I know many people have this problem. In the four offices, I have
worked as a sub-editor I have faced this problem in three. In the
other one office, which was the exception, I worked and worked till
I had to go home … only to sleep and resume work again.
But coming back to the other three offices … the reason we had to
act like we were working, when there was no work … was because:
1) we had an eight-hour working day, so everyone had to report for
duty by 4.00 pm whether we had work or not
2) we had to wait patiently for the reporters to send their copies
so that we could start hacking them (since their deadline was 10.30
and our deadline 1.30, we usually worked real hard only in those few
hours). So between 4.00 and 6.30 pm we discussed politics (of the
real kind) and engaged in politics (of the office kind); we
discussed the rottenness of the tea and baji we were having, the
failings of editors, reporters and the few sub-editors who were not
3) the editors want to see everybody hard at work. Now try figuring
this out … you don’t have any work because the reporter hasn’t
filed any story. But the reason why the editor likes to see you busy
is because he has to be bossing everyone and getting work done. No
wonder all the editors in the print media have grey hair.
4) Everyone can drop the pretense, only when the news starts flowing.
On lean days like Sunday and Saturday with no high court, no
Assembly, no schools and every other government office working half-
a-day or not at all, the poor reporter is hard-pressed to give news.
So we have to think, create … There you have it! Create news! So
stuff, which the reporter would treat like leprosy would be covered
on Sundays and Saturdays. Kindergarten-graduation ceremonies, Rotary
club events, Exnora events, school functions, ladies club’ luncheon,
kids’ fashion shows get coverage during the weekend. So to fill-up
the space, the reporter files such space-fillers. And the newly-
joined sub-editor with oodles of enthusiasm proceeds to chop it down
to size. When the story makes it to the page, cut down to size, the
problem crops up again. We need more stories: cries the desk. The
reporter next starts rehashing old stories, printing off everything
that comes from the news feed, and files more stories on
kindergarten-graduation ceremonies, Rotary club events, Exnora
events, school functions, ladies club’ luncheon and kids’ fashion
So, in between all of this, the sub-editor might find himself
jobless. An average sub’s day will look like this:
4.00 to 6.00 pm — Drink coffee, tea, have bajis, discuss world
6.00 to 6.30 pm — Hear the outcome of the 6 o’ clock editorial
meeting and get a frank, brutal show-down of all the things that
he/she did that went wrong.
6.30 pm to 8.30 pm — Slowly, patiently sub copies, giving lots of
attention to details, accuracy and checking facts as the news starts
9.30 pm to 10.30 pm — Get worried and start panicking as half the
stories that were supposed to come have not done so and the page is
10.30 pm to 11.30 pm — Grab dinner like a relay race. Just like how
only one person can hold the baton, only one person can have dinner
at one particular point of time. So the rest wait for their turn in
the relay race.
11.20 pm to 12.30 pm — Bad tempers, hasty words, lots of yelling
all round. The sub starts subbing stories by running a spell-check
on them and releasing it onto the page, while keeping his/her
12.30 pm to 1.30 pm — Everyone breaks out into a sweat. Everyone
keeps a rein on their temper so that nothing will impede the process
of sending the page on time. Everyone is silent so that they can
hear the occasional “Pl change this to … that”
1.30 pm — Deadline. Page sent! After all that adrenalin rush,
everyone goes down to the local tea shop for the mandatory cup of
tea and to sweeten up all the people they yelled at so that they can
work with them peaceably and amicably till the next deadline.
So between 4.00 and 6.00 pm, the smart sub-editor could open
his friends’ blogs and most importantly the online edition of The
Hindu. This is so that if your boss, hovers anywhere near your desk,
you can immediately switch to The Hindu website, to show him that
you were not enjoying yourself on the net.
The smart sub-editor could go to sleep with his hand over his
forehead (to hide his drooping eyelids) while leaning over the news
stand, so that innocent bystanders can think that he’s absorbed in
the latest installment of the Telegraph.
The smart sub-editor could also not turn up for the boring first two
hours, by thinking up inventive lies like “I had to speak at a
meeting of the Reporter’s Guild,” “I had to attend a seminar on the
clever use of invectives.”
Well, this smart sub-editor has finished writing up one post in the
prelude to real work.
Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland is not the whimsical, light-hearted, nonsensical tale of Lewis Carroll. The names, the characters and the dialogue from Alice in Wonderland and Alice through the Looking Glass are all there – but they hail from a CGI-bombed, darker, gothic which is aptly named “Underland” and not “Wonderland” as Alice mistakenly thinks.
In an effort to make Lewis Carroll’s tales more mainstream, Burton has twisted the Red Queen (Helena Bonham Carter), the White Queen (Anne Hathaway) and almost every other character beyond recognition. Falling for the Hollywood fallacy, that every successful movie needs a villainous, a victim and a heroine, Burton makes the Red Queen the bad one, the White Queen – the damsel in distress awaiting rescue from the hero – in this case, Alice herself.
The movie-Alice (Mia Wasikowska) differs from the book-Alice in that she is 13 years older and suffers from too little imagination where the latter suffers from an over-dose of it. The star-studded movie starts with a young Alice dreaming of falling down a rabbit hole and relating the nightmare to her father, entrepreneur Charles Kingsleigh.
About 13 years later, societal pressure is forcing her to accept a marriage proposal from the rich, wealthy but rather gormless Lord Ascot. At their grand engagement party at a country mansion, Alice is saved from replying to Ascot when she spots the white rabbit of her dreams. She runs after the white rabbit in true Alice-fashion, falls down the rabbit hole and emerges in the world of Underland.
It is here that she learns that her mission in Underland would be to slay the Jabberwocky, a dragon-like creature controlled by the Red Queen, on Frabjous Day and restore the White Queen to power.
How Alice does slay the Jabberwocky with the help of the Mad Hatter (Johnny Depp), the Cheshire Cat and the Bandersnatch forms the rest of this curious tale. For the book-lovers, what would be so non-Alicish, is seeing Alice donning mail armour and Vorpel sword and battling with the Jabberwocky in true 21st century feminist style in the climax.
With lots of action, high-fi DTS sound effects and the ever-encompassing charm of Alice’s world, this movie should prove engrossing, shouldn’t it? But that’s where it falls flat! In this curiously, grey-tinted film even the funniest of Lewis Carroll’s lines take a sombre and gothic hue. The storyline instead of taking off from the books is loosely based on the Jabberwocky nonsense poem from The Looking Glass.
But more than the uninspired storyline, the unimpressive 3-D, what really sticks in the throat and makes one gag, is seeing Alice, emerging at the end of the movie as a colonial trader off to conquer China. What is Disney trying to say? Are they trying to glorify colonialism? In an effort to portray Alice as feminist and capable, they manage to be dashed insensitive to the sufferings of China under colonial rule.
All in all, if people were to treat Alice in Wonderland as just another mindless action movie, they would be happier watching it, than if they tried to rediscover the world of Lewis Carroll in it.