Monday, January 21, 2008

Lead India, Bollywood

As we celebrated our 60th year of Independence last year, most media channels and papers flouted the great history gone by and other blah. Tsk. Seen that the previous year. And the year before that, and before that....

But the Times of India did manage to come up with a new one - the Lead India initiative. Lead India played on the prevailing sentiment of the urban educated populace that ‘‘Good people don’t want to join politics" and set out to look for the one potential leader who could act as a change agent. The winner would get a lump sum amount of cash to be able to implement their dream project, as also widespread promotion across the newspaper and TV that would act as a springboard to public life.

They received a lot of applications. Initial public reception was also promising. After various interviews, discussions, debates, they came up with 8 city-level winners, who would then slog it out on national television. These eight came from various fields - lawyers, ex-venture capitalists, ex-CEO, civil services, etc., all who have been working towards some form of social or infrastructural upliftment. You'd think it would require more intellectual folks to be able to grill these contestants to find the winner.

Yeah, the Times of India found the intellectual, intelligent jury members to put the contestants to test. They found them in Bollywood.

Yes, India's favourite mind-numbing profession provides majority of the judges. It's generally belittling the whole point of it, but more importantly, my heart goes out to the contestants who are made to answer to these folks!

A sampling of the questions contestants have been quizzed on can be found in these excerpts from the Lead India site:

"...The jury was in its element in the ‘bluff round’. Each finalist picked a judge, from whom Kher asked a question. The judge would provide an answer, after which the finalist had to guess whether it was correct or a bluff. Abha Singh thought she had a sitter when Kher asked Javed Akhtar what was the only category for which Sholay won a Filmfare award. “Best dialogue,” he replied. Singh agreed. It turned out the answer was Best Editing! “We (Salim-Javed) did win Best Dialogue that year, but for Deewar,” explained Akhtar..."

"...The audio-visual round was next. One of the visual clips was from the popular Sanjay-Dutt Hrithik Roshan starrer Mission Kashmir. “I suppose you think I’ll ask you the name of the movie,” chortled Kher to Delhi’s Sanjiv Kaura. “But tell me, who played Sanjay Dutt’s wife in the movie?” “I didn’t even know the name of the movie,” admitted Kaura..."
These were from the 'first competitive episode'. Great way to start - we can't have folks who know squat about Bollywood running our country!

Talk about poor finishing.


Payal said...

Well, what would you expect when TOI takes the initiative? Frankly, I was put off the whole thing seeing what they are using as the "logo" for the campaign -- substituting a supposedly "modern" figure in front of the Gyarah Murti statue (I don't know it's official name), and obscuring Gandhi!

Temujin said...

Yeah what started out with a great potential is turning out into a farce of comical proportions - a la travesty of potential leaders being forced to turn into Indian Idol - like contestants.

Having said that one can only hope that the publicity generated by this exercise resonates with at least in some quarters resulting in a. Improvement of quality of such programs and b. a launchpad for these contestants to do something really meaningful for the country (Some of them do really have amazing credentials!)