Posts Tagged ‘Evolution’

Charles Darwin, were he to be around in the exciting times that we live in these days, and if commissioned by a prominent Hollywood studio to study the manner in which Hindi movies have evolved over time, might have come up with some unique insights into the matter!

Perhaps, he might have proposed that movies do change over time, that new movies often pop up from some of the pre-existing ones, and that all movies share two common ancestors – an Adam who keeps providing the producers with healthy returns on their investment and an Eve who keeps nourishing wide-eyed-and-glued-to-their-seats kind of denizens with wholesome entertainment. He might have proposed that the concept of entertainment itself has undergone a major transformation. If the audience in the past used to get entertained by movies based on classical music and dance forms – like Baiju Bawra (1952) and Jhanak Jhanak Payal Baaje (1955), the flavour of the season now is that of item numbers, say, something on the lines of ‘Laila o Laila…’ in Raees (2017), which are meant for momentary gratification only, soon to be forgotten.

Recently, Bandish Bandits (2020) came as a whiff of fresh air.

He might have pointed out that there are indeed movies which try to convey a social message as well, but these belong to a different genre/species. When it comes to caste-based prejudices, we have had Sujata (1959), Masaan (2015) and Article 15 (2019). A movie like Jhund (2022) showcases the everyday struggles of vagabond Dalit youngsters, haunted by the humiliating gaze of society. Speak of the disadvantaged and we are apt to think of Ankur (1974), Akrosh (1980), Chakra (1981) and Nil Battey Sannata (2015). Think of the angst of the educated unemployed and we discover Albert Pinto Ko Gussa Kyoon Aata Hai (1980) and Rang De Basanti (2006). Speak of sex workers and movies like Chandni Bar (2001), Chameli (2003) and Gangubai Kathiawadi (2022) pop up in our minds.     

He might have even concluded that there is no universally applicable formula for whipping up a blockbuster, that past success does not guarantee future conquest, that such formulae have a rather short shelf-life, and that one must factor in the then prevailing social mores, the economic condition of the target audience and the impact of disruptive technology which has its own pace of evolution. If a delectable mix of sex and violence worked at a time, and if star power was the magnet which kept the box office aflame, content, acting prowess and slick editing work the magic now.

He might have pointed out that each genre/species has its own unique characteristics, that each one has its own path of evolution, and that the onset of the multiplex phase, followed by the OTT-era, has enabled our dream merchants to climb newer heights of imagination. Those of us who have loved such series as Gullak (2019-2022) and Panchayat (2020 onwards) might concur with this thought.   

Specifically, he may have made a few general observations about the evolution of our Hindi movies over time:

Some Tectonic Shifts

In the pre-partition days, the audience lapped up offerings which were based on values, patriotism, mythology, or religious beliefs. Raja Harishchandra (1913), Bhakt Vidur (1921), and Amar Jyoti (1936) can be mentioned in this context. Kismet (1943) was a different cup of tea altogether.   

In the years followed by India’s independence, hopes for a new country ran high. Besides romantic ones, idealistic movies steeped in socialistic thinking – like Awara (1951), Boot Polish (1954), Jagte Raho (1956), Do Aankhen Barah Haath (1957), Mother India (1957), Pyaasa (1957), and Phir Subah Hogi (1958) – came up. Mythologicals like Sampoorna Ramayan (1958) and Mahabharat (1965) also kept the audience engaged.  A primarily agrarian economy liked such offerings as Do Bigha Zamin (1953).  

In the next decade, we loved seeing movies like Mughal-E-Azam (1960), Hum Dono (1961), Sangam (1964), Guide (1965), and Aradhana (1969).

During the 1970s, the angst of the common man was identified by our dream merchants to be a key point of attraction. Movies like Deewaar (1975) and Sholay (1975) came to rule our collective psyche. Thanks to the likes of Shyam Benegal, Govind Nihalani and others, the parallel cinema stream catered to the tastes of the intelligentsia. We also had some Hollywood-style movies with a taut script, such as Ittefaq (1969) and Achanak (1973). The critics loved these, but not the non-discerning audience sold on cheap melodrama.

Thereafter, many of us would remember Tezaab (1988), Chaalbaaz (1989), DDLJ (1995), Lagan (2001), and Bunty aur Babli (2005). Somewhere down the road, cheap, low budget movies aimed at the front benchers also flooded the market. Many of these were South Indian productions made on tight budgets starring the likes of Jeetendra etc. in this phase, the production sources were dubious, and films were tasteless and crass. Over time, the upper classes withdrew from cinema halls and started devouring movies on VCRs.

Thanks to economic liberalization, we started becoming Westernised to an unrecognisable extent. Consumerism started blooming. The joint family system started disintegrating. Individualistic themes gained prominence. Gradually, we found ourselves faced with the reality of living not only in ‘Bharat’ but also in ‘India.’  The former was catered to by single-screen theatres. However, thanks to upward mobility, rising incomes, and ready availability of international merchandise, the culture of shopping malls and multiplexes sprouted. The multiplex phenomenon opened the doors for shorter and crisper flicks, based mostly on urban-centric themes. The cinematic landscape changed, offering ultra-commercial masala fare dished out by the likes of Subhash Ghai and Sanjay Leela Bhasali to the ultra-niche cinema of Vishal Bhardwaj, R Balki, Anurag Kashyap and Madhur Bhandarkar. 

Over time, internet became easily available and then OTT followed. We, the audience, exposed as we were to international media offerings, became choosier. Now, our critical eye looks at a wider range of the cinematic offerings – its genre, storyline, acting prowess of the characters, music, camera movements, technical excellence, and so forth.

The Yin and Yang Balance  

Most of you who have examined the phenomenon of falling in love would agree that in the earlier days of Bollywood, those belonging to the tribe of the so-called sterner sex happened to be the dashers and the knights in shining armours who could do nothing wrong. All the hero had to do was to flex his muscles, and a coy member of the tribe of the so-called delicately nurtured would swoon and fall in his arms. Most of the times, the females would not be dashers but merely dormice, exerting their soft power occasionally. Only once in a blue moon, when pushed with their backs to a wall, did they strike back.

Cut to the present. The heroes are no longer diffident about shedding their macho image and reveal their softer side on the screen. The heroines have now become far more decisive and assertive. They resist amorous advances. They call the shots. They continue to be as beautiful as ever but have become far bolder. Now, they come into their own out of sheer free will, revealing the inner strength they possess.

Even though the fight against a deeply entrenched patriarchal mindset is far from being over, the Yin-Yang balance has tilted in favour of the females. They rule the roost. On the other hand, the males are no longer shy about showing their vulnerabilities. The male rabbit often gets attracted by a female dasher. He no longer has the luxury of concentrating on some mild, gentle dormouse with whom he could settle down peacefully and nibble lettuce. In the past, we had Arth (1982) where the heroine chooses to lead a life independent of either her well-wisher or her ex-husband. Of late, we have had such movies as Astitva (2000), Aitraaz (2004), Wake-Up Sid (2009), Inkaar (2013), Queen (2013), Dedh Ishqia (2014), Ki and Ka (2016), English Vinglish (2012), Thappad (2020), and Jugg Jugg Jiyo (2022), which speak of women empowerment. On the OTT platforms, we have had Delhi Crime (2019), Bombay Begums (2021), Modern Love Mumbai (2022), and Modern Love Hyderabad (2022).

Not to forget such stand-alone female-centric movies as Kahaani (2012), Gulaab Gang (2014), Mardaani (2014), Parched (2015), Nil Battey Sannata (2015), Jai Gangaajal (2016), Neerja (2015), and Gunjan Saxena (2020), where males play either a supplementary or a villainous role. 

Of late, script-backed roles for heroines have gained better traction. The effeminate side of males has garnered better prominence. Heady days are here!

Mamma Mia!

The image of the Indian mother has got a 180-degree makeover.

From a weepy, sacrificing Sulochana (Dil Deke Dekho, 1959) and Nirupa Roy (Do Bigha Zamin, 1953) to a dictatorial Dina Pathak (Khoobsurat, 1980) and Supriya Pathak (Goliyon Ki Rasleela Ram-Leela, 2013), we have seen her role metamorphosing over the decades. Now, we even have a mother who hatches a plan to torture/murder an abusive son-in-law, a la Shefali Shah (Darlings, 2022)!

Yes, we have always had the morally upright mother who goes to an extreme to restrain her errant son, like Nargis (Mother India, 1957) or Reema Lagoo (Vaastav, 1999).

Sex Education

No more flowers swaying in a gentle breeze touching other flowers. We are not only beautiful; we are also bold. Steamy scenes are now an essential part of a movie/series. Several movies use the services of an ‘Intimacy Director’ to manage the delicacy of such scenes, when getting shot. Teenagers no longer need to necessarily depend upon unreliable sources to learn the nuances of love making.

Consider the 1953 version of Parineeta (Ashok Kumar, Meena Kumari) wherein the mere act of garlanding signifies a matrimonial alliance. However, in the 2015 version (Saif Ali Khan, Vidya Balan), the level of intimacy between the couple goes to a different level altogether.

LGBT relationships are out of the closet and no longer make us raise our eyebrows, like Fire (1996) managed to do in the past. Whether it is a series like The Fame Game (2022) or movies like Badhai Do (2022) or Maja Ma (2022), such affairs are now out in the open.  

Technology Rules

No more dacoits on real horses. Thanks to our new-found sensitivity towards other species, most scenes depicting animals depend on technology, which has made things easier. Compare the magnificent battle scenes of Mughal-E-Azam (1960) with those of Samrat Prithviraj (2022). In the latter, whole battalions of soldiers can be seen marching ahead in perfect unison, putting our brave soldiers who participate in the Indian Republic Day parade each year to shame. The absurdity and the sheer artificiality of the scene made me laugh out aloud, prompting my multiplex co-viewers look at me with scorn, their shapely highbrows raised more than an inch.   

‘Dishoom-dishoom’ scenes have all but vanished. Instead, what we have now are gravity-defying stunts which would be leaving Sir Isaac Newton shaking his head in disbelief and perhaps even squirming in his grave.

The day is not far off when AI-backed tools will be churning out innovative scripts, screenplays, and lyrics, leaving many of the Bollywood writers and lyricists crying all the way to their respective banks.

The Diminishing Returns of Tragedies

One of the side-effects of the arrival of economic liberalization has been the reduction in the audience’s appetite for outright tragedies. When the aspirational upwardly class is obsessed with chasing economic goals, there is a greater need for positive narratives and happy endings. Tragedies like Andaz (1949) and Sahib, Bibi aur Gulam (1962), featuring such actors as Dilip Kumar and Meena Kumari, gradually become passe. While feel-good and revenge-oriented themes continue to be popular, movies like Matto Ki Saikil (2022), which depict the harsh realities of life, receive critical acclaim but meet with open disdain at the box office.

Many Shades of Grey

Gone are the days when we would be shuddering in our seats in a theatre while listening to Amrish Puri saying ‘Mogambo khush hua…’ while drumming his heavily ring-infested fingers on one of the arms of his throne, or Gabbar Singh calling out ‘Arre o Sambha, kitne aadmi they…?’ while prowling around menacingly with a pistol aimed at three of his terrified cronies, or Prem Chora pouncing upon a damsel in distress with clear intentions of outraging her modesty while mouthing such dialogues as ‘Prem naam hai mera, Prem Chopra’.

If Pran was a suave but scheming villain unleashing his vicious plans on a hapless couple, Ajit, duly attired in a white coat and even wearing white-coloured shoes, sent quite a few shivers down our spines. In each story, there was a good guy and a bad guy. When the ‘angry young man’ happened, the hero’s character itself took on an unapologetic black shade.

If Sholay set a new benchmark in the action sequences, directors like Vidhu Rahul Rawail, Vinod Chopra, and Ram Gopal Verma gave us gut-wrenching fights and dreaded villains in such movies as Arjun (1985), Parinda (1989), Satya (1998), Shool (1999), and Shiva (2006). These showcasedraw cycle chain and knuckle duster fights.

The advent of characters with negative shades has further accentuated this transformation; think of Shahrukh Khan in Baazigar (1993) and Darr (1993), Kajol in Gupt (1997), Aishwarya Rai in Khakee (2004), and Aamir Khan in Fanaa (2006), just to name a few.

I am skipping flicks in the horror genre here because I have never watched any of these.

Once liberalization happened, nobody had the nerve to lash out at a rich guy. Wealth ceased to be a liability; instead, it became a desirable goal and a badge to be unabashedly worn on one’s sleeve. Blacks and whites disappeared from our screens, and shades of grey became predominant. Movies moved closer to the real world and ceased to be pure fantasies. 

The brain started kicking on all its six cylinders and eventually started ruling over brawn. In the past, cerebral offerings such as Jewel Thief (1967) were few and far between. Now, we have the likes of Kahaani (2012), Andhadhun (2018), Raat Akeli Hai (2020) and Drishyam (2013, 2022) keeping us biting our nails and twiddling our thumbs trying to figure out what will hit us next.  

This trend gained further traction owing to a seminal change brought about by OTT. Think of Abhishek Bachchan playing Bob Biswas in Breathe: Into the Shadows (2020) series.

The original script of one of our epics, Ramayana, is still there. But the shades of the hero and the villain have evolved. Achieving the goal has become supreme; means be damned. Just like the characters in Mahabharata, different shades of grey prevail.

Lingua Franca

Given the delightfully rich diversity of Indian languages and dialects, movie makers obviously do a smart thing by resorting to the local dialect when presenting different characters on the screen. For example, Aamir Khan mouthed dialogues in what is alluded to as the tapori dialect of Mumbai (Rangeela, 1995). Tamannah Bhatia aped the Haryanvi dialect in Babli Bouncer (2022).  

But when the characters start using cuss words, things go a bit too far, especially in movies which are meant for general viewing. Take the case of Vidya Balan in Ishqia (2010) or Rani Mukherji in No One Killed Jessica (2011).

However, with the plethora of movies and serials which capture the endeavours of northern hinterland warlords inundating our screens of late, this appears to have become a trend. The warlords wait till the end to jump into the fray directly. They let their henchmen do the dirty work, while they enjoy a public life which is as pure as freshly driven snow.

Likewise, urban-themed offerings now ape the American way, routinely using such words as sh*t, fu*k, and the like. This is the new normal.

Consider Gangs of Wasseypur (2012), Jamtara – Sabka Number Ayega (2020), Masaba Masaba (2020), and Hush Hush (2022) for instance.

The Loo Mania

Relieving oneself in open is rather common in India. However, to have it depicted on our screens, is rather nauseating and appalling. By doing so, the message given out is that it is perfectly normal to do so.

Even our top-notch actors have not shied away from performing such acts. Many of us would remember Akshay Kumar gleefully doing it in Singh is Kinng (2008), Madhavan and Sharman Joshi in 3 Idiots (2009), Ranbir Kapoor in Besharam (2013) and Yeh Jawaani Hai Diwaani (2013), Aamir Khan in PK (2014), and Anupam Kher in Baby (2015).

The fact that a tactic of this kind needs to be resorted to merely to improve the Comic Quotient of a movie goes on to show our directors and script writers to be woefully short of imagination at times. 


The Sounds of Music

Over the decades, the music in Hindi movies has evolved in more ways than one.

Mother Nature Gets a Short Shrift

Elements of nature (moon, rains, lakes, rivers, seasons, clouds…) have gone missing. High rises, cityscapes, interpersonal relations take the front seat. So do emotions, feelings, and the like.

Songs like ‘‘Ye raat ye chandni phir kahaan…’ (Jaal, 1952), ‘Aaja sanam Madhur chandni mein hum…’ (Chori Chori, 1956), ‘Ye raatein ye mausam…’ (Dilli Ka Thug, 1958), ‘O sajana, barkha bahaar aayi’ (Parakh; 1960) and ‘Chalo dildaar chalo, chaand ke paar chalo…’ (Pakeezah, 1972) have almost vanished from the silver screen. Once in a while, we get treated to such songs as ‘Suraj hua maddham’ (Kabhi Khushi Kabhi Gham; 2001), ‘Barso re…’ (Guru, 2007) and ‘Hawaayein…’ (Jab Harry Met Sejal, 2017).

Visual Appeal Elbows Out Our Ears and Minds 

Gradually, the orchestra and the sound have elbowed out the lyrics somewhat. Songs which appealed to the audience not only for their deep layered meaning but also for their soulful music have become part of a rare breed. Philosophical truths of life have got relegated to the background. Thus, we have become used to getting entertained by offerings which accord a higher priority to our ears than to our minds.

Moreover, with the new-found zeal for quick cuts, adroit camera work and the razzle-dazzle of a heightened visual appeal, we have virtually stopped hearing songs and have willy-nilly become reconciled to seeing them. Cinematography rules. Locations keep changing in quick succession. Even before we have had the chance to savour one, the next one pops up. The camera has become obtrusive. Even if a patriotic song like ‘Teri mitti mein mil jaawan…’ (Kesari, 2019) comes up, we are exposed to a visual world which is in the fast forward mode. Since our eyes are constantly being bombarded with visual information, the hapless ear often has no other option but to take the back seat. 

Actors no longer need to worry much about their lip-synching abilities. Most songs get relegated to the background.

Cabarets have metamorphosed into ‘item numbers’.

Lullabies Lose Out to Screen Time for Kids!

No longer do we have scripts with room for any lullabies. Remember ‘Aa ja ri aa, nindiya tu aa…’ (Do Bigha Zamin, 1953), ‘Mein gaoon tum so jaao…’ (Brahmachari, 1968) and ‘Pyara sa gaon…’ (Zubeida, 2001)? Of late, the only lullaby we got treated to was ‘Jo tum saath ho…’ (Salaam Venky, 2022).

Kids are smarter these days. They need only their technical gizmos to get to sleep. Parents may rest easy. Inspired by ‘Mere buddy…’ (Bhootnath, 2008), grandparents of all hues, sizes and shapes are busy honing their dancing skills!

Like real-life kids, reel-like kids have also become far more intelligent, often mouthing dialogues which would leave us twiddling our thumbs trying to figure out their real age. Gone are the day of innocence epitomized by Baby Naaz, Daisy Irani and Baby Farida.

Species Which Have Become Extinct

Besides vamps and villains, poor comedians have also become mostly extinct. Though we still have the likes of Raghuvir Yadav and Rajpal Yadav entertaining us, the separate comedy tracks have all but vanished from our screens. Such roles have been usurped by mainstream heroes and heroines.

The comic timing of such talented artists as Sridevi (Chandni, o meri Chandni…Chandni, 1989) and Akshay Kumar (Hera Pheri, 2000 onwards) has consigned the parallel comedy track in which we earlier had such character artists as Johnny Walker, Mehmood, Mukri, Agha, Tuntun, Aruna Irani, Manorama et al, to the dustbins of history. In the past, even some villains had tried their hands at comedy, and successfully, at that. I refer to Amjad Khan in such movies as Qurbani (1980) and Chameli Ki Shaadi (1986).

An interesting phase was that of the Wodehousian comedy of a subtle kind, presented to us by such artists as Om Prakash, Utpal Dutt, and David in such movies as Chupke Chupke (1975), Golmaal (1979) and Baaton Baaton Mein (1979)

Even the golden hearted house help, popularly known as ‘Ramu Kaka’,has all but vanished.

Of Political Headwinds

Our politicos have never shied away from influencing the kind of messages which need to be conveyed to the hoi polloi through the powerful medium of cinema. Our dream merchants have also been sensitive to the political thinking of the day, coming up with movies which are relevant to the theme of the times.

The first Chinese aggression in 1962 prompted Chetan Anand to come up with Haqeeqat (1964) which tugged at our heartstrings. 

Naunihal (1967), directed by Raj Marbros, was about Raju, an orphan, who believes that his only surviving relative is Chacha Nehru. The film’s music was composed by Madan Mohan, with lyrics by Kaifi Azmi, including the song ‘Meri Aawaz Suno, Pyar ka Raaz Suno’, sung by Mohammad Rafi. The song captured not only the funeral procession of the first Prime Minister of India, Jawahar Lal Nehru but also his study and his office; a loving tribute, indeed, to a towering personality then.

Much later, in 1988, one of his seminal works, The Discovery of India (1946), was presented by Shyam Benegal in the form of a television serial, labelled as Bharat Ek Khoj.

Rewind back to 1965, when Pakistan attacked India. Mr Lal Bahadur Shastri, the then Prime Minister, came up with the slogan ‘Jai Jawan Jai Kisan’. He is said to have persuaded Manoj Kumar to come up with a movie based on the slogan. That is how we got to see Upkar (1967).

Assassination of Prime Minister Indira Gandhi in 1984 led to riots in Delhi and elsewhere. The same were covered in the recent movie Jogi (2022) and were also briefly touched upon in Laal Singh Chadha (2022).

Mani Ratnam gave us Bombay (1995), based on the riots which took place in the city between December 1992 and January 1993 after the demolition of the Babri Masjid led to religious tensions between Hindu and Muslim communities. Gujarat riots in 2002 led to movies like Parzania (2005) and Firaaq (2008)

In the recent past, many of us have been swayed by the political headwinds and movies with a jingoistic nationalism have caught our imagination. A movie like Kashmir Files (2022) which shows a minority community in a negative light has been openly promoted by the present ruling dispensation. Another one, Samrat Prithviraj (2022), went a step further and highlighted the bravery and sense of nationalism of the majority community. The Accidental Prime Minister (2019) attempted to show the previous Prime Minister in a negative light, and now we wait for Emergency (2023).

Come to think of it, the worlds of movies and politics have several common traits. Dream merchants thrive in both. So does star power. Funding and returns on investment are fundamental concerns. Eventually, the onus of sifting the wheat from the chaff obviously falls on the common public. 

A Rich Cultural Heritage Getting Lost?

It may not be out of context to mention here that in the days of yore, the kings used to consciously nurture fine arts and culture by patronizing poets, musicians and dancers. However, the way successive governments are turning a blind eye to the essential task of preserving our cinematic heritage, and even gradually withdrawing support to creative cinema, while continuing to gobble up the revenue generated by this industry, is a travesty of justice and common sense. Remember the outfit known as the National Finance Development Corporation, which gave us a stream of gems in the past – Ankur (1974), Manthan (1976), Mirch Masala (1987), Ek Din Achanak (1989), Train to Pakistan (1998), Mammo (1994), and the like? The future looks bleak on this front.      

Acting Prowess and Content: The Ultimate Winners

Even though star-power, presentation and packaging continue to be important, content has now come to rule the roost. Acting is also back on its throne, where it rightfully belongs.

Now, if we root for a blockbuster like Pathaan, we also love an actor-driven movie like Laal Singh Chadha. If we like to see the trials and tribulations of the heroine in Gangubai Kathiawadi, we also empathize with the dilemmas faced by an elderly couple in Vadh, besides appreciating such off-beat offerings as Doctor G and Kantara.

As we sit bleary-eyed in front of our smart TVs, we now have the best of both the worlds – glamour, duly backed by razzmatazz, as well as the depth of genuine art.

(Some inputs from a few members of the Best of Cinema and OTT group on Facebook are gratefully acknowledged.)

Related Posts:

Read Full Post »

In the preceding post, we brought in focus the fact that the first step in the process of evolution is the act of creation of information, followed by the emergence of energy and matter. Their interaction creates the Cosmic Mind and the Cosmic Consciousness, which also comprises such other subsets as a human consciousness, or an animal’s consciousness, and the like.

Having explored different facets of Consciousness, we realize how woefully short our present methods of running businesses are when compared to the ideal situation we at the Conscious Enterprises Network (CEN) are aiming for.

Admittedly, there are silver linings to this dark cloud. These are in the form of several individuals and groups of people who are aware of this deficiency and wish to do something about it. Right from environmental activists to business groups which follow Plan B and aim for a triple-bottom surplus from operations, there are many disparate attempts to nudge others in the direction of a heightened consciousness. 

The Challenge

The challenge here is three-fold. One aspect is that of identifying and grooming leaders who vibrate at the same frequency, despite their operating in diverse fields of business. A bevy of leaders such as these would be like an orchestra which plays out a mellifluous piece of music even though the instruments are as diverse as a cello, a clarinet, a trumpet or a piano.

The second one is that of creating a leaderless movement so as to avoid getting into ego traps of any kind. One way to do so could be to develop a common Charter of Consciousness which is voluntarily agreed upon by those who wish to come on board. This is likely to promote a better degree of interconnectedness between like-minded organizations, thereby ensuring that the Consciousness Virus becomes the next thing to grab the attention of Homo sapiens.

The third one is to create a credible and transparent forum which would not only keep the flame alive but also facilitate an exchange of ideas, techniques and practices. The collective learning opportunity such a forum would generate can be readily imagined. The forum would comprise individuals/organizations which have already set the bar high by demonstrating that businesses can be run successfully based on a twin compass, a commercial one and a conscious one. 

Rewiring the Leaders

The task of inner rewiring of leaders can neither be abdicated nor delegated. Charity begins at home, as they say. The call for a transformation of this kind can only come from within. Unless this inner change takes place, those around cannot be expected to fall in line.  

Through the ages, our spiritual leaders have laid an emphasis on reengineering ourselves at the individual level. However, this does not get done by attending seminars and events; or, by reading up on the subject. These help us to receive good thoughts. But the challenge lies in applying these thoughts to our mundane lives, and then to act upon the same. The process at work here needs to follow the manasa-vaacha-karma process. In other words, the concept of Consciousness needs to seep into our thoughts, our words and then into our actions. It needs to become a way of living life; a way of being.

This is a long-term project, requiring tenacity and commitment.

Here are some tips which may help leaders achieve this objective:

  • Developing a circle of close friends and confidantes who happen to be virtuous souls; networking with like-minded persons/organizations on social media platforms.
  • Regular meditation, so as to remain connected with our inner selves.
  • Shifting our attention from ‘me’ to ‘we’; adopting a mindset of ‘I Am Something’ instead of ‘I Am Everything’.
  • As we proceed further, our Consciousness expands to a still higher dimension, where the qualities of generosity of heart, humility, compassion and kindness reach their epitome.
  • We start engaging with our people more effectively, capitalizing better on our human capital.

Spreading the Consciousness Virus

Technology, if deployed with a benign intention, could go a long way in assisting us to spread this virus far and wide. The intention needs to be that of serving and facilitating rather than controlling. Advances labeled as Industrial Revolution 4.0 can assist us in propelling ideas such as consciousness more efficiently and, hopefully, even effectively.

Herein lies the primary challenge. Technology can merely be a tool. It is necessary, but not sufficient. What it needs is for humanity to wake up to its spiritual obligations. Our civilization’s present state is that of abject hedonism. This has led to a vast majority amongst us who have become slaves to technology. We have become zombies for whom checking the latest update on our technical gizmo is the first as well as the last act of the day. Virtual relationships have become more important than real relationships.   

The endeavour needs to be that of creating a number of tribes and networks which propagate such thoughts and motivate people and organizations to start making a transition to a higher plane of consciousness.

Tribes which are created to achieve a common purpose and believe in the same set of values would readily collaborate with each other and bring about a synergy. Different tribes may be at different levels of enlightenment/consciousness but if the values and the goals are the same, better results would be imminent.

Technical tools like Artificial Intelligence can help us to keep inside a firewall of sorts, keeping us shielded from distractions which retard our spiritual awakening/progress – the realization of the ultimate reality, that we all are one. It could give us the deeper private space which we need to grow inwardly and to realize that one of the most pleasurable things in life is to give succor to those who need it.  

This is why at CEN we believe that conscious leadership starts with the awakening of a leader to what he/she really is. The journey has to begin with a single aspiration – that of being a knight in shining armour who rides his/her nimble steed of technology to rescue the triad of hapless damsels best described by Plato over two thousand years ago as Truth, Goodness and Beauty. All three are in serious trouble and could do with a daring act of rescue.

Dear reader, are you game? If so, let us look forward to a book by one of CEN’s co-founders, Dominique Conterno, which goes into further details of the concepts we have touched upon briefly in this series of posts!

(Inputs from Dominiuqe Conterno and Esther Robles, co-founders of Consciousness Enterprises Network (https://www.consciousenterprises.net) are gratefully acknowledged)

Related Posts:

Read Full Post »

The world can now be said to be inhabited by at least three kinds of Bollywood fans. These are newer communities emerging the world over, irrespective of their age, sex, religion, caste, wealth, political leanings and nationality. This is one of the several boons being granted to a despondent humanity by the dreaded Corona virus. A macro-level restructuring of the entire planet is already on its way.

One tribe is that of those who are blissfully unaware of the consequences of suffering from this virus. Members of this tribe keep going around in a carefree manner, possibly believing themselves to be far different than the hoi polloi, a cut above the rest and invincible. Experts would label members of this tribe as Covidiots. They pose a serious threat to most of us.

Another kind are the ones who are clueless, suffering a deep sense of anxiety and dreading its arrival on their doorsteps. They keep twiddling their thumbs trying to figure out as to when it would strike them. Either out of fear or a desire to keep themselves and their near and dear ones safe and healthy, they try to follow as many do’s and dont’s which keep popping up on their smart screens with a frequency which could put an atomic clock to shame. One may call such obedient persons as Covidients.

Yet another tribe comprises die-hard optimists who believe they are watching a horror film, tucking into their favourite snack and occasionally sipping some atrociously-priced coffee, waiting for the last reel to unfold, hoping for a happy ending. Had they been watching it at home, they would have preferred to watch the same in a fast forward mode. They might be labelled as Covimists.

For succour, members of all these tribes can readily turn to some songs dished out by our Bollywood flicks over the decades. Here is a random sample of the same.


Songs which are best avoided by Covidients


Abhi na jao chhod kar

(Hum Dono, 1961)


Mujh ko apne gale laga lo

(Hamrahi, 1963)


Lag jaa gale

(Woh Kaun Thi, 1964)


Choo lene do

(Kaajal, 1965)


Rut hai milan ki

(Mela, 1971)


Baahon mein chale aao

(Anamika, 1973)


Jaane do na

(Sagar, 1985)


Jumma chumma de de 

(Hum, 1991)


Ang se ang lagana

(Darr, 1993)



(Hum Aapke Hain Kaun…!, 1994)


Maiyya Yashoda

(Hum Saath Saath Hain, 1999)


Chupke se lag ja gale 

(Saathiya, 2002)


M bole to

(Munna Bhai MBBS, 2003)


Yeh tara woh tara 

(Swades, 2004)


Tere haath mein mera haath ho

(Fanaa, 2006)


Songs which might motivate Covidiots to mend their ways


Mere piya gaye rangoon

Patanga, 1949


Jalte hain jiske liye

(Sujata, 1959)


Chalo ek baar phir se 

(Gumrah, 1963)


Songs which may suit the Covimists


Saathi haath badhana

Naya Daur, 1957


Hum honge kamyab

(Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, 1983)


Aye mere humsafar

(Qayamat Se Qayamat Tak, 1988)


Human ingenuity knows no bounds. Fashionistas are devising women’s headgear incorporating a noise and mouth, keeping viruses and those with amorous intentions at bay, cheering up the Covidients.

Behavioural Scientists are burning the proverbial midnight oil to come up with therapeutic packages which can help the Covidiots improve their ability to realize the limits of their own – rather limited – abilities. Human resource consultants are busy dishing out programs which would assist managements to instill a better sense of equanimity and resilience among their employees, something which was recommended by Lord Krishna more than 5,000 years back.

Covimists, delighted at the environment bouncing back to the pink of its health and noticing a trend towards better sustainability, await the day when many of the perks of the pandemic would truly get appreciated and acted upon so the human race can continue its relentless journey towards evolution.

And here is a tribute to Mother Nature:

Yeh kaun chitrakaar hai

(Boond Jo Ban Gayi Moti, 1967)



(The following inputs are gratefully appreciated:

  1. Suggestions for some of the songs listed here, courtesy Sanjana Bhatia.
  2. Terms like Covidiots and Covedients courtesy The Economic Times).





Read Full Post »


Can we identify a God who can be beseeched to preside over our Internet-ional GaneshaAffairs?

In Hinduism, for example, we are exposed to a mind-boggling variety of divine manifestations. Down the long corridors of time, since the dawn of history, the Hindu pantheon has evolved with a multitude of deities.

The deities offer an eclectic mix – some are highly specialized whereas others are all-purpose ones. Some are removers of any obstacles that a seeker may face in life. Some grant better learning abilities and wisdom. Some bestow immense wealth and prosperity. Then we have the generalist trinity – one is said to have crafted the creation, one runs it smoothly like a true blue CEO while another destroys and reconstructs. The latter two intervene in human affairs as and when they deem it necessary.Ravi_Varma-Lakshmi

In fact, there is no sphere of life which has not been touched by some…

View original post 1,227 more words

Read Full Post »



The human race has come a long way in attaining its present state of evolution. From a single cell amoeba to the complex mechanism of our present-day physical bodies, one can look back at the journey so far with some reverence and pride.

But what does the future portend? What would be the salient features of the next level of our species? This article is an attempt at answering this query through the haze of our present-day myopic vision and limited capabilities.

As you read this, possibly with a steaming cup of coffee by your side and soothing music playing in the background, little do you realize the kind of miracle you and I represent.

One, we are both uniquely configured. As a physical body, we stand alone. As mental beings, we carry a unique set of beliefs and value systems which define our thoughts, actions and words. Our…

View original post 890 more words

Read Full Post »



O Divine,
I often dream of you,
I wrap these dreams in a soft illumined air,
Which lies in between the violet and the red colours.

Help me to make a colourful highway,
Connecting the Earth and the Heavens above,
Help me to plant seeds of the Infinite,
On this finite lump of dancing mass we call the Earth.

Over time these seeds would grow into powerful creepers,
Gently opening the new life’s doors of bright white hue,
Giving us a peek into a magnificent palace,
Of an ornamental roof and gleaming floors.

These dreams of a new race I do believe in,
With Your grace, these would surely manifest on Earth,
Eventually, these would become the living truth,
Making humanity experience unalloyed joy and infinite bliss.

(Contributed by Usha)

View original post

Read Full Post »

Can we identify a God who can be beseeched to preside over our Internet-ional GaneshaAffairs?

In Hinduism, for example, we are exposed to a mind-boggling variety of divine manifestations. Down the long corridors of time, since the dawn of history, the Hindu pantheon has evolved with a multitude of deities.

The deities offer an eclectic mix – some are highly specialized whereas others are all-purpose ones. Some are removers of any obstacles that a seeker may face in life. Some grant better learning abilities and wisdom. Some bestow immense wealth and prosperity. Then we have the generalist trinity – one is said to have crafted the creation, one runs it smoothly like a true blue CEO while another destroys and reconstructs. The latter two intervene in human affairs as and when they deem it necessary.Ravi_Varma-Lakshmi

In fact, there is no sphere of life which has not been touched by some Hindu God or the other. However, we are clueless as to who holds the portfolio of Internet Affairs. Someone, who ensures that irrespective of what happens, we always have connectivity. So, we do not suffer from frequent pangs of Noconnphobia (NoConnectivity-Phobia).

A deity for our Internet-ional Affairs

Without Internet, we are left utterly clueless. We are cut off from civilization. It is as if we are deprived of oxygen. A God who ensures that we have uninterrupted and seamless connectivity shall obviously earn our absolute devotion. Grand temples set up to commemorate him would get built, thereby boosting employment prospects and facilitating the use of black money which can surely do with a ‘fair-and-lovely’ treatment at the earliest. The largest temple thus built could even host a Root Server in a basementinternet image 1Garbh Griha’ (the sanctum sanctorum)!

The high priests appointed to take care of the Internet deity on a day-to-day basis would ensure a steady flow of hefty donations to all its temples. Governments world over shall pitch in with liberal grants. Since the only interest of all governments would be to govern better, global harmony would prevail.

A new form of democratic capitalism would come in vogue. Benefits of growth shall be made to trickle down to the poorest of the poor. Reservations and quotas, if any, shall be linked to economic criteria and not to political vote banks determined by caste, creed, sex or religion. Terrorism would get banished. Peace would reign.Sistine-Chapel-God-and-Adam

Of checks and balances

A crack team of tech-savvy consorts of the deity would ensure that the principles of Net Neutrality get honoured; also, that hackers are no longer able to hack. Strict norms of privacy shall be stipulated and followed. With privacy assured, denizens of all countries would breathe easy. This would avoid a repeat of the Ashley Madison episode. Matrimonial harmony shall be a norm rather than an exception. Divorce rates would plummet. Children, whether born out of wedlock or otherwise, would be happier.

One of the Key Result Areas of the concerned deity shall be to manage affairs in such a way that the evolution of Internet never spins out of control. If ever Internet assumes a consciousness of its own, the role of the deity itself shall get subjugated by a higher power. Our civilization shall end up becoming a highly centralized system where all aspects of our lives get controlled. Homo sapiens would then run the risk of becoming truer slaves to technology. Values of fraternity, freedom and liberty shall get obliterated.

Who could possibly play this role?Hanuman_painted_by_Pahari_Painter

Are there gods in the Hindu pantheon who could handle a challenge of this magnitude?

One choice could be that of Lord Hanuman. After all, he is the son of the God of Air (Pavan Putra). He has sterling qualities of head and heart. He is a great executor. Whatever task is entrusted to him, it gets done without a glitch. All we have to do to appease him is to invoke the name of Lord Rama.

The other possibility is that of Lord Shiva; in particular, his form which represents ‘Ether’, one of the five elements of the universe. Aided by his wife, Goddess Parvati, and his two illustrious sons, we shall have the advantage of the whole family pitching in to take care of the Divine Ministry of Internet Affairs.

Yet another contender for this crucial portfolio could be Lord Ganesha. Given His expertise in removing obstacles,Shiva interruptions in connectivity would soon become a thing of the past. As the technology evolves, He would ensure that its progress is free of any disruptions. He is a patron of arts, sciences, intellect and wisdom – realms which are served by Internet. Mice, who fulfill His transportation needs, would refrain from biting any cables which might be carrying bits and bytes for our denizens.

However, all these options present some difficulties.

Lord Hanuman may not like to get involved because of His vow of celibacy. If He does consent, but insists on obnoxious things like Internet porn getting banished, many of His followers may be left in a torment.Ganesha_Basohli_miniature

As to Lord Shiva, He does not tolerate dissent in any form, whereas Internet is all about accommodating opposing viewpoints on any subject under the sun. Were He to ever decide to turn his Third Eye on a Twitteratti dissenter like Kama Deva, even if it is on Skype or Viber, the latter would run the grave risk of turning into ashes. An action of this kind could fuel a global uprising, thereby defeating our basic objective of attaining global peace and harmony through Internet.

With Lord Ganesha, the difficulty lies in the fact that He is to be worshipped before the commencement of a new project. An attempt to invoke His blessings belatedly might simply end up offending Him. One shudders to think of a prospect of that nature.

Are there any other candidates for the top job?Krishna_holding_flute

Let us also consider the candidature of Lord Krishna. His is a multi-faceted personality. Romance, which flourishes on Internet, comes to Him naturally. Those searching for soul-mates would breathe easy. Devising strategy and tactics is an area He excels in. Under His care, growth of Internet would continue unabated.

Those who indulge in hacking would fear swift retribution at His hands, much like the demons which were vanquished due to His timely interventions. Data security would no longer be a cause for concern. Moreover, He has already assured us in Bhagavad Gita that He will come whenever we face a problem. So, we already have an advance performance guarantee.

How about some gender parity?

Hard-core feminists amongst us might wonder as to why none of our delicately nurtured goddesses can get considered for this coveted slot. Those running their e-commerce businesses would vote for Goddess Lakshmi. Those who disseminate knowledge using the world-wide-web shall be rooting for Goddess Saraswati.Saraswati 

Well, our innate sense of chivalry restrains us. The presence of pornographic content holds us back.

The time has come

The mind boggles to think of the consequences of a continued absence of a deity specifically assigned to take care of such net-ty issues. Our denizens shall continue to surf on narrow-band which smart companies would keep projecting as broad-band. Our Smart City plans would come unstuck. Our children shall remain deprived of knowledge and information.

The common man would continue to slip on the ladder of affordable connectivity and only get dumb and dumber. The noble cause of women’s emancipation and empowerment would receive a setback. Politicos and bureaucrats shall continue to twiddle their thumbs trying to figure out how to deliver results. Even the future of several governments could come under a cloud, obviously not of an e-kind.

Now is the time for our religious leaders and intellectuals to come to the aid of the common man. Those who follow different faiths around the world need to come up with brighter ideas as to who could handle this crucial portfolio for us.

Prompt steps need to be taken through the proper channels to identify and declare an appropriate deity to take care of Internet-ional issues.

This brooks no delay whatsoever.

(Note: Inputs from Captain Satish Pande are gratefully acknowledged)

Read Full Post »


O Divine,
I often dream of you,
I wrap these dreams in a soft illumined air,
Which lies in between the violet and the red colours.

Help me to make a colourful highway,
Connecting the Earth and the Heavens above,
Help me to plant seeds of the Infinite,
On this finite lump of dancing mass we call the Earth.

Over time these seeds would grow into powerful creepers,
Gently opening the new life’s doors of bright white hue,
Giving us a peek into a magnificent palace,
Of an ornamental roof and gleaming floors.

These dreams of a new race I do believe in,
With Your grace, these would surely manifest on Earth,
Eventually, these would become the living truth,
Making humanity experience unalloyed joy and infinite bliss.

(Contributed by Usha)

Read Full Post »

One of the remarkable things about Blogsville is the magic of coming across a post which resonates with one of your own!

I just came across this clever post on the issue of sustainability: lovehappynotes.com/2014/06/21/as-i-peek-between-the-trees-i-see

It prompted me to re-blog this one of my own:


Hope you enjoy going through these!

Read Full Post »


The human race has come a long way in attaining its present state of evolution. From a single cell amoeba to the complex mechanism of our present-day physical bodies, one can look back at the journey so far with some reverence and pride.

But what does the future portend? What would be the salient features of the next level of our species? This article is an attempt at answering this query through the haze of our present-day myopic vision and limited capabilities.


As you read this, possibly with a steaming cup of coffee by your side and soothing music playing in the background, little do you realize the kind of miracle you and I represent.

One, we are both uniquely configured. As a physical body, we stand alone. As mental beings, we carry a unique set of beliefs and value systems which define our thoughts, actions and words. Our nature carries the baggage of all our habits and prejudices acquired during all our previous births, as also the ones freshly added from this one. Unknown to us, these determine the frame of reference we have in this lifetime. This in turn determines the perspective we have on whatever we encounter in life.  04

Two, we have been singularly lucky.  All our ancestors were successful in finding a soul mate and ended up furthering the process of procreation. Whether it was a random outcome of Cupid’s arrows or a decision which was governed by social norms prevailing then, we may not know. We ourselves are the veritable proof that we have appeared after a long drawn out series of successful reproductive endeavors of our ancestors.

Three, a million years back, even the most prescient of magicians could not have forecast that we would eventually evolve into a species known as Homo Sapiens. When it came to evolution, we have repeatedly enjoyed biological benevolence and good fortune. In the process, what an amazing transformation we have gone through! We were possibly the first organism to have been bombarded on earth by a meteoric shower originating from Mars. From a single cell structure, we have today become a highly sophisticated machinery which willy-nilly is aware of its own existence.

In the interim, we have undergone repeated transformations. We have never been attached to a particular type, shape, color or size for too long. We first developed a liking for oxygen. We then frolicked about in the deep oceans, before trying to rule land in various forms. We bore our way underground and climbed on trees. We took wings and enjoyed the freedom of mobility, often backed by a highly effective GPS. a1 1 (8)

We became as big as a zebra or an elephant and as small as a lizard or a rat. We attempted several hissing and slithering forms and showed exemplary flexibility in adapting to newer challenges from the environment. From bonobos and apes to Homo Sapiens has been a logical jump for us, and we know that we have indeed arrived.  

We now roam about all corners of the solar system. We keep messing up the fragile environment we have been gifted with. We have possibly come to believe that the journey of evolution is over. We think we can now rest on our laurels and remain content with inventing newer and better means to destroy ourselves.

Well, past experience does not support this line of thought. We are apparently on a journey the destination of which is still far away. The forces of nature are inexorably leading us towards further evolution, possibly into a kind of species which would be far more sophisticated and intelligent than we can presently imagine.

Sure enough, the seeds of our appearance and growth had been present amongst bonobos and other primates. Likewise, the seeds of the species to come must already be within us. More significantly, we do not have a choice but to ascend to higher planes of consciousness and physical perfection. The life force which has propelled us so far shall continue to do so in the times to come.a1 1 (13)

Let us consider this hypothesis further. What would be the salient characteristics of the next level of our species?

We might take a leap beyond logic. Intuitive powers may dominate our day-to-day living. We might become more aware of our souls and simply enjoy the bliss of pure and benign thoughts, leading to that elusive glow of inner happiness and an all-pervading joy. Our dependence on outer sources and gadgets for our happiness may see a gradual reduction, thereby freeing us from the incessant flow of our desires, as at present.

Our capacity to absorb knowledge may multiply manifold. The physical body might become much stronger and also capable of healing itself. A specialist may be able to ‘treat’ us in a distance mode and maintain our well-being. Visits to health centers may become less frequent, except in cases where organ replacements become essential.

Changes in our biological systems may come about. Our psychic powers may get more refined. May be, we shall become so evolved as to be less dependent on our sensory perceptions. We might be able to converse with each other without having to speak. We might be able to intuitively know how the other person is feeling and tailor our response and behavior accordingly. In other words, languages may start becoming extinct. a1 1 (11)

In evolving further, we are bound to face challenges. But the incessant process of evolution itself might present the solutions we shall need – not only to survive but to do even better. The struggle of the good ones amongst us to out-survive the bad ones shall continue forever. As we evolve further, the need for a spiritual outlook shall only grow. 

As the miracle unfolds in the centuries to follow, our heads shall bow in reverence to the mighty and inexorable forces of nature and nurture which continue propelling us on the highway of evolution. On our part, a focus on spiritual practices might hasten the process.

(Grateful acknowledgements are due to a spiritually evolved guide, friend and philosopher; paintings courtesy M F Hussain and Huta.)

(Published in NAMAH, the Journal of Integral Health, Vol 22, Issue 1 dated the 24th of April, 2014)



Read Full Post »