January 26, 2011

Poetry in Celluloid

Some stories touch you not because of the plot but because you wonder at the way the story is told. Yesterday night as I walked back after watching Dhobi Ghat I realized why I could not dismiss the movie. It’s not a masterpiece; it has its flaws, the biggest amongst them being its inability to connect the four different storylines flawlessly.

While watching the movie, I was reminded of two other movies – Ekdin Achanak and American Beauty. Both movies are stories which I personally do not appreciate. But the treatment of the stories by Mrinal Sen and Sam Mendes had left me spellbound. I still remember the shots on the handheld video in American Beauty. The leaves whirling around in their own free will will always be etched in my mind.

Kiran Rao has the same eye for detail for the minutest of things around her. Mumbai comes alive through the lenses and we begin to wonder, if this is a movie or actually a video diary of someone just like us. It’s not a movie you go to the theatres to watch perhaps, rather you take a cup of hot chocolate, curl up on your bed on a Sunday afternoon and see the story unfold.

Else you will come out disappointed for it’s no Band Baaja Baraat where life celebrates itself in all its glory. Our fights, laughs, friendships are more earthy, are more real if not realistic. In Dhobi Ghat, it’s surreal but true – the unspoken love, the drab existence, the looking at the world without putting your tinted glasses on, the clear chasms of society. In Dhobi Ghat, the stable boy can never marry the princess. But of all the characters he perhaps remains the most human. It leaves you with a lump in your throat and you wonder should you have watched Yamla Pagla Deewana instead!

And that’s why I will always return to a Band Baaja Baarat where everything turns out fine at the end. For I believe that’s what we all want in our lives – to be fine.

Not all poetry makes us feel nice about our lives.

January 20, 2011

Making Up

M was furious. He felt cheated. In fact, they had cheated. They knew he hated running between the wickets and loved the big shots. And they had deliberately got the non striker to run. There was a mix up and he was panting as he took stance for the next ball. And immediately, they gave him a leg before. He was furious.

Not at them, but as S. After all S was his best friend. How could he stand and be a party to this gross treachery? M was devastated. S just continued playing with them. I mean, where was the Bro Code?

Whole day, he didn’t speak to S. Next day was no better. In fact, he decided that he would distance himself from S as much as possible. And then one day, they just sat opposite each other and shared their tiffin. Till date they remain the best of friends.

This is a story I have seen being played out in my own life. And every time I feel sad I remember it. Every single moment of that day remains painted in my memory. It’s just that life was so simple back then. No sorrys no thank yous :) Karan Johar knew his stuff.

Today I think as we have grown up, we just have lost the simple art of making up. Ego has taken over. We stick to our guns and refuse to budge from our stand points. And so it is always important for the other person to call up.

If only if we weren’t so egoistic, world perhaps might be a better place to live in. It doesn’t always work for the chasm might be too great. But then, it’s worth making the effort. If it does not work, maybe it was just not meant to be.

“See, you're the only star

In the film I never made

Would you rewind it all the time

Rewind it all the time

Do we make it to the sequel

Second chance for our survival

Oh we all need a hallmark ending

And a change of heart”

It’s still January, so why don’t you just pick up the phone and make that call that you have been too headstrong to make in 2010?

January 16, 2011

The Beginning

The life of every man is a diary in which he means to write one story, and writes another.” - James Matthew Barrie

Our lives are stories. Every one is unique and would make a movie worth watching and yet we have no idea about the way the story shapes up – unexpected twists and turns are all too common, as you grow older you realize the butterfly effect of your past.

“No matter how much you change you still have to pay the price for the things you have done” – The Town

The past has a strange way of catching up with us. In your deepest moments of despair you remember Macbeth and wonder if all that you do is worth it.

“Out, out, brief candle!

Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player

That struts and frets his hour upon the stage

And then is heard no more:

And it doesn’t help if you give yourself a New Year’s Gift in the form of a Dilbert! But then, whether you get depressed reading it and realising how much of it is true, or you laugh it away is completely up to you.

End of a year suddenly might make you wonder and question a lot of issues. But then you are to decide if you would want to get into a loop of self pity or you would rather laugh your day away.

A strange sense of calm resides at the beginning after the churn. Peace resides within us. The point is that there’s a secret garden for each of us to find and when we find it the world around seems more beautiful.

Jo karna hain boss, isi life mein karna hain.

January 15, 2011

Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya Woh Jamiya Nahin

The final frontier for the nomadic bong was always his neighbouring nation, not because he lived near the Antarctic Circle but because neighbours at times are not the best of friends. But then, he believed in Qayanaat and it conspired to convince people across borders that a well nourished bong was not a threat to the peace process amongst their countries.

And so he went, to the twin city of Mumbai across the Arabian Sea, the city of Quaid, the bride of cities. And his long held beliefs were proven right. Economy and the common men were the two key ingredients of easing international tensions.

Krokola, one of the ancient ports in Sindh today is the busy city of Karachi. As I moved around its streets, it felt as if I had not left Mumbai. It was just like any other city of the sub continent, alive and kicking, passionate to make up for the lost time, hesitant to hope for a better future, believing in God, believing “Inshallah, sab thik ho jayega.” And that’s the difference between perhaps a Colombo and a Karachi. Colombo today is confident that tomorrow is a better day, Karchi today hopes that tomorrow is a better day. Karachi is also so close to India perhaps because it has the highest percentage of population born out of immigrant parents and I see the same longing in their eyes as I have seen in an old lady’s eyes in Delhi when she speaks about her house she left back in Peshawar.

On the flight back in an article, I read a poem by Rais Amrohvi – O! Hind Jane Wale Mera Salaam Le Ja.

‘Jab se bichhad gaye hain us khuld-e-rangabu se

Mehroom ho gaye hain, dil shauk-o-aarzu se

Baaz aayenge musafir kya zauk-e-justaju se

Ab tak wahi hai rishte, Dilli se Lucknow se

Ajdaad ke watan tak itna payam le ja

O! Hind jane wale mera salaam le ja.’

It’s a city however where as a SNDU employee you feel nice. The ghosla company is not stronger; we play on an equal footing. But then, those are boring talks. But if I were not in SNDU, perhaps I would never have visited the city.

The landscape of Karachi is defined by Teen Talwar, and perhaps this symbolizes the dreams of a nation that was born a day before us. Unity, faith and discipline – the 3 principles on which the Nation once hoped to build itself. Having been to the city at its most brilliant weather conditions, I found the sea faces pretty clean and the main roads broad enough but public transport is near zero making life troublesome for the common man.

Of course there were two differences from Mumbai. The air was cooler and the food, it was mind numbing. The Kebabs, the pranthas, the naans, the raan, it was a feast beyond imagination. In all the restaurants I went, finding a vegetarian item was a task that would leave Sherlock Holmes panting. And their rolls – if ever Calcutta can face competition, it will be from Karachi.

The issues between 2 countries ensured that my cell was not working and it felt so liberating. And I decided to go shopping. That was disappointing though. There’s nothing I could see which seemed unique. Of course, if you are looking for good quality and reasonable textiles and leather goods, then Karachi offers some good deals. Also the carpets and their intricacies have the capability to blow your mind away.

As for me, I can afford only some nice original Audio CDs from every country I visit.

It was an important trip of my life, one that made me feel complete in my job. One that told me I now truly knew the sub continent I call home and there is hope one day of peace uniting us all.

But Jis Lahore Nahin Dekhya… reminds me that I have to come back.

January 06, 2011

The Next Generation

enerations change. And a friend had once written a story which began with the line – heredity skips generations. I believe in both. Actually today in my family, I see four generations standing side by side, with one more decade about to begin.

Slowly they are arriving, the next generation of the Banerjees and the Bhattacharyas. Tiny but feisty, all of them are claimed to be more intelligent than our generation. Their grandparents are convinced about the authenticity of this fact. Well, that’s brilliant. As far as I am concerned I am pleased to be the uncle who will help them elope when they are old enough to elope or let them stay in Mumbai when they run off from home to become a Bollywood star. So clearly you see I don’t have any speck of intelligence that I can be proud of.

The next generation will be a strange one. They will be the ones who will grow up with friends, rather than cousins, they will have their own strange accents, they will probably make a big fuss about visiting India when their parents discuss about it. The huge collections of books in Bengali that we have hoarded with every penny that we got from our elders today wear a deserted look. Didi and I splurged on books rather than on clothes or anything else and what a collection we built. But there were always so many more books to buy. Our parents wait for the next one in the family to devour them. And they know how impossible that might be. By that time, they might get bored with me as well. As I have been growing up, the cynic in me buys up more Dilbert than is healthy for the mind.

But I think they will manage. They are the children of the new millennium, smarter and often more connected to roots than we have been as for them roots will not be a city like Calcutta but it will be the whole country and Oh what an incredible country that is. And I know their parents; of course I do!!! And I am sure, they’ll be as paranoid, yet lovable as ours have been.

Of course there might be others being born closer to them, geographically and probably they will hit it off as we did when we were younger. 2011 I think has 12 months like every other year. So possibility of adding to their cousin group seems logically feasible.

January 02, 2011

Guardian Angels

The concept of guardian angels is not new to human imagination. We believe they watch over us, holding us as we fall, never judging us if we forget them in our momentary ecstasies. As the decade passed on to the next, I needed them to look after me.

A friend was leaving Mumbai on the last day of the year, 2010 was a mad race, 2011 looked confusing to say the very least, the future had never looked so complicated with a promise of getting worse with every passing year. The life that we lived seemed to follow a strange pattern; the enlightened ones called it Maya. It took the form of a cycle - of joy and sadness, of hope and despair. And we were entangled. It made us look up from the abyss with a renewed hope and made us forget what life can become when we rode the waves.

Maya, the enchantress seemed to rule everyone’s lives. She made us fall in love, often more so as an answer to our inner loneliness than for love itself; she made us forgo our inner radiance for the neon lights in the maximum city; she told us tomorrow would be a better day and we believed her because Pandora’s folly had left us with just hope.

It’s unbelievable how every aorta of Indian spirituality lets man find the meaning for himself, if he so chooses. I love the fact that Hinduism allows me to believe I am God Himself – “aham brahmāsmi”. While people take refuge in the concept of karma and therefore extend it to fate, believing in the inner God in us makes us feel stronger. But sometimes, the strength begins to flicker - the moment before the final assault in Rohan, when Strider looks to the east and remembers Gandalf’s words – imagine his mind which wonders whether deliverance will arrive as the sun rises.

And since the morning of the 31st, they called, the gtalked, they texted, they let me know that they were there watching over me - from Bangalore while buying mutton for a nice afternoon lunch, from Coimbatore while watching the stars, from Canada while negotiating the first ever time zone difference between us on a new year, from the US while wondering why is it so cold, from Calcutta after waking up from a night of frenzied partying. So on the quietest New Year’s Eve in my life, I felt safe and comforted as I held my cup of hot chocolate in my hand as calls came from Delhi.

That’s the beauty of the angels. They come in when you need them the most.

As I write, I feel the temperature rising in my body as Mumbai snuggles up to one more cosy night. It’s one of those nights when I can’t make myself read what I have just typed out, but it doesn’t matter…

…For my angels watch over me.