Wednesday, March 30, 2005


She first saw me when I was this tall lanky fellow, who was most of the times lost in his own thoughts. People considered it to be arrogance so did she.

If getting accustomed to your loneliness is what you call happiness. I was happy with my self then. I had dreams but they were too hazy. I had plans but I was too lazy.

Now she tells me that there was something special about you that compelled me to know more about you. Slowly and steadily she penetrated my defenses. I had not given her much thought then. Nor did we meet occasionally after our first few meetings.

She was tenacious. She was genuine. She was a breathe of fresh air. Slowly I realized that I enjoyed her company more than the pretentious companionship of the others around. We had many things in common. Firstly the concept of trials and tribulations was not something that was new to us. Life had left its share of scars on our once innocent faces. May be she related to the pain that she saw deep down in the depths of my eyes. May be I saw that behind her vibrant exterior was a tough and vulnerable heart. Yeah, oxymoronic. I know. But true still.

Fortunately, she had a steady boyfriend then. That prevented the world around us to interfere in our lives and dictate the terms of our relationship. I was a good-humored loner. I hardly spoke beyond the usual pleasantries. I spoke to her. For hours. Because she listened. I told her about my dreams and then I realized that while speaking to her my otherwise nebulous dreams were taking some kind of shape. I could comprehend them. She taught me how to communicate with my dreams. She taught me to talk to them.

Before I knew I was opening up. To people. To ideas. Luckily I tasted success in the endeavours that I was passionate about. She encouraged me. She fought for me. I was getting to be a better person and then…

Then I fell in love. I fell in love with a girl. No it wasn’t her. This girl belonged to a different world. A world which I had seen and heard of, but could never relate to. She fell for my charms. People said that I got a priced catch. This girl had everything. She was intelligent, beautiful, smart, sensitive, talented and rich. I flitted around everywhere, with her in my arms. I liked to induce those jealous stares. It worked wonders for my ego.

Before I knew I was drifting away from my oxymoronic girl. I was so obsessed with the new development in my life that I was oblivious to the existence of everything around me.

But she being she, she gave me time. She did get insecure, but somehow I managed to convince her out of it. I told her probably this marks the beginning of a new phase in our relationship.

And then…

Then one day the beautiful girl got up and went back to her own world. Leaving me shaken.

I sobbed. I howled. I fought. I complained. But the girl didn’t come back.

But SHE was still there. She saw me slapping myself. She gave me her hands so that I could claw on them. She let me abuse her. She let me scream at her. She let me throw tantrums at her. But most importantly she let me be…

I was hurt. My ego was hurt. My life looked aimless. My dreams changed shapes. Shapes now, which I could no longer decipher. Probably there were no shapes at all…because there was nothing there.

One by one she helped me pick up the pieces. By then she had also broken up with her long steady boyfriend. Both of us together silently gulped on the sorrow and tried to put our lives back together.

She forced me to dream again. She cajoled me. She tricked me. And there I was…back with my dreams again. Did I mention before that I liked being in my dream world? That’s a safer place to be in. Nobody comes there to hurt you. You get to be yourself there.

But she was too harsh. She kicked me out of it. On the other hand to compensate for the agony that he gave me sometime back, God decided to make some of my dreams true. Our efforts bore fruits. We shared some moments of happiness. Life seemed to be back on track.

It’s been an eventful journey so far. I met some wonderful people on the way, some of whom are still with me.

But most of all I met her. Kalyani, without you I would still be wandering in the large corridors of loneliness that I seemed to seek solace in. Without you I wouldn’t be me.

Thanks for helping me discover myself.

Sunday, March 20, 2005

Sunday Afternoons

Sunday afternoons.Still.Sunny.Bright.The road opposite my bedroom window is empty save a trickle of pedestrians; most of them people returning from the market with fresh broiler chicken.

A quirky sparrow chirping incessantly for want of attention.

The reverie of the Gulmohar disturbed by a gush of breeze that has probably lost its way in the heat and humidity.

Tink. Tank. Tink. Tank. Tink. Tank. The rhythmic strokes of a construction worker plummeting menacingly on an iron rod.

I smell the aroma of Garam Masala brewing from my neighbour’s window. Mutton probably.

A rich dark crimson saree walloping from the outer railing of a balcony, Wonder what it was in the empty space that it was trying so desperately to reach. The breeze likes to tease her. Tantalize her into believing that she might get successful in breaking away from the confinity of a steel rod that dominates her existence and dictates her space.

An indolent dog is stretching and yawning, safely tucked under the shadow of a bench in the compound.

There seems to be no respite for the kabadiwala who inspite of the scorching heat is shouting hopefully at the top of his voice, “Dabba, Batli, Samaan, Bhangarwalai…!!!"
The sound pierces the stillness, creates a ripple around it for sometime…Then it’s the same again. Disappointed he starts walking back out of the compound. Nobody around me seems to have anything useless to give him. With a tired and forlorn look, he makes his way out. Goes to the Gulmohar and sits on the Katta wiping the stream of sweat flooding his forehead. The heat has sapped his energy.

I can hear the vociferous noise made by a bunch of kids arguing while playing cricket somewhere. I guess someone’s out and not ready to part with the bat.

Sitting in the opposite balcony I see an old wrinkled woman staring down at the empty space. There are no expressions on the surface, I guess because there’s a vast chasm of nothingness beneath it. This was one of the few occasions where the exterior is reflecting the emptiness inside…Otherwise we are masters of disguise…we are experts in hiding our respective emptiness by our effervescent exteriors. Probably you are too tired to keep up the act at that age…

The tranquility of the burning roads is disturbed by a lone auto rickshaw. It passes leaving a trail of smoke behind.

Sunday afternoons…are still.

Sunday afternoons are still empty.

Monday, March 14, 2005

A Tale of Two Movies

Saw quite a few movies this weekend. Five in all. Yup you are right, I put have even the most passionate and indolent couch potato to utter humiliation. I was infront of the idiot box for a whopping 22 hours outta 48.

It all began with Rahul Rawail’s Arjun on Saturday. I like watching movies from the eighties.Sunny Deol exuded a vulnerable innocence that made the character endearing.

The English Patient later in the evening. (I was also planning to watch American Pie The Wedding at 9pm but thought against it coz I didn’t want to part with the brooding aura of the English Patient.) Sunday was cataclysmic. My mom didn’t make any attempt at hiding her disgust and angst on seeing me sloth shapelessly in front of the TV like an amoeba stretching. She soon gave up realizing that her son had gone outta hand long back.

The list for Sunday…
Breakfast with “How to lose a guy in 10 days.” (Hey guys I know, I know but I just wanted to start the day on a lighter note.)Kate Hudson is good candy for just awakened eyes!

Followed by bits n pieces of Raj Khosla’s CID starring Dev Anand.

Afternoon was the Marathi tearjerker – “Chaukat Raja” Every time I watch this movie (This was the Fifth time I watched it) I surpass my past records of weeping inconsolably. This time too I was howling away to glory. While most might attribute that to Dilip Prabhawalkar’s true to life portrayal of a mentally challenged person, for me it’s the actress extraordinaire, Sulabha Deshpande, (she plays his mother) who penetrates my defenses and shakes me up inside out. She’s Durga Mavshi for me.My heart aches for her.Shedidn;t need to speak to convey her agony.That according to me is the success of an actor. Sanjay Surkar’s direction is very impactful in some scenes, viz when Nandu’s comes back home from Meenal’s place after his mother’s death. Sheer, raw emotions. But most of the times you get the impression that albeit the overall endeavor is extremely genuine the director is focusing more on inducing tears rather than narrating a story. But it’s a just a minor flipside. The performances more than make it up for it.Editing can described in one word – shoddy. Light design and cinematography lacked imagination. Music - wonderful. Set the tempo. Dialogues were to the point.

Two films stood out. For their sheer understanding of the medium. Their highly imaginative and though provoking subjects. Their universal and timeless appeal, inspite of belonging to completely opposite genres. And last but not the least for the conviction and passion of the respective filmmakers. The English Patient and Do Bigha Zameen.

The English Patient.

No. This is not a review. I can’t write reviews. I don’t believe in them either. This is just a cathartic moment for me. For that matter any good piece of art induces a felling of catharsis in me. And I want to just sit and stare at nothing in particular and let my thoughts take their own shape.It’s a nice romantic story was my reaction. But Kalyani put it more aptly, “It’s not a love story. It’s a story about love.” How true. The thing that stood out in the movie was the screenplay. The ease with which it moved from flash back to real time was something most screenplay writers would swear by. The direction by Anthony Minghella was first rate.(Incidentally he’s also written the screenplay)The movie won nine Oscars: Best director. Best Editing, Best Costume, and Best Supporting Actress were some of the categories that it won in. But as luck would have it Best Screenplay that year went to Billy Bob Thornton, for his adapted screenplay of ''Sling Blade.'' A nice touching movie. Not a pathbreaking one neither a visual spectacle. But still it had its own brooding charm that keeps you in its hold for before lingering away. Ralph Fiennes last seen in the cold-blooded act in The Schindler’s List was in great form. Kristin Scott Thomas was also convincing in her portrayal of Katherine. Especially when Clifton (Colin Firth) holds her and says Marzipan! I think you've got marzipan in your hair. She doesn’t know where to look. Juliet Binoche is so earnest that as the movie progresses you stop asking yourself, Why in the heavens name did she wait behind with the patient? The arid landscape is captured so effectively by John Seale that you can feel your throat going dry. (Ok,ok…I know this is stretching things a bit. But what the heck ya he did a superb job)

Do Bigha Zameen.

There are movies and there are movies and there are movies, but there’s only one Do Bigha Zameen. Only once in a while does God come down himself and makes movies (coz u see he has many other important issues to deal with like the Tsunami and Palestinian war etc etc etc) Easily one of the top five movies made in India.

Bimal Roy weaves a masterpiece, the beauty of which lies in its simplicity. Simplicity is the key word. The most difficult form of filmmaking. A territory many aspire for but very few can claim to practice. Every thing about Do Bigha is so real yet so simple. Balraj Sahni’s Shambhu is somebody with whom we can instantly relate to, his mannerisms, his story, his life, and his dreams.
While some may remember the legendary rickshaw accident scene from this movie. I would also put a couple of more landmark scenes as my favourites. The scene where Shambhu is embarking on his journey to Calcutta, how he comes back and hugs his wife again when hears her sobbing. Also the end scene where he picks up something from the ground and a guard or somebody reprimands him and asks him to open his fist to show what he’s stealing. Shambhu opens his fist and we see a handful of mud. It’s a slap across any self-respecting urbanite who is oblivious towards the plight of his brethren in the village.

The movie is considered a milestone because of the times that it was made in and the times that it spoke about. A frontal attack on the feudal system it also exposed the pusillanimity of the noveau rich urban Indian. The hypocrisy of the bourgeois and their vain ideals and existence. Especially when plotted against the simple idiosyncrasies of the village folks the severity is magnified. This film I think never got the credit it deserved. Here was a story well told. Here was the heart at the right place so was the head. But seldom do people notice a good thing, do they?

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Urdu anybody???

What’s with Bollywood and Urdu these days? Every next song that I get to hear on the TV set or blaring on the speakers of all the ricks in Mumbai HAS to have one word of Urdu. The raison detre being its phonetic value that adds to the meter of the song. Don’t get me wrong. I am not ignorant to the fact that Urdu has always been the boli of 80% of the Hindi film songs.
In good old days we have had the best of shayars penning down the lyrics for our movies. Stars of the sixties like Sahir, Shakeel, Jaanissar, Kaifi ruled the skies of the Indian film world. With their chaste Urdu and proficient lines they could make songs even on the mundanest (Couldn’t resist the temptation!) situations seem profound and insightful. Taking their mantle ahead were the likes of Gulzar and Javed Akhtar. The former could complicate a simple situation like lovetalk between two passionate lovers and make it sound like a description of a chapter in a geography text book viz –

“Iss mod se jaate hain,
Kuch sust kadam raste,
Kuch tez kadam rahe,
Pathar ki haveli ko
Shishe ke gharondo mein,
Tinko ke nasheman tak
Iss mod se jaate hain.”

Or give Panchamda a piece of prose and ask him to put in meter and record it viz –

Mera kuch saman
Tumhare paas pada hai
Sawan ke kuch bhege bhyeege din
Rakhe hai
Aur mere in khat mein lipti raat padi hai who raat bujha do mera who saman lauta do.

Just kidding.

Me thinks Gulzar is someone who has penned down easily some of the most simple but profound lyrics of our times.

By adding everyday words like – makan, railway, chatri etc. he has given us words which were more closer to life than just mohabbat, afsana, wafa, aah etc.

But again, I digress.

But how can I go ahead without speaking about Javed sahab, he has in actuality simplified the whole process of lyrics writing. Sagaar, Saath Saath,Tezaab,Silsila were some of his gems.

All these stalwarts time and again have taken generous helpings from the Urdu reservoir to convey the hapless condition of a lovelorn aashiq. Albeit with abundant dexterity.

But I seek your attention to introduce you to this new breed of lyrics that have taken the Hindi film industry by storm and are threatening to stay put for the near future at least.
The modus operandi of these scamstars is to browse through the Urdu to Hindi dictionary. Look out for words, which have a nice phonetic value. (Preferably words, which people have never heard of before) Use the word repeatedly and jot some peripheral lines to disguise it and make it look like a song. Have some jazzy beats in the background and voila you gotta chartbuster over there. Ever done something simpler than this?
Well let me cite some examples.

Nikkamma kiya is dil ne (The word was first made famous by Ghalib. Now he must be turning in his grave on the beats of this song!)
Kambakht ishq (Ghalib again!!)
Khubakhu mujhe tu nazar aaye
Talatum talatum (And you thought it was one of those oley oley kindda senseless shit. It means a storm)

Do guys know of anymore to add to the list?

This will go on until one day they will run outta words in Urdu.Then they will start taking each regional language one by one and rape it repeatedly and thoroughly till its reduced to a lifeless pulp. Then they will search for greener pastures abroad and use Spanish,German,Lebanese,Swahili and the likes.

Anything to make a hit song!

PS. Coming soon is my venting out session on all the remixes. But for that lemme take a break and listen to some songs…;-)

Monday, March 07, 2005

A night of old memories

Had been to my Mgmt Inst alumni party on Saturday. Had a swell time. Met up with professors and old friends.Prof.Shrinivas instantly recognized me (which surprised me a bit)and when I said that I am in advertising he replied by saying, “But ofcourse!I knew you would reach your aim.” Then turning towards Prof.Pitale he said,"Back then, he was one of those star performers in the class. I am sure he's the same in work also. “The embarrassment on my face was evident.

Post the pleasantries were the time to hit the bar and get sloshed. Had loadsa fun. Flirted outrageously with the junior gals.

PS.Was given the microphone to wax eloquent about our days in college. But I need a script before I face my audience. Impromptu speaking is definitely not my forte. So gauche as I was blurted out a monosyllabic and highly repetitive rambling as my discourse for the evening.