Tuesday, 31 March 2009

Advice Unlimited

In India, everyone is ready to offer advice. Giving advice even when it is not required is something that comes naturally to most Indians. I was returning back from Guruvayur, Kerala on Sunday by train. Since I was travelling alone at the age of 16, one lady passenger offered me advice on how I should avoid travelling in Indian trains alone. Soon a man pitched in with his invaluable tips about how I should live my life.

Their advice was focussed more on how my parents should have accompanied me, instead of encouraging me to travel alone and live freely. I was beginning to feel very uncomfortable. I knew what they meant but I was reading a very bulky book 'Shantaram'. Prior to leaving Kerala, I had set a target for myself that I would finish it before I reached Bombay. Unfortunately, I missed the target and just started reading Part Four of the book. I intend to see myself as a crime beat journalist and they were like, engineering would be better. I asked them if they were into the creative or media field. All of them replied in the negative. Their connection with the media was reading newspapers and watching news bulletins on the television. None of them had actually seen the effort that goes into writing even a simple travel diary. I was feeling so frustrated and then I wanted to tell them writing a story is more difficult than offering advice. What made them think that they were authorities on a subject they were not directly connected with?


But given their honest intentions, I played along and gave them a patient hearing. I tried to disconnect myself from them, and wandered into Guruvayur, Kerala. I thought of my stay there and the excitement of my to-be undertaken trip to Cochin in May. It is hard to disconnect from a group of people who are highly passionate about advising you.

So there I was, being reminded of all the mistakes like refusing to accept marketing as a journalism and choosing a more depressing job as a profession (crime beat journalism), how I could have mended my almost, "non-existent" relationship with my good-for-nothing father. Honestly speaking, can a person who hasn't experienced the trauma of being a child of divorced parents, understand my decisions?


A boring Punjabi song was being played on the radio while I was reaching. I seriously wished that Punjabi songs hadn't become so popular in Bollywood these days because every other movie has a Punjabi song filled with. I prayed that the singer stopped and I got back to listening to a semi-classical or a Kavita Krishnamurthy song. I understood their genuine desire to help me feel comfortable but I was beginning to find it all boring after a while.


I have a feeling that they were on the verge of cracking a formula that guaranteed success and make me the next Aravind Adiga. How I wish I could tell them to stop. Their advice seemed so useless to me, on several counts. After all, many lessons in life are to be learnt through experience. Taking necessary action to change your life requires not just thought but even intent. Intent is derived through our experiences. I wasn't offering these people any advice on how to lead their lives and manage their careers. So, how did they get the right to do it with me? Finally, I was feeling like visiting the latrine and I managed to escape after a 180 minute counselling session.

My well-meaning advisors had to stop. I cannot express in words how relieved I was to leave the compartment and be with my thoughts instead of having someone infringing on them. In hindsight, I wanted to view my experience in a humorous manner. But unsolicited advice is not really the best way to start a friendship.

Wednesday, 25 March 2009

Reflections of an untamed mind

I am so tired, even after twenty four hours after landing in Mumbai. I was in Guruvayur, Kerala cut off completely from technology living life for a week like an ascetic. Now that I am back, I found myself in a strange position for a writer; I have nothing to write (writer's block). I finished writing my tour diary last week. I haven't started writing anything new (except a script for an RJ in All India Radio), so I have nothing else to do.


I have spent the last one year studying non-stop, complaining about not having any free time to pursue my creative interests and suddenly, it is all over. I am free and at the same time, nervousness is building within me as I think of my results. Being a victim of academic attyachaar, I pray that I don't have to study Physics and Chemistry and don't have to wake up at 6:30 a.m. to go to school. I hate it.

As it turns out, free time doesn't seem to agree with me. I need to be more occupied and need to be doing more stuff. So, I have now dedicated to get involved with some charitable work and writing. I have been doing a lot of day-dreaming like I want to take tuitions for anyone who is interested for Rs. 100. I'm tired of commuting and it is very physically demanding. You spend the entire day running, falling, climbing, hanging, fighting or in some unfortunate cases, getting involved in a physical fight.

I'll end this here with my final thoughts: I'm happy to be back here, I'm looking forward to hearing from you. Seriously, I'll try my level best to reply back. That's it then from me. Now, do they give out 'best comeback' awards for this as well?? Please do write back at akshay3019@gmail.com and let me know about what you thought of this post.

Sunday, 15 March 2009

Movie Review: Fashion

The story of Madhur Bhandarkar's 'Fashion' begins in Chandigarh when Meghna Mathur (Priyanka Chopra) decides to come to Mumbai for becoming a supermodel. She happens to the suave Abhijit Sarin (Arbaaz Khan), who gets her to the fashion industry in Mumbai. He favours her with plenty of praises and flirts with her, despite of being married to Avantika Sarin (Suchithra Pillai). He even makes her the showstopper for the gay designer Vinay Khosla (Harsh Chhaya). In a few scene, we end up meeting the psychotic Kangana Ranaut as the falling model Sonali Gujral who tells Meghna that there'll be no one to pick her up when she falls. Kangana deserves a special mention for her confidence specially while enacting the scene of the infamous Carol Gracias wardrobe malfunction.

Due to the falling nature of Sonali and the complaints, Meghna replaces Sonali as the new face of PANACHE, a company owned by Abhijit Sarin. The parallel lead role of top model Janet Stevens (Mugdha Godse) blends into the main story like a dream. It even shows the gay designer played by Sameer Soni getting married to Janet only because of parental pressure.

With each of the three actresses getting powerful writer-backed roles, each of them does their best. Competition doesn't seem to exist and Priyanka radiates tremendous power along with awesome spunk in playing the role of Meghna Mathur. Her confidence is evidently seen in the scene when Kittu Gidwani asks her in Hindi, "so, you have come here to become a model?" Meghna replies in a negative and says, "supermodel". In the later part of the movie, Priyanka says with so much attitude filled in her, "I don't need Panache, Panache needs me". The next morning, she is replaced with an upcoming model Gauri as the face of Panache.

Slowly, we see the fall-from-grace story of Meghna Mathur and she returning to Chandigarh, heartbroken. Upon returning to Mumbai a year later, she managed to get an assignment in which she walks and freezes on stage. Parallels could be drawn with the supermodel Shivani Kapoor. The most amazing part is that Madhur has really made Priyanka act and she doesn't look plastic on screen.

She emanates tremendous grace in walking like a real-life model (specially in the Mar Javaa song). Mugdha, a model in real life as well, is nothing less than the superstar of tomorrow. She too deserves to share the trophy for the Best Actress with Priyanka. It is really commendable that he managed to unite people like Karan Johar, Diandra Soares, Manish Malhotra, Rohit Bal, Konkona Sen Sharma, Ranvir Shorey and even fitness guru Leena Mogre in passing shots. All in all, a movie worth investing your money and time in, not because it is artistic cinema but because it doesn't expect you to be brain-dead.

Saturday, 14 March 2009

Movie Review: Aandhi

The Hindi word, "Aandhi" has always enamoured me. The mania for the word is the same, as it was two years ago for "Manthan". In hindsight, both the words have two distinct meanings but in a way, both are Hindi words and are films. Both the films are coming-of-age movies, although they were nearly thirty years ago.

The film "Aandhi" is a fine example of an Indian woman who is career-driven and tries to balance her professional political life and personal life. Suchithra Sen, as the political leader, Aarti Devi, does full justice to the part assigned to her. It is undoubtedly one of the best milestone performances in Hindi Cinema. Despite the heavy Bengali intonation in her voice, she manages to deliver her dialogues convincingly. Katrina Kaif certainly needs to take a few lessons from Suchithraji before playing Sonia Gandhi. Looking at the finer points of the movie, the movie draws parallels to the life of Tarakeshwari Sinha and partially, Indira Gandhi.

Sanjeev Kumar, as the torn husband, certainly illuminates the silver screen with his sheer screen presence. The most moving scene in the movie came in between in the song, "Tere Bina" in which he tells Suchithra in Hindi, "Can you see this moon? It always spreads its light with others. In the middle comes the Amavasya night. Mostly, Amavasya lasts for 15 days, but this time it was very long." A moved Suchithra asks, "The Amavasya lasted for full nine years." Coming to think of it, where would you find writers like Satyadev Dubey or films with so much meaning and simplicity in today's times?

The movie is decorated with the timeless music of the eternal music maestro R.D. Burman. He has ensured that each song is remembered even so many years later. Gulzarsaab has always been one of the best lyricists in the film industry since his 'Bandini' days and a person who can understand the finer points of poetry--as a work of art, will surely be able to appreciate the movie's timeless songs. The film can still be watched today only if you have an appetite for political cinema.

Gulzarsaab slowly draws the movie to the climax with Suchithra addressing a public rally questioning the public, "what was my fault if I happened to spend time with my husband?". Although, she isn't interested in standing for the elections, her party members force her to. The news is then transmitted through AIR informing that Aarti Devi has won the elections and has been chosen to be the Prime Minister of the country. The film ends on a dramatic note with Suchithra boarding a helicopter and leaving for Delhi. Sanjeev Kumar, as the torn husband, bids a tearful and sad adieu to his wife. It is one of the best endings I've seen in a long long time, an ending that manages to leave a lump in your throat.

Monday, 2 March 2009

That First Crush

My first crush was on Ms. Sushmita Sen in Biwi No. 1. Do you think it is disgusting and absurd? I admit it is a bit. She still remains my first crush though never mind her age. But then, I didn't see too many movies when I was a kid growing up in the 1990s. So she was the first one whom I saw. I must have been about seven, but I watched the movie with my mother, so I guess my crush wasn't really age-appropriate. I like her looks, her tall height and most importantly, her acting mainly because she doesn't look plastic on screen. I still fantasize about being her husband and fathering her daughter.

My second crush was on Smita Patil--the face of the parallel cinema movement in which I am a firm believer of. Although she isn't alive today, I guess I've carried on the liking the same kind of sari-clad girls all my life. It must have set-off some kind of weird pattern I may still be unaware of. I am known to have the most weird choices that keep alternating every second day.

I'm not really into flirting, but I am a boy. I am also not into socializing for the heck of it and nor do I understand the concept of flirting around with girls. It seems so unreal and made up. My friends have different games that they keep playing but I am quite happy being single as of now. I definitely don't have the time to deal with people who are going to mess around with me. I'm so young (sixteen to be precise) that I don't have the time to commit myself. I personally feel that it is fun to be single since you are not tied down and yes, I do feel lonely at times though, when I wish I had someone to call or share things with. Like other boys, I cannot imagine myself with a girlfriend!!

Girls bring stability in a relationship, the affection that is required and more so they keep the relationship tied otgether, One can learn so much from an ordinary Indian woman's life. I know it is extremely hard to put it down on words. I certainly believe in getting married but it is important to tie the knot with the right person who makes you feel special.

The other day, I was talking to a childhood friend from IIT-Bombay who was like, "Why can't you get yourself a girlfriend?" I decided that I am going to write down a list of all things that I am looking out for in a girl and yes, I am not going to waste time with anyone who doesn't fit into my kind of a girl list. The list has everything from "I will not leave my clothes on the floor" to her morals and stuff. The most important things on my list are that she has to be tall, broad minded, so that she understands the lifestyle, but that she has to have other interests as well beyond work.

She has to be adventurous and should be able to teach me new things and must know to respect my parents and have a strong faith in me and my family. She should be able to laugh and yet be cute. She must also be able to adapt herself as and when the situation demands in our relationship. I know it is hard to find a girl who is as tall as Sushmita but this doesn't mean that I am looking for a girl as short as Rani Mukherjee. I also do need someone who has more of me either but I don't want someone who thinks less of me because then you really never feel being taken care of....