A Tangled Mess — Videogames, Grey Market and G2A in India

If you’ve lived in India and are into videogames, you probably have been privy to piracy in all its glory. Perhaps due to the fact that pirated games are sold at a fraction of a cost, when compared to their original counterparts. If its not pirated games, you might have encountered a modified console that allows you to play games from all regions and sometimes even pirated games along with them. And if you’ve not partaken in such acts then you surely must have heard about them from a friend.

This recently has slowed down as regional pricing has been introduced in different markets, making the game prices commensurate with the market they inhabit. Though in some instances games have become more expensive or have reached parity with their international counterpart. Games for the most part are easier to procure at a lesser cost now a days.

What is a ‘grey market’ in gaming terms?

But everyone is a sucker for a ‘good deal’ — that’s where the ‘grey market’ steps in, which a polygon article describes as “an eBay for videogames. Where the merchandise up for sale is not being sold by these companies. Sites like G2A and Kinguin merely facilitate the transaction by moving money back and forth and offering up technical support where they are able.”

These ‘grey markets’ while not piracy per se but have enabled instances of transactions where a game is purchased through means like credit card frauds, hence making their manner of operation questionable to say the least. In an effort to appear less shady, big players in the ‘grey market’ have started ‘initiatives’ in a cash grab situation where they’re selling something that the platform should inherently provide considering it’s a market place.

G2A Shield for example claims to make “all your transactions go as planned” and help people “receive their products always on time”. Vague terms like “go as planned” possibly refer to when videogame developers  want to curb use of stolen keys and these storefronts act as conduits for that as credit card fraud start getting detected over the course of time. Another such instance is noted in Kinguin’s buyer protect which claims, “It’s a line in the sand. As our faithful customer we will defend your purchase against fakes, cheats, and trolls.” All the while shooting themselves in the foot and exemplifying the security risks a person takes while transacting on their platforms.

Let’s look at some voices in and around the ‘grey market’, to get a greater sense of what the market entails in the Indian context and then conclude with the curious entry of G2A into India and how it has been and is operating here.


G2A pays no GST.


The Stakeholders

Madhan used to run steamz.co which was a platform that allowed people to purchase cd-keys at a smaller price tag than on steam and other platforms. He told me that he has been in the business for about 10 years. He used to procure retail cd-keys which were region free at that time and costed a lot less compared to current day prices. But, due to regional pricing most games became region locked and as such he made the switch towards selling in-game items for games like PUBG that he claims to have “procured through the developers at a bulk rate”, in a legitimate manner.

Further, he has moved on from the market largely and now pivoted to the physical sphere, selling gaming chairs. Which he feels will bring him similar profits that are “steady and almost same as game selling”. When asked what he would be doing five years down the line, he told me, “Something related to gaming, always”. When asked to comment on the entry of G2A in India he stated “Good, cheaper games for gamers. Better than piracy. But they should be very strict on verifying sellers. They had a very bad way before, like anyone can sell…that leads to stolen game keys, carded keys and everything. So I guess it’s changing now.”

Arvind Raja Yadav, an Indie game developer and founder of Pyrodactyl, told me “In a vacuum, I don’t have a problem with people reselling keys. However, sites like G2A often cause other smaller stores to go nearly bankrupt”, he further added that people who have bought these stolen keys often “decide to contact the developer with a decidedly impolite email” as the end users thinks that the game developer is at fault, though G2A and kinguin allow this to happen.

Goi Garg owner of savekeys.net told me, “at that time there was no company from India which was selling digital key, except G2A”. When asked who he considered his competition, he said confidently, “My competition is with G2A all others are a far behind”.

he states that he makes a total of thirty to forty thousand rupees per month, and turns over a net profit of twenty to thirty  thousand rupees from all his ventures. He then explains, “G2A isn’t paying GST and they’re taking 40% fees from Indian customers, like if you buy Rs. 100 game from G2A you have to pay Rs. 140”, he then provides a pdf of a bill as a supporting evidence, which doesn’t provide any tax break up for services rendered.


G2A Founder,CEO and BitBay,CEO sharing stages and giving talks about cryptocurrency.


What is G2A India?

G2A launched in India in a partnership with Luit technology, which help set up G2A India under the company Trinity digital distribution pvt ltd. All these companies lead to the following people. Rohit Dahda who was the head of G2A India — who has moved on now, seemingly due to unknown reasons,

At first, I approached Piyush and Reetesh as they were still active in the field and still with the company. They weren’t able to explain much and said they weren’t authorised to speak on behalf of the company, despite Reetesh being Company PR. Reetesh then asked me to give him some sample questions when I had asked for an on the record interview with anyone in the company. Perhaps a decision taken based on my previous article on the ‘grey market’ which wasn’t too accommodating of G2A and the likes.

But who really knows, G2A’s brazen attitude towards any external factors like media, regular people on reddit or game developers is well documented. This fact is reiterated when the international team rather than appointing a regional spokesperson, just went ahead and answered the sample questions that I had put forward in the form of a questionnaire . One response was a spiel about G2A pay — which

All of which seemed odd back in May when I had begun the probe, because they were selling on popular e-retail platforms like amazon.in and had partnered with flipkart and snapdeal at certain points. All three having their own proprietary payment gateways, none of which were mentioned in response to the questions about payment platforms or expansion in India. Though now it seems that they have stopped selling on these sites, perhaps making for a cut and run tactic or possibly a strategic pivot — first attract people from popular sites like Amazon and flipkart and then redirect them towards G2A.com all of which is speculative on my part. But at least one thing was certain that they were formally making a push for their payment gateway G2A Pay as they had started to attend expos like the ‘India Ecommerce Expo’ promoting a product that enables payments through diverse currencies like bitcoins.

It should be noted that their operation on Amazon was operational till June 25 at least as the last review establishes. An amazon review on the same page points out an issue with G2A as thus, “The product is not from Microsoft as mentioned in the site, this is a third party, so the code didn’t work. I’ve been waiting for the seller to resolve the issue but no proper response. Please do not purchase from this seller.” This received no response from G2A. Another similar response is found on flipkart, as follows “I have received a used code of Minecraft windows 10. Also I bought Stalker too and the voucher I received was blank. No reply from G2A India still.”

Further, there are these smaller sites that are exploiting the market while it lasts, some we have stated above like savekeys.in which now has products on Amazon.in and Flipkart — which have evidently allowed unvetted accounts to sell digital codes of video games, which their international counterparts don’t allow. Going as far as to provide them with an amazon prime listings, even though Amazon reviews of this site are not that flattering similar to the case of G2A. Another such curious storefront is called  , which besides selling on flipkart and Amazon, traces  back to one of the key people of G2A India— Piyush Kankane, who had stated in passing that the site would be shutting down soon, this was back in May, yet the site is still operational on flipkartmost recently celebrating a independence day sale around 15 August, some of their listings mimic that of G2A and at times even sell the under the G2A banner on flipkart. It is also to be noted that there are two Luit’s, one is owned by Rohit Dhada and the other by Piyush Kankane. All of which make you question even the basics such as — how the subsidiaries and organisations related to G2A function in India.


Rohit Dahda: the man, the myth, the CEO extraordinaire.


Who is Rohit Dahda?

While reporting on G2A, it is noted Rohit Dahda was also the Indian head of BitBay a polish bitcoin exchange web platform, that was about to launch its operations in India which didn’t go beyond a demo site and some interviews. Both the companies are based out of Poland and the global heads of both the companies are aligned as G2A uses BitBay’s services internationally to enable people to pay using bitcoin on G2A and further they share stage on cryptocurrency related boards. So, from that perspective Dahda’s appointment as head of both the companies India makes some sense.

Further, Dahda’s name would come up during the research and investigation phase but – vanished when anyone approached him for an interview. This was revealed when I talked to a reporter Sidhartha Shukla who had “interviewed” him for money control. Sidhartha revealed that he had to interview him through a questionnaire similar to my case with G2A. Dahda now runs a company called ‘RD services’ which seems like a consultancy firm, but it is uncertain as the man is hard to get a hold of.

I also physically looked up the addresses of the companies in his name, most of which seemed like shell companies which were being operated from Luit’s office in ‘DLF Jasola Tower A’, which I physically verified. Though I was stopped short of taking a picture of the list of companies at the lobby, because of “security reasons” by the guard. Further I decided to visit the address of Trinity in Delhi’s Shakarpur, which lead me to a residential address. But it ended up being a dead end.

After all this only more questions are raised about the companies than we began with. For  starters — What exactly is G2A India? Why are they setting up here? What happened to BitBay India especially considering the recent ban on bitcoin and alt coins in India? And possibly the most intriguing bit, who exactly is Rohit Dahda and how has he ended up as the Indian head of these organisations and left them in such short span of time?


Hey! If you have something interesting for me or something interesting to say hit me up on twitter (@Crit93)

Emergence of the online ‘grey market’ around video games in India

If you play games regularly or are vaguely aware of their existence, surely you can see that gaming is big business and is consumed world over by billions of people. Until the past couple of years retail was probably a big deal for those who consume games in India. Although in the recent past, the gaming market has evolved past it and started its trek towards the online world. Platforms like Steam have been gaining popularity overtime and along with that games are becoming considerably cheaper with the advent of smaller and independent studios starting to get into the mix.

Subsequently games are becoming more convenient to purchase in the digital sphere. Aforementioned platform steam isn’t the only one to offer games at a cheap price. There are a plethora of sites now part of this market. For instance, Humble Bundle, which started out as site that would club together some games titles and sell them as a bundle at dirt cheap prices. Further it would let you chose where your money would go, you could either give it all to charity or all of it to the game developers or to humble bundle. Since its start, the site has diversified with a storefront of its own and multiple other services. Then there are sites like GOG, largely dedicated to old games, but also acts like a general storefront for new games as well. These sites that I mentioned are only some of the many platforms out there in the international waters.

While in India, retail had a stronghold on most big budget games. Perhaps because of poor quality internet in India. For example some people were unable to download about 30 GB on an average big budget game due to a limited internet plan with fair use policy. Or perhaps it was due to the fact that the speeds just aren’t there, considering the national average speed is 2-3 mbps. This is why some people prefer to buy consoles like Xbox One or PS4, but with ever growing need for patches that fix the game on day one becoming a standard practice, it’s uncertain how much the retail market makes sense in India. Especially on the PC where publishers are cutting so many corners that they just ship out games with a key and a steam installer on the disc and then make people download the whole game from scratch as in the case of MGS:V. Eventually consumers in India would rather prefer to save some money and invest the time in downloading, I would guess, but this is a subjective matter and will vary from person to person.

That being said let’s look at how the division of the retail market for games works. The biggest retail players likely are Amazon.in, Flipkart and Snapdeal. The smaller players would constitute sites like Nextworld, Game4u and Gametheshop. Most of the retailers mentioned above haven’t migrated into the digital sphere, except for sites like Gametheshop and Game4u, which had a short stint in this market but since have stopped their operation in digital sphere.

Now before we jump into the next part I think we should first learn about what the term ‘grey market’ here entails internationally, then work our way towards India. The ‘grey market’ as we will refer to it, entails in it the sale and purchase of games that are sometimes procured through illegal means but not always. Sometimes people use the natural setup of recent free to play or free to pay games like Dota 2 or CS:GO respectively for trading on Steam. Games like these give players in-game items that can be sold on the Steam market and Steam market only. But, some enterprising individuals who want to turn these items of value into real world currency enter into the shady areas of the trade subculture. In this trade subculture, they try to get other people to give them real world money in exchange for a high value in game item. The exchange of money takes place through sites like paypal.

That’s only a part of the story though. There are some people that go a step further and set up sites like kinguin and G2A which act like a marketplace, enabling individuals to setup storefronts and sell their products in similar manner to a site like ebay, with sellers having ratings and such. On sites like kinguin and G2A people not only sell in game items but also sell actual games, sometimes at a fraction of the cost compared to legitimate online sites like steam. It’s not always the case that the keys sold are procured from what one would call illegitimate means. To be honest one can’t ascertain the legitimacy of these items, because some of these keys are just retail keys that these people got for cheap from dealers in countries that have a cheaper retail market price. This uncertain nature of these transactions leads us to employ terms like ‘grey market.’

There are people in this trade business that make very good money and have solely switched to this trading/re-selling as their main source of income. But when there is a highly unregulated market as such, there is bound to be fraud not far from it. This polygon article gives us a pretty good idea of how things function in this grey area of games trading online, internationally. The article talks of how people took advantage of platforms like kinguin and G2A to profit in both semi-legitimate and illegitimate manners. The former being the model of selling keys procured from essentially trading as stated above, while the latter being employment of illegitimate means, like credit card fraud, to purchase games from one of the legitimate sites like humblebundle.com during a sale. Further the reselling of said game on the ‘grey market’, and by extension, bringing out the ‘grey’ nature of the market and along with it the question of regulation or lack thereof. The aforementioned article focuses on the broader picture of this grey market, and I’ll try to focus on the Indian trade (grey) market from here on out.

The Indian trade market, much like the international one, is largely unregulated, but major players like kinguin and G2A don’t have much of a foothold in the Indian market. However there are small players trying to make a quick buck while the state of such a market stays untouched or unrecognized by Indian authorities. Most of the Indian traders are aware of platforms like kinguin and G2A, and are sometimes largely dependent on these platforms to provide them with a boost in their income. Some people in India try to focus on the Indian market as they see an opportunity. Let’s consider the poor infrastructure and red tape set up for the digital Indian consumer in India. Multiple debit/credit cards don’t work with major store fronts online due to the 2-3 step native verification systems that banks deploy to maintain security. Some of the banks block international online transactions by default and have an unnavigable customer service. Along with the above, we see a lack of other options like net-banking and the recent crop of wallet services that are present in the Indian sphere. It was only a matter of time before someone capitalized on this fact. That being said let us look at individuals that are functioning in this field, hailing from different parts of India and how they operate.


First up steamz.co, a site run by someone in their early 20’s who claims to have been running the site for about 6 years. He was selling retail copies internationally as the Indian retail games weren’t region locked back then and keys could be used across borders with ease. He claims to have started out by gifting a copy of a game to his friend, back when he hadn’t started online trading as the game was cheaper in India. The copy of game he gifted to his friend turned out to work. Soon after this, his friend asked him to procure more copies for more of his friends. Then he essentially thought he could make some real money out this stuff and contacted a distributor via skype and essentially started to delve deeper into the business. But since the keys started to get region locked, (In 2014 acc. to him) he switched distributors from Indian to Polish. He makes around (Rs) 20 lakh, (Rs) 10-15 lakh net profit (his claims.), and this is probably his main job, but he claims to help his family with their business when needed. He claims to know 7-10 people who do about the same work he does in India from different cities.

When asked about clampdown on the largely unregulated key market on G2A and Kinguin via publishers like Ubisoft, he explains why it happened and claims both site owners are prior customers of his who got shafted. Further when I asked what he thinks about what the developers think about his business, he says it’s better than piracy and they should stop complaining and focus on making good games.


Next up is reapershop.com. It’s operated by someone in his early 20’s, he has been at it for approximately 4 years, and he doesn’t really say much about how he got into trading. He initially states that he got into it for “fun” and “nothing specific” but later on in the conversation when asked about whether he has a day job or not, he reveals that he wanted to run his own business and that’s why he started this. He too thinks that his work is helping curb piracy in a manner. He says he knows about 2-3 Indian folks working in the trade business.

Upon being asked about his income a lot of different answers came forth. First a worst case scenario of (Rs) 15-30k per month which rounds out to be (Rs) 2-4 Lakh per year. Which is a lot lower than the other fellow I talked to claimed. I bought this fact to his attention asking who’s inflating the figure him or the other guy (apparently both knew each other too). After a bit of back and forth, and him jokingly suspecting me to be from Income Tax department, he tells me 4-8 Lakhs to be his combined income from selling to both Indian and international sellers. He tells me that the previous figure was for his dealings in India alone.

I further ask him about the clampdown on the largely unregulated key market on G2A and Kinguin a while back, he states there is a difference between the sellers in that instance and sellers like him. He further explains he buys legit retail keys from distributors (although doesn’t name any which is understandable) and then he states “till now none of my customers have faced any issues with copies (bought from the site) in past 3 years of my site”, but then adding that he also deals with trading steam gifts (essentially steam locked keys) internationally as there is a greater market there for trade and it is easier to make more money there, though he does reiterate that he is mainly focused on the Indian market. Lastly when I asked him about what the developers think about establishments like his, he states that their claims are false, and further adds that most of the regions which sold games for cheap in the retail market are now region locked and they (developers) are talking about losses? It’s not like sellers like him are stealing those games and reselling them. The developers are getting paid and selling copies through them.

Few things worth taking note are both these individuals are still part of the international markets like G2A and kinguin, as that is where most of the money is at the moment but they do manage to make a decent buck from their Indian endeavours. Both these individuals have a presence in social media especially on facebook, both having around 3-5k likes. Both individuals make similar amounts of money as compared to their international counterparts, as indicated in the aforementioned polygon article.

It’s not all sunshine and rainbows in the Indian sphere as well, as we find individuals who got burned during these transactions. An Indian user on reddit tells me how he got ripped off with his endeavours in trade for (Rs) 50k (approx.). He got into the trade sphere via a game called dota2, which was one of the first games to employ micro-transactions in videogames. The game was in beta for about 2 years prior to release, and to gain access to the beta, people were given dota2 invite passes via various means, and this was around the time when trading on steam started out. Dota2 invites where hard to come by initially, hence you found people selling them or trading them for goods and services, and this reddit user was one of them.

As he puts it “I sold one invite for a steam game that I traded for many team fortress keys, the other I kept with me. The invite was global one which was rare and had a high price as it could be activated in china. I traded the invite for huge amount of keys and started sharking new invitees to buy new invites for less and selling for a huge amount. I found a dedicated seller and he became a good friend of mine. I used to give him a dota invite (playable or non-playable in china) and get around 30-40 keys per invite. Soon invites became common and down went the price. I traded out the keys for around 5-6 dragon claw hooks and few Timebreakers (Dota 2 immortal items). After keeping the items for a year and getting fed of trading, I tried cashing the items to real world money and that’s where I made a VERY VERY big mistake. Being new to paypal and other methods of getting money for virtual items. I was added by many scammers but they were easy to tell, then a smart guy with good rep added me and he took all my hooks and breakers with an easy scam (not possible now). That was a sad day and for weeks I could not bring myself to the fact I’ve lost everything I’ve earned in past 2 years. I left trading. Steam didn’t help at all and brushed at it was my fault giving item to somebody. I tried creating multiple tickets (complaints) and still same response (from steam)…that we explicitly warn you before trading items and you confirm that the items you are sending are gift (The scammer made a fake profile of my friend) to the other party.”

The case presented above is quite an old one, as it happened around when steam didn’t internally put up safeguards. As thus it might be a one off case, but it does give us some perspective into the fact that people indulging in the trade business have to be on their toes all the time. Trying to suss out whether the person you’re dealing with online has a malicious intent or not can be a tough task. The chance of fraud is obviously high, for both the people who procure these games and navigate the muddy waters of online game trade, and those who decide to buy from them. Not to say the above mentioned sites have malicious intent or are actively against the law. I can’t be the judge of that. What I can say is that this is very much a ‘grey’ area that requires people with thick skins to navigate on all ends of the spectrum. So, think twice before you buy games from sites online that aren’t exactly running a legitimate business as say a Steam or Humble Bundle does.

Hey! If you have something interesting for me or something interesting to say hit me up on twitter (@Crit93)

The F word and “Y-Films” “Man’s World”

Let’s talk about it I guess, maybe? Okay a little? No? Well think about it, will you? OK fuck it call it something else and subvert public opinion based on their biases with sophistry.

Let me just start with some basics, this is a review of the new web series by “Y-films” or some hip “cool dood” version of Yash Raj called “Man’s World”, I will let my mind wonder a bit trying to cover recent comments of one Parineeti Chopra who has a cameo role in this series which sort of match the greater narrative of this show. Along with this I will shortly look at the other criticisms leveled against the series and somewhere in there you will find my own qualms and concerns and meandering thoughts. OK, so we good?


What is this Man’s World Mini-Series all about?

This series is clearly from a male perspective front to back, and very you know, sterile…eh…how do I put it softly…have you seen a Yash Raj Film? Always a happy ending? Lesson learned at the end? Everything so explicit that, it takes a certain level of disbelief to enjoy the film? Yes? Am I getting some were? Ok, let me just try to explain the plot. Starting at the first episode, we’re introduced to a male character called Kiran who has a very lopsided premeditated view of how the world works and is constantly seen either berating or trying to “get with” women or generally bitching about how they (women) are treated better than men, by in large a typical caricature of a male right activist type people, who feel men are treated unfairly against women. So as the story progresses he keeps getting pissed off over the most inane things in his life ,in relation to women and finally breaks down when this girl he’s trying to court drops out of the engagement they had made earlier that day.

Rather than asking her what’s up with her, he starts to get drunk after calling up his friend who is equally misogynistic, and finally when they get done drinking and chatting, Kiran decides to go to some rooftop and he asks god for a switcheroo of gender in a drunken fit. Saying (I’m paraphrasing) that let me switch places with a women, he won’t bitch about the stuff that they (the women do) specifically he won’t demand feminism and won’t act like women do if his situation was like theirs.

The lack of a gender spectrum was also very annoying. Seeing all the people either be full on manly or feminine was very evocative of how most of the straight population see each other or how the writer of the series sees it rather as none seemed sort of masculine or sort of feminine other than one of the parts where the Lady from the bar saves Kiran from the police, who is sort of moderate on the spectrum.

OK, now that’s out of the way, I have a problem with the deity here, who makes a lopsided universe and then reverses the man’s role in that to be equally oppressive as that of a women and makes women do EXACTLY THE SAME SHIT MEN DO, as if a lopsided society would likely lead to the same future but for the men this time as against the women. Even if you just disregard this and take it for work of fiction and nothing else as in ignoring the world that has been set up over here.

To my mind’s eye this seems like a tone deaf attempt. It barely considers the playing field that it has of ideas to kick around, I mean seriously let your mind wonder a bit? Does your universe have to start and end at what you see? Can’t you take a leap of faith in few ways? Maybe have deeper female characters, rather than turning them into an equally oppressive male stereotype? Might you not just go ahead and make this story have the same plot lines with a female centric character?

Oh Crap…I forgot this was Yash Raj….sorry…continue, add some more happy go lucky scores in a forced manner, continue being that cutesy thing that you’ve always been. On a deeper level though I think this problem is way more problematic when you can’t even imagine a different reality even in fiction. It speaks volumes about a mentality that cannot be uprooted with one blow. I guess this is a start though, but knowing how things usually work I won’t be waiting for a future that is more profound and meditated.

Getting back to it, the thing is while the show is in its own broken way pushing people to think, it is very overt, the way the overall presentation goes, there is barely any subtlety in the plot everything from how the story progresses to the each shows ending, feel very tacked on and blunt, which isn’t a bad thing but when you do it to death, it becomes a bit much. I mean seriously, my sharing this video is barely going to change anyone’s view on gender equality or feminism, especially when you put your jack hammer on the extreme mode. I was at a point just imagining some middle aged uncle coming out of the woodwork to say something like “Han yeh toh, sahi bataya hai!” “Aisey he hota hai, ladkiyon ke sath” “Bahut badhiya dikhaya hai app ney, meri toh ankhey hi khol di app ney!” “Wah!” (Trans. “OMG! YOU HAVE OPPENED MY EYES! TO THESE TRUTHS!” “NOW I AM UNDERSTANDS HOW IT FEELS” “THIS IS EXACTLY HOW, THINGS GO DOWN OMG WHY HAVEN’T I THOUGHT ABOUT THIS!?”).

But alas, this is all a figment of my imagination they don’t go that far. But still they cross the line and are full on overt. I guess I understand on some level their thought process would be leveled against the general population who barely think about this stuff, and it’s hard to present subtlety to an Indian audience and this gets to a level of almost belittling the viewer and their ability to understand the slightest of nuance presence in the plot by being full flung overt and on top of that having the actors come and over explain this thing to death isn’t really a nifty solution to misunderstanding. Maybe it was an effect of the investment of UN’s The Global Goals for Sustainable Development , last time I remember UN poking their head into something related to feminism or gender was with this UNICEF video called “Baap wali bat” and that was something to behold I guess with its song telling father to act like idiots and uphold the patriarchal structure and save a girl child among other things like, let her go and study in a school and not get married early, it’s like you have humanized the girl child right? The TV show if looked at from that perspective, is better. But you know, it could’ve been a lot more, and it totally failed to take the bull by its horns.

Now there could be X number of things that led to this, Yash Raj/UN other producers and people who put money into this thing might have influenced this thing. Let us put aside that and think about just who is directing and writing this thing and what kind of perspective it brings to the table. It’s not a women and by extension the representation of problems are a mere caricature of women and how they function or would function in a “women’s world”, they are literalist and by extension being unimaginative. This almost harps back to morality plays of 15-16th century in the sense that it has a set agenda of sensitization, rather than anything else and how it does it is very blatant and unbecoming of something that tries to instill moral values via storytelling, also considering it’s supposed to be a comedy with dramatic elements. It barely packs much comedic value other than those few CID gags or the Vagina sign held up by Kalki Koechlin character among a few other things.

Other Criticisms and Conclusive Thoughts.

I have watch the whole series which is available online, I very rarely had a moment where I was able to have a different perspective on the series, its commentary what little it has is one note. I don’t know, maybe I was expecting too much from the get go. Perhaps a lowered expectation approach might have been more fruitful. Hopefully they try to push the envelope more than a square inch next time. Again I would’ve liked to hear from more women on this though, sad to see even the ladiesfinger had an article by a man on this, the only one from a women I did find was at best 2 paragraph, hardly any insight but I mostly agreed with it & the former one as well. I also ended up watching the 3(so far) behind the scene or interview with the starts thing they added few days back and I thought that was way better at reaching out to people and trying to tell people why this is the need of the hour or why more people need to think about feminism/gender equality in a sober manner.

The “F” word

As an aside I saw this tabloid report that quoted Parineeti Chopra saying “I do feel proud of my gender, of being a woman. I do speak against gender inequality. I am the brand ambassador for Haryana’s ‘Beti Bachao Beti Padao’ campaign. And I think it is very important for me personally to strive for equality, especially the industry that I come from,” & “Now, I understand and accept that anything that I do, could and I hope should inspire young girls. Now, I am very particular about what I say or do. If that makes me half a feminist, then that’s okay. I want girls to be treated the way men are. Somewhere we lack that in our country. So, I do want to be a role model but not a feminist.” It’s truly sad to see crap like this, when you cannot even articulate the word or shudder at the thought of being associated with this word, just because it has certain connotation, doesn’t mean you can just wish it away and its true meaning which you tend to lean towards. But I guess she does come from a certain place and it’s understandable on some level but very few people even try to walk the walk when it comes to the word. See now even I’m not able to say it…what was it? Feme…nazi? Yeah! That’s what goes around some people’s head I’m sure Parineetis’ publicist being one of them or perhaps she herself. Who knows…


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YES! We have ‘reformed’ your educational institution(s)!

As a person who has been annoyed and generally disillusioned by the whole of Indian education system, Delhi University appeared to be the last bastion which upheld the standards of education in the realm of higher education especially for humanities and arts, but all I ended up was heartache along with schooling in our Sisyphean reality.

When I enrolled in a college part of the university, the university had just adopted the semester system from the age old year system just about a year or so ago, we hadn’t seen the result of said change of this switch as the first batch that had experienced the semester system hadn’t yet passed out, from that coming to see an equally foolhardy implementation of FYUP, was only one among many things that help my disillusion with academia solidify further. We didn’t have any choices to speak of, didn’t even get to ‘choose’ which subject we studied due to the fact there was a lack of man power and infrastructure, there was a vast lack of books even, barely any in the college library even though the course we were taught was quite old, about 15-20 year old, yet no books very few reference books and textbooks, so you can imagine how we were getting through. I think that’s enough of my interloping let’s talk more about FYUP and then move on to its cousin CBCS.

Four-Year Undergraduate Program: The Local Days

It all started with an example often cited by Prof. Dinesh Singh (Standing VC of DU) whenever making a case for the four year program being the need of the hour and I quote Prof. Dinesh here from an old interview from CNN IBN

“I arranged for eleven hundred students who are about to graduate from my university(DU) at the end of a three year program to be interviewed by a major corporate institution, we did not disclose any details, there were lots of jobs in that institution which is a major company, which flew in from Mumbai with whole team. (We) Didn’t disclose anything, the names and the marks of the students. Not their background, not their colleges, guess how many where chosen by the firm for jobs? Three out of eleven hundred.”

Then again after a few more minutes into the conversation the Prof. decides to drop an alarming statistic out of what seems like thin air, which goes something like:

“…the other thing that bothers me is I checked figures for many years, I’ve been told on an average about 30% of the students drop out each year from the system without a degree…”

Now these ‘facts’ aren’t actually in public domain and cannot be accessed by the general populous, and nobody really cares from the look of things. Prof. Dinesh purporting himself to be a man of science should’ve acted like one and given substantial proof for his findings, rather than just pushing supposed reform by brute force and rhetoric, but I guess that’s just the way the academic institution function in this country, just ramshackle and blatantly lacking of foresight, anything that comes after as supposed ‘reform’ is but to save face and brute force ones agenda. How it got through was another story worth telling of course, the UGC played a major part in both the implementation and the further removal of the system as the government changed FYUP actually turned into a national issue somehow making its way towards manifestos of many parties and then the subsequent removal as soon as the next party came into power. There were reports of Prof. Ved Prakash (still is the chairman somehow) then chairman of UGC who was actually supporting the FYUP at that point and Prof. Ved Prakash himself was seen singing sonnets about Prof. Dinesh (Video). Further one can see then congress stooge HRD minister Shashi Tharoor had said that the ministry wasn’t involved in this decision though observing that, this step was a positive and cited that “the American norm of 12+4 had become popular”[1] , and most of the other conversation meandered around the fact that most student who apply to foreign nations’ universities are turned down because they don’t follow the 12+4 American standard. These argument fail on many levels that this article deals with the same in depth, and I agree with most of the stances taken there so won’t waste my or your time, just read that.

Coming to the actual implementation of the system, it was as expected a broken ramshackle ‘reform’ built by those who ‘know best’, without any insight from the students themselves, and further disregard of most teachers in the system itself. The system as stated above wanted to mimic the American standard of 12+4 but as was the case that requires a lots of things like say man power and infrastructure, neither of which were possessed by the university. So, knowing only one thing they jam it down the students and teachers throat and hoped for the best.

On a side note, from what you are reading till now it might feel that I might be deprecating on or am taking a depreciative view of ‘reforms’ themselves, which is fine. But I’m not against reforms themselves. I am against these ‘reforms’ in particular as they are showing a deep-rooted problem that has been almost contagious in a way that keeps carrying on from one generation to another. These ‘reforms’ are done in almost a systematic manner with disregard for public opinion with the elitist disposition that the “masses won’t be able to handle it” kind of way, and are passed on from generation to generation. Now more than ever we need reform in the truer sense, but it takes time as against the FYUP which is just a flashy PR exercise gone bad, that doesn’t have any rhyme or reason behind it and is done without much meditation.

OK, back to the story. The system gets implemented without much ‘problem’ to speak of, other than the many protests by student bodies which were unanimously against it and many teachers as well, but mostly those things were overlooked and people enrolled in the system took classes in this system, some even didn’t mind it, most disliked it for various reasons and are still reeling from the shock that this thing was and are now often found in their final year of DU thanks to the rollback. They are still the experiment pods though, they are fed somewhat a different diet than their predecessors and successors, so its easy to see they might feel a bit of a disconnect as they cannot really talk shop with either their ‘juniors’ or ‘seniors’, how they will coup with the future is going to be interesting to say the least. But its okay I guess now, right? I mean what could go wrong now? we got rid of the FYUP and even had a back to normal year of batch introduced, right? Cue in Choice-Based Credit System or CBCS!

Choice-Based Credit System or CBCS : WE’RE GOING NATIONAL NOW BABY!

Lets just start by taking a look at what CBCS entails from this UGC guideline available online[2].

“The education plays enormously significant role in building of a nation. There are quite a large number of educational institutions, engaged in imparting education in our country. Majority of them have entered recently into semester system to match with international educational pattern. However, our present education system produces young minds lacking knowledge, confidence, values and skills. It could be because of complete lack of relationship between education, employment and skill development in conventional education system. The present alarming situation necessitates transformation and/or redesigning of education system, not only by introducing innovations but developing “learner-centric approach in the entire education delivery mechanism and globally followed evaluation system as well.”

Does this sound familiar? If not all of it at least the latter half of the paragraph seems to be singing the same tone as the one the Delhi University VC was singing in his interview, but this is even more abstract and without any substance really. The UGC is so far up its own ass that it gives itself an appraisal and says well done? For example this quote [2]:

“The CBCS will undoubtedly facilitate us bench mark our courses with best international academic practices. The CBCS has more advantages than disadvantages.”

Then the guideline goes on to list them, and of course you wouldn’t criticize your own baby. So I’ll help it out. Let me try to pick apart these points.

Point no. 1[2]: “Shift in focus from the teacher-centric to student-centric education.”

This is an unsubstantiated claim, same as the FYUP or the semester system, but now on a grander scale as this is going to applied at a larger scale by UGC upon multiple Universities like the one in Delhi.

Point no. 2[2]: “Student may undertake as many credits as they can cope with (without repeating all courses in a given semester if they fail in one/more courses).”

Seems fine on paper but again this is done without any research or thought, so if the system fails this attempt at ‘reform’ might fail as well and there are already reports that say as much. Then what follows is a grim situation where students don’t know what to do with themselves as this requires good teachers in the system and at least half decent counselors which doesn’t exist in most DU colleges, and if it does it’s in abysmal state.Even if we disregard this infrastructure and manpower is still a concern. This guideline itself says as much when it states its disadvantages which are[2]:

  • Difficult to estimate the exact marks
  • Workload of teachers may fluctuate
  • Demand good infrastructure for dissemination of education

With the exception of the first one rest of them are very bit concerns that have been there since the implementation of the semester system which have been barely addressed, the colleges still rely heavily on ad-hoc teachers who are made to wait for long amount of years to get an official professorial position in the University, and even the ad-hoc teachers at least good ones are hard to find, some positions are just left vacant because of budget constraints perhaps? Or some equally benign reason that never gets addressed and eventually develops into a real problem. The infrastructure problem has been there since the beginning, considering the university has very little to offer in terms of their teachers, it’s not hard to imagine why they don’t have better infrastructure, obviously it’s the fact that they’re broke most of the time or there are corrupt people waiting to fill their coffers at every level (this is more of a speculation, so don’t take my word for it). As for the workload of course when you have less teachers, not enough classrooms and an ever growing intake, you can’t not expect the teachers to get fatigued and/or overloaded with work,  and barely able to have a student-teacher relationship or focus on anyone let alone mentor someone.

Point no. 3[2]: CBCS allows students to choose inter-disciplinary, intra-disciplinary courses, skill oriented papers (even from other disciplines according to their learning needs, interests and aptitude) and more flexibility for students).

This is in a way contradictory considering the self-stated pitfalls or disadvantages themselves. Considering they don’t have the infrastructure or the manpower to offer everyone the course they want this point become null and void as stated in the article posted in response to the last point.

Point no. 4[2]: “CBCS makes education broad-based and at par with global standards. One can take credits by combining unique combinations. For example, Physics with Economics, Microbiology with Chemistry or Environment Science etc.”

Point no. 5[2]: “CBCS offers flexibility for students to study at different times and at different institutions to complete one course (ease mobility of students). Credits earned at one institution can be transferred.”

Again chasing after the global standard and homogenization just like its cousin FYUP, the individuality of the courses being stripped away, you get a university education to specialize in a specific subset of a field not to take a look at something in a general sense and move past it, this model is not totally flawed but I lack faith in our institutions to have the infrastructure and man power to handle such tasks, again it’s going to confuse people rather than anything else, also there is a question of further education on a masters or Ph.D. level, when the intake is going to be based on either the major or the minor, I think you start to mug yourself if you think this is logistically possible for a system that couldn’t do quarter of this when we were in the initial semester system, we had ‘choices’ but only go what our college could offer and same was the case for most colleges, so having multiple colleges with about the same infrastructure and autonomy is just the same as the old system having that faux ‘choice’ there is just to show the world rather than anything else.Further from the looks of it, it seems that that’s not really a way one can go the multi college option but one has to work within the confines of ones own college, which just contradicts the systems dictate in a pivotal manner.

If you want some proof as to how and why this is but a nuanced attempt at FYUP and is in fact a fuck up, look at reading this article by Deccan Herald. For starters we never really had ‘choices’ to begin with most colleges in the closed off institution setting, with small man power and poor infrastructure could only hope for such pipe dreams to take off in the past when less was expected of them considering their infra and manpower increased according to the times. Yet somehow our HRD ministry expects the same structure to take the load for something, which institutions are not built or ready for, with sufficient notice and meditation perhaps this could’ve been a positive step for one and all, but rushing this through like this just makes this reek of the whole FYUP debacle that played out but on a larger stage, with even less thought and foresight leveled against the issue.

This is just one in many things going wrong at the national level of educational discourse if you follow central organization like the UGC and NCERT in the news it’s not that hard to see an anti-liberty stance being taken by our current government by their phantom which resides in these central organizations and from their student wing who were singing a different tune when talking about the not so different FYUP, which now is now in supporting CBCS blatantly and one such outfit somehow managed to nab the victory in the recent student body election, even though having such a apathetic stance. Oddly enough the government in a way is looking towards western world to solve their problems just until it suits them and are coming up with things that make you cringe, and say, really? They want to do this? Weren’t they against the same basic premise few months ago?

Perhaps this is but a cautionary tale to those who deluded themselves into thinking that these institutions had some sort of autonomy to begin with and the government wanted to work for the greater good of India and didn’t want to push its own regressive agenda in the disguise of progress. Even if for a moment we suspend our beliefs and say that in fact these institutions have free reign over their actions, which is even more worrying considering this was supposedly a thought out product, there were no eyebrows raised (perhaps they were raised and sidelined) and no one got sacked as a result, not the VC of DU nor the UGC chairman in the first case, and in the second case the whole conversation vanished it seems, it’s as if everyone involved bought into partial utopia offered in the form of CBCS or it just became too big to fail at this point and those dissenting yet again sidelined and trampled for the greater ‘glory’ of this regime, who knows right?

Ref [1] http://www.mainstreamweekly.net/article4270.html

Ref [2] http://www.ugc.ac.in/pdfnews/8023719_Guidelines-for-CBCS.pdf

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‘Piku’ pulls off a successful tight rope walk, after fumbling a few times.

So let’s talk about ‘Piku’, It’s a film directed by Shoojit Sircar & written by Juhi Chaturvedi , the duo come together once again after the train wreck that was ‘Madras Cafe’ and one of the more surprisingly earnest movie that was ‘Vicky Donor’. This movie try’s to follow the latter’s footsteps.

From the get go you get a pretty distinct feeling that it’s not at all about ‘Piku’, but about her father know in the movie as ‘Bhaskor Banerjee’. Opening is disruptive same as the character of ‘Bhaskor’ as he intentionally or unintentionally comes out as a self-deluding liberal who makes claims of being a liberal and having a open disposition while being a regressive and overbearing parent. ‘Bhaskor’ is clearly a classist and contains hints of castist undertone in him as well, but all this is essentially ignored or filmmaker just play it for laughs as in ‘haha look at the old fart being a dick’ perhaps to keep the plot moving I guess. As if it’s in a hurry. Well…to be honest it is. As ‘Bhaskor’ is an old man and his story must be told before he dies…what? The movie is called ‘Piku’ ? Well shit ok we’ll focus on her for a bit, I guess…

So, coming to ‘Piku’ the character. As it starts to develop, it is quite evident that “Piku” is a part of patriarchal structure in which ‘Bhaskor’ is the head of the family that makes everyone bow down to his will. This is made evident on multiple points in the story itself to the extent that it is just out right said in one of the dialogue of ‘Bhaskor’. Back to ‘Piku’, she keeps having to side step her fathers will and often just keep getting enraged by the old man’s constant blithering & things like calling her mother “low IQ” throughout the movie for not living up to her(Piku’s Mother) potential. Meanwhile ‘Piku’ has to follow the same path as her mother to a lesser extent perhaps but still she (‘Piku’) has to do it out of some sort of paternal love towards her father.

So, in a sense ‘Bhaskor’, out of habit is enslaving those who love him, who’re considered to be a part of the “low IQ” club, don’t know if its deliberate or not, but my disposition towards ‘Bhaskor’ leads me to lean towards the former i.e making the ‘Bhaskor’ a slaver is a deliberate choice that the filmmakers make.

Again getting back to ‘Piku’ everything from her sex life, who she chooses to socialize with, seem to essentially be dictated by her father, be it direct or indirect. She takes her time to make this i.e. her being overly attached to her father, explicit to ‘Rana’ who is the main love interest by the end by saying something along the lines of if you wish to marry me you will have to adopt this 70 year old manchild with me.

Ok, so I think that’s enough of ‘Piku’ for the moment lets shed some light on ‘Rana’, who was a civil engineer in another life and ends up handling his father’s business with an overbearing family of his own that wish to belittle him along with that he gets belittled by ‘Piku’ for the good chunk of the early half of the film. The filmmakers go for a ‘will they won’t they’ vibe from the get go, but in a subtle manner as its only when the road trip starts is when the sparks start to fly and this love story starts to stand up on its own two feet. ‘Rana’s’ love for ‘Piku’ seems to be more of an infatuation at the start, but slowly it turns towards a mutual relation of love and respect by the end. This love story was very well done, subtle and not overbearing at all, doesn’t fall for the usual tropes that Bollywood movies tend to fall for, nothing overly dramatic happens, even at the ending there is nothing solid said or done, the story can either carry on in your head or end, its left open to interpretation, which is often not done with taste if ever done. There are moments when you see ‘Rana’s’ character be classist as well though, but it’s often moved along in a hurry or it isn’t really focused on, a very minor part of the whole story but still it irked me, but I guess it is but a sad truth of our lives that we as humans are often forgetful and will overlook moments one person is being intolerant towards the other.

Explaining The Poop Tech

Beside this I would say one of the major strengths of the movie was the humor, the moments between ‘Rana’ and ‘Bhaskor’ were particularly well done, be it either one of them cracking wise or the moments where ‘Rana’ is giving advice to ‘Bhaskor’ on how to get the perfect motion. The musical cues are quite well done too if you are talking comparatively to most Bollywood movies, there is always scope for improvement, but they had the subtlety down at least and there wasn’t anything that felt offensive throughout the movie sound design wise. Lots of ‘laugh out loud’ moments that keep the movie never get too dark but helps it in the pacing of the overall plot.

One scene in particular the knife scene just doesn’t add up though. ‘Bhaskor’ doesn’t really seem like a pacifist to me, I don’t know why he is surprised by finding a knife in a taxi on a highway, and subsequently just overreacts and asks ‘Rana’ to get rid of it, and it seems silly. But I guess ‘Bhaskor’ was but an unreasonable character throughout the movie, hiding salt, indulging in homeopathic remedies, calling people “low IQ” just because they’re affectionate towards him. I guess it makes sense on that level also. So, later on in the scene ‘Rana’ finally caves in after ‘Piku’ asks him to, from here on out it seems like their love story really kicks into high gear. ‘Piku’ in Kolkata keeps making googly eyes whenever interacting with ‘Rana’ and he keeps cracking wise to keep getting a laugh out of her, its adorable.

Piku Breakdown

Coming to the linguistic problem that I have with this movie and many other Bollywood movies. I don’t know why more films can’t be like Court and just go in the bi-lingual direction rather than enslaving themselves to Hindi just to chase some sort of despotic gold standard. ‘Hindi’ should be but a lingua franca in supposedly proud Bengali family, which is deeply entrenched in its Bengali-ness, for a movie trying to have some sort of authenticity attached to it, I think it fails miserably at the point when it muscles out Bengali even when the characters are in Kolkata. They continue on converse in Hindi, but I guess with suspension of disbelief we can overlook it, but then why the accents? Have some consistency in your world logic is all I’m saying. If this movie where to be bi-lingual I would’ve liked it even more than I do, is all I’m saying.

At Ganga Ghat

The ending can be construed as good and/or bad depending on how you look at it I guess, for me it was more or less good in the sense as the ending is as abrupt as the start. Just as the arc of ‘Bhaskor’s’ character. As he dies and so does the life of the story, both metaphorically and literally. As I said in the beginning the story isn’t about ‘Piku’. It’s about ‘Bhaskor’ and his relation with the world, which include ‘Piku’ and the rest, they exist for him and their(people other than ‘Bhaskor’) real story begins after ‘Bhaskor’ passes, which is left to the imagination. The wake at the end just seems slapped together but perhaps it shows us a glimpse into ‘Piku’s’ mind as she has been all her life subconsciously just going for guys that are somewhat like her father, but that’s just my interpretation, and isn’t explicit in the story itself, but certain scenes are suggestive of the same.

Apt Kyam Churan Product Placement

Overall I would say it’s a great movie with great writing and great acting, its pitfalls are far and few between. One can look at the movie as a whole and say that this is one of the better movies that came out of Bollywood this year. It certainly is straddling a line, walking a tightrope falling, brushing itself off and then getting back on there to achieve its task. It does it with dirt on its face but even so it works out in the end. I would rate it 3.5/5, but remember this is but an opinion, I would highly recommend it for a somber afternoon.

PS : I had a conversation with someone I know about this movie. Have a listen if you want to find out how I came to some of the conclusions in the review.

PSS : Hey! If you have something interesting for me or something interesting to say hit me up on twitter (@Crit93)