A Debate over Kai Po Che

I put up a comment here in response to this piece which I also then placed in my twitter feed. The author remarked on it and I then added a longer response today. I am extracting all of this here:

Original Exchange

and the more recent one today:



73 Responses to “A Debate over Kai Po Che”

  1. thanks satyam. saurabh asked me today why i wasn’t watching the film. beyond the general vagueness of ‘i am not interested’, it got me thinking. and i think the whole thing has made me uneasy. as someone who was in gujarat at the time (not in the thick of things though) and heard so many disturbing things coming out of the mouths of people whom i thought i knew, i have always been uncomfortable about anything related to this. the general national discourse, though seemingly against the riots from the beginning, has taken a different hue over the years. and now modi is everywhere on tv every night from what i hear. i can’t explain it well, but it makes me very sad about who we have become as a people. so i have stayed away from the discussions on this blog too.


  2. don’t completely agree about the zdt point though. and that film has made plenty of people uncomfortable and sparked debate. one person walked out the show i watched. i haven’t seen kpc but it seems like it takes a more hands-off view of things, specifically not to alienate people. not taking a moral stance is not something i hold against a film-maker, but to show things in a manner in which you are taking a subtle stance so to speak and only appearing not to, so as not to alienate people, is more sinister i think. if that makes any sense.


    • yes but the people who didn’t like Zero dark thirty were on the liberal side of the equation who correctly intuited that not taking sides on this issue was actually taking one side! Here too in KPC the film operates within a very humanistic frame. It’s about ‘little moments’ if you will though the surrounding world always seem politically ugly. This film too doesn’t take sides in any well-defined sense. But this is part of the problem!


  3. yes, but kpc seems to take a stance, even from your own point. the stance that the riots were a ‘natural’ response. which btw, may be the defense suggested by a few people, but no person with 2 brain cells or any connect to reality actually believes that. that’s a very clear populist but obviously dishonest position to take. it’s not about who is disturbed, but what was actually narrated in the film. zdt doesn’t do this, kpc apparently does but i’ll have to watch it to comment further.
    not to mention bhagat’s leanings, his politics, his cozying up to modi. it’s all a part of the picture and has ‘tainted’ this project for me, whatever the actual intentions of people involved.


    • your point on KPC is a totally fair one but I do think that the structural analogy holds with Zero dark thirty. It’s all a question of how the debate is framed. Within the context of Modi/Godhra one side argues that Modi wasn’t responsible in any immediate sense nor did he enable anything. But that even if he did it was high time someone did. In this version the Godhra bit was deliberate but what followed was ‘spontaneous’ violence. KPC more or less blots out the first half of the equation and focuses on the second. This is already part of this version’s narrative. The other side meanwhile claims that the Godhra event was murky, even if instigated this did not justify pogroms which were by definition ‘produced’. KPC obviously because of the kind of film it is cannot get into this version of things. And so again it automatically privileges the other one.

      With ZDT the debate here is about water-boarding. Within the context of US politics over the past decade this has been exactly the same sort of signifier. Both sides feel very strongly about it. It’s a definitional issue as much as Godhra. And so when Bigelow shows all of this without taking a moral stand on it she automatically legitimizes the debate (which is why liberals are so upset and which probably cost her any serious recognition at the Oscars). For the left there is no ‘debate’ to be had on water-boarding. Furthermore it is not even honest on Bigelow’s part to claim that one doesn’t really know whether water-boarding produced results or not because the most serious journalism on this suggests otherwise and certainly no important security analyst is willing to go on the record to confirm this. Most argue against it. Yet in the film all of this is left murky. You begin with those uncomfortable scenes, you end with the Osama operation, this is not a narrative that would terribly bother Dick Cheney!

      Not that this is new for Bigelow. In the Hurt Locker once again the central defining issue (whether the war was just or not) is precluded by really going small and focusing on the group that she does. Again one could defend this film and say that there is no space here for an Iraq war debate or what have you and that would be true. But why is this choice made? Why not a different one. She’s certainly a skillful filmmaker otherwise and I’m not arguing against her in this sense (found ZDT gripping throughout) but she’s also adept at picking up these ‘explosive’ issues to serve her cinematic instincts and at the same time slicing through the same so as to not offend anyone completely. With ZDT she perhaps misjudged things.

      All of this gets to the Haneke criticism GF brought up some weeks ago. It is problematic when serious political issues are used in this way.


      • Glad that you saw it. Would like to know what did you think of the ‘actual film’.

        On the cricket angle the original novel has a better ending- where instead of the protagonist’s death we have a ‘moral humdinger’ kind of a situation. these guys, as shown in the film are being attacked, Suddenly someone lunges at Ali (the youg boy) with a trident/spear or something. Govind (played by Raj Kumar Yadav in the film. He is the so-called protagonist in the novel unlike the film where it is Ishaan) for a moment hesitates in saving Ali though he finally does so but the moments delay leads to an injury in Ali’s hand after which he is never able to play cricket in the same way anymore 9loss of reflex).


        • not saying it doesn’t have its own merits. and the politics of films don’t always bother me or keep me away. it can be a personal thing. also, doesn’t mean i’ll never check it out. if we stopped watching films due to racism, sexism, problematic political commentary etc., there’d be nothing left to watch. as satyam pointed out, even one of my favorite films ever has been criticized for its political stance or lack thereof. my favorite shows currently on tv are about a vigilante serial killer and a bunch of clueless sexist men in the 60’s running a man’s business. so there.


          • “it can be a personal thing”- Yes, here I am with you. For example I am a sucker for ‘men’ being sliced and diced on screen but when the same thing happens to a woman I am not able to take it. I also have little taste for films depicting ‘graphic sexual abuse’ and incest.

            Which show are you talking about. I loved Dexter (also a fan of the cartoon series of the same name)


          • “For example I am a sucker for ‘men’ being sliced and diced on screen”

            Man I’m glad we’re only communicating online!


          • yes, dexter and mad men.


          • Isn’t that bout the ‘blood splatter’ pattern specialist ? Hmm
            Note the common theme –‘blood n gore’ lol
            Btw folks–caught bits of ‘human centipede’ on telly this week
            Saw only bits–well, I don’t know exactly what feelings it elicited or should elicit -any reaction on it, folks…
            Thought the idea was ‘unique’ but certain parts were plain disgusting–Satyam, hav u seen it?

            Ps: as for telly –checking out ‘new anger management’–Selma Blair, Shawnee smith & noureen dewoulf keep up the entertainment 🙂


          • Re.-Man I’m glad we’re only communicating online!

            LMAO….. was talking to a Gora in my office when I read this, laughed so hard and said” Baaain kee ####”
            The Gora was like – WTF just happened, I had to send him away to write this !!
            Satyam- You should be a script writer for Subtle comedies…


          • those films will gross under 6 crores! This is the Sajid Khan audience. For them Rohit Shetty is subtle!


          • Arrey -what is money between Comrades !!
            Aside- the same Sajid Khan audience also likes- Shadi ke side effects,Pyar ka Punchnama, BluffMaster,Peepli Live,Kahani, Barfee etc……
            Give them clean entertainment ( operative word entertainment, not “Paar”, LOL) and they will lap it up !!


          • Haha Satyam, cannot say I am proud of having such a taste but listen, I am an Amitabh Bachchan fan! That should absolve me of all such crimes 🙂

            But on a serious note I would love to meet you in person as well.

            Btw checked out Kattradhu Thamizh yesterday. Not sure if I have seen a more disturbing Indian film in recent times. And Jiiva was fantastic here


        • For me everything that I said is part of the ‘actual’ film! It’s all a question of what one’s concerns are. But I do have a brief comment on the film even otherwise somewhere in those comments. I think it’s perfectly watchable though not quite special in any sense. This isn’t Zero Dark Thiry at the formalist level!

          On that ending thanks for mentioning this because it’s a much stronger one. Pity they changed it.


          • “This is the Sajid Khan audience. For them Rohit Shetty is subtle!”– haha
            Just the thought of a ‘subtle’ rohit shetty is well, obscene!!


        • rockstar Says:

          Exactly and one feel so infact book was more realistic to Ali and even romance angle but again atleast bhahat has the potential to change narrative unlike in case of 3 idiots which claimed to be only 10% of five point some despite borrowing everything from it and on political angle one may disagree with you but indeed one see a real intellectual in terms of thought process

          Bhagat or kapoor never brought riots or politics but infact it was media which was a negligible part of screenplay because it was focussed on godhra which they tried level best to ignore

          When you try to glorify parzania or firaq which was utterly jingoistic to core compared to them kpc seem much more balanced…i can recall earth and pinjar which also raised eye brows but these where not used for election campaigns or for that matter there was desperate attempt to glorify them

          If a hurt locker can win Oscar or for that matter zero dark thirty one can’t ignore that…speilberg feeling comes out more appropriate in Schindler list but one just can’t accuse of him being a jew even a tarrantino who made some outright coked up shit got more respect when he mellowed down in terms of experience in bastards and django

          There where idiots who where abusing gujratis in media was that not part of propaganda which only backfired


    • Antya if a film is good on ‘filmmaking’ grounds (that is direction, plot, acting, cinematography etc) one should still see the film inspite of one’s political/polemical/moral stance. I am not saying the latter is unimportant but the former is certainly more important. One can have all the problems with Dirty Harry regarding its moral policies but it is a bloody good ‘film’. Same goes for A Wednesday. Just the other day I saw a Tamil film Ko which I enjoyed a lot. Now the film shows the worst kind of objectification of women (which both Tamil and Telugu films keep indulging in. Rangan has smartly pointed this out many a times) where a young ‘child’ is made to act like a lecher and stare at a girl- i absolutely hated this angle yet I found the film engrossing enough. Otherwise if filmmaking grounds are neglected for the sake of polemical ones what would be a difference between a film and a book (or for that matter any form of art) based on the same on the same issue.

      And if for once a film (Kai Po Che) decides to be daring enough to show the atrocities committed by the Hindutva brigade (and allow the so called seculars and leftists to brand all BJP supporters as followers of Bajrang Dal or whatever. How conveniently one forgets that for every Modi there is an Atal as well) even if it’s done in a ‘diluted form’ we should ‘bloody well’ acknowledge it.

      The other important factor is that neither the film nor the novel is about the ‘riot’. The incidence is just another part of the plot. So there is absolutely no responsibility on the director to depict every side of the story or to discuss the incidence in detail


      • This type of approach satisfies neither party. A sort of half baked approach.That may be the reason Gujarat did not support this film the way it supported potboilers like Housefull.


        • Why Bachchan’s films where he thrashes the villains were so successful though highly unrealistic? It satisfies the viewer that the villain is thrashed well. And also Ghajini’s success, Salman’s latest flicks, RR, Singham where everything is black and white.
          And that maybe the reason why Gandhi is not that popular with many sections even though he towers tall even now. Gandhi is not loved by the ambedkarites, by the hardcore hindus and even by muslims.

          KPC tries the same formula of showing everything, appeasing every section but not showing enough for obvious reasons.

          The tragedy is Godhra carnage never got its due to the gujarat riots. Same way kashmiri pandits voices are muted due to the artificially created Kashmir freedom struggled fuelled and financed by our neighbouring country.


  4. What kind if stance against Nazism does ‘ Sound of Music’ take? or ‘ Escape To Victory’?


  5. AS I have argued in my piece it does more to question the prevailing value system of Gujarat politics than a film like Perzania does. ( I haven’t seen Firaq..)



    • Thanx 4 an interesting debate folks (after all my usual nonsense lol)
      Have only read a couple of lines -will join shortly
      But sometimes the premise /central idea of a film is ‘significant’ & over rides the shortcomings in treatment /narration/direction. And it doesn’t really have to be a kpc type of riot/national importance sort of deal
      It can be something personal/sensitive
      Haven’t seem kpc (& most probab won’t) bi it sounds an important film and bhagat seems to have got the raw nerve of the populace

      Another film that is highly flawed infact imbecile at places but becomes important purely due to its subject and how it dovetails certain disparate elements into an accessible broth (tho the broth has issues for me)

      My random thoughts on SLp–hehe plugging them here
      But would like the views of thinkers here and guys like Satyam, anya and importantly utkal uncle on that film
      Ps: utkal uncle: what did u think of Jen law -but hey that’s not the topic here lol

      Ps: Yeah-bronx is surely a dodgy area-any1 from there here?


  6. The way books can do justice to history is different from films. Especially if the history is controversial and has not yet become history in the real sense. The cases are still going on in Gujarat and the discussion about riots is not ending.

    Congress could wash off some of the taint of 1984 riots as a Sikh is made the prime minister for 2 terms.And Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination also put an end to the anger to some extent. And Sonia is still a foreigner for many and so is Rahul.

    If BJP selected one muslim as gujarat Chief minister and if Modi meets the same fate of Rajiv Gandhi or takes sanyas. Will it work? I dont think so as most of the gujaratis have become mini modis.

    Even Gone with the wind is about the fight over slavery. And slavery was portrayed sympathetically and also those who kept slaves were not painted black by the author. Sound of Music was a wee bit better in this respect.


    • Re.-If BJP selected one muslim as gujarat Chief minister and if Modi meets the same fate of Rajiv Gandhi or takes sanyas. Will it work? I dont think so as most of the gujaratis have become mini modis.
      Whao… this much hatred , itna Naxalwaad , this is exactly what the Hindu Journalist ( Praveen S.R.) said when Chavez died- ” Why Chavez, why not Modi and MMS’ BTW that praveen’s role model as per him is Castro….


    • “I dont think so as most of the gujaratis have become mini mod is.”

      I violently disagree with this sentiment. My entire argument is about keeping political leaders separate from those who vote for them. The latter bear responsibility but it’s not the same kind. For instance I am a huge Obama supporter but this doesn’t mean I am responsible for every Drone attack out there. I am certainly so for supporting a politician who has this as part of his program but these are two different levels of responsibility. And so even though I constantly argue with supporters of Modi I never mix the two because people are not always aware of their choices in a specific sense. Leaving this aside ethnic stereotyping gets us nowhere.


      • “I violently disagree with this sentiment”
        Cmaan Satyam–u can disagree but no ‘violence’ plz & no more blood n gore –we are peace loving souls 😉


      • well said satyam, issiliye hum aapkey kaayal hain !!


      • I think you misunderstood. Or misinterpreted my words. You maybe Obama supporter but you dont support him blindly. But a modi supporter generally supports him without any questions and the supporters get extremely angry even if a supreme court judgment is unfavourable to him. In short unquestionable loyalty. You may disagree with me but why violently disagree with me? And I am only discussing why 1984 riots have not impacted congress that much as gujarat riots may impact BJP. And I am not wishing modi death as it will be an easy way out for anyone. A prolonged human life is a curse and I wish many deserve it as to see changes and more dramatic changes and introspect. I think all of you jumped the gun and hastily judged my words without thinking.


        • Omrockey, I am not naxalwaad and I oppose naxalism as it is nothing but another form of dictatorship or Nazism. I am for liberal democracy. And naxalites hide behind their pro poor stance to indulge in all sorts of criminal acts and I have zero sympathy for them.


        • The Modi supporter can seem blind in many situations because he (and Godhra) have become definitional for both sides. My politics on all of this are obvious to everyone but here I’m not arguing for that. I’m just saying that an attack on Modi is considered an attack on one’s identity. This is so for many people. And so when they defend Modi ‘blindly’ as you say it’s precisely because they don’t accept that he did many of the things he’s accused of doing by the other side. If they’re on the right they might also feel that the liberal media is trying to take down a dynamic leader because of his politics. So on and so forth. Not defending all of this. But no one says ‘I’m a supporter of Modi and I love him because he butchered people’! getting back to the Obama example I might not be supporting him blindly but for the innocent Drone victim that might be a distinction without difference. Such a victim would consider me morally culpable as well. And perhaps I am!


          • But no one says ‘I’m a supporter of Modi and I love him because he butchered people’

            Thats the point. Many hindu supporters are so miffed with muslims that they love him because he allegedley helped in butchering them. Teaching them a lesson in short. Supporting him for development is an afterthought. It comes handy to convince the capitalists and middleclass. It whitewashes other things rather nicely. And in many comments on various forums, they said so.


          • Damn, just lost a longer comment. Anyway will try to summarize again. I don’t agree with that at all. The Fascist logic is always founded on a certain economic program going hand-in-hand with the exclusionary politics. You cannot have the latter without the former. The economic ‘boom’ is necessary to that whole narrative of self-assertion. Without it the majorities wouldn’t stick with the outfit for too long. It’s hardly an afterthought, it’s a necessary structural moment.

            Secondly a majority that votes for Modi cannot all be extremists! Again such politics depends on concealing the ‘truth’ from majorities or operating at a level of abstraction and therefore keeping the more ordinary voter at a distance from if you will the true horror. Even Fascist politics presents itself as an ethical choice. No one goes out there and says ‘join us, we’ll butcher Muslims together, it will be fun’! Now voters might nonetheless be invested in a narrative that blames minorities and so on but the trick here is to keep them at a remove from the consequences of their actions (voting for such an outfit). The voters have responsibility but not in the same immediate way. Most people are like that KPC character. Even if they were susceptible to certain messages they would recoil in horror the moment they witnessed something of this sort let alone if they took part in it. And if I seem to be erring on the side of greater caution here it is because I don’t want to give in to a logic where voting for a politician means one has subscribed to every last decision.


          • Got it. I could read between the lines and I am satisfied.


  7. The CYCLE of abuse/sadism / violence

    (Human centipede1 / thirst)

    Ok folks– the above discussion reminded me that I saw bits of the above two violent/blood gore ‘classics’.
    Must say, there’s plenty to be excited about. Things are innovative and definitely original (thankfully)
    Not for everyone though–
    Check this out–
    Sample 1
    A guy suddenly thrusts his head into another guys chest, actually holds his ‘heart’–takes it out (literally) or something like that..

    Sample 2
    A crazy surgeon literally sews together three humans ‘mouth to anus’ such that they share the same ‘digestive system’.
    A disgusting scene actually showing the ‘first’ guy literally defecting & the other two…

    The surgeon ‘trains’ the ‘centipede’ like a ‘pet’ and derives pleasure from this wierd exercise
    One can go on and on…
    Whilst I don’t have any ‘ethical’ issues here–it did again strike me –who forms the targt audience for such stuff? And why ?

    Was chatting to a psychiatric buddy (an east European blonde trainee)— she opined that there’s a CYCLE of Abuse.
    Many who enjoy being at the ‘subjecting’ end have been at the ‘receiving’ end at some stage (NOT of their own choice).
    Correct me/her in their reading folks–

    This may not be true for all the target audience but surely most. Initially I was surprised, then felt they are worthy of some ridicule or some analysis, but now i feel they actually need —
    ‘Empathy’ …


  8. “I am a sucker for ‘men’ being sliced and diced on screen”–actually that’s a relatively common theme nowadays and on the face of it harmless since it is ‘only a film’.
    But while there IS a physiological or even ‘hormonal’ basis for guys finding hot women in bikinis hot and women finding ‘well endowed’ guys attractive and so on, there’s no real ‘organic’ justification for people deriving pleasure out of pure blood letting and torture/abuse
    Except ofcourse sick perversion
    Which also is fine(maybe..)
    But when it is dished out as this ‘cool hep thing’ to be enjoyed and displayed around like a trophy, that’s what I find disturbing
    There’s a difference for eg between ‘porn’ and ‘child porn’. There’s a reason why the former is discouraged whilst the latter is banned (‘ it better be!)


  9. Typo above–‘psychiatrist’ buddy

    Btw I’m not trying to be a ‘spoilsport’ or ‘sermonising’ ( haha I should be the last person to be doing that anyways)
    I usually enjoy all genres and even in tins violent porn one I can see the point (upto a limit)
    But I’m curious about what exactly gives the ‘target audience’ so much ‘pleasure’ so as to enjoy that torture/violence so much ( and in some cases actively seek out similar themes in movies/telly exclusively)
    Ps: this was JUST my views … Also the ‘cycle of abuse’ theory was given by a psychiatrist trainee buddy …
    Ps2: if anybody has any other theories to explain this, would be great


    • to be honest, i don’t know what you are going on about lately. i am sorry if i am being dense.
      as for the abuse, yes, the ‘cycle of abuse’ thing is well-documented.


  10. @ anya –actually was chatting with a buddy who is a psychiatry resident in Europe bout these violent porn flicks…(since saw bits of tnose two above with her amongst some others buddies)
    Been somewhat curious about how/why viewers get a kick out of these films beyond a point.
    Ok, I find it perfectly normal if someone enjoys seeing the ‘thrill’ or ‘mystery’ or ‘twists’ and even the ‘violence’ element
    And c’mon between u n me–hey the kinky ‘sex’ is also fine (infact good)
    But it’s the dodgy violence and perverse blood letting and the examples given above that are somewhat surprising !
    She told me that this ‘cycle of abuse’ is also common amongst victims of ‘domestic abuse’ etc
    Btw Check this out–

    So according to her, the viewers who really repeatedly ‘enjoy’ this sadism /blood letting on screen, some /all of them have been on the ‘receiving end’ at some stage or other–well she maybe wrong lol
    Ps:mr anya-sort of ‘fond’ of u–hope things have been fine @ your end since uve been selectively watching only such stuff on telly/big screen…u dont have to tell here ofcourse…btw nothing personal & hope u don’t mind this 🙂


    • To add– this was NOT intended to put poor anya in the spotlight.
      If satyam or s/he feels this is a bit ‘personal’ it maybe deleted since it wasn’t meant to be ‘uncomfortable’
      Ps: just 1 of my analytical quirks–smile now 🙂


      • awwww……so sweet of you to worry about my mental health. trust me, the feeling is mutual, especially now that you seem to be off your meds again.
        i also love family guy and obsessively watch seinfeld reruns. obviously, identifying with an animated english-accented infant who constantly plots to kill his mother and take over the world; or a bunch of self-obsessed new yorkers who are oblivious to the rest of the world, indicates a sick mind with a tortured past. only you understand me *wiping tears*


        • Ha I wasn’t concerned over your ‘mental health’ bit bout your ‘safety’…lol
          “only you understand me — yup I think I understand most people (except myself lol)
          “*wiping tears*”–c’mon don’t cry pushpa/ anya
          I hate tears ! Smile 🙂


        • @ antya:

          hi-fi over family guy and SIENFELD..I know hyper-bole is banned on satyamshot but SIENFELD is the funniest,smartest, the most-real-to-life of sitcom history in the US…


          • Haha I loooove family guy and most things Seth macfarlane
            btw heck even Simpsons is nice fun
            Ok lemme check out some telly reruns…sheens anger managment

            Ps: anya — c’mon buddy, I was just joking/ hyper analysing–hope u haven’t been ‘scared’


          • agree. it’s the best sitcom ever, and one of my most favorite tv shows. i still watch reruns all the time and constantly use seinfeld references in real life situations. which sometimes make people go ‘wtf!’


  11. need 2 catch some work..
    @ anya–don’t feel bad plz/dont keep thinking about this–relax…
    Ok lemme take u along to ‘cheer u up’ 🙂
    Good evening folkz


  12. Reading EVERYTHING between the lines? Now Modi’s definition of secularism – INDIA FIRST before everything – is controversial..

    The Last Word: Is Modi’s definition of secularism acceptable or expedient?



    • Who conducts the i/v ??? Karan Thapar, who considers Pee of Rahul baba more fragrant then Rose Water 🙂 and see how the debate is unfairly loaded as 3:1 and one has to read mediacrooks how he tears them apart with hard and brute facts and logic along with CRI and Sandeepweb


  13. Some of the telly muck I checked out –

    Anger management season deux
    A sexist, racist, homophobic dinosaur in the age of daring and empathetic comedies such as Girls and Louie, Anger Management, whose 2012 debut was shrewdly timed to cash in on the latest speed bump in Charlie Sheen’s career, revels in a glib mean-spiritedness. The first season was inhumane and all the more popular for it, so there was little hope that creator Bruce Helford and his writers would try to rise above their tabloid muck. The only, admittedly qualified, hope that one might bring to a second season is that it at least exhibit occasional cleverness in its ongoing smear campaign of everything that isn’t Charlie Sheen.
    In its second season, Anger Management’s superficial issues of craftsmanship have been smoothed out, as one can now mostly discern the intended punchlines without the help of a grating laugh track. But the characters, which already began as ciphers, have somehow managed to regress even further. Selma Blair’s desperation to squeeze anything out of her character Kate Wales’s pathetic one-liners, whether it be subtext, humanity, or an ounce of active pleasure, is even more pronounced now that the writers have predictably decided to parody Kate’s determination to be a woman who prizes casual sex and a fulfilling professional life. It’s embarrassingly beyond the show’s imagination to suggest that Kate’s desires are perfectly reasonable.
    Three of the show’s four principle female characters are explicitly and routinely defined by a singular characteristic of promiscuity (strippers and assorted other guest hotties also pop in for Charlie’s delectation). Lacey (Noureen DeWulf), an anger-management patient whose continually on the look-out for the next wealthy penis to exploit, teams up with the show’s equally reductive queer stereotype, Patrick (Michael Arden), against his former high-school tormentor, but the potential for a surprising development of kinship between the two is disappointingly abandoned for yet another round of strained, bitchy repartee. Brett Butler, as a weary bartender, is saddled with a witless and unvaried aging slut-hippy routine, while Charlie’s ex-wife, Jennifer (Shawnee Smith), is spared of this sort of shtick by virtue of being positioned as the the obligatory center of bland domestic stability.
    Some issues-despite the careful attention to image enhancement possibilities, the core ugliness and toxic narcissism of “Anger Management” are impossible to ignore. The second episode revolves around the sexual humiliation of a woman who commits the crimes of 1) Being over 30 and 2) Not being a pneumatic fembot. The idea is that we’re meant to find Charlie generous for controlling his revulsion whenever he’s around this woman, who continually begs Charlie to sexually and personally validate her.
    It’s not really possible to discuss “Anger Management” without pointing out that it’s lucrative spin control disguised as a traditional sitcom. In the show, Sheen plays a therapist named Charlie who has many women in his life: An understanding ex-wife (who is still understanding after Charlie menaces her boyfriend with a lamp), a sweet daughter who looks to him for guidance, a friends-with-benefits fellow therapist, a woman in his therapy group with rage issues, etc. ps:something so dumb that its cute about dewoulf 🙂


  14. Brief Summary (ONLY for guys)
    Three of the show’s four principle female characters are explicitly and routinely defined by a singular characteristic of promiscuity (strippers and assorted other guest hotties also pop in for Charlie’s delectation). Lacey (Noureen DeWulf) is an anger-management patient whose continually on the look-out for the next wealthy penis to exploit!!
    🙂 hahaha what fun !!


  15. Some more—

    Charlie’s best friend, Kate (Selma Blair), is also his non-committal sex buddy. She also ends up being his therapist, which complicates things further. Generally, whenever the show slows down and neither of them are doing anything, they make a few sex jokes and then jump into bed together.
    Hahahaha–what ‘depth’—Something for my mental level 🙂
    Ps: where’s my therapist / mental coach here..
    Ok folks– enuf fun–now 4 some work…


    • Read this-

      Kai Po Che- Reigniting memories



      “From the very beginning Mama is shown as someone representing the money and muscle power of the Hindutva brigade on the ground. There is always a bustle around his office, teeming with all kinds of musclemen; the flashing of guns much earlier in the narrative foreshadows the tragedy which unfolds later. He actually represents the several hundred, if not thousand, clones of Modi who laid the foundation of Gujarat 2002 and the subsequent “Modification” of the state.

      Against this unfolding aggression is pitted the young boy Ali and his weaver father with their back-to-the-wall situation. In an early sequence Ali drops unconscious having hit Ishaan for three consecutive sixes in a cricket match. The doctor explains that this has resulted from his hunger and malnutrition. In a subsequent sequence, Ali’s father is shown as a home-based weaver, the walls of whose home are falling apart. In fact, they almost do when the earthquake hits on 26 January 2001. This is the symbolic representation of the narrative of Muslim impoverishment that the Sachar Committee exposed in its report in 2005-06. At the same time, it is this poor father who also represents the oppositional, secular and working class politics challenging the capitalist figure of the Mama and his thugs. It is necessary to underline that the film thus places this opposition within and yet, beyond the Hindu-Muslim conflict, which is often the only context given and which makes the issue monochromatic.

      The narrative of Muslim alienation, however, further builds with the earthquake when Ali and his community members are refused shelter by those running relief camps only for Hindus. It is also the moment of the first major friction between Ishaan, who has led this group in search of shelter, and Omi, who is helping his Mama’s associates run the camp. This is not just fiction. There are many reports documenting such incidents, not just between Muslims and Hindus but also between dalits and caste Hindus, during the relief and rehabilitation work after the earthquake. In this sense, the cracks that appear during this event go deeper, revealing many layered fissures within the communities leading to the ultimate flashpoint in 2002. Just before this, however, the film also subtly notes how Ali’s father backs a leader with a Hindu name in the local elections who wins against the Mama. This subtly hints at the way Godhra gave an opportunity to the Hindutva brigade to regain electoral ground they were losing till the riots of 2002, something many political commentators have written about.

      When it is actually the time of the riots, things are already set in place even as the immediate narrative of the three friends continues to be implicated in a larger schema of things beyond their control. In this context the rhetoric of “no conspiracy but a spontaneous reaction” speaks precisely of the opposite. No conspiracy is actually all conspiracy, in the sense that all the pieces from A to Z are placed and thought through methodically to give it a flavour of spontaneity. When the riots are shown in the film, they are done in a most chilling manner; I have not seen a film in a long time where the closed doors and silences fill the viewer with such dread. The film makes the “accidental” events like Godhra and the real tragedies of people like Omi, which help seal the entire conspiracy look very natural. The role of the Narendra Modi-ruled state is also made clear during the moments when the actual riots are shown, but through short, quick bursts of panic-ridden conversations inside the by now closed door locality of the Muslim ghetto. Snippets like, “collector is not responding”, “no one is answering from the police station”, tell the viewer a much larger story of complicity but in a subtle way. Ali’s father, at this juncture, almost reminds you of the tragedy which unfolded with the former Congress Member of Parliament, Ehsan Jaffrey and his near and dear ones and their fruitless attempts to plead with the rioters and call all his contacts in the administration and government, including the chief minister.”


    • This is an excellent piece at very many levels that is for all this deeply ‘wrong’ on some of its foundational assumptions. I won’t repeat everything I’ve said on this in the past but let me just respond to this key passage:

      “The problem that Kai Po Che’s critics have with the movie is that it does not blame Modi for the riots. But ultimately, a ‘riot’ is violence by civil society, enacted when the state steps aside. It is usually the neighbour, not a stranger, who burns your house and rapes your daughter in the pol, the Amdavadi word used in the movie for a neighbourhood inside the walled city. (Surtis call it sheri.) The state is the villain in Gujarat’s riots largely by omission.”

      The entire question here revolves precisely around the word ‘riot’. It is simply not an appropriate term for what was essentially a ‘pogrom’. One must absolutely separate the two. If one believes it was a riot then everything the author says follows. Politicians might be complicit by creating toxic conditions but ultimately ordinary people ‘spontaneously’ act. But note how this view is dangerously close to the one Nandita Das holds in Firaaq. for if ordinary people are responsible then there can be a blanket condemnation of the ‘Hitler’s Willing Executioners’ kind (how ordinary Germans were complicit in the Holocaust and so forth). A pogrom on the other hand is much more actively engineered, the populace might still be willing to go along in certain ways but the event itself is given a certain precise ‘pre-determined’ shape.

      Also on the author’s question every one of these points could be made against blaming Hitler. Because here too ordinary Germans ran the camps, worked the administrative machinery etc. This was the classic Eichmann defense! It’s a better one in fact than any the ‘neighbors’ in the author’s telling could possibly have. Because they didn’t have to go out and do this stuff whereas Eichmann was just doing his job in a mechanical way. Or the guard at the camp who could claim this was just another ‘posting’ for him and he was only following orders.

      And so it seems to me that the author in this otherwise very well-intentioned piece is really willing to go along with a blanket condemnation of Gujaratis (or the Hindutva-inspired community he’s referring to) far more readily than do the same for Modi who is simply one of many politicians on the right laying the groundwork for this turn of events. Using such criteria I wonder what pogrom could be defined as such! I of course know the author isn’t trying to simply defend Modi but why is there this queasiness to really go for the jugular in this sense? Why is it that a few excellent pieces on the film all loosely take the same approach? This interests me a great deal.


      • I should add here that there are very many Holocaust films where similarly important political figures are never introduced into the discussion. However in this case the question of guilt is never in doubt. Whether people think ordinary Germans are or aren’t responsible no one lets Hitler or Himmler or whoever off the hook. In fact the very opposite happens there. Any person who’s in any position of relative power is held suspect. They’re still chasing old Nazis all over the globe! Now it’s true that Kai Po Che happens at a more micro level and cannot quite get to Modi. But Bhagat was apparently able to in his book! And even leaving this aside this decision means something very different in the absence of the ‘universal’ narrative where everyone agrees where the guilt lies at the top.


      • In the same vein the author’s otherwise enormously enlightening (for someone like myself) discussion of various Gujarati names entail amounts in a way to an anthropology that again is very useful for the ‘riot’ framing (I know the author doesn’t intend this in any direct causative sense). However organized pogroms are conducted under much larger and ‘universal’ signs — Hindu-Muslim, Christian-Jew, Bengali-Non-Bengali and so forth.


      • Satyam: The other thing to note about Kai Po Che is that Bittu (the uncle) is himself a kind of stand-in for Modi, and I do give the film a lot of credit for that: i.e. this isn’t like Sound of Music, where a disturbing past was whitewashed; here, the narrative actually plants a telegenic, muscular figure (not unlike Modi himself, although I do not suggest it is Modi) into the narrative. I am at a bit of a loss at some of the Left critiques of this film; many have been quite unfair: It would frankly be very difficult for a hard-core Hindutva supporter to watch this film and not be irritated; I just find it hard to believe a supporter of Modi could watch this film and take solace from this as far as Modi is concerned. (Note that I am not suggesting that they should or shouldn’t find it objectionable; my point is they are quite unlikely to find this a film that whitewashes Modi in any way.) Second, while the author of this piece calls it a “riot” (which I don’t agree with), the film pretty clearly shows a pogrom – there is virtually no scene of Muslims attacking Hindus in Ahmedabad in this film, and Bittu leads an assault on the Muslim neighborhood that cannot be called a riot at all. It is the first time a mainstream Hindi film has shown anything like it (the contrast with Ratnam’s Bombay is striking, and does not flatter the greater filmmaker).

        To be honest, I find all the arguments made against Kai Po Che very valid indeed – if they are made against the media reinvention of Modi, against the attempted morphing of his past into a future PM, etc. But I do find them a bit off where Kai Po Che the film is concerned – it’s certainly not perfect, but it gets the pogrom and that sort of violence (and how it can come to seem normal, and routinely accepted) more right than just about any other mainstream film.

        [My reservation about the film is a different one: the whole film has the air of a conversation among middle-class Hindus, as if the Muslims’ sole purpose is for Hindu viewers to reach this or that state of self-examination or development. Thus, the most troubling thing about the movie for me was that the tragedy at the end is that one of the friends kills the other – almost as if the fact that he has participated in an assault on innocent people is beside the point. It is THIS, rather than any whitewashing of Modi, that troubled me a great deal (yes, Hey Ram and Dev also had the same sense of being “addressed to Hindus”, but both were not complacent in their address). Stated differently, the “normal person” of Kai Po Che’s worlds is a Hindu, and that “normality” isn’t really called into question – but what Kai Po Che does better than Dev is that it shows that society itself (and note, i do not say “gujarati society”) is sick; to recognize that doesn’t absolve Modi one bit, just as it doesn’t absolve Bittu – but the Left’s obsession with the figure of Modi ought not blind us to the casual, and deep, bigotry, of very many “in society.”

        Aside: the analogy with Hitler (specifically, the idea that a film set in Nazi Germany could not possibly hope to get a free pass if it evaded the issue of Nazi ideology and practice, and only focused on social anti-Semitism), is apt (I have made the same point to others when discussing Kai Poi Che with others; in fact my arguments were similar to some of yours) – but it is apt up to a point. What is disturbing about the pogrom – whether Gujarat 2002; or the Eastern European pogroms of the 19th century; or the ones in WWII Romania Arendt talks about in Eichman in Jerusalem — is that it is a kind of public spectacle, a demonstration that the other is being humiliated and put in his place. With the death camps, the Nazis always had the intuition that this obscenity could not be made public without polluting the very culture and race they sought to glorify; hence the enormous investment in secrecy – the disgusting, foul, and nauseating secrecy that enabled the rest of Germany to sleep with a clean conscience. The perpetrators of pogroms do not worry about polluting anything – because they see it as a given that their actions will meet with approval from the audience, with claps and whistles, as it were. Mercifully, we don’t have to choose between atrocities, but it is fair to ponder whether different modes of artistic representation are appropriate for one as opposed to the other…


        • This is an outstanding reading of the film and you perhaps split the difference between some of those writers who’ve otherwise written thoughtful pieces and my own arguments from a different direction. On the film being an ‘intra-Hindu’ conversation this is similar to the charge some brought against Munich. In other words one understands why things are framed this way. On the other hand there can never be that moment of ‘purity’ where the ‘intra’ (whatever group) conversation takes place and the ‘other’ is meanwhile kept suspended till such ‘talks’ are resolved. Both in Munich and KPC there is of course the ‘other’ but as someone who operates on the margins of a community that is complete in itself. Again it is polemically useful to stage the conversation this way but problematic otherwise.

          The only problem I have with your otherwise very persuasive argument is that the political ‘decision’ that creates a lot of the bigotry is left vague and abstract. In the context of subcontinental communal violence the hardest word to argue for in the vocabulary is ‘pogrom’. Because everything is called a ‘riot’. As long as the political decisions behind a pogrom are not highlighted enough this will continue to be a struggle. And so Modi for me isn’t an arch-villain for the obvious reasons but also the signifier for political agency in the context of this debate. The bigotry of people in general and so forth is a valid claim (this is incidentally something that Fellini for instance focused on in Amarcord.. if you think Mussolini was absurd look at the people who supported him!) and made stronger when one considers that the Modi kind of figure does not arrive in a vacuum. Clearly people are willing to go along with his pact. But this bigotry can exist for ages without it necessarily evolving into the kind of event that Gujarat 2002 was or that the Holocaust was or whatever. The political leader still provides a certain formulation without which the rest cannot happen. And so while I don’t disagree with your overall point I think that the Modi ‘sign’ is a necessary one within the context of this debate. Perhaps you’re right that the uncle here fulfills that role. Or what on your reading resembles a pogrom. But my concern is that by localizing things so much and by once again working without the Modi sign the pogrom might not register as such. One could for instance imagine other communities where the opposite was true. This ‘parity’ claim is the one often used by those on the right. Here too it could be said that the director or writer was so one-sided he never showed what was happening elsewhere to Hindus. A global view (and therefore one implicating Modi) in this sense could not be so easily ‘balanced out’ on the other side. Supporters of Modi would obviously consider this a very biased view of what unfolded but they would have to argue with the entire frame. The existing one offers the other side some comfort. Once more your reading is still a strong one but I fear that in/for the contemporary Indian climate the film doesn’t go far enough.

          The contrast with Dev is interesting and it’s fair to say that this film doesn’t get into the societal aspect at all. Or how ordinary people think and act. On the other hand it of course is unrelenting on the same question of political agency and so forth.


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