I love Sachin Tendulkar

I love cricket – and the focus, dedication, joy and sheer artistry Sachin has brought to the game is so rare in any sport. Not just in cricket. And I love him for being him. And now I admire him even more for the courage to say what he believes regardless of the consequences.
I agree that Sachin should stay away from politics – why should we see such a pure soul muddied in the dirty waters of our country’s politics ?
So if you support Sachin – just say “Yes to Sachin”.

India going Green or Red ?

I was asked by NDTV to come on a show to argue with our Minister of Environment on the fact that the Himalayan glaciers are NOT receding. I wonder if he has been there ? This is not about statistics, dear minister, ask the local people. Statistics can be manipulated, as we all know. Just go there and look for yourself. Actually statistical data shows that the Himalayan glaciers are receding at the greatest rate than any other in this planet !
And now about India going Red. Naxalites and Maosists. The huge rebellion against oppression and mis-governance – that has led to ambitious armed groups to take advantage of the oppressed people to rebel. While our press and government call it a rebellion against the Indian State and Law and Order, the truth is that these people have never really seen the Indian State and the only Law and Order they have seen is the callous treatment and humiliations they have suffered at the hands of the representative of the Indian Govt or their Law and Order. And they have only felt India’s rise as a global is economic super power by the land grab for the rich resources that lie in their lands.
As the Indian army goes in for a full scale assault against it it’s own people – and this time unable to blame a foreign power, or Islamic fundamentalism – it’s time for us Indians to seriously think about ourselves.
What is it about us that allows the rich and powerful to completely over-ride not only the basic needs of a majority of our people, but oppress them, their families and their women often worse than animals. Does our constitution that gives EVERY Indian citizen the same fundamental rights not mean anything ? Or was the constitution written only for the elite, urban and powerful ?
What a contradiction. While the Indian government is (rightly) talking about Inclusive Growth, it is launching a huge armed offensive against its own people, And in the cross fire who knows how many innocents, women and children will lose their lives.
How did we ever let it get to this stage ?

The sweet acrid nostalgic smell of Delhi winter

Walking the streets of Delhi just as dusk has set in. The slight smell from the fog mixed with the smell of traffic fumes on Janpath. Memories. Of my mother, always in her colorful saris, red shawl, her carefully bobbed hair just down to her neck. And laughing, always laughing as if she feared if she did not, somehow the demons of unfulfilled child hood dreams would get to her. As they ultimately did.
But God, I loved that laughter – and the streets and smells of Delhi were filled with her laughter this evening. And my father, quite and often brooding, a compassionate smile on his face as he watched his life partner laugh, hiding his pleasure at it, but feeling it’s warmth just as me and my sisters did.
And when my mother passed away he missed it so much that he gradually too let go. The laughter that filled our lives had gone – but we the kids were off on our own adventures – our own dreams, heartbreaks, ambitions – the family house empty of laughter and hope – still lies there languishing – waiting for someone to fill it with the bubbling excitement – so it’s walls can lose the forlorn dampness that is spreading everywhere.
And this evening as I walk through Janpath to my hotel – the restored and magnificent Imperial Hotel – the sweet acrid nostalgic smell of Delhi winter – brought tears to my eyes – as passerby’s saw me and stopped “wasn’t that Shekhar Kapur who also cried on TV” ?

The song, not the singer

Thank you HSK for reminding me “A simple lesson: problems arise when artist becomes bigger than the art”
Yes, absolutely
words that dissolve the speaker
or colors that overwhelm the artist
films, where the director is merely the gardener
tending to the process, and praying for rain and sunshine
and watching the film grow organically
In the recent art installation David Adjaye and I did for Swarovski
both of us walked in and were astonished and exclaimed
“oh my God !” How did we create this ?
The truth was we did not
somehow our energies
and all the energies involved
collected and created the art work
Our passion is the spice which both catalyzes
and sparks the Universe
beyond that, we wait
and watch it emerge

Delhi descends into savagery : another personal experience

It may be wrong of me to keep posting these stories, but it is important to know that the carnage against Sikhs in Delhi is not something that can be consigned to History. It is something that happened recently and the both victims and criminals are still alive. It also shows (as in Gujarat and in Mumbai after that) how easily we descend into savagery worse than animals, where a human being ceases to be one. Why ? what happens ? Why would a neighbor kill another ? Is it within us to do this ? Within you or me ? This one is from Aimee :
my uncle was the first sikh who was killed in the riots… he owned a huge business of taxi’s and this is the story i heard from his own family that survived… i must have not been 9… my uncle was dragged out from his house to his taxi stand beaten all the way there… while his young daughter ran after him trying to save him… they hanged him in front of her but did not kill him fully and then burned him alive… imagine seeing your own father die in front of you…. she was left to die at the stand… broken arm leg and god knows what else… I heard of her after 1 yr – she lived and joined the radical Sikh movement… then they ask why and how do we save our children from something like that. ? .. she is dead now.. well that is what i know… no one talks about this in our family… but 1984 case are still going on… so many died in name of caste system… we should not repeat the past and learn to heal those who have been hurt…

TED :Getting rid of Shekhar Kapur to break with the past and make the moment a purer adventure

At the TED conference, when I got up to speak – the first thing I did on the podium was tear up the notes I had made over two days on what I would say. I think many thought this to be a dramatic gesture for effect – but it was completely true for me. I think the idea of putting yourself in a state of panic to vanquish the mind, and through that to allow the possibility of words of greater truth to flow through, without judging and analysing those words is an exciting and adventurous way to be.
I did not succeed. Guess why ? Because I had previously agreed to show clips from my films. And standing there on the dias, I realized how little I wanted to speak about them. I had the need to let them flow away. They were impeding the flow of discovery of the truth of the moment now…
and I came off the Dias with a frightening thought – am I losing interest in film, or merely getting rid of an addiction to past successes that have little meaning now ..
I am very passionate about Paani. But I wish the pressure to make Paani was not because of the successes or failure of my past films, but as if I had never made a film before. I would like the adventure to be pure by getting rid of Shekhar Kapur

TED conference

I am at the TED conference, at the huge Infosys campus in Mysore. There are some incredible speakers here and the conference has been of great value. TED needs to be applauded for what it is doing. Every speaker I heard had something to say and life experience, information and wisdom to share. It has been worth every moment of the two days of being here.
One note of dissent though. TED is encouraging the speakers to be evoke the audience into immediate reactivity. 18 minutes of emotion and laughter. While a lot of that time limitation encourages points being driven home in more direct (and often honest) manner, it also encourages a sense of melodrama that could preclude talks that lead to contemplation, more questions than answers, and a struggle with those questions later.
But that is a small voice of dissent in a huge wave of applause for TED

Do we have to slow poison our kids ?

No, for once I am not talking about the effects of global warming and the retreating glaciers. I am talking about something that is far far easier to control if we had the will to it.
With diabetes becoming an epidemic in urban India ( India is the diabetic capital of the world) and more and more kids being prone to the disease, surely it time to check the rampant advertising that comes on TV that tries to drive kids to stop eating fresh foods, but those foods that use chemicals to provoke the taste buds in children – fooling the body into believing those foods are good for them. The overheated and chemically created snacks, chocolate bars, breakfast foods, noodles and chips, ice creams that are made of the same chemicals and fats that detergents are made of, etc are slow poison not only because of the chemicals and fats they contain, but also because of they are replacing natural foods.
Commercials on TV are designed by experts that are very good at driving child psychology. Especially as the child’s mind is the most vulnerable of them all. If smoking and alcohol ads are banned, then surely we should look at ads that encourage eating habits that lead to diseases in children ?
I wonder how many parents would allow their kids to eat a packet of chemically laden snacks, if the the packet said in clear bold letters ” This food could lead to chemical imbalances in your child that could lead to diabetes”

Delhi descends into savagery : a personal experience

Hi Shekhar,
I was in West Delhi at that time and was around 6years old. Although I was very young at that time, I can almost clearly remember everything that happened.
I was suffering from chicken pox and my little brother was only 4 years old. My dad had an accident earlier and had a plastered leg. My mom was the only person who was taking care of my dad in bed, myself and my little brother. My little brother wore patka and we also had a ‘Khanda’ outside our house. My mom didn’t know what to do and just hung a sheet outside to cover it. She could hear the crowd going to each street one by one and doing the killings and loots. She could see our local Gurdwara on fire from the roof. Since my dad was always in the front room…she moved him to the back of the house along with us, without thinking that once they are in the house, we can easily be found at the back too.
I remember vaguely seeing her rushing up on the roof to see what was going on and to come and try to take care of us. The loud noises could be hear and she could see smoke and fire around us in different streets.
It was lucky for us that once the mob got to our street they decided to go to the other streets first which had more Sikh houses and leave our street for last, as we only had a couple of houses where Sikhs lived. As they went further up, there was a family where one of their relative, who was visiting from US, had a pistol. And as he fired in the air the mob ran away. Due to that one person, my family was left unharmed. I do not know who that was, but wherever he is, I would like to take this opportunity to thank him from the bottom of my heart.
Lot of lives changed after that incident! I went back to school and found my friends crying all the time as there families were killed, and the horror stories I heard and the people I saw, when I visited my doctor, will stay with me forever!
Just thought I would share my experience on this day!
My prayers are with all those families that suffered losses during the riots in 1984.
P.S. I would also like to add that one thing I noticed after the riots was that all the Sikhs who suffered during the riots, lost there business there families, have come out to be even more successful and have been flourishing even more. Which shows that history repeats once again…every time an attack has been made on Sikhs they have come out of it even more stronger and flourishing!
Rimple

Delhi descends into savagery

2nd November 1984
I am editing my film. My assistant keenly looking over my shoulder. Gentle boy, who was shy and spoke so softly. Sensitive and very diligent and caring. Another assistant walks in. Whispers in the boy’s ears, and the boy looks a little startled and walks out. Unusual, as he would have normally asked for permission to go, or at least excuse himself. 20 minutes later I walk out to get some fresh air. The editing room was in Pali Hill in what used to be Nasir Hussain’s bungalow. Raj was sitting on a parapet with a completely blank look on his face. The other assistant staring at me helplessly.
Raj has been told that most of his extended family had just died. Killed in the riots following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Not just killed, the women dragged out and forced to watch the men folk being burned alive, and then the women and children slaughtered. Raj just sat there. Non comprehending. There was no words of solace or comfort you could give. As my other assistant described the events, I just sat their disbelieving,
For how does a city descend into savagery ? A city I was brought up in – my own Sikh friends hiding with their families in safe houses to save themselves from the mad slaughter frenzy that was spreading so fast through the city. And the police and the government stood by either helplessly or completely complicit in the gruesome killing. I have to keep reminding myself this was 1984 – not a moment in bygone history.
So as we remember 25 years since Indira Gandhi – we must remember the aftermath and ask – how is it that civilization reveals such an ugly side so quickly ? Are we basically savages living behind a veneer of controlled social behavior ? Is this not the same savagery that we descended into in Gujarat ?
I read today the following account by a very respected journalist called Rahul Bedi and the memories flooded back. Please brace yourself before reading it, and if any of you have memories of that event, please write in. It’s important we remember …..

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