Sunday, December 16, 2012

The Empty Glass

Chapter 1
Shocked, suffocated and horrified, I woke up, breathing heavily and sweating feverishly. It was the middle of a dark, moon-less night and dry air moved the curtains of the window. I reached for the glass of water, removed the coaster that was covering it, and gulped the water down in one go. It was slowly turning to be a daily routine now.
I placed the glass back on the side table and covered it back. The bottom of the transparent, empty glass pulled every drop of water from the walls of the glass, towards itself. And the glass base again had water, enough to add more sparkle.
Chapter 2
I looked around the room, my eyes adjusting to the darkness and body adjusting to the restlessness. The whiteness of the sheets reflecting, even in the darkness informed me that everyone else was sleeping in that room. Sleeping peacefully, all seventeen of them.
All of them, a part of my family, friends and the life I have. Brought together by pure chance and probably a common luck. We all, shared a common present and were probably headed towards a near-common future. A future which has little significance, aspiration or expectation. Same for me, and same for all my fellow members of this 'Happy World- An Orphanage'
Chapter 3
Happy World has been my universe since I am aware of my existence. No one is sure about my origin as with most of my companions here. We are each others family. The orphanage management gives us name on our 'induction' day. I was named Sahil, which the authorities inform is because I was found sitting calmly in a corner of a war-torn, riot-ridden street, just like a sea-side stays calm even when there's a fierce storm surging in the sea. It absorbs all the impact of the waves, and the sides are where the sea meets peace. I don't know how I reached the street? Was I abandoned to die? Where were my parents? Where are my parents?
The questions bother me. Answers elude me. And the continued quest for my identity exhausts me, leaves me thirsty.
Chapter 4
The streets were filled with noise and shouts which the tone described to be of rage, anger and destruction. The area was divided in orange scarfs and green-bands. Swords and 'Trishuls' were at logger-heads. People were fighting in the name of God. A blood-fest was going on.
A century-old tree, which was all green till yesterday was now on fire, wilting leaves. The shady, green tree, an epitome of life, was no more than a burning carcass now.
A weak and visibly tired man was tearing down the streets, running breathlessly, clinging to him, close in the warmth of his chest was a small baby boy, his son. The man covered the three year-old boy with his arms running through the blood and gore, even after being stabbed by a sword, three times on the back.
The torn, blood-soaked clothes drained out the energy from him, but the legs were not yet ready to give up. Till a heavy stone lands on the head of the tired man, breaking his head and his speed. More blood flows, bringing him to the ground and limiting him to a crawl.
The heavily-wounded man draws himself to a silent corner of the street and holds the boy close to him, one last time. And slowly, he loses his grip, and his life.
The boy sitting in the corner, wrapped in white, unaffected by the violent street. Tumultuous events drowned the innocent cries.
I again woke up with this nightmare. And these sights became a usual case now. I don't know why. What's so familiar? Who was that man? Why was I being traumatized by these, again and again? Why, and how could I relate to it? Who was that boy?
Chapter 5
The thing with questions is that they may pile up in the form of dunes, forming a desert around you. And answers are rare, just like an oasis. You may get lost in a desert, craving for water, the thirst pulling out all the spirits to survive. But still you have to go on, that's the only chance of survival, howsoever bleak.
The thirst for identity is never-ending. The hollowness of life, when you don't know anything about your origin, when life gives you no meaning, when you shout in the dark and hear no response, when you crave for your people and get no raised hand, is incomparable, insatiable.
I have lived a long life with this feeling but then I made a pledge to myself- Not any more.
Instead of taking the usual, easy way out, that is suicide, I thought of reinventing my life. My loss of identity can be my strength also. I can turn it into my side to discover a whole new meaning to life and survival. And it wasn't a tough task.
I just lost myself in the sea of humanity, true humanity. Since being with no roots, my plant can take any direction, any shape and can grow on till the sky forms a limit. I can now identify myself with anyone living through this wonderful journey called life. Bound by no religion, belief, race or region, I can go on to see life beyond people who are unaffected by any kind of thirst. I can feel the pain of loss and joys of happiness, more dearly and more closely. I learnt to live my life, instead of just surviving through it.
I no longer have any sight disrupting my sleep, but still do keep a glass full of water by my side. It makes me happy to see it full, as it was the night before.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Lovebug For A Housefly

Will you ever shed tears for a creature as minion as a housefly? Probably not, unless of course if you are not one of those skimpily-dressed PETA activists. But recently, I cried watching the antics of a housefly. Yes, the previous statement is real, but the context belongs to a piece of fiction. I am talking about Eega (dubbed in Hindi as "Makkhi"), a movie belonging to the South Indian movie industry, Telugu cinema to be precise.

Though not very much a fan of Tollywood (as South Indian movie industry is casually referred to), I got interested in Eega after reading constant reports and reviews, most of them positive. There has been a huge buzz for Makkhi (Pun intended) and curiosity got the better of me. A week back I saw S.S Rajamouli, Eega's writer and director, nominated for the Indian of the Year 2012 award, for his contribution in the field of entertainment through this movie. That propelled my interest in this science-fiction flick which has a housefly as the protagonist. Initially I thought it to be a dead-plot, stupid in fact. But post watching the movie, I feel how stupid was I. I should stop judging the book by it's cover.

The basic plot of the movie felt interesting when I first heard about it a year ago. But to imagine a full-length movie being made on this concept seemed to be either an act of incredible confidence or incredible foolishness. I discovered the former to be true after watching the Hindi dubbed version of the movie. I enjoyed it thoroughly and loved the performance of all the actors. The movie stars Telugu film industry actors, Nani, Samantha and Sudeep in the lead roles. I haven't seem them earlier but they all suited their roles perfectly. Nani's character has a limited screen time, but he brings in chirpiness to the movie playing Samantha's love-interest. Sudeep is a multi-millionaire and plays the negative character in the flick.
Eega is an emotional love story replete with Computer Generated Imagery. It is a usual revenge drama with an unusual angle. An insect taking revenge from a human.

The high level of VFX shots involved in the production is the reason attributed to the delays this movie faced in reaching the theaters. Rajamouli is a director well-known for his masala movies. With the current South Indian fascination of the Hindi film industry, many of his films are being remade in Hindi and all of them are getting great response. Rowdy Rathore and Son of Sardaar are some examples. Rajamouli knows his audience and has packaged the contents with all the features typical to the genre and region. But still, the story gets to you like a wonderfully illustrated comic-book. The version of the movie that I saw had some dubbing-gaps, where the Hindi dialogues were missing and the original Telugu audio came to the fore, yet I never lost interest. I was continually involved with every frame to the end-credits, irrespective of the language barrier.

I don't know how much I must have been missing with all the preconceived notions or due to my knowledge insufficiency regarding other languages.

With Eega, Rajamouli has captured the imagination of millions across the globe, when all the time he was focusing on his home industry. That's one of the signs of a great work.

Do watch Eega/Makkhi - your hate for the irritating little monsters may well buzz off.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Review: Jab Tak Hai Jaan (3.5/5)

Directed By: Yash Chopra
Starring: Shah Rukh Khan, Katrina Kaif, Anushka Sharma, Anupam Kher
Rating: 3.5/5

Yash Chopra always had a knack to define and redefine relationships, especially those of love. And his love stories have been winning hearts across generations, cultures and continents. When Yash Chopra recently left for his heavenly abode there was a wave of sadness and the wait for his last directorial venture got more uncontrollable. And finally Jab Tak Hai Jaan released on Diwali 2012 with a grand premiere, just the way Mr. Yash Chopra wanted.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan (JTHJ) is a love story, which tells the complexities associated with relationships in the contemporary world of the 21st century. JTHJ is Yash Chopra's take on love in today’s time, and how it is perceived and practiced today. It is a commentary which tells about the grandness of love, the timelessness and the ever-powerful state of commitment and attachment which comes with the feeling of ‘ishq’ and how misinterpreted it has become today.

Jab Tak Hai Jaan is the story of Samar (Shahrukh Khan) who is “The man who cannot die”. The reason comes with a logic which you will understand when you watch the movie. He goes on diffusing bombs and catches attention of Akhira who is an intern with Discovery Channel. She gets her hands on the diary of Samar and discovers the story of his past. The flashback story goes to Samar in London who does odd-jobs like sweeping, shop-keeping, and singing songs in public to earn some money and survive in the big city. He meets the big city-rich girl Meera (Katrina Kaif) as he sings ‘Challa’ all around the city and they keep bumping into each other. Katrina gets engaged to an English guy and gets upset over it. There starts the friendship of Samar and Meera where give each other lessons in music and English respectively. The friendship slowly turns into love until Samar meets with an accident. Meera, being a religious lady, promises to God to forsake their relation in lieu of keeping Samar alive. Samar gets back to life. And Meera goes out. Samar feels cheated and shifts back to India joining the Indian Army. The story attracts Akhira and she plans to document the life of this man and she sees it as a successful break. During the process, she falls in love with the Army guy and then the story starts to get complex. A typical love triangle woven across two nations and generations is then explored with different degrees of love they are intertwined with. Meera returns into the life of Samar and the movie starts to reach its climax. And then it stretches.

Ever since the poster and promos of the movie came out, they all had “A Yash Chopra Romance” displayed prominently all over them. And it was much before the unfortunate demise of the legendary director. Then the movie boasted of 3 masters – Yash Chopra, Gulzar and A.R. Rahman – working to create a masterpiece. And then there was the King of Romance at the centre of these affairs. One was bound to get goose-bumps with this combo and the excitement level was hitting the roof. And that’s the problem with hype. Gulzar feels out-of-form in the lyrics and Rahman out of steam. Though some tracks like Challa, Heer and the title track along with the background score are good to ear. The pressure to succeed often gets on as a burden and that reflects on the end product. But the cinematography of this movie is superbly done. It still suits the popular belief that Yash Chopra's movies are meant to be experienced on the big screen. A big hand to Anil Mehta for all the great work with the camera.

During the production of the movie, Yash Chopra was quoted as saying that he wants to make a movie in the language of the youth, which the people of today’s time can relate to and understand. Little did we know that it meant we will end up seeing SRK locking lips and sharing bed-scenes with Katrina with such open references being made to sex and English abuses being incorporated freely. Call me a regressive soul or conservative mind, but it was too hard to digest. Not because of the scenes but particularly because of the people associated with it. Yash Chopra. Shahrukh Khan. Love-making scenes. This is a difficult equation to imagine. Or, it was.
We believed all the romances which started with a hug and ended with a peck on the cheeks. Sweet and adorable it was. But anyway it was Yash Chopra’s way of connecting with the youth which disconnected me. I can still watch a Veer-Zaara hundred times. Emraan Hashmi I rarely do.
The movie also explores some of the trademark concepts of Yash Chopra movies like the superiority of love above all other beliefs and complete-dedication to a relationship even when the wait extends to years of isolation and loneliness. In fact, so closely it follows the usually treaded path that for some moments it feels like a rehashed version of Veer-Zaara served in a modern avatar.

On the basis of performances Shahrukh Khan has essayed the role perfectly handling both the generations with ease. The young, chirpy avatar clearly reminding of Kal Ho Naa Ho’s role and the tough, mean look reminiscent of Chak De! India. Katrina does justice to her part and suits the role of a London girl which might have been the reason she was chosen for the part. Anushka Sharma is as usual playing a bubbly happy-go-lucky girl and is fits into the flick like a charm. Anupam Kher has a brief role which I suspect might have been shortened out from a longer performance in the final release. Rishi Kapoor and Neetu Kapoor too play a pivotal part and are instrumental in bringing about a new twist to the story.All the roles are evenly distributed and exceptionally performed.

The movie which has a run-time of around 3-hours seems a bit sluggish for the story. The first half has the majority of the songs and the second half is rather intense. All in all it is a good movie, watchable, a simple plot in a twisted story line and above all a welcome breeze among the trend of South-Indian action remakes. Watch it for the Kings of Romance’s last collaboration, and their finesse in doing so.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Saleskids of The Year

A couple is standing near a counter debating what to buy. Husband wishes for a camera, while the wife is adamant on getting a laptop. The verbal duel goes on till the wife threatens to cancel his Thailand trip, and subsequently the husband gives in to his wife’s demand and orders a laptop.
Seems to be a usual household banter, but it is anything but usual. The couple shown are kids who belong the transitional phase between childhood and teenage. The lady takes up mock anger with perfection and the man sports a fake moustache. The counter is of, one of India’s largest online consumer goods store.

Welcome to a world that has gone smaller to appeal to a larger number of people. From the Flipkart advertisements which regularly features small kids acting as adults (which is very sweet to watch) to the Oreo advertisements, Allahabad Bank, McDonalds and to the latest commercial spot for ICICI Bank, everyone seems to be looking up the small kids. This trend of using little wonders to sell big numbers isn’t new. In fact, it has been present since the advent of advertising itself. Some little brand ambassadors who became synonymous with the brand are the Murphy Baby (from the Murphy Radio advertisement), the Dhara boy who leaves home in sadness and comes back with the offer of “Jalebi!” and the Parle-G girl who has been our companion during most of the tea-and-snack hours.
By presenting children in advertisements the brands usually want to establish a quick connection with the audience. And they are very much successful in this attempt of theirs. I have seen people flipping through channels to skip advertisement, but they pause to watch if the screen gets filled with the innocence of some kids. And personally I act similarly too.

Following is a list of recent advertisements which I enjoy watching and going by the YouTube numbers, I am sure so do many others. Check them out.

ICICI Bank Rewards Program

This is a sweet 1 minute 20 seconds tale of a little girl, who starts running as soon the school gets over, crosses a small river bridge, jumps through a broken wall and moves at a brisk pace until she sees a solitary building standing on a hill. It is a shop, from which she buys herself a toffee after much deliberation over which one to buy. She returns again the other day with a younger boy who tags along on the magical journey which will reward him with a candy. On reaching the candy shop, the girl discovers that her pocket is torn and she has lost her money. Unable to get the candies, she and the little boy get visibly upset and start to leave the shop when the shopkeeper calls and gives them both a candy, with a smile. And all this while a beautiful Kashmiri poem, “Hukus bukus telli wann che kus” rings in the background in a cute voice, apparently of a girl. The poem, which translates to ‘Who are you and who am I, and tell us who is the creator that permeates through both you and I’, was penned by Lal Ded, one of the greatest poet-saint of 14th century Kashmir. The advertisement sweetly informs about the bank’s rewards program with “Accha lagta hai, jab mile kuchh unexpected” (It feels good when you get awarded something unexpected) and the cute kids drive home the message with ease.


McDonalds has always been very popular with the kids and grown-ups alike. With the onset of inflation and subsequently declining number of people opting to eat-out, McDonalds brought out its Happy Price Menu. Happy Price Menus are either deals on meals or discounted meals in ‘Happy Hours’. And both the steps have been successful in keeping the restaurants crowded and demands sustained. To promote the friendly prices, McD has been regularly releasing advertisements with kids in focus. One of the advertisements which came some months back featured a little girl sitting with a boy his same age. She asks him if she is they are girlfriend-boyfriend? The boy replies in negative and reasons that girlfriends are too demanding. The girl replies that she only wants McAloo Tikki. The boy ponders for a moment, checks his pocket, then smiles and says ‘Okay then’. The next shot shows the ‘couple’ sitting cosily and the girl plants a kiss on the boy’s cheek and then the McD rhetoric “I’m lovin’ it” follows.
Another of the advertisement came around Dushhera, which shows a small boy sitting in the costume of the mythological character Raavan and laughing heartily, very loudly as he scoops through twelve desserts one by one. He is sitting with his father in a McDonalds and the happiness is both expressed through the boy and his father. McDonalds has experimented in advertisements with other adults but needless to say they have failed to make this much of an impact.


Open Karo. Lick Karo. And Dunk karo. This is the lesson which the kids in Oreo’s commercials impart, which tells the best way to enjoy Oreo. There have been a series of Oreo advts. in which little kids impart the valuable teaching to relish Oreos it its full essence. There is this advt in particular where a sweet little girl dresses up as a lady in salwar-kurta et al and brings milk and Oreos for his dad who is just back from his office. She teaches him the ‘correct way’ of having the biscuits. And before the man could go for his last step, the girl snatches it away and eats it with a clever grin. The advertisement plays on the childish-naughtiness and through a playful description establishes the biscuit as a ‘kids-favourite’ product.

Now these advertisements have won me over completely. A series of them are out on air. And they all have children acting as adults. In the opening paragraph I have already spoken about one of the advertisements in the series. And for the rest I will be posting links, as they are much better to be seen than to be written about.
For me personally, Flipkart has ceased to be a chosen medium of online shopping as the products are usually costlier than competitive websites. But these advertorial spots keep me glued to this brand. I watch them on TV, find them on YouTube and these never fail to tickle my funny bone, or any other part of my anatomy for that matter. The way Flipkart has used children tells about how a child’s play it is to use and order from their website. And in most of their advertisements, there is an in-home Flipkart counter where the family members order the product of their choice. This setting further underlines the ease of ordering and getting the products delivered, all from your home. Flipkart has got all the chords right in this advertorial series.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

To The Next Journey

First steps are always unusual. Sometimes weird too. Even if you have walked a long distance, a new journey is always a new task, a new level and a new experience altogether. My experience with my previous blog,, has been of a closely-associated one. I gave 7 years of my life to that blog, gave my heart to the content and my soul to let it reach to a wider audience. I nurtured it like a baby, and we grew up together. It's a deeply emotional moment for me. It was all a pleasant journey until my last blog on The Burma Massacre, where thousands of people lost their lives and property in a large scale attack based on ethnic-issues. The blog went viral, and then it died.

Though the reason is still unclear but efforts to revive it have gone in vain..and all the connections have timed out. After ten days of speculation and contemplation, it was wise to move on. And this post is a proof that I did. And hopefully it's for the better. And hopes are also to create the same environment to put in my posts and to raise the standards of what I put in here. I still abide by my philosophy to put in whatever touches my heart, affects me in one way or the another. And if they again ban my posts, a new blog will be coming up soon. Maybe a v3.0 or something around that line.

With all the points drawn and the slate clean, it's time to etch some new, better stories, to reach out more and touch more and more hearts! Please keep up the blessings and wishes as that is the reason these words are visible on your screen. Help the blog improve by sending in your feedback and keep following the journey which has just started..

Thank You for your continued support.

P.S- This blog is still a 'work-in-progress' project, and a kind of make-shift workshop right now, which will function with nip-and-tucks until I get this new setup well-furnished to build upon. Keep checking this space for more.