Man in the mirror…

I remember when I got my first Sony Walkman and listened to the first audio tape on it. I listened to MJ’s Thriller album and watched the Thriller video countless times thereafter. In fact, I remember every single video of MJ’s since his ” Off the wall days”. As kids we would try to do the moonwalk like MJ, slither and fall on our faces. His one move, labeled as the anti – gravity lean in the Smooth Criminal video was patented.Well and truly the King of pop, his iconic status remained unsurpassable as his albums broke record after record. MJ, was one of the first few African-Americans to surge forward and change the fate of aspiring Afro-American artists after him. Not many African-American artists were seen performing on MTV and MJ was the first to break the barrier, he did it with resounding success.

From the dizzy heights that he reached, he fell hard, right from the very top where the world had perched him. He was a victim of child abuse in his younger days and this I believe was the reason for his peculiar behavior in his later years. He lost his entire childhood while working for the Jackson Five and was the shining star. He was not playing with his friends when he was ten nor was he discovering his childhood, instead he would be whipped by a tyrannical father into improving his singing. When he achieved success, he became more estranged with himself than with the rest of the world around him. This is why his home, the Neverland ranch was a fairytale place, an enchanting magical world he hid himself in. He surrounded himself with children and became a child himself. It was his only hope of recovering a part of the childhood that he lost forever. He clutched on to living his fantasy life in Neverland. Dianna Ross and Elizabeth Taylor had maternal instincts for the reclusive MJ, they were probably the only ones who saw him as a child.

Sadly, his proximity to children in an opportune world became the reason for his spiralling downfall. Molestation charges where framed against him and he never recovered from the humiliation. He settled on the first set of charges in 1993 and was acquitted on all counts on the second set of charges in 2005. His addiction to various drugs was triggered around 1993 and worsened over the years. I for one always believed he was a victim and a lot of money was made by those around him. He trusted the wrong people.Interestingly, at the time of his death his financial state of affairs were supposedly bleak. But, he was an astute businessman. He had the rights to the Beatles catalogue and owned a 50% stake in Sony / ATV publishing company. The rights could run into the billions, and the net worth of his estate is still not clear.But, he is probably richer dead.

I watched ” This is it” on a flight from London to Hong Kong and I was mesmerized by the 130 minutes of the rehearsals which have been astutely converted into a preview of his final curtain call by Kenny Ortega. Every hit song of MJ’s has been meticulously performed by MJ and his dancers. Each song has takes from his sessions over two to three days of rehearsals and no more (judging by the costumes of MJ). I doubt he would have repeated his clothes so much.MJ looks fit and his movements are slick. He does not come across as a fifty year old and his energy could be passed off as that of a thirty year old. He is skinny and looks more so in flowing tuxedos and oversized jackets, but he has that MJ energy swimming around his aura. The sold out shows in London were to pay off his rumored debts, sadly, we will never know if that would have been the case. His financials remain as mysterious as the man, it may be buried with him, the world will never know. I was very surprised with ” This is it”, it looks a bit too surreal. It almost appeared as if ” This is it” would only see the video version and never the live version. It was a rather perfect arrangement of hours of footage.

Would MJ be happier dead than alive? I think he would be. I think he is happier in his fantasy land where he lives now, away from the media glare, away from accusations, away from a non supportive family and above all away from our prying eyes. His physical features remained an object of intense ridicule, albeit he blamed his pale looks to a condition called vitiligo. The King of Pop was treated as the Clown of Pop for a long time. Even after his death rumors about him never ceased. From spotting his ghost in Neverland and the CNN studios, the prying public haunt him. There were / are rumors also doing the rounds that he staged his death and he is very much alive. If this is the case, it would possibly be the best situation for MJ. He is probably happier “dead”. Here is the “rumored” video of MJ walking out of the van that took his “body” to the coroner’s office. Would we ever know the truth? The world’s obsession with the King of Pop has yet not ceased and we probably can never see the real ” Man in the mirror”.

This is it – Review from the Guardian

For everyone who’s thirsted for more Michael Jackson since his death little more than four months ago, the wait is finally over. For the rest of us, it’s time to look on in awe as Jackson’s memory – and the legendary fervency of his fans – is ruthlessly exploited till the pips squeak.

As is all too well known, Jackson was carried off shortly before embarking on a 50-date residency at London’s O2 Arena to try and pay off his rumoured $500m debts; footage shot during rehearsal for this series of shows forms

the vast majority of this much-heralded and hyped film, and goes some of the way to plugging both fans’ disappointment and his estate’s balance sheet.

So, to the burning question: is there any intimation of Jackson’s impending demise? I can’t honestly say there is. In the footage we are permitted to see, Jackson appears in pretty good shape for a 50-year-old – even if his general spindliness makes him occasionally look a bit like Skeletor in a lamé tuxedo. He performs at walking pace for much of the time, but makes it clear he is holding himself in.

As for the film itself, I can simply report that it isn’t too bad at all. It’s pretty much unadorned rehearsal footage, artfully stitched together to create complete song sequences; and since the O2 gigs were intended to present his crowdpleasing hits, they’re all here in their toe-tapping glory. Director Kenny Ortega puts himself in the frame quite a bit (sucking up to Jackson something rotten, it has to be said), and we learn that Jackson appeared to prefer culinary metaphors to describe his music: it must “sizzle”, or “simmer”, or indeed “nourish”.

The big fear, though, was that fulsome homages to the man and his talent would smother This Is It in a coating of treacle; thankfully, Ortega limits it to the occasional sobbing outburst from the dancers or choreographers. We are instead offered genuinely interesting tidbits of Jackson’s stagecraft, in the shape of intense discussion of cues, cherry-pickers and trapdoors – presumably to demonstrate how hands-on he was.

And there’s some fun sequences showing the creation of specially filmed inserts, such as the intro for Smooth Criminal having Jackson being Photoshopped into black and white movie clips from the 1940s, fending off Bogart and Cagney.

Jackson’s penchant for drivel couldn’t be entirely eliminated, as evidenced by the sickly little scene, built around a small girl wandering through an enchanted forest, that heralds Earth Song.

Still, this could have been a lot worse. It’s a bit much to claim it’s any kind of viable substitute for the live show, and since Jackson avoids conversation as much as is humanly possible it’s also a bit much to claim we get to know anything more about how he ticks. But This Is It a testament of a kind, and one that is no disgrace to his memory.

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41 Responses to “Man in the mirror…”

  1. Sharmila,

    Interesting connect. Cassius Clay (Mohammed Ali), O J Simpson, Michael Jackson and now Tiger Woods… All unplugged by the media after their enduring super-successes!

    Lets see what awaits Obama! America is like those cauldron’s in Asterix comics. You never know what the potion does until it is tested on the Romans!

    🙂

    • Sudhir – Ha, ha!..Exactly my thoughts, When i watched Tiger give his apology speech on TV ,somehow I felt we will watch Obama too soon..for the same reason, I dont know..its just a feeling, a strong one though..sadly unlike Asterix, there is no magic potion in those cauldrons!

    • Sudhir – On another note, those jammy comments are hilarious.

      • Do you think Indians will ever reach that stage of piety or public accountability?

        Om Puri tried a Bill Clinton with his maid but it didnt go too well with the public. People just brushed it off as a gimmick!

        On another note, Sudhir is not a sadhu either.

  2. I myself was crazy about MJ, particularly his dancing. I used to spend hours before the mirror trying to perfect the moonwalk. Maybe someday we should try it, at least to make MJ smile. The news of his death came as a rude shock that I still find hard to reconcile with. People tend to remember him for his dance set pieces, but he was also a great vocalist. All said and done, he was a great showman. He was an illusionist par excellence and one great entertainer who moonwalked his way into millions of hearts. His legacy will live on forever.

    • Melwyn – He did moonwalk his way into our hearts, he lives forever!

      • MJ matched his dancing craft with another genius though not in dancing but in pantomime – Marcel Marceau. There was a clip, I saw on TV once, where Marcel shows off the moonwalk and other steps to MJ and MJ in turn does them with equal grace and finesse!

        Both maestros in their own ways. MJ coupled it with stunning music; Marcel did it in dead silence – magical results either way!

        🙂

    • Melwyn – Where are you? Been missing for a few days now!

  3. Sudhir – In India a lot of things do not go well. Om Puri , ND Tiwari incidents are accepted so long as it is heresay with no definite proof. it is acceptable. The minute it is out, people are disgusted. In India we like to wear those blinkers / blinders that horses wear to most things. Yes, I know you are no sadhu sitting on the himalayas. On todays AB post, the moderator is shutting me off on this comment –

    The clippings in the Hindu are generic statements against the fourth estate. You would need to rally some strong support if you are fighting the likes of the Benett Coleman group. They are not likely to bend so easily unless you sue them of course and go the full way with it. To file a lawsuit against a big group will set a precedant. There will be the likely fall out and a mess of future relationships with the group , but I think it is worth it, not sure about your thoughts though. The EF here are here to support you, but in the big bad world of corporate and political affairs, are we such a strong force? We shall get there one day, but not quite there as yet, hence you need some of the bigger boys to rally behind you. The DCP is not big enough. Hope the Jains get their team to apologize soon, again I state, apology is not enough. It has to be an aplogy plus a hefty penalty.

    • Sharmila,

      I think AB is a bit insensitive about the obssessions of some of the FmXt.

      The Hindu newspaper is owned by the same family that has produced Teen Patti. The character of AB in the movie chooses money over values; instant justice over change.

      This movie is just around the corner for release. AB is playing this character to the gallery in his public appearances over the last week or so.

      If he wants a visible change, he has the means to raise a debate in the Rajya Sabha through his wife or call on Tina Ambani, Asha Parekh, Film Producers Forum and so many other hi-profile NGO to raise the flag.

      The blog or a press interview may only add value but cannot actually rollout the change that he claims to be looking for.

      He is a clever one. I am sure he has something up his long sleeves!

      🙂

  4. ‘Clever’ is a very mellow term in my opinion. you are being too generous Sudhir! He is very calculative and shrewd one. The way he plays & uses his fans for his personal gain really disgust me. i am sure he gets a good laugh reading all those posts advising him or supporting him in such matter. May be that’s how things work but in my opinion he is no less than a politician. His visit to Gujarat, the day his friend resigned is not a mere coincidence. Did he ever mention Amar Singh after that day !!?? Now suddenly Gujarat CM is a great man. probably after a while we will get the news that AB acquired land for his studio in Gujarat Or Joined hands in a business venture or his wife got a seat in Parliament and she finally left Mulayam Singh. I am sure when her term is over Mulayam Singh wouldn’t consider her again.Jaya didn’t resign in support of Amar Singh !!??? surprise…surprise…!!! That shows how needy they are to be in politics and have political connections. Now His relations with Thackeray has its purpose too. His rubbing shoulders with those to achieve his high Ambitions is not very ethical it seems.
    He is taking his popularity in stride for his own agenda. one of that could be to get even with Nehru family. ITS ALWAYS ABOUT MONEY AND POWER.
    I agree he sure has something up his long sleeves.
    Lets wait & see if he really is a Man (enough) of convictions..!(as he himself claims)

    • MonaLisa,

      This is precisely the reason I can’t believe a word of his melodrama on his blog. The kind of clout he carries in Mumbai and UP, a gossip columnist would be eliminated in the streets of Mumbai! The family owns large stretches of land upwards of Lonavala with Sachin Tendulkar, Nana Patekar, and some big time politicians. Each ranch is worth 50 cr and above. Nutan had an old poultry farm next doors (Now with her son). Comparatively Dharmendra and sons own a modest patch south of Khopoli.

      There is obviously an elaborate organisation that he is a part of. The BigAdda Server is in North Hampshire in UK, where incidently his brother is settled for good. His firm ABCL has directors from major infrastructure companies HQed in Bengal and UP. His ties with Anil Ambani are well known.

      This is the known part. Do you think anyone would have the courage to violate his image in the public without some sort of designed gimmick?

      I just saw an ad where he is urging the TV viewers to gamble on a web site called ibibo.com.

      What price his father’s legacy of literature and poetry?

  5. Neither do I sudhir. there is no point if one can’t be truthful & honest and play such Gimmicks. In my opinion the way he shows this humility in public is nothing but a disguise,a smart way to hide his arrogance and ego.After all he is a Great Actor……!!!Besides one is not allowed to post one’s honest opinion either. one can be stoned and called names by some of his so called fans to whom i considered not only owe struck but quite fanatic/sycophants. And i feel truly & deeply sorry for my inability to join that Bandwagon as i find myself quite incapable to offer what he is asking for.that’s why i stopped posting my comments long ago. as such i wasn’t there for a long time.How could ppl linger for more than 625 days considering him their ideal & idol surprise me the most.
    he endorses whatever comes in his way till they are ready to pay a handsome amount for that junk. And yet he considers himself A Man of Conviction. lol….
    I am sure he owns more than we all know- in Maharashtra, Bengal & UP- may be some other states too. now its turn of Gujarat. He is associated with not only Ambani(poor Anil) but has many projects with Amar Singh too. (if you remember the case he mentioned and was taken care by Amar Singh later and he was jumping on blog that i am innocent and justice is serve and blah… blah… all that crap)everyone is aware of his family ties with Nehru-Gandhi family since his parents time. they gained out of it till Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination. there after things fall apart as they were stopped reaping benefits anymore any further by remaining members of Nehru-Gandhi family and asked for support instead. but obviously they don’t believe in giving. so now he started seeking help from other parties and Amar Singh came into picture saving his ABCL who is now Vice Chairman of ABCL which he disclosed recently in one of his interview in desperation after resigning from whatever that party is and Questioned about his and Ab’s brotherhood ship.
    its truly pretty pathetic the way he is ranting about his parents at his age and when he himself is a grandpa.this is another way to publicize and attract mass by making them emotionally overwhelmed. i doubt he would have done that if his father left no legacy behind. this is another way to en cash his legacy ‘cos Indian Public is ‘An Emotional Fool’ indeed.
    you are right that that columnist would definitely be eliminated by those white collar goons. but who thinks rationally!? OR want to !? most believe in going with the flow.

    • The hypocracy is not in the desire to prevail on things but in the trail of deceptions left behind in the process. The only impression one gets is that this person is keen to publicize that he is a law-abiding citizen. And I guess he must have strong reasons for that.

  6. […] Read the rest from HERE […]

  7. is that the only impression one gets !?? Oh!well……
    no matter how strong reasons are there and how hard one try to erase the trails of deception, it haunts sooner or later and one can’t cheat one’s inner self(conscience) for long/for ever.
    is hypocrisy must for any purpose!?

    • Hyprocracy has a purpose. During the federal elections, while his wife was campaigning for Amar Singh’s party, he was in London and Paris, and he returned one day before the voting. The Gandhi family broke into the territory for the first time in 25 years.

      In a certain way the blog is a deception. It keeps his public image – that of a Hindi movie star.

  8. Sudhir – The Hindu paper is owned by a southi indian group. Ambika Hinduja has produced Teen Paati. What is the connection? Reading yours and Mona Lisa’s comments the current going ons on the blog are fabricated? How can this be a gimmick for Teen patti? Boy, what a complicated world we live in. Not sure what is true or false anymore.

    • The lady of the Hindujas is the producer of Teen Patti. She also stopped AB from putting up the teaser trailer on the blog – rather asked him to remove it after he put it up before the Cainnes Festival where it was launched! Teen Patti is produced from London HQ of the Hindujas.

      I am sure AB’s mission on the blog is not about his art or aesthetics sensitivities.

      Sorry to take up space like this in your space!

      • Sudhir – No need to say sorry. This space is as infinite as the other one!.Ok, so we agree that Hindujas have nothing to do with the paper?

  9. Thank you, Sharmila

    They do. ‘The Hindu’ is owned by the Hinduja family so far as I know. At least they are the largest share holders. The Hindu publishing a few letters to the editor on Media ethics is no big deal. They didn’t do an editorial or join the band against their own fraternnity.

    The reason I call it a gimmick is, these people are so powerful and connected they could call on the Press Council of India and place a bill of ethics on the table. They can use the Information Minister as mouth piece if they want to.

    Snap shots of letters to the editor! A gossip column in a local tabloid! This is not a moral fight… its just a cameo blitz to draw a street side crowd for the movie.

  10. Sudhir – The ownership is news to me. I thought it was always under the control of NRam and his immediate family. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Hindu

    The Hindu I recall was the first to go hammer and tongs on the Bofors scandal as well. I agree though that the Hindu could have hit a lot harder on their own fraternity if they ever wished to. amongst the regular bloggers I wonder how many street side crowd read the blog though!..do you think the street side would understand AB’s blogs?

    • Sharmila,

      True. Srichand, Gopichand and Prakash Hinduja were charged for their involvement in the Bofors Scandal. I will check back on their ties with the newspaper. I think it began post-Bofors after they were summoned by the courts.

      By street-side audience, I mean the ones on the fringes. For example, AB has launched an ad campaign for ibibo.com where people are invited to play Teen Patti. Now I am sure no real street-side bystanders would log in and stake money on gambling online.

      But what I mean is the net and the blog has a significant audience these days. If you notice, AB has about 100,000 unique hits a day. I found that on http://www.whois.com. If that translates into a million people he does reach a reasonable market.

      • Sudhir – True, the key to survival in these hard times is shrewd marketing. The PR tactics have been rather bizarre, from Aamir scampering town to town for 31 to SRK’s drama with Sena, now AB’s blg drama..How much does it help though? The street side have no brains?

      • Sudhir – Out of the 100k hits, 50 K will be the Angels, the Yammys and the R’s of this world hitting back a million times!

  11. 🙂

    Sharmila, agree about Angel and the angels… Jammy’s I can understand…. Wonder who are R’s… !

    Yes, bizarre tactics indeed. Sometimes I wonder if it is worth all the trouble they take!

    I visited PNC website from your blogroll. Some good insightful writing of Pritish Nandi. And the style is comfortable and apt for films and light reading.

    • Oops..

      I mean bizarre PR tactics of publicity. Eros International, United Artists, Asthavinayak have professionalised this aspect of film making. Each one goes through a life cycle patter from concept to release and finally some TV channel.

  12. Sudhir – Yes, Pritish Nandy is a fantabulous writer. He is matter of fact and laces issues with his incredible sense of humor. I remain a big admirer of his. Despite his writing being light, the messages are heavy. He is a contributor to Mumbai mirror too..lol

  13. Think about it… one fine day out of context AB mentioned about TB on his blog.why!? i still am unable to find the reason of his mention. next day MM published some bizarre news and AB jumped his Gun as if he was waiting for it. now the news is AB flew to London and Teen Patti premier is canceled. if this is not for that movie then he is up to something bigger than that. He is trying to check his popularity graph time to time for sure though. i have heard that in India a janitor or a beggar too have an access to cell phone. so if half the population carry cell ph. and half out of that might be moviegoers then its quite a large no. they are dealing with here. Twitting is a fashion now and there are too many to visit face book daily. now if AB himself is luring ppl to gamble online then what ethic does he believe into!? are they going to turn mega cities into Vegas or Atlantic city in future!?
    i believe mass is totally sold out emotionally over the matters pertaining to actors,politicians and religion.

  14. How does PN contribute to MM? AB has good terms with PN. MM published that anonymous article. what’s the equation here!?? i wonder….

  15. True! Equations change time to time and realign how and when needed. that’s why no proper equation is found yet in this entire hocus pocus. too many loose ends.

  16. Well,its quite weird to have come across this video…….who knows what lies beneath….his death is still a mystery.

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