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  #1  
Old 04-14-2006, 01:02 AM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is offline
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Indian actor dies of old age...five dead in sympathy riots.

I just saw this on the imdb news page...

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Originally Posted by Internet Movie Database
Five people are now confirmed to have been killed in riots which broke out in Bangalore, India in the wake of screen legend Rajkumar's death. Fans of the late actor - who starred in more than 200 films - were fired on by police after earlier scuffles saw 50 buses and two police vans set alight as mourners clambered to pay their last respects. Four people were killed by police gunfire, while the fifth victim, a policeman, was beaten to death by a vengeful mob in the disturbances yesterday. Rajkumar's son, also an actor, begged for calm but to little effect. He appealed "with folded hands to all of you to maintain peace" in a microphone address to the 20,000 fans who had turned out to see the body on display at a city stadium. The 77-year-old actor died on Wednesday after suffering a cardiac arrest.
Now, I ain't saying this is the most horrific thing I've ever heard of humans doing. Not by a long shot. But still..."WTF, Over?"

Are Skynet or the Matrix taking job applications, yet?
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  #2  
Old 04-14-2006, 01:17 AM
HPL HPL is offline
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That's even more stupid and lame then people rioting over a sporting event.
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  #3  
Old 04-14-2006, 07:01 AM
Dervorin Dervorin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HPL
That's even more stupid and lame then people rioting over a sporting event.
Very true. But anyone who lives in Bangalore (as I do, when I'm at home) saw this coming a long way away. Sad fact, but true. Doesn't stop the rioters from being idiotic morons who should really be taken away for a quick coffee and lobotomy, really. It makes me insanely angry when people like this hold a whole city to ransom, and then get away with it. Not sure what can be done about it, but by Og, something needs to be done.
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  #4  
Old 04-14-2006, 07:51 AM
Revtim Revtim is offline
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I find this so bizarre and non-understandable that I cannot think of a thing to say.
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  #5  
Old 04-14-2006, 08:17 AM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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I must be missing something. Can someone explain this in a bit more detail?
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  #6  
Old 04-14-2006, 12:13 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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Devorin, can you explain this a little more? Or somebody else? Is it just that some people are looking for any excuse to riot and cause destruction? Why would the natural death of an elderly actor, no matter how beloved, cause a riot? Why is climbing a bus a way to pay last respects? It makes no sense to me, and I'm inclined to think that some people are just looking for a way to start some trouble--I've lived in that sitation before.
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  #7  
Old 04-14-2006, 12:30 PM
Dervorin Dervorin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ultrafilter
I must be missing something. Can someone explain this in a bit more detail?
I can try... but it's not as if I am able to comprehend it very well myself. But anyway, here goes nothing. Sorry about all the background, but I think it's necessary to try to get a handle on things.

In India, film stars (and cricket players, but that's another story entirely) are just about one step short of divine to the majority of people - and several of them are all but considered gods. Now I had a sociologist friend explain to me that the reason most Indian movies are all-singing all-dancing musicals is because a trip to the movies for the average middle-class Indian is a mild form of escapism - they want to experience that other-worldly feeling to let them forget their drab, wretched lives. Now I'm not sure how much I subscribe to this theory, but it is certainly true that film stars are deeply revered, and become immensely influential; several of them get into politics when their screen time is coming to an end, and win elections purely on account of their earlier popularity, with no regard to their adminstrative abilities or indeed policies.

Rajkumar was an icon of the Kannada screen (Kannada is the official language of Karnataka, the state that Bangalore is in) and part of his popularity was based in the fact that he always refused to make movies in any other language. In south India, patriotism towards one's home state is almost more important than patriotism towards the country itself, and that elevated Rajkumar to dizzying heights. He was known to everyone, his films were invariably enormous hits; and I think he was one of the most prominent symbols of Kannada pride, the darling of the masses, with fans that numbered in the millions.

When he was kidnapped by a notorious sandalwood poacher in 2002, there were anti-Tamilian riots, and the joy when he was released unharmed (after about 100 days) was unbelievable. I was in Bangalore at the time, and there were enormous parades and general jubilation.

I think the point I'm trying to make here is that there was an enormous emotional investment by a huge number of people in this actor; they saw him as an elder brother, a role model, a true hero of the masses, and there was obviously going to be an enormous outpouring of grief when he died. However, things got ugly when thousands of people who arrived to pay their last respects and get one last look at their hero were denied, not surprisingly. The riots seem to have started with that, and then, in the manner of riots everywhere, rapidly escalated when half-witted fucktards got into mobs and started torching police vehicles and eventually 6 people were killed in the violence.

It's not rational, it's not sensible, I don't understand why people would get into that state of emotional dependence towards someone who, for all his virtues, was an actor in the end, and why violence appears to be the only outlet for their grief, but that's neither here nor there. Obviously a large number of people do feel this way, and it's at times like this (and only at times like this) that I wish the police in India were more activist and had greater discretionary powers to break up fuckwit mobs like this, using whatever means necessary.
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  #8  
Old 04-14-2006, 12:40 PM
Dervorin Dervorin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dangermom
Dervorin, can you explain this a little more? Or somebody else? Is it just that some people are looking for any excuse to riot and cause destruction? Why would the natural death of an elderly actor, no matter how beloved, cause a riot? Why is climbing a bus a way to pay last respects? It makes no sense to me, and I'm inclined to think that some people are just looking for a way to start some trouble--I've lived in that sitation before.
My sense is that there is a certain element of people just looking for a way to start trouble - with all that volatile emotion sloshing around, it's not going to take much of a spark to start an explosion. I also feel that the violence is a result of the degree to which people had invested emotionally in this man, as I tried to explain above. The bit about climbing buses was people desperately trying to get a view of the funeral procession as it passed through the streets - it was just a way to get elevation. A strong part of paying your last respects to someone who has died in Indian culture is to touch their feet if at all possible, or at the very least view the body and perform a namaste - the gesture of folded hands. I think the people who climbed the buses were merely trying to do that, to begin with, but things rapidly got out of control.
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  #9  
Old 04-14-2006, 01:02 PM
tomndebb tomndebb is offline
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Quote:
However, things got ugly when thousands of people who arrived to pay their last respects and get one last look at their hero were denied, not surprisingly.
Is there some aspect of "paying respect" that requires the mourner to stay at the site for a long period? They put the body in a stadium, so it sounds as though they knew they needed to accommodate a lot of people, but then they stopped letting people into the stadium, sparking the riots. I'd have thought that a slow line of passing mourners (provided everyone was told what was happening) would have prevented this. (Of course, if each mourner has to spend hours standing still for a ceremony, that renders that solution unworkable.)
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  #10  
Old 04-14-2006, 01:34 PM
Dervorin Dervorin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tomndebb
Is there some aspect of "paying respect" that requires the mourner to stay at the site for a long period? They put the body in a stadium, so it sounds as though they knew they needed to accommodate a lot of people, but then they stopped letting people into the stadium, sparking the riots. I'd have thought that a slow line of passing mourners (provided everyone was told what was happening) would have prevented this. (Of course, if each mourner has to spend hours standing still for a ceremony, that renders that solution unworkable.)
Nope; a brief look will do. However, people as stricken with grief as these are are scarcely likely to be rational - they tend to linger, weeping and sometimes doing themselves harm in their emotional frenzy. It's never going to be a quiet looking and passing on, even though that would be (to my mind) a far more respectful and dignified farewell, both for the dead person as well as his fans.

Even a large stadium, such as the one where the body was placed, will hardly accommodate 300,000 people, which is the number estimated to have joined in the funeral procession. The group that was denied entry was around 20,000, from the reports I've read. The picture in this news article should give you an idea of the scale of the procession - and that was just around the truck carrying the body. Tens of thousands more would have been walking behind.

And I have to say that there's no such thing as a long slow organised line in India; it's usually a case of using your elbows, and the devil take the hindmost - and that just for railway tickets. This would have been far more fenzied. All it would take is one rumour that the body was being removed, or that the police were denying entry, for panic to set in, and the violence to start. I'm not saying that's what happened, but I could so easily see it happening.

I hate to sound like generalising, and putting India down, but this is something that irritates me quite extensively, and it's all but ubiquitous.
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  #11  
Old 04-14-2006, 02:24 PM
Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party Capt. Ridley's Shooting Party is offline
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There's some strange news stories coming out of India lately. This was reported on BBC news the other night
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  #12  
Old 04-14-2006, 05:25 PM
even sven even sven is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dominic Mulligan
There's some strange news stories coming out of India lately. This was reported on BBC news the other night
If you've ever got some time to pass, you can read The Hindu online. As far as newspapers go it's almost as surreal as the Vlaodivostok Daily t's always good for a few "Oh my god..." moments. The editorials always provide great examples of the idiosyncric English of India.

Just remember, India is a big country, so they can pack a lot of wierd in one day.
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  #13  
Old 04-14-2006, 05:29 PM
dangermom dangermom is offline
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Thanks, Dervorin. That makes quite a bit more sense; from the original information, I was getting the idea that people were climbing on buses in order to knock them over and generally cause mayhem. I knew that Indian movie stars were revered and all, but I had no idea it could be like that.
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  #14  
Old 04-14-2006, 05:31 PM
even sven even sven is offline
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Also, if you are really interested in making sense of Indian new, I highly suggest following Frontline, which is a pretty hard-hitting weekly news magazine. There is a bit of a learning curve while you become familiar with the different areas, parties and people they are talking about, but once you've got the basics down it's really facinating stuff, and probably one of the best written magazines out there.
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  #15  
Old 04-14-2006, 08:21 PM
ramesh ramesh is offline
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Another perspective:

http://groups.google.com/group/rec.s...0d61e05518cd/#

BTW, Only the first post is relevant.

And as a Chennaite, I take offense at the branding of The Hindu/Frontline as hard-hitting. We like our newspapers and even their opinion pieces to be factual,dry and boring, thank you very much. Maybe there is some confusion between The Hindu and The Indian Express?
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  #16  
Old 04-15-2006, 12:50 AM
even sven even sven is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ramesh
And as a Chennaite, I take offense at the branding of The Hindu/Frontline as hard-hitting. We like our newspapers and even their opinion pieces to be factual,dry and boring, thank you very much. Maybe there is some confusion between The Hindu and The Indian Express?
What do I know? I'm just a tourist. Living in the country where Time Magazine and Fox News count as "News", Frontline seems like...well like something far more intellectually stimulating than you'd ever find a newstand here.
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  #17  
Old 04-15-2006, 08:57 AM
gouda gouda is offline
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My mom comes from Karnataka, and despite having not lived there for over 3 decades, identifies strongly with the grief felt by people from that state. Minutes after the news of Rajkumar's death, she was on the phone with her relatives in Hubli and Bangalore. All of us found the violence bizarre and inexplicable..

Dervorin accurately nailed it, but i'd like to make a small nit-pick/hijack. While A-list bollywood actors are hugely popular across the country, deification of film actors is predominantly a south Indian phenomenon, AFAIK limited to south Indian actors only.
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  #18  
Old 04-15-2006, 09:45 AM
ultrafilter ultrafilter is offline
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Thanks for the explanations.
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  #19  
Old 04-15-2006, 11:36 AM
Dervorin Dervorin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gouda
Dervorin accurately nailed it, but i'd like to make a small nit-pick/hijack. While A-list bollywood actors are hugely popular across the country, deification of film actors is predominantly a south Indian phenomenon, AFAIK limited to south Indian actors only.
Good point. I should have noted that. You're quite right; I don't think this kind of hysterical worship happens in the north of India. In the south, however... well, it's practically the norm.
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  #20  
Old 04-15-2006, 02:55 PM
pkbites pkbites is offline
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"sympathy riots"

I'm sorry, but those 2 words together just sound amusing. Like Jumbo Shrimp & military intelligence.
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  #21  
Old 04-15-2006, 04:13 PM
Dog80 Dog80 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dervorin
several of them get into politics when their screen time is coming to an end, and win elections purely on account of their earlier popularity, with no regard to their adminstrative abilities or indeed policies.
This phenomenon is not unique to India
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  #22  
Old 04-15-2006, 04:29 PM
rivulus rivulus is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dervorin
In south India, patriotism towards one's home state is almost more important than patriotism towards the country itself, and that elevated Rajkumar to dizzying heights. He was known to everyone, his films were invariably enormous hits; and I think he was one of the most prominent symbols of Kannada pride, the darling of the masses, with fans that numbered in the millions.
Apparently connected to this patriotism (and the supposed undermining of values by the American presence in Bangalore), a number of vendors working for American companies were vandalized because they did not close in honor of Rajkumar's death. My partner does training in Bangalore for one of these vendors, and she reported how the business closed all the blinds, turned off the lights, and moved all the cars from the parking lot, so it would look like they were closed. Everyone was later driven home under cover of darkness, and she was told to stay in her hotel until further notice (which ended up being only one day, and everything is fine now). But it was an unnerving situation.
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  #23  
Old 04-17-2006, 09:57 AM
Clothahump Clothahump is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HPL
That's even more stupid and lame then people rioting over a sporting event.
And almost as stupid as people rioting over cartoons of a religious figure.
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  #24  
Old 04-17-2006, 10:05 AM
Acsenray Acsenray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rivulus
a number of vendors working for American companies were vandalized because they did not close in honor of Rajkumar's death.
It is fairly routine in India that when a particular group is on the streets, protesting, celebrating, mourning, etc., that they will take offence to businesses that stay open. It's taken as a sign of disrespect. In Calcutta, where labour is king, if the unions call a general strike ("bund"), which happens several times a year, then any business that stays open ("in violation of the strike") will be forcefully closed (if they're lucky) or ransacked, vandalised, or destroyed (if they're not). During religious occasions, there will be attacks on those who do not show respect for the occasion (such as Muslim butchers engaging in "cow killing" during Hindu occasions or Hindus herding pigs close to mosques on Muslim occasions).
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  #25  
Old 04-17-2006, 05:17 PM
iamthewalrus(:3= iamthewalrus(:3= is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dervorin
It is certainly true that film stars are deeply revered, and become immensely influential; several of them get into politics when their screen time is coming to an end, and win elections purely on account of their earlier popularity, with no regard to their adminstrative abilities or indeed policies.
As a Californian, I find this shocking and frightening.
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  #26  
Old 04-17-2006, 09:23 PM
Mehitabel Mehitabel is offline
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Yes, the small company I work for has its HQ in NYC, most of its staff in Newfoundland and Connecticut--and a ten-person branch office in Bangalore. At the daily tech meeting on Thursday, the guys in Canada and CT were working out the schedule to cover the Bangalore office, which had to be evacuated. We wondered why and heard, "a movie star died". OK.
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  #27  
Old 04-18-2006, 05:06 PM
Dervorin Dervorin is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by iamthewalrus(:3=
As a Californian, I find this shocking and frightening.
Ha!
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  #28  
Old 04-18-2006, 11:09 PM
My Darn Snake Legs My Darn Snake Legs is offline
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I have a great friend who is in Bangalore, and she is interning at the Baptist hospital there. She describes her hospital as a "compound," and I'm glad that it is.
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