Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Mela - Movie Review!!!

The world was just resting after cashing in on the financial boom created by the Y2K bug and fearing of getting into a recession, India had just seen a Kargil and new millennium was supposed to carry the dreaded date of 21 December 2012 when Mayan prophecy was expected to come true – year 2000 had arrived. World of cricket had seen the most disastrous controversy in match fixing and it all looked gloomy.
It was a time of uncertainties – something we human find quite difficult to handle.
We all needed something soothing to calm the nerves and make us believe that good that always prevails over evil, hope is an unsinkable entity which knows nothing but floating and there are always better things to look forward in life.
We needed a charisma, a miracle, a charm to blow us all over to the world of dreams.  We all needed something special and special is what we got.
Dharmesh Darshan, India’s very own Woody Allen, came up with his cinematic brilliance in form of Mela – the epic love saga. Dharmesh Darshan, the visionary he is, had made his directorial debut with plural of recently released much-hyped Bollywood Lootera ­– a wrestle between a man and Sonakshi, when he made Lootere, the movie known in which Juhi Chawla shed some cloths to do an image makeover and Pooja Bedi wore some to avoid the movie getting stuck at censor’s scissors.
Dharmesh Darshan’s next film Raja Hindustani became a super hit and is better known for showing supposedly longest kiss in an India movie, Karishma Kapoor’s wig and the story which said – for the song Uff kya raat aayi hai¸ Aamir drank alcohol for the first time in the movie. Though I had believed in this story at that point of time, his Mangal Pandey the rising broke that belief of mine. Only a drunk man can be part of such a cinematic catastrophe.
Mela is a wonderfully narrated never told before story of an innocent girl running away for her life from the villain, falling in love with the hero and killing the villain with the help of hero.
Mela is also about brotherhood – the brotherly love which kept relationship of Aamir Khan and Faisal Khan together for almost seven years after the movie was released.
Mela is about courage – how Twinkle Khanna dances in the song Kamariya Lachake Re with all of her 34 inch Kamariya.
Mela is a classic in every sense.
The movie pretty much starts with welcoming the arrival of year 2000 in the song Dekho 2000 Jamaana aa gaya and predicts how the future might look like when it says “hongi nayi baate socho kya hongi rate”. I remember a series of power cuts in year 2000 at my place, especially during nights.
The movie also include one the longest songs ever – “Mela dilon ka aata hai”. The song so beautifully promotes “why this fuss” attitude when it says
mela dilon ka aata hai ik baar aake chala jaata hai (Carnival of heart comes once and goes after coming”
aate hain musaafir jaate hain musaafir (travelers come, travelers go)
jaana hi hai unako kyon aate hain musaafir (if travelers have to go, why the hell they come at all? Why this fuss?)
The song is so long that one can travel from Pune to Mumbai and yet not finish it off. The song is so melodious that one may not want to change the song at all although it is a different matter that the one I am referring to here, may not exist. Nevertheless, the song is worth giving a try.
The story revolves around Roopa, beautifully played by Twinkle Khanna, who is a shy village girl often roaming around the village in cloths so tight that she always looks constipated. Her brother, played by Ayub Khan (who? Let us just say he is someone), comes back to the village and starts singing the song Mela Dilon Ka Aata hai with the villagers. A dacoit, Gujjar, in the neighboring state gets disturbed by the noise and decides to visit the village with few friends. While he is talking to the villagers to put an end to the song, Roopa comes to fore and informs Gujjar that song will last a few hours more.
Roopa. The shy village girl who is kind enough to let the men have full view of cleavage and naval. Roopa. The shy village girl whose waist swings like a pendulum when she walks. A gigantic pendulum, mind you.
Roopa. The shy village girl whose bodily beauty is accentuated by the tightness of her cloths.
Roopa. The shy village girl with beautiful eyes, thunderous thighs and a voice that can penetrate an iron wall, forget hearts.
Gujjar has never seen a girl like Roopa. In fact, always surrounded with rowdy, ugly and unshaven men, Gujjar has not seen a girl in ages.
A hardened heart meets with the beauty of softness and melts. Gujjar falls in love with Roopa – the love at first sight.
Gujjar gets down on his knees and proposes to Roopa. Roopa refuses saying, “I will marry someone who will who is currently dating that Bollywood starlet, Shilpa Shetty”. Gujjar persists but his persistence is met with rudeness of villagers. Hardness of Gujjar’s heart manages to beat past the softness of his love for Roopa and he kills a few villagers – including Roopa’s brother.
The incident shatters Roopa and she runs away from the village. Gujjar waits for her for sometimes and leaves the village. When a friend of Gujjar asks him the reason for waiting in the village, Gujjar tells him “I hope we don’t end up singing DDLJ’s song – dekha na tune mud ke bhi peeche, kuch der to main ruka tha”
Roopa begins a hunt for Gujjar. She happens to meet two brother like friends, Kishan and Shankar. Kishan falls in love with Roopa and decides to help her. Roopa decides to use Kishan for her purpose and pretends to love him back. After initial resistance, Shankar also agrees and they start hunting for Gujjar.
After a long struggle, they happen to meet Gujjar who has become a drunkard after Roopa shattered his heart. While Gujjar is apologetic for whatever he did in Roopa’s village, Roopa does not forgive him. She still wants her revenge. Shankar, Kishan and Roopa, mainly Roopa, kill everyone on Gujjar’s gang. Just before Roopa is about to kill Gujjar, Shankar pleads to Roopa to let Gujjar go.
Roopa asks Shankar, “Why should I forget this monster who killed my beloved brother?”
Shankar replies, “Because I love him. You may pretend to love Kishan but my love for Gujjar is no pretence”  
Both Kishan and Roopa gets a shock. They ask Shankar, “But why?”
Shankar’s reply wins them over,” See Kishan, you are like brother to me so I do not have any scope with you. Roopa’s biceps are bigger than mine are so I would want to wish you luck. That leaves me with just once choice. Isn’t Gujjar cute?”
“But” both wonder.
“But what? This bloody director hasn’t given me a heroine in the movie”
“You will get Aishwarya Rai in the final scene,” says Dharmesh Darshan.
“Oh her? For one scene? Tell me what kind of a loser she would be if she marries Abhishek Bacchan. I am happier with Gujjar” says Shankar and kisses Gujjar.
Movie ends with the saying – and they lived happily ever after.
The movie review cannot be completed without mentioning the acting. While both Khan Brothers acted at their cacophonous best, Twinkle was a revelation in the movie. The way she depicted her confusion between the good and evil in her, good represented by red light shown on the right half of her face and evil by blue light on left half of her face, was extraordinary. To add to that, the way she responds to the good Roopa and the evil Roopa by shouting to herself – “Roopa…Roopa”. The equality and similarity of expressions in both the cases, in fact in every scene of the movie, was something never achieved before. Twinkle Khanna rocked in the movie. Seeing the popularity of her character, a Kolkata based garment manufacturer launched a new brand for men’s undergarments named Roopa. The owners said, “After this movie, the manhood will be known by the name of Roopa. Such a strength her character has shown in the movie. We just want to cash in on that”
All in all, Mela is a must watch.
PS: Just in case this review does not turn out to be a spoiler, I have kept the story I explained a little different from the original story. The real story is much more interesting.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Mumbai!!!

I often see people cribbing about traffic jams in Pune and I always wonder why they do so? I do not see any traffic jams in the city – just a few vehicles moving at a slow pace. Mind you, they are still moving.
The moment someone cribs about it, I retort back by saying, “You want to know what traffic jams mean? Go visit Mumbai”.
It is an exercise I do my self. For one reason or the other, I do visit Mumbai 2-3 times a year and every time I thank my stars that I am no longer staying in the city.
I remember the first time I drove down to Mumbai from Pune. From my place to Eastern Express highway, approximately 135 kilometers, I took little more than two and half-hours. To reach my destination in Kandivali from there, all of 30 kilometers, it took me lesser time – just a little lesser than two and half-hours. If one adds the knee pain since I just could not take my foot off the clutch and the headache I got because of driving in traffic, I would have happily bargained latter half of my journey with going back to my home from eastern express highway.
Mumbai has speed. The speed at which my four years just past by was extraordinary but the speed at which I aged eight years in those four years was equally unimaginable. It is the speed at which life feels to get real slow while you are in the moment. It is the speed at which every moment looks such a distant past immediately after is has gone by.  It is the speed at which people run after getting down at the last station to reach their respective destination. It is the speed at which one has to run so that he/she can beat others in a race for survival. The city has speed.
Mumbai, the city of dreams as they say. Mumbai, the city that never sleeps as I used to say. Mumbai, “the city is famous for its Mumbai spirit” is what everyone says in every crisis-situation. “Mumbai spirit” means that people go on with their business no matter what. I wonder if they have an option. I wonder if anywhere else in the world, business stops irrespective of the situation.
People in India have normally two kinds of dream – first to shift to Mumbai in hope to have better opportunities in life and once they shift, they dream about moving out of Mumbai to have a life.
I am one of the rarest of rare species to have made both these dreams come true. This month I would be completing two years of moving out of Mumbai and celebrate, I will. Yet, I can still not forget those four years that I spent in the city.
Mumbai humbles you. No matter how much money you make, you will always find a few making more than what you do. No matter how screwed up life you claim to be living, you will always find a few living in worst situations. The city is a perfect example of everything in life being relative and you turn out to be a rat who is running a race for the reasons he may not always know. It does make you feel, “Why the hell I am doing all this” and attain the feeling of Nirvana.
Mumbai has a fantastic way of defining your financial status. It is all about the location you live in. On western lines, the distance travelled from Virar towards Churchgate is directly proportional to the richness of those who live in respective areas on the way. There will be exceptions but regressing the data points will give a straight line at 45 degrees. I am sure the story would not be too different on harbor or central line. 
In Mumbai, life is a lot if not all about stations.  
People start from down north and dream of making it to south. Some manage to do it, most give up at some stations mid-way. Some bachelors start somewhere in down south but marriage and family throw them back to north. Finally the reality settles in and bites you. It bites you real bad.
I can also sum up my life pretty much similarly. First time I became father, I was just getting off the train at Churchgate station. When my second son was born, I was getting down from the train at Borivali station. Somewhere in between, at Malad station, I heard of India winning the T20 world cup. Only major event in my life that I can recall to not to be shuttling between the stations was India winning the 50 overs world cup – it was on a Saturday and I was at home.
While us, the so-called outsiders, always cribbed about the pains of staying in the city, our “Mumbaikar” friends could not understand what the fuss all about was. For them, it was the way of life. For some of them, it was the only way of life. They had grown up like this.
I could never understand the ease at which they took that kind of life. For me, I could never come to terms with it. Once I saw a man lifting his infant to make him touch the hanging handles, or whatever they are called, in a local train and I thought, “Oh, so this how these people get so comfortable in this life – by starting early?”
Having said that, to all its cons, the city lures you. It has its charm. Mumbai is India’s, if not world’s, biggest futures market. Everyone stays there in hope for a better future – a future no other city can offer and people do not mind accepting a not so good present in hope for a better future. 
I have stayed in eight cities and seen a few more but nowhere I have not seen people with more professional attitude than those who live in Mumbai – the ones a common-man deals in day-to-day life. Well, everyone stays there to make ends meet and they do not want to divulge from their objective. Maybe they cannot afford to. The competition in a free market ensures honesty of business and men running it. Oh yes, there is a price tag on access to this free market and if you are willing to pay it, you may not find a city better than Mumbai to live in.
Am I happy that I do not have to deal with the pain of living in Mumbai? Yes I am.
Do I miss Mumbai for its charm? Yes I do.
Like most of the things in life, this also comes with different shades of grey. I do not think anything in life other than my beard could be seen in distinct black and white. Oh yes, few hair in my beard are white and this whitewash started in Mumbai. 

Monday, September 23, 2013

My Tryst with Rock!!!

It is human nature to continue with a belief unless it is shattered.

Until Columbus had completed his journey, humans used to believe that this planet was flat. That is because nobody until then had witnessed the round shape. Like yours truly, until I had crossed my state border that happened only after my college, used to believe that selling beef in India was unimaginable. The belief of mine was shattered to pieces on my very first day in Trivandrum.

Another such belief of mine was shattered when I joined college for graduation. Having grown up on the heavy doses of Bollywood songs, I always wondered why English movies did not have any songs. Not that I had seen many English movies but whatever I had, I could never see people dancing around the trees in those movies. “Maybe they are culturally so poor that they cannot make any music” is what I used to think. Having studied in RSS backed schools; I was a strong believer in the theory of Mera and only Mera Bharat Mahan.

It was quite a cultural shock to me to find out not that lot of my batch mates knew songs in English like they had grown up on them, they could also sing them. Oh yes, there were a few rock bands too.

For a first few months, the situation continued. I referred this kind of music as “Rock” no matter if it was jazz, pop or anything else. I could not differentiate between all this. I still cannot.

I tried listening to rock in college but that did not help. I could not really digest music unless I could hum it. For humming, I needed to understand and memorize the lyrics. For a semantically challenged person in queen’s language, I could not even understand the lyrics, leave aside remembering them.

It is then when someone introduced me to Backstreet Boys’ “Everybody”. I loved the music, the beats, the video and most importantly, the lyrics. It is a different matter that all I could understand in the lyrics was one single world – Everybody. However, that was sufficient. I could hum entire day in my rustic accent – “yeverybaady, heeyyyyyyyyyyy…yeverybaaaaady, heeeyyyyyyyyy”.

It wasn’t the most popular song in college. There was “Hotel California” and there was “Summer of 69” but they started with “On a dark desert highway” and “I got my first real six-string”. For a person who feared English more than death, I found “Everybody” much easier to pick up. In those days if someone had asked me to choose any one of the two options – conversing in English or wrestling with a fire-spitting dragon, I would have happily chosen the dragon. I still might do the same.

In my first job, a friend of mine introduced me to Billy Joel’s “We didn’t start the fire”. Although I did not understand a thing in the song other than the first line, I loved the thought behind the song. The song is nothing short of a history lesson and is one of my top ten favorite songs. It is a different matter that I may not know more than ten songs if they do not belong to Bollywood. During my post-graduation, I explored a bit more of Billy Joel and became a fan of “Piano Man” as well.

During my post-graduation, I stumbled upon a name – Jim Croce. A bit of research told me that Croce did just one album and died soon after. Nevertheless, his “Time in a bottle” was enough to make me a big fan of his works. The soft music, the voice and the lyrics once made me say once “He is Jagjeet Singh of English”. I still believe he was quite close.

However, for a man who was often silenced by those who claimed to be fans of rock music, Billy Joel and Jim Croce came to me as tools to give them back what they gave me – silence.

Quite often, when people switched the topic from Tendulkar’s straight drive to the nuances of metal, they would tell me openly or suggest quietly, “We are discussing rock. You may like to go to sleep”.

However, with the weapons of Billy Joel and Jim Croce in hands, I had my answers ready. I would ask back, “Rock?  I am more into classical stuff. Do you guys listen to Billy Joel?”

This comment would often left people agape. 

Even if I got an answer, “Oh yes. He is good”, I would ask back, “I know someone better. Have you heard of Jim Croce?”

This followed with puking of knowledge about Jim Croce that I gathered on the net and letting them know a bit about Croce’s songs. I always ended by saying, “What a pity he did just one album? The world of rock would have been so much richer had he lasted any longer”

It always worked in getting the discussion back to Tendulkar’s straight drives.

Once I asked, on chat, lead guitarist of my college’s band, “Have you heard of Jim Croce?”

He sounded more than shocked when he asked back, “How the hell you know about him? As far as I know, music for you started with Nadeem-Shravan and ended with Kumar Sanu”.

It was the first time I had met someone who knew about Jim Croce. Anyways, I did not let my chance slip away. I told him proudly, “Not really. I have always been fond of quality songs and music”.

We spent 10 minutes in discussing about Croce. I am not sure about him but google did help me a lot in that discussion.

On a serious note, Jim Croce was good.

Listening to the album “Best of Backstreet Boys” last evening and singing the songs with actual lyrics, I found my home ministry looking at me as if she had seen a vampire.

“I didn’t know this side of yours. I believe you just don’t like this stuff” is what she looked like saying but avoided. We often fight over the kind of music we want to listen and our choices are quite different. While she is a Shania Twain fan, likes to listen to Rihanna and Abba, I have not been able to move out of 90s. I could see another belief getting shattered.      

She just smiled at me as if she wanted to say, “Finally you are over with your crappy Kaali teri chhoti hai and Payaliya ho ho ho ho kind songs. Thank god for that”.

For any husband - if his act has left his wife silent with a smile; he knows he has won a battle worth putting on his CV.

However, in any war, winning a post is not enough. One needs to hold on to it.

I knew I had won and needed to hold on to the post.

To hold on to the post, I immediately put Rohan Keating’s “You say it best when you say nothing at all” on play. I am not sure if any sane man would disagree with the lyrics. I hope sane men reading this know what I mean.
If these events of last evening were part of any movie’s climax, the movie would surely have ended with the line “And they lived happily ever after.”

Friday, September 13, 2013

Road Rash!!!


I never liked riding a bike. It always made me too tired – the traffic, the noise, the dust and the pain of driving were major factors behind it. Hence, I was always reluctant to learn driving a car. Until the family pressure almost choked me, I did not buy one either.
To my surprise, I have actually liked driving a four-wheeler and have taken driving like boredom to a corporate job. Even though initial days were quite edgy – banged my car on its first morning, jammed traffic for almost half an hour, took the car to service center for repair almost regularly during first six months but, thanks to almighty, it all has come to a steady state. Not that I do not get any hiccups now but I am more confident driving.
I used to believe that traffic is equally bad anywhere you go to in India but my last trip to Ahmedabad broke this belief. I am yet to see a city worse than Ahmedabad when it comes to this regard. In fact, I found it so scary that I have dropped my average speed of driving by a couple of notches after my last visit. However, other cities I have seen are not far behind Ahmedabad.
While CEAT, in an attempt to sell its products, claims that road is full of idiots, I would like to stop at – road is full of drivers. Drivers are of different kinds. Here are a few of them to have caught my eyes. Oh yes, before I start giving my side of the story, I would like to state the standard disclaimer – please try finding some sense in this attempt at humor and sarcasm. Any sentiments hurt are deeply regretted.
 
Women Car Drivers – At the risk of being termed a male chauvinist, I would like to say that women like seeking questions more than the answers. They like that quizzical look on your face. The scariest question, “Darling, am I looking fat” is the biggest example of my theory. No man can answer this question correctly. The fear of eating bitter gourd in lunch, dinner and the lunch next day stops them from telling the truth. Hence, with an extreme quizzical look on their faces, men try manufacturing the answer, which might avoid them from the wrath of bitter gourd.
This phenomenon of continuously asking questions is reflected in women’s driving too. Someone said that in order to improve, one must keep questioning himself/herself. Women take this advice very seriously.
“I’ve given the indicator to turn right, should I turn right? However, there is lot of space on the left side, should I turn left? What about the road ahead that is full of empty space? Shouldn’t I be driving straight?” is what women often think while driving. If you are driving behind such a car, I would like to wish you best of luck. Luck is what saves me on such occasions.
Women jump as high as cloud nine if they come across a situation, which gives them options. Because it again gives them a question to ask – which one should I choose.
Have you ever seen a woman in front of an empty parking lot? Well, I have seen such. With five vacant parking lots in front of her, it took her full two minutes to decide where she should park her car. At the end of those two minutes, she decided to bunk those five slots and parked it somewhere else.
Women do not like anyone passing any comments about their driving skills. They just hate it. Once I told a female friend of mine who was driving, when she turned left without giving indicator and did not change the gear when it was absolutely necessary, “You are an uncultured driver”
“All you men are same. You cannot digest the fact that a woman can drive and drive so well”. In other words, she wanted to term me a male chauvinist. She may have wanted to add one more word to the term “male chauvinist” but I would avoid writing it here.
Actually, we are male chauvinist. No matter how much we deny, we all are – especially when it comes to driving.
 
Street Hawks – Next set of drivers are of a different gender with two wheels lesser than the first set. I am not sure if they should be called drivers or riders. For the sake of my poor intellect, let us call them drivers.
Street hawks believe that the city they live in is Gotham and they are all Batmen. They also believe that police is chasing Batman, them, and Batman is running away on his super fancy nitro-boost attached bike. They just drive, or ride, or give jitters to everyone else who happens to be on the road. For them traffic does not exist, forget about the traffic rules. They are often in state of Nirvana where the surrounding world does not exist.
As a kid is always on a lookout for chocolates, Street Hawks are always hunting for a gap. Wherever they find it, they take a turn – damn the indicators, damn the side mirror, damn the others. They often stare at others for not leaving sufficient gap for them. They do not believe in the concept that not every gap can be sufficient to drive and even if there is a sufficient gap available, it is not necessary that one must drive through it.
Quite often Street Hawks do wear helmets. Nevertheless, the purpose of helmets is not to protect their head, which does need a fixing, but to hold the mobile phone so that they could let the world know about their bravery. Quite often Street Hawks, like their own Robin, have a pillion rider sitting with them whose sole job is to make funny faces, give threatening scare and hurl abuses at others.
If you ever come across a Street Hawk on the road, please stop immediately and let them pass. Remember, he is the Batman trying to save Gotham. Problem is that you may not be able to move at all because Gotham is full of Batmen. Irony is that even with so many Batmen, Gotham keeps burning.
 
Talibani Titali (TT) – A gentle reminder – pun is intended everywhere. First, let me dedicate a song to this group -
 
panchhi banu udati phirun mast gagan men
aaj main aazaad hun duniya ke chaman men        
    
Next kind is what I fondly call Talibani Titali (TT). This kind is of a different gender than Street Hawks but they are quite like Cat Women. These are Cheekas (Chics) driving their Scooty’s/Activas/Other in the similar way as Street Hawks do and grinning at the world with the saying – Why should boys have all the fun?
For some strange reasons, this group like to dress up as is they are living in Taliban’s regime. This group has their entire body covered in different form of clothing. If women in Taliban regime are allowed to show, nothing but their eyes to the world outside, this group covers even them – by wearing shades, which almost covers their entire face. The face is anyhow covered with different layering of a floral scarf. With gloves covering hands until elbow, only body part one can see of Cheekas in this group is, assuming they are wearing sleeveless Kurtas, are the biceps.
I hope you get the logic behind Taliban in TT’s name.
They drive like butterflies – free of fear and pressure of being the cynosure. When they drive straight, they will always give a feeling that they are about to take a turn. When they take a right turn, they would immediately turn left and drive straight. When they take a left turn, they may take a left turn or drive straight or take a right turn or stop immediately, stare at you, push their vehicle with the help of their legs for a few meters, restart it and drive again. See, they are quite like butterflies. As a butterfly spreads its wings while flying, one can see this group often spreading their legs while driving – maybe they feel like butterflies too.
Alas, Gotham has so many Batmen and Cat Women yet it keeps burning.
 
The Cabbies – If traffic has pushed you to extreme left of the road and you find yourself so close to the shops at the left that you might fear hitting them, there will always be a car driving through between you and the shops at the left. If you try noting down the number of that car, ten out of nine times you would find the number written in yellow background. If it is not, you can be rest assured that the number is written incorrectly.
Cabbies have god-gifted ability to drive through the smallest of gap – sometimes even Street Hawks cannot do so. They have this unimaginable ability to drive through the worst of traffic jams. They are all India’s answer to Michael Schumacher. It is a different matter than the answer does not reach him. I am sure of ever Schumacher happens to drive on Indian roads; he would surrender all his awards immediately, shoot himself in shame and would like to be reincarnated as an Indian cabbie so that he could become a better driver in his next birth.
Cabbies have such talent.
Do you know the kind of Cabbie I like most? The one has written at the back of his car – “In case of rash driving, please complain at XXXX”. I have never tried calling at any such number but would like to know if anyone has. Reason behind me not calling at such number is the fear – what if that is driver’s number. What if driver promises to address the issue, asks me my position, comes back and drives over me. I would rather take my frustration out by honking.
 
Common-Man – This category covers most of us if not all of us. People from both genders, or maybe all three, belong to this group but I would keep referring to every member as “he” – call it choosing this option for the ease of writing or call me a male chauvinist.
A common-man can the most dangerous driver. Because when he is driving, his mind is somewhere else. He is thinking about different things - the tiff he had with his partner, how crappy his boss is, soaring prices, war in Syria, how ruling party is looting his beloved country; his opposition party is allowing that loot, how it is all chaos at the roads, how he has to manage driving on almost non-existent roads, how he can do nothing but honk to take his frustration out. He also thinks how not just his vehicle but the entire country should be driven by him – the common-man. Alas, he cannot do anything but pray and try to drive safe.
Common-man is like the Cashier Jack Nicholson talks about in movie Anger Management. Common-man is just building up that anger in his silence and I am sure, one day he will get up and shoot everyone, take the steering/handle in his own hands and drive this country.
I am sure that day is not far away or at least I hope that day is not far away.
Until that arrives, I would like to wish all of you a very happy and safe drive.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Those doses of patriotism!!!

One of the reasons I like 15 August and 26 January is that I get to see so many classics on Zee Cinema – my favorite movie channel. Zee Cinema has class, make no mistakes about it. Tell me, which other channel has the taste to show Bollywood epics like Gunda and Mujhe Jeene Do. Therefore, this 15 August, I had high expectations from the channel and it did not let me down by starting my day with Karma. I had seen this movie many a times but for some reasons, this time I watched it with a different perspective. As it turned out, I was floored by the movie. Karma is not the only one in such list. There are many more. Here is my list of such movies, which make your blood boil with patriotism.
Karma – Karma is a classic in every sense. From Dilip Kumar’s acting potential to Anupam Kher’s brilliance as doctor Dang, from melodrama of Nutan losing her voice and regaining it to the famous thappad ki goonj, from Sridevi displaying her thunderous thighs in a one-piece bikini to Anil Kapoor’s bear-like hairy body, which must have made Anupam Kher wonder if there is justice on this planet. Karma has it all – acting of Naseeruddin Shah, competition of moustaches among Anil Kapoor, Jackie Shorff and Poonam Dhillon, attempted rape by Shakti Kapoor, muscle power of Dara Singh, a never ending song which became an inspiration to another never ending song – “Mela Dilon ka aata hai” from Mela and a customary glimpse of Subhash Ghai. Critics may complain that it was missing two most important ingredients of a patriotic movie – Manoj Kumar and Sunny Paaji. Maybe they were not in the movie because Karma’s time was exactly in between the peaks of these two patriots. Maybe Subhash Ghai did not believe in policy of “I will take full fee but show only half of my face” or “I will kill the villain by my sheer roar” hence he did not pick up these two legends in the movie.
Anyways, considering the current trend of remaking old classics, I hope nobody picks up Karma to kill it. If Karan Johar does it, it will be Doctor Dang falling in love with Rana Vishwanath Pratap Singh’s daughter and Anil Kapoor would be confused who his real love interest is - Poonam Dhillon or Jackie Shroff. Farhan Akhtar would ensure that Rana Vishwapratap Singh has a six-pack body.  Rohit Shetty will convert it into Karma – the fast & furious. If Kamal Hassan makes a remake, he would play Rana Vishwanath Pratap Sing, Khairubhai, Baiju Thakur, Johhny, Rukmani, Radha, Jagga, Dharma and Tulsi. He will also make an appearance in the movie as Subhash Ghai.     
Tirangaa – While the country’s harmony was in serious trouble because of whatever happened on 6 December 1992 and after that, Mehul Kumar getting his masterpiece ready to fill our hearts with the feelings of patriotism. Epic it turned out to be and how well. It is a story of Inspector Shivajirao Wagle, an honest police officer frustrated because of the corrupt system and his always-itching beard, Brigadier Suryadev Singh who has an expertise in catching hand grenades and a nuclear missile enthusiast Pralayanath Gundaswamy, who wants to invade India but somehow looks like he is already sitting in India. Then there are a few love stories, pregnancy in a love story gone south, a murder, eye witnesses, people being tied up to ropes, villain’s men in uniform and a cigarette which is quite like a bomb. Before I forget, I must add that there is Mamta Kulkarni too in the movie. One may argue that the movie’s crappiness is reflected in the way its wiki page is written but I would say – it was all quite raw. More than anything else, what stands out are movie’s dialogues. Dialogues like Na talwar ki dhaar se, na goliyon ki bauchaar se, banda darta hai to kewal parwar digaar se (It’s neither the edge of the sword not the stream of tracer bullet, all this guy is scared off is the God), hum aankhon se surma nahi churaate, aankhe hi chura lete hain (We don’t steal Kohl from the eyes, we steal the eyes themselves) have become immortal. I am sure makers of Sanjay Dutt movie Policegiri would have been happy after hearing the dialogue “Sache police ki yah toh maut hoti hai ... yah toh suspend kiya jaata hai” The demise of the movie at the box office proved that it was a true police movie.
Clerk ­– In every Manoj Kumar movie, you can count the number of times he shows his full face. To count, you would not need anything else than your fingers. Maybe you would need both the hands, maybe you will not. Nevertheless, fingers is all that you would need.
Clerk is one of Manoj Kumar’s epic. As Bharat, the name he made of his own, Manoj Kumar played the role of an honest to the core clerk in defense ministry. Ashok Kumar played his father’s role. While movie magnificently depicts, by way of Manoj Kumar’s fingers’ acting which are always hiding his face, the epic battle between what is good and what is right, how honesty almost loses to the greed of the middle class but the strength of values instilled don’t let it lose, how a man shattered in love comes over it, how bad men rape innocent women.  As a thumb rule in Bollywood movies in those days, one could categorized every rape in two groups – completed rape were meant for hero’s sisters and attempted but failed were meant for hero’s love interests. For all those women who played MithunDa’s sisters in his movies, they knew what their role would be.
Nevertheless, the place where movie made its biggest contribution was in the area of medical science. In late 80s and 90s when medical science had not made much of a progress, Manoj Kumar showed it to the world how to treat a heart attack with two AA lithium batteries. In case you have not witnessed that epic scene, please go to youtube right now and search for “Manoj Kumar treating heart attack with batteries”. Trust me, if you die without watching that scene, Chitragupta will just not let you enter his building.
SunnyPaaji movies – No list of patriotic movies can be complete without SunnyPaaji’s movies. It will be sheer injustice to include only one of his movies in this list. SunnyPaaji is as man who can instill fear in souls of enemy by virtue of, not his muscle power or fighting skills, his sheer roar. Just think of SunnyPaaji tearing apart his vest and shouting heeeeyaaaeeeee at full volume. If you are an India, the roar might encourage you to jump across the LOC and shout at the top of your voice – “Indian hoon main, Indian”. If you are an anti-Indian, the roar might force you into responding to nature’s call – immediately.
SunnyPaaji’s attempt to shoot a tank by his revolver, Border’s climax, inspired Steven Spielberg so much that he copied it in Saving Private Ryan. His camouflage in Hero – Love Story of a Spy (In the song In Mast Nigahon Se) was so impressive that he almost looked like Helen with moustache. His act of shooting infiltrators in movie Maa Tujhe Salaam, when he shoots people running away from him on their backs and the force of bullet is so strong that they are pulled towards SunnyPaaji, must have made Isaac Newton cry – his first law of motion was totally defied. He must have made Government of India think if they need to buy more hand-pumps to counter Pakistanis in place of guns – that is what SunnyPaaji did in Gadar – Ek Prem Katha. Then Government must have realized that the power lies in hands and not hand-pumps. Such was the power of the man. Such was the man. Alas, he played Phantom in ponytail man’s Rok Sako To Rok Lo and lost it all. Being a Jat, the call of “dare to think beyond patriotism” ended up being as “dare to think” for SunnyPaaji.
Off course there can be many more classics added to this list. Then, not many would top them. Please do let me know if you have any favorites. 
PS: Attempt at sarcasm, needs to be taken with pinch of pun or whatever.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Birthdays!!!

“My Visa interview is on 17 September” said a colleague.
“Oh, that’s a historic date. Yuvraj Singh hit six sixes in 2007 on that day” is what came out of my mouth.
Slowly but surely it has become a fixation with me – associating every date with a cricketing event and making that as a primary key to remember other events related to that date.
My first son was born on the day news of Ganguly’s possible retirement came out in 2008. My second son was born exactly two days after India won its second world cup – please take a note that I have deliberately mentioned “second world cup” so that you don’t think of me as a fossil. Date of my marriage anniversary is same as the date 2011 world cup started. I never miss birthday of one of very close friends because he shares it with Poonam Pandey, the most instrumental female figure in India’s world cup victory.
It always pained me that I could not relate 9 September to any significant event – be it cricket or otherwise. Maybe Akshay Kumar would object but he cannot make me agree for to consider his birthday as a significant event even if he follows me from Chandni Chowk to China.
So when I happened to read a cricinfo link about date of Sachin’s first ODI ton, 9 September 1994, I was filled with mixed emotions. I felt a bit ashamed thinking, “How the hell I didn’t know it till now”. Then I also felt a bit relieved that I did not die without knowing it. Although I am not a strictly religious man but I always knew there was some connection between God and me. Finally, I came to know about it yesterday.
I would like to thank Ganpati Bappa for it. Oh yes, this year his birthday has coincided with mine.
Honestly speaking, I have never understood the rationale behind people being so buoyant about their own birthdays and celebrating them. As far as I understand, you celebrate achievements. By no means, it could be called your achievement. It was all a result of your parent’s love and hard work.
What did you do in it? People often crib about not being allowed to make their own choices in life but it is natural. It starts right at the birth. Did anyone ask if you really want to come to this world? No. You were just made to pop out.
Anyways, since celebrating birthdays is a trend and I am a human, I have also followed this trend.
I think the reason I did not beat my chest like a gorilla on rampage about Sachin scoring his first ODI ton on my birthday was that until quite late, I did not celebrate my birthday on 9 September. At my place, we followed lunar calendar for celebrating birthdays and even the celebrations were quite traditional. Cake cutting was considered to be giving into western culture hence it was totally forbidden. I did not cut a cake on my birthday until my 27th birthday. Before you start getting ideas, let me tell you that my 27th birthday has just gone by – just a few years ago. I am not a fossil.
I have a few problems with birthdays. They remind me of my age and make me wonder, in normal case of events, if I have celebrated more birthdays in past than I will celebrate in future. With every passing year, I get to meet more and more people who are younger than I am, much younger than I am. If you find someone belonging to former being ahead of you in life, it does frustrate, meeting the latter lot itself is a stark reminder of aging.
Another problem is with responding to birthday-wishes calls. No, I do wait for people to call, wish me and I really appreciate it. I love hearing the first sentence “many many happy returns of the day”. The problem lies in responding to second sentence, “So, how are you celebrating”.
How do I celebrate?
I am not a son of any famous politician otherwise; I would have started a scheme in my father’s name to distribute ipads amongst the poor tribal in Dantewada. I am not a film star else, I would have thrown a birthday bash and would be checking the pictures of the same in next day’s page three.
I am just a common-man stumped at the question “How are you celebrating today?” 
For me, it is like any other day. I do not do anything differently. I never do. Commoners just dream of making a difference, they hardly ever make it. Those who do, they cease to qualify as a commoner. Honestly speaking, to certain extent, birthday-wishing calls do scare me because of that second question.
However, being human, not the kind that prints it on T-shirts and sells it but normal humans, I do wait for my birthdays. I do like receiving wishes, cutting cakes, wearing new cloths and celebrating a little bit.
I do like to think about some of my past birthdays and disappear in their memories for a while. I do like to think about making a resolution and then decide against it. In the end, I hope for my next birthday to be better than the current one and pray to God that such day never comes in my life when I am forced to say “I hope I never see my birthday again”.