November 18, 2010

Watching Movies

I suddenly realized on a lazy Sunday morning that G leaving Mumbai has had an adverse impact on my movie viewing. As I sipped on my milk and crunched into the delicious taste of Pure Magic biscuits, I realized that I have skipped quite a few over the past, most notably amongst them being Hissssss and a few more sssss.

The married men refused to go being scared of their wives, the married women had no intention of watching the movie and the couples typically follow the wish of the women in such matters.

The single men in their quest for looking cool and cultured refused to accompany me, the single women probably wondered if I doubted their intelligence by asking such a question and I figured going alone to watch Hissssss and a few more sssss would confirm to my sister that I had lost it, finally.

Super Cooler landed in Mumbai from some Chinese city and called me up to watch Letters to Juliet, it being my kind of mush and I guess it was. You know, the kind where the world is a beautiful place, where people sip wine and quote poems on love and don’t have to make PPTs during weekends. Ahh, the lives of such people. Action Replay was however a mistake. Happy Boy and his wife insisted that I watch the movie and all I wanted to do after the sumptuous dinner that she cooked was to sleep. The popcorn was the most interesting part and the next thing I know the autowallah got me from Thakur village to the Sea link and said, “Bandra aa gaya hain.” Sea Link always looks beautiful in the night. Hauntingly so.

But G is not the only reason. I realized I have tons of unread books that I must make an effort to complete now. It’s unfair to hoard them like some demented ruler hoarding diamonds. But I needed to buy books and so I got a few more for the love of my life and she loved them. Ahh, the lows a man must stoop to in order to make a woman love him. Bruno, Bubbles and now Pepper, her three best friends will now be with her.

The third most important reason for movie viewing taking a beating has been the Reality Shows. Last couple of weekends I have tried to figure out what’s happening on the shows, how the TRP games are being played out and how Kiran Bedi’s role has now gone to Rakhi Sawant. But amongst all of them I love Masterchef India. The contestants are real people. The emotions seem original. The evaluations are rational and apart from the fact that they are randomly getting Bollywood to come and endorse the contestants, the show’s brilliant. I know it’ll probably lose out on the TRP game but to me it’s a winner. There are obvious flaws. I love it for the love of food but the viewer has nothing to gain from it, no recipe, no insaaf, no ek crore, no Dolly Bindra.

But there have been seldom any movie I have waited for with such eagerness than this one - Khelen Hum Jee Jan Se perhaps will be a fitting testimony to the valour of the independence struggle in Bengal. It has always pained me somewhere that the so called Athenian traits of Bongs have completely overshadowed the Spartan gallantry. We have been called Anglophiles and the babus of the Raj and people easily remember Bhagat Singh a lot better than Masterda. Bose, as Benegal correctly puts it, remains a forgotten hero and I don’t like it a bit. Chattogram Astragar Lunthan (The robbery of the armoury at Chottogram) was perhaps one of the strongest blows to the might of the Raj and I would love to see it on celluloid.

Till then, I am busy knowing Lisbeth Salander.

November 15, 2010

Play Fair

Mom was always good at sports and amongst the many life lessons she has passed on to her children, the most important perhaps is the idea of playing fair. The idea is quite simple. In life be honest, give your 100% and then whatever happens will happen.

I was just taking stock of life and it just struck me. Mom’s influence has lingered on. If I can look back today and be proud of something, it will be about the fact that I have always played a fair game. At least I have tried to.

The reason I have been blabbering on about playing fair is because as you grow older, you begin to realize how easy it is to be tempted to be unfair. It’s natural to try to pass on your mistakes to others, it’s natural to try to take credit of things which have been done by teams and it’s easy to shine in glory that’s necessarily not yours. I received a resume a few days back of a person I know claiming to be what he never was. Now, to him, the idea was fair enough as the use of this piece of info meant no harm to the ones who actually worked, but in the bigger scheme of things, it was unfair and grossly so.

Sundays at 10 I typically play cricket with the kids in my building and I feel a lack of the sense of fairness and pride. Like typical kids they all want to bat a lot, not bowl at all and beat me all the time. Now I have no issue in that. But I have do have an issue when they want things the easy way. No effort goes into bettering themselves, no effort goes into actually trying to get me out and for all who know me, I am no Sachin Tendulkar. For example, they give up in less than 10 minutes if I refuse to make it easy for them.

Baseline – they don’t give themselves the best shot that they can give as they don’t play fair. And I have a big issue with that. If you don’t play fair, you don’t have the right to play.

It’s not that I am a saint following my own principles. I have messed up myself. I haven’t been fair to a close friend and it has been painful. It’s one of those decisions you wish you didn’t have to make but then you trust that one day you’ll be forgiven. And you do. You get a phone call.

I guess what I’m trying to say is that life is never fair but that does not mean we should not try to be.

November 07, 2010

Happy Diwali Ji

So everyone has sent me a message. Well almost everyone. And everyone has wished me a happy diwali. I must say I have always been a bit confused about Diwali. Being a Bong, the Good for Evil celebrations should have been done by Dussera and as we wished Shubho Bijoya to each other we knew that peace was restored.

Now Diwali was more of Kali Pujo as I grew up in Calcutta. We burst the crackers, saw the really random dance steps at the immersion of Kali idols and accepted the fact that during this time someone will get drunk and sing on the streets. It was like a ritual. Someone had to get drunk late into the night and next day spend the hours saying sorry to the elders in our para. I think it was an accepted fact that some people will get drunk at Kali Pujo. So it was probably the only time, mom and dad asked me to be careful while I roamed around the streets.

The happiest memory of those days was that of counting the crackers that were bursting outside my house and slowly going off to sleep. It seemed as if somewhere outside, far far away, a hero was fighting a grim battle. And I dreamt.

I first experienced what Diwali truly meant in Pilani. Whether it was shameful display of money by Student Union Presidential candidates or whether it was the quite anticipation amongst all the men as slowly the gates of Meera Bhawan opened and the women emerged wearing their finest sarees, Diwali in Pilani was magical. But I think no one enjoyed it more than CJ. A true Mallu, he devoured the colours and joys of Diwali with childlike curiosity and I have not seen many enjoy a festival so much. He was more enthused about Diwali than anyone of us in the wing and we would watch the Mallu gang of 2001 walk together, the most well knit group I have ever seen. The best part is Diwali in Pilani was a festival of lights, a festival for everyone to come closer together as everyone missed their homes.

There are other memories and as I write they keep flooding back. Diwali 2002 was the first time when Moruchaya, the Bengali association became an entity by itself. We earned our laurels that Diwali. For the first time, the bongs gathered together to, well to be honest, burn away 1500 rupees of hard earned money. We were small and had way less ammunition when compared to the other groups but that gesture that year announced to everyone, yes we were there. Such is the power of symbolic gestures.

I loved the morning after of Diwali. C’Not would be littered with the remnants of the night before. And I would walk with my camera in my hand clicking the patterns on the ground. It would also be Bhaiphota and my 2 sisters in Pilani would actually take the pains to wake up and meet us in the Saraswati Temple and we would then walk to Blue Moon for an MNB at 11 in the morning.

But the greatest Diwali story is that of 4 young boys undertaking the journey of their lives for food that promised to be exquisite. But that is the story for another day.

These days like everything else, I miss the simplicity in my life which was there even a few years back. I have stopped bursting crackers since a long time and friends typically these days have the means to go back home. Diwali wherever celebrated is more about cards and parties and less about the innocent fun we had when we were young.

But then the Indian spirit for celebrations is infectious. On Diwali, everyone in Mumbai wishes you. And you feel no longer alone as you hear all around you - Happy Diwali Ji.