Friday, March 16, 2012

Smile please!

Not so very long ago, when one needed to take and view a picture, a lot of planning had to go into it. First, obviously, one needed to have a camera. Then, a film roll. Then, have the subject framed so that one could take the best possible shot in one try - hey, film-rolls don't grow on trees. Then, click the shot and hope one had done a good job of it. Once the entire roll had been used, it was dropped off for processing. After the processing-center defined processing time, it could be picked up. Finally, the result of one's efforts could be viewed. Phew! It WAS a long process and made all the more exciting for it.

Nowadays, you just need to whip out your digital camera or cell-phone and keep clicking pictures till the cows come home. Charging your device and downloading pictures is so very easy too. Maybe some of the magic of the previous process is lost; still, I love my digital camera and love taking pictures with it.

However, there's the dark side. Everyone knows at least one person who *will* send a link to some 800 pictures every time they take a trip in the mistaken belief that you will view them all. That is a minor annoyance though. After all, hitting reply with a generic "Nice pictures! Looks like you had a great time." takes probably a minute from your life.

What gets my goat is: when watching live shows like concerts, plays and dances not featuring one's kith and kin, what is it that possesses people to constantly take pictures (yeah, some times with flash turned on too) or worse, make a video-recording of the proceeding? Among annoying live-theatre behavior, I think this ranks near the top, right among formidable contenders like crying babies and non-stop commenters.

There you are, happily enjoying the dance or play or musical performance going on the stage when suddenly, the person two rows ahead of you lifts their digital or cell-phone camera and starts filming the scene thus giving you the *special effect* of having a small, bright rectangle of light in your line of sight in the best case or actual blocking your view if you are unlucky.

Seriously, who watches these video recordings once they are made? Perhaps the person doing the filming? After all, they have missed the live show due to focusing on their camera instead. But otherwise? Their family? Their friends? Heck, I have watched my own wedding video, a show where I was the heroine and the center of attention, only once. I thought a live show is special because it is *live*.

Recently, I went to a Thai cabaret show. The lady next to me started filming as soon as she sat down. All fine and dandy except that the show had not yet begun and she was filming the closed curtains! I immediately knew I was next to an obsessive filmer and sure enough, for about 50% of the show, her video camera continued to hover towards my left (after that, I guess her hands became tired). It would have been distracting but for the fact that the gentleman two rows ahead and the lady one row to the right, among plenty of other folks, were filming as well - thus, my eyes just got used to these splotches of light and ignored them.

A couple of  years back, we were visiting the Niagara Falls. We went to a theatre close to the falls which showed a movie about the Niagara Falls. Obviously, there were plenty of shots of Niagara Falls being shown on screen. Guess what some fellow audience members started doing? Yup, they whipped out their cameras and started taking pictures of the screen when these shots popped up, flashes galore. For heaven's sake, the REAL falls were barely 20 feet away! Just because one has a digital camera, one is not obliged to use it all the time.

So yeah, I love digital cameras and mobile cameras for the wonderful ease of use and the opportunity it gives me to chronicle even everyday stuff. But,at times, when I see the blatant misuse of these devices, I really wish I could grab them from the offenders and make a huge bonfire out of them. Perhaps even do a war-dance around the bonfire for good measure.

One can always dream I suppose.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012


The other day, I was watching this song Chikni Chameli on TV. Call me a prude but I really don't think that song belongs on day-time television. It is very disconcerting to see a woman, a top-tier heroine at that, dancing so suggestively and yeah, I will say it, vulgarly. The post is not about that though.

So the song was going on and I was lifting up my jaw which had hit the ground after seeing Katrina's on screen antics. Then I realized that there were blurs on sections of the TV screen periodically and started wondering what that was about.  Then I realized that these blurs were actually cigarettes/beedis in the mouths of the extra dancers in the song.

Apparently, our censor board thought that watching these cigarattes will corrupt me majorly and make me take up smoking pronto while watching Katrina's heaving bosom right next to it is will not at all give me the idea that objectifying women so blatantly is normal. Because, you know, while we never, ever see people smoking on the streets, women dance provocatively in itty-bitty costumes on the corner of practically every single Indian road. The ways of the censor board are mysterious - I have never quite managed to figure out what constitutes 'censorable'.

I then watched some more songs on TV and realized quite a few Indian movie songs do have such suggestive moves and no one has any qualms about playing them at all times on TV on channels meant for audiences of all age-groups.

I think I am going to stick to watching Star World and Zee Cafe from now on. At least I know what I can expect on which show and besides, the channels very *helpfully* bleep out all kinds of 'explicit' words both on the audio as well as visually on the subtitles.

Come on, when you know you are watching a sitcom which also talks about relationships, is hearing the word 'sex' going to make you keel over in shock and have you reaching out for the smelling salts? It is sometimes hard to understand sitcoms like Scrubs when dialogs have four or more words bleeped out in a sentence (they once bleeped out the word 'broad' when it was not even being used in the derogatory sense - really) - good thing I have watched each episode about 3 times or so :-D.