Wednesday, October 15, 2008

NMR's claim to fame.

“Uyire train completes 100 years of operation”. That’s the headline that TOI chose today for a news item on the centenary of the Nilgiris Mountain Railway. That's like describing TOI as the "paper read by Aishwarya Rai", disregarding its 150-year history.

While including the NMR as a World Heritage site, UNESCO report had mentioned:

The construction of the Nilgiri Mountain Railway, a 46-km long metre-gauge single-track railway in Tamil Nadu State was first proposed in 1854, but due to the difficulty of the mountainous location the work only started in 1891 and was completed in 1908. This railway, scaling an elevation of 326 m to 2,203 m, represented the latest technology of the time.

It is a sign of our collective idiocy that a train which has such a rich history, which traverses such a picturesque route, which holds such memories for travellers over several generations and which can boast of a few engineering firsts should come to be better remembered as the “Chaiya Chaiya” train on which some actors were filmed shaking bottoms of assorted shapes and sizes.

If you took a guided tour of Ooty today, chance are that you would be shown several spots where different scenes from different movies were shot, complete with description of the actors who were involved. As if the mountains and the sceneries that have existed for several eons, could finally derive legitimacy only through their appearance in some movie or other.

What explains this madness? Watching a movie takes us on a fantasy trip for a mere couple of hours. But the extended activities such as idolising actors, worshipping sites that the scenes were shot on, forming fan clubs, etc can keep us engaged full time, and help us escape into alternate realities of our choice on a 24 x 7 basis. In earlier eras, mythology served this purpose. Now, movies provide that escape route. Everybody has to help in this process and fan the flame. Even TOI.


Superficial Gibbering prater said...

Well TOI has always been Page 3-ish,is it not ??

someone referred it as TOIlet.

News channels and newspapers provide more entertainment news than the supposed conventional recreation media viz stardust,filmfare :)

Anonymous said...

But Raj, as soon as I read UYIRE I remembered the train visually...

Raj said...

Sup- gib : not just TOI. It is some kind of collective madness.

here it is: Maybe, but that is not the main thing you remember the train for

Anonymous said...

we all have become bolly/tollywod centric. 'When the world markets were rumbling & tumbling, our news channels were more concerned with the rumblings in Big B's stomach - can there be a better proof of our fixation