Monday, December 31, 2012

Annus Futurus

The nicest thing about Monday is that it eventually comes to an end. Today, however, the same is true about 2012. It's getting over as well and one can feel it pass by. A few more hours and we'll be having 2013 on the masthead. Remarkable, isn't it? Our species has made it so far, leaving the history behind. The past means a lot to us but we seldom let it supersede the present. This particular year did something similar to my curious case of inertia. I experienced a lot of new things while achieving a bit of this and that. Being an entertainment journo facilitated most of them. 
  • For beginners, I graduated. Finally. At the age of 26. In BA (English Literature) though I'm still wholeheartedly committed to the noble cause of grammatical errors. Might do my Masters someday and then vie for PhD later. Hopefully, that is. What's the harm in dreaming? Didn't I once dream of becoming an innovative electronics engineer? 
  • I turned vegetarian and learned that it doesn't make an iota of difference to your soul. On the contrary, it made me aware of all the horror vegetables go through because of us. Ergo, I've effectively given up vegetarianism now. Food is meant to keep us alive and we are meant to kill it.
  • Prophet once said that travelling teaches us more than the books. So I did what was needed to be done. My dream destination has been Pakistan for a while now and I tried to sneak in through a Islambad-based youth conference. Unfortunately, I couldn't make it. As a consolation, I visited Wagah border and witnessed the pleasant height of jingoism. Too close yet so far. Next year, it would be Jinnah's Disneyland. No matter what!
  • Getting inked has been at the top of my priorities for years now. I got. At last. Two tattoos on each sleeves. One dedicated to Tibet and the other to my parents. They weren't impressed by either (as if I was expecting them to be). I'm certainly not stopping at two. There are few more to come and stay in the name of body art.  
  • Learned how to spell the F-word correctly on social media. Pallav from Twitter helped a lot in this direction. I still maintain zero-contact on timeline and deserve all the fuck-yous from tweeps who assume I must be a full-time snob. Plus, i reduced tweeting to as much as possible.      
  • Interviewed some impressive personalities like Binayak Sen, Lucky Ali, Shashi Tharoor, Bhanu Athaiya, Anand Gandhi, Kareena Kapoor, Ronaldinho, Salim Khan, Mira Nair, Aakar Patel, Daniel Craig, Gautam Navlakha, Jahnu Baruah, Adil Hussain, Pankaj Mishra, Rani Mukerji and Amish Tripathi. 
  • Watched a lot of brilliant movies—in theatres for a change. Not that I stopped downloading but still watching gems on big screen is something else. Being used to 19-inch monitor screen had limited my sense of perception. I kind of rediscovered its potential somewhere in the darkness of a cinema hall. 
  • Started the year with cycling (thanks to a friend) and ended it with jogging (thanks to a friend). Apparently my erstwhile six-pack abs miss me and vice versa.
There are many more stuff worth mentioning here but I don't remember them. I'm trying my level best but I can't. I guess I don't want to embarrass myself anymore. Besides, I'm growing old(er) at a worrisome rate. Being single for way too long often does that to people like me. Life is worthless anyway. Lastly, whoever is reading this tripe, I hope you quit next year. If not, at least overlook my narcissistic conclusions. May y'all reach such heights of success that vertigo becomes your nemesis. Best of all. Also, I secretly love you.

Thursday, December 27, 2012


Why do we cheer for complete strangers during a tennis/cricket/football match? Because we want our individual/country/team to win. Or maybe somewhere in our head, we think that cheering them will absolve us from the actual duty of performing in a match. We aren't good (read: fit) enough to participate anyway. Or maybe I'm mistaken as usual. It's perfectly normal to want others to accomplish what we possibly couldn't. At least that's the case with Indian parents. Intriguingly, there's a sense of achievement in others' success when it comes to sports. However, our species is not known for exhibiting such behavior as far as non-sports activities are concerned. Although we envy our neighbours we make sure we respect the brilliance of a guy wearing an opponent's jersey. That's how a sport rolls! Simply put, it allows us that exclusive space to be noisy, euphoric, sad, abusive, contemplative, opinionated, wasted, speculative and alive. Simultaneously. Plus, there are moments to take note of. For instance, when Federer lifts a grand slam title, you experience unchecked happiness although you won't extract even a cent of that million dollar cheque he just received. It's OK as you want the super-rich Swiss to bag five more such huge titles. On the downside, you empathize with Sachin when he goes limp in his final days and 'abruptly' declares retirement from ODIs. You acknowledge the burden those shoulders must have carried for more than two decades. The reason why you do so is you know that nobody can replace him. You'll neither watch a match for the sake of one cricketer nor switch off the TV when he gets out. In simple words, you'll never ever love a batsman more. On the other hand, when Messi scores 91 goals in one year, you are elated. To you, the Argentine defines the struggle of an athlete who had everything going against him—even his growth hormones. But you also notice that his triumph marks the victory of human endurance and hard-earned skills, coupled with uncanny humility. You want him to helm that World Cup in Brazil so that his detractors can shut up in peace. That's the fan in you talking to you. Like you have yours, every sportsperson has a melodramatic story to boot too. But very few amongst them make you feel their joy and pain. And that's precisely why they are your heroes. 

Saturday, December 22, 2012

A beginning of the end

Dammit, i missed the doomsday once again. Fuck my life. I don't know how but i somehow manage to do it every single time there's an apocalypse alarm. Without fail, i sleep through it and wake up fresher than a lotus. It's almost like a gift. Or maybe it's not me. Our species is indeed blessed with the talent to survive a non-existent closure. Just to keep up with the flow, let's not give any credit to Mayans here. They were just messing around with their mumbo-jumbo from the very beginning. Moreover, unlike Indians, they didn't have an Aryabhatta or a Brahmagupta to do the calculations for them. In plain words, they sucked at math. So I'm not at all surprised by what happened the day before yesterday, yesterday, today and what's going to happen after today. The verdict is out: We are meant to suffer longer. Mother Nature is not going to put us out of our misery anytime soon. She's planning the most expensive special-effects movie ever made and she might ask Peter Jackson for assistance. The rest of us are on our own now. And going by the chronological iniquities, we haven't fully paid the price for our so-called intelligent brain. Speaking of which, has anybody seen that prophetic calendar yet? Does it have half-naked models on it? Yes? Bazinga! Does it have the-turbulent-end-of-Vijay Mallya scribbled anywhere? No? OK.

Friday, December 21, 2012

Deeply offensive

Nearly two decades ago, Kurt Cobain came up with his semi-controversial song Rape Me. There was a remarkable touch of lonely pain in those lyrics. But all things sung and done, it was a song. That's it. Flash back to today's unmusical reality as something terrible happened in Delhi recently. The horrific details that emerged out of this incident (mind you, not an accident) makes one's soul turn sick. Those who committed this unpardonable offense won't be able to forgive themselves. We shall never forgive them in any case even though we might forget them in the long run. And the girl who was the victim is going to find it unbearably difficult to move on. Our society—despite its righteous hue and cry—is too stigmatic to be conducive enough for rehabilitation. Rape is infamous for doing that that to the fairer sex. More so, men who do that give rise to questionnaire...endless trail of queries that question us.
    So how do we deal with this horror as a pseudo-society? Where exactly does the problem lie? Are we so sexually regressive that our very sense of morality gets clouded at times? Good apple, bad apple? Does sadism constitute an inherent part of our DNA? Don't we keep evolving as a species? Who are we? Misogynists? Unabashedly patriarchal? Can the media do a bit more than worrying about its TRP? Would the government show its spine for a change? Where are the fast-track stringent laws that'd discourage repetition? Will the real feminists please stand up? What role did our parents play? Religio-socio hypocrisy? Have they raised their daughters at par with their sons? Why do the former feel so insecure then? Kung-fu someone? Shall our poor victim become the physiotherapist she always wanted to be? Which direction might lead to a nobler world? Were we lost? Or we are going to be lost? Gun control in US and penis control in India? Go Shariah for a change? Castration? Damn, wouldn't that hurt? Isn't pleasure from others' agony is what this is all about? Let's redeem ourself, whatsay? Set up an incorruptible fund-raiser instead? Discuss? Abort misconceptions and inseminate knowledge? Open up our mind a little and embrace our imperfections? Shout a bit softer and listen a bit louder? Do we really don't need education? Sex education, huh? Mutual respect is dead? Smiling can be dangerous? Can't trust anybody anymore? Wasn't Gandhiji right? Didn't the Mayans just fooled humankind? Do you hear that? That's animal kingdom laughing at us. 
    As a nation, we are very angry. But this understandable rage has very little to do with the crime (or the criminals) in question. On the contrary, the somewhat hapless emotion reflects strongly on the kind of frail structure we've built over the years. When a system fails, it shows. Sadly, it requires a tragedy of such momentous scale to hold our attention for long. Ergo, we've failed somewhere and that bothers us. We don't know the answers to the questions this widely-reported anomaly (although the word is an euphemism) has given birth to. And that makes us more than furious. Perhaps it's high time gender equality is offered a job and rape, retirement.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Sating heart and stomach

My grandma used to say that there's no such thing as good or bad. "Only hunger exists." Those were her exact words... in Tulu, of course! What she meant to say was we do things because we want to. Even if it's something that contradicts the person that we are. We commit our deeds—well or evil—because an urge as strong as hunger—if not stronger—does the deal on our behalf. It's all about being in a given situation. People react differently under different conditions but they do react. Like, when you see an old lady finding it tough to cross the road, you just stand there transfixed wondering whether to go ahead and offer her an helping hand or not. And by the time you resolve to attempt your one-good-deed-a-day, she has already made it to the other side. The hunger to serve was lacking; nothing else. We tend to think too much about things that doesn't need pondering and conveniently overlook what necessitates burning of brain cells. One doesn't need to be a anthropologist or a sociologist to notice that behaviour makes us who we've become. An individual with a filled stomach is going to act in a certain manner. Facing starvation, that very individual is most likely to act in an uncertain manner. Ergo, it's advisable to find some food before your empty stomach nibbles on your conscience. Every time we waste food, someone dies of famish somewhere. This might sound statistically absurd but it surely holds some grain of truth. As my pious grandma never said, hunger is the religion that binds every creature on this godforsaken planet.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Asleep for good!

Everybody leaves their home sooner or later. One can't stay in the nest for long. The little boy of our story seemed to be in a hurry though. All of seven, he was already fed up of his family's dysfunctionality. Apparently, circumstances left him with nothing but the decision to leave. So as a part of preparations for the tough life that lays ahead of him, he stuffed all his comic books into his satchel and filled the water-bottle too. He wanted to leave his house that very night but then he reminded himself he's way too young to be not afraid of darkness. In the end, he also convinced himself that waking up early and carrying out his plan would serve him better. With that delightful thought, he resigned himself to sleep. At dawn, the sun rose up. The cock followed suit. However, our hero remained in his bed. After a hour or so, his mother woke him up with a smile that was nowhere else to be found. All his anger evaporated at that very instance. It was one of those moments when you're glad for not being able to wake up on time.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Woes of a lazy journo

This piece was supposed to be written by a former trade journalist but she's apparently too lazy to do the needful. What's intriguing though is the behavioral interpretation of whether she was/became lazy before/after she switched careers. However, what we expect of journos is that they are meant to be on their feet 24/7 with their eyes and ears wide open. But then there are exceptions too. Not all scribes are like Clark Kent (just so you know Superman has quit his job as a journalist and is currently vella!). If that weren't the case, the present standards in media wouldn't have been in love with gravity. There are people who take things for granted and it has more to do with their personalities and less to do with their profession. So what makes a mediaperson complacent? Is it the rigorous call of duty? Or are there other reasons? For instance, transcribing is considered a bane in print media. Conducting interviews is not half as cumbersome as the task that lays ahead. Typing while listening to the dictaphone lets a journalist acknowledge how indolent s/he can truly be. Media often abuses its right to speak out of turn but it's funny how you can't transcribe out of turn. You've got to wait for the interviewee to finish the sentence and then you can go ahead and twist the quotes! This is just one example of how the sinful sloth works against you. There are many more. Besides, journalism is where you get more things done out of laziness than not. And the trick is to put the know in journo and the media in immediately.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Being a goal model

If Messi doesn't inspire you, nobody else can. And you don't even have to be a football fan to be messimerised by this little genius. Last night, he scored his 86th goal of the season for Barcelona thus breaking a 40-year-old record. But what's amazing about him is not the statistics attached to his career. He loves to humiliate arithmetic week in and week out. Like they should be saying, records are meant to be broken... by Messi! People around him keep pointing out his humility and it shows in the post-match press conferences too because unlike most of his contemporaries, he's quick to unburden himself of accolades. He's different from others. The style is lacking but the basics are strong like anything. He doesn't believe in showboating as he has a job to do and he'll get things done before the final whistle blows out. The best part is he makes it look easy. But then the catch about magicians like him—alongside Federer, Ronaldo and many more in sports entertainment—is they successfully hide what it actually takes to be them. They somehow don't reveal the pain and the hardship that went into their making. In about 3 weeks, we'll get to know whether he'd become the first player ever to win four Ballon d'Or. 

According to an extensive study conducted by yours truly: Messi > Ronaldo > Ballon d'Or

There's no point in comparing Messi with Iniesta. Also, it's high time we replaced apples and oranges with Messi and Cristiano for comparison's sake. The former inspires superlation while the latter invokes awe and this particular blog post is unabashedly in favour of the flea! Sorry but I'd like to believe that it's alright as the person concerned is an once-in-a-football phenomenon.

Sunday, December 9, 2012

The right to remain silent

I don't converse much for two reasons.
1. I'm not good at it. 
2. I don't want to be good at it.

Much against this distressing dilemma, i often get asked on Twitter why i don't reply to mentions. Keeping up with their expectations, i don't answer that question. Besides, i commit enough typos while typing my lame tweets that i’d rather not wish to increase my errata count. Or maybe i'm one of those who let others have the last word by not replying in the first place. And if at all i were to say something that could come close to explaining my stubbornness, i'd preferably not say it. I’m not accountable for my tweets. They are Grade A rubbish in any case. Similarly, it's a choice to stay away from timeline conversations. Not that i find these wit-induced gabs boring but then i don't find them overwhelmingly enticing either. Some talks make you giggle whereas some make you cringe. Both are OK as long as nobody is pointing a missile at your crotch and forcing you to read. For the record, i'm yet to witness an insightful chat taking place between two tweeps. People arrive with certain mindsets and log out with the same. Absolutely nothing changes. And they repeat the procedure tomorrow as well. This isn't my theory because we know this for certain. A majority of us converse on social media for the sole sake of marking our attendance in the virtual world. Practically speaking, we haven’t graduated much from Orkut even though we won’t admit it. Of course, there's nothing wrong with it as this attitude pretty much serves the whole purpose of garnering attention—not to forget, validation—we otherwise lack in our real world. But the ultimate gospel states that tweeps are merely killing time.
       However, coming back to my self-imposed silence, i used to be part of this circus till circa 2010 before i stopped participating in the celebrated verbal-diarrhea-fest. Just like that. Of course, i pay for my heresy by getting constantly bombarded for being a mute. I also lost the followership of some brilliant tweeps who thought i was an outcast now. After all, people from media can't afford to be isolated but I'm doing fine. I'm neither a huge fan of letting others know what kind of shitty tabloid articles i write for a living nor a huge critic of digital networking so my chosen technique works for me. Anyway, i don't know what I'm doing but i fortunately know what I'm not. I don't respond while i continue to listen to the never-to-be-addressed grievances. So those who think I'm not a good listener, you're mistaken. Despite hectic schedule (yeah, there are folks out there with high-demand-low-paying jobs), i check my mentions every now and then. Got to admit that very few tweets make me laugh harder. In my defense, at least i don't discriminate when it comes to replying mentions. Unlike most of the tweeps who bother to talk to only those whose intellect and follower count matter. To me, all are equally important as well as unimportant. No wonder i haven’t blocked even the worst of trolls yet. Moreover, my responding to their mentions won't change a thing. We were and we shall remain miserable, no matter what. Lastly, to answer your question why i don't use my reply button: Well, because i can.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Life of cinema

Talaash released today after innumerable delays making it the most-awaited Bollywood movie of the year but I'm still hangovering on the magnum opus that hit the marquee last week. Yeah, Life of Pi. This exceptional movie is so brilliantly made that you'd want to watch it over and over again at least 3.14 times. But you won't as it's in 3D and your wallet is basically cheap. In case you haven't watched it yet, there's not much i can do except one thing—ask you to do the needful before it's too late. You can't afford to witness the novel-turned-alive on a small screen and ruin the whole experience. Intriguingly, it's quite strange that this spiel is coming from a guy who shamelessly watches 9 out 10 movies illegally downloaded from internet in spite of being part of the media. Well, blame it on Ang Lee and his ambitious project for the change. After all, you don't make films like these (read: Avatar, Cloud Atlas) just like that. It takes years of meditation. In working class hero's words, hardcore labour makes all the difference. So many people coupled with equal number of minds bind together to come up with one coherent film. Isn't that magical enough? Count the number of people in your office team and then count the number of problems you face despite the relatively smaller group. Hmmm. Well, that's the undisputed beauty of cinema. Avatar pushed the cinematic boundaries. Cloud Atlas not only pushed those cinematic boundaries further but also screwed with our minds. Life of Pi did neither. What it does, however, is stand out on its own. There's no precedent to the kind of visual treat it offers. The sheer craziness of having a human, tiger, zebra, organ-tun and a hyena stranded on a cast away boat is more than what cinema is meant to gulp. Moreover, it's just the beginning. Things get more and more spectacular as the story proceeds. Speaking of which, there is no set plot. Everything is hazy and God is somewhere hidden within this gorgeous chaos. Speaking of chaos, Balasaheb would have related to Richard Parker. There were a few downsides too. Like in the early part, secularism is shown in a rather simplistic and seamless manner—something even Indians won't relate to. But by the time the credit rolls, you're in awe and don't want the movie to end. You literally find faith and your talaash ends.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Defending a dead noose

Dear oversensitive lesser mortals, this piece I'm about to write is basically an attempt at beginning a sentence with Kasab, pausing with mercy before ending it with killing. So please don't hold your moralistic breath and choke on it. Thanks in advance.
Last week, we got rid of Kasab. For good or bad, we're not sure yet. In all probability, we'll never be. Long live politics but more about it later. However, given the hype the whole secret hanging in Pune created, it seems like a major chunk of our populace is rather glad that the 25-year-old Punjabi (no, he didn't speak Urdu just in case you're one of those ignorant morons who think all Pakistanis are Urdu-speakers) is no more. According to them—and the obedient media in tow—his killing (yes, capital punishment is an euphemism for murder) provides an emotional closure to the grieving families of those who lost their lives on that fateful night of 26/11.
     First of all, it doesn't. People who lose their loved ones remain so till the end of the time. Nothing can possibly repair that damage. Nothing. As far as Kasab is concerned, the idiot visited our city with the sole intention of dying. He was on a suicide mission in case you've forgotten. Come to think of it, we were winning (if at all there was a contest) by keeping him alive. The diplomats who were fighting our case (terrorism is the word) at international forums would be better-equipped to explain the sheer delight of having a failed suicider locked in a high-security prison. But then, the public acts in a certain way. Let's call it the cowardly attitude. On witnessing a car accident, they go surround the car driver instead of helping the victim first. Something similar happened with Mumbai attacks. Nobody bothered to check on the 164 victims—forget the 308 wounded souls. We always look for the easy way out. We want action and it doesn't matter whether it fruition to a reasonable outcome. And in this particular scenario, what better effigy to burn than a warm-blooded young Pakistani? No wonder we gave into prejudice. For beginners, we merrily believed everything our newspapers spoonfed us about him. Not that it matters whether every little detail reeked of veracity or not but NOBODY questioned ANYTHING about him. There was way too little that ever came out of that little room he was interned in to start with. On the outside, it was cute how the otherwise cynical analysts readily convinced themselves that the government was diligently spending every single rupee of the alleged 29+ crore slotted to keep Kasab breathing. Just like we conveniently accepted that the deranged crook was being fed biryani on a daily basis. Yes, we may have taken our Atithi Devo Bhava crap way too seriously with him but then, he was also the only living proof of a Paki terrorist on Indian soil (Afzal Guru is one of us considering the possibility that Kashmiris are one of us). In any case, our scammed politicos have pushed numerical digits to such an extent that a few crore doesn't sound like a raw deal. Nonetheless, during the time he was in our jail, not a single Pakistan-sponsored terrorist attack took place in India. In the meantime, only a few over-smart local Muslims and over-stupid Hindus were involved in some recorded stray events, proving a point in how much we suck at terrorism!
     Going back to politicians, don't you think it's not a mere coincidence that they hanged the fall guy just a few days before the start of a turbulent winter Parliament session? For humour's sake, couldn't they have waited for five more days to coincide the hanging with the fourth anniversary of the dreaded day? Ahem. Just to be clear, I'm against death penalty. In my mind, eliminating one life in exchange of several lives doesn't add up well. We need to separate ourselves from our villain. Besides, for a nation of 1.22 billion, we've executed only two people in the last 15 years. Isn't that a shame? We are not even good at LEGALLY bumping off people. C'mon, don't tell me we don't have criminals who have committed deeds heinous enough to *deserve* death. Having mentioned that, i don't have a clue what we should have done with Kasab if he
were alive today. Maybe we should have given him the worst imaginable punishment... by sending him back to Pakistan! All things said and done, he was a misguided youth and the place where he comes from, there are dreamless kids raring to bask in his much-awaited martyrdom. Nothing can stop them from crossing an imaginary line, be it on water or on land. Anyway, I'm glad that Kasab was reportedly hanged. Since we've already lost Yashji to dengue, we couldn't have afforded to lose Kasab to mosquitoes. Image ka sawaal hai, boss. And as for the hanging part, it was just another day for Kasab.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

A year in a tabloid

I completed a year in MiD DAY today. Having entered the IIT of Bollywood Journalism exactly one year ago, it's hard to believe that they haven't kicked me out yet! Time went by and all i could do was take printouts of my broken dreams. I don't know what i just said. Anyway, that's not important. What's worth noting, however, is the fact that i didn't do something I'm really good at: giving up easily. I stuck to this job even though I'm well aware that i lack the qualities of a typical journo. Pitched against the pace at which my colleagues churn out stories, I'm a snail but i console myself by convincing myself that I'm a better writer. Not that it matters. Also I'm damn honest and my integrity is an endangered species. Yes, it matters. And to top it all, i don't scream (out of agony) when i see my salary slip. On the brighter end, my editor—like my former editor who hired me in the first place—is one of the coolest people i know. The colleagues are wonderful too as they are kind enough to laugh at my silly jokes. But it would be a lie if i said that i knew where i was heading to when i joined this rag. It would be a bigger lie if i said that i know where I'm heading to as of now. Currently positioned as the entertainment reporter who covers movies along with music and books, i get in touch with people y'all usually read about. In all honesty, that's the only incentive of this otherwise unimaginative job. When you meet famous people in flesh, you realize how similar they are to us. Only the wall of fame separates us. I hope i keep hurdling this wall in the days/nights to come and more importantly, i get the raise i so deserve. Thank you, HR, for reading this exclusive piece of trite.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hearing the unsaid

There's always something unsaid. That part of you dies with you. Lest that happens, we try to blurt it out and make those words survive a few more days. Perhaps verbal posterity matters in this ever-decreasing space. Don't believe me? Ask that guy who fell for this girl he saw on a railway platform. It was a bright day with mild wind teasing the otherwise humid climate. And like thousands others in the city, he was waiting for the local train. But before the serpentine stretch of boxes could arrive, somebody else did. This angel lookalike with her hair bouncing on her shoulders was walking towards him but not to greet him. The ladies section was a couple of steps behind the spot our hero was standing and this girl was sashaying at her own sweet pace to reach there. He just knew what to do. More importantly, he knew what to say. All he had to do was wait for the point when she's exactly linear to him. As soon as that happened, he leaned forward and whispered in her ears "You're beautiful!" while she brushed past him. Unfortunately, she didn't even look back or laugh or smile or wink or frown. Sometimes you don't hear the voice of emotions and sometimes you simply overlook. However, that afternoon, something else happened. Despite our hero's brave efforts, words remained unheard. Loud music on earphones often does that to humans.  

Monday, November 19, 2012

Who moved my squirrel?

Wagah border is a strange place to be on our independence day. And by our, I mean India's and Pakistan's. On those particular days—evenings to be precise—a lot of unrestrained jingoism displays itself on either side of the gate that divides us. The whole arena is crowded and full of noise. As the official flags get lowered, soldiers lift their feet to heights that would make Ibrahimovic second-guess his wowsomeness. And while they are cocking around trying to shatter the concrete ground beneath them with their leather shoes, crowd add their bit to the unrehearsed show. Loud nationalist slogans can be heard and it's hard to find anyone who can stay untouched by such exhibition of harmless yet provocative emotions. Even the foreign tourists join in with 'Bharat Mata Ki Jai' or 'Pakistan Zindabad' depending on which country stamped their passports! I was there to witness all these aforementioned theatrics three months ago. To be frank, I wasn't interested in what was going on in front of my eyes. I was more into the ones on the other side. Call me a Paki-lover but I'm unapologetically fond of them. Having never seen a Pakistani in flesh before (which is the case with most of the Indians I know who hate Pakistanis indiscriminately), I was overwhelmed to witness SO MANY OF THEM at once. Most seemed upbeat with the watanfaroshi naraas on their lips. But then, you can't blame them for being in the jingoistic mood. Just like it'd be unpatriotic of me to expect anything different from my compatriots.... Amid this annual chaos, I noticed a bushy squirrel get down from a tree on *their* end and cross the border to climb up a tree on *our* end. I bet the ignorant rodent didn't know to which country it belonged. 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Well played!

     For an audience, the act of walking out in the middle of a play amounts to serious criticism. Both to the one who's leaving the room as well as the one who is witnessing the other leave the room. It's one of the factors that sets a play apart from a movie. In other words, it doesn't matter to anyone in a cinema hall—especially the actors on the big screen—if you feel like vacating your seat for nobody else. After all, you've bought the ticket so the damage is already done. But then, things work differently when it comes to theatre.
A still from the rehearsals
     I recently watched this play titled Mister Happy Maker and I must add that I totally loved the concept. Set in a home-cum-shop, the story focuses on the very idea behind happiness. What exactly is it? Who pays and to whom? How long will it last? Unanswered questions like these ring in the back of your head while almost a dozen characters perform in front of your eyes. Although ad/media seems to be at the receiving end, the message is conveyed in such a subtle way that it doesn't matter who the bad guy is.
    Speaking of actors, all of them did a likable job, especially Aseem Hattangady. He was incredibly convincing as an advertising executive. But for some reason Kaushal Anand, who played his son, seemed off the chart. Since he's essaying this pivotal yet highly disillusioned role who has everything against the world, I thought it was incumbent on him to go find a way out. Or at least get employed! But he doesn't intend to do any of that. Perhaps that's why the hollowness in his monologues were so dismally apparent. The only instance when a spark got noted in him was when he received a kiss from Divya Unny's sultry character! Perhaps it's not his fault. Blame the playwright.  
    The entire play could have done with a few more instances of genuine laughter. Absurdity is excusable but dullness isn't. There were moments of yawn because the novelty factor was lacking at moments.... crucial moments. Like an old sweeper is introduced in the later scenes but her dialogues betray her. Maybe it was the voice of hackneyed wisdom. Or maybe she was blatantly preachy. All in all, she failed to deliver the punch her character could have easily done because she represented the world outside the shop.
    However, thanks to beautiful lighting and props (the AV should have had better sound system), the play didn't come across as a wannabe. And quite memorably, the climactic chaos was the high point as it had the right mix of both tragedy as well as comedy. At that point, you thank yourself for staying back. But then, you can't stop those who want to leave in the middle of the act.

Monday, November 12, 2012

The real power of ink

Tattoos make skin speak for itself. And it has a lot to say given its status as the largest part of our body. It has seen way too much to keep quiet. However, it can't do anything on its own other than cry (perspire, if you like). We need to use our mind to make it our mouthpiece. So a tattoo artist becomes our partner-in-crime in this attempt to give voice to those who can't talk for themselves. But a tattooist doesn't see things this way. To him/her, your skin becomes a painful piece of canvas. They don't give a damn about how much the syringe hurts. After all, they have an advantage over God in this department. Birthmarks effectively prove that our Creator sucks at tattooing and hasn't got an inkling of design. What can possibly beat the joy of doing something to others that would, in a majority of cases, last a lifetime? Sadist much!

Friday, November 9, 2012

The bicycle theives

He was returning home early morning. The sun was still asleep and he was on his bicycle. Since his workplace was barely 1.5km away from his residence, he thought it was a wise decision to overlook public transport. However, this particular morning was going to make him revisit his intelligence. Such was his bad luck that two huge fellas forced him to abruptly apply brakes. They wanted him to hand over his phone but fortunately, his absent-mindedness came to his recuse. He had left it behind in his office. So they turned their attention towards cash—his cash, to be precise. Being someone who doesn't carry money, he assumed that they'd leave him alone. But being mistaken came naturally to him. They weren't going to give up so easily. They searched his bag for wallet but he didn't have any cash. You can't defeat a poor person, can you? In any case, he had to reveal in the end that he indeed had some Sodexo food coupons worth Rs340 on him which they might be interested in robbing. He handed over to them and the burly idiots let him go. While peddling towards home, he couldn't hide his smile because he couldn't understand how he managed to hide his bicycle which was clearly worth more than 340 bucks!

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

There, there.

Far away from where you are right now, there is a place that doesn't entertain sadness. Grief is like water on a duck's wing there. It's full of delight and unexpected joy. This particular piece of land ain't aware of the void that fills us at the end of an interesting conversation. In other words, it is unique and priceless. Speaking of which, money is an alien concept there. Nobody is greedy nor excessively horny. Happiness is the common currency. Jealousy is something that is best left to the leaves—to turn green with envy and all. People don't fall in love. They rise. Politics and racism are mocked. Animosity doesn't occur because despair over things that don't exist in the first place is neither despised nor encouraged. Beauty, like magazines, is redundant and newspapers are banned. Media is to that paradise what dinosaurs is to ours. Everybody is alike the way birds and animals are on the rest of the planet. People there don't walk using the crutches made of lies. Truth prevails with absolute certainty. Corruption and poverty, akin to Harappan civilization, is lost in era. But names like Furhan and Gauri survive the test of time. There are so many more things that is simply exceptional about that place but nobody knows for sure where exactly it is. Got to be somewhere out there. We just have to discover it.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

A week full of names to drop

   Though incredibly busy, it had been one heck of a week. In the meanwhile, I met some interesting people from the film industry who didn't fail to impress despite my constant attempt at asking silly questions.
   It all began on Monday night when I had a chance interaction with SRK at Mannat. I was made to wait for 3 1/2 hours but it was worth the wait. This guy is phenomenal as I must have noted before but this time around, he was doubly fun because my interview lasted 56:53 minutes—more than double the time allotted—all thanks to his generous "Let him finish!" to his manager. He is such an awesome raconteur and has so much to say, with his trademark pinch of humour. I still feel that his early movies were his finest in terms of acting but I believe that he's an enlightened soul now. I might be wrong here... but he was right about chasing dreams without worrying too much about consequences. Well, he tried and look where he's now.
  The following morning, I went to meet Ang Lee at Marriott. I was supposed to wrap up the interview in 15 minutes. And there I was sitting next to the most humblest person (given the scale of individual achievements, of course) I've ever met in my life. It's hard to accept that this saintly guy made such bazooka films! The more occupying thing I heard from him was about God. He said something to the effect of filling the void in us by creating His/Her image outside us. The first and last celeb I took a picture with was Shashi Tharoor. I so wanted to click one with dao-yan (meaning director/master in Mandarin and that's what the lucky debutant Suraj Sharma calls him) but then I decided against it. Related: I'M SO F—ING REGRETTING MY IMPULSE RIGHT NOW!
   Later that day, I also got in touch with Tabu and Irrfan. The former was very funny, quashing the serious image media has so far created out of her. The latter was quite absorbing and diplomatic. Since Life of Pi has a strong dose of spirituality induced, I asked him about it. His question to me was eye-opening: "What do you mean by spirituality?" This was a startling response because at that point, I fully acknowledged the ambiguity of words. My spirituality could be different from yours just like your ignorance could be better than mine. Everything differs.
   On Wednesday, I met Reema Kagti. She directed Talaash and is waiting for its release, just like Aamir's fans are. I wish I could say that she was boring because if you look at her picture, that's the image that your mind tends to paint. At least my mind did. Anyway, Reema was on a blitzkrieg and barely allowed me to ask my usual foolish queries. The no-nonsense interview got over in 11:34 minutes, a new record!
   Thursday was spent doing what I generally do: waiting for the kind of weekdays I just mentioned to occur.
   On Friday night, I went to Tata Theatre and met Naseer saab backstage. I was warned beforehand by my Editor that he's a difficult person to talk to and if my questions don't interest him, he won't hesitate to let me know. Fortunately, he spoke for more than 15 minutes and even cracked a few quips while he was at it. To me, he's one of India's few complete actors. Before leaving the green room, he re-asked my name and said, "Write whatever you want!" In all probability, I must have posed engaging questions for him to say that.
   On Saturday, Katrina Kaif called at 12:46pm when she was supposed to pick up my call at 11:30am sharp. Talking on phone is a pain because I'm not really good at it. One-on-one is comparatively easier. Also, stardom and punctuality aren't meant for each other in Bollywood; especially when it comes to phoner. But her heavily-Brit accent was certainly meant for my screwed-by-transcription ears. To top that, she battled all my tabloidish questions with panache. She is no dumb girl as the ads in which features suggest. I'm not saying this because she was nice to me and said "Babu, please speak a bit louder... I can't hear you" but because she was nice to me and said "Babu, please speak a bit louder... I can't hear you".
   On Sunday afternoon, I saw Astad Deboo at NCPA. I can't dance but I admire dancers. More so, I admire Astad for all the good work he has been doing with the street kids and hearing-impaired ones. I feel he's under-appreciated given the change he has brought to modern Indian dance form by his fusion. He's as old as my dad but it's hard to believe. I liked him.
   This field of art and artistes are full of such unbelievable people whom you come to believe once you sit down for a chat. They are very much like us: flawed and humane. Sorry for being pompous but being underpaid never felt so compensated!

Monday, October 29, 2012

A minute in the loo

The highlight of an otherwise dull day was standing next to Ang Lee in a washroom. Yes, you can claim that I piss and tell. Who cares? He's one of the finest filmmakers to ever grace the world of cinema. To top that, it was one heck of an extraordinary experience though it didn't last very long. I was just going about my business when the corner of my left eye caught a pale figure. And when I rubbernecked to see who it was out of curiosity—because the whole room was empty if you exclude me and he could have chosen any other spot—everything came to a standstill. The time crystallized for a moment and I stopped urinating out of sheer awe. Kegel would have been proud of what I did to my bladder at that very moment. In fact, the urine in my system went back to where it came from. The worst part, however, was that I've never been more tongue-tied before in my life. If I knew what was going on, I would have said something to the effect of "Sir, I'm going to tell my grandkids someday that you and I pissed together once upon an era". Alas, this memorable dialogue was not to be delivered. Besides, he had this Zen monk smile on this face while accomplishing what he arrived there for. I'm happy that he smiled back at me. I'm happier that I kept my foolish thought to myself. I'm happiest that I didn't bother to accomplish what I arrived there for.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Twisted by tongue

I'm weeping while I'm typing this piece. No, I'm not the sentimental kind for sure. Just that my amma feels it's a cool trait to cut onions sitting nearer to my PC. Funnily enough, she isn't shedding a single teardrop. Perhaps mothers have struck a secret deal with the most consumed vegetable on this multi-tongued planet!
Speaking of tongues, what language are your dreams made up of? It could be very different from the one you think in. Better still, it could be anything from your mother tongue to English. Yeah, I do realise that English has become the debut language of a considerable amount of Indian populace. But we can't overrule the reality that English is and will always be a foreign language. They won't ever accept us the way we embraced their so-called language of angels. Having said that, it wasn't forced on us so the colonial baggage is just a historical conjecture. On the contrary, English makes us feel better about ourselves but then, so does ignorance. Progress has a price to pay. However, what gets my goat is the fact that there are some of us who are in perpetual denial of where they come from. They simply detach themselves from every shred of ethnicity as if it's an incurable disease. They feel that it's a natural side-effect of being cosmopolitan. Anyway like they say, to each his own. But if that is so, it's high time we owned what is truly ours. After all, a language doesn't take as much time to perish as it takes to birth and evolve. Especially in a dream city shrouded in absolute fakeness.
Still weeping because my Tulu isn't good enough for amma to acknowledge the kind of pain my untrained eyes are battling as of now. Or maybe she just wants me to stop being such a smartass—who loves preaching others on how things are—and log out of the virtual world to go take a bath on a Sunday.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Saying as it is!

As a kid, I was surrounded by morons. Well, nothing has changed since. Yet sometimes I miss the morons of that era. Also, I've got to point out that the last millennium was a thing of beauty. And one of the reasons why this was so could be blamed on a friend I had. She was this little girl named Amu who was scarcely five-year-old. She had this rather cute habit of referring to herself in the third person. For instance, she used to blurt out stuff like "Amu school gayi thi" and "Amu acchi bacchi hai". No doubt she was a bundle of ridicule but somehow managed to stay immune to our curiosity. Her carpenter father wasn't very bothered by her manner of speech either. But now, when I look back (something I do a lot given the fact that I'm growing old at a rather fast pace), she comes across as a person who can teach us a thing or two in speaking our mind. For real. After all, Amu didn't disguise her thoughts with words. Although it sounded entertainingly weird, she told the way things are. How many of us do that on an everyday basis? No wonder most of our grudges mushroom from the core reality that we don't tell others what we really want to convey. It could be anyone from our parents to our siblings to our friends to our colleagues to boss. We always say things in installment because we inanely believe in diplomacy even though we don't know shit about its finer nuances. Simply put, we stopped speaking our mind as if we've forgotten the language or something. But then, that was what made Amu unique. Our friendship with her grew eventually and she became a part of our group. It was great. Until she said something like "Amu ko khilao na"—leaving us wondering whether she's hungry or angry at us for not inviting her to play!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Birthday girl

The white flower placed over her ear
greets you even before her face does the same;
Some personalities are loud, some insane,
Many are considered few amongst the rest,
Some are overlooked nonetheless.
But she's neither of them: unique yet not subtle.
She talks with the command of an age she hasn't grown yet
— youth and life and pain and strife and truth;
In any case, you end up listening to what she has to say.
It's difficult not to pay attention when her questionnaire makes your day!
There's a mischievous laughter that echoes
despite her words not intending so.
Maybe that's the beauty of an innocent soul, 
coiled inside that cast of a tough modern girl.
The classic maternal touch is evident like a 24-hour sun
When she feeds you while you pretend to be famished,
or about to die
and even when you're not.
All you've got to do is ask and whine a bit,
her drawer never disappoints you.
Like her heart and eyes, it's always full...
Perhaps finding a friend with food is oasis personified.
Perhaps finding a good friend today is life personified.   

NB: This doggerel (if you don't wish to call it a poem) is dedicated to Avantika, a dear friend and a lovely colleague.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

That founder of a foundation

I met Sudha Murthy yesterday at a book store. If you aren't aware of her yet, i not only doubt your general awareness but also your general existence. Seriously. I don't know about you but i feel that she is doing something truly meaningful with her life. No, I'm not referring to the almost three dozen enlightening books she has written so far. I'm talking about the kind of philanthropy she's involved in. She travels like anything and goes into the remotest of villages in order to help them in best possible ways—education. On top of that, she redefines that hyphenated word called down-to-earth. Simplicity comes naturally to her charming personality. I spoke to her for about 12 minutes and within that time frame, it became quite obvious that she doesn't invest in having two faces. In her case, what you see is what you get is what you deserve. And she's ridiculously rich though it's hard to believe so in her presence. The reason might be pretty simple: She doesn't portray herself THAT way or maybe she is THIS way. Like most of us, rich folks were poor once but few remember that on finding fortunes. Perhaps Mrs. Murthy is one of those very few. She effortlessly discards the invisible barrier and the mischievous gleam in her eyes conspires with an innocent yet impish smile on her face. She's a polyglot who speaks with alacrity and undeniable honesty. Maybe rich people aren't supposed to be like that. Or maybe it's my indoctrinated middle class mentality blabbering.

PS: I hope she found my questions interesting (or weird) enough to feature me in one of her stories in future.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Naam ke liye kaam!

The worst part about being a two-bit wannabe film journo is you have to keep reminding yourself that you're a two-bit wannabe film journo. Though you can choose to be sincere about your job, one of the drawbacks of being an honest journalist is not many acknowledge your integrity. Furthermore, irresponsible citizenry is forgiven but irresponsible journos aren't. In the end, it all boils down to two genuine matters: byline and money. Now, byline is a word we use for credit but nobody actually cares about it except that guy who wrote the article. To common readers, it doesn't matter who wrote what. They don't bother with the lonely name stated at the beginning or the end of the printed piece. Talking of money, there's a reason why a journalist's job involves constantly changing jobs—apart from being a journalist! Money is always THE issue with any given publication. No wonder journalism, at present, somewhat lacks the urge in resurgence and ideal journalism is nothing more than an oxymoron. Nonetheless, writing shouldn't be confused with reporting. A writer doesn't have to tell you the way things are. Some tasks are better left to journalists. Khushwant Singh knows this perfectly well as he might be older than journalism. Notwithstanding the facts, my experience as a wannabe film journo has taught me one rhyming lesson: Your views aren't necessarily the news readers can use. And coming back to my financial status, I'm a poor man's journalist who wants to die rich. But at the same time, i also realize that the trick is to avoid trading one's invisible soul for visible bylines.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

Inside Job

I just had an ugly fight with my inner demons. Don't ask me who won 'cause i didn't. During the course of the action, i realized that I'm a victim of two extreme realities: truth and fiction. They say that we have an inner child. But if you believe me (which i doubt you would), there's no such thing as it. On the contrary, there are little demons in disguise. They want us to get things done. Since they're captivated and in no position to act for themselves, they prod us to think and get manipulated. And this melodrama only worsens our case as we grow older. These proverbial demons are the reason why we have the so-called kid in the frame, not vice versa. This may sound untenable but no matter what, try not to let them grow up.

Friday, October 5, 2012

The unbearable act of overlooking

Robert Pattinson is four days younger to me. But he was recently voted the Sexiest Man Alive by a British magazine for the fourth consecutive year. By doing so, he beat the likes of Shakti Shetty, Johnny Depp and Ryan Gosling to the podium. Now, I've got nothing against him. I think he's a fine vampire who got cuckolded by someone as tepid as Kristen Stewart. And just three years ago, he was seated rather uncomfortably behind Brad Pitt at the Oscar ceremony and he smirked every time the camera panned on Brangelina. Almost seems like a decade ago. Perhaps with new age comes newer kids on the Holly block followed by the newest definition of sexiness. Anyway, Western publications conveniently presume some countries don't exist at all while selecting their man (or woman). Because at any given period of time—if i commit suicide—I'd be unanimously the Sexiest Man Dead. Enough of cribbing, I'm glad at least Time magazine maintains some standards. Like last year, i was ranked 101 on their 100 Most Influential People list. 

Thursday, October 4, 2012

An incomplete poem

This is a poem. It might not appear so but it is. What you're currently suffering is an accumulation of several random thoughts that would have loved to be expressed in rhyme or a limerick but thanks to my limited skills, they seem content with being prosaic than poetic. Let's just say: This is how poetry in demotion looks like. Whenever my thoughts digress towards an incomplete poem, i somewhat try to stick to the plan of finishing it off in one stroke. In the meantime, my mind plays with the voices it never hears in the first place. However, that idea never materializes. Something has to happen in the middle of nothing and I'm left with everything but excuses. This is an excuse too.

Sunday, September 30, 2012


What do you desire from life? Other than happiness? Will greed always lead to Greece? Are you content with the fact that you're not dead yet? Where exactly do you see yourself 10 years from now? Heaven? Hell? Home? Dead in office unnoticed by the peon? How come Rihanna doesn't like my lies? Which year shall ultimately mark the unification of an idea called India? Whom do you love the most? Does money matter? Why are Naxals the villains when they don't even have malls to boot? Was that you who once thought Orkut was cool? Is that you who thinks Twitter is cool? What were you doing last summer? Aren't we supposed to be wise? Will you let poor people get near you without scaring yourself? Would you hold my hand even after my palms turn sweaty? Can you gift her an orgasm for a change? Do you believe in stars? Do you want to be a star? Won't you be glad if your enemies vanished at once? Will you miss them? Should Obama get a second chance? Shouldn't PM Singh retire for good? Isn't it funny to have a Bengali-speaking Bangladesh but not an Urdu-speaking Pakistan? Do you converse in Smile? When are you going to watch all the stuff you eagerly downloaded? Will your Facebook friends be your pallbearers too? Why are mothers the way they are? Why aren't we the way we should be? Shall Hinduism survive the lure of the so-called organized religions? Whom were you referring to in your terrible poem? How many tigers have you saved till date? You no me? Will Mumbai Metro operate before or after the world ends? Is Ryan Gosling where Brad Pitt once was? Are you so broke that you fantasize money while masturbating? Why are we alone when there are more than seven billion of our kind out there? Where are the Mayans when you need them? Does music leave you entranced or drained? Have you fallen for that very person who doesn't care about your existence? What happened to Monica Lewinsky? Is she still good at blowjob? How many migrants should be sent back to where they came from? Do you snore louder than you whisper? Is it fair to support Tibetan and Balochi resistance while conveniently overlooking Kashmiri aspirations? Will refugees ever have a roof to call their own? Is black the new brown? Who's going to bully China? Can you do what you always wanted to? What are politicians really excellent at besides human failures? How come I've got more Pakistani friends than Indian ones? Would you travel far and wide before getting lost in time? May a Bhaiya call you a Chinky when you're actually a Madrasi pretending to be a Ghati? Why is North-East not explored when it is not explored? Will Sheldon ever come out of his nonexistent closet? To what extent are we stupefied by Internet? Why is the eternal Gulzar growing older? At what instance disappointments transform into nostalgia? Who are you?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

The tale of a seat

It was an overcrowded train as usual. He was standing near the window reading newspaper as usual. From the corner of his eyes, he noticed an old lady with a small suitcase entering the compartment. He thought someone will stand up and do the needful but nobody did as usual. At this point, he decided to be the hero. He smiled at the old lady who reminded him of his grandma because she promptly smiled back. Then he proceeded to ask the fourth guy on the nearby seat who was barely sitting to vacant the place for the "senior citizen". That guy just gazed at him and then the old woman and then looked at the window. The decision was made: He won't give up his hard-won precious seat for no old-timer! Strangely enough, the old lady wasn't expecting much and signaled to him that it's OK. But it wasn't. How can our hero let such a gross inequity take place like that? He decided to proceed further and take matters into his own hands which were holding a newspaper a few minutes ago. He went closer to her and clapped so as to garner attention. No matter how packed a bogie is, this strategy always works thanks to years of being accustomed to goods-sellers-on-wheels. Almost everyone turned their heads towards our hero. He then loudly said, "Brothers and sisters, this is my grandmother. She's not well and can barely stand. I'm hoping somebody from you will offer her your seat...." Even before he could finish this extempore speech, his newfound grandma almost laughed and wanted to blush but geriatrics didn't allow her the permission. In the end nobody stood up to offer her a usual.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Blowing the trumpets

Since gods don't discriminate, faith—like dicks and breasts—comes in all sizes. They claim that it can move mountains but if you observe closely, it moves long restless queues ahead. With Ganesh Chaturthi being celebrated on full volume, one can understand how faith functions in this country. First of all, there are no set rules. Idol worship, not Hinduism (because modern Hindus have no idea what it's all about), allows us this liberty. You can decorate the statue, put up ugly political hoardings, collect unaudited funds, create ruckus on the streets, play Bollywood songs that have nothing to do with the Elephant God and get away with it. Even the otherwise sane people don't bother to question any of the above mentioned idiocies as the reason is pretty simple: Beliefs work in mysterious ways. I've got nothing against Lord Ganesha. He has always been my favourite superhero. Also, he's cute and keeps his lengthy nose out of my business. And unlike his devotees, He doesn't believe in rat race. Maybe this has to do with the fact that Kroncha is too fat to move! I simply adore him from the huge bottom of my heart. I wish i could say the same for those who worship him and then mercilessly kill elephants for their ivories. Experts often note that Al Pacino inspired Big B when the truth is Ganpati was the original angry young man who disliked his dad. Anyway, things aren't going to change anytime soon. In noisy times like these, i just wish The One With 108 Names was a Buddhist or something.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Choooo Chweeeet!

   Bollywood seldom impresses me though it's definitely going through an interesting phase. And keeping in line with this emergence of a promising era, Anurag Basu's Barfi! is a delightful break from the usual crap. This film proves that there is hope. For a decent script to be transformed into a lovely cinematic experience aided by excellent performances. We're well aware what the majority of actors do in Hindi films. If you aren't, let me fill you in: They do everything except act. Perhaps it's beyond their dignity to put in a few hours of practice to get into the character before getting out of the vanity van. It's a shame that Michael Fassbender's penis knows more about acting than them (pun intended, of course).
    Speaking of intentions, the ensemble of Barfi! decided to do something different. A beautiful story was already in hand. All this project needed was a team that would bring something new to the table. Turns out that's exactly what happened. The cinematographer literally painted a picture. The musician who is often accused of plagiarism came up with the finest motif of all time in Hindi cinema, not to mention the soothing background score. Everything seemed in place. Acting was indeed a notch higher. Ranbir, Priyanka and Ileana—not to forget the rest of the cast—delivered an unforgettable buffet of moments.
    Speaking of memory, several instances make you laugh but the ones that will make you cry shall remain memorable. A story about a deaf-mute boy who can't be portrayed by any other actor except RK. No, Hrithik did a superb job as a semi-retard in Koi...Mil Gayi but this screenplay by Anurag had Ranbir tattooed all over it. And the young achiever couldn't disappoint. He doesn't have a single dialogue in the film but he says a lot with his Chaplinesque body language. His place as the finest actor of our generation is getting cemented. Steadily.
    Speaking of steadiness, PC is a gem battling glamour more than autism in the film. She merits mention for her thorough choice of scripts and gritty roles. Complementing her is the Bolly newbie Ileana D'Cruz. Not only is this Telugu star gorgeous but also one heck of a performer. Ileana proves why Nargis Fakhri wasn't as good a debut actress as her celebrated lips. I hate giving away the plot so I'll just refrain from doing that but this song here is almost a spoiler alert. It pretty much sums up the mood of the entire film. My friend Demet once informed me that love is conditional. Barfi! disagrees with her. And so do i.
    Speaking of deeds, innocence often pays a huge price and more often than not, the transaction is done in age. Also, human disabilities don't matter as long as your heart beats without a purpose. This romcom slyly points towards the fact that we're simply lucky to have limbs and a voice and ears to ignore what others are saying. Yea, i must be sounding lost in sweetness as i don't even remember the last time i went head over heels for a Bolly flick! Forgive me but some movies make you fuzzy and compel you to hug strangers outside the theatre. Barfi! is one of those.

Monday, September 17, 2012

True love and false hopes

    Does Natalie Portman know that she's an angel? Or would she spend the rest of her life under the delusion that she is just another Jewish Hollywood-legend-in-the-making? Whatever be the case, i simply adore her. I suspect in her real life, she looks no different from the person she appears in her reel life. To me, she is the purest form of femininity. I love her so much that I’ll kiss her even if she has her dental braces on. The fact that she won’t let me is a different story though. 
    The talented 31-year-old Oscar-winning actress is exactly four years and 11 months older than me. In terms of success, she is 86 light years ahead. But what has age and time and fame got to do with innocent love? Besides, how can Natalie get married to someone else when I'm a better someone else? For those who don't know, she got married to that ballet dancer from Black Swan in June. I'd admit that i saw it coming. And her visible baby bump while receiving the golden statuette in February was the ultimate clincher.   
    Natalie and i were meant to be together. In an alternate universe, of course. And the worst part is she knows it too. Whenever she smiles, my monitor screen lights up. To be honest, it's damn scary! In fact, it's sad to witness how beautiful she really is. I'm so obsessed with her that even my imaginary girlfriend resembles her as long as i keep my eyes shut. I don't know what I'll do to her if i met her. Or for that matter, i dunno what I'll do to myself. i pity Natalie 'cause she could have had it all. Needless to say, here 'all' stands for me.
    Enough of Grade A rubbish. I wish her and her son Aleph the best of health and existence. While I'm at it, i also hope Natalie someday realizes how much i pretended to love her. Anyway, this long-distance thing with her ain't working for me.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

On defending a structure

    There are three kinds of people on this planet: those who admire Aakar Patel, those who resent him and those who haven't heard of him. The fourth kind is still in the making. For the beginners, he is someone who arouses attention more than anything else. Although his views are rigid at times, they don't vacillate like most other writers' do. If Destiny had a Child from a surrogate mother named Controversy, Aakar would be him. However, he's not the bad guy here. 
    Just that he simply doesn't give a damn about being the sugarcoating good guy who is liked by all. His writings throw light on topics we care not to discuss. Or too ashamed to even talk about. He presumptively owns an excellent nose that digs out subjects of mass digression. Be it on caste, religion, riots, regional identity, music, society, entertainment or just bare philosophy. It's pretty obvious that his sole intention is to bring forth the possibility that a mainstream columnist can and should write what has to written. And while doing so, he prefers to be honest to himself first and his readers, second—if not last. No surprise this journalistic idealism doesn't always get appreciated and often backfires because being the straightforward guy that he is, he rarely sees himself as the eyes of his beholders.
    Yes, his articles sound drunk sometimes. But he punches his way through to the final round and delivers obscure inputs too. Over the years, there have been several contentions related to his columns, the most recent ones hovering over his decision to praise South India over North, not to forget that 'deplorable' article on Bollywood biggies and Sachin. Even his harmless conclusion that crowned the restless yet intellectual past of Kolkata over Mumbai's present didn't go too well with the public.
    What people don't seem to get is the fact that India and the elements that make it an undivided country are distinctly divisive. And trying to homogenize those crumbs won't serve the purpose. 65 years is a blatant proof of that approach. At the most, it will procrastinate on the uncomfortable questions that needs to be asked whereby disgusting answers will start to flow. In simpler words, he's facilitating healthy discussions on the very platform that loves to kill time with words: Internet.
    There is a spark of knowledge in this guy that masquerades as wisdom. He pretends as if he doesn't know the sort of impact his sentences have almost every weekend on the Twitter (a den prone to unnecessary outrages and trending topics). And to make matters sorrier, he doesn't even bother to be on the social media. After all, Dalai Lama and Pope tweet regularly! Aakar's not on Facebook either.
    The reason why I'm writing this piece is not to be his mouthpiece. I haven't met him yet but I've heard a lot about him. Folks in my office who have worked with him have nothing but nice stuff to say about their former editor. He was known for his vision and uprightness. I feel that the so-called literate class of India is better off with somebody like him chiding our sagacity. His insights may occasionally appear biased but then so are ours, aren't they? Just because he refuses to take a middle path and decides to accompany his intuition doesn't make him an incompetent fool. On the contrary, i think an Aakar Patel who compels others to speak out their mind for a change is a must. 

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The return of our jungle boy

Dear Mowgli, wherever you are, my thoughts and this codswallop I'm about to write shall always be with you. You were grossly underrated. For someone who fought Sher Khan—who most might not know was actually a British agent in disguise—on his own thus accelerating our freedom struggle, you don't even have a proper citation in our history books. If somebody as vague as Buddha or a Jesus (both of whom never wrote a single memorable word in their entire life) can get elaborately detailed, then our little hero deserves a far better treatment. Here's a guy who grew up amongst the wildest of animals, spoke their language fluently, adapted their way of life, left close friends like Baloo and Bagheera for that gaon ki gori Radha. But what followed next was ugly as well as inexcusably real. Apparently, Radha ditched Mowgli compelling him to have second thoughts (and that too in his mother tongue, Wolfish) about his decision to leave the good ole jungle for a human failure called society. Besides, it was too late and he ended up as an alcoholic who couldn't even afford the luxury of calling himself a poet. Remember he can't write a word just like those two rockstars i mentioned before? Well, that's karma. Speaking of which, Radha used to be my first crush nearly two decades ago. And Mowgli is what i used to look like then. At least that's what i keep telling others. Anyway, to set things right, Mowgli should be awarded a posthumous Bharat Ratna along with Dhyan Chand. One yielded a boomerang and other, a hockey stick. Sachin, like his retirement, can wait. In the meantime, we should gain pleasure from the karmic fact that Mowgli and Sher Khan reincarnated to become Calvin and Hobbes.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

On a time machine

I keep revisiting my childhood; not because i have an eidetic memory (which i don't, anyway) but because some of my finest days dwell deep down in my past. They weren't colorful as such. They weren't poetic either. They were rustic for a while before getting fondled by urban chaos. Despite all that, they had an innocent charm about themselves. Or maybe I'm thinking too much and creating images that weren't there in the first place. It's fine, i assume, to ponder from one thread of long-forgotten incident to another. The trouble, however, begins when you start living more in your yesterdays and stop looking forwarding to your tomorrows. We are part of an age where imagination is dirt cheap but petrol, shit expensive. So one has to think twice before choosing their mode of transport. I prefer mind-traveling. After all, our generation is way ahead of its time machine. To be honest, i don't know what I'm writing here but the voices in my head suggest that it's OK to be lost in words. Nobody cares what you wrote but people care far lesser for what you haven't.   

Monday, September 3, 2012

More pointless than ever!

There's no point in putting the Paris in comparison. It's peerless.
There's no point in flashing your middle-finger to barking street dogs. They don't get it anyway.

There's no point in resisting weekdays' laziness spell that primarily occurs during working hours.
There's no point in crying in front of those who don't care; especially mirrors and monitors.
There's no point in talking to you. You've already convinced yourself that you aren't a fool. 
There's no point in arguing with the clouds. Always carry an umbrella.
There's no point in staying online on Twitter and criticizing your overindulgence at the same time.
There's no point in searching for your soul on Google.
There's no point in recco-ing films to those who tolerate cheap cinema.
There's no point in debating with someone who believes Reshammiya is the best singer of all time.
There's no point in criticizing an unseen film. Critics earn that right after going through the pain.
There's no point in advising a fool. On a second thought, there is no point in advising anyone.
There's no point in acting smart with time. It has got all the answers—even of the unasked questions.
There's no point in preparing a friends' list. They'll leave later and you'll be left with a dumb list. 
There's no point in having a staring contest with one's troubled past. 
There's no point in wasting a breath on stating that life is pointless.  
There's no point in asking a beggar or an Indian politician to declare their real assets.
There's no point in praying to God on weekends as She goes for shopping on Her off-days. 
There's no point in judging others. They aren't an art form. Just human scum like the rest of us.
There's no point in starting with "Personally..." as almost everything we say is on a personal level.
There's no point in discussing religion just like there is no point in discussing religion.
There's no point in furthering this utterly stupid blog post.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Honesty, the best policy?

   Loneliness can make a person lie, especially on the Internet. The relentless need of companionship might compel people to not only enhance their online avatar but also change their realities at least in words. The protagonist of this film does exactly the same and pays a cinematic price.  
A still from the film
   I M 24 follows a 42-year-old balding writer who is known for his honesty. Well, that was the case before he falls in love with a much younger aspiring beauty queen. To make matters worse, his friends decide to help him win her affection. The premise is pretty clear though: He’s not the guy she is looking forward to and she’s not the girl he should be looking for.
    Directed by Saurabh Shukla, this movie is bound to find resonance amongst those who spend a lot of time on social networking sites. After all, only they realise how different they are in actual life from the image they display on the web.
    The screenplay could have been much tauter had some basic loopholes been taken care of. For instance, if a stranger tells you that he composed the music of Rockstar, you’ll at least Google once to confirm no matter how ignorant you are about Bollywood. To add insult to injury, it’s happening in the big bad world of cyberspace! Also, would the societal balance be maintained if the age of the protagonists were to be interchanged? Like, if she were 42 and he, 19?
    This has to be Rajat Kapoor’s finest big screen performance till date. He simply slips into the character and doesn’t deviate an inch from his graph. Manjari Fadnis is adorable as his love interest. Ranvir Shorey fits the bill as his hyperactive best friend. And Neha Dhupia’s non-mainstream performances tend to better her mainstream ones. Forgettable songs notwithstanding, this is a one-time watch thanks to sincere acting from almost everyone present on the canvas.