Monday, December 15, 2014

Majid Majidi’s Cinema: Celebrating the essence of simplicity

Note 1: This is my humble endeavor to present a perspective.

Note 2: Yes, title of the blog is bombastic but I think I can get away with that! 

In the last scene of the movie ‘Baran” – Lateef the protagonist or confused hero beholds the footstep in the mud left by Baran’s (heroine) shoe – drizzle continues and small drops of water fill up that little space created by the footstep. Camera pans in and stays right there on the footstep while it fills up with water, and thus ends the story of love – never expressed or understood by any of the protagonists in the film. I didn’t feel for that ending or couple but only for myself – and it took me a while to justify the ending in my mind – yes, it couldn’t have been expressed better. The unrequited love (from both sides) attained immortality. So let it be!  The virtuousness of love is illuminated in such a pure manner that it leaves you blissfully stoned.

Majid Majidi (Photo Courtesy:

Grew up on a staple diet of Bollywood earlier and then Hollywood – it was a profound experience for me when I watched this unusual ending in Majid Majidi’s beautiful flick – “Baran” means Rain in Persian (Majidi is an Iranian filmmaker). Devoid of any melodrama and hyperbole, the innate beauty of Majid Majidi’s cinema lies in simplicity, while celebrating and weighing in pure human emotions, pathos, ambitions and inner-conflicts – with sheer honesty. Back in 2008, one of my friends introduced me to Majidi’s cinema. During one of our interesting discussions, he named this director and I ended up watching Baran. Sadly, Majid has not released any flick or documentary since 2008. One of his ambitious and most-talked about film “Muhammad” is under production and according to Internet information, it will be released in 2015.

Except the reviews of his films, a film lover wouldn’t find much, written about the cinema of this Iranian director. A lot has been contributed in popularizing his cinema by an Academy Award Nomination, which the director received in the Best Foreign Language Film category in 1998 for Children of Heaven.

Majidi’s absolute gems - Children of Heaven, The Color of Paradise and one of my all-time favorite movies Baran showcase the poignant human stories which captivate the audiences from the start to finish, without indulging in any sort of pretention. Sadly, this is a common ploy used by many notable directors these days, as they deliberately focus on unimportant details in their films to confuse the audiences in order to amplify the overall effect of important scenes or to support the presence of unnecessary sub-plots in films.

I wouldn’t dare to write about his documentaries because I am not capable enough to justify the effort of this great director. There are some outstanding scenes in all of his movies, which I really like and they left an indelible impression on me. One factor that really stands out about this director is his sheer honesty to bring his stories on the screen – the way he wants. Like a dedicated storyteller, who respects his audiences as much as he respects his stories – Majidi never deviates from his path.

Back to his movies… Let’s talk about a few scenes:

There is one scene in Children of Heaven, where Zahara (a girl child studying in a primary school) notices that Roya was wearing her pink shoes. While Roya was busy licking on a sort of candy, Zahara simply notices her – both children do not look at each other. Not sad or angry, but Zahara’s probing look eulogizes the purpose of the scene and tells us about her mental-state. It is always difficult to get the right expressions from children but Majidi has a knack of getting the best out of them – and the output comes as natural as you expect from a child artist. His child actors hold their characters beautifully and pull them off with an uncharacteristic sincerity because here they are not reduced to mannequins or cheeky vocalists or fillers or disordered jesters.

Another important aspect of Majid’s cinema is that he shows the daily chores of common people stunningly like a cobbler mending shoes, women washing clothes in a riverbed, or a vegetable seller attending his customers. Every scene gets enough screen-time and gels along well with the overall momentum of the film.

Majid’s cinema is not only about the celebration of characters or human emotions and dreams, but it’s also about the ambience where these characters live, breath and dream about a better future. Ultimately, this very ambience gives the meaning to their lives. This sort of setting or storytelling can be compared with R.K. Narayan’s Malgudi Days, where the surroundings and people complement the presence of each other and here they are gleefully pictured or presented.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Fifty shades of grey, Mastram and Indian potential

Caution: Offensive Stuff! 

They stole our Kohinoor, ruled over us for 200 years, made a Babu (clerk) out of us, and then left us with a severe inferiority complex. Yes – the very Indian in me is literally boiling from inside.

Now excuse me please!

I started this blog post with this highly charged opening sentence not because the patriotic Indian in me is up for something but just because I couldn’t find anything good in the opening line to write about or to start about. The British Raj did contribute a lot in our history, culture and education – and in a lot of other important things like spreading Gupt Rog or STDs (Gulshan Grover’s character in Deepa Mehta’s 1998 film 1947 Earth did quote that).

Well, I don’t give a damn about Gupt Rog or anything of that sort. But yes, one thing that really bothers me is that why can’t we (Indians) write and promote books like “Fifty Shades of Grey” WHY can’t WE give a fitting reply or competition to E. L. James (the writer of Grey books…or these books) and if not  now then…. when. This is certainly a Golden Age of Indian literature or writing as we have a new breed of home-grown IIT+IIM Package writers (undisputed bestsellers), who know what to write that appeals, but still we are lagging behind when it comes to writing erotic stuff…sadly, we are not making the most of our Potential. Why? Why? Why?

A country which has a cult following of Mastram and Savita Bhabhi, it is such a shame that we haven’t been able to assert and establish our position on the global scale. Obviously, we couldn’t sell our stuff (erotic Heroes or household names) on a global scale. Because, we didn’t take them seriously and now look what E. L. James has achieved! Yes, we did lose a lot on that but now the time has come to assert our position. We need to believe in ourselves and yes we can deliver.

Photo Courtesy:

First of all, one of the obvious reasons behind the soaring popularity of E. L. James’ books in India is – they are written in English and of course they talk about Sex. I bet – when it comes to vivid description to achieve the highest degree of titillation – Mastram and Savita Bhabi can beat Fifty Shades of Grey – on any given day. Yes that’s called confidence. But, our Mastram or books based on this genre should be written in English. Indian writing in English is certainly going through a golden phase at the moment – with new writers emerging like frogs during Monsoon and this surge can be compared with the in-flow of Punjabi singers – apparently there are hugely talented singers in every nook and corner of Punjab, likewise, we have a swelling pool of talented writers now.

Let me reiterate again. The obvious reason behind the popularity of James’ books in India is that they are written in English and written by an English Writer (Firangi – originally from England). Guys same goes with our Indian abuses. When someone hurls – MC, BC or any other Indian abuse in Hindi it is considered so uncool but WTF, MF, SF, A-hole, well they are just too cool. OK, I get it. It is also important for all the CAT (Common Admission Test) aspirants to read stuff written in English to improve their comprehension skills. For that we have Chetan Bhagat and others. That is fine. But, we are really lagging behind in churning out sell-able erotic stuff – written in English by an Indian Writer.

But imagine if we could produce Desi versions of Fifty Shades of Grey or something on the same lines. It can do a lot of good to our country. The time has come to harvest the Desi Talent. Yes, our guys can beat E. L. James and make her stuff look awful or utterly Un-Cool. Forget about SDBM and all that – our Indian guys can write something far more engrossing and innovative and we shouldn’t forget that India gave Kamasutra to the world. So, when it comes to sex, we have the authority. All we are missing here is the WILL…Yes that Will is missing.

Now, the time has come for India to reclaim that title of Knowledge guru of the world or Sex guru of the world – both are same…aren’t they! Yes, they are.

Now, how can we do it? We need thinkers, activists and Doers (Yes, those who don’t do different things, but do the same things differently – I hope I got it right) and lastly the writers. We need people who can bring back those glory days to India and really make us a powerhouse of that pure knowledge. If India needs to project itself as a superpower, we need to understand that yes, we have that potential.

We need a solid PR agency and people those who have passion to promote this thing if they want to take India forward. Our country is just brimming up with such people, but at this moment, I could only come up with four names – Chetan Bhagat, Mahesh Bhatt, Suhel Seth and Shiv Khera. Yes, these guys can make that difference. Yes they can!

Chetan Bhagat – we need this greatest ever Indian writer to promote stuff or sell it, if he wants then he can also write. He could have easily done that by elaborating those sex scenes in his IIT+IIM based stories. And, yes he is the one who started this trend of sending a book to the publishers with a PPT Presentation (how to sell it). He is the Best we have.

Then comes Mahesh Bhatt – He is not only Alia Bhatt’s father but a man who is nothing less than an ocean of knowledge. He knows everything and anything about this world and all the issues plaguing our modern society. If Opinions are like Assh*** and everybody has one and if the world is ruled by Assh***S! Then there is nothing left to say. He knows literally everything in the world, and has opinion over anything. So, all we need is his opinions to garner enough support for this proposed plan of taking Mastram and Savita Bhabi cult movement to the world.

Then comes Suhel Seth – he is an ever-alert and ever-present celebrity guest on those electrified talk shows (which are shown only on English News Channels). This guy has that unique penchant to fondle with delicate subjects by using oh-so-cool-words to create interest among viewers. He can stay calm amidst heated conversations and sometimes it appears that he is just there to balance out the ambience in debates. He is just there.. Everywhere. He can give his valuable inputs on how to create a global Mastram in a longer run.

And, in the end, we have the one and only Shiv Khera – remember “Winners don’t do different things, but they do things differently” now apply this logic to sex books or porn books of E.L. James – guys, it is not something new, but it’s all about showing it from different angles. Appetite for erotic literature is such that people will read the same stuff again and again – only if you are willing to serve. And, Khera has loads of advises on how to present things differently. He can be the pillar of strength for all those writers who are still battling with inhibitions.

I can visualize that day, when students in Delhi Metro would be carrying Mastram or Savita Bhabhi books instead of “Fifty Shades of Grey” because that would look so cool. How can something not be so cool – if written by Chetan Bhagat, supported by Mahesh Bhatt, debated by Suhel Seth and motivated by Shiv Khera. And now visualize about all those people who would read about Mastram and Savita Bhabhi in UK, USA and in rest of the world. Folks, we can earn huge money for India by selling something we are really good at – we shouldn’t forget that. We can become the leader in churning out 21st Century’s Creative Erotic Stuff – absolutely Made in India.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

True Detective, the Silence of the lambs and over-kill

Caution 1: Spoilers Alert! You shouldn’t read this if you haven’t watched True Detective (sitcom), Prisoners (movie), The Silence of the lambs (movie) yet.

Caution 2: Long Post!

A gruesome crime premised upon the collective gist of inter-connected sub-plots, oozing with a tremendous amount of shock-value, captivating and sometimes equally excruciating progression of the story during tense moments, and then the haphazardly conjured up climax scene. All adjectives in the opening line are elegantly interlocked except haphazard – because any crime-thriller sitcom has to maintain a self-imposed pace to build the tension, fan it with surprise or revelations and in the end at the climax all hell has to break lose to make it a worthwhile watch for audiences. No matter how good the main plot or sub-plots are – ultimately it’s the climax that gets etched in the memory of the spectators forever. A minor let-up here and there in the plot, some loose ends in the story are happily ignored or condoned by the audiences, only if the climax scene lives up to the expectations.

I am starting the second paragraph by writing something obvious - a television crime drama TV series can afford to be lot more complex and extravagant than a crime-thriller movie because in a TV series, you have enough time and space to stretch the story in sub-plots. Yes, same can be done with movies, but here the director has to keep the running time in mind and sub-plots can’t be stretched beyond a point.

Recently I finished watching all the eight episodes of “True Detective Season 1.” The story starts with former Louisiana State Police detectives Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey )and Martin Hart (Woody Harrelson) being questioned by two currently deployed detectives separately, regarding a few murders – happened way back in 1995. The major events in the story are shown in the flashback versions of the former detectives. All the episodes were so engaging that I finished watching them all in two days, but the climax left me in the lurch.

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As a big fan of suspense-thriller sitcoms, I want convincing and moving plots complemented with a mind-boggling climax. In the first episode, when the first murder happened, there were apparent hints or signs that the crime was related to religious passion or motivated by some satanic customs or nefarious voodoo practices. And, as Cohle and Hart further unearthed some interesting details, audiences got conclusive proof that the gruesome crimes were committed by some people indulging in some necromancy or voodoo practicing. As the plot thickened, I thought there could be another angle than just voodoo and black-magic shit, but that was not the case.

A writer or director gets too many options to show crimes happening in different stages and committed in the most grotesque manner or there could be many ramifications – if the plot is based upon some magic shit or superstitious beliefs. Any sort of absurd, hilarious or exaggerated imagination does not need any justification and things could be exaggerated to a great extent and fittingly termed as flimsy and bizarre – if they are based upon superstition. As a writer or director of such sitcoms, you can be as creative as you can in depicting the modus-operandi of the criminals and the motives of the perpetrators of the crimes – because their (perpetrators’) actions could be based on something – we can’t comprehend because that something is based upon a belief or superstition. And we as audience would never know that because all would be based upon superstition! Give me a break!   And, same happened with True Detective and in the end whole idea looked flawed. Why did they do that? Yes, they (perpetrators of crimes) did horrible things to those people before killing them but why? No need to go after the answer, because their actions were motivated by some shitty rituals. There goes my imagination for a toss!

Let’s talk about characters now. Throughout the story, as it flows, Cohle (Matthew McConaughey), the main protagonist looks eccentric and indomitable - a man who is too much attached to his job that he just does not give a damn about other things in the world. At times during his interaction with other guys, Cohle preaches his self-styled philosophy like a stubborn bloke who is just too good for this world. No doubt, he appears rationalist and different from others. In a way we all want to be like him. Such characters instantly find appeal among audiences because they look rational and larger than life. You can’t help liking these characters because they don’t crave for that sense of belongingness to the worldly things and usually appears detached from this mortal and ever-changing world and yes we also crave for that feeling and at times also behave like that – at least to look different or to get that vicarious pleasure that we don’t give a damn about the problems afflicting us and those who belong to us. Well, McConaughey’s character is simply portrayed in that manner. He is not normal – suffers from insomnia and behaves as if he is just at the breaking-point. He doesn’t snap!

As expected, Cohle’s partner Martin Hart (Woodly Harleson) is reduced into a sidekick who appears like a lot more believable character. He is your everyday guy with typical family issues and desires. Till the very end, McConaughey’s character shines in his hubris of being different and when he looks vulnerable or behaves like a common man, he talks – but, whatever he talks does not make much sense. Exaggerated sense of eccentricity made McConaughey look like Nana Patekar of 90’s, when the Maharashtrian actor featured in Partho Ghosh’s films, where roles were written specifically for Nana. What Nana did in “Krantiveer” earned him many admirers, but then he overdid it by replaying the role of a disgruntled self-styled preacher, on burning issues, plaguing the society, again and again until his whole act or acting-effort was labeled as stereotype. The preaching is fine if the end could have been better, but that did not happen in True Detective.

The clever dialogues are written really well and McConaughey delivers them with his usual panache. The only thing that makes me feel sick is that why these guys come to the religion or voodoo magic or other old customs to create chaos. Every day we read in newspapers about so many incredible crimes of passion. Come on, the world is full of crazy people, who raise hell every day and commit horrible and incredible crimes – yes they appear surreal at times. So, there is enough fodder out there to churn out stories devoid of any religion-based or superstition-based angle. Yes, writers or directors don’t need to connect them with religion.

McConaughey’s character portrayal couldn’t have bothered me much only if the ending would have been better. You got to justify the motive behind crime. How can a specific group of people go on a killing spree – without getting noticed by others? Here I would like to give a perfect example of motive of a killer in “Silence of the lambs.” The killer Jame “Buffalo Bill” Gumb had a traumatic childhood. Bill is described as not really transgender, but he merely believes himself as being one, because he "hates his own identity".

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The entire plot of the “Silence of the lambs” movie was ripped off by Tanuja Chandra to make a Bollywood film Sangharsh in 1999 – starring Akshay Kumar and Preity Zinta. The plot was almost same except the motive of the killer. Tanuja Indianised (altered) the motive of the killer Lajja Shankar (Ashutosh Rana) by bringing in superstitions on the fore – this guy believes that he can achieve immortality by sacrificing (killing) the children. Not same but once again religion based shit was shown in Prisoner movie (starring Hugh Jackman). In Prisoners, the killers, which are an old couple, wage a war against God by killing children – because they lost their only child to illness and they blame God for that.  The dialogues, conflicts between main characters and other factors were too good in the movie – except the motive of the killers – because once again it was based on religion or some crappy belief. Every moment haunts you and keeps you on the edge of your seat in such stories, but as you begin connecting the dots towards the end – things fall apart because everything looks so absurd because a superstitious belief of the perpetrator is forced upon the spectators – they have to believe in that. Now, I must tell the writers of such stories - guys it’s overdone or you just over-killed it – time to come up with something different. Enough!

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Kiss Warriors of Delhi: Kiss of Love Campaign

It started in Kochi as a protest and managed to get some decent media coverage, but the Kiss of Love protest had to reach Delhi to qualify as a National Movement. Any protest or movement can’t be called a movement until it touches the heart of a nation or knocks on the door of our national capital Delhi and above all, earns takers in JNU Campus. Picture those Kutra clad folks chanting slogans in a chorus at the top of their voices as they are ready to make an instant change, just wow – anyone who wants to experience the ephemeral fervor of student power – JNU is the place to be. Well, I am not going to write about JNU here because nothing can be considered more serious or important, when you compare it with the topic of physical intimacy, the most interesting subject in the world. And, here I am going to talk about – Kissing.

Here at the start, I am asserting one thing straightway that I don’t agree with these Kiss Warriors of Delhi or those who are indulging in this Kiss of Love protest.  Actually, I don’t want them to do this publicly or kiss in public. Come on, this is out and out cruelty. Yes, this is nothing less than utter cruelty. Now you have to read the entire post to get my point. Obviously, I would include Bollywood in it.

Photo Courtesy:

First full-fledged or convincing kissing scene for the silver screen was performed by none other than Mr. Perfectionist Aamir Khan in Raja Hindustani - and the sincerity personified like never before. Before that we had seen many Bollywood rain sequences, which led to love-making, but love looked ethereal for the first time when Karishma Kapoor closed her eyes in submission. Rain, a beautiful girl and a tree – well, there was a lot to dream about for people of my generation at that time. Imagination plays the most important role in the lives of us – Indians, when it comes to Sex or intimacy and Bollywood fuels that imagination. In one way or another, it reaffirms our faith in miracles. A beautiful girl absolutely drenched in rain, a tree and then Magic – yes, this notion has all the attributes of a perfect miracle, but nothing like that ever happened to me and not even to my Stud Friends.

You just can’t give up on Magic of such proportion and we didn’t. We hoped that Magic would happen when we would go to college. God will be kind to us and lead us to heaven – just like what was shown in Karan Johar’s “Kuch Kuch hota hai” but that did not happen either. I studied in Delhi University and yes I saw a few glimpses of the so called movie modernism in college but nothing in reality happened to me or to my friends or our Bollywood inspired dreams never fulfilled.

So I would like to reiterate again that guys if you want to indulge in Public Display of Affection or PDA or kissing – you are not propagating obscenity but doing some serious harm to many. Think about those uncles and aunts, who never had that freedom – and like we all wish to bring back our old days or grow up once again, they would wish that again. You make them feel awful.  And, what about those boys who study in Delhi’s Government Schools in the afternoon shifts. Let me point out a fact here that most of the government schools in Delhi function in two shifts – morning shift for girls and evening shift for boys. You know their number, I mean how many boys are there in these schools and how many of them get admission in Delhi University or in a regular college?  Yes, a few really hardworking folks manage to get admission in DU, where they might get the opportunity to talk to girls or indulge in something like kissing in public but many of them don’t manage to make the cut. Actually, it is because Delhi University does not have many seats and that leads to the outrageous surge in cut off lists for admission. So, more than half of these guys or aspirants get admission in Delhi University’s correspondence courses and though, they attend a few regular classes during a yearly session – they just don’t get the real feel of a Campus Life. And, I must tell them that its OK folks because anything like Karan Johar or Yash Chopra’s version of campus life – happens to a chosen few only.  

Now think about this, more than 2 lakhs students study through correspondence because they do not get admission in any regular course of the prestigious Delhi University. Think about them. Many of them  also want to kiss someone. They also want to spread their arms like Shah Rukh Khan and tell the whole world that they are truly blessed, but they can only dream about it. It was OK earlier, when people used to kiss or indulge in intimacy in DDA Parks or secluded places or malls, but now they are kissing in Public. Imagine the plight of these guys who can’t do that – because of many reasons.

In India majority of the men get the opportunity to kiss or even touch a girl when they get married. Yes, in 80% cases, it is arranged marriage. Two strange people get married and finally get the approval of our society to have sex. So, if you would kiss in public, what would happen to those men who don’t have that license – they are also a part of Modern and progressive India. Mind it, you are trying to divide India. Yes there is an ever-widening gulf between poor and rich here and now you are creating another divide of Kissers and Onlookers. We already have thousands of divides in India – in the form of cast, creed and religion and now you are creating another one – which would hurt us the most. I must tell you that biological urges don’t discriminate between a SRCC Student and a 12th fail guy, who would appear in the next year’s exams through open school. So, what you are doing is unethical, absolutely unethical because you are so less in numbers. How can you kiss a girl in public as a bachelor when majority of the men can do that only after getting the approval of our society and they can only do that behind closed doors?

How can you not think about those men, who try to push others at Rajiv Chowk or any other crowded Metro Station just to get an opportunity to rub their shoulders or genitals or body parts against women or what about those who let their hands slip to touch the part of a woman’s body, whenever possible – in buses, malls or anywhere, you can imagine. These guys don’t get successful every time – still they try to do it every day with same vigor and zeal – what about them? How can you be so reckless and make them feel so low. They have to jostle with others for that quick touch and you are kissing in PUBLIC – now, this is inhuman. You think we have come a long way as a country to do kissing in pubic – guys, give me a break. No, you can’t torture India’s sex-starved men by kissing in Public.

Now, some words for those who say that by kissing in public, girls would invite rape or it is attack on our Indian Culture. First of all, if you think it would invite rape – and you are a woman who is saying that then I must tell you. You always wanted to have that sort of freedom, but you could not get that. Get over it and if you can’t then you can curse your fate like you must have done for other things in your life. If a man is saying that then I must tell you. Look, if you are not married then there are ways to release this tension, you must be aware about that. And, if you are married then look, you should be content with what you got because that’s what Indian Culture teaches us. And, yes – dude, please tell me what is India Culture? Yes, it is all about those rules and regulations – which are convenient to us. I mean, my Indian Culture can be different from you – if it suits me. That’s it. So, if you want to kiss or whatever. Get a room. Kissing in public is not against our Indian culture, but it is against our Indian Conditions.

British ruled us for more than 200 years and then left us with a colossal inferiority complex, which has been further bolstered by many factors over the years or the way this country has progressed since 1947. Now our nation is all about those who have and those have not. Those who can kiss or hug a girl in Public are minuscule in numbers than those who just can’t. So, Majority Rules! And, forget about the change, only time can change the things – and it would take a lot of time for that.

Sunday, November 2, 2014

The Joys of Delhi (Delhi ke Majje)

Contrasting views on some common village issues or matters of importance at times led to some animated verbal-fights between Pyar Chand and Jaisi Ram. Other boys in their group always enjoyed that but those fights never turned into physical bouts. Others in the group always coaxed and tried to manipulate Pyar Chand and Jaisi Ram to pave the path for some action but that never happened. They were not close-friends, but one factor that worked as a cohesive force between them was that they were used to each other’s company. Every day they had to walk together three kilometers to reach their school and three kilometers back home.  Though they tried to join other groups, ultimately the two were left to seek each other’s company, because in other groups they never had anything to say. They studied together till 8th class and knew a lot of secrets about each other, which somehow bound them.

While Pyar Chand was more of a dreamer, Jaisi Ram had a practical outlook towards life. While many youngsters of their age were fascinated by the world and things around them as they were contemplating the changes in their lives according to their age, our protagonists never paid much attention towards anything. Things were not going to change till they were in school – that’s what they believed.

Pyar Chand was indifferent towards his image as a dull-headed boy in the eyes of teachers and other students and it did not affect him ever. Jaisi Ram was slightly better than Pyar Chand and that notion of superiority kept him content. Rarely did they talk about studies, but whenever they did, Jaisi Ram compared himself with Pyar Chand and the matter settled quickly. They were in eighth class and somehow things took a drastic turn. Everything started to look so colossal, as they were going to appear in the board exams. Initial fervor and discussion at home and school made Pyar Chand a bit alert towards exams, but gradually he lost interest.

Jaisi Ram cheated well in board exams and got the passing marks, while Pyar Chand could not do that. Things did not change for Pyar Chand for the next two years and finally he gave up and mustered enough courage to tell his father that he was not interested in studies anymore. Jaisi Ram passed his tenth exams and during one of his discussions with Pyar Chand, he said then that he wanted to become a professor. Pyar Chand looked in bewilderment and said, “but for that you need to study a lot, what you say. They say that these professors are half-mad.” Jaisi Ram, “oh, you know better than anyone else, they earn a lot of money and once I will become professor, I will buy a big car.” Pyar Chand shook his head in his typical approval-giving style.

Jaisi Ram’s dream of becoming a Professor could not take off as his elder brother thought otherwise and sent him to Delhi to work with his maternal uncle, who was a mechanic in an iron-casting company. His brother made it clear that Jaisi Ram could study further but meanwhile, he would have to work to support the family like he was doing. And, Jaisi Ram was sent to Delhi.

Pyar Chand’s drunkard father took his son to work as a daily laborer on road. It appeared a harsh decision for many but Pyar Chand’s father had a big vision in his mind. In those days if you worked for PWD for 10 years, there was every possibility that one day you would be confirmed as a regular government employee – a dream job that would ensure fixed salary and pension. Six months passed quickly and one fine day our protagonists met.

Pyar Chand was returning from his work. While Jaisi Ram waited for an hour at the same place to meet Pyar Chand, he acted as if he was going somewhere, when he actually met the daily-wage laborer.

Pyar Chand, “Good to see you Jaisi. You are looking good, so how is Delhi?”
Jaisi Ram, “Delhi is very good, so you are working as a laborer, how are you doing there. I am here for three days as there is a lot of work in Delhi.”

Pyar Chand did not say anything for a while, and then he said , “see you yaara.” Meet me tomorrow morning at the pond, where we used to take bath and tell me about Delhi City.”

Jaisi Ram had a lot to say, but Pyar Chand just left. More than Pyar Chand, Jaisi Ram was excited to tell his old pal about Delhi but now he had to wait till morning. When they met early morning at the pond, Jaisi Ram spoke a lot until he felt satisfied – as usual, Pyar Chand listened to him patiently.
 Pyar Chand carefully tried to weigh in every word that his friend had said and then he could comprehend that people enjoy a great life in Delhi. Big buildings, trains, lot of cars, - a city where Prime Minister and President of India live. For the first time in his life, Pyar Chand felt really bad about his condition. And then he wanted to go to Delhi.  

After three days, Jaisi Ram went back to Delhi. Usually engrossed in his routine work, Pyar Chand could not focus on anything for the next few days. While cleaning a ditch near the road during his work, Pyar Chand hurt his leg badly. He could not hold it for long and finally shared his thoughts with other colleagues, who were working as PWD daily wage workers. They listened in amusement as he vividly described everything to them and felt relieved.

The same thing happened again after six months when Jaisi Ram visited the village. Once again, he told some elaborate stories about Delhi and Pyar Chand felt more and more longing for the capital of India. Jaisi Ram did not shut up until he felt satisfied that he had said everything that he wanted to say at the village pond and then left in a hurry.  

This World had become a dreary place for Pyar Chand – every day he dreamt of going to Delhi to live a great life. If there was a heaven – it was in Delhi. Pyar Chand thought. Oh, I am not intelligent like Jaisi Ram, but I also deserve a good life. I just want to go to Delhi. And then something good happened for the PWD worker - Jaisi Ram came to village for a couple of days and besides telling compelling stories about the city, he also gave a phone number  to Pyar Chand with an important note that he could only call him on Sunday – every week.  

Well, Pyar Chand had something else in his mind, he waited and saved some money after three months and booked a ticket to Delhi. He knew his father would never agree to send him away to Delhi. So, he told his mother that he would find some decent work in Delhi and rest would be taken care of by his friend Jaisi Ram. Though, Pyar Chand waited for the next Sunday and made a call on that number which Jaisi Ram had given him. He dialed that number with huge anticipation and carefully queued up all the words in his mind he wanted to say over the phone.  He called up and a woman on the other side picked up.

Woman with a hoarse voice said – “Hello, who.”
Pyar Chand was speechless for a while but then he managed to say something and said, “Madam Ji, please call Jaisi Ram, I am his Friend from village.” The Woman instantly snapped – “oh, Jaisi Ram is not here, call at Nine in the evening.”
“Madam Ji, give me his address,” said Pyar Chand quickly.
The Woman did not waste much time to give him the address. Well, Pyar Chand could see his dream was coming true. With hopes and aspirations, he left the village.

He boarded the bus two hours before it was supposed to leave the bus stand. As the bus started for Delhi, his heart sank, he was leaving his home-district for the first time in his life. He did not talk to anyone on the bus and did not go outside to drink tea or to eat anything, when bus stopped for breaks. And when everyone slept in the bus, Pyar Chand managed to beat ill-thoughts and apprehensions by painting some exquisite pictures of the city in his mind – consequently, he managed to sleep peacefully.  Finally, he reached Delhi and saw a big crowd and a lot of vehicles – as told by Jaisi Ram. With a mixed feeling of happiness and apprehension, he boarded an auto.

There was so much to see – Pyar Chand dodged curious glances at everything – from ugly DTC buses to yellow autos. Riding high on his train of thoughts, his reverie was disturbed by the stench erupting irrepressibly from the rotting roadside garbage. He put a handkerchief on his nose and continued with sight-seeing.  At times he forgot to blink as he did not want to miss a single scene. He was new to the city, but did well by hiring an auto after a reasonable bargaining on fare.

Finally, he reached the colony, as written on the address. It was a congested housing complex and as the auto penetrated into the narrow street, Pyar Chand saw a few piglets playing in a small ditch. Kucha road made it a bumpy ride and Pyar Chand had to hold tightly to the roof supporting rod of the auto to maintain his balance on the seat. The pungent stench which caught up with Pyar Chand in the halfway after he left the Bus Terminal grew stronger in this colony. 

With address note in one hand and other hand on his nose to counter stench, Pyar Ram reached a shop. He wanted to buy something for his friend – just then he saw jaisi Ram. Well, Pyar Chand looked thrilled and absolutely overjoyed to see Jaisi Ram there. He rushed towards his friend and shook Jaisi Ram’s hands. Both couldn’t say anything for a while. It was a feeling of sheer joy which kept Pyar Chand silent for a while and he expected his friend Jaisi Ram to say something, who could not move his limbs or lips and it appeared as if he had suffered an instant stroke of paralysis.

They exchanged a few words and then Jaisi Ram bought bread and four eggs from that shop and did not say anything on the way as Pyar Chand followed him. Finally, Jaisi Ram said, “how did you reach here? you left your job, your father will kill you now. Who gave you the money to buy bus ticket?”

With a big smile on his face, Pyar Chand said, “No no..I saved some money and like you said then that if you want to do something big in life, you need to leave that village, so I am here now.”

A storm of thoughts and words was heaving inside Jaisi Ram – he wanted to puke it promptly on his patient listener, but he could not say much. Finally, they reached near a house. Pyar Chand felt a bit surprised that Jaisi Ram was not saying anything- something he was not used to. They entered a narrow staircase, which led towards the terrace of the house. Well, the walls of the stairs were stained with red color – displaying different shapes of obscure images created by Paan and Gutkha spit. Stairs finished on the Terrace of the building. There was a small room on the terrace with an adjacent bathroom – Jaisi Ram unlocked the room and invited Pyar Chand inside.

It was the month of April and anyone who has ever spent time in Delhi during this period of the year must be aware about the treacherous summer, which begins to show its ugly face in this month and then turns into a sadistic monster in the forthcoming months of May and June. Jaisi Ram, who used to dominate and initiate the conversations between them, did not speak a single word for the next half an hour.

They entered the room, which looked big as there was not much in there, except a bed, a table fan and a few other things. Pyar Chand just sat in front of the fan and continued with observation – his favorite pastime, which he had not been able to enjoy since morning.

Suddenly, he saw that there was a medium-size suitcase there and he clearly remembered that – that was the one suitcase Jaisi Ram used to bring to the village. Finally, Jaisi Ram said, “if you want to take bath there is a bathroom.”

He gave three slices of bread to Pyar Chand, some tea and half of the egg omelet, he cooked quickly. Pyar Chand had a lot of questions in his mind, but failed to get the start. So, it is Delhi…ok the same Delhi. What…lost in his thoughts, he did not realize that Jaisi Ram was ready to go to work.
He spoke again, “look I will come in the evening.” Pyar Chand nodded in approval. And, then Jaisi Ram left.

Pyar Chand, tried to sleep during the day but could not. He tried to increase the speed of the table fan but could not. As the day progressed, Pyar Chand found that heat had turned into something really worse – well, he couldn’t find the right word for that. The overhead roof was burning and it seemed that fan had literally surrendered to the situation, as it was blowing hot air. He drank enough water from the pitcher that Jaisi Ram had placed in the corner, but just could not get any relief. Next four hours were spent in gulping a few more glasses of water. Pyar Chand felt that he had turned into a machine, which was drinking water and producing sweat as a by-product. Finally, he decided to go downstairs but then changed his mind quickly.

It was an extraordinary day in the life of Pyar Chand who experienced every minute of it – in a way he couldn’t have imagined ever, he had a lot of time to ponder over a few important things. Finally the day  ended. And then Jaisi Ram returned from work.

It was just another day of April in Delhi, but Pyar Chand was looking enervated. He had a whole day to think about Jaisi Ram and Delhi and above all Delhi ke majje (the joys of Delhi). Jaisi Ram did not look at Pyar Chand since returning from work. Before he could say anything, Pyar Chand asked, “Yaara, do I need to go for advance booking to book my tickets for Himachal or can I get them directly, when I would board the bus.”

Jaisi Ram swiftly replied, “No, no, you can get when you would reach there. There would not be much rush these days.”   Well, Pyar Chand saw that old glow and smile on the face of his friend Jaisi Ram for the first time since he came to Delhi.

Both slept on the terrace and shared a single mattress – hardened by the overuse. Jaisi Ram gave mosquito repellant to Pyar Chand, who applied it and slept peacefully. Next day, he gave 100 Rs. to Jaisi Ram and said sorry for all the trouble. And just when Jaisi Ram was leaving for his work, Pyar Chand picked up his newly bought bag and followed him. Pyar Chand did not say anything. Both reached the main road, where Pyar Chand hired an auto. Just then Jaisi Ram said, “Why are you going so early – the bus will leave in the evening?” Pyar Chand did not look back, he did not say anything. He looked at the  Auto-driver and said  - let’s go.  

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Facebook: Hi There, I don’t Care

Caution 1: First Paragraph talks about Orkut

Photo Courtesy:
Yesterday was the last day of Orkut and many people paid homage to this first (Popularity wise) Social Media Platform by writing a lot of stuff. It did not affect me much. Yes, when I read that they were going to shut it down, I retrieved some old pictures. Like thousands of others, I had almost forgotten about it before Google announced the time of its death. No mixed feeling or any beautiful memory about it because I must confess that I never got any testimonials in my Orkut account nor enough Scraps. I got introduced to Orkut when a pretty Girl (My Friend’s Friend) talked about Scraps, bragged about Testimonials – a couple of them, she was receiving on a daily basis (then), and obviously I just wanted to check her profile and pictures so got on Board. But that didn’t help my case in any manner.

Quickly I realized that Orkut was swarming up with users like me – attention hunters. To look different, I posted my profile picture (clicked through a web-cam), as me peeping through the fingers of my right hand, posed in front, as If I was trying to hide my face. First full-fledged Social Media Endeavor vehemently proved that I was a shameless hypocrite. Well, now I feel silly about that but those were the early days of Social Media and now after all these years – I can tell with conviction that things haven’t changed much as far as new users’ behavior on Social Media is concerned.

Orkut helped loners, wannabes, confused evangelists and many others (60% uncategorized users) to shore up their egos as people mutually exchanged Testimonials and helped each other to feel good. It started with a boom, reached the pinnacle of glory and before we could come up with the terms of inevitable change, it withered away. Other groups or Social Media Platforms like High5 met with the same fate.

There is Not something for everyone on Social Media Platforms nowadays – but yes options are many. And, if it hadn’t been for Facebook, we would have lost in this sea of tools. Monopoly is not an apt word to justify Facebook’s stature as a Social Media Deity so let’s call it The Emperor. I wouldn’t dare to scrutinize FB’s prominence and its importance in our lives, Yes I have more than 150 Friends on Facebook, but I can only call 1 or 2 of them at any time if I need any help or suggestion or whatever.

(Let’s get a bit philosophical now – you can stop reading if you want) Roughly for me, Facebook is just a simple tool to promote or to showcase what you have – it could be anything from good looks, good writing skills, and other lots of goods. We human beings get the best in terms of pure-pleasure when we indulge in comparison. We all lead our lives in such a way that every now and then we compare ourselves with others to feel better, superior and stronger. Obviously, FB is used for that.

In the early days of my Facebooking, I used to get upset when not many people liked my status. And, me and my so-called FB Friends also fought many “Comment-Wars” over burning issues (some of them were not even aware about or never gave a damn about the topic of discussion, they were there just because they wanted to be there to show that they also cared), when one comment was complimented by another and we got so much involved in that duel to prove that who was wittier. In a flurry of comments the real meaning or the purpose would have lost but we all felt good about ourselves. We discussed, abused, and praised celebrities, trends, and typical issues – man, it never felt enough! And, now I just stay away from all that. You know, it is the same feeling – when you have had too much Free ka Daru, which led to puking and ultimately to conscience pangs, which forced you to swear that you would never drink again – even if it would be free Again.

(And Now I am Social Commentator – you can still stop reading!) For Teenagers it is a medium to get that fellow-feeling that world is full of like-minded people when they are going through Hormone-paradigm shift. For bored housewives, it is a simple way to prove that they also exist. For writers or business people, it is just a medium to promote their stuff.

A few things which make this medium so exciting for me now is to see the pictures of newly married couples who post their lovey-dovey images – well they do make you feel that they are truly blessed. Or those who create propaganda. They start with a statement, which is followed up by a carpet-bombing of comments – one after another. I don’t know how much they pay to those SMO Companies to do that but after seeing 20 comments on such posts – I lose interest.

The true importance of Facebook lies in a simple fact that it has established the authority of a notion that nothing goes unnoticed in this world now-a-days. Obviously, like other important things in our lives, it is like a double-edged sword. Amidst those propagandas, promotions, and self-aggrandizement quests, one factor that supports the relevance of this medium is that Facebook is also a potent tool for those who want to reveal something, which deserves to be heard or debated.

Now that Orkut is dead, I would not bother much if Facebook will be dead tomorrow. That’s my honest personal opinion. I find this overall Social Media experience quite Boring now that I can go to an extent to say that it appears “Fake.” But, yes, I will post this blog link on Facebook that so people can read it (hypocrisy couldn’t have been expressed in a better way). Wink…Wink!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Some thoughts on Finding Fanny

Not a Review

Photo Courtesy - Midday
Away from the coldhearted hustle-bustle of a city “Finding Fanny” begins with an optimum pace, takes a sojourn in a beautiful and sleepy part of Goa and ends as it begins – on a deft note. The imaginary Pocolim village paints a stoic image of Goa – which defies the pre-conceived notion or pre-shown Bollywood images of this state – known for its bohemian feel, rave parties and cheap liquor.

Goa’s image gets a big makeover lift in this film – devoid of any mushy tinge of ‘Dil Chahta Hai’ or outrageously rave-laden gloom of “Dum Maaro Dum” and some cheap dope-shit of “Go Goa Gone.’ The narrator reiterates at the start of the film that nothing goes unnoticed in Pocolim for the natives, but there is nothing to notice here for outsiders.

What makes this film a sheer treat to watch is not only the picturesque cinematography of Goa or presence of quality actors or witty dialogues, but that uncommon honesty to deliver an authentic film premised upon simplicity. Homi Adjania – the director never ever tried to mess-up with the momentum or rhythm of the film. Only three films old in Bollywood – Adjania has just started, but if I have to draw the comparison or applaud this director then I would say that Finding Fanny has moments, reminiscent of Hrishikesh Mukherjee’s cinema – I know it’s a compliment of a mammoth level and now Adjania will have a lot to justify in a longer run. Five main characters of this film look convincing from the start and stick to their true-self till the end with an uncompromising and unapologetic laid-back attitude.

The story flows with an optimum pace except a few moments which are consciously peppered with quirky dialogues or expressions to extract humor – and the director did succeed in that. Some of my favorite stand-out moments in this film are:

• Ferdy (Naseer), who is a postmaster in Pocolim looks jaded when he cries like a child and Angie (Deepika) stuffed his mouth with a cloth. In another scene, Naseer looked completely lost in his grief, riding a bicycle – with closed eyes and open-mouth, crying and looking painfully unhappy. Ferdy appeared endearing in every scene and his mannerism evokes a lot of humor, whenever he looks puzzled or tries to assert his character or views.

• When Angie convinces timid Ferdy to search for Fanny. Just like a confused child, Ferdy looked convinced and contrived at the same time. Ultimately, fiery Angie coxed and persuaded Ferdy for the search-quest.

• Pankaj Kapoor plays the role of Don Pedro with his typical panache and adds that requisite fervor to a lecherous and somewhat vulgar character, when he first meets Rosy (Dimple Kapadia). He tries to measure-up the “Full-Figure” of Rosy with his X-Ray eyes and on a couple of occasions reached an orgasmic-state, while delving deep into sexual fantasies. Pankaj Kapoor’s perfect expressions make this vulgar character so funny and charming.

• In another scene during the second-half, Pedro discarded Rosy like an object after he managed to draw her painting, and before we could feel pity for Rosy, Director ended Pedro’s journey in the film.

• Angie (Deepika) and Savio’s post-sex discussion offers another laugh-out-loud moment. It was a hilarious scene when Angie overtly puts a doubt in Savio’s mind regarding his just concluded performance in coitus.

• An innocent looking boy shows middle finger to Savio on a couple of occasions – it is a paradox of a scene, where other characters look happy or indifferent, except the preposterous and angry Savio, who ultimately gets a fitting reply from this boy.

I don’t find it practically viable for myself to watch movies in a theater - if their promos don’t convince me a lot. Obviously, Finding Fanny’s nifty trailer had it. And, most importantly, the star-cast made me watch this film. If Pankaj Kapoor and Naseer are in a film – I bet there must be something in terms of so-called nuance. Appeared utterly authentic, simple and convincing from the start to finish – Finding Fanny will linger in my mind for a long time.

Friday, August 8, 2014

Chetan Bhagat: Man who brought “Reading-Revolution” to India

Caution 1: Long Post!

Caution 2: First Paragraph does not talk about Bhagat and his Bhagats.

Chetan Bhagat (Photo Courtesy - iDiva)
In the late 90s, Doordarshan was the only channel for the entire nation. And then DD Metro was launched as a second channel for Metro Cities only. And, the same happened with Cable TV – initially, it set its foot in Metropolitan Cities and it took some years before it could enter 2nd Tier or 3rd Tier Cities and finally villages of India. There was always a gap and will ever be between city dwellers and village folks – and to not had Cable TV further widened it. Cable TV not only amplified the entertainment options but it also brought Westerns Music, Sitcoms and Hollywood into Indian homes. It jolted Indians in an overt manner much like Madhuri Dixit scared Aamir Khan with her 440 Volts in Dil. A volcano of information had erupted and it became a rage to know more and more about West. USA was a dream land of Bold and Beautiful people, WWF Wrestlers and Pamela Anderson. And, it led us to a constant cribbing regarding Bollywood and Desi Serials, which had to evolve into a rage – and ultimately Cable TV viewing Indians vented out their anger in the form of scathing criticism for India. It was a matter of knowing and not-knowing. We have come this far in these twenty years, but for many it is still a kind of Hip-Thing to watch an English Movie and to brag about it in front of friends. To certain extent this same thing goes with the reading preferences of the Indians. And, Bhagat has really done a lot in that context. Not judging his contribution in improving the English of Indians, but he certainly made them read his stuff – written in English.

Now, let’s talk about Bhagat now. I know the beauty of description lies in brevity. But, no harm if you can exaggerate simple things to fill-up pages and be bluntly straightforward – when it comes to some steamy action. Bhagat has a knack for that – he can drag a Class-Room Scene to three pages and serve up a Sex Scene in a few words – “they just had to do it” kind of stuff. Easy availability of Porn on the Internet has done the same thing to current generation – they just want to see quick action or main action.

Once again, I would refer to the first paragraph that I wrote – In the early 90s – watching English Movies and to know more about America than your country became a rage or a true sense of modernity. Consequently, our reading habits also evolved with time. More and more Indians or young people want to read English stuff, but why waste time in understanding the nuance of description and immense power of word-play by reading the Novels of Rushdie, Seth or for that matter Arundhati Roy. Damn, who would like to check the dictionary at least 5 times to understand a single page written by these guys. They are boring and difficult to understand. And, Bhagat comes forth as a right substitute – cool Lingo dude. Just like we used to read those Top Twenty or King Champions notes to pass our supplementary courses in DU Exams.

Earlier, they used to sell a pack of five or ten old magazines at Railway Stations or Bus Terminals – but now they have Bhagat’s gems – five point someone, one night at a call center and many others. In the 90s, to talk about movies and cricket was vogue or in fashion, likewise reading is in vogue these days. And Bhagat is a shot-cut to intellectual enlightenment. You can read easy English and achieve that sense of satisfaction. There is an X-Factor associated with Bhagat. He is an ex-IIT and IIM Student. Well, for some people that is enough.  And, even if he criticizes these two premier institutes of India – he has been there done that. We just can’t do that and shouldn’t.

I did talk to a few who have read Bhagat’s novels. They all asserted that his books are easy to read and quite interesting - with a few quick sex scenes. Bhagat’s popularity has increased multifold since the release of his first book because this guy didn’t change a bit nor his writing style and stories – so he will never riddle you with something new – content with his content which has earned him immense following. Same goes with Bollywood. We do criticize it vehemently for producing clichés and non-sense content, but ultimately that’s what we like. And, in a country more than a billion people, it hardly matters. Because even if you get hold of 5% people – you are not the best seller but a Super-Seller. To read in English is hip and happening then why not Bhagat – the writer for masses. For many Indians, Bollywood is a get away from their treacherous daily life – and likewise Bhagat is there for them, a true-partner in their Intellectual ride – a pure vicarious pleasure.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Students of Delhi University: A Serious Overview

A new session has started in Delhi University and anyone who ever visited a college in Delhi must have a fair idea about all that hustle-bustle and enthusiasm among fresh students. More than anything else, it is a moment of great pride for all those who make it to the University – I don’t know about the exact number but there are around 60-65 colleges in the University and every year more than 2 lakhs students compete for the seats (in Regular courses). So, here is the bitter truth – the outrageously high cut offs for admission are there not because DU offers the best in studies or courses but obviously there are not enough number of seats to accommodate more and more students. Well, who cares? I am here to talk about the type of students (Type means something else, politically incorrect version actually). I roughly divide them in three categories.

1.The Muftkhors (Freeloaders): They are the muftis or freeloaders. They have a little to say in every discussion, but when it comes to party or eating out – they are the Super-Charged Electrons which easily gel up with anything positive or negative because it’s about food. They encourage everyone to go out – have the names of best eateries on their fingertips and ultimately they will convince the group to go out. Once done with the first task, they will guide the group to the best places to eat, but then like any other Bollywood potboiler, there is a melodramatic twist. These Muftis will eat well, laugh out loud but they will never pay. When the group is ready to pay – they will either get busy on their phone or go to Loo. If that is not possible then they will play the ultimate trick – they will admit – they don’t have money. So, someone will pay for them – and loyal to their name – they will never pay back.

2.Tragedy Kings and Queens:  First they will appear reclusive. But, gradually they will open their mouth, they will talk about common problems plaguing our country. They are not depressingly over concerned about the problems but if someone would talk to them much – they will open up. And damn – they have a lot to say. In the end, they will convince their listeners – that they are the most downtrodden people, struggled a lot in life and they are here to make difference. Well, those who would tolerate them then might stick with them for a while – others will just run away. And, if you meet them after 2 years – they will be completely changed people – now, they wouldn’t give a damn about world – and their aspirations are limited to going abroad, earning loads of money and all that – which can be labeled Materialistic – well you can call these guys hypocrites. Yes, they also get active in the so-called Social Movements, but their ultimate goal is “Name and Fame”. Only a lucky few manage to get that – because these clichéd strategies have lost their relevance over a period of time. Now-a-days, they get caught easily.

3.The indefatigable breed: They are everywhere and deserve to be there. Full of energy and lots of ideas, they simply define the spirit of Campus – actually, these guys bring in that raw exuberance, which makes everything possible. From Sport to debates to labs – well they can be found anywhere and whatever they do – it shows their determination and sheer zest for life. They make a lot of things possible in Campus. They are good listeners and when they do something they are serious about it. Sadly, Freeloaders exploit them a lot.

Well, I could come up with only three categories. May be, I wasn’t lucky to find fourth or fifth breed during my days in the college.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Ram Gopal Verma: An unfinished affair

“Mumbai Ka King Kaun” Bhikhu Mahatre – a line that has been etched in my memory forever and somehow introduced me to a different Indian Cinema of that time. Yes, I was shocked a bit, but more than that felt sheer happiness because for me it was a new and bold experience. We had seen many gangster movies before Satya, but the way it brought the nuance of Underworld on the forefront and presented it with stubborn honesty – simply left me awestruck. Now after all these years, I can say that Indian Cinema was taking one step at a time then to embrace the much needed change and what Ram Gopal Verma did then can be termed as a Paradigm Shift.

Before Satya happened, RGV had established himself as a director with a lot in “Different and Bold” to offer with Rangeela. But, my first serious introduction to RGV’s movies was with Satya – a film that allowed Manoj Vajpai to exhibit his immense talent by portraying the role of a Mumbai Underworld Don. It hit me like a whiplash and somehow left me jolted to the core.

In one epic scene, Bhikhu Mahatre died when he went to congratulate Bhau (main villain) for winning the election. It was a single-shot to the head to kill the most powerful character in the movie – and that was typical RGV moment of the movie – devoid of any preconceived notions. It was a totally different experience for me and I immediately became his fan.

Satya was a cult film during those times. Actually, it appeared a lot different because prior to that Box-Office was mostly ruled by directors like Suraj Barjataya or Yash Chopra or others. Either it was love-dovey Cinema, where you had those typical Bollywood love-stories – too much melodrama, Dreamy song sequences and Rona-Dhona or mind-numbing action sequences with larger than life Heroes and their whims. RGV was not there to join the rat race.

After Satya, I established a special bond with RGV’s movies – they were convincing, different and well ahead of their times – yes, if you compare his work with other directors of that time. With every movie, RGV looked strong and firm in his conviction. I did watch Rangeela later and it simply blew me away. It was not Urmila Matondkar’s skimpy dress or her audacious dance moves in Tanha Tanha yahan par jeena, but the way RGV dealt with the spirit of a free girl was simply staggering with different hues of emotions explicating her aspirations, dreams and uncommon love-affair with Aamir Khan’s character Munna.  These days we have some gutsy directors or filmmakers, who can take the Indian Cinema forward by producing a lot of different stuff; worth mentioning Anurag Kashyap and Diwakar Banerjee, but in those days, we had only RGV and he never disappointed us.

RGV  (Photo Courtesy - apnewscorner)
Be it Shool, Company or Road – RGV simply lived up to the expectations, which soared high with every movie he made. It was all good till Ab tak Chappan, another movie on underworld and police nexus. And then something happened.

I went to watch Gayab and then Naach – and felt disappointed. Whether RGV directed those movies or not, but he was involved with them. In those days, I had a friend who was taking classes with Berry John, who once trained Manoj Vajpai, told me that RGV’s production house is named “Factory” and RGV might took it seriously – it was one movie after another from Factory. Loads of quantity - damage to quality. This guy was on a spree to make movies. Well, his next flicks can’t be called anything but average with “D” and “James”, but then RGV once again hit the chord with Sarkar. There were those typical RGV moments in the flick and it was a good effort in many ways – the director was honest in his storytelling and there were some quirky one-liners like Jab koi ek taraf se ladna shuru karta hai to dushan apne aap hi ban jaate hain. Though, it was a rip-off of Hollywood’s epic flick Godfather - Sarkar was a big hit and what could have proved a turning point in RGV’s career ended up filling him with hubris, which eventually got the better of him. 2007 saw the release of Nishabd and Ram Gopal Verma ki Aag – with latter turning out as Bollywood’s worst movie ever. For someone, who delivered so many quality movies for more than a decade, this last effort brought him to his heels. And, then followed a string of Flops and creepy movies with Department, the attacks of 26/11 and Satya 2.

Yes, we have a new brigade of directors, which has kept our hopes alive for a better and nuance-oriented cinema, but amidst all this – it hurts to see such a fall of RGV. A director of uncommon sense of Cinema could have done a lot better. Now, he is coming up with Ab Tak Chappan 2 – hopefully, it would not meet with the same fate of Satya 2.

RGV gave us so much in different Cinema and kept our hopes alive that Bollywood has a big heart to accept and cherish those who believe in themselves, take risks and defy formula-based cinema.

Many call him Maverick and spontaneous director, whose love for Cinema force him to work tirelessly, but for me he is someone, who has a strong conviction, but gradually paralyzed with his own hubris. Now, at the age of 52, I believe that this great Director can take a break from films and analyze a few things about himself – a walk down the memory lane wouldn’t help and a fresh start amidst present state of affairs can do a lot for him. Yes, he can look back to draw inspiration from those great flicks of his, which enriched Bollywood in many ways. May be its too late for RGV, but he would always stand out as someone, who did a lot in reinstating the faith of many in hard-hitting cinema – when Bollywood was struggling with an identity crisis and succumbing to cliché.

Monday, May 26, 2014

Yo Yo Funny Singh – First Part

Picture a typical Punjabi wedding scene. Too much glitter, Gucci, Prada – raging clamor for attention – and a lot of booze.  Take these words of wisdom, if you are going to attend such marriage – now or in near future. A few changes here and there, but ultimately the fervor and finish would be same. Same goes with Punjabi Music – No No – I am not overstepping here or going overboard or trying to offend someone – current music scene would appear like a half-churned ‘Lassi da Glass” without Punjabi Music – So spare me and if you can’t then forget it – it’s just a Blog dude.

In 80s and early 90s, there were only a handful of Punjabi singers, who were making the waves in Northern India like Gurdas Maan and a few more (I tried but couldn’t recall the names of others) and then Daler Mehndi brought his own brand of music – From tunak tunak tun to Haiyo Rabba – India got its own form of Shudh Peppy Music – you can always dance on such numbers. It was an early stage of Digital Music, which consequently led to a spontaneous blending of Punjabi Music+ Digital beats – yes they were and are made for each other. Anyone can shake a leg or break a leg on a popular Punjabi Peppy number – even if he doesn’t understand a single word. That’s it! But yes, it was never enough.

And then something happened -  something serious, something incredible – the bourgeoisie and rich class of Punjab, which represents the progress of Punjab with its super and bigger sense of style and substance (not talking about Substance Abuse here, which has become a cause of major concern in Punjab these days)  entered the Music arena like never before.

Amidst all this – Yo Yo Honey Singh was born. A singer who first broke into the music scene with his Daring **** Volume 2 song and gradually the entire nation accepted him – as someone who can talk his heart out and truly represents the problems faced by India’s lovelorn young boys. Some people call him misogynist but now some of his songs don’t propagate any message of hatred towards women, but simply label them as subjects – with words apparently referring to anatomical details of their bodies and how they behave or should behave these days. So, it is not about hatred anymore.

What really came on the forefront with this Yo Yo Music. While Lyrics can be called truly Punjabi, Music Videos or song sequences are bluntly ripped off from the West –with skimpily clad Girls (Goriyan in Punjabi) just heaving and jumping around the singers like puppets – with their jaded expressions and incoherent dance movements - Yes, Funny Singh counts for so much. Yo Yo and his brigade of Famous or hugely famous singers look like step brothers of Gangsta Rappers – so much is common between them – cribs, girls, cars and petty fights to brag about, but we have to accept the fact that Gangsta has more variety, more violence or if I have to sum-up in one word – they have a more Gross-Quotient in them. Not an assumption but a well scrutinized fact that very soon – Yo Yo Brigade will also delve deep into to augment their Gross-Quotient.

I noticed a pattern in Funny Singh’s songs. Earlier he was a Messiah of those who always wanted it but never had it – a sex starved group of people, who had to rely a lot on their imagination to vent out their frustration, but now they have Honey Singh or for them Horney Singh, who not only talks about this socially oppressed and ignored class, but also suggest ways for them to get what they want – instantly.

These days he is a national craze and a massive asset of this country. So, it is a laborious task to analyze too much in trends in his songs because Honey Singh is not much different from most of other Punjabi singers (or Wannabe Punjabi Singers), but yes he is more popular. Most of the time they talk about – girls, big cars, money, and above all – Jaat Power. But seriously, I tried to pick out a few interesting lines from his songs. Apparently, this guy wants to say too much – wants to do too much – and too much is never enough in Punjab.

Some songs – watch Videos to understand.

Party yun hi chalegi song – there is one quirky line in this song (Gaon main Tau kaware hain – means there are so many bachelors in the village) here he inadvertently talks about the problem of female foeticide in Punjab and Haryana, which has forced the youth to bring (buy) girls from other states of India. Those who can afford Can and those who Can’t – well, they can watch Honey Singh’s videos.

The way he sings this song especially Bomb lagdi mainu – Here he touches the emotions of a boy, who is knee deep in desperation, gradually moving upwards and he is squeaking  like someone who had Kayam Churan in the night but still feeling the agony of severe constipation.  Desperation couldn’t have been expressed in a better way. Feel aa gayi na – by God!

Char botal Vodka kaam mera roz ka – well there is one dreamy line in this song – kisi ki bandi ko bhi har lo (Which vaguely means…Hey, just go to the pub and pick up any girl you like) – this song sends a wrong message to all those who believe that they will find so many girls in Gurgaon pubs – at least one easy-going girl, who would behold you as if you are the famous Chawla version of Punjabi Butter Chicken and after 4 pegs of Vodka, this babe will pounce upon you like a tigress – and devour you. Yes, it happens – never mind to try it out, but first get drunk.
It would take at least a month to compile all those interesting lines from Honey Singh’s songs, which send across some strong messages. May be some other time – I do have some lyrics suggestions for this singer. May be in my next posts, I will try to look into the mercurial rise of Honey –Funny-Horny Singh and continue with some analysis of his lyrics. Only if I will have that much patience.