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Mumbai Diary page: Wednesday Whispers

The city — sliced, diced and served with a dash of sauce

Screen scenes across the seas
We often cringe when we see prejudiced or misguided representations of India in foreign films. And when they get it right, we feel strangely vindicated.

Amrish Puri in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom
Amrish Puri in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom

Actually, as the cartoon sailor Popeye would put it, we are what we are, and no amount of pandering or parodying should affect us. But it is true that depictions of India in foreign films often contribute to those viewers’ perceptions about us. And why not do we not get our cultural information about other countries consciously or subconsciously from their films?

Blogger Neil Miller, who has been working and living in Chennai with his family for a little over four years, runs a blog called Learning India (learningindia.in), in which he aims to “provide the most useful, helpful, insightful and accurate information available on India”, aimed at the non-Indian doing business or being employed in India.

Miller has started a series on his blog called Movies About India, in which he reviews “Hollywood movies about India that educated the West”, as he puts it. His reviews take potshots at the silly and sometimes patronising bits about India in these films, and are grandly entertaining to read. Also, it is gratifying to see that someone has gone to the trouble of taking these iconic movies down a peg.

As Miller says about Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, “Watching it later in life, with a few years of living in India behind me, all sorts of things started to make sense. Stereotypes, generalisations, cultural attitudes all nicely packaged in a blockbuster adventure.”

He has also reviewed the Bond flick Octopussy, which features actual desis Kabir Bedi and Vijay Amritraj. His comments are pointedly pertinent: “Yet, even more foreigners have a James Bond experience. Everything is the same except for a few background images. Gated communities, long brunches at hotels, drivers for cars, and fantastic vacations can insulate people from the realities of India. (The same might often be said of Wealthy Indians.)” We’re looking forward to more!

Better late than absent?
The Mumbai municipality’s recent general body meeting was adjourned in mourning for the Malin landslide tragedy. Corporator Dilip Lande was late, and arrived after the adjournment. Undaunted, he signed the register noting his “presence” at the meeting. After all, what is recorded is what counts, right?

Remembering Hiroshima
IN A world marked more by violence rather than wisdom, the Bombay Sarvodaya Mandal along with NSS units of SNDT and Mumbai University have organised an Anti-Nuclear Peace March to commemorate Hiroshima Day today, August 6.

The march has been organised with the aim of joining hands with people across the globe for a nuclear-free world, and to create social awareness among students about the holocaust potential of nuclear armaments. The students, graphically depicting the horror of the atom bomb, will lead the march which is to begin at 2.45 pm from Azad Maidan and end at Hutatma Chowk at 3.30 pm.

For those who believe in a nuke-free world and future, feel free to join in the rally. For those who want to know about Hiroshima and the horrors of nuclear war, feel free to attend and learn a little about how nuclear weapons can tear apart a world already besieged with strife and war.

Howzzat, umpires!
Realising the broader role and responsibility of the third umpire in an international cricket match these days, the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) has initiated a seminar for them in basic communication.

BCCI’s Prof Ratnakar Shetty
BCCI’s Prof Ratnakar Shetty

The four-day crash course will be conducted by former International Cricket Council (ICC) umpire Simon Taufel with the help of British Council. The first phase of this course will be a part of the 15-day umpires seminar which us starting today in Bangalore.

“The third umpire plays a very important role. They have to be equipped to use the technology. It is also important that they understand the communication part with the director of production, who is usually a foreigner. We are conducting this course to help our umpires with basic communication. There is a very short time for them to give their decision,” said Prof Ratnakar Shetty, BCCI’s general manager, Games Development.

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