Sunday, August 24, 2008

Blogger's Park

Sudhir Raikar jogs around three celebrity blog tracks only to be led on a delightful trail of the Big B’s illustrious footmarks – his big strides in a new territory.
Many years back, he changed the face of Indian mainstream cinema – running it virtually like a one-man industry. Some time back, he engineered a paradigm shift in television viewing with the inspired-but-innovative game show Kaun Banega Crorepati. And now, he’s busy lending a deeper meaning to the medium of the times – Blogging.
That celebrities have taken to blogging in a big way is common news. But superstar Amitabh Bachchan has proved again that whatever is worth the while, he does it in style.
Of the 75 days of incessant blogging till date, he has maintained a very high quality of introspection in what is essentially an online diary interspersed with nostalgic expression – words that often take the form of stream of consciousness writing.
Apart from his trademark humility, chaste language and powerful idiom, he is open in his admiration for the web and the young generation – free of inhibitions and hang-ups, aiming to soar high on the wings of opportunities.
Day in and day out, he offers a perceptive window into his life – that attracts die-hard fans, bitter critics and observant readers in equal measure. And once in a while, he lashes out at his detractors – members of the media and fans alike – in a matter-of-fact language. What’s commendable is his consistency and poise in sifting through the countless posts from the world over – some with blatant abuses, others with blind admiration and many with unsolicited words of advice.
At the ripe age of 66, the man is studying the world around him with the eyes of a keen student. His inklings leave his readers wondering – is he the super star of main stream cinema or a literary genius. In religiously keeping his tryst with the blog, Bachchan has truly recognized the real power of the web as a non-intrusive but potent medium. A bridge that gets him closer to his audience sans the middlemen (getting around the filter, as they say), a divide that still keeps safe distance from absurd attacks and a tailored platform to lock horns with his detractors, each time he finds his personal space encroached.
If one compares his blog with two of his well-known counterparts and fellow bloggers, the big difference stands out, tall like him.
Star-actor Aamir Khan, who probably unveiled his web space ahead of Bachchan, was an enthusiastic blogger to begin with. In a few posts, he did attempt to discuss a variety of holistic issues within and outside the celluloid frame. With the passage of time, however, his blog has been reduced to a “Now Showing Coming Soon” Notice Board. A haven for the overflowing love-you-miss-you posts, it leaves very little for meaningful interaction with the public at large. To make matters worse, his infamous “Farm House Dog” post also did not augur well for his well meaning fans.
Director Ram Gopal Verma has gone about his web mission in characteristic sharp shooter style. His thoughts on cinema are highly perceptive, so is his commentary on the several factors that contribute to the process of movie making. His take on the mindless critic tribe is equally enlightening. In exposing the intellectual poverty of each target, he even cites their pet brand statements, replete in their mechanical critiques.
What’s however not web friendly is his discourteous stance that he projects like a jewel. For a medium as participatory as the web log, this one-way traffic is adverse, if not fatal.
Blogging is personal, no doubt, and there’s nothing prescriptive about it. But the disciplined manner in which Bachchan has approached the medium is indeed food for thought for just about everyone who sees the web as a medium of expression, not just the film fraternity.
The Personal web log, or blog as it’s commonly referred to, has a recent history. Used as a noun as well as a verb, this magical term was coined in 1997 by the charismatic American Jorn Barger – who embraced computers, literature and philosophy in the same breath. The popular term “Blog” was the brainchild of the equally versatile information architect Peter Merholz. In the 11 years of its young existence, blogging has grown rapidly to bloom into a potent social medium for interaction, reflective writing in particular.

That Amitabh Bachchan is one of its ardent fans spells great news for a generation of netizens who stumble upon web pages more than they bump into each other. And for the highly mollycoddled recluse tribe, the so-called IT experts, which is oblivious of the difference between the Internet and the World Wide Web, here’s a towering inspiration!