Tuesday, July 25, 2017

We are all 'TRAPPED'

Note 1: God forbid what happened to Shaurya (A brilliant Rajkummar Rao) in Vikramaditya Motwane's 'Trapped' ever happen even to my worst enemy. Not that I even have friends to call my own in the first place, but you do get the drift of what I am saying.

Note 2: Bombay (Mumbai as it is now known as) is not a place that nurtures idiots. You earn your stripes by giving to the city, and in turn you earn your basic rights and other privileges.

Note 3: I never wanted to watch 'Trapped' - mostly because I am a happy guy talking about why I love the 'Rasam' or 'Garlic Naan' that Rani makes for me, far more than the 'Avial' she has perfected over the years. Eating ants and pigeons? AWAAKTHOOOO. That much anyone can imagine or see from what there is in the trailer already. Who pays to watch such stories? Well, I am one of those who do, if there are no dead insects, pests or birds involved. I even watched '127 Hours' - just saying.

The thing is that there's a trap - we are all trapped. Neither Bombay needs us, nor does Hindi cinema. Who are we? Why are we here? Is this because we are trapped? Who set the trap? Did we walk into it, perhaps like how Shaurya did in 'Trapped'? Why did Motwane make 'Trapped'? Did he want to liberate himself? Did Rajkummar want to taste blood? Literally or figuratively? I don't know. Should I bother to find out? Not my business, I think.

Watching 'Trapped' if you are in love with Bombay / Mumbai or the films made here, you will know that it is a HUGE trap. One doesn't even realise when we fall prey. It could be the keys to an empty room, the chance to date an engaged girl who might be getting married in a week or so, the chance to claim a piece of this city, however big or small,  as your own or even the privilege that you can expect an answer when you shout your loudest. The most horrific part of being here is that nobody wants to listen to you, as loud as you scream or shout.

Someone might hear you scream, but that doesn't mean anything - the noise of the city and the collective ones is so loud, he / she might just give up mid way. Most of the people here are tone deaf anyway. Hearing too much of radio does that to anyone of us. Perhaps the only way to drown out the cacophony of a city that doesn't even have the time to sleep. Just in case you do sleep, the sound of your dreams drown out anything else in the vicinity. You might not like this city, but when were you invited here in the first place? You came unannounced, so will be your exit.

If you don't belong here, neither the city likes you nor do the inhabitants.

PAV BHAAJI - the smell of it will remain if you have been in this city long enough. If very unfortunate, at worst you will savour the taste of Vada Pav or Dabeli long after you've settled back to the place that you came from, with or without the fortune that you came to make here. Can you shake up the City? Have you screamed loud enough? Did anyone hear you? Do they care? Do they want to see you again? The property guy who conned Shaurya in 'Trapped' knew his lessons way before hand.

This City has no place for fools.



Friday, March 24, 2017

Khoob ladi Anaarkali jo Aarah waali rani thi

This blog is dedicated to a friend I once had some two decades ago. I don't remember his full name, his first name was Suresh and he would proudly introduce himself as 'Sures, Bokaro Steel City se'. He was our roommate, I shared the room with Sures and another friend Nikhil who was a bully who came from a place called Behraich in Uttar Pradesh. While Sures had come to Bombay to learn multimedia, Nikhil was here to start his event management company. The only things common about Sures and Nikhil is that they both worked very hard, and both were hustlers of the highest order.  

Today when I look back, for me they were the reason I never wanted to have anything to do with anybody from up north. I almost used to look down upon people from that region, and used to avoid them like plague. It was a promise I had made to myself - till the time I got to know much after falling in love with Rani, that she was born in Aarah. Much to my horror, Rani one day proudly announced, "Aarah jila ghar ba, kaun baat ka darr ba." Oh yes, Rani works extremely hard, and is a hustler too. Now that the hustling works in my favour, I have made peace with my Rani of Aarah origins.

If you've been following me on FB / Twitter, you'd know that these days I am extremely cynical about the state of Uttar Pradesh in the last few days. Not too far away from U.P., there's Aarah in Bihar, which seems to be dealing with its own demons. After watching Avinash Das' debut film, 'Anaarkali of Aarah,' I can only say that this place has perhaps been through worse already, or may be not - I am far too disconnected to even distinctly differentiate between UP & Bihar. I recently watched two well made docu-shorts about things that happen in Bihar. It perhaps prepared me for what to expect from 'Anaarkali of Aarah.' Watch the videos here, I think you'd love it too:

And this:

One of the highlights of 'Anaarkali of Aarah' is that it grabs you by the cojones and takes you into the lanes and by-lanes of Aarah so deep, that you can smell the shit by the roadside and the smell of the cow dung on the floor. From what I have seen in this film, I swear to God, I will never ever go to anywhere near Aarah or Bahraich. Other than the spirit of the people living there, especially the good ones depicted in the film, I didn't find the place welcoming at all. May be it operates in its own parallel universe, where the bad is good and the ugly is worshiped.

All this, and I have just begun. Hey wait, all that you need to know about this courageous work of art before deciding to watch the film, can be seen in the trailer:

Each and every performance in 'Anaarkali of Aarah' is pitch perfect, and will be remembered forever. Special mentions for Pankaj Tripathi, Sanjay Mishra and Ishtiakh Khan. A HUGE shout-out to Rohit Sharma for the spectacular music - if not for the music, the film might have not worked half as much. This is perhaps the strongest film made about women empowerment, and strangely makes 'Pink' fade in comparison. In this film there's no daddy figure to rub in the 'NO MEANS NO' message. Why do you need a daddy, if the daughter is strong enough to convey the message herself?


P.S.: Dear Swara, may God bless you, and give you more power to portray characters that are so ordinarily extraordinary and insanely empowering, genders be damned. 

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Who will clean up this mess?

Yesterday started off as a normal day - catching up on the news, preparing for the day ahead - you know, the usual. We stay at this lovely apartment, 'Versova Kiran,' at 4 Bungalows, MHADA. The only thing that's not lovely about this place is that it overlooks a micro mini Dharavi. It has been a little more than one year and we have made peace with the fact that they exist. Yesterday noon all of a sudden, two bulldozers, a dozen cops or may be more barged in and razed a major chunk of the allegedly illegal hutments to the ground. It was by far one of the most bizarre visuals I had ever seen. 

Throughout the day we kept a watch on the proceedings, much to our shock. The biggest shocker that struck us was the reaction of the people living there. Other than a group of few loud men and women who were yelling at the cops, the rest seem to be okay about it. As if they were prepared for this day - I don't know if they were warned or not, but they were gathering their belongings and walking around as if it was business as usual. We saw so many of them laughing and recording the visuals on their smart phones. We for sure wouldn't react like that if it had happened to us.

Another thing that caught our eyes were the belongings of these so-called poor people living in this slum - some had air conditioners, and kitchen equipment which were better than what we have. It made me wonder are they really poor? My wise mother-in-law said that these people have rented out the flats they have been given by the government so that they can live off the rent that they get from there. I found it hard to believe, but I have seen it in some films, so...

 By around 6:00pm the cops and bulldozers were gone, and the people living there had already started piecing their shattered huts back - only that they didn't have roofs, at least not for last night. Basically what we have now is a bigger mess, as they have occupied other half of the road as well. All I am asking is, what will happen next? Will these people be displaced for good? Who will clean up this bigger mess created by whoever came up with this new 'surgical strike' or whatever that was?

Trust me, it's an ugly visual. Hope sanity is restored soon.

Will update this blog, and keep y'all posted.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Mirzya: Celebrating the fragrance of eternal love

Please note: This is not a review of Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra's latest film, 'Mirzya', and there are no spoilers of any sort.

A round of applause for actors, Harshvardhan Kapoor & Saiyami Kher - 'Mirzya' doesn't seem like their debut film.

There are two magicians who make this film a thing of beauty, a joy forever: Gulzar Saab & cinematographer, Pawel Dyllus. Needless to say, a hat tip to the director, Mr. Mehra for pulling off a love story in an age when eternal love is a rarity lost somewhere on our digital timelines and limited attention spans.

As a hopeless romantic, it has been my constant pursuit to understand the phenomena that love is, and it will remain so till I am alive. Thanks to 'Mirzya' I have found some deep insights into the feeling of love, as it celebrates the eternal fragrance of love. The only thing I have always wanted is love - this give and take of love has been the most used currency in my life, to the point that I think that I have never worked for the want of money, or have stopped working if I had a lot.

It was always the love I felt from the employer (immediate bosses) and the colleagues.

Give me love, and I will love you right back till death do us apart. For me love is and will always be forever a constant. I discovered my idea of love while watching 'Sadma' as a kid, I still don't know why I cried throughout the entire climax, because I was too young to know anything beyond food and poop. I can only guess that perhaps a love of mine from some other lifetime reached out to me though that gem of a film that 'Sadma' is.

Later in my life I was filled with the fragrance of love when I watched 'Sagar' - I think I was sold by the fact that love makes you do the craziest of things with no expectations whatsoever.  As Gulzar Saab has aptly put, there are only three witnesses of love. Sample this:

The thing about love is that it gifts us with memories galore, and moments of intense passion, to the point of no redemption. There's a quote, "If you love until it hurts, there can be no more hurt - only love." This line resonates throughout 'Mirzya,' and I have felt this too. Those who have been reading my blogs would know about Rani, the love of my life, who went through this trauma, just because I had locked up my heart for the longest time, because I knew I couldn't take another heart break.

At least not in this lifetime.

“Doonge dard judaiyan de, kad lende ne jaan…”
[The wounds of separation run deep and take the life out of you]...

Sadly, this 'Hichki' thing really doesn't let you sleep well.

If the love is real, it reaches out to the lover through the sheer power of the universe. Rani found me when she was a popular radio jockey at Dubai, at the prime of her career. I was just a rookie writer-day dreamer, with hopes of becoming a filmmaker. I could understand how in 'Mirzya' the lovers reunite even when they have been away for two decades, the two soulmates will reconnect at some point in time, their geographies be damned, with the same passion as before.

“Gol gol ghoome zameen, aave na jaave kahin…”

For me, 'Mirzya' highlighted the eternity in love which seems to have lost its relevance in our time. The thing is that though the way we dress and talk must have changed, but the concept of love will always have the same fragrance as ever. In a recent interview for The Hindu, Gulzar Saab said -

 "The change is in what you wear, the way you live, in your relationships. A different period means a different culture. So your behaviour pattern will also have to be different. Speed has altered; the rhythm of life has changed. There is such a lot of gadgetry. Earlier, it was like someone has gone to the city, there will be no news, close ones will wonder when he will be back. Now you can talk on the phone anywhere, any time, any moment. You fly in planes. When will you come back from abroad? Well today if you tell someone in the morning to come, they can reach by the evening. This is the speed of life. But the speed of a heartbeat is still the same. Dil aaj bhi usi rafter se dhadakta hai [the heart still beats at the same pace]. That is eternal. Aapke aansoo usi rafter se behte hain, nabz waise hi chalti hai [Your tears fall at the same speed, the pulse moves the same way]."

Dil aaj bhi usi raftaar se dhadakta hai. That is eternal. Aapke aansoo usi raftaar se behte hain, nabz waise hi chalti hai.

I couldn't agree more, Gulzar Saab! 

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sholay review by a soldier of the Indian Army

This analogous post may interest the faujis...
Enjoy the perspective...😊

As part of grooming of Young Officers, a CO showed them Sholay  and asked them to write a Review on it......
Here is what a bright Spark wrote......

General area Ramgarh was under the Command of Thakur Saab. Thakur Saab had no regular army, instead he lead a group of untrained unmotivated farmers, a transport incharge Basanti, as a Runner he had Ramu Kaka.

This general area Ramgarh faced threat of raids by the Company strength commanded by Gabbar Singh. Gabbar though had a company under his command, yet at any point of time he only had a section strength at his disposal with rest of the men deployed on various missions. As his Scout, he had a well trained Samba who always remembered the count of men. The adm requirements were taken care by Kalia who consumed Namak and Gaali on a regular basis. As recreation activity Gabbar and his troops played troop games and saw cultural items like

1. Where they shot their men and tested their luck factor and called it Goli 6, Aadmi 3.

2. Dance performances by Basanti by keeping her love interest a hostage at gunpoint.

To counter the attack/raids by the troops of Gabbar Singh. Thakur requested for an attachment of Buddy pair from Special Forces who were specially trained with high OQ, named Jai and Veeru. They followed the duties as a buddy pair religiously and on occasions of conflict decided it upon tossing of a coin.

On the first occasion of interaction between these SF men and the Raid party sent by Gabbana, SF men had taken secure tactical positions in Mutual Support and attained total surprise as the raid party had to retreat without accomplishing their primary task of collection of adm stores  forcefully from the people of general area Ramgarh. This retreat hurt Commander Gabbar Singh's ego and as a result he gunned down his three own men while playing the game Goli 6, Aadmi 3. To reply back, Commander Gabbar Singh sent a patrol whose primary task was to find out the strength of the troops employed by Thakur Saab and to make a good attack plan. On observations of the patrol it was decided that a full scale attack be conducted on the Holi day and Commander Gabbar Singh would lead the troops himself, after briefing them. Commander Gabbar Singh's troops attacked general area Ramgarh while the celebrations were going on and there was no one to pass alarm for Stand To, as a result of which Gabbar attained total surprise and had caused chaos among the people of Ramgarh. Because of the high quality of training received by Jai and Veeru and proper employement of Fire and Move tactics the area Ramgarh was saved from major defeat. They fought valiantly in buddy pairs against the 2 sections of Commander Gabbar and prevented any possible loss of life.

As the mission set by Commander was not successfully accomplished, he decided to take transport incharge Basanti as hostage. A rescue team of 2 was sent by Thakur Saab to rescue Basanti. This lead to a full scale combat between the two troops and the ground became of tactical importance when the two troops got separated by a bridge over the river flowing west to east.

Due to lack of proper transport, only 1 could go with Basanti back, and on toss of coin it was decided that Veeru would rescue Basanti and get reinforcements and till then Jai would   stop the enemy troops from charging further ahead by taking defiladed posn behind a rock. After firing a few rounds, Jai went out of ammunition and due to the unavailability of second line of ammunition the tactical importance of the bridge increased and Jai's primary motive became successful demolition of the bridge, which would deny the enemy any advance. Jai had a grenade at his disposal but the grenade malfunctioned and didn't blast, and only last few rounds left with Jai could have fused the bomb on being accurately fired at. Jai being the marksman could shoot the grenade at the exact point which blasted resulting in complete destruction of the bridge. But in the process Jai was severely injured and upon arrival of Veer u became a martyr succumbed to his injuries. This angered Veeru and he headed towards the area where Commander Gabbar's troops were stationed all alone in full Josh and high Morale. With the help of his zeroed weapon Veeru could make proper use of his ammunitions and hold true the slogan "One Bullet, One Enemy" in every engagement. On successfully killing most of the troops of Gabbar he later had to face the challenge of hand-to-hand combat with the well built Commander. Veeru even won this combat all due to his high morale and his training at Special Forces.

Lessons learnt are:
With a zeroed weapon, a reliable buddy and proper training any task can be accomplished.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Ek khwaab samjha tha

Ek khwaab samjha tha
A Keyrun Rao original

Khwaab se jaaga hoon main umron baad
Galti se jisey pyaar samjha tha maine
Dil mera chheel ke gayi hai kuchh aise woh
Jisey maine apna yaar samjha tha kabhi
Na jaane ab kahaan kho gayi hai woh

Aaj toh roney do bahut der tak mujhe 
Aansoo toh ruk bhi nahin rahey hain mere
Meri saansein baaqi hain ab tak jaane kyon
Kuchh sunaayi bhi de raha hai tujhe?
Itne sawaal hain mere, koi toh jawaab do

Veeraan se din hain mere, andheri si raatein,
Abhi khatm nahin hui hain hamari baatein,
Ruk jaao meri palkon mein bas ek raat aur
Aao hum kucch karein thodi si aur mulaakaatein

Bas ek khwaab sa samjha tha tujhe,
Ab thodi si neend ko hum ab roz taraste hain,
Kahin nahin hai tere jaisa koi khwaab mein mera 
Teri yaadon ke bina, mere naina ab baraste hain 

Khwaab se jaaga hoon main umron baad
Tujhse milne ko meri rooh kyon tarasti hai,
Tere jaane ke baad bhi mujh mein qaid hai tu
Teri muskaan ab bhi meri saanson mein basti hai.

Ek khwaab sa samjha tha tujhe, jaane kyon?
Tujh se bada mera koi sach bhi to hai nahin
Ek muskaan mujhe de ja kuchch der ke liye
Us se bada bhi mera koi aaj sach hai hi nahin 

Original song here:

Sunday, August 28, 2016

Dear Vishal Dadlani, it's too late to quit!

Dear Vishal,

Like millions of your fans, I have been following and loving your work since 'Wo pehli baar,' 'Allah ke bande,' and of course, post 'Jhankaar Beats,' my love for your music was cemented forever. Needless to say, equal credit for the music also goes to your partner-in-crime, Shekhar Ravjiani, as well, but let me save that fanboy story for another day, and immediately get to the point.

Artists who have a vested interest in mainstream Hindi cinema have been forced to keep mum about their political opinion. Then there is another breed like me, who for the longest time either thought politics was either boring or too uncool to even care a damn. Despite the fact that I am an educated Indian, I still don't have a voter's ID, and I haven't cast a single vote yet - I am 36 years old.

I know it's a shame, but you, Vishal, shook me up when you first rose up, and voiced your support for  AAP. Suddenly you made me realise that it is okay to have an opinion, and it is even better if you stand up for what you think is right. There have been many leaders and legends who have been saying this for ages - the same words of wisdom coming from you, made it relevant for many like me.

Anybody who has been following your work and thoughts, on and off social media, will know that you are a bloody hardworking guy, who takes time out and stands for anything and anybody that / who stands for what's fair, reasonable, logical and right. You have been the person who has wit, sarcasm, and a sane (sometimes insane) of putting your thoughts across, irrespective of the outcome.

Your fearlessness has been an inspiration for many like me, who would have otherwise kept shut and go on with their lives. It is all thanks to you that today, I have got to a point where I voice my opinion (on and off social media) and faced the ire of trolls and bhakts, who surprisingly / shockingly existed in my friend list. If not for you and your unique ways to take down your trolls, I wouldn't know how to deal with them - I have learned so much from you.

When I read that you are biting the dust, and crawling back into the voiceless zone, I felt let down by my hero - seriously let down. You have been giving hope and voice to millions like me, and now MY CLIENT WANTS CELLO TAPE BACK. Fuck you, for leaving us all mid way. I really hope you rethink this decision and continue to be the awesome person that you have been. If you decide to go mute, I am sure I will never cast a vote ever in my life.

Just a reminder: