Yesterday evening [22 September 2009] I was at the Green Carpet Premiere of the hard-hitting ‘drama-documentary-animation’ on climate change ‘The Age of Stupid’ at PVR Premiere [Select Citywalk, Saket, New Delhi, India] organised by Greenpeace and tcktcktck [a global alliance of civil society calling for binding climate change agreements] supported by the PVR CSR wing. Oscar nominated director Shekhar Kapur and some other dignitaries were also present.
This is a review of the event, a review of the PVR cinema, a short note on Shekhar Kapur and a short review of the documentary along with links for those who want to explore more on the issue. There are no images from the event because the PVR management does not allow the gadget in the premise.
The Gathering at the PVR
The entry to the show was by invitation only. I had applied for the pass when Greenpeace on Facebook was soliciting interested participants from Delhi. I got a pass in my role as “cyber activist.” The programme was scheduled to begin at 7 pm. I boarded an auto from the JNU campus at about 6 PM and reached the PVR premiere at Select Citywalk at about 6.20 PM. I witnessed a moderate crowd at the entrance with young boys and girls wearing green Greenpeace tees distributing passes to registered candidates. Families, flashbulbs, foreigners, dignitaries [whom I cannot recognise], young and smart PVR security staff all waited for Shekhar Kapur and other dignitaries to arrive. People were holding “I am not stupid!! I fight climate change” placards and giving kodak moments to cameramen.
Shekhar Kapur arrives
When Shekhar Kapur arrived there was no hullabaloo by fans [it was a mature gathering indeed]. Wearing Khaki trousers,black sneakers, white shirt and a corduroy coat, Shekhar looked visibly tired. All cameras swung into action once he was discovered. He held placards, spoke on mic on the environment issues [which was not audible to us] and signed a few autographs. I saw him at close range. A graceful Shekhar Kapur is about 170 cms in height. Keep reading for his speech.
Waiting at the PVR lounge [Indian Standard Time!]
The film was scheduled to begin at 7 pm but everyone had to wait for the cinema in progress in the auditorium 4 to conclude. People went inside the PVR premise [lounge] at about 7 pm and in no time about 70 per cent of the gathering was seen with the expensive popcorn and the ‘sweet fizzy brown drinks’ in hand irrespective of their circumference! TV channels with their cocky interviewers got hold of Shekhar, Greenpeace activists and other dignitaries. Everybody was busy socializing during those 30 minutes of waiting for the vacancy in the auditorium.
I found a few management shortcomings at the this PVR. The display screen outside auditorium 4 of the PVR where this movie was scheduled to begin was flashing ‘Next Show: Wanted’ [the Hindi film]! At the water cooler ["free drinking water"] there were no disposable glasses for about 20 minutes and people were applying their mouth to the taps despite the fact that the staff room was 2 feet from that cooler! By the way, the plush washroom for the gentlemen did not had any divider between the cubicles and I [accustomed only to the 'cattle class'] was very uncomfortable using the royal cubicle. It had small screens on the walls for every urinator and you are expected to enjoy watching movie clips as you piss!
The PVR Official Speeches [Deepa and Amitabh]
The entry to the auditorium started at about 7.28 pm. My seat was C-1 [third row from the screen] but later I shifted to the F row thanks to vacancies. Surprisingly, Shekhar Kapur sat in the first row itself [I was never hoping that he'll embrace the front stall]!
Deepa Menon [head, CSR wing, PVR Ltd.; see her photo and CV on her Linked in profile] enthusiastically welcomed [emceed] and thanked everybody for their presence. She read out a speech while simultaneously looking at the audience trying to give the impression that it’s an impromptu performance! Among other things, she narrated this story to draw our attention to the harm that we had done to the environment:
One day a father wanted to inculcate a sense of responsibility in his son who was very careless. So he told his son that for every careless act of his he would hammer a nail into a wooden pillar in their house, and for every positive act he would pull out one nail at the end of the day. The boy saw that the pillar was getting crowded with nails. After some time, he resolved to change his behaviour and the nails stared coming out, till there were none left. The father was very proud. He said, ” Son, you have done a great job, there are no more nails left on the pillar.” The boy, however, started crying and replied, ” the nails are gone but the holes remain!”
Amitabh Vardhan, CEO [Cinemas at PVR; see his Facebook profile here] followed ‘talking from heart’ instead of reading his “prepared speech!” Among other things, he lamented the fact that during a recent endeavour with Pedallyatri [a group of biking enthusiasts in Gurgaon] he had found the Aravalis in a dilapidated state! He said the day is not far when kids will name ‘Kinley’ as the source of water [and not "the underground"] and “doodhwala” [milk man] as the source of milk! He also spoke about PVR Nest (Network for Enablement and Social Transformation), the CSR wing of the PVR Cinemas and about the ‘Taare Zameen Par,’ their film with Aamir Khan for fulfilling their social responsibility.
Shekhar Kapur’s Speech
Film maker Shekhar Kapur spoke for about 7 minutes [7.50 pm to 7.57 pm]. He started with an apology for the ‘hamburger’ in his hand [he said he was hungry and tired thanks to constant travelling for the cause; "forgiven? Thank you!"]. He regretted that our glaciers were fast receding [he was at the Rohtang Pass, a place he had frequented in his childhood, in the morning and it was beamed live to New York; you can see the video 'SOS from Himalayas' on NDTV, ] and that should be a supreme concern to the 1.3 billion people who depend on them for water! Shekhar Kapur made an emotional plea and asserted that it is ‘our problem’ and “not a problem of the west” as often argued because civilizations have flourished due to water and also have been wiped out due to lack of water. He debunked the theory that ‘growth and environment’ are opposed to each other ["I don't buy that argument"]. Shekhar lauded the Greenpeace and urged everyone to become a Green Idol and take action ['ask PM to go to Copenhagen' in December 2009]. A 2 minute video of Shekhar’s message from the derelict Rohtang glacier was also shown before the age of stupid descended.
‘The Age of Stupid’: a short review
The documentary is quite in your face. Remember the story of the frog in Gore’s Inconvenient Truth? The frog (us) “must be rescued” and this documentary shows what will happen if do not rescue ourselves! The year is 2055 and there is destruction everywhere [London under water, Sydney in flames, Las Vegas buried and Taj Mahal in ruins!] and the sole surviving man ["archivist" Pete Postlethwhaite] is wondering what went wrong on a space age touch screen.
He shows us a number of clips from our age [the age of stupid] to remind us our misdeeds. Protagonists include Jeh Wadia [GoAir], a Nigerian woman, an octogenarian French mountaineer, a Shell oilman, two Iraqi refugee kids and a wind farm developer fighting the anti wind farm lobby in England and of course “you”! Indian Jeh Wadia has been villainously portrayed in the film for his desire to make low-cost airlines very affordable even for the 15 million people who travel by train every day in India! I give the film 7/10. Oil, Politics, Environment, Wars are issues dealt deftly in the film. Unfortunately there were no English subtitles when the audio was in Arabic and French.
Visit the official website of the Age of Stupid here. The film by Fanny Armstrong film was released internationally on September 21st and 22nd at the “Global Premiere”. A green carpet, solar-powered cinema tent in New York was linked by satellite to 442 cinemas across the USA and to more than 200 cinemas in more than 45 other countries!