Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Revolutionary read

This was published on HT edit page 'Comment' on March 23, 2011
No matter what the difference between what they achieved and didn't, what Che Guevara is to the world, Bhagat Singh is to our country. The ideology is beside the point. What a young man of this generation seems more interested in is using these revolutionaries to feed his own self-image of a rebel, non-conformist. And that's about it. Coasters, T-shirts, life-size posters with a Bhagat Singh motif are in. I am a rebel, they cry out.
So, was Bhagat Singh a revolutionary in just that one, vague sense?
His love of anarchism and Marxism is well-documented; how many of us have actually read what he thought of the free-market economic system? A college-goer walking in designer jeans bought with his land-baron daddy's money, topped with a fashionable Inquilab Zindabad T-shirt, is a picture of utter irony. Bhagat Singh stood for peasants' rights, for the dictatorship of the proletariat. Never in a million years would he have desired to be the poster boy of trigger-happy, rich brats.
Also, the last I read him, he had clearly stated his lack of belief in god, and at times even expressed mild disappointment at prayers by people facing the gallows. Then why is it that even newspapers these days insist on using pictures of him only with a turban, never with the hat that was as much a trademark of his as the loosely tied turban. That he was born a Sikh can't be doubted, but whether he chose to die one has a different answer.
It's not that hard to figure out unless you want to use his picture alongside that of Bhindranwala, the right-winger who wanted a separate state based on religion. Using their pictures together is, again, reducing the Shaheed to a mere gun-toting extremist, revolutionary only in action, not thought, and certainly not a nationalist.
It was his 80th martyrdom anniversary day on March 23, and there were rallies at his native village Khatkar Kalan. Speaking from their respective daises, were leaders from different parties, with the single-minded goal of painting a one-dimensional picture of Bhagat Singh in the voter's mind, that of an angry young man. It's easy to see that these politicos were yet again feeding the lazy young majority that loves its own rebel self-image. But there's a Bhagat Singh much beyond that, whose family has said they are sickened by the use of his image on every political party's poster.
Blaming politicians alone, however, proves no point. What our beloved mere-23-at-death symbol of nationalism deserves is a little more attention, love not infatuation. Reading what he read and wrote could be the first meeting.
Now don't be tempted to pick up placards and raise slogans demanding inclusion of all his writings in all textbooks. Why involve those who want to use your hero for votes? Go to a library, use the internet. He is ours more than theirs, he is everyman's hero. Just don't reduce your admiration to mere hero worship.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Monday, December 20, 2010

Virtually alive

The other day I had this pop up on my Facebook page: “Aditi will die at the age of 96.” It got me furious. Not that I didn’t want my moon-faced friend to live that long; the point was that she was sitting in Pune’s German Bakery last Valentine’s Day, on the table that had a bomb under it, and had lost a painful battle to death. That nerd Zuckerberg had no right to remind me of that with a rude, impossible prediction like that. I closed the window with an agitated left click and started to look for distraction on YouTube.
But it didn’t leave me; and I wanted to know how the update appeared. I logged back in.
Ten minutes is long enough for a mob reaction in the virtual world. By now I had a furious couple of supporters who wanted to know what had effected the update. But what surprised me was the five ‘Likes’ the post had got. Just why would you like to be reminded of how the prettiest girl in the world had fallen victim to a terrorist act, an act we escapists-by-default think always happens in a place called somewhere else.
And then a comment appeared, by some Jyoti: “I told you Aadu, you cannot die before me. See, I have proof now J” Another one: “And you thought you could hide, Aditi… hunh. Gotch ya!” A mini deluge followed. It was as if at least 15 of her adult friends actually thought she was alive, or were deluding themselves to believe the Net had made it to Heaven (or wherever angels go back to).  
There is this religious belief about life after death, but I was sure Facebook was the last means spirits would register their presence through. This was ineffable. Why aren’t these kids angry at this, I thought, and called Aditi’s BFF Bindiya.
She wasn’t surprised. In fact it was she who had the password and had taken a quiz that claims to tell your longevity based on your choice of colour and nightclub. The quiz thought she was Aditi. “This is so damn stupid. She is dead, you know,” I snapped. “Shut up! You don’t have to tell me that,” she snapped back, yelling as I appeared to utter another word, “This is my way of keeping her alive. Go to hell if you don’t like it.” Bang!
A non-believer, I was shaken out of reality. Her argument made me argue with myself for at least 15 minutes. But I lost to the romantic inside me. That non-cynic Me said why not try the delusion, and I picked up the mouse.
Simer had succumbed long ago to a concoction of urban angst and pressures modern day jobs bring. But I figured the noose he had put around his neck, had failed to snuff out his being. His Facebook profile page had a cow he had ‘won’ for his Farmville. Pink, she was mooing; maybe she knew something I didn’t. Obviously he too had a friend keeping him alive, but it was surreal. I posted a belated birthday wish for him.
I moved on to Arpan’s page. “Now here’s a guy who knows how to have fun,” I thought. The editor in me rapped me on the knuckles, “Wrong tense! He knew, not knows.” But Facebook didn’t agree. The page had updates; it told me Arpan -- who in the real world had been shot in a fatal mishap -- had downed a virtual double martini last night, as an animated Deep Throat Debby gave him a lap dance.
I couldn’t resist a smile, then a chuckle, and then I burst out laughing, tears blurred my view as I thought: Some people just don’t change, and will not die, at least not as long as this wonderful Other World exists.


An atrociously edited version of this piece appeared in HT dated December 20, 2010.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Intermission over

Dogri has made a return to the movies after 44 years, no less. Led by a son of the soil and his friends from Bollyland, a motley group of artistes from Jammu has put together a family tearjerker that would bring a smile to the face of those who waited for this, Dogri’s bold step back into pop culture.  

It took some coming. So long that Amit Choudhary, the hero-producer of Maa Ni Mildi, wasn’t even born when the last, and the first, Dogri film released – Gallan Hoyian Beetiyan in 1966. The 44-year gap is ineffably wide; seems all the more so when one sees a hilarious, impromptu dance performance by a fan as Pinki (Rittu Mehra) starts singing around trees, wooing Amit (Choudhary). Somebody did want to watch this movie all these decades.
Choudhary, who has also written the script, screenplay and dialogues for Maa, puts this gap down to “lack of guts”. Quite the answer you expect from a man who played Surpnakha in a Ramlila at his village Vijaypur in Jammu, landed in Nineties’ Bombay with only the burning desire to be like Mithunda, meandered his 6-foot frame way through TV and Bhojpuri cinema, and returned when he had the 30 lakhs to make Maa, which released August 13 at Apsara Theatre, Jammu.
Sahitya Akademi-feted Dogri poet Yash Sharma supplements Amit’s theory, “The new generation prefers Hindi and English. It seemed insane to make a movie in Dogri. So to take another shot, it required a revolutionary spirit.”
Sharma would know. Sole surviving member of the 1966 film crew, he wrote the songs for Gallan -- a tale about feudalism, scarcity of resources, and the triumph of hope: Sixties’ staple. It attracted hundreds before a faux pas (see box) ended its run abruptly at Shankar Talkies, now an ice factory.
Maa is describable in a paragraph: Pinki falls in love with Amit and marries him, willing to shun comfort for love and near penury; but realises it’s easier said than done. So she forces Amit to leave his mother (Usha Slathia) and turn a ghar jawai. But Amit has a plan. He makes Pinki realise she was wrong in parting the beta and maa when he refuses to let Pinki meet their newborn. Pinki cries, is forgiven, and they rush back to maa. Butmaa is dead by then. Everyone cries. Credits roll.
Yes, there are curtailed sub-plots, including one with part-time actor Subash Jamwal, an education department employee, as Amit’s brother who starts out bad and turns good by the end. The sad ending, perhaps, is the only remarkable thing in the movie.
But how does that matter when audiences are dancing. It was never meant to be refined; it’s a popular product of passion.
To supplement the passion, Choudhary had an army of Jammu’s thespians and Doordarshan mini-stars willing to work for free, newbies who lined up for auditions in a village 20 km from Jammu, and assistants who shunned assignments for that first shot as heads of music and lyrics (Devinder Rathoure), choreography (Kedar Subba) and editing (Rocki M.). Singers Vinod Rathore and Sadhana Sargam are the only ones who cost some serious buck.
Leader of the pack is director Roop Sagar. A Bilawal native, he assisted master filmmaker Hrishikesh Mukherjee and directed those insistent teleshopping shows through the Noughties.
“I came to Mumbai 35 years ago and never imagined of making a movie in my native tongue. After old friend Amit (Choudhary) started discussing the possibility, I found it was a desire I’d hidden from myself,” Roop says over phone from Mumbai. “Suddenly, after the auditions, I found myself in the middle of talent I’d never expected to find.”
The shooting, mostly around Samba, ended in around a month in Jan-Feb last year, but the movie took another year and a half to reach Apsara. No money and no government help meant Choudhary sold land and his car. “I had no reason not to have put my money where my heart wanted me to. Regional cinema is thriving everywhere,” he says matter-of-factly.
“This movie has sought to bring Dogri back into pop art,” says Lalit Magotra, president of Dogri Sanstha, a body publishing poetry and prose, holding seminars since 1944. “Literature will always have connoisseurs, but language cannot stay indoors.”
Mohan Singh, a DD-Jammu veteran who plays Pinki’s father, adds, “After DD launched Kashir and later a dedicated Jammu channel, stage talent moved to telefilms made on contract for the government. But no one put money into regional cinema due to the risks involved.” Mohan now has plans to partner with four others to make a movie in Dogri.
A little bird also tells how a veteran litterateur-filmmaker asked the state to partly fund a Dogri movie three years ago, but was told “if we give money for a Dogri movie, people would line up for Kashmiri movies as well”. (There hasn’t been a Kashmiri feature film in decades.) No one, not even unnamed little birds, say anything further on this.
Choudhary, meanwhile, is in his own space, desperate to preserve his passion “in the face of all-pervasive negativity of a politically correct, unromantic world”.
“I would welcome government help, but that’s not what filmmaking requires. I hope people put in money and inspire each other. Just the way any thriving industry works,” he says. To that obvious question on whether he’ll make a movie on the ‘Kashmir situation’, he replies with a vigorous left-to-right-and-back motion of the head. 
For now, he has plans of releasing Maa in the rest of ‘Duggar Pradesh’ and selling its TV-rights.
Then, if need be he’d sell some more land, gather another motley group, and work on the two scripts he has ready, both of which, he says, have social messages. That’s one thing Choudhary knows how to do: send a message that transcends the movie.

An atrociously rewritten version appeared in HT Magazine dated Aug 29, 2010.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

C, I told you!

Here's the post you've allegedly been waiting for. On the alphabet C.
Let me confess right here at the start, that I am not getting disciplined and doing what I promised, writing a post on the third alphabet that is. It's just that i went to a conference today, and wanted to write about it. And since the word conference begins with C, it fell into place. Important you know that; I have an image to protect after all.
Let's get to the point.

It was a fine conference. People talked about how online media was going to overtake offline media. Filled with Jyoti's jokes, the whole show was just the way conferences are supposed to be -- clean, composed, cliched, yet coated with (com)passion. Hence, presumably easy to swallow, or even chew if you like.
It gave me food for thought. But the food, figuratively, should be good enough to give me mental indigestion, force me to fart out thoughts on the subject for at least a day.
The sad part was, no matter how much I wanted the whole thing to block my bowels, I got only enough to merit a belch. Just enough to fill my mouth, be chewed for a while, downed, and digested.
Everyone largely agreed on the same things, disagreed on the same, had no idea about the same things, and, frankly, there wasn't much to say anyways. I am everyone, too, I must state.
So my learning experience was limited to knowing, or being told, that:
1. Online media is the future, just let Internet penetrate a little more!
2. Offline media is limited in scope, has space constraints.
3. Online media is real-time, more interactive, yet prone to being frivolous, like any growing medium.
and so on.. you get the drift I know. I was a disciplined member of the choir, and agreed and disagreed as required.

But of course there was the mouthful of food, which tasted rather good in the air-conditioned environs.
It was the use of the word 'overtake' (and even 'takeover', by some people who did not know the difference between the two terms).
I wonder how online media could overtake offline media in my lifetime. I mean it could sell more than it does now. May give competition, stiff, to offline media, in the ages we are yet to see.
Overtaking is so relative in the media industry I believe. Has ToI overtaken the Express? It has in figures, but has it in substance. Debatable? Exactly my point!
Why use the word overtake? Why not the politically correct, and more appropriate, 'co-exist'?
It would give credibility to the whole discussion.

And yes, I have to mention this. There was this woman in the audience who said the meaning of news had changed. I wonder what she meant. I wonder if she herself knew what she meant.


I have to tell my lovely friends who organised the conference, that it's just my observation, bordering on critique. And it's only about the one big session I sat through.
Before you label me a snob, or a jealous wannabe, I would want you to read what i wrote, again, if you would. I presume you respect opinions.
BTW, I am still dying to jump onto the bandwagon called emagzin.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Spelling B

If the letter B were a person, it would certainly be an eight-year-old hyperactive kid. For some reason.
No. On second thoughts, it would rather be a curvy woman -- the nouns that make up the curves both start with B.
My association with B, however, is not because of my love for the things those nouns denote; it's primarily due to the pompous nickname I have. But I am not telling it, and would issue a denial if it were to be revealed by those who know it already.
Here's my list of B-things that I guess are worth writing about here.

Of people, there's Brishi. He used to be a great friend till Class VII before I was thrown out of the school. The he left town too. Many insignificant details later, he found me on Facebook's ancestor Orkut. We have each other's numbers, but don't go beyond deciding to meet. He is in the same town now, and I made another promise the other day. I never showed up though, and neither did he call. Times change people. You possibly knew that already. Anyways, I will call him again tomorrow.

Then there's that strong-headed child-woman who has layers and layers, but still puts up a needless act of being mysterious. She is mysterious enough; the needless pretence takes one thin layer off her. Fault-finding aside, the countless other sides keep one intrigued, hooked. It often makes me gaze and gape at her face, that shapeless nose, the lips she takes such care of. The eyes that look at you with a kid’s distrust in a stranger her mother told her not to talk to. And when she talks, one listens. The admiration of the shapelessness of her nose turns into love, love for the sincerity of her naiveté, the boundless curiosity she claims she does not bother to possess. I haven't named her because she does not like people talking about her in her absence.
But you possibly know her; such a She is there in everyone's life. The shape of the nose may differ.

Bhupinder Utreja. He probably parachooted into this list for the only reason that he was my humsafar in the first big independent trip of my life. We went to Nagpur for a human rights meet with me posing as a teacher at the age of 17. Was as much fun as boring as it sounds. He made me drink in the train; we drank in a cinema hall, in the loo -- 'cause it had 'great climate' as he said -- and we drank in the streets. I had grown up. He was old enough to be my dad then, still is. He is the reason why I am more comfortable with people double my age; I consider that a good thing.

Booze. It needs company; nothing else matters. It could be Rocket, Dhol or Famous Grouse. Conversation is the alcohol content. Peanuts would be nice though.

Tipsy, i'd say bosoms and behinds could be the defining mounds of a woman's personality, and also a man's. I notice them like any other man, and i admire them like any other man. This has distracted me towards porn.

Bimbos. The girls who look beautiful when they don't talk, says the dictionary. And when they talk, all those great talkers with average looks look beautiful. I have a special place for them on the shelf in my heart. They seem to be the brand I attract most, yes with those teeth I still do. And they make me believe my own theory of choosing a good tongue over nice tits (good conversation over physical assets, I mean).

If you read this, let me tell you there's not much to look forward to in C. The sound of it is so hollow.
I might change my opinion though, and could churn out something worthwhile.

By the way, C spells Comment.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Starting with A

I wasn't here 'cause i never had anything to write about. So I stole an idea! This is what it is. Here's my A to Z about people, places, feeling and all that emotional stuff, and what not.
I'd yack about stuff by taking the alphabet as a guide. It could be every day or every week, or never, as my reliability is known for being non-existent. It begins:

A is the first letter in a lot of people's names. Some of them are dear to me.

Aman Sandhu merits a mention. The hot chick I boast was my girlfriend before she left for Bangalore to become hotter (proof is in the pic). OK, we never had sex, and that means, in guy-terms, that she wasn't my girl. But she certainly drove me around, and crazy, in her Black Alto, and wore those horizontal-striped T-shirts, allegedly meant to accentuate her perky breasts for my pleasure. She described hot for me, more than any wallpaper of Hayek I've used on my laptop. And she described 'free'. Was a bimbo on the outside; she worked hard at it. On the inside, she was the perfect Punjabi backslapping buddy. I loved both.

Then there's this supposedly flaming love story I have. The object of desire is a girl called Anvita. It would take a long post for me to describe her; that's what happens when one doesn't know the subject well. But I've never wanted, never bothered do, know her. For me, that animated wave of the hand and that laughter is enough proof that I've good choice. People in my life see her as someone I love, but I' put it this way: I've fallen, for her, more than once.

Angad is what a woman should be, for me. Interesting, a brilliant listener and talker, can make any cup of coffee seem the best you've ever had. Not quite intriguingly sexy, but surprisingly smart for a sardar. The man's an encyclopedia on anything he wishes to pick up. He may have been given the nickname 'Jhooth', but he's the object of envy for those wanting to 'know'. For people inherently curious, like me, he's a treasure of a friend. And even without that know-all, he remains the person to sit and drink with. I'd take that quality over all the encyclopedic traits. Fortunately for those who are his friends, he has both qualities. Rare.

Anubhav, the friend I grew into my teenage and with. And then I grew up.

My sister Anjali. She's anything you'd want an elder sister should be. Calm, patient and fierce only when she wants to be. I wish I could be like her. She makes me want to be a teacher, an academic; I, too, inspire her, I claim. But I've never known someone as well as I know her. Not because we have had heart-to-heart chats or anything; we hardly sit and talk. But I've never had to do any of that to get a sense of what is important to her and vice versa. I wish she could trust her instinct a little more, and herself a lot more. She would some day, and then she would soar. I'd cling on to her finger and soar with her. She is the sister I love the most among the three I have, with lots of love to spare for the other two.

Then there's the inevitable mention of my town, Abohar.

It has not had the same effect in my life that maybe Chandigarh has. But it's a part of my being. It signifies, for me, that there's nothing called small-town mentality; your mental make-up cannot possibly be primarily an outcome of the place you live in. Abohar is dusty yet clear-hearted, hot yet warm, and extremely cold in winters yet not biting. I sometimes romanticize it, but I've never had a conscious love for the town. It must be in the heart, that love. I am dealing with my brain most of the time. I don't even know why i go there now; there's certainly something between me and the town.

Alto. The car I love the most cause it's the one I could afford. Have had two, one after the other, both white. Put a good music system and the tiny car could be on fire if you press the pedal right. Someday, I wish to replace it with a private jet. Till then, i love you Alto.

Azhar. The wrist-master, the man with that royal walk and confused talk. He was the reason I started playing cricket, and his match-fixing spelled the death-knell of my cricket career. But I can't stop watching him play on YouTube. It's like watching someone paint, or recite his own poetry. Skipper Azharuddin, the only man who wore a joker-cap with red circles on it in a Test match, and carried it off.

A is also the letter that starts the word Almighty. Now I know science can't decide and decipher everything. But someone who has not even proved his existence yet can't be running my life. The guy they call God can't be a person. He is a thing. A system maybe, a substance that ensures balance in the universe. A man running a planet or the universe can't be stupid enough to send down Meg Ryan or Raakhi or Sushmita (Pick you own names for the god-being-a-woman scenario). PJs apart, I believe it's your own goodness that's god. Be good to people and they'd be good to you, mostly. You'd have a good life then. Isn't that what we mainly wish for from god Almighty? Your deeds are you destiny, and the person next to you right now is the god you should be willing to serve.
That's my A for now. Tell if you liked it and bark at me if you didn't. If you were bored, let me know. Leave a comment, be good!

The next post should be more interesting, less about people. A lot of interesting words start with B, you know!

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Not morning child ....
yet an any hour delight..
lean looks.. eskewed teeth..
yet appealing.
quite a feat.......
black eyes..thwarting light
or a mirror to the soul
dats infused with light.........

easily provoked....
yet a calm facade...
like a storm brewing
behind a tidal wave..............
a pleasure for the senses ..
yet tumultous...
where ur destiny wud take u...
no one can telll........

this one's a poem on a weird subject ( yours truly!) by a girl I was destined to meet i Guess..She's the female version of someone called Aarish!

Thanks gal
I am smitten!

Friday, May 11, 2007

तीसरा आदमी

एक आदमी है जो रोटी खाता है ,
एक आदमी है जो रोटी बेलता है ,
एक और भी है ,
जो रोटी से खेलता है !
यह तीसरा आदमी कौन है ??
मेरे देश की संसद मौन है !

---- by the great Hindi Poet, Dhumil

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Gulzar at his eternal best!!

मुझको इतने से काम पे रख लो...
जब भी सीने पे झूलता लॉकेट उल्टा हो जाए
तो मैं हाथों से सीधा करता रहूँ उसको
मुझको इतने से काम पे रख लो...

जब भी आवेज़ा उलझे बालों में
मुस्कुराके बस इतना सा कह दो
आह चुभता है ये अलग कर दो
मुझको इतने से काम पे रख लो....

जब ग़रारे में पाँव फँस जाए
या दुपट्टा किवाड़ में अटके
एक नज़र देख लो तो काफ़ी है

....मुझको इतने से काम पे रख लो॥

Saturday, December 30, 2006

The poem i adore!!



Holy men hold up traffic,
Whores lure taxi drivers,
and mad women live on roads,
swaddled in rags, sheathed with
perverse lust
or so I was told...
Until I discovered madness could be passion
Holyness: Disdain and repulsion
And whores could be the real saints
Taking in loveless, luckless men