Hot Gas

Music,Musings et al

Month: August, 2011

The Sneer of Elitism

Over the past couple of days as the India against Corruption Movement has picked up steam in various parts of the country, I have noticed a very distressing trend over various online fora and social networking platforms. There seems to be a distinct wave of anti-Anna Hazare criticism coming to surface, more clearly than ever. I do not have a problem with this per se. I would probably be one of the first to discard Anna, if not for his juvenile antics and recalcitrant behavior (The government though takes half the blame for this) but for the damage he has done to the anti-corruption movement. But my focus is not Anna. My problem rather is with the apparent elitism with which this anti-Anna movement (Considering how loosely this term is used, the word movement can be applied here also) has been operating. Let us examine their criticism and unravel the hypocrisy of it.

The accusation/criticism is about how the people/masses are being misled by Team Anna which is projecting the Jan Lokpal Bill as being a panacea for corruption, if implemented. This seems to be fair. But I have a problem with how this criticism is being sustained through examples. The usual example involves a common man who does not know anything about the provisions of the Lokpal Bill but has come out on to the streets to join the protest of Anna Hazare nevertheless. This common man who has in the last one year seen the 2G Scam, the Commonwealth Games scam, the Adarsh Society scam, the Reddy brothers’ mining scam etcetera is usually the point of ridicule for being naïve enough to join a protest he does not know anything about. He is also accused by the government of Rajas, Kanimozhis, Kapil Sibals, Digvijaya Singhs, Manish Tiwaris and Manmohan Singhs (Who as the Prime Minister with most integrity and honesty in independent India has quite paradoxically run the most corrupt regime in independent India. The same Manmohan Singh was brazen enough to say that scams were compulsions of coalition politics!) for bringing the country to a standstill. He, the common man, is derided for not being able to articulate properly the provisions of the draft Jan Lokpal Bill he is shouting slogans for. I am not sure how many people sitting in ivory towers have actually read it. But that is not the point. If all this exercise was to have a decidedly cruel snigger at the expense of a modest common man who toils for the same country he is right now holding to ransom, even then I am fine with it. Or maybe not because I have a conscience and maybe because I understand that the spate of scams have finally gotten to a generally apathetic and indifferent (towards petty corruption) populace. Perhaps I am in a better position to empathize with the plight of a common man because I am one of them and stood entire days in the sun to get a certificate or a driving license just because I did not bribe the authorities. Maybe, just maybe the people are vexed and tired at the unending, unconscionable usurpation of taxpayers’ money. Maybe just maybe, this is legitimate angst at having to pay graft to get a driver’s license (also learners license) or a passport or a gas connection or a kilogram of sugar from the ration shop or a birth certificate and even a death certificate….Maybe a Lokpal will actually lead to better, cleaner governance. Maybe it is not a favour to Anna Hazare that all these people are doing. They are doing a favour to themselves. Maybe we should identify with the cause rather than Anna Hazare (Afterall we are more intelligent than the common man who we sneer at for mixing up issues, aren’t we?) to push the curiously intractable government into tabling a Lokpal bill (Kindly note that I’m not talking of a Jan Lokpal Bill. Just a proper, workable Lokpal Bill. This is about the cause of anti-corruption and Lokpal is just one of the issues. It can also include for example the Judicial Standards and Accountability Bill.). Let us then leave it to the beauty and horrors of representative democracy (And give an opportunity to the UPA MPs who have been crying hoarse about how they are the legitimate representatives of the people and that only they can legislate). What can even the civil society do if the Government comes up with a good legislation? And more importantly what can the people (who anyway do not know jack about the Lokpal Bill and cannot differentiate the Anna stir from an anti-corruption movement; so how does it matter as long as some move is taken against corruption that is tangible to their everyday life.) do when the headlines in the morning’s papers say “Government tables and passes strong Lokpal Bill to tackle corruption and graft”? Chances are they will stop holding their own country to ransom.

So for god sake think before you sneer. And remember that the government is there for the people and not the other way round as some of the UPA spokespersons would want you to believe. Also don’t expect expert lawyerly articulations from the common man about a legislation.

Music Review: Dookudu (SS Thaman)

The irony is both a blog post in hotgas and the movie Dookudu have been a long time in coming.But anyway now that the audio is out all the fans have something to live on till the movie releases.So how is SS Thaman’s score for Dookudu?

Well if you have been following Thaman since Kick you won’t have any surprises.Musically it the familiar blend of hooks and trappings that marked him out in Kick, but unlike his recent endeavours like Veera and Kandireega he manages to bring in some novelty to the table.Make no mistake this is an incredibly catchy and entertaining score, completely new for a Mahesh Babu movie atleast.

The album kicks off with the splendid theme track Nee Dookudu which starts with strains of some faux-western guitar riffs.Viswa’s wordplay is mesmerising at times and is reminiscent of the Athadu theme (more in spirit than otherwise) while Shankar Mahadevan nails it with his powerful vocals.It is good to see him sing these peppy hero worship songs once in a while to break the monotony of the staple inspirational songs he usually sings when SEL compose.Guruvaram is the best song of the lot;Gorgeous melody with good vocals although a little lousy when it comes to the lyrics – Too platitudinal for comfort (Somewhat like those Kulasekhar lyrics in those Uday Kiran movies). Also a word on the chorus (in the pallavi) portions;They are superb and take this song to an entirely different level.Chulbuli has an uninspiring tune and even apes Kilimanjaro at times rhythm wise.The soundtrack is back on track with the smashingly retro’ish (There’s even an RD Burman reference) Poovai Poovai sung heartily by Ramya.It reminded me of one of those Jayamalini item songs with kaleidoscopic sets and strobe lights, probably because of the overtly masculine (evoking Ellareshwari) female vocals and the pompous orchestra.I think the most innovation in song writing is not surprisingly happening in the item song writing space and Rama Jogaiah Sastry is in his element here.Dethadi is mighty catchy,especially the Itu Raaye hook,although Thaman’s been there done that music-wise.The album is rounded off by the mediocre Adara Adara, a family celebration song with a lot of banter going on.

Overall, Thaman comes up with a snazzy score for Dookudu with a couple of memorable songs thrown in.

My Picks: Guruvaram, Poovai Poovai, Nee Dookudu

A Renewed Wish to Soar

Don’t bother about the bad(maybe curious) title this post has.It was haphazardly conjured because the software refused to post something without a title.I doubt if it was actually judging me but anyway…My old readers must be befuddled to see a new post on this long archaic blog.Detractors who were happy that it was fast sinking into that abyss populated by innumerable dead blogs would surely be mortified to see this.If not they will be in the next couple of days! Because this post like a tendril(maybe the phoenix analogy would be better but anyway) peeking out of dead wood this post is a precursor to activity and life on this blog that will ideally contain some reviews,some rants and some ruminations.

A lot has changed over the last one year.Your blogger,for instance,has lost 15 kilograms of weight not out of the modern day compulsions and pressures to stay fit but as a result of eminently inedible mess food served on campus.So much so that he lives in the constant fear of being ridiculed by parents and relatives for resembling an impoverished Somalian child than a healthily obese Indian child.The same blogger has developed a taste for cinema as well, that was till a year back latent.This can be attributed to anything between staying in a hostel(and not at home and hence not being prone to unconscionable restrictions on movie watching time!), having great movie buffs as friends(and they luckily having external hard disks full of movies) to something as innocuous as having a decent internet connection and a torrent client.All in all movie watching has been an enriching experience.So expect posts on movies as well.Time permitting I have also been reading books, some really eclectic ones at that (Currently reading A Suitable Boy,Battleground Telangana,Sea of Poppies and Live & Let Die). So I might end up writing something about books probably.By all means the music reviews shall still continue and perhaps will be the staple but there might be movies,books and rants in the mix too.That way I should pat myself for being prescient enough to have a tagline like Music,Musings et al!

It has been tough to post the entire last year owing greatly to my own insurmountable laziness and partly because of getting accustomed to a life away from home.But since things appear to have settled and since I am willing to sacrifice a couple of hours every week there is no reason why this blog should not be up and running.In fact I cherish the whole period of roughly two years for which I blogged.It was an exciting prospect to publish my own thoughts about music and remains so.The response was quite frankly flattering and some of the discussions wonderful.The indignance of Himesh Reshammiya fans was particularly fascinating(See the Radio music review for more.Readers should note that some of the more pejorative of the comments were removed because they attacked this hopeless blogger and at times his hapless relatives and family members too).I doubt if I will manage to reach out to all the old readers as my break in habit might have resulted in their change of habit.But I hope to find new readers too who will no doubt make this as enriching an experience for me.I can’t promise regular posts due to erratic schedules but the aim would be for consistency and longevity this time.Posts might be shorter due to this.I suggest people to follow me on twitter (@msrikantt) as I would also send out alerts about new posts through it.

So on the jubilant occasion of the 65th Independence Day, I hope to make a fresh start(the theme change is symbolic of this.Do tell me if you like it or want it tweaked) and rededicate myself to this blog.Jai Hind!