September 30, 2013

Whose Mother-in-Law is it anyway?

I always get fascinated how the real owners of society have managed to raise armies to fight their causes for free.

The war in Syria?

No. No, looking at the "SAVE Attharintiki Daaredhi" campaign. I am really impressed at the majestic display of power that our leaders have in controlling the minds, thoughts and actions of the people. It's truly remarkable.

Save what campaign?

Attharintiki Daaredhi (translates to “Which way to my mother-in-law’s house?”) It’s a Telugu movie starring actor Pawan Kalyan. Scores and scores of young Pawan Kalyan fans around the world took to the streets and social media to “save” the movie.

Save the movie from what?

From internet piracy

How do you do that?

By raising awareness about the evils of internet piracy. On how by the act of selfishly watching a pirated version of the movie in the comfort of our bedrooms, we are no different from pickpockets, robbers and dacoits raiding and stealing from the movie producer’s coffers.

They are posing the most important moral question of our age: What kind of assholes deliberately do things that affect the lives of so many hard working actors, directors, producers and crew and their families?

That sounds like bullshit a Hollywood lawyer would throw at Pirate Bay. How did it all start?

Some guy with a wicked sense of humour, allegedly an editing assistant who worked on the movie, leaked high quality footage of the first 90 minutes of the movie onto the internet even before its release.

The fans (mostly males in their early teens to late twenties) were horrified at this news. They shook their head in sacrilege disbelief and wanted to fight this injustice. They took to streets, got on twitter, and formed an army. They fist-pumped, chest-bumped and high-fived each other, made resolutions to fight this war and defeat those cyber pirates.

They were not going to rest till the last pirated copy of the movie was removed off the net. They are going to make everyone go to the theatres and watch the movie there. They are going to ensure the profits for the producers. They will to use this opportunity to showcase their collective strength and establish their superiority over fans of other heroes. They will make their hero be proud of them.

Thus the campaign "Kill Piracy – Save Attarintiki Daredi – Save Telugu Films" was born.

You guys are nuts!

That is only the beginning. Telugu movie fans all around the world spontaneously burst into action. Some fans have taken resolutions to watch the movie two or three times in the theatre just to pay for the sins of their fellow dishonest Gult citizens and green card holders. They organized themselves on the social media to report links to the anti-piracy cell so that those links can be taken down and legal notices sent if required. Pawan Kalyan’s fans have formed an alliance with Mahesh Babu’s fans to raid CD shops selling pirated mp3s and shut them down.

They have shared, put up and walked around with Save Attharintiki Daredi, Save Telugu Film Industry posters and banners. Some NRIs even released videos of them wearing PAWANISM T-shirts and trying to articulate the power and greatness of their hero on their way to watch the movie. And finally when news reports emerged that the movie broke box-office collection records, they celebrated by bursting crackers on a weekday afternoon.

What is this PAWANISM?

PAWANISM is a way of life that involves watching celebrating every Pawan Kalyan movie that releases, following and worshipping the stunts, dialogues, dance and charisma of their leader Pawan Kalyan who is rumoured to be an intellectual because he was once seen wearing a Che Guevara T-shirt inside a shopping mall. The intellectual part thankfully is just a rumour.

Is he that good?

No, nothing like that. They just idolize the fictionalized persona of a mediocre actor who happens to be the younger brother of actor-turned-politician Chiranjeevi. It’s not just Pawan Kalyan. Every movie star has a religious following like that.

I don’t know why but part of being a fan includes praising the actor’s masculinity. All the characters in these movies make unsubtle references to the hero’s manliness, ferocity, tiger-like agility, his lion-like courage, the mass appeal of his family, his forefathers’ virility and the awesomeness of his fans and followers in general.

The fans are really into what metaphors are used to praise the power, stamina, influence and the greatness of their hero. It is one of the aspects of the movie they look forward to and compete with fans of other rival heroes on this idea of masculinity. This even forms the basis of college politics in a lot of colleges in Andhra. These manhood issues are a very recent phenomenon.

You people are nuts! I understand hero worship. Europeans break each other’s jaws over football rivalry all the time. I am all for people punching strangers in the face but fighting internet piracy like this is a little hypocritical, don't you think? I mean when was the last time you Googled "XYZ movie songs free download" and felt guilty about it?

Exactly! The hypocrisy is Himalayan. I want to take yoga classes to expand my consciousness so that I can fully appreciate the supreme irony of all this.

I know you humans and I know you are not a very honourable species to begin with. You guys aren't acing any moral-science exams just as yet. You routinely lie about what you are and what you do to your parents, bosses, girl-friends, the income tax department, traffic police and pretty much everyone. You cheat like it is your birth right if you can get away with it but two days before the release of the movie, you people are out on the streets lecturing everyone about rights and wrongs… screaming about protecting intellectual property of Telugu film makers?

That's the thing. What is so "intellectual" about these movies that warrant "protection"? The Telugu Film Industry is not oozing with original ideas and creativity by any standard. Scripts, story lines, jokes, action sequences, and music scores are routinely ripped off with impunity from Hollywood, Hong Kong, Korean and other world cinema and suddenly, this special group of anointed fans get a sudden attack of conscience, grant themselves moral worthiness, act like cyber vigilantes, shutting down shops, reporting links…

So they are trying to protect the intellectual property rights of people who have no problem stealing from others?

Pretty much. Let me make one point absolutely clear. I have nothing against this movie. I have not seen the movie. I haven’t even seen the trailer. Bits of it are probably funny. I heard that the second heroine is hot. In fact, I respect the talents of writer-director Trivikram Srinivas. The quality of the movie is NOT my concern here at all.

What is amusing to me is the total lack of perspective in these self-organized armies of fans that have formed to defend the financial interests of the movie's investors. If you look at their hard disks, I bet you’ll find a lot of Allari Naresh movies, contraband Hollywood movies and illegal porn. They didn’t buy those original DVDs. They downloaded them from the internet, just like everyone else. Let them first pay for all the HD movies, the HBO series and for all the times they jerked-off for free, maybe then I'll listen to their lectures on “The honourable way of watching a movie”

Every movie industry in the world has been reeling with the problem of piracy for a couple of decades now and Tollywood has solved it. Their efforts of building the mythology of macho star power seemed to have paid off. The most interesting thing is that these people spend their own money in droves and then take pride in the profits it generated for someone else. Even Apple cannot dream of such obedient consumers!

Here's what I find really pitiful about the fans. If anyone of the ethical self-righteous movie-going fans, after all that they have done to save the profits of the movie, walk up to the producer for a chat or something, he would most probably treat them with the same contempt as a shepherd treats a goat in his herd. The industry doesn't care about the fans. They don't give a damn. All they care is how to take their money as easily as possible. And they are already doing it quite efficiently.

Think about it. If the actors and the directors really had even the tiniest bit of respect for their loyal fans, they would at least have the decency to put an honest effort into making movies instead of selling the same recycled misogynist machismo drivel shot in a foreign location.

Instead we have fans trying really hard to say nice things about the movie with a sense of duty. And mind you, all this action is happening when the state itself is going through the worst political crisis in decades.

I totally forgot about it. Wasn't your state supposed to be split into two or three?

Yeah, ever since the central government declared in August that it is proactively considering bifurcation of the state of Andhra Pradesh, a huge political turmoil ensued in all parts of the state.

Schools and colleges were shut down, protests and strikes were enforced, banks refused to open for business, industries became inoperable, government employees are on strike, public transport is paralysed, and politicians are making trips to Delhi contemplating in their business class seats if they should threaten to resign and yes, the release of Attharintiki Daaredi itself got postponed for the same reason.

This Samaikhya Andhra paralysis is happening at a time when the economy is already at its worst with the collapse of the manufacturing sector due to the power shortage, the on-going agrarian crisis, and massive unemployment. The postal department made an announcement for two hundred odd clerk posts and more than ten thousand people – many of them unemployed engineers with education loans on their head – applied for those clerk posts! That is the future.

A lot of these fans themselves are staring into the same uncertain future but reality doesn't seem to bother them at all. The box office fortunes of their hero's films continue to be their biggest concern in life.

Am I supposed to empathize with them?

Do you want to?

I am not answering that question.

Most of this is written by Flawsophy