Category Archives: Books

Nostalgia and Critique: Ghose’s Doordarshan Journey 0 (0)

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Having grown up watching Doordarshan, a channel that held a special place in my heart as my father, an actor-writer-director-producer, had dealings with Hyderabad Doordarshan, I approached Bhaskar Ghose’s book ‘Doordarshan Days’, with a mix of nostalgia and curiosity. The author’s portrayal of his journey, albeit tinged with criticisms, struck a chord with me due to my personal connection to the world he describes.

Bhaskar Ghose’s memoir offers a multifaceted view of his experiences. While it’s true that he indulges in some cribbing, I appreciate the way he captures the essence of his times with a touch of humor. Growing up with stories of my father’s struggles in the industry, I can empathize with Ghose’s frustrations stemming from the political and bureaucratic challenges he faced. His account of his attempts to revolutionize Indian television resonates with me, as my father also dreamed of pushing creative boundaries within the constraints of the system.

However, I do find myself disagreeing with Ghose’s tendency to view himself as a solitary hero battling against all odds. He might not give enough credit to the collaborative efforts of his colleagues and contemporaries. I understand his desire for recognition, but it’s important to acknowledge the contributions of others, like the successes of shows like Ramanand Sagar’s Ramayan and B.R. Chopra’s Mahabharat, which he tends to downplay or dismiss altogether.

Ghose’s detailed descriptions of individuals he encountered during his journey provide an insightful peek into the inner workings of the industry. While his portrayal might lean towards being critical, it does provide a valuable perspective on the challenges faced by those in power. His interactions with ministers and colleagues, as recounted in the book, give readers a glimpse into the dynamics of the political and bureaucratic landscape of the time.

In the end, while Bhaskar Ghose’s narrative might be colored by his personal perceptions and grievances, I appreciate the effort he has put into sharing his experiences. As someone who has heard stories of the intricacies of television production and bureaucracy from my father, I can understand the complexities he faced. This book serves as a reminder that the history of public broadcasting is shaped by a multitude of factors, and it’s important to consider the perspectives of those who were at the helm, even if their viewpoints are at times contentious.

The Power Triad: Science, Religion, and Politics in Foundation 0 (0)

Science, Religion, and Politics as power, digital art
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Isaac Asimov’s novel Foundation, and the series as a whole, explores several key themes that are central to its narrative. These themes include:

  1. Psychohistory and Predictive Science: The concept of psychohistory, a fictional discipline created by Hari Seldon, is a central theme. It involves the use of mathematics to predict the behavior and development of large populations over time. The novel delves into the power and limitations of predictive science and the implications of trying to shape the future based on calculated probabilities.
  2. Decline and Fall of Empires: Foundation examines the cyclical nature of empires and the inevitable decline and collapse they face. It explores the struggles of societies as they navigate the transition from a powerful centralized authority to a period of instability and regression. The story delves into the consequences of a crumbling empire and the challenges of rebuilding civilization in the aftermath.
  3. Religion versus Science: The clash between religious beliefs and scientific progress is a recurring theme. Asimov portrays the tension between religious dogma and the Foundation’s mission of preserving knowledge and advancing scientific understanding. The narrative examines the conflicts that arise when tradition and faith clash with reason and rationality.
  4. Politics and Manipulation: The novel delves into the intricacies of politics, power struggles, and the manipulation of events for personal gain or the greater good. Characters engage in political maneuvering, form alliances, and employ strategies to shape the course of history. Foundation explores the complexities and consequences of political influence and the art of governance.
  5. Human Agency and Free Will: Despite the deterministic nature of psychohistory, the novel raises questions about individual agency and free will. Characters grapple with their role in the larger scheme of events and the tension between personal choices and the grand design of the Seldon Plan. It explores the extent to which individuals can influence or deviate from predicted outcomes.
  6. Survival and Preservation: Foundation focuses on the survival and preservation of knowledge, culture, and civilization in the face of adversity. The characters strive to safeguard humanity’s progress and prevent the descent into a prolonged Dark Age. The narrative emphasizes the importance of resilience, adaptation, and the pursuit of knowledge for the betterment of society.

These themes intertwine to create a thought-provoking exploration of human nature, societal dynamics, and the course of history. Asimov’s Foundation series invites readers to contemplate the complex interplay of science, religion, politics, and individual agency in shaping the destiny of civilizations.

A must read for all Asimov and Sci-Fi fans.

At this point, Hari Seldon lifted his book and opened it. His face grew solemn. ‘And never forget there was another Foundation established eighty years ago; a Foundation at the other end of the Galaxy, at Star’s End. They will always be there for consideration. Gentlemen, nine hundred and twenty years of the Plan stretch ahead of you. The problem is yours! Go to it!’


Kishore Kumar The Ultimate Biography 0 (0)

If Doordarshan was part of your growing years, most likely you were hooked on the weekly twice telecast program, Chitrahaar—a garland of songs–selected from old and new Hindi movies. This program introduced us to the singer-actor-performer Kishore Kumarji , and we never got bored with fun songs like ‘Eena meena Deeka’. Therefore, for a while, we associated his name with these kinds of songs only.  The repertoire of songs began to grow substantially, when a cousin of mine, who was a diehard fan of Kishoreji exposed me to a variety of songs. He was well informed and had this knack of giving a background story for most of the songs, and that made me remember these even better. Kishore Kumar the ultimate biography for most parts does something similar, tying in Kishoreji’s movies and songs with interesting anecdotes and real life incidents. It is a voluminous effort on the life of Kishore Kumarji and his journey from Khandwa to Bombay. It covers almost all the influential people in his life.

One cannot but appreciate the authors’ efforts that spread over a decade in bringing out the book. They have done a commendable job in fleshing out several unheard facts about Kishoreji.  Being very knowledgeable about classical music, they throw light on how certain songs were composed and how Kishoreji did an excellent job in delivering them. This even dispels the wrong notions about Kishore’s lack of command over classical music.

Here are a few excerpts:

“Typical propaganda making rounds then was Kishore Kumar classical jane na (Kishore Kumar does not know classical), as if knowledge of classical music was the yardstick of a singer’s capability. People voicing this had little idea that Kishore’s fans included classical maestros such as Bhimsen Joshi, A.T. Kannan, Kumar Gandharva and Ajoy Chakrabarty”

Page: 387

“Film-makers were ready to spend rather, splurge. And it was not restricted to Bombay In 1972, composers Rajan-Nagendra travelled from Bangalore and signed Kishore for seven thousand rupees for a song, “Adonat andu from Kulla Agent 000 (1972) remains one of the costliest of its time.”

Page: 344

 “On the day of the recording, I (Manna dey) was stumped by the proceedings. I was singing from the angle of a singer while Kishore had captured the spirit of the situation. From the heart, he changed the entire complexion of the song. I have thus no hesitation in admitting his genius.”

Page: 314

“At the end of the day, one would have to keep guessing what suited Kishore more–singing or composing. It would not be an exaggeration to suggest that ‘Door Gagan Ki Chhaon Mein’ was Kishore’s first step towards musical greatness.”

The only thing I felt missing in the book is a separate chapter on Amitabh Bachchanji and several chartbusters Kishoreji had rendered for him. It would have been a valuable addition.

Other than this, the book is a complete package that covers every aspect of the maverick genius and serves as an excellent reference of his songs through a song-index at the end.