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September 9, 2012

The Very First Touch


The first touch


Anxious is the word I would use to describe my mental state when I set forth to meet a person who has carved for herself, a warm place in my heart, who is always present when I need her.

To me, she was a complete stranger. Our acquaintance was limited to a single phone call, the previous night when she told me that we had to meet. She was an absolute unknown. Yet, that solitary phone call had the element of persuasion. Her confident stand was coercive; there was a masked eagerness in her paced tone, which compelled me to agree.

The rendezvous – her workplace, the decided hour – eleven. I was determined not to keep her in wait, it would reflect poorly on me. I couldn’t afford to be late, not the very first time. So I hustled and bustled, made six frantic attempts to kick-start my much-slower-than-a-bullet Enfield (popularly known by all as ‘Bullet’), and felt quite relieved on hearing its familiar thump, as it came alive.

The sweltering October heat was all set to dissuade me, was going great guns in ruining my day. It seemed as if the scorching sun truly wished that I should present myself as a perspiring youth, thoroughly embarrassed with his disheveled appearance.

But, that was not about to happen. I would never allow that (Nobody in his right mind would). Upon reaching my destination, I wiped off my face, the blackening agents it had generously collected on the way, smoothed my slightly creased shirt, ran ten fingers through my tousled hair and was feeling overall pretty much upbeat about what was to follow.

Right beside the door, seemingly annoyed over the delay, tapping her heels in impatience was a petite, pleasant girl, armed with a sugary smile. From the corner of her eye, she beckoned me to follow her. Inside.

As she closed the door, her annoyance vanished, in thin air. Quite understanding of her, I should say. I was feeling somewhat awkward, not knowing what to speak lest I say something, which would put my discomfort on display. Before I could utter a single syllable, her bewitching gaze took control of the situation. A soft, soothing look paralyzed my fears. She urged me to relax in a plush, reclining chair. As I obliged, she rested herself beside me. At pretty close quarters, I dare say. Flawless complexion, satin skin accentuated by mahogany lip shade. Large forehead, depicting loyalty. Shapely nose, hinting at grace. Such elegant features speak a lot about a person.

She gave me an impish grin and drew her chiseled face closer to mine, for a reason, for a purpose I could foresee. And then, her delicate fingers brushed against my cheeks, sending shivers down my spine.

This was the very first time wherein I had been touched, in such a manner, by a girl. My natural impulse made me slide back a bit, to reduce the unhealthy proximity, to gather my senses. But, when her gesture was repeated, it had a kind of innate innocence, which reassured me, which killed my defense. When my eyes met hers, two divine pools, those pearl-shaped eyes, a rare blend of deep blue and a charming white, I could sense a serenity. A serenity, which was inviting. Gently, she placed her palm on my forehead and whispered, ‘ Close your eyes. You’ll feel better.’

I could see it coming. Without giving it a second thought, I surrendered myself.

I had to. She was my dentist !!

August 14, 2012

Movie Review: Gangs of Wasseypur - 2


Dang. Three minutes into the movie and you are dodging bullets already. If you don’t like guns, explosions and blood-spatter, this is not for you; please stay at home and wait for the release of ‘Barfi’

Thumb rule: If thou art a sequel, thou shalt be compared, no holds barred. This is the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. Deal with it.

GOW 2 does away with creating backdrops for who-we-are, where-we-are and what-we-do. Throwing the background out with the bath-water, it gets straight down to business right away. Son avenges father’s assassination, rival gang counter-strikes, brother’s killing is avenged and all hell breaks loose. The law is surrendered to the goats, and every other wasseypur chap metamorphoses into Mei-bhi-Don [keeping in sentiment with the movie’s obsession with Bollywood fare]

The movie is intense, make no mistake about it. One has to be observant, as there are many characters involved, although a tad lesser than the prequel. The pace shifts to low-gear at times, as the focus changes from story-telling to character-definition, so bear with it.

Abuses are hurled across rooms and gullies, as if they were second nature. Girlies, you may not appreciate the crassness, so be sure you want to walk your pretty heels into this gore-fest.

I liked the scenes where the music band belts out filmi songs, both sad and not-so-sad, at opportune moments.  Humour, under various guises, is interlaced with the otherwise-gritty tone of the film, to even out the odds of enduring a 160-minute murder-death-kill saga [BTW, I hijacked this ‘murder-death-kill’ from an old Stallone flick, just couldn’t resist it]

The storyline has its fair share of twists, including some involving the character called ‘Definite’, Sardar Khan’s step-son.

Ramadhir Singh is shown to be mellowed down, compared to his act in the prequel. His death being the ultimate motive of Faizal Khan, the protagonist; his image has not been crafted as well as GOW 1, which makes him appear to be a pushover, and not a worthy adversary. But then, he has been around for like, forever. Maybe age got to him before the bullets would. Farhan, guardian of the Khan family, is a mute spectator, at most times. Maybe because he is no position to advise Faizal, given the unpleasant history between them. Mohsina, w/o Faizal Khan, is a breath of fresh air. Sporting Ray-Bans’, she carries of the rural ‘gangsta wife’ role with aplomb. With a homely-haughty mix, she is one to watch out for. Shama, w/o Danish Khan, is sweet [does a short jig in a family get-together, watch out for it]

The overall casting is commendable, with the selection of ‘Definite’ being spot on. The hairstyle, leather jacket, the infamous 100c RX100 bike, all come together to provide a ‘definite’ appeal. Some dialogues are noteworthy but alas, are nowhere in the league of the prequel. Lines like ‘Jaan hain – ya toh allah legi, ya muhallah legi’ are lost in the muffled, ganja-indulgent voice of Faizal.

The 10-minute drama, when Faizal Khan’s house is under attack, could have been handled better, especially Faizal’s response.

The storyline should have been more tightly wound, 30 minutes could easily have been cropped. Bits and pieces, like the thieving kid ‘perpendicular’ and his antics have little to do, with carrying the story further. Also, the scooter-chases-bike episode was stretched too much and got kinda boring. The part where Faizal’s wife croons a motivating melody into his ears, for the second time, actually made me wince.

Director Anurag Kashyap has packaged this high-drama with so many characters, sequences, events, etc., that I had to resist my urge to give a shout-out, ‘Saale, ab kya sab kuch aaj hee bolega?’

I am not attempting to slam the movie, it has its good bits, but hey, truth be told. Faizal/Fazlu  is no Sardar Khan [Manoj Bajpai], he simply lacks the street cred. But keep aside the obvious comparo, and Faizal carries it off [I would rather have K.K.Menon play out this role, but then the casting director failed to consult me]

All-in-all, if you liked GOW 1, go for this one as well in-tow. You’ll miss Sardar Khan, but it will do you well to know how the entire revenge-fest turned out. Heck, the entire lot viz. the Khans, might as well be called the desi ‘avengers’.

Knowing the type of filmi buffs we are, just don’t go expecting the moon and you should be okay.

Popular reviewers in India have gone totally ape over this movie, with rave reviews all over. But hey, I tell my own story. You choose who you want to go with.


July 13, 2012

Mob strips girl in Guwahati: July 2012





Appalled
 is the word I would use to describe my initial reaction.Shocked and disgusted I am, to see young indians degrade themselves to a level where they have lost cognizance of all sense of morality and fear. 

Why did this happen?
Why did the onlookers not gather and stop this heinous incident?
Was it shock-and-awe which freezed them or were they 'enjoying' the scene which went on for a full 30 minutes?
Never again shall a girl in Guwahati feel safe to venture out. And, I ask, what is the guarantee that such an incident will not happen in other cities?
This is a literal strip-down of the moral fabric of society, laying bare the scared and helpless indian woman. Authorities, police, law, punishment will follow.

Is this the India we will allow to turn into?
Even if one person had tried to stop this, I am sure that other like-minded people would have stepped in, to save the day. But the question is, who is that person?
And why did he not take the first step? Is being at the receiving end of a couple of punches not better than watching a girl being stripped right in front of your eyes?
Onlookers, will you bastards be able to sleep peacefully, knowing that you could have prevented this? We don't need heroes, all we require is people with a conscience which is alive and kicking.
But, the slap-in-your-face questions are:
Is this what free men have come to?
Is this the way women will continue to suffer?
Is this the India we know?

Video available on http://indiatoday.intoday.in/video/teenager-molested-outside-bar-in-assam/1/207903.html



Share this, if you feel that this will be an eye-opener for even one person with a conscience, who will take the right step forward, to prevent a repeat of this incident.

Movie Review: Gangs of Wasseypur - 1

The opening sequence begins with gunshots and desi 'aakramann-todphod' mode.
The next fifteen minutes leaves you wondering what the hell is happening as the movie unfolds at a slow pace, making you rethink if it was worth the visit to the theatre.
But then, as the character of Sardar Khan viz. Manoj Bajpai takes shape, the premise starts to look promising. And the storyline continues belting out the choicest of abuses to all and sundry, befitting the raw, rural backdrop of a fearful populace frozen in time, long-forgotten by politicos and the nation, interested solely in milking the place dry of its natural resources. The underlying revenge-theme is subtle and played-down at places, to give reel-time and space for the dozen-odd characters to be defined.

Well, the editing could have been sharper, 20 minutes could have been shaved off. But hey, I am no film-maker. For 35 dirhams worth, this is as good as it gets, if you are interested in off-beat cinema. Sardar Khan has plenty of good dialogues and comebacks, both hard-hitting and witty, which will make you come back, for the second installment of this raw-fest.

Piece of advice, do NOT stray into the cinema hall with parents, sisters, in-laws, etc. But if you are my friend, you are already smart enough to know that.

Enjoy the movie.

ets, if you are interested in off-beat cinema. Sardar Khan has plenty of good dialogues and comebacks, both hard-hitting and witty, which will make you come back, for the second installment of this raw-fest.

Piece of advice, do NOT stray into the cinema hall with parents, sisters, in-laws, etc. But if you are my friend, you are already smart enough to know that.

Enjoy the movie.

June 23, 2012

Change



Another day, Another Lesson. About oneself, about the ever-changing environment we live in.
‘Sweeping generalizations may not be the order of the day, one size does not fit all.’ How true. I grapple with this thought, push it against the ropes and move in for the coup de grace.
Subdued. Now as that deliberation has been moved out of the way, I think it is safe to assume that people, all people, are complex in nature. Degrees may vary (yes, they do), but complex, they are.

The knee-jerk-question, why?, raises its curved head, oh-so-expectedly. Tell me, answer me, it prods.

People, are complex. Because they are constantly evolving, leaping from one state of awareness to another, quantum relays, from the concrete reality to a surreal subconscious, from truth to trance; with every fleeting moment, re-inventing themselves and their understanding of this warped world in the process.
Knowingly, unknowingly, doesn’t matter.
Absorbing, imbibing, bit by bit, refurbishing their Mona Lisa with every additional brush-stroke.

Change, by its own accord, can choose to be very demanding. With the passage of time, I have learnt that Change can be quite a formidable opponent. To stand upright in the face of its demands, to take a stance with swords drawn, criss-cross afore the eyes, raw blades gleaming in the high noon, jagged rays bouncing back and forth, requires an unflinching gaze, which says, ‘Bring it on’.

June 11, 2011

Rain !



Darkness. Spread all over was a blanket of darkness as I drove my jeep home. Tired, my eyes followed two weary beams of light on a country road, with a dense cover of trees on either side. I was kept awake only by the rumble of the 200 hp workhorse under the hood. Then, a distinct sound made its way into my ears. The roar of the vehicle made it difficult to ascertain the source, but a few drops on the windshield drove the message straight home. Rain !

In the next couple of moments, it was pouring heavily. Visibility dropped, to less than 10 feet ahead. The focus was my only hope. (She had bought a focus lamp and mounted it on the bull bar of the jeep, as a gift for me. Though I was hopping mad over the $ 200 bill, all she had to say was, ‘If you can see clearly, you can think clearly.’ Any other argument was followed by ‘Over eight years, I have loved only one person and I intend to continue the same practice.’ Fight over)

Good old girl. Now, in a night darker than the Devil’s heart, her concern was put to good use. As I continued the bumpy ride to the farm, my thoughts drifted towards my homely wife who was waiting for me to evaluate her newly acquired culinary skills. I could almost see her pretty face glowing with pride, at the feast she set up. ‘Twas a six course meal fit for a king. And me? The lowly, wretched mortal that I am, was running late. All thanks to the stupid weatherman.

The rain was pelting, the clouds were angry. So was I. They had no business scaring the wits out of my sweet girl. As I was cursing the Weather Gods, the next instant, a forked bolt of lightning leapt out of the darkness, pierced the gloomy sky and achieved its intended target. An electric pole. Sparks followed as the pole paid its respects to mother Earth. Now that, meant a power failure at our farm. And that, meant trouble. I was well aware that she was scared of lightning and the blackout compounded the situation. That was it. The final straw.

I took a shortcut, and zipped through a service road which led to the farm. Tyres skidded on gravel, as I drove desperately to get home at the earliest. As I approached the farm, I could make out a silhouette by the pole. As I drew closer, I saw an unmistakably familiar female form, thoroughly drenched in the downpour.

Gosh!! It was her. I rubbed my eyes in disbelief.  I subdued the jeep, jumped out and started yelling, ‘What, on earth, possessed you to do this? For what god-forsaken reason are you standing outside, in the rain?

A meek reply followed, ‘I was worried. For you.’

January 25, 2011

INCREDIBL(y) hungry INDIA ?

(This piece was emailed by me earlier to The Editor - The Times of India. Looks like his paper doesn't have space left over, after printing about the iconic stature of Shahrukh Khan. The Ed didn't even reply. Looks like he too, like everyone else, is too busy) 

Having read the article, Hunger March-by Jug Suraiya (which can be read at http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/jugglebandhi/entry/hunger-march); I wanted to express in words, the deluge of thoughts which came rushing into my mind and prodded me to get up and make a sincere attempt to share my feelings with as many people as I could, of this criminal waste of food, food which could have and still can feed millions of hungry mouths.

If Mr. Manmohan Singh, our beloved PM, has said that ‘giving away foodgrains for free would disincentivise farmers’, or if he has any sad excuse which he poses as a justifiable reason for robbing the hungry, of a morsel of food, he is most positively and completely out of his frickin’ mind !! (pardon the language, the blood boils, you see. Can't be blamed for it)

I ask you, when it comes to the oh-so-important poverty line, do hunger pangs lessen in degree if one happens to be slightly above it? For heaven’s sake, these are citizens of a free and democratic republic. Let them feel that they are. Fundamental Rights, Human Rights or whatever name fancies you, apply to them as well. They are as Indian as you and I. And if the PM has happened to miss one minor insignificant detail, let him not forget, they are human too. 

Can anyone tell me, of what use are in-your-face GDP figures, defense expenditure in crores, healthcare reforms and what-not if half of the country’s children are running on empty (stomachs)? How come the powers-that-be are turning a blind eye to the gross negligence of the government and the Food Control Authorities (FCI) ? What pressing matters were they attending to while precious food was rotting away to kingdom come?

For crying out loud, the people responsible are criminals, as what is happening is evidently a crime against Humanity. A heinous crime, and nothing less.

I may not have precise data, statistics, facts and figures with me (even if I did, it wouldn't matter). But what I do have is a conscience. Which the authorities apparently don't seem to have. And this throbbing conscience is what drove me to pen the words above. I request your good self to print the thoughts above, in whole or in part, so that a larger number of Indians can read the same, which would probably fuel their thoughts on this issue-at-large. And there is always the minute possibility that one of the mightier-than-thou authorities may, perchance, read it and get the food distribution ball rolling, right out onto the streets where poor, hungry Indians are waiting .. standing by..with a diminishing hope that someone would reach out .. and help. 

Remember .. hunger hurts ..like nothing else.
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