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.