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December 19, 2009

A thought

वो कहते हैं ठहराव ज़िन्दगी को कामयाब करता है,
हम तो बेचैनी के सहारे ही खुशियाँ पाते हैं|

December 18, 2009

Living in the past

In a conversation today, my friend said, "When the past is rosy, the present almost always pales." Does it really?

December 04, 2009

Morning amusement

At 7:40 this morning, I opened the door to find a couple of plastic balls sprint inside. I wondered if someone had left an open garbage bag outside. I rubbed my eyes to realize that what I perceived as plastic were two tiny chicks who had let themselves inside my house with authority. Before I could understand what was going on, a third 'ball' followed. And each of them sported a unique colour: one had shades of blue, another shades of red, and the third one was simply white. I wasn't even sure they were chicken. Treating our living room as a playground, they started playing what I think was hide and seek. Unable to handle them, I called A for help.

A was amused. I think he too rubbed his eyes to make sure what he was seeing was true. He asked me if it was a prank or a 'gift' from me (oh yeah, today is the day we tied the knot a few years ago). Learning that I was as surprised as he was, he asked me the plan of action. I said that we needed to get them out of the house. In the meanwhile, our guests had decided to visit and scrutinize the things in our balcony.

A and I were enjoying the sight, and yet we could not keep them in. The coloured chicks were an amazing sight. I wondered if someone had decided to amuse us this way. The chicks were definitely having a good time inside. A and I wondered if we should let them stay in the balcony, but then, they couldn't fly. A somehow maneuvered their way to lead them out.

The unusual start to the day, and probably something that we will remember for a long time, is what made me write this post after a long time.

October 24, 2009

Being the Fifth Estate or the Revolutionary Vehicle: How huge is our responsibility as bloggers

It’s just been a decade since blogging started, and yet the blogosphere attracts millions of netizens everyday. Every bit of news is followed up by tens or more of opinion blog posts. Consequently, these opinion follow-ups elicit comments and reactions from more people.

Blogs, whether opinionated, rhetorical, or explanatory, make news and concepts easier to understand. Though not recognized at a level of institution, the blogosphere continues to bloom and draw a loyal audience.

Are bloggers the Fifth Estate?
So, is blogging making ways for the Fifth Estate online? According to Stephen D. Cooper, it is. He has declared this in his book, Watching the Watchdog: Bloggers As the Fifth Estate. Though I am yet to read the book, I agree with the idea. A need for the Fifth Estate hit me a couple of years ago when I observed the Fourth Estate going astray. Any form of Fifth Estate will require a wide-reaching platform along with an uncurbed freedom to opine. Now, what could be a better way than the globally-unifying, far-reaching internet!

The blogosphere may never replace the regulated conventional media, but may help keep it in check.

Why is blogging a phenomenon?
Blogging began with individuals getting a platform to express themselves, as singular units of web pages. A decade later, you will find not only individual units but also increasing clusters – in the form of multi-authored blogs and blogging communities. In a multi-authored blog, a number of like-minded individuals unite to create interesting posts. Blogging communities make an effort to unify bloggers with similar interests from across the globe.

Lately, events of global and regional interest are celebrated by several bloggers, making public statements. Like the recent arrest and release of Al Farhan in Saudi Arabia. He was arrested for blogging. Thousands of bloggers united against his arrest and carried a ‘release Al Farhan’ message on their blogs. Apart from uniting for shared interests, bloggers are uniting for causes - for human rights, raising their voices against and about abuse, war, repression, inflation – any and everything that affects the common man.

Why will blogs sustain?
  • Ease of publishing: Blogging lets people publish their opinions without waiting to be approved. There are no demanding editors or busy publishers, just a click of the mouse and you are published for the entire world to see!

  • Instantaneous reach and reaction: One can get responses within a few minutes of the post going online. Blogging is a truly global phenomenon, uniting people.

  • Creative freedom: Apart from the freedom of expression and a platform to showcase, blogging gives bloggers immense creative freedom.
Are we ready to shoulder the responsibility?
Blogging also adds some burden with the creative freedom it offers, that is, if you feel responsible to make a difference. Are we using the freedom to bring about a change? The pen, we used to say, is mightier than the sword. The written word will always be. Can we help bring a change to the current state of affairs in the world today? As bloggers, can we not make our loyal reader aware of the environmental issues concerning the world today? Can we not help support and fund a good cause somewhere – at the school of blind a couple of blocks away or for an anti-child-labor initiative in a third-world nation? Can we not make an effort with our written word? I am sure we have the will; we just need the courage.

July 23, 2009

How does one prove to oneself?

Some time ago, a friend, who had quit recently and was working on his own venture, wondered how we tend to give our best to work that we do for others but fail to give as much importance and effort to our own work. We discussed this at length and wondered if it was the regular income that drove us. But then, one's own venture needs more effort to draw the money. If it isn't money, is it about the reputation and goodwill we attach to our performance in a job? If the results in one's own work are more fulfilling than the results when you are employed, do we work hard in order to prove our merit to others?

In younger days, most of us spoke about 'proving to ourselves'. Does the concept take a backseat as we grow up and 'mature' in life? What does proving to oneself mean, anyway? Doesn't it mean being happy and satisfied with what one does? Or, does it have to do with achieving certain milestones in life, as defined by convention? Or, is it about discovering oneself and making use of one's potential?

A random thought scribbled around midnight...

April 17, 2009


I have had several moments in the last couple of months that tempted me to make a blog entry. However, I could not finish a post even if I started it. I do not struggle to gather my thoughts or express in front of a friend but when it comes to jotting them down in the blog, I find the passion missing. It is strange because these are things I feel strongly about. I had once mentioned that it is my nature of avoiding an argument that I keep certain things to myself. However, I resent this attitude of mine. Ironically, as I type these words, I cannot recall any issue that I want to talk about. Will tomorrow be any different?

March 13, 2009

Gulaal spreads all over me

"ये महलों, ये तख्तों, ये ताजों की दुनिया,
ये इंसां के दुश्मन समाजों की दुनिया,
ये दौलत के भूखे रवाजों की दुनिया,
ये दुनिया अगर मिल भी जाए तो क्या है?"

(Yeh mahlon, yeh takhton, yeh taajon ki duniya,
Yeh insaan ke dushman samajon ki duniya,
yeh daulat ke bhookhe rawazon ki duniya,
yeh duniya agar mil bhi jaaye toh kya hai?)

This song from Guru Dutt's Pyaasa had a severe effect on the audience. The song continues to haunt us till date. That was the power delivered by Saahir Ludhiyanvi's lyrics, S D Burman's music, Mohammad Rafi's voice, and Guru Dutt's performance. Anurag Kashyap's duniya in Gulaal is no less powerful and may stay with you for a long time.

A and I went to watch the movie today. The shock factor in the movie made A jump several times and ask me why I was devoid of any reaction. I wasn't; I reacted several times but I was prepared. I was prepared because it was Anurag Kashyap's film. I had expectations and I received much more than I expected.

Gulaal is a work of art. It is creative cinema - unapologetic and real. And Anurag has a conviction that makes him take risks. The other day, I watched him in a show called, 'Face the Review' when he had come to counter the criticisms levied on his last film, Dev D. He countered every charge agaisnt his film without sounding defensive. I pity the people who criticize Anurag's kind of cinema. No, Anurag is not making a film to please everyone. He cannot do a Karan Johar to promote his films. Anurag's movies can reach people beyond the multiplexes without advertising. And his movies will affect everyone who watches it, annoying some and disturbing most. I am yet to watch Dev D but I know it also will leave me with a hangover like Black Friday, No Smoking, and Gulaal did.

Gulaal is powerful not only in its concept but also in the performances and the presentation. Kay Kay needs no introduction; he is the star actor, even though he is not mentioned in the traditional race. Raj Singh Chaudhary, who co-authored the script and the screenplay, plays the simpleton-sucked-into-chaos convincingly well. After his performance in Omkara, Deepak Dobriyal is everyone's favourite. Delhi 6 could not give him enough screen space but the actor gets to play an important character in Gulaal, doing justice to every frame. Abhimanyu Singh does extreme justice to his character in the film. His performance was phenomenal. I look forward to watching him in more films. Ayesha Mohan handled her character like a pro. Gulaal marks her debut. Jesse Randhawa leaves a mark in the movie. Mahie Gill performs her part well as Kay Kay's mistress. Everyone does justice to his/her character in the movie irrespective of its length. Take for example the ardh-narishwar bahurupiya portrayed by Yash Tonk. I wish this character was developed a little more. But then, gaps like these don't make Gulaal any less powerful than it is.

Piyush Mishra is the surprise package in the movie. The man is a brilliant actor. It is not his acting that is surprising in the movie but the lyrics and the music he composed for this movie. Gulaal is Piyush's debut as a lyricist and music director. His lyrics move you, bother you, disturb you; they stick to you, cling to you. While some songs are classics in the making, others may sound outrageous. But each word in the songs is integral to the movie. And to top it all, Piyush lends his voice to the songs!

Gulaal will not let you come out spotless. It will rub some of its coloured dust on you, however careful you are. Take for example the following words in Piyush's dedication to Saahir Ludhiyanvi:

"तुम्हारी है तुम्ही संभालो ये दुनिया,
ऐ बुझते हुए चंद बासी चरागों,
तुम्हारे ये काले इरादों की दुनिया|"

(Tumhari hai, tumhi sambhalo ye duniya,
Ay bujhte huye chand baasi charago,
Tumhare ye kaale iraadon ki duniya.)

January 23, 2009

About fate and hopes - the slumdog's journey

"Ratti Ratti Sachi Maine Jaan Gavayi Hai
Nach Nach Koylo Pe Raat Bitayi Hai
Akhiyon Ki Neend Maine Phoonko Se Uda Di
Neele Tare Se Maine Ungli Jalayi Hai"

'Jai Ho!' resonates in your ears long after the movie's credits end. Everybody loves an underdog win, but it's not only about the winning that makes the film special. The calm on Jamal's face, disguised in a smile, even as he is clueless about the answer to the 20-million-rupee question, is what makes Slumdog Millionaire a winner.

The 10 Oscar nominations announced today are making everyone in India feel proud. News as this one somehow manages to make our day. How? There is no individual gain but there is a greater sense of pride. Even if you haven't seen Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia, you do not question, for a second, the authenticity of the characters. They are real - flesh and bones - somewhere near you. Their hopes, or as the film suggests, the lookout for their destiny is what keeps them going.

As the little Jamal (Ayush Mahesh Khedekar) jigs out of sheer hope even as his fate is being decided in the most unfortunately way just a few feet away, you wonder if you need to take a lesson or two in life from Jamal. As Jamal grows up, resourceful, smart, observant, he beats any of the privileged us in the race of life. The story of Slumdog Millionaire could happen to anyone but not without possessing the characteristics of Jamal.

I do not know how Vikas Swarup has portrayed Jamal in his book, Q & A, but I love the screenplay by Simon Beaufoy. And this film has made me a fan of Danny Boyle. I watched some of his interviews and discussions with the British and American media and I was pleasantly surprised the way he talks about India. He talks about India like an India-loving Indian would do. He neither glamourises everything that is Indian nor does he see only the filth and the slums. He looks beyond the filth to see a sparkle. Like the kids who played the youngest characters of Jamal, Salim and Latika. Apparently, those lovely kids were picked up from Dharavi for the movie. You cannot do without loving little Jamal. The teens are portrayed by actors you may have seen elsewhere.

Slumdog Millionaire is not about Anil Kapoor, who the Indian media has been chasing incessantly since the time the movie got recognition. The movie is also not about Dev Patel and Frieda Pinto. The movie belongs to the three kids who play the youngest versions of the characters. Even when the characters grow up in the movie, the youngest faces refuse to go off your mind. Now that the movie has released in India, I hope the media talks about those kids, who are not only natural and brilliant actors but also charm you in a fascinating way. When little Jamal rushes to meet his hero, Amitabh Bachchan, covered in grime ('grime' is understating the brilliance in the scene. Look out for this scene!), you cannot but love the boy and admire him through the gaps between your fingers with which you are covering your eyes! The story is Jamal's but Salim (Azarrudin Mohammad Ismail)is no less a hero in his own way. As he grows up (Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala and Madhur Mittal), he is driven towards the underworld glamour, moving away from his brother. The cast of the film is apt. However, it is not in the grown-up characters that you see the film. You live the film through the kids. Slumdog Millionaire may not be revolutionary but it is definitely touching. It is hardly likely that you would walk out of the theatre unmoved.

Oh yes, you can see the talented Irfan Khan in a small role but this movie is not about him, though he does justice to the small piece of role he gets.

A R Rahman is his usual brilliant self. Like every Indian, I want him to bring in the Oscar. However, I hope that this recognition will open the world's eyes to the other brilliant work he has done. Oh, by the way, does 'Ringa Ringa' remind anyone of the infamous Choli song from Khalnayak, or is it just me?

Danny Boyle, in one of his discussions with the Philadelphia Film Society about the film and India, says, "You can't remain unaffected but not the way you imagine... you don't go there to have something confirmed on poverty and you don't go there to realize something. You go there to, kind of, unwind everything you have ever thought of that stuff... you got to embrace all the contradictions of India to even begin to, not even understand it but to kind of get benefit from it... you realize it when you are there... There's no way you can go there and not learn... you learn about yourself and the human spirit... about how meaningless life is and how wonderful life is at the same time." Danny sums up the movie in his impression about India. He says that within a span of ninety minutes, there is the blinding of a kid and then there is the song-and-dance sequence because both these instances are integral to reporting the facts in Mumbai.

Verdict: Learn from the smiles and the hopefulness of the characters. Don't miss the movie!

Jamal: Ayush Mahesh Khedekar (I am a fan!), Tanay Hemant Chheda (Like his acting!), Dev Patel
Salim: Azarrudin Mohammad Ismail (I am a fan!), Ashutosh Lobo Gajiwala, Madhur Mittal
Latika: Rubina Ali (Love her innocence!), Tanvi Ganesh Lonkar, Freida Pinto

Most of us would come out of the movie with a feel-good hangover, forgetting the torturous trials of life that several like Jamal, Salim and Latika go through everyday. Can we help? Yes, we can. Go through Shelly's post on the movie and check the links provided in it.

Here's another review I found myself hooked to: >Slumdog Millionaire: The Secret Is Out - Movie Review By An Indian

January 20, 2009

Koshish - an effort at making things better

Can one person bring about a revolution? History tells us that it takes only one person to lay the foundation of a revolution. Can I lay one? A revolution for what? For making the world a better place. Cliched as it may sound, the need for making the world a better place has always been there and will continue to be there. You and I may lead a comfortable life - which is not without constant cribs - but tend to ignore everything that goes around us. Complains are good as long as they are put into some kind of action. Will I also continue cribbing and not do anything? There is so much to do, where do I start and how? I need to spread awareness about what I propose to do, but before that I need to list down what I propose to do. So, what do I propose to do?
  • I want to make mornings better with less honking and less exchange of bitter words on the street.
  • I do not want to be unnecessarily rude to the person across the sales counter, the bus conductor, the auto driver, the dhobi, the doodhwala, the maid, the neighbour, or anyone of the numerous people I meet everyday.
  • I want to segregate everyday home garbage into biodegradable and non-biodegradable categories.
  • I want to reduce the usage of plastic and eventually stop it.
  • I want to save power and fuel.
  • I want to cut down on habits that contribute to pollution of any kind - air, water, sound etc.
  • I do not want to litter.
  • I want to stop wasting water.
  • I want to build trust in people.
There are numerous other things that do not come to mind immediately but have been in my thoughts for a while now. Can I start this, make others join, and contribute towards a better world? I am a bit confident and a bit unsure.

Everything needs marketing these days and so will this idea. But something tells me that along with like-minded people, I will be able to pull it through.

Koshish - that's what the effort will be called. People willing, it will flourish. Concrete ideas in the next post.