Public Services (RTPS) Act immediately. Currently, two states – Madhya Pradesh and Bihar – have implemented some of the provisions of the Act and benefited immensely.

4. Security: India has had to face threats and attacks from several corners, including bomb blasts in different locations at varying points of time. The weak Centre and our approach towards security can be partly blamed for the same. Varma compares our policies with those of other nations including the United States. He wishes that the MEA should be headed by a young, dynamic minister who can resuscitate the organization, among others.

5. Creation of Inclusive Society: The author mentions an important fact which is India is not a caring society. The privileged do not care about the poor; political parties only remember them when during their electoral calculations. The author stresses on the need for Aadhar and a National Mission on Agriculture.

The suggestions proposed by Varma are constructive and well within the corners of the Consitution. The key is to go through each of the suggestions, debate and modify them, if necessary and take India forward. We should believe, as the author does, that if India triumps, so will we all. If we are more ethical in our conduct, all of us will lead a happier life.

The author’s writing style is free flowing and easy to read. Along with the problem and the suggestions, the author has also done a comparative analysis with other nations. The author also mentions a series of data compiled from different sources to highlight the problems at hand. The book made interesting reading because of the various suggestions put forward by the author to deal with the five problems. The in-depth analysis is noteworthy.

This review is a part of the biggest Book Reviews Program. for Indian Bloggers. Participate now to get free books!