Sunday, October 29

a cat has 9 lifes, I have 8

The One has tagged me again. Almost out of habit this time.

This time its 8 things about me, he might as well have written it himself. But then it would read like - She got drunk, she got very drunk; she got a high again and danced like a maniac to Ganesh Chaturthi music….well she got drunk again….

Also blogging turns out to be self congratulatory most of the times, so here I go…..

I am truly patriotic – Every weekend when I go to a movie hall, I love to see the tricolor unfold on the 70 mm screen, it fills my chest with an extremely primitive pride, unrecognizable yet understandable, I love standing to the tricolor, paying my obeisance and singing Jana Gana Mana in a guttural voice. Global village be damned… I cried when I watched The Legend of Bhagat Singh, my hair stood on the edge when Devgan boy told an Indian jailor, an employer of the British empire , Tum namak ka farz ada karo mein mitti ka karz ada karta hoon.” Although my patriotism is truncated to singing the national anthem, watching the parade on 26th Jan or reading Indian authors ( I have a collection of over 200 books mostly by Indian Authors) not to mention Indian Cinema, it defines me in many ways.

I am a die hard romantic – It was Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights till I discovered feminism, then Darcy from Aunty Austen’s stable of knights & lords. As a kid I would turn coy when I saw Big B, expecting him to come to life stained in blood and soaked with sweat, out of the hoardings,into my 8 year old childish crush.

The idea of romance has captured my imagination. I have always believed in love, always believed that it is some higher order need, in Maslow’s world, a tenuous, subtle feeling, yet one so integral to our core.

Every time I feel the rain on my face, this belief gets stirred. Every time I feel the warm sunshine on my skin, I know I will be in love. Always. The walk together in the rains, sharing a cup of tea, watching a movie together, listening to poetry together, humming songs, the long lingering looks, the jokes, the anger, the arguing for the sake of it, the assertion, the little gifts, the long wait and more…..

Love is a feeling next to life itself. Nothing deters it. Not a hectic whirlwind 9 to 9 existence, nor the loneliness of a metro life, neither the stale taste of foil packed lunches nor the complicated thwarted realities of the mundane worldly relationships.

Love engulfs all. I know.

Bollywood ki kasaam – I belong to an era where clothes were stitched, with a five year plan in mind. May be two sizes bigger, keeping in mind your growth trajectory. Deprivation was a virtue and the concept of entertainment non existent.

The year was 1981. Maa and Runnmaa (my aunt) went for Umrao Jaan, leaving us behind, saying it was not a movie for kids. My sister all of 8 years started crying stung by the unfairness of it all. I, then 4, followed suit. We cried the whole afternoon pacified only when Papa (who watched all Hindi movies first day first show alone, till he got married to a teacher) promised that he would let us see Umrao Jaan when we grow up.

I remember the only 2 movies Maa took us out for with unbridled enthusiasm, one of them was Richard Attenborough’s Oscar winning Gandhi (1982) ( for its educational properties), and the other was 3D – Shiva ka Insaaf (1985) because it was a technical treat , she, a teacher, did not want us to miss.

All my mother’s well meaning austerity and control could not contain the magnetic attraction 70 mm held for me.

Sundays evenings at home were a delight. I would (pretend to) study the whole of Sunday to watch whatever cinema DD dished out, from “Saheb Biwi or Gulaam” to Aandhi, from Damul To Mrigya, from“Aawaara to Aaan”, election time would be another bonanza as the bulletins on DD would be woven with a movie or two. These evenings were valued because of Papa’s involvement in the cinema.

He would give me trivia – Aandhi is inspired by Indira Gandhi’s life. When I went to watch the movie 1st day 1st show, the enraged congress party broke down the hall; the movie was banned after that.

My first big lie to Maa was also on account of Cinema, when I sneaked out of college to see SRK romancing Kajol in trendy trains in Europe and the mustard fields of Punjab, even now when I see DDLJ it fills me with a sense of illicit thrill, the joy of forbidden pleasure envelops me.

Then there were those Friday nights of Adult Cinema which I watched standing in front of the TV, tuned to lowest volume and almost to 0 brightness on our black and white TV, scared of being found out. Bhavana, Kamagni, and a whole host of foreign adult cinema invaded my impressionable world.

2001 June- My first pay cheque. The gift of globalization.
2001 August- Lagaan goes to Oscar
2001 – December – I buy my first two white goods– a toaster and a television. The scheme offers me a VCD.

An age old irresistible urge resurfaces and I look for a video library at Cambridge layout, Bangalore.

And watch all the movies which were rationed. It rained cinema in my house.

I watched Umrao for Freudian reasons.

I still cry. For the unfairness of it all. For the loneliness of a nautch girl. For the pain of unrequited love. For the insatiable thirst…..

I am all for cinema, give me the smudged kohl in glycerin stained eyes, the puppy romances, the friends – turned – foe acerbic battles, the lost and found twins tales , the opulence, the melodrama, the madness. They still weave a magical, mystical world. I know I am home.

Writing is my catharsis. - It has been always like this. Ever since I discovered I had the ability to rhyme.

It started with juvenile rhyming…..

A sudden glance, the long look
Sent a flutter down the spine
The smile was a knock at heart
A knock that could not be denied

And it went on…. I have thick diaries filled with poems….my state of mind

The sea is calm after the hurricane
The world so happy and free
As I pick the debris of my broken heart
I wonder what has changed except me?


Aapne Tafhree janee hogee mere justozoo ko
Magar Kuch sanjeedgee aayee hein Ishq mein
Wafaa nibhane se

Someday I will write a book, or maybe a collection of short stories, till then blogging makes me happy, really happy.

My job- While it does not define who I am, there are parts of it which does. I get a kick out of addressing a crowd, resolving problems of people, influencing behavior and being in a situation to help. Every people situation ranging from hiring to employee counseling, is an opportunity to influence people and I genuinely like what it does to me.

It has been a tremendous experience to be a corporate citizen, from the year 2001 when I entered the workforce till tonight as I pen this down, the skills that I have added to myself, the value addition, the learning, the confidence, the experiences and before it sounds like a farewell speech…. I think my generation owes a lot to the policymakers…and also has an onus to posterity.

On posterity – I think if I do, and when I do, I will make a good Mom, not the one who peeps happily out of a healthy Maltova ad, but I think I will be a good pal to have around. I can help him with his essay and help her with her maths.

While I have not yet resolved how to deal with his messy, mud stained socks all over my living room or how to stop myself from squirming when she would want to tuck her skirts two inches above her knees, I would largely love to be a mom. I guess it will al come when it has to.

What else ? - I am glad this is the seventh thing about me. I will like to be born every time with every new thing I do, every new project I take, every endeavor I have. I wish next time someone tags me I have 8 new things to say about myself.

8 is a rather long list – I would love to contradict myself. Contradiction is life. Equilibrium is death.
On demand, I tag Sanjay Jha

Tuesday, October 17

blogging, deewali and more...

I find it difficult to blog these days. One reason is nothing I write seems beautiful anymore. It all feels very melancholic.

Fellow blogger Shikha says – It doesn’t matter as long as you have something to say.

Anon (doing the rounds of my blog) feels I need to see a shrink.

May be. But would that lead to happy words pouring from my fatigued fingers furiously typing on my dusty laptop.

I doubt.

I have been a melancholic writer for as long as I remember. My first poem was an improvisation of a half heard poem in school.

Billi ne school khola ek
Jisme aye chuhe anek

(Improvisation: with due apologies to whoever wrote the first two lines)

Jab suna yeh kee billi ne
Maaf ke hein fees
Shuroo me legi rupyee bees
Bili ne ek path parhaya
Mooh se lad tapak aya
Jhat ek chuha mooh mein dabaya
Billi roj phat phadati thee
Aur ek chuha mooh mein dabati thee
Aise beet gaye kayee saal
Huee kamyaab billi ke chaal
Chuho ne ab kee bagawat
Khatam hui bile eke aavbhagat
Billi ko to ho gayee jail
Or chuho mein phir se mail

This poem seems to be the only happy poem in my satchel, thanks to the first two lines. I wish I could write like this again. About cats & mices.

On unhappy melancholic writing

Kiran Desai bagged the Man Bookers for “The Inheritance of loss”. I started reading it yesterday. Kiran is part Arundhati, part herself. However, she doesn’t have Arundhati’s in the face “I- do- not-confirm” attitude. She doesnt have her lunatic, intense and nearly fanatic passion .

But ten chapters into the inheritance of loss, my heart broke.

It's sadness permeates like humidity….. it reminded me of mosquito stung evenings at Patna when I stood at the gate waiting for an eventuality.

Mohanty boy….who works with me ….asks “why didn’t a PG Woodhouse ever get a Bookers”? “And check this out …. He moans ...”most Bookers are given to sad novels.”

Mohanty boy is one with these observations on everything. In the middle of meetings these questions erupt to him like rashes.

Have you heard “The Circle Game” by John Mitchell? Oh, you must. “Or have you noticed his white striped trousers?” Sometimes he sets me thinking.

So I try and conjure an answer through my heavy Caprioska washed voice.

Maybe awards have a self imposed righteousness to them. And they look for messages in writing. And I trail off....

Mohanty is busy rolling joints (which he does best) and nods in agreement…. “they would never give Bill Bryson a Bookers.

He is much doped. Marijuana takes over as he dreams a happy Bookers winning dream for Bill Bryson.

It’s again that time of the year when earthen lamps would be washed, soaked in water overnight, wicks cut out, ghee poured into them washed lamps and lit. Warm glow from symmetrically washed diyas emanating hope into a lonely hopeless night.

The aroma of pure fresh ghee is the smell of deewali fighting the stench of love and loss.

Newness fighting oldness.

I read the post I had written last Deewali, it was kind of sad. So if anon is bugged I know why.

Well, Lots of things have changed since then.

o I have my own house and I am out of sharing my space with other people. I have a lovely balcony that I just love.

o Old Man and Wife are getting old. He wanted me to go fetch his cigarettes because he didn’t feel like going (an errand I had always wanted to run but a privilege that was truly forbidden). She has become more tolerant of who I am not.

o I have lots more to read, write, watch and manage at work and off it.

o I have begun to like my own company. Soaking on the futon, reading on the bean bag, dancing by myself to Gulzar’s poetry and staring into space. And I am happy about it.

o And yet….strangely I have this nagging feeling to be someone else….somewhere else….. a freaking feeling like a tire around the waist that refuses to go…

So with all this and more I pack my bags for Deewali…. Destination Goa.

Banjar hein sab banjar hein
Dhoondne jab hum phirdaus chale
Teri khoj talas me dekh piya
Hum kitne kane kos chale

( Song from movie Saathiya)


Tuesday, October 10

Review of Dor

How far would you go to save someone you love?

Well… you have Nagesh Kukoonor’s Dor trying to find an answer, in a two hour celluloid journey of Zeenat that leads her to the parched life of child widow Meera.

Cinematographer Sudeep Chatterjee creates a breathtaking kaleidoscope as Nagesh takes us through the lives of two women on opposite sides of the same world. The splendour of Himachal and the charisma of Rajasthan are captured with equal precision to create a virginal background that this story deserves.

So why is Dor such a sought after movie?

Because it’s a rather fresh story that serves human emotion with the garnish of women empowerment. It is backed by good direction for an audience that flocks to multiplex in search of feel good cinema.

However what Dor lacks is genuineness, despite being a real story. The pain of a woman whose husband faces the goal escapes the audience, what remains on the screen is the nostalgia of a Himachal summer. In an effort to contain melodrama, Nagesh shies away from bringing out the best in Gul Panaag’s character. Hrishikesh Mukherjee in Anand dealt with a somewhat similar theme, two men, one facing death, the other cynical with life, whose trauma filled the screen and gnawed at the heart. Anand taught us long back how to emote on screen effectively without overdoing it. Dor fails at striking this chord.

Gul Panaag’s character therefore is a held back, fab India woman, with steely looks, restrained smiles and measured tones. On the other hand is Ayesha Takia, who graduates with aplomb from a sweet as sugar bride, her life gyrating around monthly mobile calls made to her husband to a child widow with haunted eyes. Her bursting into a “you are my sonia” after a week of losing her husband is beautifully etched. The extremely talented Shreyas Tapalde is an unnecessary add - on to the script yet a welcome cameo.

Dor’s music is haunting and accentutes the story, while "yeh hosla kaise jhuke" describes Zeenat’s resolve well while "Kesariya balaam" accentuates Meera’s plight well.

But this one is not from the independent filmaker Nagesh Kukoonor who gave us Hyderabad Blues & 3 Deewarein. Has the maverick given in to the lure of mainstream cinema. Hope not.