Mid-Day's Juvenile Antics Target Passion for Cinema

November 21, 2006

Passion for Cinema (PFC) is is a passionate attempt to bring together all movie fanatics, cine lovers and those who eat, breathe and drink cinema. The site has been up and running for a couple of months now. Oz (who incidentally posts here as Desi Train), the brain behind PFC, is a movie freak and even before PFC even existed as a concept, his posts on cinema were quite popular even in the mainstream media. There were lot of hushed whispers that Bollywood insiders were regular readers and there were unverified rumors that people like Anurag Kashyap sometimes even commented anonymously on Oz's cinema posts.

So when Oz floated the idea of PFC to his regular commenters, he decided to invite industry insiders to interact with his readers. By then he had got in touch with Anurag Kashyap and Anurag, the sport that he is, agreed to come on board and blog about his experiences in Bollywood making much anticipated and yet still-unreleased movies such as Paanch and Black Friday, and more specifically about shooting his newest venture - No Smoking. Oz soon widened his net and invited director Pavan Kaul (whose murder mystery Shhh... hit the screens recently) and writer director Suparn Verma to write on PFC and share with readers their experiences in Bollywood. And with all three (Kashyap, Verma and Kaul) having productions on the floor at the moment, their PFC posts have mostly involved their day to day experiences. And the nicest thing is that, Anurag, Pavan and Suparn were invited and they graciously accepted. These posts have caught the attention of the mainstream media too and their reactions have been mostly glowing. Dailies such as Mid-Day, Mumbai Mirror, Times of India and Hindustan Times have all mentioned PFC and the No Smoking blog by Anurag Kashyap. But that was mostly before Pavan and Suparn started posting.

Then today, Mid-Day runs this piece about Pavan Kaul's blog on PFC under the title "Copycat Kaul". What follows is the entire text of the article.

Pawan Kaul is copying director Anurag Kashyap's ways. Kashyap has created an online diary to capture the everyday joys and frustrations that have gone into the making of his film, No Smoking, starring John Abraham.
Now we hear that Kaul is doing likewise for his film Bhram, starring Dino Morea and Milind Soman. Kashyap is a self-proclaimed blogger and shares his personal accounts of moviemaking with others because it's therapeutic. We wonder what kind of illness Kaul needs therapy for. Could it possibly have anything to do with that disastrous flick, Shhhh....?

This article sounds like an extract straight from a supermarket tabloid like News of the World and fails to account for a couple of things - one being that Pavan has been blogging intermittently for some time and the other being that both Pavan and Anurag are posting on PFC only because of Oz's request.

Mid-Day's post would probably not seem out of place in a front page between two (imaginary) articles that would inform the world about the 45 year old pussy (I meant a female feline, of course) that gave birth to two Doberman Pinscher pups in Billimoria Gardens in Versova and aging superstar Manmohan Banda's boob job to remove all traces of his man-boobs. I mean, you get the picture. What's funny is that Mid-Day has not deemed it fit to talk to any of the parties in questions - i.e., Pavan Kaul and Oz. And don't even get me started about the "wink, wink, nudge, nudge" tone of the last two lines.

Oz says that it takes a lot of time and energy to convince talented writers and directors to write and interact with cine-fanatics on a first person basis and to make them see what he visualized PFC as - a platform for vibrant discussion and to share knowledge of cinema. And after reading their posts, it appears to me that most of them are as disillusioned with the system as any Indian fan of serious cinema. And as a trend, I have noticed that a good percentage of the makers of what I deem to be the better Indian cinema are media recluses. And irresponsible and uninformed media coverage of their off-screen ventures such as the one from Mid-Day mentioned above would not exactly make them change their stance either.

Personally this kind of juvenile media coverage makes me cringe. I will not take any names but it brings a bad taste to my mouth when the same media that celebrates scene by scene remakes of foreign cinema as originals, chooses to brand interactions like PFC as a copycat effort. While this might be one-off, it does make me echo Oz's question whether this is part of a larger concerted effort by MSM channels to deter interaction between maverick filmmakers and the viewing public that are not necessarily the front benchers in the cinema halls.

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