Wednesday, November 18, 2015

“I want to be Batman”: In conversation with Shah Rukh Khan

“I want to be Batman,” says Shah Rukh Khan. We’re in his version of the Batmobile. His swish black and chrome trailer, parked outside a warehouse-like studio in the sprawling compound of Hyderabad’s Ramoji Film City, is kitted with much luxury. He sits on a reclining leather chair as a team of two men paints his armour on his face. For tonight, Ramoji is Gotham City.
“If I wanted to wake up as myself every morning, I wouldn’t be an actor. I want to be Batman in the morning. I want to be Superman. I want to be Raj, Rahul, the guy in the blood-spattered white vest with a gun in his hand and a girl by his side,” says Khan. His dream role, he tells me in the month that the 24th Bond film hits theatres, is to play James Bond. (Favourite Bond movie? Moonraker.) It’s a myth that actors are narcissistic, he declares. His only envy in the world are people who are comfortable with themselves. “For 25 years I’ve wanted to be 70 different people in the morning. I don’t want to be me. So if I loved myself so much, why would I be an actor?”
Khan turns 50 on November 2. He’s been in the movies for precisely half of his life, working around the clock, famously subsisting on a diet rich in nicotine, good spirits and astonishingly little sleep.
He is in Ramoji to finish the last leg of shooting for Dilwale, a movie directed by Rohit Shetty and produced by Khan’s company, Red Chillies Entertainment. Scheduled for a December release, it marks his big romantic comeback with Kajol—the title is a throwback to their winning pairing in Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge (DDLJ) in 1995, the movie that for all purposes turned Shah Rukh Khan, the actor, into Shah Rukh, India’s biggest movie star. It is to accommodate his relentless schedule that the Vogueteam—and a Victoria’s Secret supermodel, Shanina Shaik—have flown down to make pictures between 9pm and 3am.
Khan the Actor might not love himself enough, but Khan the Star is a picture of grand self-love. He says things like: “I’m an international &^**%$ movie star.” Both men are in the trailer right now. It’s no wonder that Mahesh Bhatt, a prescient man, had said back in the ’90s that Khan is schizophrenic—“a man with two people lurking inside.”
It was the actor who had responded with a self-effacing “Why me?” when the British-Indian filmmaker and journalist Nasreen Munni Kabir had pitched the idea of a documentary on his life for Channel 4. But Khan, the movie star, isn’t averse to beating up people who spawn gossip about imagined infidelities or breach the common code of decency. “The excuse that I’m a public figure and you can say anything about me is bullshit. I’m very respectful of people. Tehzeeb cheez hoti hai. If I met your mother, I’d be respectful to her even if I hated you,” he says.
There is, in fact, a lot of talk of “tehzeeb,” the Urdu word that roughly approximates to “refined manners” or “etiquette.” It is a word that doesn’t translate well. Neither does Khan. Karan Johar, his longtime friend and collaborator, phrases it best: “You can’t explain Shah Rukh Khan. You can only experience him.”
Many of us in this cinema-crazed nation of billions must have had a Shah Rukh Khan experience to make him the star that he is. Perhaps it was watching him use his physicality—the dimpled smile, the limpid eyes—to his best advantage onscreen. In DDLJ, in the song ‘Ruk Jaa O Dil Deewane’, Khan’s character, Raj, has a few false starts on the piano before he sings out in perfect melody. And the contemptuous lady in question is swept off her feet. That’s Shah Rukh Khan all right. Making us lose our footing when we least expect it. My sweep was when I heard him read from his work-in-progress book at the ThiNK Fest in Goa in November 2012. When he read an extract about his adolescent pain of watching his father fail, and die without pride or purse, I found myself weeping.
Adoration finds him everywhere. Women show up to tie ‘I love you’ bracelets, sometimes rakhis, on his wrists. They hand him letters and notes. Internationally, the hordes of fans have multiplied over the years. Nations have followed suit: the French have awarded him their highest civilian honour, the Légion d’honneur. “Publicly, I’m fantastically confident but sometimes I get weirded out by all the attention,” he says. “I can’t disrespect the fact that there are these people out there… not just the screaming, selfie-loving fans, but people who seem to truly love me. I can see it when the aunties come and the mothers come and the children come. They hug me, and sometimes they start crying. I don’t know which is which… so I make it a point to meet everybody with a lot of love.”
The world is not enoughA VFX supervisor comes to the trailer to take notes on the work required for a song sequence in Dilwale. Shot partially in Iceland, it opens with a bird’s eye view of Kajol running on a black sand beach in a yellow sari, under a night sky emblazoned with the Northern Lights. Khan wants the sky brightened. This might just be the most spectacular Indian movie song picturisation till date. “I want every film I produce to be bigger than my last,” says Khan. “It’s something I promised myself.” He has just finished filming Maneesh Sharma’s Fan, a movie in which he plays a superstar and his biggest fan. There’s Raees, where he plays a cruel bootlegger, scheduled for a July 2016 Eid release—the trailer for this, showing Khan sporting surma and a stubble, has garnered quite a frenzy. But what is most exciting is a forthcoming project to be directed by Gauri Shinde that casts him in an unusual equation with Alia Bhatt.
When talk of “crossover films” comes up, he doesn’t have much patience. He had famously turned down the quizmaster’s role in Slumdog Millionaire (2008). “It wasn’t right,” he tells me. But what if the role was right? What does he think of Irrfan Khan in Jurassic World and Priyanka Chopra in Quantico? “I hope everyone who ‘goes across’ does very well. We’re the biggest filmmaking country in the world and it’s time we were outbound. Yes, if there’s a film with the right role for me, I’ll do it. But I’ll be honest; I’ve never been offered such a film.” 
Perhaps they’re afraid, I suggest. “They should be. They have to offer me something that doesn’t disrespect my audience of 1.2 billion. I’d never disrespect that,” he says. He’s certain he’ll never play a caricatured Indian character. “What are you saying, sir? A thousand apologies, sir!… I’m not going to do that shit,” he flares. Unlike his fanbase, though, he exhibits considerable generosity towards the international business magazine that recently called him ‘India’s Leonardo DiCaprio’, following which memes of Khan’s net worth of US$600 million versus DiCaprio’s 245 flooded the internet. “It was just their way to explain it to the West. I was the Tom Cruise of India some years ago.”
“Having said that,” he goes on, “I’m turning 50. I don’t have a USP. I’m not a Kung Fu fighter. I’m not a great dancer. I’m not the best-looking guy around. At 50, Hollywood has much better actors than me. So unless somebody writes a film with a 50-year-old Indian in the lead… something like The Pianist… or a brown Bond… Until then the chances of Shah Rukh Khan going to Hollywood are slim.”
Instead, Khan’s ambitions are focussed on making the first Indian film that becomes truly international. “For me, that would be the biggest achievement. But we’ll need to dress the part first. You can’t go to a blacktie affair in your pyjamas. We’ll need shorter durations, and tighter, more scientific screenplays.” 
Something Lady Gaga—“a very cool young girl with her head firmly on her shoulders”—told him has stayed with him. When he met her at the bidding of his children, Aryan (18) and Suhana (15), a few years ago, he’d asked about her cultivated public image. “She said her grandmother told her that the art is important, the artist is not. Once your art is over, you should be able to walk on the streets of New York or New Delhi just like anybody else. That’s why she is the way she is. People misread the whole concept.”
This is not to say that when the lights are out and the make-up comes off, what remains of Khan is a deflated, humble soul. But unlike the ballerinas in Black Swan(2010), he appears at ease with the twin cast residing in him. “I keep telling people that I’m just an employee of the star that Shah Rukh Khan is. I don’t want any of this,” he says, gesturing towards the piles of jackets and shoes being carried into the trailer. “I just want to get up in the morning and go to the set and act.”
Anaita Shroff Adajania, Vogue’s fashion director, who played a character infatuated with Khan in DDLJwas the first woman to tag him sexy. “I believed her, and then I started believing it myself,” he beams. Now, when she gets him to try a Louis Vuitton leather jacket, talking it up saying, “It’s not out in stores yet” he asks his best boy to pull out a snakeskin Louis Vuitton jacket from his wardrobe that will “never be out.” When it is brought to him, Adajania asks if he plans to wear it. “Nah, I only wanted to show off,” he says, breaking into a smile that dissolves any constructed ideas of arrogance. All of us laugh. He laughs the loudest.
Khan is so brazen about his starhood, so earnestly entrenched in the belief that he is Lord Commander, that it doesn’t reek of conceit. It’s hard to get rubbed the wrong way when he admits that he’s been spoilt by the industry, by directors like Yash Chopra who called him ‘badmaash’ and Subhash Ghai who still calls him ‘ladla’. Talking incessantly between each shot and cigarette puffs—“The interview isn’t over till the drinks are over”—he’s a remarkably articulate man whose references jump from the Mahabharata to Picasso and Majid Majidi to Muhammad Ali (Ali is his only real hero, he says. And Caitlyn Jenner). There are comic soliloquies. There are extravagant admissions. He declares Monica Bellucci is the love of his life; the only T-shirt he owns with anything printed on it is a Dolce & Gabbana number with her face on it.
You only live twiceThe man is a bonafide multiple narrative. There is the narrative of the lower-middle-class boy from Delhi whose parents died in debt. The boy who came to Mumbai and stood on Marine Drive and said, “I want to own the city,” and then went about systematically doing whatever it took to achieve that: dancing at weddings, doing action comedies, buying an IPL team. There’s the other narrative of the reluctant star. The one who started off as a diligent actor on stage and television, branching off to work with directors as diverse as Mani Ratnam and Mani Kaul. The one who was chosen by audiences to be their poster boy. He played along at first because he liked it, and then he began to really believe it.
I like the second narrative better. Because there is an element of the unknown to his success; a je ne sais quoi to his appeal. There are things that we don’t understand. Khan doesn’t either. Perhaps that is why he’s superstitious about things like the number 555.
By his own admission, he’s been miscast in most roles. He got a headstart in the game by breaking the rules early. Back in the ’80s, doing theatre with Barry John in Delhi, he played gay characters. By the time his seventh film released, he’d already played a scheming murderer (Baazigar), a psychopath (Darr), and a younger lover with a nude scene in a Madame Bovary-inspired saga (Maya Memsaab). Everybody told him he was making a mistake when he played the bad guy in his twenties. But it worked. When he moved on to play romantic leads in his thirties, he was told he wouldn’t be taken seriously. “When I showed early rushes of DDLJ to my producer friend Ratan [Jain], you know the scene on the bridge when I’m willing Kajol to turn back… he thought I was going to throw her off the bridge. He said I didn’t look trustworthy enough to be a romantic hero. But I turned out to be a pretty convincing lover, didn’t I?”
Despite his charm and largesse, Khan is patronising towards the younger lot. “They’re all fantastic. They’re all better than me,” he says. “But a lot of things have to fall in place at the beginning for everything to go right. You can get it by playing your cards right but to become who I did, you need to get a good hand. I got three aces. How often do you get three aces?”
Does the movie Fan hit close to home? Is he his own biggest fan? I can’t help but ask. Khan nods vigorously, but it does seem that Khan the Actor is a fan of Khan the Star. He is, however, generous about sharing the credit for his success (“Ninety per cent of my hits were because of the women I was paired with. They’re extremely talented and they make me look good,” he says). The best directors he’s had, he says, conveyed what they wanted without saying much. “Yashji [Yash Chopra] used to call any physical contact ‘lovemaking’. He would say, ‘Make her fall in love with you… Tu lovemaking kar le,’” he remembers. “I could sense what he wanted. When you get too specific, you become a manager. Creativity spouts from a free flow. Amongst the younger lot of directors, I see some of this in Maneesh Sharma.”
But for all his talk of art, Khan has batted on the big-ticket team for a while now. Ketan Mehta, whose Maya Memsaab (1993) was the first film Khan had signed, makes allowances for his protégé. “There are phases in life. This is his phase of stardom. He’s smart enough to know that he has cast himself in a comfort zone now… One hopes that in time he will dig deeper for the talent within,” says Mehta.
Khan concedes that somewhere down the line, his palatial Mumbai home, Mannat, and his company took precedence over creative output. But he isn’t apologetic about his naked pursuit of wealth. Being rich for him isn’t about owning this trailer or a private jet (coming soon, he assures me). “It’s about going to a shop and being able to buy both shirts. The one you like and the one you’re unsure of. I’ve been poor, very poor. I equated failure with poverty. When you see so many quick changes in your life—debt, death, success—you can’t help but become a bit spiritual about it. I just want to be able to buy both shirts.” Khan married his wife, Gauri, very young and calls their brood of three children the focal point of his life. While both Aryan and Suhana have been packed off to London to study—the youngest, AbRam, is two and a half—he’s keen for them to be in the movies, especially his daughter, Suhana. “I’d be thrilled if she was on the cover of Vogue. I want her to be an actor, to act as raw as possible. I want her to do everything I didn’t do.”
Diamonds are foreverBack at the set, Lana Del Rey’s impassioned voice wafts from portable speakers. The lyrics, ‘Will you still love me when I’m no longer young and beautiful’, hang in the studio air thick with smoke as Khan poses with a model less than half his age—a model who famously dated teen heart-throb Justin Bieber. What about ageing? If Khan is worried, he isn’t telling. The actress he made his movie debut with is dead. Alia Bhatt, the next actress he will shoot with, is 22. He admits he’s seen her grow up. His lasting appeal is evinced by the generations of women he’s worked with. Three generations, he counts, not doing any favours for the gender stereotypes in the film industry. Kajol remains special (“I think I’m one of the few people she listens to in the film world”). “I would have liked to do a more mature love story with Kajol, you know, where I’m 45 and she’s 40. Dilwale is a flashback and flash-now. It would be silly of us to play college students like we did in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai (1998). But if we’re playing young people in a flashback, it’s easier for audiences to grasp… yeh toh pehle ka tha, abhi woh aise hi hai,” he laughs. The younger actresses he’s launched, such as Anushka Sharma and Deepika Padukone, remain extremely reverential. “They’ll come anywhere if I call,” he boasts. So he’s not worried about giving casting directors sleepless nights? “Darling, every young girl would come with me,” he says.
The 50th birthday has sprung questions of posterity and legacy—a topic that bores him.
He recalls an interview with Joseph Heller where the interviewer kept needling him about why he hadn’t written another Catch-22. Heller had replied, “Neither has anyone else.”
He doesn’t have his Catch-22 yet. “When I came to Mumbai, I wanted to make five movies my children would remember me for. I still haven’t made them. Till I do, I’ll have to keep working like this.” He’s raring to play the quintessential tough guy; the kind that shoots somebody’s head off if they speak out of turn. “Something like Léon: The Professional,” he says.
The plan for now is to make three movies a year for the next five years. Then enroll in a short-term programme in an American filmmaking school to brush up his skills. “I’m very nervous about making a film… I’m not a stories guy but I know I want to make an action comedy,” he says. This is a resolution he renewed six months ago. One doesn’t know if it will stick though. Khan confesses he has a tough time keeping resolutions, including the one to not smoke as much. The other big ambition is to build a world-class movie-making studio in Mumbai. “The older guys did it. It’s too expensive now but every two years or so I get this fever. A couple of times I came close to it but there’s just too much bureaucracy. I told [the ministers], I know how to make films, my life is about films. Let me do it. I don’t want to name it after me or my father. I just want to do this for the movies.”
His boundless energy has caused family and friends to panic—his latest fascination is zipping around on a hoverboard. “My family tells me I shouldn’t do my stunts any more… I got injured recently while shooting for Raees and my daughter forbade me from going back on set for three weeks. I felt I was punished. I don’t know how to explain it… I like working. I’m happiest when I’m on set.” He believes genius is prolific. “It’s the ability to go at it again and again. If Ra.One didn’t quite work, there’ll be a Ra.Two. I’ll keep going at it till I get it right.” Shah Rukh Khan will never take a break. He recalls an anecdote from early on in his career, when he’d flopped down on set and declared he couldn’t do it anymore. The choreographer Saroj Khan had slapped him, saying she’s seen times when there was no work in the industry. “I’ve never said anything to that effect since,” he says.
When we wind up the shoot, he invites the entire crew to his trailer. Drinks are poured. Kebabs arrive on platters. It’s 4.30am and some of us are fading. Khan, scheduled to be back on the sets of Dilwale at 9am, is in no hurry to leave. He is contemplating a stopover at the gym. So, while the rest of us peel away to go to our beds, Shah Rukh Khan will go about Ramoji—itself an embodiment of what movie magic can build. Sleep, he says, is a waste of time. He has promises to keep. And miles to go.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Kakka Muttai: Happiness doesn't have a price tag

Please go & watch Kakka Muttai. Take everybody along with you - your family, your friends, your children, your neighbours, your colleagues, your boss, your building security guard, your house-help, your lift-man. Basically anybody who has touched your life at any point of time. I'd go as far to say that if you take your ex to watch this, he / she might want to get back with you.

Okay, forget the ex bit. That's perhaps stretching it too far, but you get the drift, no? Please go & watch Kakka Muttai.

Kakka Muttai is one of those rare films that we get to savour very rarely, that we want everybody we know to watch it.

I was born with a superpower - that of being happy. I realised it after my first break up, that I didn't need a person or a thing to be happy. Happiness is just a state of mind, and I know how to be happy. I have been the happiest in the last two decades of my life, soon after I understood that there is no point in ending your life over a relationship or anything remotely material. If I could, I would immediately rename myself 'Happy Muttai' or 'Happy Cutlet'.

Touchwood. Also,


M. Manikandan's Kakka Muttai, for me is a masterclass in being happy. I know many people who get the happiest when they get a text from the bank saying, "Your salary has been credited." I also know a few people who have given up plush jobs to chase their dreams. I have enjoyed, and suffered both these phases, and today I am in the happiest phase of my life. I am living the dream, and my mom has told me that all these good things are happening because of Rani being in my life.

Kakka Muttai is about two urchins who were born with the superpower of being happy, and they knew of it when they were too young. Being happy was the easiest thing for them... Picking coal that has fallen by the railway tracks didn't sadden them, eating uncooked crow eggs for breakfast didn't turn them into cynics, they didn't even know what money could do - till the bloody pizza shop was inaugurated in their neighbourhood.

Lots of things happen in Kakka Muttai, and nothing looks forced or gimmicky - not even the fab cameo by my favourite Simbu. The film instigates you to think of so many important life questions, but not while you are watching it. The thinking process kicks in after you are done watching it. Throughout the running time of the film, I was only invested in senior and junior kaka muttais. Will they get to eat the proverbial 'peesa'? Will the 'peesa' make them happier?

I got to have my first 'peesa' early in life, and I loved it, but today, I get happiest when I buy a pack of Cadbury's Gems or Parle Poppins. In between the senior and junior Kakka Muttais, I rediscovered the bond I had with my kid bro, who now is about to become a doc with a MD degree. I am happiest knowing the fact that even if I take an Uber X to work and back, I know that I am just filling the coffers of some greedy MNC who is cheating me in some way.

After you watch M. Manikandan's Kakka Muttai, you will know what I was trying to say in the last paragraph. I have been told by many that there is some light in my eyes, but all I know is that I have light coloured eyes. I love it when colleagues judge ideas if I react to them with my feet tapping while I listen to them, IF I think they are worth anything. At the risk of sounding immodest, I am proud that my childlike innocence is still intact; Kakka Muttai reflected it.

Happiness doesn't come with a price tag, it's within us. Happiness is like rajma-chawal... maa ke haath ka bana huwa. It takes very little to be happy. We all can be happy.

Please go & watch Kakka Muttai.

Pretty please, with extra cheese on top.


Friday, May 22, 2015

TANU WEDS MANU RETURNS: Ho gaya hai pyaar phir se


Please read after watching the film. PLEASE. Do read after watching. For those who want to know what I think about TWMR in general, I will say that it is a laugh-a-minute fun ride. If nothing else, 'Oye hoye Pappiji' will keep you in splits throughout the film. I think it is high time director Aanand L Rai makes Pappi Weds Pinky or some such - Deepak Dobriyal is that awesome! I would watch this sequel of Tanu Weds Manu again, just to see him chew every scene that he is in.


Please watch this song from Tanu Weds Manu.

When I first watched Tanu Weds Manu, and this song played - I was sobbing like a baby. I had to leave the theatre as many old memories came flooding in and my crying was a little too loud, and I didn't wish to embarrass myself any further. I bought a ticket for the next show, and cried some more for Manu, and myself, at a bar close by.

I didn't cry as much during the second viewing, but I knew that Manu was doomed. There was no way in hell that he could live happily ever after with a flawed-so-messed-up-in-the-head Tanu.

I knew our brother Manu has travelled all the distance to come and shove a cactus up his ass and live with it for the rest of his life. Manu was a simple guy after all. He only knows how to love. He can't deal with Tanu who is but a bag of various stages of fuck ups. I had sensed it back then that they were headed for a divorce. End of story. Sad panda. What to do? Move on.

Back to present day.

Now I am a happily married guy, and the word 'divorce' scares the shit out of me. Not because I am afraid of the alimony business, it's only that I know nobody can love me as much as Rani does, and vice versa. That's the thing about hopeless romantics - for us it is either the whole hog, or none at all. Tanu Weds Manu Returns is a testimony of that. Tempt me with the best alcohol in the world, but I will only choose my Old Monk rum. Also, Old Monk rum is the best alcohol in the world.

It takes some serious talent, a combo of director Aanand L Rai and writer Himanshu Sharma to make the funniest film about something as sad and devastating as a divorce. I will not be surprised if they make a film about people dying, and their funerals that follow, and I will still be laughing my ass off. These guys are made of something else. More power to this team. As much as I respect A. R. R. sir, I still hope and pray that for music in his films, Mr. Rai sticks to Krsna sir & Rajshekhar sir.  

If you don't believe me, listen to this song:

Coming back to Tanu Weds Manu Returns, it is as flawed as it characters, but it is also as endearing as its characters. I want to hug all the characters in the film - especially Raja Awasthi aka Jimmy Shergill. I think the writer Himanshu Sharma is a bloody sadist deep down - he writes characters that you fall in love, and wish the world for them, and then he puts them through the worst shit imaginable. Just imagine, I was trying to convince myself that Tanu will get better post shaadi..

Alas, Tanu gets worse and poor Manu has to pay the price. And poor Kumari Kusum aka Datto aka Kangana Ranaut. Yaar just hand over all the 'Best Actor' awards to Kangana already. I don't know what spoon she was born with, but she converted that spoon into a golden spoon now. Just how many female actors in Hindi cinema get such author-backed roles? She seems unstoppable. I think she can play the role of Manu too, in the next TWM franchise and still be as awesome, even better may be.

Sample this: I overheard a guy during the interval sutta break saying, "Yaar Tanu aur Kusum kahan se ek jaise lagte hain? Apna Manu bhaai baawra ho gaya hai pyaar mein." One smart guy was speculating that both Tanu and Kusum were the same person. Another genius brain in the smoking zone had decoded the double role by saying that Manu is just imagining things - Chemical Locha. When you hear such things, you know that the actor has triumphed.

A BIG SHOUT OUT TO R. MADHAVAN. Like among the female actors, nobody cries like Vidya Balan; amongst the men, nobody cries like Maddy. I can't see him cry. I don't want him to cry. I hate everyone who makes him cry. I will personally go punch people who make him cry. He is a happy guy. When he says that he doesn't even lech at his wife, I believe him. Maddy has been that guy for me ever since I first watched him cry in 'Rehna Hai Tere Dil Mein'.

It was a surreal feeling to watch Tanu Weds Manu Returns at Chandan (Juhu), and see the audience go apeshit each time Deepak Dobriyal was in the frame. Also, it was the first time when the audience gave a standing ovation to a film, first when the interval was announced, and then after the end credits were rolling. That sums up my TWMR experience. Guys who watch a film at Chandan and other such single screens are those, whose verdict you can trust.

Before I sign off, listen to this:

Go watch Tanu Weds Manu Returns. We all need those laughs.   

Saturday, May 9, 2015

Piku: Some deep emotions let loose in motion

The day I first saw the trailer of Shoojit Sircar's 'Piku,' I knew I had to watch it - first day first show. Since the trailer released till I watched the film today, I have lost count of how many times I revisited it. I already knew it is the kind of film that will touch me, move me, and become a part of my family in the form of a DVD & live happily with me ever after. My excitement to watch it FDFS was growing by the day, and then shit happened.

The better half had a problem with her motions, and we had to wait till Saturday evening to go watch the film. I swear I am not making up this shit. CineMaa kasam!

A confession before I begin writing about Piku - I find it very hard to stand Bengali people. They are too snobbish for my liking. Some of them even tweet to each other in Bengali. Strangely enough, the filmmakers who have influenced me deeply through their work are Bengalis - Sujoy Ghosh, Shashanka Ghosh, Dibakar Banerji and Anurag Basu. The latest addition to this elite club is Shoojitda. I went mad with joy when after finishing a narration, the producer's feedback included the fact that my script is in a very Shashanka Ghosh zone. 

Without wasting any more time, let me get started on Piku - When Bachchan saab gets an author-backed role, he elevates the the film to some other stratosphere. Deepika Padukone emanates some inner radiance and lights up the frame like no DoP ever can ever facilitate. If Irrfan can stand up to the legendary actor like Bachchan saab, and still chew the scene effortlessly, there's no stopping him. A thundering drum roll, hawaai firing & wine ki barsaat for my new hero - 

Juhi Chaturvedi

By now you must have guessed that there is not much I am going to reveal about the film. This blog only orders / requests / begs / tantalises / pataoes the readers to watch Piku, as soon as you can. The trailer gives you an idea of what to expect, but if you choose to read further, I will give you some subtle reasons why you MUST watch Piku this weekend. Please don't let the U/A certification deter your choice - the makers have been smart enough to keep it entirely clean.

You might think that 'potty humor' isn't your zone, but that's because of Sajid Khan. Potty and constipation are just metaphors employed by Juhi and Shoojitda. Piku is about life in general, and relationships in particular. A daughter coming of age, and a father going back to his nascent childhood. A son trying to tolerate his family by trying to replace the father, and the family just acting difficult - like all children tend to do. There's no explanation to this behaviour.  

Piku is also about other peripheral relationships - the one you share with your maid, the one you share with your personal doctor, and so on... Hard as I try, there couldn't be a better name to this film than 'Piku'. The film revolves around Piku, the girl of today, stuck with a father of yesteryears trying to get in sync with his progressive daughter. Everything that was supposedly wrong with Deepika's 'My Choice' video, stands corrected in Piku. I am not telling you more - go watch the film.  

Picture this: It was the second day after my mom-in-law moved in with us. She has several medical ailments, and has survived them all thanks to the rockstar that she is. That day I had only stepped out for less than five minutes to pick up some grocery, and the minute I come back, she is running around the home with a broom cleaning up the home. I was aghast, as she is not allowed to stress herself. Since that day she has been our baby. We ensure that everything's in place so that she is calm.

I connected with Piku and her life because I have a 64 year old child at home who gets cranky at times. We understand that all she just wants is our attention, but Rani and me being busy professionals, we are unable to be there all the time. Having been a professional nurse in her prime, mom-in-law takes care of herself when it comes to prescribing medicines for herself and taking them on time. It's just the emotional space with many voids that brings out the 'trouble child' within her.

Before I get too emotional, I hand over the blog to Rani... 


For me Piku is not just a film, its an experience. The same kinds anyone would experience with older people around them. I was fortunate to have my grandmom live with us when I was younger. She was a rock solid woman and our household which only had women, got some kind of magical strength because of my 80+ years old grandma being with us. She was also a typical Malayali Christian, who would call my friend Sachin Mathews as "Mathai kutty" (which I am sure he hated) or start blabbering unpleasant things in front of my male friends if she didn't like them. She would win laughing championships (Yes, there is such a thing in Kerala) and could make you feel miserable at the same time. But despite everything it was the unconditional love she had for me, which she expressed in a very strange way that would make me do anything and everything for her. 

Piku is about the complex relationships around us. Our frustration stemming from the ones (Especially who we love the most) being a certain way. Its learning to deal with small things. For e.g- It irritates me to no end when my mom makes noise while she chews food, but I have learned to yet be proud of her wherever we may be, while she is relishing her food (whether it's a five star or a small dhaba) because now the priority is also that at least she is relishing that particular meal. 

Piku says to Rana at a certain point, "Ek waqt ke baad, hamey hamare parents ko zinda rakhna padta hai". Sometimes, what our parents say or do just doesn't make sense, but its their way of asserting their importance or trying to feel their existence in someway. And at other times, its long after they are gone, that we realise why they behaved unreasonably at a certain point. My first impression of a 'mother' was my grandma, who brought me up from when I was 1 and half years old. It was after she was gone that I looked back and realised why she would call out to me incessantly, and I would come running from either cooking in the kitchen, or from playing outside,  to get her water from the refrigerator which was placed right next to her bed... It was because her legs used to go numb, which I was unaware of back then. Did I get upset at those times? Yes, I did get upset sometimes, not always though. 

There was a time towards my grandma's last days, when she couldn't move out of bed. Yet she hated being given bed pans. She would gather all her strength and go to the toilet herself. Once I remember, she perhaps couldn't control till she reached and she was so upset that she almost cried apologetically. I cry every time I imagine that expression on her face. When we were kids, they would have cleaned us a million times over, yet nobody would want to burden themselves on their kids ever. Before I get more emotional, let me just say that please go experience PIKU. 

Let this piece of cinema take you on a 'Motional' ride ;)

Saturday, April 18, 2015

OK Kanmani: Fell in love with The Mani Sir version 2.0

I am a sucker for films about eternal love and occasional longing. I know that genre is almost on it's way out, but with Imtiaz Ali around, there is hope for this genre. This blog is about how Mani Sir's latest film, OK Kanmani, turned me into a ball of mush, all over again. It is common knowledge now, that I am a mush ball 24X7. It just happened that I watched the trailer of 'The Tale of Tales,' and got GROSSED OUT and lost my mind for a bit.

Now I am back to my normal self - the eternal lover boy, who chooses to overlook anything that's dark, depressing or generally sad. I run miles away from people who reek of any kind of negativity.  Before I lose track of what I was saying, let me announce that I LOVED Mani Sir's reinterpretation of what perhaps was his earlier interpretation of love. Sir is catching up the changing times, and it is such an amazingly cool thing to do. Just like how Gulzar Saab does. The best part of this reinvention, is that the core or the soul is still as innocent. Not corrupted by the way today's generation speaks or thinks. May be I am just too old-school for today's cool.

When I introduce myself as a writer, I am usually asked, what is the genre I love writing the most. My answer usually is - love stories. Having said that, I know there is a dearth of fresh love stories. How far can one go anyway? Boy meets girl / girl meets boy / they love each other / hate each other / end up together / part ways. But in OK Kanmani, Mani Sir twists the conventional equation, and adds the magik of Rumi, the Sufi poet, to his story. I am not telling you how. Watch the film, and you'll know what I mean. I think there are a million love stories hidden in Rumi's works.

A bit random, but I think Dulquer Salman and Nithya Menon, are headed to becoming the proverbial 'Raj and Simran,' for a lot of kids who are coming of age. Especially those who watch regional films. Adding to the randomness, a BIG  shout out to my macha, Sethumadhavan aka Napan seth, aka the Don of Regional Sinima Mafia, who operates out of an underground den somewhere under Aurora Talkies (Matunga, Mumbai). His love for cinema is as epic as it gets. Let's get back to 'OK Kanmani' again. There's not much one can say about it, without taking away from the experience of watching it, just knowing enough from what's there in the trailer, as the makers would want us to...

One of the things that fascinated me among the gazillion others, is the way Mani Sir showcased Bombay. Coming from the man who made a film named Bombay, it came as a pleasant surprise. You don't see Bombay, you see Mumbai. You'll have to watch the film to know where I am coming from. The melting pot of cultures that this city is, there are times when we grin wide, when we hear somebody speak our native language. Aah my love for Bombay... Hope I am able to showcase it in one of the films that I write, but let me save that for some other day, some other blog.

Embarrassing as it may be for some, I don't like animation films, and I just can't stand superhero films where one guy or a bunch of people have to save the earth. I love films that are about normal people like you and me, on a regular day. Films like Anand, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Rocket Singh Salesman Of The Year, Do Dooni Chaar (in no specific order) tug at my heart strings. Mani Sir's OK Kanmani is one such film. Recently, film critic, Anupama Chopra worded my thoughts on films like 'Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara' and the yet to release 'Dil Dhadakne Do'; she slotted such films as the ones that address 'posh people problems,' and I was clapping gleefully, now that there is a genre like that, I can avoid watching altogether.

And what does one say about ARR's contribution to a film that he decides to give music to, and Mani Sir being his mentor, he is obviously biased. I swear even if there were no subtitles, I could feel the words in the music, and that's what music should do - transcend above the words, and still convey the underlying thought. I know I am taking away a lot from those who painstakingly put the words together, but what the hell! Somebody had to say it, so what if it had to be me. Not just the songs, even the BGM is worth being treasured. Special mention for Jr. Rahman, who makes his debut with Mani Sir, like how his dad did, back in the day -

Just to sum up my thoughts on 'OK Kanmani,' I will say that it's a wonderful film that celebrates love in the times that we live in. No cheap gimmickry, no forced swear words, rooted-yet-today, coming of age of a filmmaker, love is enough to get everything done... even if it means just a good film. Power and money are the uncouth devices employed, when love is lacking. Thoda meta ho gaya perhaps, but I am not trolling anybody on the sly. It's just a note to myself. It's strange, but after watching OK Kanmani, I felt like I revisited Gautham V Menon sir's, 'Vinnaithaandi Varuvaaya.'

My 'kanmani' for this lifetime, Rani, thought I had lost it when I told her that I felt like Prakash Raj's look in 'OK Kanmani' was a hat-tip to Gulzar Saab. Watch the film and correct me if I am wrong.

Love, Magik.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

NH10: कातिल रास्ते मिल जाते हैं चारों ओर से

Let's get into the mood first... One road song that I dig - Road ke har mod pe

There was a phase in my life when I was in love with the roads. All kinds of roads - the literal ones and the ones that my thoughts and imagination often took me to. All was good till I met with a road accident. I had become a vegetable for a little more than a year. It left me scarred for life, and my love affair with the roads ended abruptly for good. I am paranoid about hitting the roads, as it had hit me, way too hard for me to reconcile with it.  

Somebody wise had once said, "The middle of the road is where the white line is - and that's the worst place to drive." Kudos to director Navdeep Singh, and female lead, Anushka Sharma for choosing the riskiest place to drive. Riskiest in every sense one can think of. It must have been a familiar zone for Navdeep, who  had last made 'Manorama Six Feet Under,' but you HAVE to see the film to come to terms with Anushka's risk-taking appetite.

There's enough material put out there by the makers of NH 10, to help you decide if you should watch the film or not. Let me just say that if Badlapur was appreciated for all that it was, NH 10 is in a similar league - albeit with more copious dollops of badassery. The timing of the film's release could not be more perfect. India as a country is still trying to cover up the so-called 'shame' caused by the documentary made on the blood-curdling 'Nirbhaya' episode.

The last time I felt a similar adrenalin rush was when I came out after watching Mardaani. I was clapping like a child when the antagonist of Mardaani got what he deserved. NH 10, is another rush altogether, and one can only internalise it. As many words I might try to employ to explain what I felt walking out of NH 10, I know I will fail at the job. I felt that I was devoured by the director's subversion, and that is something that rarely happens. I felt it last when I first watched RGV's Satya.

In the guise of a thriller, Navdeep has packed in a sucker punch in the face of the gender politics that exist amidst us even in 2015. The rot is everywhere - good looking rot in some places, and ugly ones in others. I am not even going to elucidate why I said what I just did. You will decipher it when you see the spectacle unfold while you cling on to your seat, gasping for breath. I suddenly realised the importance of having a machinery to maintain law and order to keep the beasts within us in check.

Also, the idea of the two Indias that we live in now seems silly to me, thanks to this mirror Navdeep has attempted to show us. Deep down we are all but one India... the only difference is that those of us who are educated just about manage to keep our corruptions fiercely guarded. If a couple in the metros is still coming to terms with gender equality, the rural populace has it's own screwed up version of gender politics. 'जिस की लाठी उस की भैंस' is perhaps the unsaid code.

Without revealing more, the thoughts I shared with y'all are perhaps what I will mostly be sleeping over tonight.  I think it would be most appropriate to be wrapping up this piece by expressing my gratitude to the makers of NH 10, for making a film like this. It takes more than just money to put together a project like this. The makers have walked the middle of the road - on the white line that separates the left from the right, the good from the bad, and what an amazing job they have done.

Standing ovation. Hawaai firing.

This song from NH 10 will play for the rest of the night - छिल गये नैना 



Friday, February 27, 2015

DUM LAGA KE HAISHA: वो तो है अलबेला

For anybody who has grown up in the 90s, it is almost impossible to not like director Sharat Katariya's film, 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha'. Especially for those who have heard Kumar Sanu-Alka Yagnik songs on audio cassettes - on loop, rode Bajaj scooters, wore grotesque sweaters (in my fashion book) that were made at Tibet and sold at roadsides in small towns of North India, and those who are aware of the concept of a now slowly dying ritual - सामूहिक विवाह.

As the trailer already shows, DLKH is about - a mismatch made in heaven. The couple that was never meant to be, but that did become, and a great one at that. Ayushmann Khurrana and Bhumi Pednekar play the central parts, Prem and Sandhya - but their lives are not central to their quirk-laden families. Watching DLKH for me was like attending a family wedding - you like some of the attendees and dislike, even hate some, but you only wish well for the couple that is getting married. DLKH stays in the couple's life for a little longer, when things get sour. Very sour.

Watching DLKH was a series of nostalgia attacks for me. I spent a large chunk of my life at Indore, so the lingo used in the film wasn't alien to me. I loved the words employed by Prem, Sandhya, and their respective families - I had heard many such conversations. It was a world I could relate to. Just last evening a friend of Rani had dropped by, and he told me that I should wake up every morning, slap myself and thank God that I found somebody like Rani to be my life partner. I agreed. Compared to the superwoman Rani is, I perhaps don't deserve her.

DLKH is also mostly about that feeling - what is a perfect match? Who is the right person who you should spend your life with? Is there really something called the perfect match? We are all imperfect, but the best part is that we find love and peace with our imperfections. Prem and Sandhya in DLKH are that - perfectly imperfect. They make up for each other's shortcomings, and life goes on. Just how simple a love story can get. No doubt it takes a lot of effort for Prem and Sandhya to get together, but when they do, they can move mountains.

I connected to Prem, played by Ayushmann - he is a prick. I was one, not very long ago. But he is also ALL heart. I also suffer from the same problem. If I love you, I will go as far as Raghu in Badlapur went. If I don't, there is a very thin chance I will waste even a minute with you. I just might - if you are Rani's friend or her guest.  Prem in DLKH is a closet lover boy - the one that I am, and the one that used to be the soul of Yashji's films. He is a mush-ball but slightly apologetic about it. It is just about arriving at the magical moment when Prem falls in 'prem'. Thereafter ho gaya kalyan :D

I don't know why, but the character Prem also reminded me of the Sunil played by Shahrukh Khan in Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa... वो तो है अलबेला... हज़ारों में अकेला... सदा तुम ने एब देखा, हुनर को ना देखा   

I think the reason Aditya Chopra greenlit this film is that it is the closest to Yashji's school of romance. Something perhaps he would have been proud to produce, had he been alive. DLKH celebrates pristine love as it is meant to be. With a little bit of family banter thrown in. Director Sharat Katariya has done a great job, both with writing and directing this film. His passion and earnestness come across in every frame. The attention to detail is... GOBSMACKING!


Watch this song NOW.

I don't want to take away more from what you will discover in the film after watching it yourself. We can share notes after you've watched. Ayushmann as Prem in DLKH is not just carrying his wife on his shoulders, he is also shouldering the film itself. DLKH is not your regular romcom or braindead entertainer, it is an experience - An endearing tribute to an era that was. The one that I grew up in. The one where I first fell in love. The one where I experienced heartbreak. The one where Kumar Sanu was the voice of love and longing.

Please watch Dum Laga Ke Haisha this weekend. Thank me later.


Friday, February 20, 2015

BADLAPUR: An eye for an eye...

2015 has just about started, but I don't know why I already think that there will perhaps not be a film better than Sriram Raghavan sir's 'Badlapur' this year. It is a dark, twisted story about revenge, and all those who are clued in to the story from trailers, interviews and other miscellany, know what's coming their way.

You know it all...

As most of you would reckon, this isn't a conventional review of what 'Badlapur' is all about, who acted well in it, and how many crores it might make at the box office; given the fact that it is an 'A' certified film. I have been a fan of Sriram Raghavan sir since 'Ek Haseena Thi'. His third film 'Agent Vinod' did upset the apple cart slightly, but ever since I came to know that he is making 'Badlapur', I was excited to watch it. More so, after I came to know that Sriram sir has pitted Varun Dhawan against Nawazuddin Siddiqui.

Chalk-cheese, rum-wine, cake-mutton, Gandhi-Hitler... so many variations struck my mind as far as the casting is concerned. I got to read the rough script of 'Badlapur' from an email address that I didn't know of - I read it as any self respecting fanboy. I was sweating by the time I had finished reading it. Could a film like this be made in Hindi? In my lifetime? In the Hindi film industry?

Quick flashback: I met Sriram sir when he was giving interviews a few days before the release of 'Agent Vinod'. I think I asked the stupidest question ever posed to him... I asked - You look like just another happy person, especially like a conservative middle class South Indian; how do you come up with such twisted stories? He smiled at me, embarrassed at the question... unable to reply to my stupid question. I moved on to the next question. Quick flashback over.

A little less than 20 minutes into 'Badlapur,' I had internalised the central character. Once upon a time I used to be a copywriter who used to wait to work on a condom account. Lingerie account I didn't even aspire for. So I had owned the guy, Raghu - he was me and all the other creative people I knew during my stint in advertising, rolled into one. Definitely not the nice ones. The twisted types. Especially a Malayalee guy, Padma Kumar C.K., who had a long name, who, for us was PKCK. In my first Old Monk session with him, he admitted that he was a Communist, and had killed a few people back in the day. I was scared shitless. That was the first and last time we drank together.

I am the kind of guy who feels guilty when the mosquito bleeds on me after I slapped it hard to death. I don't know what would it take for me to kill a human. This is the reason I knew that Raghu's reason to kill humans for revenge has to be strong enough for me to sit through 'Badlapur'. I cried almost through the first half of the film, and that's the reason I thought what Raghu did in the second half was justified. A creative mind that is depressed for more than a decade; in my book, could facilitate a world war, if nothing worse. Here Raghu had lost the two people who he loved the most in the universe.

Blood-spill was inevitable. What I wasn't expecting was who possibly would be the victims of his rage. Who actually is the victim here? Who is the hardened criminal? Was money the motive? Was it just sex? Did Raghu ever feel guilty of what he had done? Did he live happily ever after? Who was he fighting against? Was he angry with the cop/s, or those who ruined his entire existence without even intending to do so? What is justice? An eye for an eye? A life for a life? Two lives for two? Three for three? How will it ever help anybody? What the fuck?

The 'Jee karda' song captures the essence of 'Badlapur'. While many of us might just lick our wounds, and move on in life - not all of us are the same. Will one revenge a random road accident? What about rape? Was SRK's character in 'Baazigar' justified in doing what he ended up doing? What about Madhuri Dixit's character in 'Anjaam'? And Vijay Deenanath Chauhan? Is revenge pointless? What is the point one proves - especially when a life is lost? Somebody said, "revenge is a dish best served cold...," but what about those who like it hot?


I am certainly not saying that I endorse what path the central character chose, in the process of taking revenge against those who destroyed his universe, just to ensure that he finds peace... or even come to terms with his loss, which only he knows how deep it was. All I am trying to say that I loved Sriram sir's 'Badlapur' to bits, and for some odd reason connected with Raghu and the choices that he made. The world - the mood - the characters - their motivations... somehow I just connected. 'Badlapur' is one of those rare films that manage to find an audience these days. It has its flaws... not denying that.

Any film / scenario that involves innocent lives being lost, for no reason strong enough, will find its haters, but 'Badlapur' is a film about a guy who lost his own plot while he was plotting the rest of it it for a good fifteen years or less. Objectivity, perspective and much more is lost, when the loss is way too personal. May be that woman shouldn't have died, or perhaps he should have given away the spoils to charity... Why is the evil man not evil enough for all us to hate him unanimously? What about the evil guy's sidekick? Why does the evil guy have a loving mother, like the rest of us?

I could perhaps go on and perhaps write another script that just involves Nawaz's character and the one played by Huma... But that's just me... I truly hope 'Badlapur' finds its audience, and then drives home the point that revenge is pointless, beyond a point. What we need to realise is that you can't or shouldn't go all out and become the Gabbar, or the Mogambo when you could be Arun bhaiyya. The ultimate success of Sriram sir's 'Badlapur' depends on the fact that who is the audience rooting for on the way back home.

I personally think that the written material of 'Badlapur' could be made into ten different films at the very least. It all depends on who chooses to make it, and what the intention of the maker is. What I took back from Sriram sir's latest film is that peace is a better idea. Even if we fight till the last person standing has collapsed, what remains is a lonely existence. What does one live off? Memories? They were never enough in the first place. The operative word that makes sense in this zone is - LOVE.

There is enough of it for all of us. It is all about looking for it in the right places.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Aaj sab se zyaada khush hoon main...

A Keyrun Rao original

Maut ke niwaale khaaye bahut,
Zindagi se parhez karta raha,
Ishq ke ghoont tujh se miley they,
Bas zehar ki talaash karta raha.

Rooh mein andhera bhar gaya tha,
Saanson mein meri ghutan si thi,
Raahein bhi chalne nahin deti thi,
Soch par bhi mere gehra saaya tha.

Aaj sab se zyaada khush hoon main,
Aansoo bhi ab khushi ke aate hain,
Ek teri noor mein roshan rehta hoon,
Aaj-kal khwaab bhi achche aate hain.

Aaj sab se zyaada khush hoon main,
Teri raah mein mohabbat ki goonj hai,
Teri lafzon mein mere ishq ki azaan hai,
Lagta hai ke naya ek banda hoon main.

Aaj sab se zyaada khush hoon main,
Lagta hai shayad meri nazar lag jaayegi,
Teri hansi mein meri muskaan rehti hai,
Tere saath meri ye umr bhi nikal jaayegi.

Maut ke niwaalon mein swaad nahin tha,
Zindagi bhi kuchh kuchh bujhi si thi meri,    
Tere saath mujhko bhi main raas aa gaya,
Marne waale ko zindagi ka swaad aa gaya.

Friday, February 6, 2015

CineMaa kasam… fully filmi

A new poem inspired by the 'Fillum' song in Shamitabh

Kuchh pal andhera sa tha shuruaat mein,
Koi akela aaya tha, kuchh kisi ke saath mein
Phir ek nayi kahaani shuru ho gayi parde par
Badi taaliyon aur seetiyon ke bauchaar mein 

Har hafte koi ek nayi kahaani, kisi ki bayaani 
Chaahe bachpan ho ya khilti hui aapki jawaani
Jaan chhidakte hain hum, Dil lagaate hain hum
Zindagi ho jaati hai awesome… CineMaa kasam

Koi actor ho ya star, ya phir ho koi superstar,
Sukh-dukh ke hain saathi ye apne kalakaar,
Unki banaayi duniya mein hum sab khush hain 
Ghar ke paas theater hai, why do we go too far?

Andhere se roshni ke beech apni ye zindagi hai
Chaahe jaisi bhi hai, kyon lagta hai ki sahi hai
Jaan chhidakte hain hum, Dil lagaate hain hum
Zindagi ho jaati hai awesome… CineMaa kasam

Har ek kahaani kisi na kisi ko toh touch kar jaati hai,
Kisi se bore ho jaate hain, kuchh achchi lag jaati hain,
Jaane-anjaane hum kuchh waqt saath bitaate hain
Kabhi kabhi anjaani dagar mein khud se mil jaate hain

Kahaani jaane kiski hai, aur kehne waala kaun hai,
Bol jaane kisne likha tha, aur gaane waala kaun hai 
Jaan chhidakte hain hum, Dil bhi lagaate hain hum
Zindagi ho jaati hai awesome… CineMaa kasam

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

What a joke...

I still haven't managed to convince myself enough to pay people (individuals or groups) to make me laugh. I keep myself amused enough most of the time.  Also, as a struggling film-writer I am usually broke most of the time, so I would rather spend whatever little I make to pay for movie tickets, buy DVDs, and order a book online, once in a while.

Like all those who spend most of the waking hours on the internet, I knew of AIB since they had started doing podcasts. I didn't particularly like them, so I don't qualify as a fan. Thanks to the BIG names involved, I also knew of the AIB Roast well in advance. I didn't whore myself out to buy the expensive ticket, despite the fact that the proceeds would go to charity.

As they say, charity begins at home. In my case it's usually at some dingy bar in the vicinity.

For me it was just another day, when the AIB Knockout happened amidst a HUGE audience, and it didn't bother my piddly existence one bit. I am sure nobody at the 'roast' missed my absence as well. A few weeks passed by, and I saw the teaser / trailer of the AIB Knockout on the official channel. I swear it had grabbed me by my balls. I hadn't seen anything like this, that too at this BIG a scale.

Like every other creative keeda, I was rubbing my hands in wicked glee. WHAT DID I JUST WATCH? Confession: I have ugly, dark and wicked corners in my khopdi ki jhopdi, but this was something else. For once I regretted not paying people to make me laugh. May be I should have attended the AIB Knockout after all. From whatever little they had shown in the trailer, I thought these guys have collectively created history. HAWAAI FIRING!

A few more weeks later the edited version of the AIB Knockout was put out. I was eagerly looking forward to it. Everyone was talking about it; even the Lokhandwala dudes who usually discuss their workout regimes and protein intake were discussing the show in hushed tones. The roast started with a BANG, and I was laughing like a dervish possessed. 30 minutes into it, and I was getting bored. May be it was my mid-life-crisis, or the jokes were getting too repetitive for my liking.

Same old, same old... There were flashes of genius, but they remained just that - flashes of genius. I felt relieved that I didn't pay to watch that stuff. My wallet jumped out of my drawer and hugged me tightly. The 10 rupees' notes in it started doing ghaati dance all over my study table. BUT that's it. I didn't take to the streets screaming that I was hurt and left cheated. Hell, how could I be cheated when I didn't even pay for it. I knew what was coming my way, and I watched it. END OF STORY.

What prompted me to write this piece is the shit I have been seeing floating around ever since some random fungi decided to express their displeasure over the AIB Knockout on National TV. These jokers have saddened me no end. Every time these regressive fossils open their foul mouths, our country goes back a few decades. I wish we could just shut these idiots up. If anybody needs to be probed or punished, it has to be these peddlers of the pseudo 'sanskriti and sabhyata'.  
As far as the AIB Knockout is concerned - Guys, well tried with the roast this time, but expecting much more next time - that is, if you aren't sentenced for life or some such.

What a joke...