Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Graduation and some treasured gems

Its a damned wonderful life, however much we curse it. It always gives us reasons to pull on.
God seriously knows his timings well

Jul 30 2012: Results out. SIMC declares me a graduate

Aug 1 2012: Day 1 at work

and this day, sandwiched between the two is full of so many myriad thoughts.

Looking back at life and connecting the dots and everything fits so well into the jigsaw. Will find the missing pieces as years fly.
Happy, sad, excited, nervous, paranoid, curious, puzzled, hopeful, imaginative, sentimental, analytical - maybe that's what they called mixed emotions.

Flashbacks are not just seen in movies. They happen for real. I enter a tunnel. The tunnel has images of my first visit to Pune. My peer interface, my GD, my admission day, the first night in the hostel, the speech by AS, the orientation, Freshers, the lectures, the rewards, the punishments, the field trip to Panchgani, Radio One, the first times, the road trips, the outings with friends, the slumber nights, the cookery lessons, the dancing in the rains and long walks, the dread of 90 percent attendance and backlogs, the sucky mess food, the hostel terrace (needs a special mention), the make ups and break ups, the internships, Ahmedabad city, the shoots, the degree film, the photography sprees, the last days, the Farewell and after parties, the see offs and goodbyes, the conversations that followed, seeing the result online. I exit the tunnel.
The contract I signed 3 years ago, is now complete. Will get my dues in December at the convocation. That would probably be the last time I'd see some of them.

Right now, waiting to lay my hands on my marksheet! Arriving via courier in the next few days *greedy eyes*

And for those, who are still a part of the journey, my best wishes.

Reshma Philip - My Mallu! Why did I meet you only in the last year! I have so many lovely memories with you and not a single picture. Just waiting for you to come to India babe!

Trisha Das - I love you my roomie. You know I still have that video of you. Miss your screeching and our late night talks. Still remember the day I scared you by the window and the last day while running in the hostel corridor ;) Remember you every time I see momos or any chicken tikka thing and fish! And every time I see someone tipping salt over their food.

Kamalini Mukherjee - Tumne mujhe sab kuch sikhaya...except for Bengali :P My steady gf since semester 1. My motaa! Thanks for making me soup at 1am. For introducing me to all the right and wrong things ;)
I miss hearing your casanova like talks and golly! I miss your cooking. Will never forget Holi, or the drinks, or the road trip and homely times. And also that day when I found you slipped and fallen in the hostel bathroom, next to the commode. LOL!

Ruby Aunty and Shriman Uncle - For all the loving care. Thanks to you, I hardly missed my parents. I wish I could come to Kolkata right now and hug both of you. Such a lovely couple and such lovely parents.

Sonia Bajaj - Meri hateli, meri jaan! I seriously have no words to describe us. You used to called me your soul sister. We've been through the best and worst o f times and I am so happy that you are still an integral part of my life. An asset to have you in my life. Will miss you a hell lot when you go abroad. I don't know when I'll get the chance with you to ride on dark roads at 90kmph or even listen to your mall talks and senti stories. Do keep the non veg jokes coming for now. I love you.

Chirantan Mahajan - You're the best thing that's happened to me in my life.

Praween Uncle - For all the blessings and loving care. You inspire me to never discontinue my studies.

And there are many more wonderful people I met...

Anupam Siddhartha Sir - I don't think you'll read this. Thank You is an understatement.

Seema Khinnavar - My first friend at SIMC! I remember meeting you on day 1. I was there to see you off. My link with Mumbai. My nature trail partner.

Damechwa Mawnai and Ashish Chandra - My photography freaks. I have seen you grow to be the photographers you are today

Manish Baghel - An awesome semester, the BiG internship, the Mumbai local tales.

Kalpana Champawat - I still don't believe I met someone like you at a place like Symbiosis. I truly respect you.

Sumalini Mukherjee - I miss you kiddo!

Akanksha Srivastava - My mixed breed. My Jappy! Wish we could explore more food joints together

Prachi Makhija - You're conviction is commendable. Wish we had more time to know each other. 

Heena Dixit - For all the beauty tips and remedies.

Renita Bhowmick - For the wardrobe changes

Ashwin Mehendale - For breaking some misconceptions I had about guys and non actors.

Aishwarya Nair - My adorable junior whom I miss the most. I literally see glimpses of myself in you.

Abhibroto Roy - I never sampled your cooking, sadly! But I have some humorous moments to credit you for.

Sanyukta Iyer - For being a constant companion through my school and college life at Udayachal, Xaviers and Symbi

Vageeesh Bhan - I hope your mom will stop the comparisons now that its over.

Hiren Naresh - For letting me raid your movie collection

Leshna Thakur - I am just so happy for you

Aprajita Kalyani - I admire your loyalty

Maria Mohammad - I haven't met someone as creative as you at hostel table art!

Himanshu Singh - For your constant guidance and helping me explore Ahmedabad

Marushka Monette - For all those lovely handmade cards and all your awesomeness

Soumyadeep Roy - Lavasa and the pudding recipe

Milinda Ma'am - My agony aunt, my window to the lovely world of art, my inspiration to positivity.

Nadi Ma'am - For making me the writer I am today.

Yogesh Mathur Sir - For making me fall in love with cinama and introducing me to films made before I was born.

Ajay Zad Sir - If you were around in the admin office, I would have come all the way to Pune to collect my result.

Sagar Kamath Sir - For the awesome field trips and treks

Dilshad Panday Ma'am - I love you for that lecture till 1am in college.

Shubha Ma'am - For giving me my first project and a great deal of exposure

Chandrashekhar Sir and Edwin Sir - For all the trouble shooting

 (The list is endless...)

Wonder what the flash forward holds, don't we all :)

Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Illegitimacy of life

Mariam was five years old when she first heard the word harami. The novel opens with these lines and throughout its progression highlights the illegitimacy of the life of women in the troubled land of Afghanistan.  How illegitimacy shapes life and who decides what’s legitimate and what’s not.

A woman is born to endure – brutalities and the patriarchal society. In Afghanistan today there are still talks of liberating women. The country needs their women.  The same clan who suffered bombings, humiliation and torture. Who were not allowed to step out of their houses without being accompanied by a male member.  They were victims of forced marriages, they were sold off as slaves, raped, killed, compelled to prostitution. They had to be burqa clad even while operating on their own kind. Children were delivered via caesarean without the administration of anesthetic. 

What touched me most about this book was the dual nature of man. There is Rasheed who is self centred. An extremist. Who thinks women are sex toys and machines to mint children. Whose violence knows no bounds. And there is Tariq, who respects women. Who is loyal to his childhood love with a faith so strong that it knows no bounds. They are both courageous men of caliber. But courage means different things to different people. This novel makes you hate men, but adore them as well. 

Adversities can bring strangers together. Laila and Mariam are separated by a generation, they share the same husband. But the common thread of adversity unites them. And the unity goes beyond physical death, blossoming to a spiritual presence. 

A Thousand Splendid Suns is a powerful portrait of female suffering and endurance under the Taliban and although we are miles and generations away from that violence, it still pinches the heart. 

(my thoughts on Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns)

Saturday, July 28, 2012

The transformative phase

I wish I could just stop biting my nails. Sigh! 

So many bad habits to get rid of.
So many cravings to do away with.
Oodles of memories to stash away.
Loads of preparations for the new life ahead.
Umpteen sacrifices to make.

Yes. I have to change myself. Because I do not want the world to see me like this. They won’t accept me. I’d rather reinvent myself. Be a little less possessive about them so that they don’t run miles away from me. Be a little more caring so that I do not lose them altogether. A little presentable to look at so that they don’t judge me. A tad bit responsible so that they trust me. And slightly cold hearted so that they do not fall in love with me. Maybe somewhat resourceful for their benefit. A little serious to be taken seriously.   An iota of strictness for myself so that the world is lenient with me.  A pinch of broad mindedness and tolerance would be an icing on the cake. A teaspoon of patience would do some good. A modest assertiveness to be just at all times. A small amount of humor to cheer those around. A permanent fake smile to wear to clear doubting thoughts. I might have to like things I hate and vice versa. Slightly independent enough to stop bothering others. Governing my own emotions and not being a crybaby. Being a practical bug and not an emotional fool.  Learning to separate two worlds – work and home. Sigh!

So many bad habits to get rid of.
So many cravings to do away with.
Oodles of memories to stash away.
Loads of preparations for the new life ahead.
Umpteen sacrifices to make.

And this may not be the last time…Some call it the beginning...

Friday, July 27, 2012

Who pays the staff?

Pre-production costs, shooting costs, actors maintenance, payment of fees, oodles of taxes, documentation, pleasing the audiences – after reading all this, one must think that producers are indeed a worried and bankrupt lot. They bear the brunt of star tantrums, additional percentage of taxes, flops and hits, and they still stand tall and deliver the best of films to the nation. An actor is never alone on the set. He brings along a driver, a make-up person, a hairdresser, a PA, a spot boy, maybe even a cook. They are paid daily wages/salary in thousands. So the daily maintenance cost of an actor can range from nearly Rs.15000 to Rs.75000 per day. And if a movie shoot consumes about 100 days, the producer ends up spending nearly a couple of crores per actor, more than what his studio technician maybe paid. A multi-starrer invites its own monetary woes and outbursts. In a move to ease their worries, the Producers Guild has moved that actors and actresses should pay for their own maintenance henceforth, and that the producers would not be responsible for the same.

Producer Mukesh Bhatt
We started approaching the principal actors about 10 days ago and they have all agreed to support our cause. But all this is not verbal. They have signed in agreement. They all understand where we are coming from. I met all of them personally. We are just saying that the stars take a lump sum amount from the producers and pay their staff directly from that. Once everyone agrees, we’ll take this to the guild level. So far we’ve got a heartening response from the actors. We are sure the actresses would also understand our concern as well.

Producer Vipul Shah
Sometimes under the name of the star, the staff asks for undue amounts and even throws tantrums. But if they have to take money from their own star, we believe they will become more reasonable. 

Producer Ramesh Taurani
If this new system comes into effect, it will save the producer the hassle of additional paperwork and also negotiating with actors for their staff expenses.

A producers financial woes may seem never ending, but by streamlining the flow of finance through various sections of the industry they aim to make a difference. However the implementation may not be that easy. Staff members also have their own unions and they won’t take such a major change lying down. Interestingly the major actors have signed. Let’s see how the issue unfolds. 

Quote credits: Mumbai Mirror,. Bombay Times (dated 24 July Tuesday) 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Kinkiness - the new reason to laugh?

Right from the use of profanities and explicit material, filmmakers seem to be exploiting the country's newfound acceptance of kinky content and moving towards the genre of sex comedies.

There was an era in Bollywood when witty lines were credited to Kader Khan or Mehmood. The joke was easily understood, not very demeaning and the entire family could laugh at the fun poked. Comedy was situational or targeted at an individual. Remember the gags of Satish Shah and Ravi Baswani in Jaane Bhi Do Yaaron, or the comic capers of Amol Palekar and Utpal Dutt in Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s Golmaal, even the verbal wit of the multi-starrer Chupke Chupke. The spectators went crazy with laughter during the trip from Bombay to Goa, sponsored by the wittiness of Mehmood and his companion Anwar Ali. The yarn was spun around the foot of the common man and the world laughed at his miseries. Comedy evolved out of thrilling situations, out of rivalries between a mother in law and daughter in law, as seen in Biwi Ho Toh Aisi. Govinda as an actor teamed with Kader Khan made the nation laugh with his No. 1 tag in the 90s. Humor was incorporated into fight scenes where viewers let out guffaws at every punch. The days gone by had a completely different take on humor.

We live in an era where jokes are categorized as vegetarian and non-vegetarian, depending on who manages to digest whichever. The demarcations are quite clear. When you watch a film like Golmaal – Fun Unlimited or the Munnabhai series or 3 Idiots, you know you can laugh on the jokes with your elders around. Even the theme is wound around societal farce, commercial education systems and love. However there is a category of films that caters to the crowd that believes clean jokes are for kiddos. 

The trend began with Masti directed by Inder Kumar and its raunchy storyline. The plot involved 3 sex starved husbands who indulge in adultery to satisfy themselves. The representation became overt with the coming of Kya Kool Hai Hum which pioneered the trend of adult comedies. The content produced by Ekta Kapoor absolutely contrasted her melodramatic TV soaps. Mixed Doubles directed by Rajat Kapoor dealt with partner swapping while Mirch explored adultery from a woman’s perspective. The recent Pyaar ka Punchnama is still touted as the Indianised version of American Pie. The wave aims to continue with Kyaa Superkool Hai Hum. Fuelled by hilariously profound love-chemistry and comical gags, this entertainer also has flashy and funky musical scores to its credits.

The director however promises that in spite of the use of double meaning dialogues, his film is not vulgar. In an interview to the PTI, writer-director Sachin Yardi said, “My film is hardcore commercial cinema, designed purely to entertain. It’s for the box office and chances are dim that the critics would praise it.” The film is slated to release on July 27.

However, the film did dissatisfy the Censors. They objected to three scenes which included Anupam Kher`s spoof on late Satyen Kappu`s character from Sholay, Riteish Deshmukh commenting on female anatomy and a spoof on John Abraham`s debut home production film Vicky Donor. Also, some Muslim groups have objected to a dog`s name in the film. Producer Ekta Kapoor is miffed with the changes in spite of the film being ‘A’ certified.

So, if you like repetitive and rigorous jokes about sex, full of desperate pelvic thrusts, whimpers and grunts and other noises of pretentious bedroom games - and if you think American Pie can be made as palatable as desi wada pav, then do catch Kya Superkool Hai Hum this week. 

(a feature I wrote for a magazine)

Monday, July 23, 2012

Is a girl better off unmarried?

Analyse this,

You are 25. You live in the city of Mumbai. You have not yet been on a boatride. You never sat by the sea staring at the sunset. You never jumped in puddles and enjoyed the heavy July rains. You never accompanied your best friend for dinner. You never tried a drink. You never wore a party dress. You do not know what a pub looks like. You are alien to slumber nights. You never took the local train beyond 8pm. You never trekked up to Elephanta or Kanheri.Worse, you never went to the nearby Panchgani, Mahabaleshwar and Matheran. You never explored another city, in spite of having friends from all over the country. You never fell in love. You never got a friend home. You never ventured to watch a 9 to 12 movie show in a theatre.

On the contrary, you have been a regular scorer of good marks. You have never bunked a day of office. You chose the same place of work as your father. You swept, swabbed, cooked, put the clothes to dry whenever you were required to. You even agreed to spend the rest of your life with a stranger to make your folks happy. You always played the daughter, never the friend.
From a dutiful daughter to now being a dutiful wife...from frying pan to fire...
You spent 25 years of your life reporting to your parents, and the next 25 you'd probably report your husband. And after that, the cycle would follow with your own kids.

Imagine, if you choose to not marry.
You'll be earning for yourself. You'll be living life on your own terms and conditions. You can spend a greater amount to look after your parents in their old age. Once you are in command of your life, you can do all that you missed in your teens. You can take the last local home, party for donkey's hours, explore the big wide world which has so many sights to see. You can have a dig at love with no commitments. You can try those drinks, get hungover to your hearts content. You can indulge in adventure without fearing death or anyone losing you. You can live life again..

But the loneliness of the old age, who'll make up for that?
Well, you always wanted to keep a dog, a labrador. Trust me, they are much more loyal and low maintenance than men. Men want freedom, well cooked food, sex, babies, family life... A long list like what your parents wanted of you.
Adopt a child if you are financially stable. He/she will keep you company and even awaken your childhood.

For a girl who is reading this and who has enjoyed her childhood and teenagehood, would disagree with me. But ask someone who is craving to enjoy life, and the feeling would be mutual.
I love the idea of love , of marriage, I would love to have my own kids and family, but I love my life a lot more than that and I want to know what it's like to report to myself, for a change.

Friday, July 20, 2012

The Last Rites

Set a corpse on fire, the ashes remain. Bury the dead, the bones stay intact. Remnants stay behind every time, and the same applies to human relationships.

I am glad I could keep the promises I once made to you. The day you unexpectedly left, I thought a lot about all those dreams we wove together. All those places I had planned to take you to. All those planned explorations. All that was left incomplete.. I am a woman of my words, but I felt like a failure for not standing by those words. A future meeting was a bleak possibility. I didn’t know I’d see you again, ever.

The last rites have been performed. Nothing’s incomplete anymore. Everything is fulfilled. No new vows will be exchanged. No new feelings would arise. Everything has been burnt down to ashes. Ever heard of the dead rising? It only happens in soaps, not real life.

It’s up to me now – whether to keep you dead or alive. Probably, I’ll keep a part of you living. The part that says that you love and care for me. But I must kill that part which says no to commitments. That state of denial could kill what’s alive. Let’s bury it somewhere.

I saw a new dimension of ‘the end’ today. I saw a new beginning today. The start of something new, deeply rooted. For your best and mine.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

A glorious safar ends

His recent public appearance and sign of victory with his fingers did put doubts of his ailing health to rest, but not for too long. Ashirwad – the nest of a lonely heart on Carter Road witnessed a flood of admirers, media persons and friends, as they condoled his wife Dimple, daughters Twinkle and Rinke and son in-law Akshay Kumar. Rajesh Khanna, the ultimate epitome of romance, who made many-a-hearts skip a beat, breathed his last on Wednesday morning, following a prolonged illness. He was 69.

With an unbeatable record of 15 hits in a row, his journey of life indeed resembles a film reel. A struggler in Mumbai, backed by apprehensive guardians, accompanied by a car and an elementary theatre experience, he let his talent do the talking. Beating 10000 participants, Jatin a.k.a. Rajesh Khanna emerged as the winner of a talent hunt held by Filmfare in 1965, and what a gem of a find he was! His trophy was Aakhri Khat, a film by Chetan Anand. In spite of flops, he attracted the likes of Shakti Samanta, Raj Khosla, Asit Sen and A.Subba Rao. The offers kept pouring in thereafter. A cult was born.

Do Raaste, , an underrated Saccha Jhutha, Ittefaq, Doli, Bandhan Safar,  Haathi Mere Saathi and Andaz, the poignant Anand, Kati Patang, Maryada, Aan Milo Sajana, Dushman, Amar Prem, Daag, Anuraag, Namak Haram, the home production - Roti, Premnagar, Aap Ki Kasam, Ajnabee, Prem Kahani and many more. He ruled the box office. He catapulted Kishore Kumar’s career as a singer. He was a favorite with composers, who gave him the best. The most memorable songs of the 70s and 80s are picturised on Khanna and it was thanks to him that S.D.Burman, R.D.Burman Kalyanji-Anandji and Laxmikant-Pyarelal gained a plus point over their competitors. Zindagi ek safar hai suhana, kahin door jab din dhal jaye, mere dil mein aaj kya hai, - a lyric for every occasion, a life that could be narrated in songs. 

The 70’s as a decade resonated the length and breadth of the country and established his reign under the title ‘Kaka’, the first Superstar of India. Stardom is too lukewarm a term for the hysteria he generated. The Bawarchi of hits was known for his style of brewing the flames of romance. Every nod, every wink, every gesture of his, set thousands of female hearts-a-flutter.  He indirectly taught countless boys the art of approaching their dream girls and first crushes. So immense was his craze, that there were instances where girls smothered his car with lipstick marks and married his photographs.  Sacks of letters written in blood were a common sight at his home. Women brought their sick kids at his doorstep to seek his blessings. With his unique mannerisms, he was a favorite with mimicry artists. His guru kurta and char daantwala bracelet were a favorite with men. And yes, he did break a million hearts with his impromptu marriage to Dimple Kapadia. If the era could be recorded live and shown to youngsters today, they would know what a demi-God he was!

His fall struck like a bolt from the blue – some blame it on his lack of professionalism, some on his estranged family relations. He became a man who witnessed hero-worship and loneliness to its extremes. Towards his last years, his deterioration was a perfect example of how fickle stardom was, how success was temporary. Fortunately for him, in his last moments he was in the comforts of his family and home. But the fact remains that no one experienced or lived stardom the way he did. His last Television advertisement directed by R. Balki stands testimony to his life “Mere fans ko mujhse koi nahin chheen sakta”. 

RIP Kakaji – you were an Enigma indeed

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Some more letters

Letters from a heartbroken pessimist 

To my parents,
Haven’t you been through this age already? Then why snatch it from me? This is when I’d like to hang out with friends, go for dinners, dates, movies, places. Go on road trips, hikes, escape to new cities. You treated me like a kid all my life. In a matter of 5-6 years, you’ll marry me off and I’ll be a puppet to another set of individuals. Don’t I need my space, my own life? For how many times should I sacrifice, for how long? I have buried my ambitions for your regrets and mistakes. For how long should I go on pleasing you? 

To my best friend *****,
I know you need me a lot right now. The reason we understand each other is because our lives are so synonymous in nature. I don’t know you since your childhood, just a few years, and yet I can see a lot of myself in you. Wish I was around to make you smile and please you…

To my colony friends,
There are times I don’t know if you exist. I anyway don’t exist for you. How many memories do we have together anyway? After 3 years of being in a different city, we have become aliens. When you don’t please me, why should I?

To my boss,
Yes I cannot labour for 10-12 hours. I believe in delivering you quality work. Keep me if you trust me. I need the money, so I have no option but to please you.

To the guy who loved me dearly,
I don’t know what’s still in your mind. It’s going to take me ages to move on. Every time I see you I feel like holding you by your arm as if I possessed you. But the fact is I don’t anymore. Our good days outnumber the bad moments. Why do you pretend to have forgotten the dress I wore when… the names of places we ate at…why do you restrict yourself? Why don’t you shout at me, slap me, and speak what you truly feel? Where is the boy I fell in love with? Why this silence? Why can’t you stay for the sake of love, even though I failed to please you?

To the one who thinks he has a future with me,
Am I mad when I say we don’t? Haven’t you ever heard of the term ‘friendship’? I am not the solution to your loneliness. I am not ‘available’. I have reasons to not be with you – valid reasons. Like it or hate it, I will not please you!

To God,
Did you really create religions or are they a figment of human imagination? What kind of an intolerant religion am I following? I have unending faith in You, but your followers are nothing but fanatics and hypocrites. Why do they force me to pray when I talk to you several times in the day? Why do they term your gifts as unholy? Why can’t I please you, the way I am, the way I want to?

I am a person who prefers to have a few people in life. More the individuals, more the expectations. And I cannot please everyone. 

(And before you draw conclusions and judge me on reading this post, it's not my plight, but the plight of many I know)