Sunday, July 26, 2015

Of hope and of joy

Sushruti Tripathi writes on hope and the general listlessness that encompasses us students every now and then. Perfect with a hot cuppa.

That feeling we don’t write about often enough.
                                                                     – Sushruti Tripathi

I always thought that the reason people write more about their 
suffering than their joy is because sorrow is a beautiful emotion. 
Pain is a feeling that justifies a thousand words written about it. 
But very recently, someone said this – "we all write about pain, 
because it is easy to write about suffering. But it is very difficult 
to let go of that depressing thought and write about happiness. 
Embracing happiness is not something everyone has the 
courage to do, because people are cynical."

And this made me think. I went through every page of 

everything I had written recently, and then I realised something 
very strange. I had written a lot about depression, a lot more 
about confusion, a little about love, but nothing about being 
happy. Just plain simple happy. Why? It is not like I haven't had 
happy times recently. Then why have I not penned down 
anything that on reading makes me giggle, and laugh? Or just 
makes me smile?

Maybe he is right, maybe it is because it is difficult to pen down 

the exact emotion called happiness. To write about that warmth 
in your heart which makes you smile for no reason, to describe 
the ocean of memories behind that silly giggle, to put into words 
the overwhelming laughter spree you went on with your best 
friend at a random dinner, and to write it all without a constant 
feeling of having jinxed it by acknowledging that you are happy. 

It takes courage to smile at life and not get cynical. To let go of 
the nagging doubt that the happiness will end. To stop thinking 
about the despair that awaits once the happiness comes to an 
end. We all surprisingly accept that our sorrows may last 
forever. But we live with the constant belief that any happiness 
that comes our way is but a transitory phase, a passing 
moment of joy. Then, if we are always in so much doubt, have 
we ever been really happy?

Remember that one moment of unadulterated exuberance. It 

could be any memory, the one where you laughed until you 
were struggling for breath, or the one where you hugged a kid 
at the orphanage and made him smile. Pick out a memory 
when you were happy, with no doubt, no cynicism. And relive 
that moment. That is what happiness tastes like. Unadulterated. 
Pure bliss. And once you get a taste of this intoxicating joy, 
you'll never want to be anything but happy.

Of course, you don't have to take it to a whole new level like I 

did. For the past few days, I have been smiling to myself like an 
idiot. Sometimes, because of the memories playing in my head, 
and some other times, because life seems so beautiful. But this 
silly smile is here to stay. There is hope. :)

“Hope Smiles from the threshold of the year to come, 
 Whispering 'it will be happier'...”
                                                                   ― Alfred Tennyson

Saturday, July 25, 2015

An Ode to ‘Community’ – Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television

This post has been taken from ex- MagCom member Akshay Jose's Blog - Please do check it out!


I know that I have not talked about television shows on this blog, but it is for times like these that exceptions exist. This might also be the most subjective post I’ve written on the site, what with it being my favorite show of all time, so fair warning. Community was more than just your average television show, and while that seems the most clichéd line to use for any show, this comedy series was the exact opposite of cliché. While other shows were going about shaping genres and taking TV to Hollywood-budgeted extravaganzas, Dan Harmon and the rest of the good people at Community were working out of a 90s budget (repeatedly facing the threat of cancellation) and watching wisely over all of pop culture. The television renaissance has left us with our pick of genres, from the mythical fantasies of Game of Thrones to the gritty realities of Breaking Bad, but in Community you will find every single one. No other show can boast of a zombie apocalypse episode, a Law & Order episode, pillows-and-blankets wars, a Pulp Fiction episode, numerous paintball and Dungeons & Dragons episodes, episodes in claymation, puppet animation, 8-bit animation and 90s cartoon animation all over the course of 5 seasons. Yes, Community dared to go where network television had never been before, and it went all in.
Having its humble beginnings as a formulaic comedy revolving around a ragtag band of misfits, the show was still leaps ahead of universally famous Big Bang Theory and such, with its special brand of meta-humour that proved way too clever for the mainstream audience. The show starts when Jeff, a disgraced lawyer arrives to earn a degree at Greendale Community College, and unintentionally forms a study group with Annie, Britta, Troy, Abed, Shirley and Pierce. Community had the virtue of being endowed from the very start with the perfect and only cast that could take such an ambitious and conceptual show. From the bond between the adorably meta Abed and the perpetually optimistic Troy, the schizophrenic insanity of Chang to the incredibly snarky Jeff and the queer in more than one way Dean, the audiences had their fill of incredible characters. Many would say that it was the antepenultimate episode of the first season – the acclaimed Modern Warfare – that decided to stretch the limits of what television could aspire to be, with a campus-wide paintball war that has factions emerge, survivors duel, and poke fun at (while respectfully paying homage to) the cheesy action genre. From then on, Community would go on to prove with every new episode that anything was possible, and in turn created the most insane and unpredictable show on network television.
Now, we’re six seasons in – having already faced and meta-poked at cancellations – the sixth season itself standing testament to the power of the fandom, as Yahoo! resurrected the show from what everyone thought, but hoped against all to be, the end. I had been watching this latest season too with the same amount of gusto, despite the marked emptiness left behind by the characters of Troy and Shirley, the latter whom I never loved as much as the others but now had me wishing for a ‘That’s nice’ every once in a while. Now I do admit the first half of the season didn’t feel quite like Community, and had a gray drape thrown over the characters, as though missing a key that brought the octave together. But by the end of the season something wonderful happened and Frankie (Paget Brewster) and Elroy (Keith David), the new characters introduced blended in quite nicely with the rest of the cast and came to be accepted as part of the new Greendale Seven. The show regained its momentum, and devotees all around started believing in a Community that could live forever.
That is, until this last episode so aptly titled Emotional Consequences of Broadcast Television. The episode opens with shots of an empty Greendale campus as the Human Beings have left for the summer, but the Save Greendale Committee is seated as always around the old study room table (Mark-II) finishing up their last meeting. As the familiar bell rings, the Dean who surprisingly hasn’t been keeping up with his tradition of turning up in outrageous wardrobe displays this whole season, makes his entrance compensating for that in every possible way. The finality is then set off with Elroy’s Irish goodbye to the group (and to the show), leaving as matter-of-factedly as he eased in. As the group start the summer off at Britta’s bar, up comes the question of ‘what’s next?’ or to put it in terms that Abed can understand, ‘Season 7’.
This is when Community goes full-Community (sorry, there’s just no other word to place there) with its insanely meta conversations and interpretations of itself as each character sees it. This reminded me a lot of the episodeRemedial Chaos Theory (Season 3 Episode 4) which has the group play out different timelines based off a simple act of rolling the dice to see whose turn it is to get the pizza, which also gives birth to the notorious-if-its-name-wasn’t-obvious-enough Darkest Timeline. (When a sentence like the one I just typed down makes sense to you, that’s when you know the show you love is insane) While in that episode the characters couldn’t help what was happening but see the smallest changes make worlds of difference in the future, this one is set in a more controlled environment, with everyone pitching what their idea of a perfect ‘season 7’ would be. That setup alone is one of the truest and best things about Community; the willingness to commit to its characters and give them enough room to grow. And not just each character by themselves, but in relation to how the others perceive each one, poignantly in fact, existing in a real ‘community’. That is why a show that began with Britta trying to make Abed understand the difference between television and reality has reached this point where it’s Britta not only defending Abed but also referring to their next year as a ‘season’ in the first place. Take that, Big Bang Theory. (I tend to hate most other sitcoms in the hours following Community)
At first, the show has fun – something it never fails to do – with having each character re-imagine their own brand of Greendale, highlights being Britta’s overly serious and depressing one (with a remixed opening song to go with), and Abed’s as-always-uncanny deconstruction of the group members all except Chang whom he thinks suffice to say ‘Lizard. Fire hydrant. Obama. CHAANG.’ These pitches also bring back for brief moments Shirley who was absent for the entirety of the season, which turns out to be a welcome delight. This is all of course leading up to the overarching theme of the series – Jeff’s unwillingness to come to terms with his growing old and being left behind by the few he welcomed into his head. This anxiety is particularly incited with Annie’s news that her new internship would require her to move to DC, also tying in closely with the only teasing romance through this show without love-interest hang-ups, that of Jeff’s unrelenting attraction to Annie. Jeff then goes on to explore possible pitches for a 7th season which would keep them together through some illogical circumstance, which in any other show would have been the direction the actual show took. I mean, you cannot expect the brilliant, determined Annie and the nerd genius Abed to be tied down in community college for the rest of their lives when the world awaits them outside.
In many ways, Jeff represents us, the fans of this show, struggling to cope with the finality of an ending, and Abed the show itself sitting us down, passing us a beer and telling us ‘it’s going to be okay’. Ah, who am I to try and put it better than Abed himself:
“There is skill to it. More importantly, it has to be joyful, effortless, fun. TV defeats its own purpose when it’s pushing an agenda, or trying to defeat other TV. Or being proud or ashamed at itself for existing. It’s TV…it’s comfort. It’s a friend you’ve known so well for so long, you just let it be with you. And it needs to be okay for it to have a bad day, or phone in a day. And it needs to be okay for it to get on a boat with LeVar Burton and never come back. Because eventually, it all will.”  
You’ve got something to teach me if you don’t think that’s the most powerful line of words to be spoken on television. This is the moment at which Abed’s character reaches poetic closure, guiding us all through the emotional consequences associated with broadcast television. Abed was the character having to be reminded time and time again the clear difference between TV and reality, but now it is him who keeps Jeff grounded and not up in the clouds that are too good to be true. He was the one at the end of season 4 to find coping with finality an error, and yet he is here for Jeff, guiding him into acceptance. For this is no singular line restricted to Community, it is the word to live by for anyone wishing to invest themselves in television, a risk greater than real-estate or stocks in my opinion.
The finale doesn’t just stop there, but goes on to address Jeff’s other big anxiety: the hopeful future he could have with Annie, and how he probably let it all slip through his fingers. Annie then shows up in a way that characters dedicated solely to being love-interests (of which Annie is not one) do in the closing moments. But instead of getting off the flight or deciding that ‘love’ is above all else, lovingly tells Jeff what he already knows: that this is again him pulling at the last straws of his youth, so he can feel his heart beating again, unwilling to let the kids’ stuff go. And with a kiss that Annie would regret for a few weeks, and if it hadn’t been, Jeff would regret for the rest of his life, they leave it right there. What was most beautiful here was Jeff’s own pitch of an Annie future asking him if he’s sure he knows what she wants, and the last pitch for the season, ending with him saying ‘I can live with that now, I’m kind of the hero that way’ with that uncanny Winger smile, ending the tease as poignantly as did the episode. The group then proceeds to join in for a much-needed hug where secrets are admitted *ahem* Chang *ahem*.
This finale was the best piece of television I have seen in some while, not just catering to hardcore fans but tying up just the right amount of ends necessary. (Who was the Ass Crack Bandit? Where is Annie’s Boobs? Will they see Troy ever again? Is Abed God?) It brings to fruition the arcs of all the characters that are leaving and with that second hug, we end the show on the same friendship that started it all in Pilot – Jeff and Abed. Now the finale could have gone the way of Dean’s wardrobe and thrown everything into the last episode, bringing back all of the cast members; and it’s not unlike Dan Harmon to find space for time-travel, Dungeons & Dragons, and the quintessential raid by the ‘Darkest Timeline’. But instead, it opted for an incredibly eloquent end, displaying an inevitability that sinks your heart at first, but then goes on to guide you softly to rest, not just for itself but as a guide to all television, anywhere. Now, was that truly the end? Must we confront the fact that this is reality no matter how much it comforts us to look through that meta-lens? Nobody knows at this point, but until then,Community remains something that encompasses all television, but yet there was nothing like it, nor will there ever be.
COMMUNITY -- Episode 403 -- Pictured: (l-r) Gillian Jacobs as Britta, Yvette Nicole Brown as Shirley, Donald Glover as Troy, Joel McHale as Jeff Winger, Alison Brie as Annie -- (Photo by: Vivian Zink/NBC)
[It is incredible that all you need to know about the show can be seen through that brilliant last ad around the Community board game which disclaimers that ‘lines between perception, desire and reality may become blurred, redundant or interchangeable’ and that ‘characters may hook up with no regard for your emotional investment’ and ‘some episodes too conceptual to be funny, some too funny to be immersive and some so immersive they still aren’t funny’. But the ride itself is everything you need out of television.]

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The 3rd NUJS Short Fiction Competition


The NUJS Short Fiction Competition is here again! From Erle Stanley Gardner, to whom we owe the suave and debonair Perry Mason, to John Grisham, whose Mitch McDeere was immortalized in The Firm, several lawyers live lives closely entwined with fiction. There's nary a lawyer who isn't a prolific reader, and too many law students live multiple lives, several of which are spent in the company of fictional friends. Here's your chance to indulge the writer in you!

In order to participate, please send us your entry (within 3000 words, by 0000hrs, 15th July 2012) on any 1(one) of the following 4 (four) themes:

Write a short story about a supervillain and the supervillainy involved. You may even send us a sketch of the costume-design! (The latter may not necessarily be sketched by the author.)

Write a story incorporating the symbolism behind this picture.

Involve quarks, bubblewrap, linoleum, mobile and Timothy Parker in a story in the most original way possible.
For instance, a line in the story that reads "She saw a short story writing competition that required her to involve quarks, bubblewrap, linoleum, mobile and Timothy Parker in a story in the most original way possible, but found it too challenging a task." is the most unoriginal way to incorporate the words into your story.

Write a story incorporating the following dialogue:
'But didn't Charlie want to be a butterfly?' she asked.
'Yes, but that was because his dad wouldn't let him.'

1st: Rs. 5000/-
2nd: Rs. 3700/-
3rd: Rs. 2300/-
The best Supervillain sketch shall have an additional prize worth Rs. 1000/-!!! 

The Competition shall be judged by the very talented Kuzhali Manickavel. Her first book - Insects Are Just Like You And Me Except Some Of Them Have Wings was published by Blaft Publications in 2008. Her short stories have also appeared in print magazines like Shimmer Magazine, Versal literary journal, AGNI, PANK, FRiGG and Tehelka. You can find her blog here and reviews of her book here, here and here, amongst others.

The Fine Print:

0) The Competition is only open to students studying in 5 year LLB programmes in India.
1) Each entry must be more than 500 words and within 3000 words, in Times New Roman, Font Size: 12.
2) One person may send more than one story, but each story must be sent as a separate entry.
3) A Supervillain sketch shall only be considered a valid entry when it accompanies a short story.
4) There can be no joint entries, except in the cases where a second person sketches the Supervillain.

5) Email one soft copy, pdf or word, to:

6) Send us your personal details in a separate document (though in the same email), which include:
  • The Title of Your Story
  • Your Name
  • College Name
  • Contact Address
  • Contact Number

Please ensure that none of these personal details are mentioned in the document that contains your entry.

7) Entries must be received before midnight strikes on the night of the 4th of July, 2012.

For any further queries you may contact the NUJS MagCom by shooting off an email to: with the following as the subject line: "Query".

Monday, May 10, 2010

RESULTS of the 2nd NUJS Fiction Writing Competition

Hey everyone!

The Results of the 2nd NUJS Fiction Competition have been declared!
The winners are as follows:- (click on FIRST, SECOND or THIRD to read the entry)

Title: Preludes (Being the untold back story of Zaphod Beeblebrox, Ford Prefect and Arthur Dent)
Name: Apoorva Sharma
College: National Law University, Delhi

Title - Strafanstalt Isle
Name- Bhoomika Tiwari
College - National Law Institute University, Bhopal

Title: Escapade
Name: Shikha Rastogi
College: National Law University, Cuttack

Congratulations to the (truly well deserving) winners!

Keep Writing!


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Second NUJS Fiction Competition ~ Updated!


MagCom is bringing you the
2nd NUJS Fiction Competition and it's BIGGER and better than before! (We really don't know this for a fact. It just sounds good this way)
So pick up your pens and start jotting down those thoughts!
Let your fancy take flight as you plunge into the possibilities provided by the plots!

In order to participate, please send us your entry (in up to 3000 words, by midnight, 18th April 2010):
Choose one of the five famous fiction novels (
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde/Robinson Crusoe/Five Point Someone/The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy/A Christmas Carol) and base your story around it, borrowing any identifiable character(s) or theme or concept or event (or even a combination of these), such that it is obvious which story you’ve borrowed from.

For example, if you choose ‘Five Point Someone’, you could borrow just the setting of a college or the characteristics of the protagonist(s), and write your own story. Or you could change just the ending of a famous plot so that the story becomes original. Or you could take ‘Robinson Crusoe’ and place him in a different era or location.


The judge for the Competition is Ms. Anjana Basu.

Anjana Basu works as an advertising consultant in Calcutta.

In 2003, Harper Collins India brought out her novel Curses In Ivory. In 2004, she was awarded a Hawthornden Fellowship in Scotland where she worked on her second novel, Black Tongue, published by Roli in 2007. In February 2010. her children's novel Chinku and the Wolfboy was brought out by Roli.

Her other publications include:

The Agency Raga, a collection of short stories, published by Orient Longman 1994

Included In Their Own Voice, a collection of Indian women’s verse published by Penguin India, 1992

The Chess Players and Other Poems, Writer’s Workshop, 1976

Picture Poems and Word Seasons, Authorpress, 2009

Smoke Gets In Your Eyes, BBC Short Story Programme, September 1999

She has worked on scripts with director Rituparno Ghosh for Antarmahal and The Last Lear and has subtitled several of his films including Unishe April, Dahan and Chokher Bali. She also recently subtitled the Rahul Bose starrer, Antaheen.

In U.S.A., she has been published in Gowanus,The Blue Moon Review, and Recursive Angel, to name a few. In Canada she has appeared in The Antigonish Review. The Edinburgh Review and The Saltzburg Review have also featured her work,

She writes travel articles for India Today Travel Plus and has also written for Vogue India and Good Housekeeping.


You must mail two hard copies to
The Magazine Committee,
The WB National University of Juridical Sciences
Dr. Ambedkar Bhavan
12, LB Block, Sector III, Salt Lake City
Kolkata - 700098

and one soft copy to

Send us your personal details in a separate document, which include:
-The Title of Your Story
-Your Name
-Your College's Name
-Your Contact Address
-Your Contact Number
Please ensure that none of these personal details are mentioned in the same document as your entry.

We shall consider only one entry per person. However, there is no cap on the number of entries per college. We look forward to receiving your stories!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

The NUJS Fiction Writing Competition

The Winners of the NUJS Fiction Writing Competition are:

Smaran Shetty - Ist Year
Pushkar Thakur - 2nd Year

They are requested to collect their starmark gift vouchers from the nearest magcom member!