Thursday, September 11, 2008

Jo Dikhta Hai Woh Bikta Hai?

I’d like to start off with thanking those who wrote in asking me to post a post soon. To my great satisfaction, this was one absence from the blog that wasn’t caused because I ran out of ideas. It wasn’t the case of a Writer’s Block … simply a Blocked Writer. I was reading an article online where they commented on how a good blog is one that is updated daily. Which makes mine occasionally good I suppose. I see some logic in that argument. Blogging is good practice for an aspiring writer. Blogging daily would require rigor and discipline and a commitment that is hard to estimate upfront. My blog is the longest writing exercise I have certainly indulged in. If I keep at this, some day there would be enough material to cram into a book (notice how I avoid mentioning that the book actually needs to sell). Not a radical idea though. Others have done it. I saw a debate on NDTV; a program called ‘We the people’ where Barkha Dutt moderates discussion on a topic which on most occasions involve raucous adults in serious need of being taught manners in letting others talk. The topic of the debate was the state of blogging in India. One of the participants was a young girl who has a personal blog called The Compulsive Confessor. She’s single and writes on topics ranging from drinking to dating to sex and offers what can has been termed as a mild (or heavy, depending on what other blogs you have seen do this) dose of voyeuristic pleasure into the life of an urban Indian woman. There’s more to her blog but there’s a reason nothing else catches the eye. A lot of discussion went on about whether the blog was read because of the nature of the content or the quality of it. In the absence of other blogs in the same genre from the same gender and nationality, her blog definitely is its own USP. I looked up her blog online and thought it was alright. I have read several other blogs that are much higher quality in their choice of topics and execution. But the reason I bring this up here is that recently I read about her in Outlook India. She has her own book coming through. My first reaction is cynical. Would she have gotten the offer were commenting on non-controversial things? I am not so sure. I haven’t read the book obviously and I don’t think I’ll get my hands on it either. I am not shooting for a book contract so I can avoid from pouring out details of my personal life on this blog to entertain and titillate. But if that's a short cut for going onto greener pastures, isn't something amiss somewhere? It makes me wonder if Rakhi Sawant’s famous dictum: “Jo dikhta hai who bikta hai” is true. Is modern India so wrapped up with things that are bright and shallow that quality is a function of visibility? How many girls from ‘Chak De India’ went on to bigger better movies? To my knowledge, only the ones who had the glamour quotient. My commentary might be a tad too caustic and judgmental based on limited examples and I’d love to be proven otherwise. Let me know what you think.

13 comments:

Radha said...

I guess you/ rakhi sawant are right (thats the first time i've heard someone quote rakhi sawant btw :))

But I also think there's a huge diff between the readership of a blog as against a book. Not sure how many ppl will actually have the patience to read an entire book if the subject matter is not good enough but is only window-dressed with topics of sex.

frissko said...

hmm...i saw that thing on ndtv and i thought there was a striking honesty about this girl...

i've read some of her pre-book posts (currently most of the posts centre around the book launch, and hence are boring), and i thought it was a candid account of her life as it was being lived (that she was anonymous then helped)...

i am not questioning your 'jo dikhtha hai wo bikhtha hai' dictum...but i guess that was not the intent...i mean, the 'dikhana' wasn't consciously done to sell out, but people just lapped it up...do i make sense?

Parth said...

@Radha: Its all Rakhi Sawant, trust me :-) I agree, but isn't today's system run on hype? Hindi movies recover their cost based on how they fare for the first week itself. What if the book business works the same way?

@Frissko: I see you point but my contention is simply that if she wasn't living the life she led and writing about it the way she did, would she have be publishing today? I think not. The subject matter shouldn't trump the content, but I get a sense that in this case, perhaps it does.

30in2005 said...

You said pretty much what most people (including me) think. I like her blog but not more than many others who write better and wth passion about other things. I think for me it is perspective that makes her blog interesting, but not unique. I like reading about how people lead their lives, have points of view etc but I think that many a time people write what they know best. I also think that if a blogger feels they ahve a great response from an audience they change their style of writing to get a book deal and less for themselves. This becomes evident. In some cases it works. In others their blogs become unreadable drivel.

Having said that I think she is both lucky and has put in quite a bit of hard work into her writing and probably more into the book. I will follow the reviews and decide whether I want to read it.

30in2005 said...

BTW, I also disagree that you need to write on your blog everyday to be a good writer. Careful thought and good writing can be occasional. Some everyday writers in the Indian blogworld are just verbal diarrhoea on a nice template.

Or maybe this is me making up excuses for not writing often enough myself!

Parth said...

@30in2005: I'd be very interested in knowing if you do end up reading the book as to your opinion on it. Of course, without a basic ability to write, she wouldn't have gotten the deal at all. But again, my point is that if she wrote for eg. on her work in an NGO in Bihar, she wouldn't have gotten the deal with her ability. I wholeheartedly agree with your comment on the daily blogging. I was being sarcastic about it when I said mine is somewhat good. That being said, I do think that if you were to write infrequently but predictably, it will challenge you as a writer and help you develop more. For the record, I am just as frequent or infrequent as you are.

RagzZmatazZ said...

You dont need to write everyday to get better, I do ! :)

I am not sure if the sexual content or the glamour quotient alone would make good publishing material. Think about Anne Frank and her diary. I am here saying that if the blog serves the purpose of being a diary and your life is interesting/ adventurous/ scandalous/depressing/etc enough, it can make a readable novella at the least! Provided your writing is up to the mark of course.

India may be glamour obsessed today, but I am leaning towards giving this girl credit for good material ! I havent read any of her stuff though. Do post the link !

Parth said...

@Rags: The link's there in the post itself. Hmm, ok. Would my NGO example fly in this case? Its the 'up to the mark' part I am not so sure about when it translates to a novel.

adheet said...

This was a good post. The subject should not override actual content, though the fact is that any new subject is definitely going to catch people's attention and popularity. Your NGO example may be true, but more than likely a topic around NGOs is not "glamorous" or "entertaining" enough for people to read.

On the "jo dikhta hai" dialog, this subject actually reminds me of what the kid says to his teacher in taare zameen par:

"Jo Dikhta hai, Wo Kabhi Kabar nahi hota. Jo Nahi dikhta hai wo kabhi kabar hota hai"

..similarly, with her blog and book, there is a little bit of real substance, some marketing, publicity, glamor etc. involved. It remains to be seen how important each one is :)

Parth said...

@Adheet: Thanks for sharing your views on the post. You make some valid points on the 'content' versus 'subject' debate.

Anonymous said...

I felt the same way reading some of the blogs. I think when the writer starts writing for the readers, something is lost. Both the quality and the content may be good, but I would miss the 'straight from the heart' part of it.
And Rakhi Sawant does make some good observation here:)!

Sridhar Iyer said...

This took a while, as I kept postponing reading her blog. I read parts of it yesterday, and it looks okay actually. But as you mention, nothing in there seemed outstanding (to justify putting it in a book!).

A long time ago, I saw a piece on "Today" or one of those early-morning shows on TV, and there was this woman who had dated an insane number of guys in a year (like 200+ or something) and wrote a book chronicling each of those "dates" - she allegedly started this as an "experiment" of some sort.

Anyway, what she had to say was more masala'ish and less sociological-observation'ish, but then it was interesting enough to get her her five minutes of fame on national television.

Judging the "confessions blog" is like judging the popularity of an item-number over, say, a Harvansh-Rai-Bachchan poem. The item-number has instant appeal, but will pass away as a fad while the poem endures for decades.

I'm sure this blog (and the woman writing it) will be shoved into oblivion the moment the next "controversial" thing comes along...

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