Friday, August 26, 2011

Graffiti Wars

Graffiti art changes constantly. Fresh coats of paint and newly pasted posters appear overnight in cities over the world. New artists, new ideas and newer tactics displace faded images in a perpetual process of renewal . Subverted signs, spontaneous drawings, powerful symbols and curious characters form the graphic imagery of graffiti art now as it grows form just being typographic to iconic with satirical and political undertones.

The most famous graffiti artist for the past few years has been the hooded and mysterious man from Bristol - Banksy, who made the Oscar nominated documentary ‘Exit through the gift shop’ and .Find my previous article on Banksy here.

Lately, Banksy has been involved in a battle on streets with another terrific and revered graffiti artist Robbo who was forced out of his self imposed retirement when Banksy allegedly went after one of his iconic graffiti at the Regents Canal in Camden, London.The graffiti has been there since 1985.Since then, there has been a no holds barred punch and counter punch, tit for tat, curse for ridicule exchanges between these two artists and their supporters.

Robbo, is a well respected artist among street artists and literally a giant at 6’8”.Now in the graffiti scenario, where London authorities are actively erasing new works Robbo’s work had stood the test of time .This was until Banksy decided to do a piece over it.

The original wall graffiti by Robbo done in 1985 below.

Now granted that it was losing the sheen but Banksy went over a ‘landmark’ piece and without the permission of the original artist, which is a complete no no according to graffiti ethos. Banksy’s attempt can be looked in two ways – first, a complete affront of street ethics and insult towards Robbo’s work as he paints over his work to create his own work. Also it can be seen as a retaliation from Banksy towards Robbo quoting for a book that how he slapped Banksy at ' Dragon Bar' for not acknowledging him when they met.

Or secondly, as Banksy supporters put it, Robbo’s was a terribly worn down graffiti and that by actually incorporating it into his piece he has paid a tribute to the original piece.If you notice, the original Robbo graffiti is made to look like a wallpaper that the man that Banksy painted is applying with glue brush onto the wall.Nonetheless, this slight to his iconic piece of art forced Robbo to retaliate.

He used the man painted by Banksy and his finished piece had him painting the wall instead of pasting a wallpaper with his name 'King Robbo'

Next came Banksy’s reply, which was under the belt.

Robbo painted over ‘FUC’

Banksy painted the wall black over it

Robbo painted over it with Topcat standing next to Banksy’s career tombstone

Banksy painted his 'freedom chair graffiti' over the wall using his trademark stencil work. The exact timelines can be found here on London graffiti site. Soon supporters of Robbo who go the name ‘Team Robbo’ went after several Banksy pieces.Like the Global warming piece and the fishing boy.

The village idiot to retaliate the boy fishing a gloopy Banksy tag.

They also used the rat which made Banksy famous and attacked his style .

Robbo's 'Banksy la rat' piece here implying that his rat work is copied from French artist Blek de Rat (Xavier Prou) who was the pioneering stencil graffiti artist in 1980s .Robbo also questioned the artistic integrity and that he is no graffiti artist as he cheats by using stencils instead of freehand graffiti that Robbo is a genius at.

It is an ongoing battle that is stalled at the moment because Robbo is in a coma and recuperating. Robbo can also be counter criticized to be aiming for Banksy as it gives him attention immediately. It makes for one great story captured in a recent documentary .Do check it out here ..

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Its Politics !

It has been quite an eventful months in Indian politics. And after being subjected to all the weird quotes and developments, I do have some queries. Anna Hazare’s anti-corruption movement notwithstanding, I have certain other questions

  • Who will retire first L.K. Advani or Rahul Dravid?
  • Which is doing better? The inflation or the anti-corruption movement?
  • So is Congress the natural party of governance or natural party of stagnace?
  • If BJP is afraid of announcing a PM candidate, isn’t Rahul Gandhi a chicken too?
  • Are Raj Thackeray and Uddhav Thackeray still friends?
  • Is there any committee in the world that Sharad Pawar can’t be chairman of?
  • Any intelligence on the next terrorist attack on Mumbai?
  • Is democracy top-down or bottom-up ? Or is it a 5 yearly poll?
  • Who is responsible for appointing these horrendous faces and mouths as Congress spokespersons?
  • Air - 2G, Earth- Bellary mines, Fire-Bofors, Water ?? ...Any scam related to water to cover all the elements?
  • Now that West Bengal is Poschim Bongo, is Maharashtra interested in being called Marathwada ? Is Goa going be Gomantak soon? Is Rajasthan shifting to Rajputana?

And this is just an observation from The Week That Wasn’t on IBN . Sushma Swaraj has more expressions in a single speech than half a dozen hindi film actresses put together. I respect that. Honest. ♪♫

Thursday, August 18, 2011

English Premier League in India

The English Premier League (EPL) since its re-invention and re-branding in 1992 has become the richest, most watched and successful league in the world. It has entered previously untapped markets by marketing itself successfully. Asia in particular, has become a huge fan zone and hence a revenue stream for the league. There is economic, sociological and marketing logic behind the English Premier League’s popularity in India. English Premier League’s reach that has expanded with every passing year in a cricket crazy nation. Factors like economics, marketing, socio-economic, globalisation, commercialising celebrity etc. have played a part in popularity of football and especially English Premier League.

Furthermore, tellingly and discerningly there is a differentiating factor for the youth who follow it. It gives them identity in being associated with a football club and being an ardent supporter when they don’t have an opportunity to support their nation in marquee international football events. The coverage of EPL gave the Indian audience an experience previously unknown, and the coverage has continued with its novelty factor by using media, marketing and advertising. Meanwhile the big clubs of the league have branded themselves so as to get into the mind-space of people in South-Asia.

In case of football, India is a world-class spectator nation. The journey of football spectatorshiphas evolved from a colonial legacy to the present state of consumerist branded commodity of today. We reside in the new media age where sports and media can’t live without each other. A sport needs new markets and so does the media. The television and globalisation factor has created millions of EPL fans who are a sub-set among sporting enthusiasts. India comes with its peculiarities, yet EPL enjoys moderate amount of fan-base in a country where sports other than cricket hardly have a foothold.

A Fringe Nation

India has been a fringe nation on world stage if we consider participation; however India does have a huge following from a viewership perspective. When one refers about football in India, its spread with respect to the national team and young kids taking up the game, India is termed quite justifiably as a ‘sleeping giant’. The term has been used with varying degrees of justification for many other countries, especially to those in Africa, where the giant has woken and has startled others in doing so. In China, to take another example, the giant appears to be awake but is seemingly incapable of getting out of the bed.

In modern India, no hyperbole is sufficient enough to capture the importance of cricket in the country’s national life. India, the second most populous nation in the world has a rather insignificant presence in the world of sports with cricket being it’s only shot at world domination.

The fascination for others sports are not the same as it is for cricket simply because there are not enough match winners to root for and look forward to. The successes are few and sporadic and have not resulted as a part of the system but rather despite it, because of the excellence of particularly talented individuals. The national game hockey and football are a very distant second.

A nation with genuine sporting culture tries to be good at all sports and not just one, which a handful of countries play and are actually good at in the whole world. The football in India is in a state of decline if it plateaued and is in continuous mediocrity. But curiously, in such a time, there is a generation of viewers who follow European football with vigour, who are a sub-set of genuine sports lovers. These fans are beginning to increase in several regions of the nation, especially the urban centres. These regions have developed because a combination of colonial legacy, the globally televised football leagues and the market economics of urban centers of India.

Globalisation and Indian football

India has always been a place abound with contradictions and irony. A place where prosperity and penury live cheek by jowl. And as much as the EPL has been a success among Indians, the local league has taken a severe hit and suffered due to the might of the factors of globalisation.

The EPL has came in and along with the parallel cable and satellite television growth has made India a spectator market, while the talent market has not been helped at all. Youngsters watch the football but never go to the football pitch. That there are not many is another matter, but neither particularly does Brazil but the football is played in the streets and sands and there again is another irony. They cheer off field but never take the field themselves devoid of infrastructure to play themselves. Because of being not represented at international level for a very long time now, Indian football fans have taken to supporting foreign teams. These adopted favourites are cheered with fervour every two years in the Euros and the World Cup. The panoply of colours and vibrant excitement of Kolkata celebrating a Brazil victory would give Rio de Janerio a run for its money. The support that Portugal has in Goa is as fervent as in Lisbon. Importantly, this is not just for West Bengal and Goa. There are sizable chunk of supporters for Argentina, Spain, Germany and England. And even though this behaviour of Indians may seem peculiar; fed on a staple diet of English Premier League, this adulation and rooting for foreign countries is not that a perplexing development.

This trend has bearings of globalisation which has brought world class quality football to the living rooms of India. The fans watch the EPL which itself has opened up to foreign players over the years and hence gives the visibility and exposure to these players who gradually become favourites and when they don their national colours for Euros or the World cup, that supported is carried over to their respective nations. Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal, Didier Drogba and Ivory Coast and Cesc Fabregas and Spain are prime examples.

There are plenty of reasons for football to grow but the growth has not been organic and wide spread in terms of local team and indigenous talent. The booming of commercial and spectator market will continue as urban centers grow. India has sold and will continue to sell jerseys for English clubs and the broadcasting rights will be sold with higher rates than before.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

English Premier League in India

Economics of football broadcasting in India.

As a measure to involve more eyeballs, the kick-offs of some games in the recent years have been pulled back by FA in England to noon from the traditional late afternoon to allow Asia, especially Singapore and the South-east Asia to get games starting at 8 pm local time. Although not of particular bearing to India, but this move shows the importance given to the global fan and revenue stream by the FA. The games in India have 5.30 pm and 8.30 pm starts which means that they are half an hour (+/-) off the prime time slot. The starting times happen to slightly favour the Indian prime-time viewing too, but the fans would watch the Monday or Tuesday night late kick-offs as well if the club they support is playing, hence the motivation to watch is present.

Motives for EPL viewing

Times have changed since the pre-Independence British India when the poor followed football and cricket was aristocratic. Now and for the past decade too, it is the affluent middle-class youngsters who have become the new followers .A largely urban fan base, with fans in four metropolitan cities and their satellite towns, the motivating factors are many. The cities with fairly good following of the leagues are Trivandrum, Bangalore, Mangalore, Surat and Pune. For the followers it is also about differentiation. They do not want to be identified as cricket crazy .They would rather be true sports aficionados and know the difference between off-side of cricket and football.

The supporting of a club that is half way around the world doesn’t contribute to local, ethnic or national identity; rather it is an expression of individual identity. This need to stand out is the reason to embrace the exuberance and class of the EPL and in that a club to support and root for. And when there are enough people with a similar attitude, they form a sizable chunk of new fans, which is particularly observed in colleges where trends can be infectious. An example can be the city of Mangalore on the west coast of India, very close to where Manipal University is based with more than 20, 000 students. The adjoining regions of Udipi, Mangalore and Manipal and the student cluster over there ensures that Mangalore regularly features in Google trends of searches made regarding the English clubs even above, Kolkata and Pune.

The EPL follower in India is like a fantasy football manager of the club he supports. The use of ‘he’ here is deliberate as the fan is invariably a male. Quite analogous to the armchair quarterback myth in American Football. This fan is a passionate person, religiously following the games throughout the season consumed by the saga of his club’s fate. A positive result uplifts his mood and a terrible performance spoils it.

Indian media and football

The role of media in EPL popularity is also not a small one. By covering the EPL in the newspapers, the reader gets a gradual recognition of the players, teams and the league rivalries. Unlike England where the build-up and post-match reviews and analysis are found in the newspapers, India just carries the results in the following day’s newspapers. However the coverage is substantial especially in metro editions of leading tabloids and newspapers. What is also noticed that other leagues are given decreasingly low print-space. The Spanish League is next on the priority list followed by Serie A .Other teams from Europe like Bayern Munich or Shaktar Donetsk are mentioned only when UEFA Champions League games come along. And the Indian league and domestic tournaments are covered in the local or national sports section. But quite consistently, the EPL stories remain the headline grabbers.

In simple words, India is outsourcing its football entertainment now. Commercial interest of football in India is in the metros and big cities that have become used to seeing the best leagues beamed live into the living rooms and pubs. Increasingly Indians now clamour to buy their official merchandise to exhibit loyalty to respective clubs. This is largely because as on television, even in the newspapers, the visibility of European football is hard to miss. People would wear a club t-shirt as casual wear. Indians would however think more than twice to wear a Nike made Indian cricket jersey if it is not peak cricket season.

The creation of a national TV network and the simultaneous creation of a new consumerist middle class has helped EPL grow a great deal and while India may not have a Ji-Sung Park yet nor decent football parks, yet the game is slowly growing. The broadcasting administration is being quiet about their ambitions and doesn’t want to wage a war against cricket by entering into open competition with the number one sport. That is not going to happen in a very long while, but football is well on its way to become a very close second. The EPL has some major positives, and those being that EPL has a very good system and match schedule worked out which is spread over September–May, carefully addressing the issue of overkill by deft scheduling. Its only weakness is the same as an opportunity – it’s limited to urban areas and its satellite towns, so there lays tremendous room for improvement.

There is a difference in a developing market like India and mature markets elsewhere .In a mature market, the fans support local teams .With the chaotic and ill-organised national league, that option is not even able to present itself, as the collective consciousness has been subsumed by the EPL and its glamour.

Note : This is brief part of a 10,000 word fully referenced essay on this topic.The essay explores a detailed look into the economics, marketing, socio-economic, globalisation aspects for spread of EPL in India .Anyone interested can contact me. Just drop a mail.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Friends : all kinds of them

This is the first week of August! The friendship week !!

So companies and brands will come-out with all sorts of friendship day and week packs. More than anything else, it’s another way of the capitalistic market trying to find newer ways to get into the customer’s pocket. Anyway, some campaigns are really good. I found Coke’s vending-machine experiment in Argentina, the simplest and best yet, because they weren’t selling anything, just promoted a special day, by developing an insightful campaign that encouraged people to lend their friends a helping hand and get 2 bottles of Coke for the price of one!

A great anonymous guy once said

“There are 3 types of friends: those like food, without which you can’t live; those like medicine, which you need occasionally; and those like an illness, which you never want.”

Friends are not just of 3 types, there are many more. Remember, that every friend was once a stranger and every person is a friend until proved otherwise. Friends are also the way of God to compensate for relatives. You choose your friends. Since childhood we have made friends. Now we befriend and unfriend online. I made a list of kind of friends we have and i am sure there are more that can be added . If a person’s name flashes across your mind for every type that is mentioned, chances are that you have got a very good friend circle. Friends have a lot of qualities and types. But making a list is always fun. So here goes.

  • Sincere friend
  • Listening friend
  • Loud-mouth friend
  • Occasional friend
  • Common interest friend
  • Social magnet friend
  • Neurotic friend
  • Suspicious friend
  • Colleague friend
  • Problematic friend
  • Daydreamer friend
  • Cyber friend
  • Dormant friend
  • Party -thrower friend
  • Thrifty friend
  • Popular friend
  • Annual friend
  • Exclusive friend
  • Protective friend
  • Abusive friend
  • Telephone friend
  • Optimistic friend
  • Pessimistic friend
  • Counselling friend
  • Cinéaste friend
  • Musician friend
  • Concert friend
  • Back-bitching friend
  • Old friend
  • New friend
  • Ex friend
  • Druggie friend
  • Wise friend
  • Lazy friend
  • Dumb friend
  • Transportation friend
  • Noisy friend
  • Horny friend
  • Struggling friend
  • Embarrassing friend

Okay we break for a while nowhere to have a look at the friendship between J.D. and Turk from NBC's long running sitcom Scrubs.Here, best friends J.D. and Turk are sooo excited to see each other after Turk's return from his honeymoon.

back to the list now...

  • Quiet friend
  • Insomniac friend
  • Whining friend
  • Booze friend
  • Insane friend
  • Big-contacts friend
  • Crush friend
  • Jack-ass friend
  • Kick-ass friend
  • Overseas friend
  • Homework friend
  • Techie friend
  • Uncouth friend
  • Stubborn friend
  • The copy-cat friend
  • The show-off friend
  • Double-crossing friend
  • The Older (mentor) friend
  • The younger (protégé) friend
  • The friend with benefits
  • Soul mate friend
  • Foodie friend
  • Slutty friend
  • Religious friend
  • Author friend
  • High-flying friend
  • Rich friend
  • The always angry friend
  • Why aren’t we dating friend
  • I will never date you friend
  • 2 am friend
  • 4 am friend
  • Long lost friend
  • Anti –social friend
  • Office friend
  • The always sick friend
  • Family friend
  • Cousin’s hot friend
  • Imaginary friend
  • Extra-terrestrial friend (don’t laugh)

Happy friendship !!