Monthly Archives: September 2014

Axwell /\ Ingrosso enthral audience with high-octane sounds

Axwell IngrossoAfter calling it quits, cohorts of the erstwhile trio Swedish House Mafia have come back as a team, Axwell /\ Ingrosso. Having debuted at the Governors Ball Music Festival at Randall’s Island in June, they recently wrapped up their gig in Bangalore at Sunburn Arena. At the concert, which was the first for the duo in India, they debuted new songs from an album due later this year like This time we can’t go home, Can’t hold us down, Sun is shining and so are you and On my Way. Their set also had a sprinkling of songs from Swedish House Mafia and from Alesso and Ghecko.

This album, for Universal Music Group’s Def Jam Recordings, is one of the firsts for the duo, as SHM never released an LP of their songs. Says Sebastian Ingrosso, “We’ve been working for almost a year on this album. But we are almost done. We are going to start releasing the singles soon and we are really excited for what’s coming.”

Despite riding a wave that popularised electronic dance music across the world, the brand of music they love to listen to is very different from what they produce and doesn’t always include progressive/house elements. “When it comes to listening to music, electronic music is very low on the list. Both of us listen to a lot of rock, hip-hop and folk. I listen to classical music sometimes,” Ingrosso confesses, to which Axwell adds, “We love listening to stuff we don’t normally get to hear in our line. Sometimes I go on to Spotify and just discover new music.”

A year since their last show in Bangalore for ‘One Last Tour’, this show rounded off their debut in style, as they enthralled the audience with high-octane sounds and a cacophony of pyrotechnics and SFX. How did it feel to be back in Bangalore? Ingrosso responds, “It was really really exciting. The weather is nice and here there’s a certain energy in the air. Last time, it was phenomenal but we didn’t know we would ever come back to India. But the feedback we got on social media for this tour is equally overwhelming; the excitement that we have come back to the city is great.”

Their gig at the Ultra Music Festival 2013 marked an end of an era in electronic dance music, as they parted ways to pursue their solo careers. Will they ever come back again as Swedish House Mafia? “No, that’s not we are thinking about right now,” informs Axwell.

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‘The word difficult doesn’t exist to me’

Shobhaa De

Writer and columnist Shobhaa De has nothing but praise for the literary environment in Bangalore. Having been part of Bangalore Literature Festival, the city’s uber event to celebrate the written word, De maintains that Bangalore has a very vibrant core, far removed from the IT tag it enjoys. “One thing that we cannot and should not lose sight of is the rich literary tradition that the state has always enjoyed over several hundred years. And Bangalore, in particular, being the hub of Karnataka, is a city which is way way beyond just a IT hub,” she states.

She notes that a literary festival here was overdue and she is glad that it is run by people who have genuine level of commitment and passion to provide a platform for diverse opinions, diverse points of view, debate, dissent and more. 

On freedom of expression

De has been quite vocal about issues plaguing the country, especially those concerning women. Yes, she admits that her writing has, time and again, drawn criticism from various quarters, but that doesn’t deter her. “The word difficult doesn’t exist to me. To tell the truth and to tell it fearlessly is every human being’s right. And we should take full advantage of being a part of a democracy, where our freedom, the constitution guarantees, will not be curtailed if there’s something worth fighting for.” Of course there will be people in the world who have more clout, who are more powerful, who want to harm you, she observes. But then again, that’s the test of your own character, of who you are, what you believe in. “Isn’t that the price worth paying?,” she asks emphatically.

On UR Ananthamurthy

This year, the festival commemorated UR Ananthamurthy, one of the exemplars of Kannada literature. De has her own experience to recount about the great storyteller. “We were on the panel at the last edition of Bangalore Lit Fest. And I like how fiery, feisty, articulate and unafraid he was in voicing his opinions. Not all of them were accepted, even by a very informed audience and crowd. Despite that, he was a giant as a thinker, as an iconic litterateur, who broke so many shackles, so many rules, freed so many people from their limited thinking and limited imagination.”

On writing

“I write every day of my life,” she declares, “I write for weekly columns, blogs, Twitter — writing on every level defines me and consumes me and that’s the way I want it to be always.” She is looking to start a new book soon. But she’s not sure what it will be about. “It’s only when an idea is about to explode inside my head and makes life unbearable for me, that I actually start the book. Because the idea has to be powerful enough for me to want to write it with that sense of passion and intensity.”

On the recent brouhaha on ‘ethical journalism’

Shobhaa De has gone on record, on her blog and on Twitter, about the recent spat between Deepika Padukone and a leading newspaper. Most of her comments stress that there is nothing wrong with sensational stories and the issue has been blown out of proportion by the actress who she once termed is “overrated and average-looking”. But when we asked her about it, she refused to comment, saying, “I write for the newspaper and I don’t have anything to say against them.”

An abridged version published in The New Indian Express on September 29, 2014

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‘Congress driven more by dynasty now’

A scion of the Nehru family, Nayantara Sahgal, is known to not mince words. Driven by her belief in non-violence, she published fierce essays condemning her cousin Indira Gandhi when she declared Emergency.

Over the years, Sahgal has illustrated through her acerbic writing how Congress, once a beacon of democratic integrity, has departed from Nehru’s ideologies. Once again, she voiced her opinion of the Gandhi family at the second day of the Bangalore Literature Festival on Saturday. “Congress, Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi are different entities for me. Congress is nothing like what Gandhi had envisaged. It is now driven by dynastic succession,” she said.

But Sahgal believes Congress can revive itself under Sonia Gandhi’s leadership but Rahul Gandhi should not be associated with her.

In Modi, she sees a better time for India. “Modi has risen from humble origins. That is a great tribute to the foundation of democracy laid at Independence and the social mobility that rose out of it,” Sahgal said.

Talking about her political personage, author Ritu Menon, whose book Out of Line dwells on Sahgal’s life and works, said, “She is a writer who has continued to be politically engaged with the kind of integrity that is rare in writers”.

On how she put together the biography, Menon said though Sahgal’s oeuvre is fiction, the political thread that runs through her writing forms the spine of the book. “Sahgal’s life, whether it is personal or familial, cannot be understood without understanding the political. Likewise, the literary cannot be read without a reference to the political and personal,” Menon concluded

First published in The New Indian Express on September 28, 2014

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Soak in the cultural extravaganza that’s the Bangalore Lit Fest

At the third edition of the Bangalore Literature Festival, the city’s literary excellence came into its own. Bringing together exemplars of the written word and also book lovers from the city, the festival went on to reiterate that Bangalore is undoubtedly a haven for literature enthusiasts, at the same time underscoring the literary diversity the city has to offer.

Talking about the fete, writer and columnist Shobhaa De averred, “I have been to festivals across India, lit fests across the world. But I have to say, there’s something about Bangalore Lit Fest that makes it exceptional.” Why? “The fact that the fest is noncommercial, that it is truly democratic in spirit, that we hear voices that we don’t hear at other lit fests, that we hear voices that speak their minds in a public space fearlessly, that we have a very receptive audience, that the city supports it the way it does, that the number grow and grow  with each passing year, everything is exceptional,” she responds.

Like Shobhaa De, who has been part of BLF since the first edition, bestselling author and screenwriter, Chetan Bhagat, who is considered a ‘youth icon,’ also has an interesting experience to recount. “When Shinie Antony (one of the founders) told me about the idea of starting a lit fest here, I thought to myself, ‘The city favours IT. Maybe an Android Developers Conference or a Java Coding Weekend would be more apt. Or at most, a traffic festival.’ But when I attended the first edition, I saw how well it was received. And now, in just three years it has become the most sought after events in the city.”

This year, the festival was dedicated to the memory of UR Ananthamurthy, a contemporary writer, master storyteller and legend. In three corners of the lawns at Crowne Plaza, panel discussions on diverse themes were held at makeshift tents named after three of Ananthamurthy’s greatest books. Departing from the previous editions, this year the fest has focused on literature by marginalised sections of the society and aboriginal writers.

Highlights of the panel discussions

Of books, cinema and women characters

The ever controversial Chetan Bhagat was in conversation with Shinie Antony about the predominance of strong women characters in his books and screenplays. He affirms, “I like women who are smart, intellectual, passionate. That is why no woman in my stories are props. Every single one is opinionated.”

His sometimes tongue-in-cheek, sometimes self-deprecating humour left everyone in splits. Among other things he also discussed why he has become the most spoken about author today. His take? Not because he is the best author, but because he is the bestselling author. “There are different types of writers and I write about real people, ordinary middle class life, I have to out there living that life, not running away from people. That makes me a little more visible. And I do have good marketing skills. So maybe that’s the reason why you hear about me than everyone else.”

On the plight of marginalised communities

Dhruba Hazarika, Pradyot Manikya Deb Burman and Binalakshmi Nepram spoke on the all-pervasive issue, ‘Does India neglect its eight sisters?’ Striking at the heart of the issue, Binalakshmi rues that myriad perceptions wrought by misconceived notions is why the north eastern frontier stands ostracised.

“How do you define the North east of India? It is a jungle land where you can exploit, a place where people eat everything that moves. If it is a man, he must be a drug addict and if it is a woman, she must be morally loose — these are the perceptions that are spiralling in today’s India.” It is not a place where half naked tribals live, she says. On the contrary, there’s so much that ‘India’ doesn’t know or want to know. “It constitutes of eight beautiful states, home to 45 million citizens, belonging to different ethnic groups, a place where India’s first oil was found, it a place of amazing potential.” And yet, it remains unbeknownst to most of us.

On a similar vein, a session on ‘Minority Report’ delved into the notion of secularism in the country today. One of the questions raised during this one hour debate was ‘Do we need a minority commission at all?’ Answering in the affirmative, Keki Daruwala justified, “We may have excellent laws but if the implementation is not satisfactory, it does not hold good. Implementers in our country are very often corrupt and partial. And I also feel the police in this country — and I have been to riots in Assam, Rajasthan, Uttarakhand where I  have witnessed this first hand — is biased and hence cannot be reiled on.”

On Kannada Literature

There was a session on Kannada literature where stalwarts like Vasudhendra, KS Pavitra and HN Arathi addressed concerns surrounding the pertinency of the language in the present day and age. Titled ‘Hosa Chiguru- New voices in Kannada’ the panelists shared ideas on how to promote the language not only by teaching it as a subject in schools and colleges but by enhancing its relevance through art, dance, poetry and music.

Things to look out for on Saturday

  • Writers Anjum Hasan, Susan Visvanathan, Palash Krishna Mehrotra, Usha K.R. and Saniya take a session on the art of writing short stories at at 10 am
  • We, the Children of India: Revisiting the Constitution of India with Leila Seth at 10.30 am
  • Around the Story Tree: Folk Tales withVikram Sridhar at 11.15 am
  • For children, a Ghostly Detective Workshop by Shweta Taneja at 4 pm
  • A session on contemporary Urdu literature in India anand Pakistan at 12 noon

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Portraying The ‘Real’ Story of Dance

p3pic2Almost all of Roy Campbell-Moore’s photographs can be categorised as avant-garde. Sweaty dancers populate the images, in movement against a low-light background, resting after a strenuous dance practice or during the frenzy before the performances. Most are gritty and not what you would call ‘picture perfect.’ But that’s his aim — to showcase the alternative world of dance, not just the beautiful side, and illuminate the relationship the dancers have with the art form. He says, “I try to photograph from the inside of the art form and that’s why not all photographs are necessarily beautiful.”

Giving this idea a further boost, Roy embarked on a project The Beauty And The Grit over a year ago, identifying dance companies across Wales and India, along the way aiming to cultivate a more personal examination of the art form among photographers and dancers. After completing a residency at the India Habitat Centre in Delhi and working with dance company, The Danceworx there, he is now in Bangalore, for his show that will run till Friday at Vismaya Art Gallery, Rangoli Metro Art Center.

He has also completed a four-day workshop with the Stem Dance Kampni, engaging with 15 different photographers. “We created a new short piece of dance for the company. The photographers had to capture everything part of the making process, from day one to the final performance. After that we had a showing of the different works at the studio. To me, the photographs came across as very passionate, very aggressive. It was fantastic. Even the dance performance was very unusual for the dancers because they had to learn a new way of western dance. But they were very enthusiastic,” he says.

Roy’s tryst with Bangalore started when he collaborated with Madhu Nataraj of Stem Dance Kampni about five years ago and since then he has been travelling back and forth teaching residencies and conducting workshops. He recalls, “One particular experience is very close to my heart. Six months ago, we created a series of 18 monumental installations, about 5 foot 1 inch in size showing how dancers engage with different spaces, be it dance studios, stray buildings, office buildings, even a Banana field. These were very unusual settings, and it was incredible. I don’t think I’ve ever done something like that in my life before.”

Roy has been photographing dance as a specialist for about 15 years after he stopped dancing. In fact, he was a ballet dancer for over 40 years and even founded the National Dance Company to promote arts back in Wales. But when he realised his love for photography, he stepped down from the role of an artistic director and even gave up dancing. He explains, “I happened to get into photography out of necessity. Back then, good photographers used to charge exorbitant fees. It was also expensive because we had to get them all the way down from London. So I thought I will try to do it myself, see how I can get on. After all, I knew the dancers better and I had a better understanding of the subject. So I bought the best camera I could get my hands on and started work. I studied hard for over three years and taught myself using tutorials. And then, it paid off.” And what does he consider the most rewarding aspect? He says it is the privilege of working with talented dancers and learning about them as people as well as subjects for his photography. But the main driving force is that it enables him to delve deeper into the art form.

First published in The New Indian Express on September 25, 2014

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Barracuda: Coming of age tale of a young athlete

barracuda-usTitle: Barracuda
Author: Christos Tsiolkas
Publisher: Hogarth
Published: September 9, 2014 (First published October 26th 2013)
Pages: 448
ISBN: 9780804138420
Rating: 3/5

It seems like the idea of Australia in the 21st century, with its cultures and subcultures, politics, middle class families, love and angst are themes you have come to expect from author Christos Tsiolkas. The same sardonic undertone present in The Slap (Remember “Welcome to Australia in the early 21st century”?) can be witnessed in Tsiolkas’ new book, ‘Barracuda,’ with similarities in the manner in which he dissects feelings of belonging and isolation.

We follow the life of Daniel Kelly who battles his inner turbulences, his relationship with his family and his mates at his new school, all through swimming. As a swimming prodigy, he is awarded a scholarship to a prestigious Melbourne private school, referred to in the novel as ‘Cunts College.’ Here, understandably, Kelly feels out of place. The only way he is able to insulate himself from all the slights directed at him is by swimming and winning. He assures himself, that he is the ‘strongest, fastest, best.’

But even as you, as a reader, start picturising laurels at Olympics for him, you are thrown off-kilter. In what is the central piece of the book, we watch passively as Kelly is almost a mute spectator of Sydney Olympics, battling again with his inner demons who keep nudging that he is a failure and also the country’s politics at play.

One of the key aspects of the book is the author’s handling of the narrative. We know from the start about Kelly’s phobia towards swimming pools, his time in prison, his relationship with his partner Clyde, but everything is mingled together so the crucial details are tantalisingly out of reach to the reader. The story, you can say, all over the place. This non-chronological approach, in effect, is Tsiolkas’ way of portraying the different dilemmas of his protagonist which in a way evokes some sympathy and pathos. Kelly’s dreams and aspirations, narcissism, violence and brutality and then gradual isolation is grudgingly very moving.

But even then, you can’t help but feel something is amiss. For Tsiolkas employs a manner of spelling out every single feeling experienced by Kelly rather than letting us see it for ourselves. This irritates the reader to the point where you stop sympathizing with Kelly. You find him way self-indulgent too.

Coming back to the style of the narrative, another grouse you may have is the author’s constant switching between third-person to first-person narrator: it can be awfully distracting when you are in the throes of reading an antagonizing story.

But you can easily forgive these imbalances as the underlying plot is bigger than the manner of portrayal. You inherently feel for Danny, weep as you grasp his rise as a swimmer and merciless decline and the sub plots, one of which is a gay couple pondering of parenting a baby.

His language, with visceral references and slangs reek of originality adds to the overall quality of the book. If you can stomach this and the poignancy and shame that occupies the book, Barracuda deserves a read.

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Follett tweaks beststeller formula

Ken FollettIn the world of books, Ken Follett is the stuff of legends. His writing is rooted in real events, be it the 1978 novel Eye of the Needle, a taut thriller about World War II espionage or Pillars of the Earth about the great medieval cathedrals of Europe. He weaves stories that imitate life. His latest project in the Century Trilogy, a collection of historical novels chronicling life around the world wars, is another set piece in his literary game.

Edge of Eternity

On September 16, the book Edge of Eternity was released in India by Pan Macmillan and Amazon India. Continuing the story in Fall of Giants and Winter of the World, the book traces lives of five families through the Cold war and civil-rights movements. In an email interaction, Ken Follett remarks about the premise of the book, “The terrible thing about the Cold War was that it could have been the end of the human race. If there was a nuclear holocaust, with the Americans bombing all the communist countries and the Russians bombing all the capitalist countries, we would all be dead. So although it never came to that, there was the constant fear during this period that nuclear war would break out and the human race would end.”

Moving from thrillers to historical fiction

‘Pillars of the Earth’ emerged from his profound interest and fascination with medieval cathedrals and the people who built them. To his surprise and everybody else’s, the book became even more popular than his thrillers. “It seemed that readers would enjoy historical novels from me as well as enjoy thrillers from me. So that’s how the switch came about and eventually I decided that historical novels were more fun to write and more pleasing to the readers too,” he tells us.

Then, after completing World Without End, Follett admits that he thought to himself, ‘I must do something like this again because people like it so much.’ He thought he should write another long historical novel but he didn’t want to write another medieval story; he wanted to write about a historical period that was dramatic. “That’s when I thought, why not write about the 20th century because it’s the most violent era in human history. We had two world wars and we had the threat of nuclear war. And also, it is the century that tells us where we come from.” And soon, as he was thinking about it, he realized it would be much better to write three books instead of one, a book for each of the great wars of the century.

His predilection for strong female characters

Ken Follett was one of the first writers to use strong women characters in his novels like Lucy Rose, the hero of Eye of the needle who kills the German spy at the end of the story. Ken notes, “That was very unusual in the 1970s when I wrote that book. It was unheard of. But nowadays it isn’t so unusual.”

He attributes this change to the difference in attitudes to women and the evolving role that women play in society. He opines, “Fifty years ago women were considered subordinate. So in the novels the men were more important. But during my lifetime, I have seen women question, ‘Wait a minute. Why should women be secondary to men?” This change was reflected in literature too.

The television world came knocking

His book, On Wings of Eagles, a true story about two employees who were rescued from Iran during the revolution of 1979, was turned into a miniseries and The Pillars of the Earth became an eight hour television show. And the Century Trilogy will also soon be made into a television series. But as an author, he finds the process of adapting books into television shows “thrilling but also a little nerve–wrecking.” He adds, “It makes me very nervous because I have been very careful writing the book to make sure that it all makes sense. There are no boring bits, the plot is logical and the characters are interesting. And then I give this book to somebody else, a television producer and he takes it apart. He has a script written which is different from my book. Well, he has to because he has to tell a story in pictures not words. I worry that when they change it they won’t be as careful as I was and they won’t do it very well. But, to be honest, in the end if the television series is well made, I get to look at the screen and see the characters I invented played by very good actors.”

Evolving as a writer

The bestselling author has been writing for over four decades now, having taken to writing when he realised he didn’t love newspapers. He recalls, “I wasn’t a terrible journalist but I wasn’t a great journalist either. Fiction was what I really liked. And it took me a few years to realize that my destiny was not in newspapers, it was in books.”

He went to work with a publisher soon after. And although his first books were not very successful — in fact he wrote ten books before he had a bestseller — he managed to carve out success for himself in the literary world.

Recently on a Reddit AMA (Ask me anything), he remarked, “What does writing represent? It’s my life! It’s what I do all day, every day.” And his wonderfully crafted, genre bending and ambitious stories, that emerge from his knowledge of the world and life, has delighted many a fan around the world.

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The book is available for purchase on Amazon

A version of this was published in The New Indian Express on September 18, 2014

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Revisiting War Through Letters

Great War

Title: Indian Voices of the Great War
Edited by: David Omissi
Publisher: Penguin Books India
Published: July 15, 2014
Pages: 382
ISBN: 9780670087112
Genre: Non-fiction, History, Letters
Rating: 5/5

There were about one million Indian soldiers who served in the First World War as a part of the British army. Of them, about 60,000 died and 9,000 were decorated for their valour. Yet, they remain unsung heroes, their sacrifices are not acknowledged in the post-colonial world. Their struggles and stories don’t find a place in history. The book Indian Voices of the Great War (Penguin India) aims to recount the stories of these forgotten heroes by opening a window onto the tremendous role that India played in Britain’s win in the Great War.

The 300-odd page book, edited by eminent historian David Omissi, is a collection of correspondence between Indian soldiers in Europe and their families and friends in the subcontinent, between the years 1914 and 1919. The letters, written in various Indian languages but translated for the purposes of the book, are powerful reminders of the different battles, raids and large-scale attacks upon the German lines and the weather conditions in various theatres of war.

Through the various letters we find out how some soldiers detested the war, likening the scale of it to the Mahabharata and the battle of Karbala. On the other hand, the manner in which some of the Indians resigned themselves to the inevitability of death, how stoically they reported stories of horror and carnage not wishing to cause distress to their families and friends, is moving. These letters also reveal the soldiers’ unflinching loyalty to the King and how the Rajputs, Pathans and others fought not for mercenary motives but to preserve their izzat. Importance was also placed on receiving decorations — especially of the Victoria Cross.

But their letters also prominently dwell on things other than the war. Several interesting stories about their day-to-day life in the faraway land stand out in this aspect: a soldier recalling his encounter with a friendly child who didn’t shy away from talking to him, another narrating to his father how ‘pleasant and beautiful’ the country of France was, how the fruits there were tastier than what you got in India, are wonderful reminders of ordinary things in face of the looming war. One soldier, towards the fag end of the war, expressed the benefits of educating a girl child, saying, “The advancement of India lies in the hands of the women; until they act, India can never awake from her hare’s dream.”

Talking about the book, a friend recently remarked, “This book will teach us more about the First World War than our textbooks did.” And this is not an exaggerated claim. The book is a unique and compelling account of the Great War by those who experienced it first hand.

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Buy this book from Amazon or Flipkart

First published in The New Indian Express on September 23, 2014

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Bad News Barrett wants his Intercontinental Championship title back

He is celebrated as the purveyor of ‘Bad News’, the powerhouse who has serenaded fans of WWE the world over with his “booms” amid punk rock music, his trash talk and his signature finishing move, The Bull Hammer Elbow. Now this superstar, Bad News Barrett is on an India tour and was recently in Bangalore too. The agenda? To promote wrestling in India, WWE and its various programmes like SmackDown and Raw.

Bad-News-BarrettDuring the WWE tour, which Bangalore has seen after two long years, Barrett even interacted with children from the NGO, The Open Door Foundation. Even as he reveals to us how their open-hearted enthusiasm and knowledge of WWE trivia floored him, he is quite kicked about how big WWE is in the country and how crazy and wild the fans are. He enthuses, “We have tons of fans here so it is a great opportunity to come out here and say hello to them. We always want to build our relationship with fans around the world and here in India especially, it has been a long time since we have been here. So we are all very excited to come out here again and let the people in India come and watch us perform. In fact, this is the kind of environment I would like to perform in. I have to say, the audience here in India for WWE is just going to grow.”

We ask him, after years of going back and forth, will WWE finally come to India? While he doesn’t confirm anything, this trip strongly suggests that the country will have its own Indian version soon, depending on TenSports India, which has just inked a deal with WWE till 2019. However, Barrett is quick to tell us that a special video game is on the cards, the worldwide release date of which is October 31. “It’s called WWE 2K15. I have played on the advance copy of it. It’s incredible actually, the realism, the graphics on this one is a huge step above what we have seen previously. They have brought in new calendars, monitoring systems to pick up all the minutiae about our faces and movements. It will be like watching TV,” he tells us animatedly.

Growing up in England, Barrett was trained in bare-knuckle brawls which was how he got into the wrestling arena. His rise to eminence was noted by all when he won the WWE NXT in the first season, setting the momentum for the championship. Recalling those early days, he opines, “NXT is completely different now than when I won it. Then, it was almost like a reality show. The winner became a WWE Superstar. Whereas now, it is a developmental system which has produced great talents like The Shield, The Wyatt Family, Bo Dallas and people like that, which is good. WWE universe is going to get access to these superstars of the future.” Occasionally some of them also come to him for advice, to learn about his talking ability, the way to woo the fans. But for the most part, he says, “They have great trainers down at Orlando who give them what they exactly need to know.”

It’s been a while since we have watched him on television, Barrett having been out of action after sustaining a shoulder injury during a match with Jack Swagger. What was disappointing even more than the injury was that he had to forfeit his Intercontinental Champion title. But he will return in November and he tells us, he will return with a vengeance. “I want my title back,” he exclaims and adds, “I don’t care who has the title, whether it is Dolph Ziggler, The Miz or anybody else. I will claim it back. And after that, I want to go to the WWE World Heavyweight Championship.”

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Does India Need a New iPhone?

iPhone 6 for IndiaIn a parody of the real iPhone 6 trailer, Bangalore-based stand-up comedian, Kenneth Sebastian, posing as a representative from the design wing of the company, gives us a funny picture of what the new iPhone will mean to us. Hilarious as this video may be, it does leave one thinking. Does India need a brand new iPhone?

A week ago, when the new iPhone 6 and 6 Plus were unveiled, Tim Cook mentioned that it was the biggest announcement in the history of iPhone. Yes, Apple has indeed come a long way since the launch of the first iPhone back in 2007, both in terms of the technology powering the phones and the screen sizes. And in yet another giant leap for the brand, it also announced the iWatch, the first smartwatch from the brand.

iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

But the reactions that the products have evinced are not what the Cupertino giant would be entirely pleased about. The humongous screen size is what has come under flak partly because of the striking aberration to what Steve Jobs said, “No one is going to buy a big phone.” Many users on Twitter have even likened the big-screen phone, iPhone 6 Plus, to phones from the company’s bitter rival Samsung, owing to its 5.5 inch design. The iWatch also faces some serious competition from the likes of Pebble and Moto 360 and the tech crowd has not minced words about their preferences, despite the fact that the iWatch allows you to send a heartbeat to another person.

Then, most importantly, speculations are rife about the flagships’ prices. The company recently slashed the price of the 16 GB iPhone 5s to `44,500. So, it is presumed the new phones will not be priced less than `50,000. A blogger, Tanmay S, recently pointed out, “If Apple has slashed prices of the 5s to start from ` 44,500 in India, you can very well expect the MRP of the 6 to be `53,500 and 6+ at `60,000.”

Is it worth the price? Given the sardonic remarks and spoofs that the phones have drawn, has Apple skimped on the features? Far from it, says the tech community. The 4.7 inch iPhone 6 has significant improvements – it has a DSLR-style camera that allows face detection; it is powered by the Apple A8 chip which promises to be 25 per cent faster; and the battery life is touted to support 14 hours of talk time and it has added support for calls over LTE and WiFi.  On the other hand, the much larger 6 Plus boasts of a 1,080p Retina HD display and ultrathin backlight, and is sleeker than the iPhone 5S. It also has the same 64-bit Apple A8 chip powering the iPhone 6 and offers 24 hours of talk time.

Ahead of the launch of the phones in India on September 26, the response from Apple consumers is polarised. Some who swear by the Apple brand name have second thoughts about purchasing the phone. Anisha, who works at an MNC, was one of the people to visit the Apple store in UB City when the iPhone 5s became available. She recalls, “I have always had the iPhone and I was dying to get my hands on the gold 5s. In fact, I waited for over a month till the gold phone was back in stock. But this time I would prefer to wait for a few months before I buy the new iPhone. The looks don’t appeal to me.” On the other hand, there is Ayush Roy, a content writer, who has his eyes set on the iPhone 6 or 6 Plus. Why? He responds, “I have owned an iPhone 4 for the past four years. Compared to all other phones I see around me, I like this one. And I am very comfortable with the brand.”

Competition brands have been quick on the uptake. In a recently released ad featuring the Note 4, Then and Now, Samsung takes a dig at Apple, indicating that it was the Korean giant who has the first mover advantage in the phablet category. The phone has also attracted its fair share of criticism from the Android community, even as some arguments have been rubbished by the Apple fans as baseless. One infographic that was posted on Twitter went on to show comparisons between the features  of new iPhone 6 and the Nexus 4, which was launched two years ago, quipping, “If you need help with your iPhone’s new features, just ask an Android user. We’ve had this stuff for years.”

But like always, Apple has managed to create tremendous buzz on social media and elsewhere. And whether the new form factor will work in the company’s favour, whether we will see people make a beeline to Apple stores, whether the iWatch will manage to set itself apart from the rest, only time will tell.

Some funny tweets from around the world

First published in The New Indian Express on September 16, 2014

Categories: Articles- New Indian Express, Technology | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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