Mass Comm Students of Jamia Millia Islamia Photograph Surajkund Crafts Mela

DSC_0448.JPG

A dancing troupe posing just before the performance

Anwar Jamal Kidwai Mass Communication Research Center (AJK MCRC), Jamia Millia Islamia has been ranked as the best institute for mass communication and journalism in India since the past four consecutive years starting 2013. The famed institute is the alma mater of the likes of Shah Rukh Khan, Kiran Rao and Kabir Khan. The institute greatly benefits from its highly experienced faculty and its rigorous course structure that’s bolstered by a practical oriented approach to go with the dedicated class room teaching.

DSC_0651.JPG

A stilt walker capturing everybody’s attention

The institution organizes frequent visits/tours for the students which allows them to apply their newly gained knowledge in the real world. Outdoor photo shoots are a regular feature for the students with photography major. The coveted course is headed by the legendary Indian photographer and media expert Prof. Farhat Basir Khan who is widely regarded as the father of modern Photography and Mass education in India.

 

Prof. Farhat Basir Khan Profile Pic smaller-1..jpg

Prof. F.B.Khan

 

Prof. Khan is famous for his campaigns for Grey, Lintas, Leo Burnett, Atlas, Oberoi Maidens, Avis, Grasim and Delhi Police. He has contributed to various international projects such as the One World programme for UNICEF delegates on Unspooling the Documentary Process and for institutes such as MIT, Russian Film School and Harvard Business School. Prof. Khan has also been instrumental to the shaping of the course curriculum at the prestigious AJK MCRC institute.

DSC_0192.JPG

A flute player enchanting the crowd’s sense

As part of the first assignment the students with photography majors were required to photograph the Surajkund International Crafts Mela in all its candor and glory. The students had to shoot using the Nikon D 7200 cameras with zoom lens (18-105 mm) issued by the institute specially for the assignment. The course structure requires the students to start with the classic Nikon FM2/F3 film cameras and they slowly graduate to the more advance cameras with each exercise. The stakes increase with each assignment with the final AV Feature carrying the maximum weight-age.

DSC_0666.JPG

A charming performer at the Surajkund International Art Mela

The Surajkund experience proved to be a real eye opener for the students who were required to strictly abide the guidelines laid by Prof. Khan. The auto modes are forbidden as Prof. Khan feels that when it comes to professional photography the auto feature is practically of no use. Another restriction on the students is to shoot in the raw format which allows maximum scope for post processing of the images as oppose to the run-of-the-mill .jpeg format.

DSC_0856.JPG

Prof. Farhat Basir Khan (second from left) with AJK MCRC photography students

Even after a day long shoot the students appeared far from exhausted with Prof. Khan egging them on to go for an additional round of shoot. That’s the kind of persistence, patience and perseverance that the photography students of AJK MCRC are expected to show. After all, the very institute has produced some of the county’s leading photographers. Here it is worth mentioning that under the guidance of Prof. Khan, MCRC students Neal Kartik and Pranab Kumar Aich won the prestigious ‘Student Focus Competition’ at Sony World Photography Awards 2009, Cannes. Jamia’s team achieved the feat by defeating 60 of the world’s best universities across continents and bagged a cash prize of whopping 50,000 Euros.

Image Courtesy: Murtaza Ali 

Posted in Quotidian | Leave a comment

The first page of my unfinished debut novel ‘The Aura’

A couple of years back I began with the tedious task of penning down my first novel ‘The Aura’ that’s supposed to be a crime thriller. Two years have gone by but I am still far from completing it. So I thought of sharing the first page with you with the hope of seeking your feedback and more importantly some motivation to go about completing it. So, please do tell if you would want to read the completed novel.

Book 1

Laa ilaaha illal Lahoo Mohammadur Rasool Ullah…

With these final words Sadashiv Gokhale bid adieu to his immortal beloved—the enchanting city of Mumbai that he had ruled for years, often with love, and on those rare occasions that demanded a stern administrator, with an iron fist.

Tears dripped from Pasha’s eyes as he paid his final respects to his master. Gokhale had millions of followers but Pasha was the only one present when Gokhale breathed his last. Such was decreed by Gokhale, for Pasha was the only person he ever trusted with his life. On three separate instances, Pasha had taken the bullet for Gokhale. Such was Gohale’s trust in Pasha that he time and again refused to take any special security cover offered to him by the government.“God sends His angels to protect us,” Gokhale would say in his defense. Pasha was indeed his angel.

Strongly built and medium height with a hardened, nigh expressionless visage, Pasha had an intimidating, almost ferocious presence. He was often called Pasha the Pacifier. But, he ever did little to pacify anyone but Gokhale.  Pasha was a butcher by profession. But, few knew that, if need be, he could slay human beings with the same unflinching ease with which he would slaughter the beasts.

“Sada sahib is no more,” Pasha announced at last, “inform the media about his demise,” he added. Soon he was surrounded by a horde of party supporters, some agitated, some dismayed.

Gokhale was people’s leader who ruled over his people’s heart. For four decades, Gokhale was the undisputed king of Mumbai and now that he was dead, the entire city suddenly felt orphaned. Masses, politicians, celebrities, everyone adored him. While his friends loved him, his adversaries admired his guts. Following his rather obscure beginnings, Gokhale had settled down with a yesteryear Bollywood actress and had sired a son named Shaurya who was his mirror image, save his eyes which were his mother’s.

Gokhale’s life was an open book. Or, so everyone thought. For, a dark secret remained buried within his heart until his very last moment.

As the preparations started for Gokhale’s last march, Pasha, his longtime confidante, began to remember a time long gone, an epoch that almost felt like ancient history to him.

Friends, I eagerly look forward to your honest thoughts in the hope that it may give me the push that may be needed to complete The Aura.

Posted in Quotidian | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

The ebbs and flows of cricket

Shane Watson facing a Wahab Riaz bouncer

When the Australian all rounder Shane Watson was dropped against the match against Afghanistan on the 4th of March, everyone thought his ODI career was over… Watson himself seemed to have accepted his fate.

In an impromptu press conference, he had said: “I haven’t scored enough runs, as simple as it is. In the end all I can do is make sure I’m ready to go if an opportunity arises, but I know I haven’t scored enough runs so I’ve only got myself to blame.”

On the 8th of March, Watson made a shocking return to team for the match against Sri Lanka and made a quickfire 60 odd after being demoted to the number 6 spot, and although his innings was totally overshadowed by Glen Maxwell, who scored a 51 ball century, it was enough to keep his place in the team for the time being. Against Scotland, he once again got out cheaply trying to finish off the match quickly.

Another failure and he would have once again put his place in serious jeopardy. In the quarter final match against Pakistan, he came out to bat at number 5, ahead of Glen Maxwell, when Team Australia was in real trouble with Wahab Riaz already having picked two quick wickets, that of David Warner and Michael Clarke. Earlier in the day when Wahab was out to bat and was facing the music in form of Mitchell Stark bowling at 150 KMPH, Watson had a few pleasantries to exchange with the clueless batsman. But, as they say, fast bowlers have a sharp memory. Wahab obviously hadn’t forgotten it and he went berserk and unleashed a fury of bouncers at Watson who to his credit looked quite determined to see his side through. It was a relentless assault. But with some luck (he got dropped by the the fielder at fine leg when he was on 4), he managed to see Wahab off and eventually took his team to the semi finals. Watson remained unbeaten on 64 off 66 deliveries but what the scoreboard didn’t show was his iron resolve to not only silence his critics but also secure a berth in the semis for his team. What he truly exhibited was the famous Aussie grit!

But, the party was spoiled by the ICC. When every cricket lover was praising Watson and Riaz for their gritty display of cricketing brilliance, ICC decided to charge them both for breaching the Code of Conduct. No wonder why cricket is no longer played with the same passion and fervor. For, it is the ICC that doesn’t want to promote such fiery brand of cricket. Aggression doesn’t always mean name calling and there appeared no name calling in the battle between Watson and Riaz. The two even embraced each other at the end of the match and each was full of praise for the other. So, how can governing body expect cricketers to play the sport with all their heart and soul and yet be devoid of emotions at the same time? Perhaps, they should either ban fast bowling or try and get all the fast bowlers lobotomized before allowing them to play international cricket!

Posted in Quotidian | Tagged , , , , | 1 Comment

Why I feel that New Zealand is the team to beat in this World Cup

New Zealand Cricket, BlackcapsI feel that NZ will make it to the finals but winning the final could be a little tough (whether it’s against India or Australia) as it’s gonna take place at the MCG (outside New Zealand). But, as someone who has been following New Zealand cricket very closely for last one year or so, I can tell you that they are the team to beat. For, theirs is the most balanced side in this World Cup thanks to the luxury of having someone like Daniel Vettori bat at number 8 (he has six Test Centuries to his credit and knows how to get quickfire runs or finish off close chases). His left arm spin can pose a serious treat to anyone for he is really good at changing his pace and has a lethal arm ball with which he has outfox many a batsman.

At the top they have Brendon McCullum who can tear any attack apart on his day and now that Martin Guptil is back in form the opening combination looks quite formidable. Kane Williamson at number 3 has been scoring truckloads of runs for the last couple of years (against India in 2013 he was unstoppable… a series that India lost 4-0). Ross Taylor has been a bit out of touch off late but he is a big match player and can change gears pretty quickly to the opposition’s dismay. Grant Elliott is hitting the ball really well and has to game to play in the middle overs as well as at the death.

Corey Anderson is the big hitter who can easily clear boundaries during powerplay and at the death. His left arm fast medium pace bowling is a great asset to this Kiwi lineup. Luke Ronchi, their wicket keeper, is quite aggressive in his batting approach and only recently scored an unbeaten 170 against SL, batting at number 7 which is a world record. Their bowling is spearheaded by Trent Boult (well mentored by Shane Bond) who can be a menace with the ball, bowling at 145 clicks regularly and the left arm pacer is equally deadly with both new and old balls.

Tim Southee is a very good swing bowler and provides perfect foil for Boult (though he doesn’t have the pace of Boult, with the new ball he can ball at above 140 without much difficulty). Though, he can go for runs sometimes early on, he has a knack for picking wickets in his second and third spells. Not to mention, he can hit the ball long, if needed at number 9. Then there is the young Adam Milne who, IMHO, is the most threatening first change bowler in the world. Bowling at 150 clicks is no big deal for him. He is also quite accurate and can hit the deck hard and is well capable of beating the batsman with his pace and bounce. He, in many says, is Trent Boult’s right arm equivalent.

All this makes New Zealand the team to beat, whether playing in small grounds or big grounds.

Posted in Quotidian | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Birdman (2014): The Expected Virtue of Unrestrained Brilliance

Birdman Poster

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscar nominated film Birdman, aka The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance, is a departure from the contemporary style of filmmaking. Iñárritu uses a technique that gives an illusion as if the entire film were shot in a single extended take. Birdman’s strong albeit bizarre dialogue and impeccable slapstick timing on one hand hark back to the works of the American screenwriter and playwright David Mamet, particularly Glengarry Glen Ross, while on the other, it strongly reminds of the films like Barton Fink and The Player in that it deglamorizes Hollywood while exposing its hypocrisies.

The movie tells the story of a washed up Hollywood actor—once famous for playing an iconic superhero called “Birdman”—as he battles both his inner demons and outer enemies in a desperate attempt to reinvent himself as a Broadway director by staging a new adaptation of a Raymond Carver short story called “What We Talk About When We Talk About Love”.

Birdman offers a nice blend of realism, surrealism and magic realism. Vintage Iñárritu, Birdman doesn’t feed any definitive answers but rather allows the viewers to engage at their own intellectual planes. While the entire cast puts up a brilliant show, Michael Keaton and Edward Norton deserve special mention for their sublime performances. For Norton, Birdman marks a return to form. As to Keaton, he delivers a performance so emphatic and complete that it can be easily described as the performance of the decade. One wonders what kept him from unleashing himself on the celluloid all these years. A must watch!

For more on the world of cinema, please visit my film blog “A Potpourri of Vestiges“.

Posted in Quotidian | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Europe Holidays

Europe Travel Destinations, Travel and Tours, Honeymoon Destinations

Are you about to get married and are looking for honeymoon destinations? Are planning for an adventure trip with your friends? It has been a long rough week at work and you have been working way too hard to meet those deadlines and targets. A long weekend is coming or you are looking at taking a break from work and go some place, alone or with friends or family, where you could stay away from the corporate routine and just enjoy to the fullest. It is always refreshing and welcome to start, after a break. It imparts you positive energy and pushes you to work smarter. Weekends are a way to give you, a chance to relax and recharge yourself for upcoming tasks in the next week and it would be no less than a treat to yourself if you plan it properly, a time well enjoyed is like an icing on the cake.

No doubts you must be bothering to find a good place to visit, and moreover a perfect plan to cover maximum of what the place has to offer. Europe has emerged as a favourite holiday destinations these days, with a plethora of places to visit in its countries. Be it Rome, Istanbul, London, Prague, Paris, Berlin, Venice, Amsterdam, every place has its own attractions to enjoy. While you are excited about your trip, it is also a devil’s task at hand to check out and finalize the places, manage everything etc. Travel and tours offer you the best of travel packages for visiting Europe, customized to your time and budget requirements be it honeymoon in Greece or romantic Switzerland. Nonetheless to say, it would take quite a while to appreciate the beauty and history associated with each place but owing to shortage of time, it is a preference to take a tour of famous spots. We understand your needs and we assist you in planning the same. We have multiple offers to choose from, ranging from month long planners to one week or even a few days stay. Travel and tours also offer various combo offers which can make your trip easier as you can even pre-book hotels for your stay. This will help you the unnecessary hassle when you arrive there tired and wary of looking for places to stay that are affordable in your budget. We have our services associated with cabs too, which also can be pre-booked and that can take you to the desired places utilizing your time the best, thereby facilitating you to make the necessary arrangements even before you reach there. Not only for tourists, Travel and tours also offer you to plan your business trips and can help you in arranging official meetings, customized to even include a few travel plans in your scheduled time.

Apart from these packages, we also assist you in getting your passport and visa applications and interviews done in time. These services come inclusive of the travel packages we offer. Travel and tours is committed towards making your holiday a lifetime experience with safety and comfort ensured together. Go ahead and book an international honeymoon for you and your special one.

Posted in Quotidian | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

A terrible personal experience that made me realize how big private hospitals trick people through their manipulative practices

Today, I had a terrible experience at the Saket City Hospital‘s Emergency facility. It being a Sunday, the hospital’s OPD facility was not available. The duty doctor at the Emergency facility tricked me into taking a very expensive Dengue Test despite my repeated telling that I had no symptoms associated with the dengue fever. All I had was body-ache and mild fever. The hospital staff made me lie on a bed for more than half an hour for no rhyme or reason. After a considerable wait an attendant finally came to take note of my pulse, bp, and temperature. And even though my temperature came out to be normal (around 98 degrees), the duty doctor prescribed a series of blood tests to be done. In the meantime, one of the staff members filled my papers (while still not allowing me to get up from the bed… insisting that I must take rest, again to my amusement).

At last I forced my way to the reception in great frustration wherein the cashier told me that my bill (tests as well as consultation fees) totaled around INR 5500. Obviously, I got the shock of my life. When I looked at the bill I noticed that the Dengue Test alone cost me more than INR 3000. When I objected the cashier told me that everything has already been processed and it can’t be undone. He asked me to pay the amount through card or cash. I wasn’t left with any option but to comply. However, the entire episode shook me badly. It also showed me the dark side of the medical profession in a developing county like ours. I wondered how these big private hospitals would trick poor and illiterate patients when they could easily bilk an educated youth like myself. I left the hospital premises feeling cheated and utterly disappointed and frustrated at the same time.

I sincerely hope that the concerned government departments/ministries would become sensitized in the near future and would come up with stringent guidelines and transparent complaint channels so as to keep a check on such manipulative practices in private hospitals across India.

Posted in Quotidian | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments