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In the eyes of the beholder

They are strange droplets of water, or could I say magical? They are like mirage in the dry desert of life. Well, they might not necessarily quench your thirst but they give you hope and the strength to carry on. But they are magical also because they appear at other times too, when you do not necessarily expect them to be there. Any overwhelming emotion, happiness, surprise, delight, fear, love…absolutely anything in excess could ring an alarm and call for them. They are always at your disposal. Believe me, they are! You just have to knock your forehead, check the exact location of this inexhaustible well and there you go! Women are believed to have an easier access to them than men. Some even go to the extent of saying that they are a woman’s best weapon. Well, I really do not know how far it is true, but I really do not mind if it is! It is indeed a good feeling to go to bed with your head resting on a wet pillow. That makes me think about 2 things: they are a great sedative and ha…

गणेशोत्सव 2011

At this moment, the entire nation is burning in the fires of "the second war of independence" and writing about something else just does not seem appropriate. But there are, nevertheless, other important issues to tackle....
Ganeshotsav is just around the corner and we, the devotees are eagerly waiting to welcome our dear Bappa home. Markets are flooded with the most mesmerizing, near-live murtis of Ganeshji. Like many others, even I get tempted to bring Bappa home, I really enjoy the excitement around this festival. But then there are certain things that deter me from doing so.
My dad tells me stories of Ganeshotsav celebrations as a child, in our village in Orissa. Although the celebrations there didn’t witness such grandeur, the enthusiasm was always unchallenged. My granny would bathe and redress the Ganesh idol at home, He would be brought out of his usual residence n be presided over a special throne for his birthday. My granny would then treat him with laddoos. The ne…

post-calamity effects

Not a very happy occasion to write. Yet another page of Mumbai’s history has been colored in black ink. Yet another series of blasts! The tough Mumbai spirit was again put to test. And the strong Mumbaikar once again took control over the situation. People came out on the roads and helped their brethren. The ones who survived the blasts called friends and family to check if they had survived it too. Some emotional fools, too shocked even to make those calls, sat and cried. And the not-so-emotional fools gave them a piece of their mind. Some others made their cries loud enough to be heard by the government. The government, in turn, turned a deaf ear to people’s chaotic cries and said, “Things like these happen, they can’t really be controlled.” And for Kasab, it was actually like,
फूल क्या तेरे कदमों में हम
भेंट अपने सरों की चढ़ा जायेंगे


Done with a series of actions that usually follows such an attack! Yeah! It has become such a usual thing for us! Tomorrow morning, after the high tid…

मीठा अचरज - 2

When one travels by train (all Mumbaikars take it as a given that “train” naturally implies THE local train), one always has a bagful of experiences to share, some good, some bad, some simply…strange. Today’s experience was strange but rather pleasant!
I was sitting in the train, staring out of the window, when one of the ladies sitting opposite me, called out, “Ashish” (name not changed) in the direction where I could not see who this Ashish was. (Now, as a woman, when you hear a man’s name in the ladies’ compartment, the brave side of you immediately takes on guard while the timid side hopes it is just a kid that you will have to face). But I was completely taken aback to see that this Ashish was a eunuch! She comfortably came and sat next to me. I just kept staring at those two women (trying hard not to be caught while doing so), who were so sweet, so kind with her (I think it is only justified to say “her”). They started discussing everything from mundane chores to family matters t…

L’Amour Courtois: Really a phenomenon of just the Middle Ages?

After the “epopee” or epic that greatly valorizes the honor of a chevalier who dies in the battle field, literature took on a new dimension, with love playing an essential role. The chevalier was now more eager to prove his worth to his mistress than to his land. It was not just important to love but win his love over the others.
Almost ten centuries later, the concept of love, for men, does not seem to have changed much. This is especially true for Indian men (am not commenting on others as I hardly know any). L’amour courtois rejects all kinds of indiscretion and also any hasty confession of love, everything has to be done as per a “code of conduct”: friendship --> courtship (the most important and probably also the longest lasting stage) --> love.
Is it related to the masculinity of men and their perpetual need to prove it to themselves and to others? Even in today’s age, men prefer a woman who plays the role of the Dame courtoise, or of the Indian “devi” in the Indian context…

Satrangee Parachute

For all those who got excited in seeing Kay Kay Menon, Lilliput, Rajpal Yadav and Rupali Ganguli on posters and in promos, rest assured that they were the only assets that film makers could flaunt about this film!
The film is about Pappu (Siddharth) who wants to fulfill the dream of his visually challenged friend Kuhu (Rajvi) to fly a parachute. In order to do this, the fugitive Siddharth, along with his friends, runs away from Nainital to Mumbai. Although one would expect some deliberate heroism on the kids’ part, it is only on the basis of chance that the plot functions and the kids happen to crack a terroristic plan and prevent a major attack. And the parachute tale is completely forgotten about. Besides this too, there are a lot of loop holes in the script and verisimilitude is missing throughout.
As far as the performances are concerned, the kids cuteness and dimples capture your attention, their slow and predictablt dialogue delivery fail to hold it for too long (but are the kids…

मीठा अचरज

मुंबई, और ख़ास कर भारतवर्ष में अनेक वर्ष रहने के बाद शायद ही किसी को किसी चीज़ का आश्चर्य होता है. पर हाँ, कभी-कभी ऐसा कुछ हो जाता है, कोई ऐसा मिल जाता है, जिससे मन में एक मीठा अचरज हो उठता है, दिन में एक रौशनी सी भर जाती और चहरे पर एक मुस्कान छा जाती है :)

ऐसा ही कुछ आज सुबह मेरे साथ हुआ. लोकल में सर की क्लिप से लेकर पैर के जूतों तक सब कुछ बेचनेवाले सुबह से शाम तक दिखाई पड़ते हैं. आज सुबह लडिज़ स्पेशल में एक औरत साबूदाना वडा, खिचड़ी, पोहा इत्यादि बेचने आई. नीली सलवार और फूलों वाली सफ़ेद कमीज़. छोटा कद मगर कद से कई ज्यादा ऊँची आवाज़. चहरे पर गज़ब का तेज़. "जल्दी बोलो, मैडम" की धुन से उसने पूरा डब्बा बाकायदा हिला रखा था. मैं एक कोने में खड़ी अख़बार पढ़ रही थी, वो छोड़ कर मैं तो बस उसकी फुर्ती देखती ही रह गयी. एक पल यहाँ तो एक पल वहाँ. बगल में दो चेन वाला पर्स टांग रखा था. उसका झोला मानो कोई अक्षय पात्र हो उस तरह चीज़ें उस में से निकलती ही जा रही थी. उसने सब कुछ इस सहुलियत से सजा रखा था की कोई भी चीज़ लेने-देने में उसे दस सेकंड से ज्यादा न लगे. अँधेरी और सान्ताक्रुज़ के बीच उसने हमा…

A Bloody Life

Like any baby, covered in blood
I came into being
The other end of the umbilical cord
Held my twin.
Too huge to be a new born
I had to be tied
A white cloth wrapped around
For a safe, cozy inside.

When I was three,
All my parents came together
Time to choose a school:
Socialist, Communist or Democratic?
Democratic, they said
And I set my foot in school.
How good or bad?
I don’t have an answer today
And, the Deciders are dead!

When I was young,
I had quarrels with my twin
(Like all you young)
I only wish they were not so bloody
An eye for an eye.
And we both became blind…
Unfortunately,
Our mothers were dead too early!

At 64, we still quarrel
I wish we had grown up a little!

abstract

The only abstract thing that is “living”. Its abstraction is not defined by the virtue of being intangible but by being sublime; there is no way you can hold on it, it just evaporates. It is like sand that slips through your hand if you hold it tight, but it is like water that changes form if you keep it light. It belongs to all and yet it is no one’s property. For some it’s like a part of their body, of their being* and yet people deprived of this part have the same right on it. “To play around with language wisely is like practicing a sort of evocative witchcraft.” – Baudelaire.
Language: the only divine thing that man owns 



* in Urdu n French, tongue is the same word as language; zubaan n langue respectively :)

Dhobi Ghaat

After films like Lagaan, Taare Zameen Par and Peepli (Live), Aamir Productions is back with another project – Dhobi Ghaat (Mumbai Diaries).
As the subtitle (in plural) suggests, the film is about the lives of four different people in Mumbai- a painter- Arun (Aamir Khan), Shaay, a New York based investment banker on a “sabbatical”, Yazmin Noor (Kriti Malhotra), an innocent girl from UP who has never been to Mumbai before she is married off here, and Munna (Prateik), the Dhobi. As you would expect, their lives are intertwined in a strange manner. It would be difficult to reveal these entanglements without giving away the total plot, so go watch it for yourselves.
If people decide to walk out of theatres complaining, “story nahin hai”, they would only be partially wrong. Stories just form the most superficial layer of the film and hence there are not hundred events one after the other like in a James Bond movie. The movie is about the city, its different facets, its meaning to each one wh…

Printed Rainbow

Printed Rainbow is a short animation film that won three awards at the Cannes International Film Festival. As animation is not something that Indian film industry takes pretty seriously, it’s an honor to have a filmmaker like Gitanjali Rao and her films.

The film starts in black and white and for a while one tends to forget the “colorful” title of the movie. This movie is about this old lady who lives alone in an urban apartment. Well, not exactly alone, with her cat. Color appears for the first time when the lady opens a wooden box that contains her collection of colorful match-boxes with hundreds of different designs. The only human presence in her life is that of another elderly man of the neighborhood who visits her regularly to exchange match-boxes. These are not just match-boxes but our granny’s gateway into a fantastical world full of colors, in contrast with her black and white life.

What really steal’s the audience’s attention is the brilliant imagination of the filmmaker and …

dosar

Dosar- The Companion- A 2007 entry for the Cannes International Film Festival, this film gives several reasons for it to be one of the seven films selected that year. Functioning through three plots, the thread that weaves them together is marital fidelity. Dosar is the story of Kaushik (Prosenjit Chatterjee) who cheats on his wife Kaberi (Konkana Sen Sharma). He is caught when he and his mistress meet with a car accident that kills her on the spot while he is left seriously injured.
What strikes the audience first and foremost is the making in black n white. The classic look makes the film extremely appealing, and one is tempted to ponder upon the director’s decision to try his hands on this technique when blinding colors seem to be imperative to make a good film. It seems to make sense to use B&W for a theme that has appeared in art and literature since time immemorial! But he would not be Rituparno Ghosh if he didn’t make something magical out of this ordinary theme. It’s not j…

विपाशा

ज़िन्दगी यूँ थी बंदिनी
जैसे काली घोर कोई निशा
प्राची की एक किरण सुहानी
अब हैं मैं और मेरी ज़िन्दगी विपाशा

अब पंख बने हैं आशा
हुई हूँ मैं यूँ दिवानी
बस उडती जाऊं बिन खोजे दिशा
नशा कर रहा है यूँ मनमानी

आज है कुछ नयी उषा
आज है कुछ नयी जवानी
आज है यूँ खुला आसमां
कौन जाने कहाँ है ज़मीन...

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