Wednesday October 18, 2017

Sunday must-watch: Masaan, a graveyard of love, lust, and Facebook in Varanasi

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By Archana Rao

“Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai, mein kisi pull sa thartharata hoon…”

Set in the backdrop of Varanasi, Masaan is a movie packed with powerful performances, soothing music, and a stunning story line that will sink into your bones. It might not be able to compel you to visit the ghats of the Ganges, but Masaan will surely make you rethink about the stereotypical notions revolving around the place.

The first 15 minutes of the movie will take you on a roller-coaster ride which dives deep into shock and sadness. Aroused by the curiosity to know more about love, relationship, and sex, Rani (Richa Chadha) decides to meet her Facebook-friend-turned-boyfriend Piyush Agarwal (Saurabh Chaudhary) in a hotel and gets intimate. But the plan goes horribly wrong when the police breaks into the room. Piyush, in a bid to save himself, locks himself in the bathroom. Meanwhile, a lady constable holds Rani by her hair as the Inspector (Tewari) films her. While the police threatens the duo with arrest and possible jail term, the young lad commits suicide. The body of Piyush being dragged out of the bathroom eventually leaves Rani befuddled and devastated.

masaan-richa

The simple lives of Rani and her Sanskrit Pandit father Vidyadhar Pathak (Sanjay Mishra) turn into living hell when the corrupt cop threatens to upload the video on the internet in a bid to extort money out of them.

In a parallel story line, another life at the ghat unfolds. Deepak Chaudhary (Vicky Kaushal) is a civil engineering student by day and a cremator by night. Standing on the pedestal of youth, Deepak falls in love with the pretty and perky Shaalu Gupta (Shweta Tripathi). Soon love blossoms between the two through shayaris and Facebook, leaving the audience in awe and amusement.

This is the last moment the viewers get to experience a soothing sense of happiness, love, and hope for a happy ending. Deepak soon comes face-to-face with reality regarding his future with Shaalu. He belongs to a lower caste pyre-burning family whereas his better half belongs to the upper caste. Their determination to stay together encourages Deepak to garner a well-earning job. But destiny too turns its back as Deepak’s love story comes to a halt amid tragedy and loss.

Meanwhile, Rani’s father is struggling to gather money to pay off the cops. This is when the character of Jhanto, a feisty orphaned boy, becomes relevant to the story. With the consent of Pathak, Jhanto engages in the dangerous coin collecting race in the river. The gambling paves a way for Pathak to earn some money but it too meets a horrible end.

Eventually, both Rani and Deepak feel suffocated in the small-town-narrow-thinking Varanasi and decide to leave the place, with their memories behind them. The characters cross each other’s path at the end, leaving some hope and solace for the audience.

Masaan lives up to its hype as it has a lot to offer through its story on life and death, loss and tragedy, and eventually moving on. Director Neeraj Ghaywan has done a tremendous job and has explored the city of Varanasi like never before. The brightest star in the movie is not Richa Chadha but the newcomer Vicky Kushal who nails his performance. The simplistic looks, the local Banarasi dialect, and strong expressions make Deepak’s character more lovable. Pankaj Tripathi’s brief cameo is refreshing as he plays the character of a railway employee stuck in a menial, boring job. The shayaris by Brij Narayan and soundtracks by Indian Ocean are hauntingly beautiful as they leave sweet melodies in your ears.

Dushyant Kumar’s visually evocative poem, Tu kisi rail si guzarti hai, main pull sa thartharata hoon, is both magnificent and heart-breaking, leaving an expressive philosophical whole in your heart.

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Facebook Acquires the Anonymous Teenage Polling App ‘tbh’

An official statement from Facebook said: "tbh and Facebook share a common goal -- of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together"

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Facebook brings the developers of 'tbh' app to share and expand a common goal of making stronger communities. Pixabay

San Francisco, October 17, 2017 : Facebook has acquired ‘tbh’, an anonymous polling app for teenagers which has over 5 million downloads and 2.5 million daily active users in the US.

The app lets teenagers anonymously answer kind-hearted, multiple-choice questions about friends, who then receive the poll results as compliments, TechCrunch reported on Tuesday.

“When we set out to build tbh, we wanted to create a community that made us feel happier and more confident about ourselves. We felt that people craved genuine and positive interactions in their online experiences,” ‘tbh’ said in a statement.

“Over the last few weeks, over 5 million people have downloaded tbh and sent over a billion messages. More importantly, we’ve been inspired by the countless stories where tbh helped people recover from depression and form better relationships with friends,” it read.

ALSO READ How Facebook is Helping Its Users Fight Identity Theft

Financial terms of the deal weren’t disclosed but according to TechCrunch, it is likely to be somewhere around less than $100 million and will not require regulatory approval.

“As part of the deal, tbh’s four co-creators — Bier, Erik Hazzard, Kyle Zaragoza and Nicolas Ducdodon — will join Facebook’s Menlo Park headquarters while continuing to grow their app,” the report added.

“When we met with Facebook, we realised that we shared many of the same core values about connecting people through positive interactions. Most of all, we were compelled by the ways they could help us realise tbh’s vision and bring it to more people,” ‘tbh’ said.

In a statement to TechCrunch, Facebook said: “tbh and Facebook share a common goal — of building community and enabling people to share in ways that bring us closer together”. (IANS)

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Indians Always on Social Media While on Vacations, Reveals New Survey

Social media is emerging as strong driving force in creating vacation happiness with Indians being number one in always taking selfies

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The new survey reveals Indians top the list of tourists glued to their phones while on vacation.(Representative image) Wikimedia

New Delhi, October 15, 2017 : Indians top ahead of Thailand and Mexico when it comes to using social media while holidaying, says a survey conducted by Expedia.

Indians love to be connected all the time, however, it also means that they do not disconnect from work much.

Indians are globally most anxious on not being able to access WiFi or internet to check work e-mail (59 per cent). In fact they lead in showing a preference for an airline that offers in-flight WiFi (33 per cent). Hence, 14 per cent Indians are always working on a vacation, #1 globally, followed by the US (seven per cent) and Brazil (six per cent).

ALSO READ India tops the list of fatalities caused by selfies

Social media is emerging as strong driving force in creating vacation happiness with Indians being number one in always taking selfies (22 per cent), posting photos on social media (22 per cent), “checking in” on social media (21 per cent) and connecting with others through social media (19 per cent), said the Expedia survey.

The survey included 15,363 respondents, across 17 countries (US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Belgium, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, India and Thailand)

The survey also highlighted that even though Indians are social media obsessed beach-goers who spend the majority of their time uploading pictures and video, 24 per cent of their compatriots find it very annoying, said the statement. (IANS)

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Facebook doesn’t Hire Journalists, says Sheryl Sandberg

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Sheryl Sandberg quoted that Facebook doesn't hire Journalists. ians

San Francisco, Oct 14: As people debate Facebook’s role in influencing people during the US presidential elections by Russian ads and fake news on the platform, the company’s COO Sheryl Sandberg has stressed that the social media giant is not a media organization, and therefore does not hire journalists.

Sandberg said that Facebook is run by technical workers and engineers and according to her, the company does not produce news content, therefore it can’t be a media company.

In an interview with US-based news website Axios on Thursday, she said, “At our heart we are a tech company. We hire engineers. We don’t hire reporters. No one is a journalist.”

“We don’t cover the news. But when we say that, we’re not saying we don’t have a responsibility. In fact we’re a new kind of platform… as our size grows, we think we have more responsibility,” the executive was quoted as saying.

Business Insider said a firm that is a major source of news and information for people, generates billions in ad revenue and is producing its own original television shows is classified as a media company and Facebook does all of that.

Contrary to her claim, it hired former NBC anchor Campbell Brown in January to head up the company’s news division and work with other journalists to maximise their use of Facebook’s platform.

Reportedly, Facebook does not want to harm its $500 billion valuations by admitting it is a media company. If the company accepts that it is a media firm, it would open the platform up to regulatory rules in the US and other countries which Facebook would rather avoid.

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Facebook Ads were considered during US Presidential Elections. Pixabay

Business Insider said Britain was already considering regulations that would treat it more like a media company.

Meanwhile, on the Russian ad issue, Sandberg said the election meddling on the platform “shouldn’t have happened” and she wouldn’t discuss Russia or Trump.

“We know we have a responsibility to prevent everything we can from this happening on our platforms… and so we told Congress and the Intelligence committees that when they are ready to release the ads, we are ready to help them,” she said.

Sandberg said that if the Russian-linked ads were posted by “real people” and not fake accounts, Facebook would have let their content remain on the site. “When you allow free expression, you allow free expression.”

“Facebook owes the American people an apology. Not just an apology, but determination for our role in enabling Russian interference during the election,” she said. (IANS)