A compilation of few stories I witnessed in the last few months. All these experiences keep me wondering about where we are heading. Who is bad? Who is right? What differentiates Bad from Good? Langauge, sex, color, etc etc Everything seems so mixed up.
If you know Kannada, you don’t eat pastries!
When we were scouting for Locations for Lucia, we met up with a lot of corporates. I’d propose that they could tie up with my film and benefit from infilm branding. I could shoot at their restaurants and hence give the restaurant some publicity. When I was in talks with one such place, I got to meet the regional head. Very impressive man, explained to him about what benefits his pastry shop would get by letting us shoot there. After the whole presentation, he seemed impressed but had one issue. He said ‘The problem is that you are making a Kannada film and it wont be helpful for us.” I said “You have a whole chain of outlets right here in Bangalore, and yet it wont help?” He said “Our customers dont watch Kannada movies”. I asked “Does that mean those who watch dont come to your store and eat pastries?” He concluded by saying that he doesn’t want his brand to be associated with a Kannada film as it wont boost his business.
Strangely, I had the same experience with many other brands! They have chains of outlets and are flourishing here but they dont think that any of their customers watches Kannada Films! Some thing to think about.. Why do they think so? What in Kannada movies has given them that impression? And another store said they dont play Kannada channels on the television in their outlets, when asked why, they said they have strict orders from the head office. Its an international brand so these local employees had to follow the orders, though they were not very happy about that.
Who gives an outsider a wrong picture of a language and of the people who speak that language? The outsider comes to the city with no knowledge about it. But soon he converts into a person who disassociates from the language and makes fun of it. Why? Who breeds that into their heads? The language may have a great history but an outsider sees what is happening in the present, how the language is represented around him. And Love can’t be forced… so how does he or she voluntarily feel like falling in love with a language. I feel the use of the language in the contemporary world, in today’s world, that is what makes a huge difference to the current situation.
The Yellow Bus
About a year ago, I was driving with my wife on the St.Johns Road. It was a busy time, traffic was moving slow. I am quite a slow driver, and take way too much precaution, so much that my friends make fun of it. So I was moving at 10-20 km/h and trying to take a left. And from nowhere a ‘yellow’ private bus overtakes me from the ‘left’. Needless to say, we survived, bcoz it could have been an ugly accident. I didn’t know overtaking from left was allowed and that to at such high speeds. Like the tv ad which says there are idiots on the streets, my wife and I had the similar expression. We were for a moment so shocked that everything around turned off. The next moment I got so angry that I apparently cursed something which my wife had never heard from me. She didn’t know whether to laugh or still be in the state of shock. Then we discovered that this bus had brushed against the mirror on the left side of my car and it has hanging by the door. Now this called for a ‘meeting’ with the driver. Right?
Like a responsible citizen, I didn’t stop my car in the middle of that road, so that I don’t cause any trouble to the others on the road. Instead I followed the bus, over took it and got in front and forced him to slow down and park, we stopped at the signal. We saw a Traffic cop on the other corner. My Kannada speaking wife quickly got out of the car and ran to him and brought him along. The cop got into the bus, and the signal light turned green. So we crossed the signal and stopped on the left. I got out of the car thinking that the cop will help me settle this dispute. That he’d get the driver to pay up for the broken mirror or register the event so that I could claim for an insurance.
Cop gets down and tells me that I have got the wrong bus, that apparently it was some other yellow bus that brushed against my car and that I had mistaken this one for that. The bus driver, conductor were of course supporting the story. I was shocked. I showed them the yellow paint on the broken mirror. Suddenly, all the 50+ passengers from the window said that it was another bus, of course they all had to go back home and they didn’t want to be delayed by this dispute. Hence, in just 5 mins, the bus got away. I was standing there holding the broken mirror looking at it go. I asked the cop in Kannada as to how much money he took from the driver to make this story up. He just abused us and went back to his busy “trafficking” work.
I guess that is why people stop their cars or bike and fight in the middle of the road. I was foolish enough to not cause any disturbance to anyone around by stopping my car right there and fight it out. How easily all 50 people in the bus lied at the same time. How quickly one can bribe a cop and get away.
I think it didn’t matter whether I spoke in Kannada or whether I had the sense to not block the traffic.
The Muscle Power
This was a few months ago when I was being dropped back home after the shoot. We had hired a Sumo and he was a reckless driver. I remember thinking if I could change the driver for the shoot next day. He was speeding and breaking all rules, I was feeling quite guilty sitting in that vehicle.
And in Jayanagar, as he was mindlessly speeding a vehicle in front of us came to a sudden halt. So this guy stopped as well. A two wheeler behind us didn’t for see it hence brushed against the mighty Sumo on the side. So our driver stops the car in the middle of the road and furiously gets out and starts abusing the two wheeler. I got down to see the damage, well, how much damage can a TVS do to a Sumo? I kept looking at where the driver was pointing, and there were many scratches on it, most of them very old ones. He started using all sort of abusive words on this boy and almost wanted to beat him up. We managed to get him and the vehicle off the main road.
For the next 15 mins, this well built driver verbally abused this little young boy. We tried to interfere but he wouldn’t listen. The driver wanted this boy to pay up for the ‘scratch’. The boy kept apologizing but this one won’t listen. At one point he started beating him up as well. There were an audience of course. I was in two minds to just leave the place but we had too much equipment in the vehicle, so stayed through the ordeal. The boy then offered about 500 bucks, everything he got. But our driver was greedy, he wanted to extract more. Then the story took a funny turn.
All the while this lil boy was being apologetic and our driver was being the monster. The boy then made a phone call and spoke in his Shivaji nagar Hindi! He was asking the ‘Bhai’ to get people and come to Jayanagar. Our driver’s expression changed. This puny boy was a different person all of a sudden. After the boy hung up, our driver spoke like he is doing a favor and took the 500 and quickly got us out of that scene. As we drove he was laughing and said “Ratri bar duddu bantu”.
Met him 2 weeks ago on the sets again. He had come to collect some balance payment. His sumo was missing. When asked what he doing now, he said he was into politics and was working with his brother for the next elections.
The Arrogant Immigrant !!!
This story is happening now. The following links will give you more info about the story and how it is perceived by different people. This is a dear friend who is labeled as an immigrant within her own country. She is this quiet person who was involved in the arts. Arts dont have a language barrier they say. She is also someone who was involved in setting up theatre festivals which involved a lot of Kannada content. However with this story, things have been spoken quite wrongly about her. Some say she is doing this for publicity. I think she’d have got more publicity as North eastern girl working for a theatre based in Bangalore and dealing with Kannada play programming, but instead she is getting famous for something else! Read on.