Saturday, October 25, 2008

Delhi Encounter: an interesting whodunnit

The whole encounter and the mysteries behind it are reaching new highs. It beats Agatha Christie.

Those who say the encounter was fake are living in wonderland, says Praveen Swami in The Hindu.

In reply came a detailed response Shuddhabrata Sengupta: Curioser and Curioser (those who have read Alice in Wonderland would know :-))

Latest news on this (from rediff): Delhi cops file Jamianagar encounter affidavit

"Ever since the Jamia nagar encounter at L-18 Batla House occurred, it has been surrounded by controversies. While the Home Ministry and the Delhi cops claim that it was this encounter that helped them solve the mystery surrounding the recent spate of bomb blasts in the
country, several activists have been claiming that the entire operation was fake.

The Delhi police while justifying their actions state in a detailed affidavit that their initial plan was to conduct a raid at Batla House..."

Whatever be the truth, there sure is an element of entertainment a sense of fear.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Additional DGP lashes out at Nanavati

"I am a police officer, committed to the Constitution, who has filed four affidavits before the Nanavati Commission. Every commission has the responsibility to analyse and probe the truth about the information even if it is scribbled on a torn piece of paper. As the report of a senior Intelligence officer in the state, my affidavits have their own seriousness in the state where genocide (it would be a big lie to history as well as to humanity to term the atrocities unleashed in Gujarat as Hindu-Muslim riot) took place. Many things, with proof, about the situations that led to the riots and the roles of the senior officials in them have all been included in the report submitted before the commission.

I have been threatened by Government Pleader Aravidn Pande and Home Secretary Murmu that it would cause repercussions if I tell the truth before the Commission. I have even recorded their speeches and presented before the Commission. The Commission had the responsibility to verify the truth about them. The Commission should also have recommended punishment for me had the affidavits I submitted been false. Instead of this the Commission canonized the perpetrators of the riots..

says R. B. Sreekumar, who was Additional DGP in Gujarat. [full article]

Friday, October 10, 2008

Gillette: The worst an ad can get?

(I know an ad campaign can get much worse. The title is not to be taken very seriously).

* * *

We live in a time when we are fed ads disguising as news. We have got quite used to it over last four or five years, and many of us have even developed a skill to tell an ad from a news byte. Yet, we look at some of these ads and feel like throwing up.

This time it was Gillette.

On September 17, HT City carried a survey report that 91% of Delhi women were turned off by unshaven men, 82 percent of Delhi men are clean-shaven (I refuse to buy that), and across the metros most women found clean-shaven men more kissable.

It went on to add that 47% of the respondents thought clean shaven men are more likely to become millionaires (what if 53% thought otherwise), 47% thought mistakes are overlooked if they are made by clean-shaven men, and 50% think that your Visa application will be rejected if you have a stubbled look. The survey was conducted by -- no marks for guessing -- Gillette India.

The survey also gave details of how women liked their favourite stars -- Hritik Roshan, John Abraham, Abhiskek Bachchan and SRK among others -- whether clean-shaven, stubbled or full-bearded.

If you thought this was a subtle and tasteless campaign for selling blades, the worse was waiting to come.

Audio ads on Delhi FM stations said, "Bankers are more likely to reject your loan application if you have a stubble." Since there is no such thing as 'news' on most private FM channels, this had to be a "commercial". The rest of the ad was essentially "Buy Gillette Mach 3 and shave off that stubble" or something like that.

This series of ads seem to be taking us back in time in more ways than one.

This is not about being better than your competitor. Somewhere, these ads give me an impression that people don't know there is something called razors. One gets a deja vu of the 19th century "don't stay dirty, get Pears" kind of ads.

(Note that this one can not be compared to adversitements like that of Nokia Navigator phones, as it is not the case that a company is introducing shaving blades in the market for the first time.)

Two, these ads are plain racist.

Do the creators of this campaign really think it is hip to boast about cultural biases like mistakes being overlooked if you are clean-shaven and all that? If they really do, I think they need to take a lesson from another series of ads in town. "I am not fair but I am lovely -- I am not yesterday" -- say hoardings that carry an image of a beautiful dark model. "Is it true that women make bad drivers?" "Ask Sunita Williams", goes another ad on air. Advertising Mail Today newspaper, of India Today group.

Two days later, Delhi Times showed us clean shaven make-overs of Milind Soman and Kunal Kapoor. The news, of the launch of 'Gillette Mach 3 Turbo' in New Delhi, went like this:

"It was part of their macho appeal -- Milind Soman's rugged beard and wild, long locks, and Kunal Kapoor's urbane but sexy stubble. But the two hunks have recently shaved off their stubble and chosen to go for the smooth, clean look. What made them do it was Gillette Mach 3 Turbo."

The actors, however, had a different story to tell. They did not quite owe up to the 'stubbles are for losers' campaign. They refused to disown the stubbled/bearded looks that they were in for quite some time now.

"I've never had any problem playing with my looks. We're actors, and need to meet the demands of different characters. And with Gillette, the best thing is it doesn't scratch your skin. When I decided to go for a makeover, it's the only one I could think of," says Kunal.

Milind said, "I don't know if women like men clean-shaven or with a stubble, but one thing is for sure -- a guy has to be confident about his looks."

Thank god, it is not the end of the world. Even as Gillette is doing its bit to kill the confidence of the sexy stubbled men.

* * * *

[The Hoot carried this article, with a few modifications. I felt there was too much stress on "ads as news" in the way they presented it. It was initially titled as "Ads disguised as news" or something. Later they changed the title after my comment.]
[Image: from The Hoot]

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Costume Designers of Delhi Police

Wondered how it came about that the three arrested suspects came to be in possession of brand new Taliban rumaals, which they could readily pull out of their pockets to cover their faces, asked SADANAND MENON in Karutha Mashi.

Original Malayalam version appeared in Malayalam Vaarika of the Indian Express, Oct. 3, 2008. Translated version, The uses and misuses of photographs, on The Hoot.

Police later admitted that they had bought these rumaals in bulk to cover faces of accused. What is the point that they want to prove?