Bollywood

Most of you who know me personally or follow me on social media would know my love for films.

I have thrived on watching films over the 4 decades of my being. This love affair that started with Hindi Films aka Bollywood and has taken me to Hollywood to Regional Cinema and to World Cinema thanks to the advent of sub-titles.

Hindi Films i.e. Bollywood shall forever remain my first love. For they have made me happy and sad, made me question and also made me hate, all with equal measures. Their music is the only one that I can comprehend for they tap into each emotion and occasion.

Besides the movies the people that light up the silver screen and those who enable them have been inspired entire generations. They have been there to serve the nation: the case in point being actors who have gone to the frontiers to boast the morale of our Jawans amongst others.

However my heart pains when some sections of the media goes on to paint the entire industry as the den of all vices. The industry has some issues but isn’t these matters that plague our society irrespective of the industry. The film industry is an easy target and scapegoat, for there is too much money and lives at stake. One bad weekend can be death knell for a film. Targeting films and their actors makes for good politics and that’s what we are seeing these days.

Sensationalising news on Film Industry makes for good TRP’s. Look what has happened to a particular news network that have been garnering substantial eyeballs and thus filling in their coffers. Like in all other matters they are the Prosectutor, Judge and Jury all rolled in to one.

Well sorry for using the “roll” word, for Rhea has been put in jail for rolling things she shouldn’t have and for that matter no middle-class person should have, after all these are things only the rich and famous do and not us.

For the Film Industry I hope this crisis gives you time to put your house in order or what the hell, Wait !!

People have very–very short memories they are going to come back to watch movies of the very people who are now being shamed and disliked. Till that short time work on good scripts and take us back to the magic of a dark Cinema Halls and lit-up Silver Screens !!

रुक जाना नहीं तू कहीं हार के, काँटों पे चलके मिलेंगे साये बहार के…..

The Artist House

“It is also to be noted that standards of morality in a society change with the passage of time. A particular activity, which was treated as immoral few decades ago may not be so now. Societal norms keep changing. Social change is of two types: continuous or evolutionary and discontinuous or revolutionary. The most common form of change is continuous.

However, a practice which may not be immoral by societal standards cannot be thrusted upon the society as immoral by the State with its own notion of morality and thereby exercise ‘social control’.

The words ‘obscene, indecent or profane’ are disjunctive, implying that each has a separate meaning. Prurient appeal is an element of the obscene, but the normal definition of ‘indecent’ merely refers to non-conformance with accepted standards of morality.”

These above paragraphs have been delivered by none other than the Judges of the highest court of the land i.e. The Supreme Court of India.

I quote this judgement in the context of the recent hullabaloo in Udaipur on the opening, functioning and now censuring of The Artist House (TAH).

I have a confession to make here, I have not visited this place even once and there was this one time I did want to go but was refused entry as ‘Stags’ weren’t allowed that night !! Our group of boys (In our head we still are) couldn’t take anyone as our better-half’s had gone for their annual summer pilgrimages ( I hope you do get the joke or else read no further) and we obviously couldn’t take anyone else for fear of its repercussions and reprimands.

However, since then whatever updates I have seen of Social Media about the TAH, I am scared to even venture anywhere near it, for fear of being ‘UNCLED’ by the extremely hip crowd. I mean, to see such a crowd enjoying is something that reminds me of my Mumbai college days of the 90’s. OK!!  Even then I was never the cool kid but of what was still then just a ‘Metro Phenomenon’. And then TAH happened to Udaipur.

Hats off to the guys behind this place for their vision and adventurousness to give such a place to Udaipur. I have family and friends visiting this place with rave reviews.

But the way this place has now been targeted is appalling, if there is a legal problem then so be it and let the owners deal with it legally but I have a problem for this place being branded immoral and a den of all the vices. There is no one set moral system that fits all and even if there is one who decides for me?

The values and morality can’t be cherry picked and please do not impose a warped ideas of what is right and wrong on educated, adult, youths ( I do not know if I fit in the last category) of Udaipur !!

So go ahead and enjoy The Artist House, dole out the bucks and remember they close at 11:00 PM now !!

Gully Boy

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A story of a slum dweller who refuses to give up on his dreams in spite of all his hardships with a little push from his mother, his over possessive girlfriend, his questionable neighbourhood friends and a Tiger Mentor – This is Gully Boy for you when the sum total of all this adds up into a perfect weekend watch.

I have a confession here that I am tone deaf, do not understand English Songs and only Baba Sehgal comes to my mind when I think of Rap but this film has already made me read about the artists involved in its music, for the film’s music genre is something that no filmmaker has tried exploring and that also so brilliantly.

There are 4 major stand outs apart from the music for me :

  1. Ranveer Singh – As the underdog who refuses to give up on his dreams, this is like never before Ranveer Singh. downloadThe last movie he portrayed such a calm character was in the boring film Lootera. He is shy, non-confident but with the fire simmering within and his eyes speaking volumes. With a shade darker of his skin and bereft of any flamboyance he is the perfect Gully Boy.
  1. Alia Bhat – She portrays the possessive Girlfriend who has no inhibitions fights for and with her man. 3gtnlsno_alia-bhattinstagram_625x300_05_January_19Belonging to a conservative Muslim family but who has her own ambitions, desires and dreams which she isn’t ready to give up for anyone. Like someone recently said that she is truly the Meryl Streep of India. She slays it with her performance.
  1. Mumbai – This is a film that shows where actually Mumbai lives and how it commutes. Living in the slums travelling in the locals, the BEST Buses, sweating it out to survive in this City of Dreams. Some living after suffocating dreams, while others living to make their dreams a reality. imagesOne can actually smell the garbage, the sweat, the hot and humid Mumbai. The Mumbai lingo is pitch perfect.
  1. Zoya Akhtar – She is the perfect example of parents passing on their genes to the kids. All her three previous films have been different and brilliant. If nepotism gives us filmmakers like her and I am all for that. Long Live Nepotism !! More Power and Glory to you.

 

My verdict is very easy on this one – There can’t be anything better to do this weekend than catch up on Gully Boy unless you are going to go one a date with the leading pair of this film. You can select any one according to your preferences for Iove is gender neutral.However considering this scenario is highly unlikely considering their current relationship status : GO WATCH IT !!

KAALAKAANDI

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Kaalakandi is sure an absurd name for a Hinglish Film starring a mainstream Bollywood actor and then I looked up on the net and and it is a Marathi word meaning – Mayhem. The movie is set thru one rainy night in Aamchi Mumbai where three different plots happening simultaneously cross each other.

The first plot is about a Banker – Saif Ali Khan who as we are informed in the opening scene is diagnosed with Stomach Cancer and has some few days left. This scene is what sets the pace for the movie as Saif goes on how healthy his lifestyle has been and that he has been a good boy with no smoking, drinks and drugs all his life. Well story of our lives when we try being a good reasonable person and end up suffering. He reaches home where the celebrations are on for his younger brother’s wedding and ends up having LSD and the mayhem begins.

The second plot is about a young couple where the girlfriend is leaving for US in the morning to pursue higher studies and as a last one thing before she leaves they attend a birthday party of a friend and end up getting holed up in the nightclub because of a drug raid and how they manage to escape that and the mayhem that follows.

The third plot is about underworld and the don’s sidekicks and how they plot to steal his money and also to fleece each other. With an interesting story line of a shooter who lose one of his testicles while trying to copy our very own Desi Cowboy Feroz Khan.

The film is 85% in English and belongs to the genre of Delhi Belly where profanities both in English and Hindi liberally thrown in.

Saif stands out in the movies as someone on a trip and the best bit is his interaction with a Transgender Hooker and the download (4)opening lines when he goes on and on about his desire to see her Cape of Good. Then the one where is brothers questions him about his sexuality who himself is out for his last sexual escapade before his own wedding.

There is this another character who rattles off names of all Emraan Hashmi movies while they are discussing kissing with such sincerity that it’s super funny and the only reason his girlfriend is with him because she has a fetish for young men.

The movie works in bits and pieces but the performance of Saif on a psychedelic trip and the scenes between him and the Transgender Hooker are what makes this movie paisa wasool at least for me. The genre and the language is what an urban English speaking Junta will identify with. Its different but not for everyone and better than films with one hero with super human abilities taking on the world’s terrorist organisations. You know what I am hinting at !!

Judwaa 2

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20 years back I remember seeing Judwaa in Mumbai where I was then pursuing my Undergraduate Degree and if my memory doesn’t fail me it was the Metro Cinema. Those were the days when David Dhawan was at his peak churning our logic defying, crass yet comedy entertainers with his favourite Govinda. Salman Khan too had killed it with Judwaa fitting in perfectly with the David Dhawan’s brand of cinema.movieposter

20 years later as I took my kids to watch this movie last night I wasn’t expecting anything different from Dhawan & Sons(David & Varun). The Plot line remained the same : logic defying, misogynist, racist, sexist, sometimes funny, sometimes absolutely crazy, most times passable and an updated version tech savvy version of the original.

For the uninitiated the plot is about conjoined twins who thru surgery are separated at birth but with some funny statistics of one in 8 million, match each other’s reflexes (Plz don’t look for logic). The father of the twins gets Charles – a smuggler of diamonds (So Eighties) gets arrested and to take the revenge the smuggler takes one of the twins and leaves him on rail tracks who is eventually raised by a fisherwoman and the parents take the one with them and shift to London. So we have the street smart Mumbaiya – Raja and the London raised docile – Prem. Cimagesircumstances makes Raja travel to London and the craziness starts henceforth with lady love and glamour thrown in the form of Tapsee Pannu and Jackquiline Fernandez (she is way too plastic and botoxed).

The films has some crazy characters thrown in with Upasana Singh as the pushy mother (in the mould of Bindu), the Jat English Policeman, stammering Rajpal Yadav as the sidekick of Raja, amnesiac Vivan Bathena as the son of the Gangster Charles, Anupam Kher as the father of the bride and his doubting Brother-in-law, Ali Asgar as a Psychologist and Jhonny Lever as the owner of Travel Agency who’s into the business of making fake passports. There are loads of references to other Hindi Films in terms of dialogues, songs and scenes.

So you see it’s a complete no brainer with jokes and scenes coming in fast one after another. Varun Dhawan is the perfect actor to fit into Salman Khan’s shoes and he just doesn’t disappoint. Sadly download (2).jpgthe same cannot be said about his father David Dhawan who is still living in a time warp. The audience has moved on and there are filmmakers who has taken from where he left in the 90’s such as the likes of Rohit Shetty, Sajid Khan etc.

My kids who too are twins (no not the filmy reflex matching ones) went crazy laughing the entire duration of the movie alas it wasn’t the same in my case.

Mrs. Patrawala

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As one of the wealthiest community in India: The Parsi’s celebrate their New Year this 21st March I can’t but think about my Parsi landlady in Mumbai: Mrs Patrawala.

Having lived in Mumbai for around seven years ending with the millennium, was lucky to have stayed most of those years in an amazing hostel a stone’s throw away from the magnificent Queen’s Necklace.

It was during the intervening period after my graduation and before I enrolled myself for Post-Graduation that I had to vacate the hostel and look for a suitable place that had to be close to my place of work as I was doing my CA Articleship then with Delloite’s and also within budget. My search ended rather grudgingly with the iconic Paying Guest accommodation of the octogenarian Mrs. Patrawala. She was the owner of two adjoining ground floor flats at Marine Drive, a widow living alone in one and renting out the other to college students and executives.

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She was a typical Parsi lady speaking highly accented Mumbaiya Hindi, wearing a head scarf and a dress, sitting on her wooden Recliner. At a first glance she reminded me of my great Grandmother and then she started talking. All the emotions that had started building up were soon consigned in the depths of the dirty waters of Arabian Sea.

Rules of the House were to be followed in both letter and spirit for she didn’t bat an eyelid before throwing the inmates out. No wasting of electricity, conservation of water, no drinking, no smoking and no noise. And in return we got a bed to sleep on whose bug infested mattress had never seen the sun since being put to use and I think our suitcases was the only place where our belongings were safe. Late nights were something that needed advance planning to ensure one of us was inside to open the flat door or else the Churchgate Station was to be our refuge. In order to conserve water or at least to keep up the pretence the clothes had to be washed in the dead of the night for fear of her waking up to the sound of running water.

With the rosary in her hand she was figure always on the move these flats were her empire and she ruled with an iron fist. We were her subjects; subjugated/ tormented but happy to find a shelter in her kingdom in the city that never slept. She did have a weakness for chocolates and we tried using that for our advantage alas the success depended only on her mood.

So Mrs. Patrawala wishing you a very Happy Navroze and thanking you for providing me with a place in your home, irrespective of how much I may have grudged and cursed you then, now on hindsight these were the very experiences that make me who I am today !!

Love Jihad ????

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Syed and GayatrI didn’t mean to fall in love. But love happens when you least expect It. It creeps up suddenly. When someone needs attention, care, conversation, laughter and maybe even Intimacy. Love doesn’t look at logic, or at backgrounds and least of all, religion.

Gayatri was from a very conservative South Indian family that went to a temple every Saturday. Syed bought goats for his family every EId. That saId it all. Their paths would never have crossed If It hadn’t been for that fateful day. That day when he walked into the coffee shop. GayatrI wondered if destiny chose our loved ones for us. Did we have any role to play at all?

She looked at her watch. Syed was late. They met every Thursday at five pm to catch up. Their conversation lasted for hours. Sometimes at the cafe, sometimes in his car, sometimes in places that she could never tell her friends about. They would never understand. And yet Syed made her happy.

Suddenly her phone beeped. He had sent a message. “On my way. Have somethIng Important to tell you.”

GayatrI stared at It and realIsed she had knots In her stomach. Thoughts flooded her mInd. What dId he want to tell her?

Syed the geek whose company no one wanted to have in school for he was just goofy messed up and weird. And here she was having these crazy rendezvous with the same person the one she most looked forward to more than meeting Anshuman – her steady date and more than her girl gang. He was her little dirty secret one that she wasn’t willing to share with any one not as yet.

So a few months back on a chilly January morning nursing her latest break up and seeking solace in an empty CCD at NarIman Point a young man came and stood next to her.
“GayatrI It Is, right?? I am Syed well wouldn’t be surprised If you don’t recollect, we were in school together till the 8th Standard.”

GayatrI had a proper look at him and she still wasn’t sure, The Syed she knew was no where remotely close to this well groomed boy standing In front of her. Well that is what age does to people either It turns them into a better versions or the versions that had seen better times. He definitely belonged to the former category.

“Oh yes Syed, I do remember you, but definitely not the way you look like now, and please take that as a compliment!! Have a seat, I was just here for a coffee and whiling away my time, didn’t want to go to college today, so where have you been all these years??”

“Thank you, I had to move out of Mumbai then as my father made our family move In with him to Jeddah where he had taken up a job, so finished my schooling there and now In college In Mumbai and working. That is the long and short of my life story.”

So over a cup of coffee they exchanged the latest notes on each other’s lives and on their long lost acquaintances and bid each other good bye. Till GayatrI received a Friend Request from Syed that was promptly accepted and the journey started from liking and commenting on each other’s post to general conversation on FB Messenger. He was witty, polite and polished and she enjoyed what they had on FB!!

“GayatrI, lets meet up for coffee, I will get free after 5 pm from office and Friday Is my weekly off ,that Is of you don’t have any plans.”

“Sure lets meet up, after all we haven’t interacted other than thru our phones. So let’s meet at the same place where we met the first time” said Gayatri.

So the CCD became a witness to their friendship, oblivious to the people around them they continued to meet once a week. The acquaintance grew to friendship and then to something more. They both didn’t want to give their relationship a name but it was something that was palpable and could ignore for long. With the growing friendship with Syed her affair with Anshuman had receded to the background and the sparks had fizzled out. They were close physically but the emotional connect was missing.

imagesThe monsoons hit Mumbai like crazy and besides the other things she shared with Syed; it was their love for rains. After one of their weekly coffee dates they walked up to Marine Drive and started walking towards the Churchgate station. The drizzle, the weather, the company and their conversations was such a heady a mix that had intoxicated them both, so before they realised they had crossed the turn for the station and were way beyond the gymkhanas lost in each other.

They reached Charni Road station and here GayatrI boarded her train for her home, but she couldn’t let go of Syed and kept looking till the he was no longer visible. She knew she was in love with this man and wasn’t sure what he thought of her. She knew there was something but was she misreading a genuine friendship as love??

Ironically the very next day Syed had to go for leave town for medical emergency to his native place of Raigad. The distance and lack of communication was taking its toll on her. Every beep and ring on her phone was looked forward to in the hope it was him, he did keep in touch but not as much as she had hoped for.

So here she was waiting for him and filled with anxiety about was that he wanted to tell her.

As he walked In the Cafe she was weak kneed, he came forward and enveloped her in his warmth, “God, I missed you, missed seeing your face, missed our conversations, missed us” saId Syed. Gayatri, I had to go as my Granny suffered an attack and had to be there for her. While I was there waiting and attending to her, I couldn’t help but think about us. Look I may be Imagining things and know about you and Anshuman but I feel too strongly for you and It Is beyond friendship for me it’s nothing but absolute, crazy love. I didn’t expect you to love me In return or to even continue to meet me after this. We are religiously, culturally and socially poles apart, but I had to get this out of my system, I can’t live in denial and not accept that I Love You Gayatri!!”

She looked up at him and got up from her seat and hugged and kissed him, “Syed, I have been dying to hear those magical words and I do love you too, don’t care how different we are but I want to shout out to the world and tell them about US. I want to update my relationship status” She was jumping with joy for she was happy to be with her man.

She broke up with Anshuman soon after and was glad to be seen with Syed at her college socials, hangouts irrespective of the snares warnings from her close friends. Syed was still a pariah as far they were concerned, they had given up on her, and she would not hear anything against her man. Syed on his apart remained aloof, he could not fit in and the cold vibes from her friends didn’t make matter any easier for him. They continued their emotional and physical relationships in getaways, hotels: places that Mumbai offered in abundance with the advantage of anonymity.

“GayatrI, I have to go to Dubai for some office work and may take a week, will try being in touch but ply don’t get worked up if I am not able to, and network is going to be an Issue In that area. I will call on my own and do take care of you and miss me” saying this Syed hugged her and planted a kiss on her forehead.

Since he left the calls had been sporadic and that too with too much background noise, she missed him and made It a point to visit their favourite coffee shop just to soak with whatever remissness of him were there at the place.

GayatrI got up from her slumber by the Incessant ringing of her phone, she was hoping it was him but it was Anshuman she checked her watch and it was 5 AM. She was all set to blast him off “what Is It?? Anshuman It Is 5 AM and that also Sunday!!”

“I know all that and I had no Intention of calling you up after the way you left me, but you need to switch on the TV as your latest fling Is all over the news” and he slammed down the phone.

images (1)She was blank and didn’t know what to except, she checked her phone for any unread messages / notification or missed calls, there were none. Switching on the TV and flipped through the News Channels and then she saw him, her man, the love of her life SYED!! He was killed while trying to enter Syria to join In the ISIS and his Identity was established from his passport.

Things became clear in some days when the police came knocking on her door. The police Informed her that she wasn’t the only one who he was Involved with. They had verifiable Information that he had been radicalised when he was living In Jeddah and was sent to India to recruit members and also explore opportunity recruit women not belonging to his faith. He had no family and none whatsoever In Raigad; they had abandoned him for his radical views.

Police made a little headway as far as GayatrI was concerned for whatever she knew about him has now proving to be blatant lies and stories that were nowhere close to the truth. On hindsight she now realised she had never visited his office, now had ever been to his college. She couldn’t find out on her own either for she was grounded at home by her conservative family that had now got the whiff of her affair and its aftermath.

She was left without friends who had forewarned her, family who until now were in the dark and Syed: the man she was kind to her, who made her laugh, who listened to her and the one who was in love with her or she thought was in love with her.

Only time will tell the real story and till that time she will continue to feel for him for he was her SYED!!

Thank U Mummy !!

The world is celebrating The Mother’s Day today . But can the love for one’s mother be restricted to just this one given day?? Yes because if we can celebrate the amazing relationship of Brother-Sister on Rakhi then why not celebrate this first relation/ bond that we form with our life giver.
I have been triply blessed to have three generations of mother who have showered love and affection on me unconditionally without fail. Starting from my mother to my Grand Mother and then to my Great Grand Mother. Words and emotions would always fall short of what they mean to me. I am miserable at displaying my love and affection to the people that matter and are dear to me and that’s a grudge I doubt can ever be rectified. So this is a small measure to cover my inadequacies!!

mummyThis Mother’s Day I want to Thank you Mummy for bringing me up the way you did. For keeping me grounded, covering up for my mistakes and being there for me always. We have had our showdowns but what is a relationship without this. I have never told you this but time and again people have complimented me about my upbringing and I have you to Thank for it. Coming from the background that we do, it was very easy to get things to our head but a good thrashing verbal or otherwise was enough to get whatever nonsense crept up in my head time and again. The strict upbringing that we abhorred while growing up  but now in hindsight realize that it was what made sure we never wavered from the family ideals. Hope I am able to provide the same upbringing to your Grandchildren who are now getting the same love (हमसे थोडा ज्यादा) from you and the same reprimands (हमारे comparison में कुछ भी नहीं).

image-14Jiya that is how I and everyone addressed my Grandmother as, it means mother In Mewari. Someone who was known for her temper and who never suffered fools gladly, never once showed her anger irrespective of my foolish and stubborn temperament. A Cook par excellence, I had to name a dish and she would drop everything and made sure it was there: be it her Indian Cooking, her instant Ladoos and img221her cupcakes. One example that stands out was when she first visited me in Mayo College , I was howling and begging her to take me back with her to Udaipur and there she was all strong and admonished me for being such a weakling. The regular letters from her while I was in boarding was always a source of strength and inspiration for me. She passed away 18 years ago and till her very last days she wasn’t dependent on anyone, active and doing her own work!! My only regret is not spending the evening with her before the day she passed away.

 

Dadi: My Great Grandmother who lived past 100 years contented and with no regrets!! Remember snuggling into her bed and literally pushing her into the corner, her room was our hiding zone. image-31Only thing out of bounds for us was her rosary and her Shrinathji. When I moved to Mumbai for my college, she often spoke about her days in Mumbai in the early 1900’s where she was staying when my grandfather was studying then in VJTI. Her fondness for Tomato Ketchup and Macaroni and her keeping aside a roti for our pet dog. Uncomplaining and showering unconditional love on us. Life was never smooth for her with the loss of her husband at a young age, death of her young daughter and then seeing the death of her only son. She faced life as it came!!
Thank You my life is incomplete without the love of these mothers and it can only be truly measured by their love, for they define me as person!!

This song from Taare Zammen Par captures the true emotions ……

मैं कभी बतलाता नहीं , पर अँधेरे से डरता हूँ मैं माँ,
यूँ तो मैं दिखाता नहीं, तेरी परवाह करता हूँ मैं माँ ,
तुझे सब है पता , है ना माँ 
तुझे सब है पता .... मेरी माँ