Saturday, February 27, 2016

Shit everyone!

Marlon Brando might be the greatest actor of all time but his life was marked by so many tragedies that you wonder whether anything or for that matter, anybody, is ever going to be fulfilling given how even the greatest of greats suffer from the same human demoralizing conditions that those who aren't very gifted do—day in and day out—like mere mortals who were meant to lick the sand off the boots of a cruel king called Fate, who doesn't give a fuck about the Elvis 'King' Presleys of this world. 

PS. Watch the documentary Listen To Me Marlon (2015) even if you're not a Brando fan. 

Friday, February 26, 2016

The moral howling of teetotalism

I can deliver an hour-long lecture on why alcohol isn't good for anyone. Nothing great ever came out of it. Plain and simple. It's a mere method of distraction that often makes you pay more than you bargained for. The worst part being when you're back to your senses, you don't remember anything about the transaction. A blank page in your head; that's all that's left of the so-called good time. I avoid social gatherings because it's kind of mandatory nowadays for everyone to hold a glass of liquor. The steep rise of disposable income has led to higher intake of alcohol among our generation—comparatively. I'm often asked by people (who can't hold a conversation without some beer inside their belly) why am i so anti-social! My general refrain is i avoid talking to those who won't remember our conversation in the following afternoon. I blabber a lot but i take words seriously. If they insist to know the reason why i don't drink, i use allegories depending on the person in front of my face. If not, i humbly inform them about my dad's drinking problem. [I don't reveal he is two months shy of turning 69, drinks twice a day, never complains of hangover, clocks 12-13 hours of work for a salary of 10K at the end of the month, and trembles otherwise.] He's my only reference point to the world of addiction. Yes, there are people who drink moderately and don't create a scene but please tell me that they don't lose the plot every once in a while. Which is more than enough to do the damage. Because the genius of alcohol lies in its seduction. It's not your well-wisher but pretends to be. And that's something you can't enlighten the youth with. They are so afraid of being called a bore that they chug till their vowels and consonants have an orgy. That's the generation we've come up with. If a person decides to give up alcohol, they won't be proud of him. There will be no words of encouragement either. This despite the fact that not a week goes by they don't wake up saying “I'm never drinking again” to themselves.  

It's cute how...

  • our country manages to waste time on issues that are not even issues.
  • we have opinions on budget when we can hardly define economics. 
  • people smile at their cellphones while walking on a busy road.
  • the street dogs i feed believe in my magical ability to create biscuit packets out of thin air. 
  • nobody ever mentions 'falling in love' as their hobby. 
  • people automatically turn their assumption mode on when it comes to Gandhiji.
  • you assume that you realize what cuteness is.
  • the sky is trying to compete with the freckles on her face.
  • the world plays just right to keep Twitter from running out of topics.
  • Oxford Dictionary tries to define happiness! 
  • even a genuinely harmless sentence appears incomplete without a :) at the end.
  • Vikram always got carried away by Betaal!
  • autorickshawallahs bitch about the carwallahs given both enjoy breaking traffic rules.
  • we don't know shit about law and yet we prefer to call ourselves law-abiding citizens.
  • tweets have become the only "personal" factor about us.
  • a pigeon doesn't discriminate between a temple or a mosque as it poops on both of them.
  • terrorist organizations are candid enough to 'claim' responsibility for their actions.
  • beard is now more of an Islamic thing than a masculine thing.
  • you're disappointed with everything except yourself.
  • Man United fans from India take knighthood seriously. 
  • humans think the cuckoos sing for them!

An Imitation Game

Let's arrive at a conclusion together. We'll party later. 

Those are the two sentences i'd like to share with the so-called liberals in our country. They hide behind their intellectualism and throw words like 'progressive' and 'secular' to resuscitate their hollow arguments. They prefer to assume that they are protecting our culture from those who actually understand it. They are happy to label anyone who doesn't agree with their viewpoints while crying wolf about the lack of freedom of speech in India. They side with the so-called minorities just because it's fashionable to do so. What they accomplish thus is the further fragmentation of an already fragmented picture. If you tell them saari is going the kimono way in urban India, they'll scoff at you. If you ask them whether India will continue to adhere to the Constitution given the gradual shift in demography, they'll accuse you of scaremongering. Instead of balancing themselves on the see-saw of fairness, they jump to conclusions again and again and again and again. Their rigidity in thought process ain't very different from the fundamentalists. The damage they've done to the national discourse—at least in this century—is ridiculous. But then, they aren't to be blamed alone. The colonial hangover that we are reeling under automatically demotes vernacular languages. If you aren't speaking in English, your opinion is as good as worse. They merrily lift their egalitarian croissants and legendary whiskies at their soiree, conveniently forgetting that the exchange never happened. It was a one-sided traffic. Nobody's having idli-sambar or puri-bhaji at G-77 meetings. Going back to culture, these are the very individuals who name their kids after characters from Norse and Persian mythologies to prove a point in global citizenship. I wonder whether this is a disease restricted only to Indians because i don't see anybody else trying too hard to impress the world. 

When you care too much

As you're getting older, you're becoming more and more impatient. About a decade ago, you were all right with the ways of the society. This transformation must have something to do with your health. Not sure though. If you're suffering, you must have done something wrong in the past, right? Something that was within your control but you let it slip, overestimating your goodwill. Or maybe your present has nothing to do with your past. It's just how chips fall into place. You always wanted to be right. You always wanted to be tall(er). You always wanted to be awesome(st). But you're none of that. And this realization is making you finicky. You can't handle the heat anymore. Your failures are celebrating you. Your disappointments are loud. Louder the regrets, the better. A noisy city like Gurgaon is getting on your nerves after spending over two decades in the country's noisiest city. Behaviour of the people who have nothing to do with you irks you. There's hatred in you for those who don't comply by the ethics of decency. Earlier, you used to be indifferent. You didn't care as you left everyone to their fate. You didn't argue. There was no one to argue with. Your weakness was wrapped up with a silver of strength. You're growing old now and your crankiness is exposing the crevices in your personality. Lo and behold! You are turning soft. The society is winning. 

D for denial

If you talk about life, they'll call you a philosopher. Mockingly, of course. If you call talk about death, they'll call you suicidal; even if you are a pussy with morbid fear of lizards, height and razor. That's just the way it is. The standards of conversations have dropped to such levels of fakeness that it's impossible to comprehend whether to believe something or simply snigger off a chat. Personally, i like talking to everyone. I say this because silence makes me uncomfortable. It's a euphemism for death for me. But like i insinuated earlier, that's a topic nobody wants to touch upon. There's a greater chance of sex getting discussed! Which i find rather ironic because death is absolute. Whether you'll get laid or not isn't. There's no denying that we are going to die someday—and so shall our loved ones. That's the way our world is constructed. So, why are we SO afraid of talking about death? Is it because of an inherent superstition that discussing death will invoke death? Or is it because we are clueless about it just like we are clueless about life? (Yes, generalizing the shit out of our species because, YODO. No, the opposite of YOLO.) Recently, i heard someone say “I don't want my kid to have dogs because they'll die someday and he'll be heartbroken.” Seriously? By that logic, your kid shouldn't have you either because parents die too, right? On the contrary, his pet's death will help him learn how to cope with the concept of death. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

In loco

I'm not an expert on (always notice that any sentence beginning with this is going to wax fake expertise later) leadership but i firmly believe that it's an evolving process. There's no set template for leadership. What worked for leaders at IBM might not work for those at Google. One can take as many notes or make as many bookmarks as possible but the fact remains that leadership is an intercourse with a given situation. It differs from personality to personality. In a society where leaders are few and followers way too many, that's an interesting conjecture. Don't you think so? If no, you should ask yourself whether you're a leader. If the answer to that question is yes, you should ask yourself whether you've created your clone or are in the process of creating one at least. If the answer to that question is no, then you basically lied. You are not a leader yet because a leader's most primal job is to create his replacement. Of course, that doesn't happen overnight. It's a painfully slow but fruitful process. The idea behind this preparation is to ensure that the followers (or an organization) doesn't suffer if the leader (which you claimed to be) dies in a freak accident tomorrow. Grooming is seriously underrated because of the clinginess attached to it but it's a necessary move for the future. If Messi moved on to another club next season, Barcelona won't suffer immensely because there's Neymar. Messi's grooming of the young Brazilian is public knowledge. Just like Ronaldinho's grooming of Messi is. 


I don't remember the year but it has to be in the last century. I was in secondary school and we used to get mid-day at home. One Sunday (i remember this because we used to go to tuition classes on Sundays), the edition that reached my doorstep was fatter than usual. Turns out it was an anniversary special and one section featured people who make Mumbai Mumbai. I vividly remember a picture showing a sewage cleaner peeking out of the manhole right into the camera. The headline of the piece read something to the effect of “What if that thing bothering your nape is somebody's sh*t?” The article was basically about the thankless job that people do to make the city livable. It included traffic cops, the so-called scavengers, labourers and rag-pickers, among others. It is easy to understand why we do what we do for a living. There are bills to pay and security to hold on to. However, it'd be insane to overlook the overwhelming truths of the world we've created for ourselves and more worringly, for our grandkids. To make matters worse, our generation is high on partying but not on cleaning up later. No wonder there is nobody out there to explain why the burden of cleaning up the mess falls squarely on an underprivileged's neck.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hmm for marriage

You need to have a driver license to get behind the wheel. You need to have an engineering degree, most probably followed by a PG course, to prove that you can call yourself an able engineer. You spend close to a decade in the medical field to be able to stand in an operation theatre. You need permissions and permits to do so many things that it's understandable why institutions exist in the first place. There are procedures and protocols in place so that everybody is on the same page. Nothing wrong with it either. Humans might be better than chimpanzees at organizing themselves but without any order in place, things might get chaotic. And if you are well aware of the world we live in today, chaos is our next-door neighbour waiting to wake up. However, doesn't it bother you that despite all these necessary restrictions in place, people can get married without any license or training? Two individuals can settle just like that. No questions asked whether they are capable of handling what lies ahead? Or whether they require specialization in co-habitation? Nothing. Two adults (hahahaha, as if one can grow up) making a decision with the court of law as a bystander. Guess this is why marriage is seen as an institution where everybody's nodding to a pageless book. What else can explain the greatest leeway in the history of humankind? 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Amul moment

I don't sleep tight anymore. Not very long ago, i used to sleep like a dead body awaiting post-mortem. Now i sleep like someone who is about to wake up from a bad dream. The worst part is i do wake up — nightmare or no nightmare. Last night, i woke up at three-ish and reached for my phone. The worst thing one can do at that time of the night is go online. So, i decided to check out pictures on my phone. Old pictures that i don't even remember clicking. After sifting through hundreds of picture, i stopped on the one below. 
I clicked this one at the end of my Diwali vacation. This was the only time i visited home since moving north. I was heading to airport that morning and Tushar (the young man on the left) was to drive me there in his car (the grey one in the back). My dad (the old one on the right) tagged along as we promised him we can drop him at his workplace. There was calmness all around as i approached them before i took out my cellphone to capture the moment. It's been three months and i can still feel what i felt back then. Fortunately, no storm followed. 

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Senselessness of humour

Yesterday, somebody asked me whether humour can be taught. Out of impulse, i replied in the negative, later explaining that humour is something one acquires over time. I'm yet to come across a kid who is REALLY funny. Neither have i heard of a baby who made his ma laugh through labour. I'm sure there are certain principles in humour that the likes of Pryor, Carlin, Seinfeld, Berra and Barry must have touched upon but to me, the idea that it can be taught by ABC to XYZ is quite pedantic. How long before the person who is learning from a master realizes that he is only becoming a clone of his master? I say this because the funniest people you know don't sit in an empty room writing jokes after jokes, hoping they click with the public. That job is of a stand-up comedian. Not for people like you and me, for whom the whole world's not a stage. The funniest people you know do things organically, don't they? They may read a lot, yes. They may observe a lot too. They may know a lot as well. They just don't have to put their jokes into a structure. They just deliver when the time is right and to an audience they know is going to get their minds blown. A joke, for lack of better words, is basically bullshit that helps kill time in style. And we don't really need jokers for that. Anything can click and anything can fail. After all, humour is a chance-based event. Let's keep it that way.

Burden of freedom of speech

While you're reading this, there is a huge debate going on about the extent of freedom of speech in our country. Isn't it as much a duty as it's a privilege? However, first thing first, everybody should be able to express themselves without any fear. But the question isn't about this primal right anymore. The discourse has moved on to ideals that are unachievable. At least in our country. We are standing somewhere in the midst of a universal belief and a national reality.
  • The universal belief dictates that the freedom of speech is a given, completely ignoring the damage words can do. They argue that words don't damage at all. Really? History is a blatant witness to harmful events that took place because people didn't know how to use words more articulately. Also, always notice that the ones extolling freedom of speech are often the first ones to cry foul when they are verbally abused. If words didn't damage, what's the fuss all about?
  • The national reality shows us that we are not mature enough to call ourselves a true democracy yet. We might be world's largest democracy but there's a lot of ground to cover—yet. Which is why it's easier for heavy words like 'sedition' and 'anti-national' to fling carelessly. When the ongoing debate dies down (as it does within days), we must reflect upon ourselves the hypocrisy that we live by on a daily basis. The problem lies deeper than our vocabulary.
For some unexplained reason, we assume that just because we learnt the words and their correct pronunciation, we'd also know by default how and when to use them. It's all in the language, isn't it? Too many speakers and too few listeners have eroded the art of communication to such an extent that a rational discussion is out of question now. The standards of discussion are so low that if you make noise, i'll make noise too. And if that doesn't work, i'll resort to violence. When that takes place, the root cause of the resulting violence could be traced back to the words that were either used or weren't used—on time.

Let there be litter!

If there is one thing that Gurgaon has taught me, it has to be, never confront someone who is littering in public. Nothing good comes out of it. I've done years back in Mumbai and never once have i had a bad experience in letting people know that it's not OK to throw their mess around. Most of the time, the litter-ers would pick up their crap and dump in a garbage nearby. Sometimes, they wouldn't react, pretending as if you don't exist. You see, for us, Indians, the greater shame is in getting caught and not in committing the deplorable act of littering. The foundation of this behaviour lies in the fact that a lot of the city-dwellers don't love their city enough. You don't smear something you like, let alone love. Coming back to Gurgaon, people i've confronted so far have been horrendous in their reactions. Instead of doing the needful, they get into arguments with you. Statements like “tere baap ka road hai kya?” and worse. [I don't understand this infatuation with who one's father is.] This week, i saw a young guy with backpack walking about seven feet away from me. All of a sudden, he dropped his packet of chips—empty, of course. I promptly picked it up, paced up and handed it to him saying, “Bhaisaab, aapka girr gaya.” He took it, looking perplexed, and extended his hand towards me with the packet asking, “Aap ko chahiye?” only to throw it away—again.

Quantum of appreciation

We often hear jobful (joyful?) people complaining that they aren't appreciated at work. Apparently, their seniors don't bother to let them know how good they are at what they do. The funniest part about this drama is everybody, by some twisted logic, like to believe that they are the most hardworking piece in an organization. They don't even care to understand the dynamics before jumping to the conclusion that they are underappreciated. There might be a possibility for the manager in question to have much more important things to do than pat backs. There might be a possibility that the underappreciated person isn't doing a great job to begin with. There might also be a possibility that the manager is an asshole. These are mere possibilities. A person can barely afford to have one viewpoint. And more often than not, that belongs to him/her. I don't know how to go about a situation like this when a colleague points out that the workplace isn't appreciative enough. To be fair, maybe it's high time we asked ourselves, how appreciative are we of people who work for us? The maid, security guy, liftman, peon, office boy? Like us, they are also doing their job, right?

PS. I wrote this piece because something happened at the traffic junction today. Since it rained unseasonably this morning, the signals weren't working and so, the traffic cop took over and did a splendid job at controlling the flow of vehicles. I was sitting in an auto-rickshaw, waiting on the road, wondering whether i should just get out at once and shake his hand telling him he's doing a great job. I was also wondering whether my thank-you would make a difference to his existence. By the time i could decide to get out, he had turned his face towards us signaling us to move. 

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

From soulmate to solomate

He was looking for his soulmate. She was looking for hers. They somehow bumped into each other and fell in love. Time passed by and they found themselves married to each other. A bit more time passed by and they had some little beings around calling them amma and appa. Let's say, 10 years have passed by since the moment these two individuals met for the first time. Do they refer to each other as soulmates now? Chances are that they don't. Chances are they are still very much in love. Chances are they laugh at each other's jokes. It's a matter of chance here because we are talking about a concept that can't be harnessed with words. The idea of a soulmate exists only in our souls, not even our minds. Our mind is too impure to assess the fibre of soulmate. Which is why time becomes the vector of what you believe in as years pass by. The two protagonists in our story are weary and they have reached a point where only one of them can have a soulmate. So the kinder one out of the two conforms himself/herself into becoming the other person's soulmate while happily giving up on his/her soulmate. 

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Employment is bliss

...and just like that, i completed a year in Zomato!

Just in case if you are wondering what i do here, i'm a communication specialist by designation but i'm more of a copywriter. I write those lines you see on posters. I've been working since the age of 20 and i must say i've been lucky because what makes a workplace livable are the people you get to work with. Fortunately, i've always found the warmest people as colleagues. Never had the opportunity to witness office politics. Something that has been true for all the three companies—Morningstar and Mid-day being the other two—i've worked for so far. I might be weak at math but i can count my blessings. 

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Boiling pot

For a nation as young as the USA, it has achieved a lot. If you take a step back and study its belligerent nature, it certainly owes its progress to wars but it has indeed covered long strides in human progress as well. To me, the greatest success that the United States can boast of is its homogeneity. The American fabric, boosted by the so-called American Dream, has made sure that you don't care where the person comes from as long as he's an American and wants to succeed. Yes, one can argue that this development dissolves ethnic identity. To that, i'd ask, "And the problem is?" I'd rather have blacks being referred to as African-Americans than Zimbabwean-American or Senegalese-American. Similarly, the Asian-Americans could be anyone from China or Japan or Korea. Young Americans of Indian/Pakistani heritage can easily fall under the ABCD (American Born Confused Desi) category. This bracketing of where-one-comes-from closes the unnecessary gaps and knits the community in the long run. There are whites in America without any regard to where their origin lies. You can say the same for Latinos. You don't care what their real ancestry is. Meryl Streep and Tom Cruises are German-Americans while Al Pacino and Robert De Niro are Italian-Americans. Leonardo DiCaprio is a mix of both these heritages. But do you think anybody cares in Hollywood? Exactly my point. Scarlett Johansson is a Jew by birth and so is Gwyneth Paltrow but then their blondness effectively dominates their Yiddish roots. This peculiar overlooking of caste is what fuels America's success. Let's move a bit out of cinema. The Kardashians are of Armenian descent while John Kerry has a mix of Brahmin (believe it or not) as well as British blood. Bernie Sanders' parents were Polish and Aziz Ansari's parents are Tamil. Nicholas Sparks is a Czech-American. Madonna is what happens when Italian and French genes party. And the list goes on and on and on.

The point being, despite all its shortcomings, at least the USA has been pushing the threshold of unity. In comparison, where exactly does India's success story stand? 

A margin of victory

A good politician remains so as long as he knows how to waddle through politics. It's a thick game and not many make through without some amount of smear on their collar. It won't be an understatement to suggest that the real winners of politics are the ones who maintain hygiene. Also, saying that getting dirty is the only way to make it is tantamount to admitting defeat. I just completed watching Show Me A Hero (2015) and i couldn't help but wonder how people are similar everywhere. They all have short term memory and tend to focus on stuff that affects them directly with minimum contribution from their end. I liked this show not just because it was based on a true story but also because it doesn't try to take a shortcut. But most importantly, it gives us a taste of human behaviour. We are immensely unpredictable and innately selfish but a politician is expected to defy that principle. He's supposed to look beyond the narrowness of mortal weakness and take steps towards the better of many. Going by the news that leak out day in and day out, looks like Baz Luhrmann is right. Politicians aren't noble anymore. But i still like to believe that there is hope. After all, the world as we know today is ruled by politicians and bankers. Which is why we can't afford to be hopeless. I'm sure there are ideals worth fighting for and there are people in suits and ties who can figure out the solutions instead of problems. I also feel there has to be a politician out there who never votes for himself. Because, if he loses the election by one vote, he can at least blame himself for the defeat. 

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Erasing memories, one technology at a time

We are running out of stories. Yes, that's exactly what is happening with us. In the quest to be fast and furious, our era is getting erased quicker than ever before. We are left with nothing to share with tomorrow. Do you really think your food pictures on Instagram say anything about you? Exactly. Unlike us, our grandparents and parents had real problems. Problems that could translate to matters of life and death, even. Giving rise to real stories. Stories wherein my dad escaped his schoolmaster's daily beatings by fleeing to Bombay at the age of 13. The story got better as his struggles rose. Working in an Udupi restaurant and sleeping in the kitchen only to be woken up with a splash of water on his face at 4am to chop 20 kgs of onions. My mother used to walk four miles to reach her school. Everyday. We don't have those problems. Our roads have potholes but we can travel anytime. We may have the occasional blackouts but there are enough plug points to charge our laptops/phones. Water is abundant that we squander it at whim, completely overlooking those heartbreaking pictures of people struggling with potable water. Let's not even talk about food and its utter wastage by our generation. Come to think of it, our stories have moved from alphabets to numbers. We are constantly chasing number—both offline as well as online—in terms of salary and web parameters. Maybe tomorrow, when our face is plastered with wrinkles, we'll have stories on how we achieved those numbers. And a few embarrassing screenshots decorated by terrible grammar and seven exclamation marks. 

Friday, February 12, 2016

Next step in destroying minds

Somebody recently asked me what is my ultimate aim in life. I didn't even have to think twice before saying “teaching kids in college”. I've already taught in a school. Two schools, actually. Both in the slums of Trombay. And this was last decade. I should aim higher this decade and ruin maturer minds. On a serious note, i always wanted to teach. I've had an unusual life and i'm still going through it. There's no structure to it. I've taken random decisions and been floating from A to B to D only to return to C what's going on. Although i've created a persona—something Tanmay Bhat asked me recently about—in the online world, it has very little to do with me. It has more to do with the public in general. People react bizarrely to silence. Particularly the self-imposed one. As if there is supposed to be noise. Regardless, i speak my mind. Seldom do i care what others would think. That's not my problem anyway. Coming back to my zest for teaching, i'm quite suitable for the job. I'm tolerant and hardworking. I cannot boast to be wise or warm. Or smart, even. But i like to believe that i've got something substantial to say. Who knows? I might become the professor i never had. 

PS. I had exceptionally brilliant teachers during school days. Maybe that's why i'm a college dropout, not a school dropout. 

PSS. Oh, i forgot! I love pinning the blame on others.

PSS. I have a BA (English) and a MA (Journalism & Mass Comm) under my lose belt. I've also appeared for NET (awaiting results) and am planning to pursue M.Phil. If you have a teaching vacancy for an assistant professor in your college, do let me know. 

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


Him: "I can't write."
Her: "Happens. Give it time. Must be writer's block."
Him: "Are you serious? I need to be a writer first to experience a block."
Her: "Of course, you are! Besides, even great writers like Coetzee and Gulzar experience writer's block."
Him: "Oh god! They ARE writers and they've earned the right to suffer from writer's block. I haven't!"
Her: "You are too hard on yourself, love."
Him: "I wish i was."

Ransacked by memories

Not very long ago, my memory was as intact as my anus and i remembered names. But a lot has changed and too fast. I've arrived at a point now where i confuse one film with another and the faces of actors betray me. Last night, i failed to recognize Domhnall Gleeson in Brooklyn (2015). And this happened despite being familiar with him and his recent work (Unbroken, Ex Machina, Star Wars and The Revenant). As a part of new year resolutions, i'm watching at least one movie each night from Monday to Saturday and three on Sunday. It's not a lot if i compare to the figures of my film journalism days. The only difference is i've lost track to some extent. The other day, i was telling a story to my colleague/friend about an amazing scene from a British film (yes, that's all i remember). I don't remember its title nor the actors. All i remember is one guy taking another on a tour of his house. They come across a family portrait on the wall. The guest remarks that the woman in the picture is beautiful. To which, the house owner says, “Beautiful? She was the most wonderful woman i ever knew!” before adding “No wonder she left me.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The price of a legend

I must have said this a hundred times by now but this is for the record: Leonardo DiCaprio's finest performance ever has to be in The Revenant (2015). It doesn't matter whether he wins the must-awaited Oscar or not anymore. In fact, his body of work has grown beyond the tenets of the Academy. There are many reasons why i believe so The Revenant is probably the second major film (after Barry Lyndon in 1975) to be shot entirely in natural lights. That's a massive task. That's like Instagrammers deprived of their filters. Or Twitter of its mehfil-e-chutiyapa outlook. Director Alejandro G Iñárritu shot the film mostly in Alberta, Canada. The storyline involves heavy snow and horse and blood and sacrifice. A $135 million project quite literally rested on the shoulders of DiCaprio. Apparently, it's a miracle that the river flows in the film and it's impossible to imagine having anything to do with that kind of coldness. So the makers of this magnum opus had to position themselves in such a manner that they don't lose out on time. In fact, about an hour of shooting everyday. That's it. If you lose the cut today, you basically waste the entire day. In such a scenario, selflessness is a must—no wonder the crew protested against the director by the end of film shoot because of harsh working conditions—and it's understandable how DiCaprio went to the extremes he did for this film. And that's not just being in almost freezing water for a long shot (using a stunt man could have helped but like i said earlier, it'd waste time) or eating raw meat despite being a vegan or facing hypothermia repeatedly. If you watch the film, which you should anyway, you can feel his pain and desperation. There is a scene where his body is being moved and he's coughing profusely. Turns out he was really sick during that time but decided to go to work instead of taking the day off. Because you see, acting, like any other job you love, is about showing up at office and pushing yourself beyond expectations. How Rahul Dravid continued to bat despite having high fever or why Nemanja Vidić never let the blood gushing out of his face disrupt his tempo on the ground. That's the passion one should have for what one does for a living. And i can't think of any other film—and i've seen all of his movies—where DiCaprio has enjoyed the screen time like he did in The Revenant. This film is really long (crossing 2.5 hrs) and entirely about his struggle. It's a no-brainer this performance will undoubtedly go down in history as legendary. He's at his best right now. The only worry is, if he wins an Oscar, will he continue to peak?

Herd mentality, mob culture

This week, India at large once again displayed why it will continue to remain a racist nation. The affinity for fairer skin is a well-known disorder in our society but what happened in Bangalore is a harsh reminder on where exactly we stand. According to reports, a local woman got killed in a car accident. The driver was a Sudanese man and was promptly arrested. A Tanzanian woman who had nothing to do with the accident later arrived at the crime scene only to get mobbed, stripped, paraded naked on the streets. According to reports (i keep emphasizing reports here because we don't have live-tweets from the incident), she managed to get into a bus but the public inside pushed the hapless woman out into the mouth of the chasing crowd. 

Following which, Tanzania's High Commissioner to India said the country is a bit racist. He was being diplomatic there. India is profoundly racist and the problem is bigger than it has to be because we are ignorant of the very problem. We don't think twice before using a label for a particular community or tribe. We are so ignorant that anybody with Asian features is Chinese/Chinky for us even if they hail from our own country. The Bangalore incident also proved how racism is irrespective of where you come from—north or south. Of course, the north Indians love to mock the southerners for their dark complexion, completing overlooking the fact that fairer skin has nothing to do with the geography. But the way, locals behaved with that Tanzanian woman tells you that the problem is deeper. Humanity is lacking, to be emo. 

At the end of the day, a woman was violated beyond imagination. Everything else is basically a byproduct of one's own regional, political and racism bias. But the world is not as simple as it should be. We should look at the problem and diagnose it before it's too late. The inherent problem here is racism but then, there are human complexities attached to emotions. And that's where the catch lies. We don't get to reach those complexities because the view is clouded by Indian politicians who are doing what they do best whenever a tragedy strikes: either issue idiotic statements or vulture to gain ground on the opposition. From the social media front, it was entertaining to witness how people lowered themselves to the point that they totally skipped the issue of racism and started city-shaming to bag points over Bangalore. 

In an ideal situation, cars wouldn't have existed. Sounds weird, right? It's not quarter as weird as the arguments that rolled out this week post the mob incident. And we are supposed to be living in 2016. 

PS: A football match between Lazio and Napoli was abandoned at the 68th minute this week as Lazio supporters were chanting racist slurs at a black Napoli player. Lazio's manager was palpably fuming as his team lost the match but what sounded worse was his stand on the issue. “It was chanting from the minority” was his patsy. You see, that's where the problem lies. Because of your shortsightedness, you overlook the bigger picture. I mean, the bigger problem. 

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Back in the future

What if i told you all the answers to all our questions are hidden somewhere in our respective childhood? Will you believe me? Chances are you won't. You shouldn't, in any case. We all find our answers in our own ways but still, i've been pondering what role our childhood plays in our formation. The person we are today must have a lot to do with how we were decades ago and how our environment was with us during our younger days. We might have become obnoxious enough to dismiss those days saying they are dead and buried in the past but what if their ghosts are still lingering around? Aren't we silently dealing with them then? Don't tell me you don't remember much. It doesn't matter whether you can recollect everything in detail. Besides, you don't even remember every little thing that happened during your hot date last weekend. Memories are a result of practice. It's not a gift. You may have quit your childhood but your childhood is never going to quit on you. The nightmares you used to have as a kid still recur behind the closed curtains of your eyelids. When they wake up in the middle of the night, you are reminded of the place you come from. A place you can't go back to. The dreams you once had as a child continue to mock the dreams you pretend to have today. If so, aren't your fears and your triumphs a consequence of the events that shaped your childhood? Also, to what extent?

Please tell me i'm mistaken because i SO want to be.   

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Mom and Pop

Kid Rock, who'll be hosting the Oscars at the end of this month, was recently asked by Vanity Fair who his heroes are in real life.

"My parents, Julius and Rose. Two kids from South Carolina that came to New York, raised a family, and their kids are able to take care of themselves and their kids—it doesn’t get much better. Six boys, one girl raised in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn, in the middle of the crack epidemic. Nobody in jail, nobody in rehab, not one kid out of wedlock. Best parents ever."

His heartwarming reply reminded me of what JK Simmons said during his acceptance speech last year and Sean Connery some years ago. I think it's high time more celebs talked about their parents—warts and all—because we often tend to neglect them while talking about these famous achievers. We want to dig deep into the mind of Steve Jobs or the genius of Lionel Messi but we don't wish to know the role their parents played in their upcoming. We just assume they were there behind the scenes but it's much thicker than that. Also, their stories don't have to be boring just because we find the sacrifices made by ours banal. 

Monday, February 1, 2016

Lame. Lamer. Viral.

Last week, on Wednesday morning, i woke up at around 7.30. Which is late given 7 is my usual get-going schedule. I hurried to kitchen to prepare tea (a morning ritual that i've been true to for almost a year now) before sacrificing two Parle-G biscuits. One drowns and you let another in with the hope it will rescue the martyr. You know the drill. Tragic as it sounds, i posted a tweet on the same. Little did i know what was to follow. 

More on that later. 

Over the years, my priorities on Twitter have changed a lot. Some years ago, receiving a #FF meant a lot to me. But then, i stopped giving them back and magically, i stopped receiving them too. You see, in the online world, i-will-scratch-your-back-only-if-you-scratch-mine mantra works. I RT you and you'll RT me. I compliment your DP and you compliment mine. It's a massive goo moulded by a mutual admiration society. Also, it's all about numbers nowadays. So, coming back to the priorities i mentioned earlier, i don't care much for RTs anymore. I'm more into collecting hearts—no cheese intended—because it's a very noiseless process. The best part being there is no i-will-heart-your-tweet-if-you-heart-mine racket here. So, yes, I heart others' tweets a lot. If there is an interesting tweet on my timeline, i'll like it where i RT it or not. It's an instant mode of recognition; it creates a personal touch between the one who tweeted and the one who hearted. And unlike a retweet spree which can create a ruckus on the timeline, a heart spree doesn't spam your followers. 

That said, my RT-to-Tweet ratio is quite high compared to others solely on the merit of my silence. Since i don't interact on the timeline, my tweets are generally rhetoric and helps my RT2T ratio stay afloat. Which is why i find this biscuit tweet's virality quite amusing. Of late, my tweets garner more hearts than retweets. In fact, my tweets' RT average must lie somewhere between 15 and 20 while the heart average is early 30-ish. I understand these figures are low given the amount of time i've spent on Twitter. Which, again, is why i found the spread of my biscuit tweet remarkable. Some tweeps were guessing that this tweet must have reached some firang's account. To be honest, i don't know for sure because i don't check my Twitter notifications. It's been stuck at 99+ for ages now. I rely more on Hootsuite which displays only those tweets that mention my handle. Besides, i don't have the energy or the inclination to check who did what. 
Speaking of which, my friends on Facebook checked how frequently my tweet was picked up by various Facebook accounts. Of course, you can't expect these shady accounts to hand you credit but that's not the point. The point is you never know what's going to click with the public on social media. 
If you think Instagram would be nicer in following netiquette, you're mistaken. But that's not the point. The point is one of my lamer tweets went viral while my more thoughtful ones remain bacterial.  
Of course, there are honourable exceptions but they are few.

PS: There's an incredible scene in Wag the Dog (1997) when Dustin Hoffman screams, “Fuck my life! I want the credit.” This is before his character gets killed. 

PSS. Like i said earlier, my priorities have changed.