IndiBlogger - The Indian Blogger Community Vilakudy Days: September 2005

Vilakudy Days

Monday, September 26, 2005


You can take Indians out of India. But you can’t take India out of Indians.
It is not just a heart-on-the-sleeve slogan. Most of the Indians really mean it. A recent survey by the BBC World Service and Gallup International commissioned to take views of more than 50,000 people in 68 countries found that a significant 34 per cent of Indians identified themselves as Indians. Most of the Indians said it was the defining point of their identity and that Indianness was most important to them. Only 8 per cent of Pakistanis said they identified themselves as Pakistanis. While a mere 19 percent in India said religion was their main identity maker, an astonishing 59 percent of Pakistanis said religion was their most important identity.
For India as a nation, it could perhaps be one of the most defining moments as well. Over the years, the idea of India has evolved itself.
Literally, India was born in darkness. At the stroke of midnight hour when the world was sleeping, India woke up to freedom. The West greeted an inchoate democracy with distrust by predicting a catastrophic future for India. No country with such an amorphous mass, an alarming growth rate and often under threat of succession could remain as a single unit. Instead, it handed out a carte blanche to a homogenous Pakistan. Things went the other way. Pakistan and several post-colonial Third World countries were plunged into crisis after crisis. Drowning the incipient doomy theories in the Indian Ocean, India sailed ahead.
Fifty-eight years later, the West learnt that India has indeed arrived on the world stage. Introducing Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to his wife, President Bush in New York said, “He is the Prime Minister of the world's largest democracy in which there are 150 million Muslims. Not one of them has joined al-Qaeda.’’
As often said, it is not just cricket and Bollywod that bind India. More than that, it is the idea of India that binds us as a nation. To paraphrase Suketu Mehta’s Maximum City, “101 out of 100 in India are cheaters. Still my India is the best.”

Rajaneesh Vilakudy

Sunday, September 25, 2005


Friends in need are friends indeed. Harbhajan should know. That is probably why the outspoken Sardar, who was groomed by his Dada, has spoken again. Unlike some of his colleagues, whom Ganguly has plucked from nowhere and nurtured, Harbahajan returned his gratitude. That too when Ganguly was going through his worst-ever crisis period. There are plenty of others, whom Dada has groomed from boys to grown-up men. But when they grew up, they had their own ambitions. Take Mohd Kaif.
Ganguly never dropped Kaif despite being failed for so many occasions after the Natwest win. Dada was his biggest supporter whenever in need. Ideally, he should have been the first one to come out in support. Instead, somebody who has gratitude did. More and more will speak out sooner or later. Because it is due. Chappels will come and go. Gangulys have to stay. Not for a South Indian lobby or for a Bombay lobby. For India. —RAJANEESH

Embattled skipper Sourav Ganguly on Sunday found support in off-spinner Harbhajan Singh who credited him for the success of the team and accused coach Greg Chappell of creating "fear and insecurity" among the players.
The first player to speak on the controversy which has engulfed Indian cricket, Harbhajan slammed the "double standards" of Chappell while hoping that the entire issue is resolved at the earliest.
"Whenever any controversy surrounds the team, the performance is adversely affected. It will be good for the team if the controversy is immediately resolved so that every player can concentrate on his game instead of getting mental tension," the off-spinner said.
Asked about Chappell's charge that Ganguly was not physically or mentally fit to be in the team, Harbhajan said it may be the coach's own observation but as far as he was concerned, Ganguly has been an excellent captain, which was evident from his match winning record.
Harbhajan also rubbished the allegation that Ganguly was interested only in captaincy and creating differences among team members.
"I have played for almost five years under the captaincy of Ganguly and never felt like that. In fact, he takes personal interest to boost each and every player during practice as well as during a match.
"Ganguly has rebuilt this team and whatever the team has achieved so far, credit goes to the captain."
Harbhajan said there was "fear and insecurity" among the players as they were apprehensive about airing their personal views or suggestions even in the dressing room.
"(The coach's conduct) can create fear among players over asking any suggestion on his weakness from the coach, who may take it as a complaint against him to the Board."
He also said Chappell's apparent patch-up with Ganguly on one hand and shooting off a letter to the Board complaining about the skipper on the other, reeked of "double standards".
"Not only me but no other player was aware of Chappell complaining against Sourav. We were all shocked to know about the issue after landing in India.
"After the controversy over Chappell's reported suggestion to Sourav to step down from captaincy, everything seemed normal as Chappell himself had said the controversy is over and now everyone should concentrate on the game," he said, adding, "I don't know what prompted Chappell to send an e-mail to the Board against the captain".
"As far as I am concerned, as a senior member of the team, I will reveal the truth if the Board asks for the same. I have lot to reveal about the Zimbabwe tour but I will do so only at the appropriate time and at an appropriate level."
Harbhajan said that he had come to know from his friends that Chappell had accused him of underperforming deliberately under Rahul Dravid's captaincy during the Sri Lanka tour.
"Chappell's remarks were an attempt to create a rift between me and Dravid, for whom I have great regards. His (Chappell's) remarks made me tensed.
"It affected my performance in Zimbabwe tour as well. I could not concentrate on my game due to immense pressure that if I commit any mistake, the coach will definitely make it an issue against me," Harbhajan said adding that even now he could not come out of the mental trauma caused by Chappell's remark.
"I am unhappy and disturbed because I am the kind of person who would die rather than deliberately not play well as cricket is not just a game for me. It is like worship."
Harbhajan was also skeptical about the coach's observations on the attitude of some of the players saying everything could not go wrong suddenly and attitudes of players also could not change overnight.
He said the hype over the rumblings in the team was "disgusting" but "as far players are concerned, they are all united and looking forward to prove their mettle in the World Cup 2007.
On suggestions in a section of the press that he had some differences with Anil Kumble, Harbhajan said "Kumble is a very good friend of mine and I know him for the last eight years. There were attempts to create differences between us but we are both mature enough to understand all this.
"Kumble is a player who has always supported me as his younger brother and I have great regards for him. Where is the possibility of having any differences with him?"
Asked to compare former coach John Wright and Chappell, he said in a lighter vein, "anybody can judge it from the on-going controversies".

Monday, September 19, 2005


The Guardian, one of the most respected and largest selling dailies in the world, has gone for a make-over. Probably, the market realities forced the paper to abandon the broadsheet – the very symbol of a mainstream respected paper.
The make-over from a broadsheet to mid size or what it is called as Berliner edition, is an attempt to recapture the diminishing circulation of the paper. In the process, this blogger believes, Guardian has thrown up many questions. Is this really the beginning of the end of broadsheet? Its editor declared on the eve of the new-look paper’s launch that the concept of broadsheet was dead. What does that mean? If the Guardian decides to abandon its format, does that mean it is the end of such a format? Guardian, let there be no doubt, is one of the best papers in the world. But that never does mean the format which it has been following is wrong or dead.
The decision follows a change in format of The Times and Independent. And despite its brilliance, other papers have eaten into its circulation and the gap has come down to as close as 77,000. Maybe, it has no choice but to follow the market rule. It would have been nice had it remained the same and recaptured the market and reinvented itself. YET, that doesn’t take the credit away from the new product. It is nice to hold, difficult to put down. The tabloid edition, euphemistically called compact, will be a hit with the young generation, in particular. The sports pages are sporting in a five-column grid. The world may soon follow the Guardian experiment, which has already been a rage in Europe. The Guardian effect may have its ripples in India. Some of the top newspaper editors in the country are self-confessed fans of the paper. It deserves every bit of the recognition and fan-following. That makes Guardian the Guardian. But as a serious newspaper reader, I sincerely hope the change will not have any effect on its content. Then Guardian will be the master of words again.
rajaneesh vilakudy


I'm pleasantly surprised by the amount of column inches and airtime a redesign of a national is getting. Not only do we see a change to full colour, but an entirely new format for British Newspapers and a entirely new grid system design and typeface. Pretty much everything then.
There are several things which will upset people straight off with this new design. First of all is the Masthead.
The Masthead
The original Guardian Masthead, designed by David Hillman in the 80's, clearly communicated the paper's 'brand'. Elegant Garamond mixed with with a hard, emotionless Helvetica. Traditional broadsheet values with left-wing modern thought. You knew what you were getting yourself into (which is why I don't generally read the Guardian).
The new Masthead still retains the visual separation of the 'the', although only in tone this time. It's set in the new Guardian typeface, the rather unimaginitive named 'Guardian Egyptian', which I feel brands the paper as more middle of the road. There certainly is less distinction now with other mastheads such as the Independent or The Times.
The Colour
Not much to say on this really. The paper is now full colour, which is great and will hopefully see an improvement in the photography as a result. In fact, in the centre spread of this mornings edition, there is a full colour spread of just one photograph which does look fantastic.
The Typeface

Up until yesterday The Guardian used a mix of three typefaces - Helvetica, Garamond and Miller. Today, the paper uses just one - the newly designed Guardian Egyptian.
I think I'm a bit sad to see Hillman's inspirational typographic design go. I'm not the biggest fan of the paper in terms of content, but the design was always fantatsic. Really great typographic design. The new typeface is ok, although some of the letterforms in the lighter weights bug me, such as the lowercase c (there's a strange bulging going on). The heavier weights however look really good. Clearly legible at very small size and obviously designed to take into account the poop paper quality and a certain amount of bleed from the ink. A sharp looking serif, modern and very legible.
Overall, I like it.
The Size
Now this is the thing which is causing the biggest upset. For many years The Guardian was a broadsheet. Now if you talk to a broadsheet paper journalsit they often get a strange look in their eyes when discussing this paper format. The Broadsheet is steeped in history, and I for one hope it doesn't go away entirely. But. Broadsheet papers are a pain to read, wherever you are. Even on the couch.
Over the past few years a few of the broadsheets in the UK, most famously The Times, have moved to a tabloid format for the daily (the Sunday paper is still Broadsheet) and as a result has seen their circulations rise whilst the Broadsheet papers (The Telegraph and The Guardian) has seen their circulation fall.
So, the Guardian has decided to go smaller, but not Tabloid. They've decided to use the Berliner, or Midi, format. The format is about as wide as a Tabloid, but taller. I think one of the major reasons for this was to set The Guardian apart from the competition, to give it a different feel (possibly to distract from the watered down redesign). Also, I feel this gives The Guardian a more European feel as there are a few papers on the continent which use this format (Le Monde in France and La Repubblica in Italy).
The Grid
With a new size, comes a new grid. The Guardian sports a clear 5 column grid which is certainly a lot clearer than the old broadsheet grid. The column measure is slightly wider, which lets the new typeface breath a little. I feel the majority of broadsheet column measures are just too thin, this new design seems just about right.
Overall Impressions
A little watered down design wise, certainly not as distinctive as before. Great to see full colur. Like the new size although it's a shame that we see another broadsheet disappear.

Mark Boulton is an award-winning typographic designer based in Cardiff, UK. He reviews the new-look Guardian.



The Guardian newspaper has relaunched with a new size and a new look, becoming the first national paper to print in a mid-size format.
The size, part way between a tabloid and a broadsheet, is known as the Berliner, and is used by many papers in continental Europe. The redesign also sees every page being printed in colour. The relaunch aims to win back readers who moved to the Independent and Times when they changed to tabloid format. Both papers began printing in a tabloid format in 2003, and eventually abandoned broadsheet editions altogether.
Radical change
Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger said Monday's change, which also includes a new masthead and typeface, was a "radical one". "The change from broadsheet to the so-called Berliner format has led to a thorough re-evaluation of most of the things we do, both editorially and commercially," he said. "No newspaper ever stands still. But this change is, by any standards, a radical one.""The challenge for us was to remain true to our journalism, now attracting a record worldwide audience online, while at the same time finding a modern print format for a new generation of readers in this country. "We believe we've found it with the Berliner format, which combines the portability of a tabloid with the sensibility of a broadsheet." The relaunch has taken 18 months of preparation at an estimated cost of £80m. The company has bought three 44m (144ft) German printing presses to print in the new size.

Friday, September 09, 2005



By Vilakudy

When first-time director Blessey was filming Kazcha in the verdant backwaters of Alappuzha, he was actually swimming against the tide. The Malayalam film industry was then blindly aping its counterparts in the neighbouring states. But thanks to Kazcha, which tells the story of an orphaned boy’s encounter with a village cinema projector, the tide has turned in good cinema’s favour. Released in August, Kazcha has won rave reviews and is a runaway hit, thanks mainly to its star Mammooty. “Mammukka’s (as Mammooty is fondly called) positive reaction to the script gave me confidence. Not only did he agree to act, but he also wanted me to write the script,” says Blessey. And after many years, the Malayalees have taken a movie into their hearts. “Yes. That was exactly what I wanted. To bring back the family audience to theatres. Bring back the discerning audience.” Blessey was assistant to an array of directors for 16 long years before he himself became one. He says, “My apprenticeship under the late Padmarajan (a rage in Kerala, remembered for his screenplays) was the best.” That — and his being a voracious reader, a fan of R K Narayan’s Malgudi Days and Malayalam writer N S Madhavan’s When Big Trees Fall — is probably why a man who had “not even written anything in a college magazine” finished half his script in just five days. Today, the script of Kazcha has been made into a book even before the film completed 50 days, a first in Malayalam cinema history. Critics and the common man alike have seen shades of Padmarajan in Kazcha, in the brilliant characterisations of Mammooty and Yash (the boy). Blessey says this is a huge compliment, but denies imitating the master. “It’s not imitation. There was never a deliberate attempt to copy him. Maybe, it comes naturally.” Or maybe from his meticulous preparation. For Kazcha, he made all the artists attend a five-day workshop, even shooting many scenes then for the perfection he wanted, something unprecedented in Kerala. So does he identify himself as a serious filmmaker? “I am for good cinema. Let there be no classifications. Actually, I am against the whole concept of art films. The so-called advocates of art cinema have spoiled films and the industry. They kept the audience away by making complicated movies that people could not understand.” Instead, he adores Satyajit Ray for his “perfection”, Akira Kurosowa for his “depiction of strong cultural stories”, Bharathiraja for “the folk-ish images” and the “great Padmarajan for everything he did”. Blessey’s challenge now is living up to the reputation of his first film. The famous poet Balachandran Chullikkadu told him, “Your first movie will be your biggest enemy.” Two months from now, he will be working on his next project. Let the poet’s words not be prophetic.

Published in a leading newspaper's Sunday edition on December 3, 2004.

Thursday, September 01, 2005

Maximum City, Minimum Life

It is my third month in Mumbai. the so-called Maximum City. with minimum space. Had been to Kanhera Caves in Sanjay Gandhi National Park. Seen Gateway of India. Went to Tendulkar's restaurant. And travelling to Andheri, Marol Maroshi, I saw how people exist, not just live, in this city. There is no human element. People just move and move. Noone feels nostalgic about the city. It is a moving city. Though there are not many moving moments as such.

Work is going on. But Mumbai is not Madras. There, I was at home. Madras made me feel at home. Money is more here, but the quality of life. That is a big question which thousands of Mumbaikaars will ask themselves a thousand times. I join the chorus.