Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Poem from the film Ardh Satya

Chakravyuh may ghusne se pehle kaun tha main aur kaisa tha
Ye mujhe yaad he na rahega

Chakravyuh may ghusne ke baad,
Mere aur Chakravyuh ke beech sirf jaan leva nikat ta thi
Iska muze pata he na chalega

Chakravyuh se nikalne k baad main mukt ho jaun bhale he
Fir bhi Chakravyuh ki rachna may fark he na padega

maru ya maaru, maara jaun ya jaan se maar du
Iska faisla kabhi na ho payega

Soya hua aadmi jab neend may se uthkar chalna shuru karta hai
Tab sapno ka sansaar dobara dikh he na payega

Us roshni may jo nirnay ki roshni hogi
sab kuch samaan hoga kya?

Ek palde may napunsakta
Ek palde may paurush
Aur thik tarazu ke kaante par,
Ardh Satya

Saturday, November 17, 2012

A morning to remember


There are some days (and nights) which we just dont forget in our lives. No matter how far we go, the memory of time cannot erase these moments. Yesterday morning was one such time in my life.

I had been planning to take two different types of photographs for a long time. One was to photograph railway tracks and the other was to take photographs of a picturesque neighbourhood near Deep Bungla chowk.

The power went off at around 4 in the morning and before long, mosquitoes started playing hide and seek around my ears. By 4:30, it was impossible for me to sleep. I woke up, pulled on a pair of black jeans and a sleeveless sweater, grabbed my phone and went out for the railway station.

The sub-urban railway station of Shivajinagar bore a quiet look as expected in the wee hours. I did a quick inspection of the railway station to identify good spots of taking pictures of railway tracks.

As it was still time for dawn to break, I went out of the railway station and had some breakfast. Soon, as it was clear that the first tinge of light would colour the sky, I made it back to the platform. I went to a Foot-over-bridge and took a few photographs.

Later, I realized that there was a flyover which overlooked the railway tracks and which, in fact, would give a much better view. So, I went to the flyover and although, it was pretty much morning by that time, I was able to take some really good pictures.

It was time to go to the beautiful neighbourhood which was fortunately close to the railway station. The moment I saw the beautiful road and the lofty trees lining the neighbourhood, I was transfixed. Soon, I was clicking pictures all around. I took pictures to my heart's content and was about to hire an auto to go back to my room when I heard some music. At first, it sounded like some loudspeaker was playing a CD.

However, it seemed a lie. The 'human voice' was so distinct that it couldn't be eschewed. I walked towards the direction of the sound and couldn't believe in my wildest dreams of what I was about to experience.

There was a classical music concert happening right in the middle of a local park at around 6:30 in the morning! There was a stage on which the singers were stationed. There were chairs in front and more than 100 people were intently listening. I felt this was just a dream. Almost the entire audience consisted of elderly couples. I took a lonely chair in a corner. I could feel the gaze of the senior citizens on me. I felt like an outcast in the crowd. Nevertheless, the music was great.

Concerts are always special. They are a sort of addiction. They make you forget the reality of the present and submerge you in an altogether different plane for a few hours. But concerts have their own timing and location. We mostly associate them with open grounds or auditoriums. Events are mostly held in evenings. The very idea of listening to Indian classical music in the morning seated in a park full of trees was too overwhelming to be true.

But here I was, living the dream. The crowd continued to swell and soon there were about 200 people in the park.



As it turned out, the concert happened to be a more fulfilling experience than the photographs. This was one of the mornings to remember.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Celebration of festivals and other addictions

So how come festivals play a huge role in out lives? Everyone from a billionaire to a beggar sets the timetable of their year around festivals. What makes people 'forget' their mundane life and delve into celebration?

The very understanding that the day after the festival is going to leave you with a few pennies less and even worse, going to remind you that you have to get back to the drabness once again is horrible.

In the longer run, I believe it is not an act of indulgence to celebrate a festival. Neither is it about being spendthrift.

Celebration of festivals is an act of bringing a smile on your loved ones faces. We celebrate festivals so that our loved ones can say that they had a wonderful time with us. They may feel that someone out there is working very hard so that we can be happy.

So, its not about religion, tradition or money. It's about love, stupid.

Saturday, November 10, 2012

A few good movies

I had the good chance of watching quite a few really good films in the last week. The first among them was Taxi to the dark side. It is a documentary and talks about the torture meted out by the US army on Afghani civilians after detaining them. It won the Academy award for Best Documentary feature film in 2007.

The movie recounts the experience of actual US army men who explained what 'techniques' they used to torture the prisoners. They would have never wanted to do this in their real lives but were forced by politicians and seniors who demanded 'information'.

This was followed by the subtle yet amazing Before Sunrise and Before Sunset. The movie in terms of plot has nothing to offer. In fact, after watching both the films, I felt as if the writer and director had read all the books in the world, juiced out their gist and presented in screenplay format.

The good part about these two films was that they showcased real, first hand experience of people in 20s and early 30s and their reflection on life. An amazing quote in the Before Sunset was, "When you are young, you feel you can connect with everyone. It is only a little later in life you realize that you connect with only a few." It was satisfying to understand that life is same all over the world (Yes, even in developed nations). Everybody is surrounded by their own set of fears and nightmares. Everybody messes up their relationships and work-life.

This doesn't mean that their is no hope. As the protagonist in Before Sunset says, the real enjoyment is in the process and not the goal.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Plugging our brains

We have this eerie habbit of plugging our brains to things, which paradoxically, paralyze it. Chief among them are:


  1. Cable TV
  2. Movies
  3. Music
  4. Internet
  5. Alcohol & Drugs

All the above have the amazing capability of making us immobile.

Ever seen people watching TV in living rooms? They just can't move. A man intently watching cable TV is no different from a man who is a quarter down. They both are far from their logical reasoning and have become merely slaves in the hands of their master.

We have this constant urge to plug ourselves to any of the above mentioned addictions. The moment we are not doing anything which is a part of daily activities, we immediately bond ourselves with them.

The reason(s) for chaining ourselves to these addictions are one too many and have been documented very well. One of them being that these things enable us to reach a state of mood where we can wallow in self-pity or identify with our inner selves, albeit for a brief duration of time, before reality breaks the stupor of this madness.

There can never be an end to this addiction. And we pride in calling human beings as the "Thinking Species".

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Life after depression

                                   So, how is life after depression? Almost each one of us undergoes some form of depression in our lives at some point of time. Depression can engulf you in many ways. It could be due to an unsuccessful relationship you desperately wanted to work. It could be an unpleasant job in office which you despise. Bullying, bad phase in a relationship, etc can be the other participants.

                                   However, this post isn't about how life seems when a person is depressed. Neither is it about curing depression. Most of the times, we come out of depression when its cause is no longer a part of our life. The person whom you wanted to be a part of your life finally leaves forever, the job you hated bids you goodbye, the people who bullied you cease to be a presence in your life.

                                  What happens to a person after he comes out of depression? How does his life change? In most cases, people become repressive. They adopt multiple filters to view the world. They become careful when they meet new people. They try to make sure that they don't "open up" more than required. Each and every action becomes a carefully calculated step. This way of living life get ingrained in your DNA and you can't get away with it. People forget that they have started behaving in this way. And they look back at the time before depression in a nostalgic way, reminiscing their own carefree attitude and the unhindered laughter.

                                 Slowly, this nervousness and fear becomes a part of your daily life. You start saving for the future, turn terribly god fearing and view every new thing suspiciously. Probably this is the reason people fail to have a healthy relationship with their children. They despise the smile and can-do attitude of the  pure mind and body of their children. They warn them at every step instead of encouraging them. They can't help it.

                                 The child grows up hating his parents. And one fine day, life takes a terrible turn of events. Depression embraces the child like a devil. And the child changes forever after the rendezvous with the devil only to become another repressive adult. Time to repeat the cycle..

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Organized religion

The basic building block of today's society is organized religion. The entire social life of a city or a village is governed by it. Right from morning prayers to various festivals, organized religion, like an underground mafia, controls the heartbeat of the society.

And just like big corporations, Organized religion is ruthless towards anyone who opposes or disagrees with it. The slightest hint of protest lines up everyone in the society against you. All forms of democracy are forgotten and you are force fed the soup you don't want.

So what about those who don't wish to be a part of this 'nirvana'?

What if you don't want to listen to early morning holy prayers churned by the loud speakers with a generous dose of high volume? Protest but only at your own risk. And be assured, you would be alone. The very same society is paranoid about loud music being played at night and is ready to block it with every possible tool at hand.

All sorts of government machinery comes to a halt when it comes to matters of faith. We have come to a position where we long to create 'Groups'. The very word is a negative connotation of bullying. And Groups are everywhere. They are in real life, on Facebook and in Circles on Google. They make you feel like an outsider. Someone less privileged.

Organized religion is probably the biggest group in the world. And you could be in serious trouble if you are not a part of it. You would become more than an outcast.

Till there are enough people in a society to challenge this group, please bear the morning prayers blaring out of loudspeakers.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Films: Modern day vice

Movies are a modern day vice. Ever since film making was invented, it has nothing but paralyzed the humans. Once a movie starts, the brain loses contact from the rest of the body. The mind becomes a prisoner of the screen and the soul starts to feed itself via the motion picture.

And films are very addictive. People lose interest in movies and stop watching them. And then, they come back and get hooked again.

It is said that movies can change lives and societies. This is nothing but a clever way of promoting a film and luring audiences to the theatres.

We hardly take back anything from films to our homes except entertainment. Even the so-called art films fail to move us beyond the moment the film finishes. It is like a dream suddenly coming to an end.

Only those people benefit from watching movies who are or want to become a part of the film industry.

The rest of the crowd simply plugs into an addiction for a couple of hours to drown its daily cacophony of life. 

I am not dead..not yet


Wednesday, September 26, 2012

My tryst with Magazines


It all started on a rainy day in Kanpur in 1996 when I was 10 years old. I was running a temperature and had missed school. There was no power in home and I was just sitting idle when my dad came from the market and handed me a magazine.

It was Sportstar and the cover was about the recently concluded Sahara Cup won by Pakistan. The picture on the cover was of a smiling Wasim Akram holding aloft the cup. I read the entire cricket section in two afternoons and got instantly hooked to this weekly magazine.

And thus began my tryst with magazines. It continues till today and should be a part of my life until I stop having the need of feeding my soul.

I read Sportstar almost non stop for an year. The magazine covered sports in general. Cricket being the most popular sport in India took the lion's share and I must confess that I rarely, if ever, read any story, other than those featured in the cricket section.

In 1997, I switched to Cricket World. It covered cricket in detail and I loved every piece of it. I even subscribed it for an year!

But Cricket World lost its sheen soon after my subscription expired. By late 1998, I returned to SportsStar.

It was in late 1999 when Cricket Talk was launched. It was a truly international magazine. No other magazine on stands could compete with this stunning weekly. It had an altogether different and refreshing take on Cricket coverage. It was a large sized magazine with crisp pages and life size pictures. I felt so fulfilled after reading each of its issues.

However, the magazine had a very short run. By mid 2000, it was mired in controversies with respect to its publication. It soon lost credibility and shut down.

There was a dry run until 2002. I used to buy an issue here and there but nothing regular touched my hands. In 2002, I subscribed to India today and Outlook for 2 years and these two magazines remained by companions till 2004 when I passed class 12th.

The next four years in my engineering had very little presence of magazines. I started reading books, mostly non-fiction.

In the last 2-3 years, I have come back to magazines. The Caravan has been the most amazing gift for me. Its a narrative journalism magazine and its content and styling rivals that of Cricket Talk. Apart from that, Economic and Political Weekly, India Today and other magazines fill my room these days.

Let's see where the world of magazines takes me.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Invisible Platform


You collect mortar
You collect bricks
You collect tools

To build a pedestal
To build a platform

There will be steps
Easy enough to climb

The structure will be elegant
It will seduce you
Draw you, call you

Everytime you get into a conversation
You will use that structure to restore your beliefs

It is your last weapon
To look upon the world
And denigrate it
Make it feel smaller

The fact is, you are perpetuating your own fall
The platform helps you only to slide further
Stops you from seeing the world
Exploring new perspectives

It has become an addiction, an evil habbit
It rusts you from inside
And you celebrate it!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Untitled


Intezar hai waqt ke thamne ka
Sagar ki lehron ke samtal hone ka

Jab mann khwaisho ki sarhad paar kr lega
Aur aakhen nazdikyon par dhyan dengi

Zindagi ek lakshya nahi, ek ehsaas hoga
Aisa ehsaas jo sason may basa hoga

Na band taale honge aur na chabhiyo k guchhe
Aur na hongi pairo may zanjeeren

Mera vishwaas hai hum waha pahuchenge
Jaha zameen aur aasman ek honge

Zaruraten bas itihas matr hongi
Ikchayen bas ek shabd

Aisa sama jahan janaze bhi khushi ka paigam layenge
Aisa sama jahan waqt tham chuka hoga..

Monday, July 23, 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises



Before "The Dark Knight Rises", the total gross of Christopher Nolan's last 4 films was 2.3 billion dollars. However, box office success is not the only thing associated to Nolan's films. Christopher Nolan is trying to tell  the audience something. He is trying to show something which is not visible but has a pervasive presence around us all the time. It has made a permanent home in our minds and hearts. But it rarely comes on our tongue. Quite possibly, he is trying to present "Delusion" and "Anarchy" filled around us.

We might be living in a world where there could be many "copies" of us. The Prestige, although shown as an epic battle between two magicians, hinted at this idea. The "greatest magic trick" was the central idea of the film. Both the magicians were looking for it. Eventually, Hugh Jackman finds it with the help of scientist Tesla.

The first two films in the Batman trilogy, especially the second film "The Dark Knight" hinted at the gross anarchy present inside each one of us. In a scene in the film, Joker (Memorably played by Heath Ledger) tells Batman, "Their (people or society) morals, their code..dropped at the first sign. When the chips are down, these civilized people will eat each other." People will drink each others blood if water on this planet finishes. The monster inside us is ever present. It is immortal. We fight it every second as it threatens to come out of us. Christopher Nolan created a monster out of the Joker who wanted to bring anarchy in the society.

Inception dealt with the unbelievable theme of dreams. The very thought that all life as we know around us could be just a dream has the capability to question our very identity. It sends a chill in the spine that there could be many worlds around us all. Even more, many of these worlds could just be structures of our imagination.

With The Dark Knight Rises, Nolan takes forward the idea of anarchy to an altogether different level. He imagines anarchy at the society and state pedestals. He wants us to believe that society needs anarchy. It needs to start over. The system has become too rotten to continue. It is killing us from inside. It is creating more and more Bane's everyday. The good is finding it harder and harder to defeat the bad. In fact, he explains that in order to defeat the bad, the good has to die. The society in which the good won over the bad and thrived after killing him has become history. In today's times, the good is weaker than the bad. The only way for it to win is by making itself a martyr.

Nolan is extremely successful in articulating this seed of thought in the film. As a result, the film is plot heavy. It contains 'crowds' in many scenes, in order to emphasize anarchy and restlessness of the society. The villain  Bane is simply bad in the film. He does not have Joker's eccentricities. He doesn't laugh. He doesn't see the funny side of the things. He is pure evil and angry.

The films hits on the political systems of the US, albeit in a very subtle way. Nolan's last installment of the Batman trilogy will not be as successful as its predecessor. It might not even earn as much as the previous installment did. But after earning 2.3 billion dollars, Nolan is not looking to make movies that will bring cash. He has risen above that. He wants people to know the inherent anarchy present inside us and in our society. The world is in the need of a revolution. A complete water-shed.

The Dark Knight Rises is a piece of art work. It will be remembered as probably Nolan's greatest work. Sadly, that recognition will be bestowed on him only when he would no longer be among us.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Movie Review: Party

Party is a 1984 film by Govind Nihalani. After tackling the issue of tribal injustice in Aakrosh, followed by a stark depiction of the Indian police and its juxtaposition with politics in Ardh Satya, Nihalani comes up with another gem. This time he takes on the hypocrisy of the so called 'artistic' people namely poets and writers.

Party starts with all the invitees getting ready for the evening in their own ways. From the rich to the poor, Nihalani showcases the emptyness of their lives. Once all of them have descended on the place, various inter-woven stories take place.

Group discussions and one-to-one meetings happen concomitantly. Nihalani handles the screenplay deftly and keeps the narrative crisp. The narrative is mostly about the politics people play in the world of art and literature. How new talent is crushed so that existing war-lords can continue to reign.

There is an interesting scene in the second half. The winner of a prestigious literary award, Manohar Singh, in whose achievement the party has been thrown opens up to Vijaya Mehta in a solo meeting in a room. He explains how he has managed to stay at the top of the literary world for the last twenty years.

He explains that he has been very astute in his life. The way to success is to grasp trends, use them before others and talk about life in complicated terms and then suddenly make it look very easy. These tricks have enabled him to make every empty word he says turn to dust.

Party manages to bring out the monster out of every "civilized" person. Perhaps, this has been Nihalani's sole motto in his films. To have long, deep conversations among his characters and then finally bring out emotions usually in an outburst. In that frenzy, they say what every person thinks but is too afraid to speak out, sometimes even in solitude.

Like most of his films, Party does not have any specific ending. Its main task is to delve into the disgusting facade of the literary world.


Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Behind the walls


The 80-90s was a strange generation. Just about everyone wanted to get out of poverty. The searing blades of want and desperation were a part of daily life of the entire middle class. Poverty for middle class was not meant in the strictest sense. There was food to eat, clothes to wear and a place to live. But one could not get more than that. Barring a few festivals in the year which called for some shopping, the wings of life were mostly clipped.

And the magic solution was to get an engineering degree. With India’s economy spreading its hands and welcoming FDI after 1991, IT became the poster boy of India’s economy. The IT industry of India gave a new hope to the emerging middle class. It proved to be a refuge for every child growing up in those years. The steps were simple. Get an engineering degree and most likely you will get a job in an IT company. The job would bring prestige, foreign trips and of course, loads of money. The rope to get out of the well of hopelessness of the middle class life turned out to be IT. And the middle class did whatever it could to cling onto those ropes.

IT was certainly responsible for bringing out a vast majority of the middle class out of the ‘well’. Those who were not able to get an engineering degree looked at the graduates with envy. They tried all means to ‘break' in the industry. IT courses, training programs and even self learning were all tools used by the have-nots to become a part of the new wave. Most importantly, it gave a sense of hope to the middle class that it was possible for things to change.  And change was evident in the urban areas of the country. High rise offices, glitzy malls, pubs, bars, clubs, multiplexes and construction of satellite towns around the periphery of cities were all transformations that this industry brought with itself.

The 70s generation envied this young crowd. This crowd had ‘jobs’, money and freedom. The previous generations had to fight tooth and nail even for basic necessities and the 90s generation got all of this and even more by simply getting an engineering degree.

For all its life changing capabilities, IT also wrote the obituary of many artists. The air conditioned, towering facades of the IT companies hid behind themselves angry and desperate writers, singers, musicians, painters, actors, teachers, journalists and many other careers. All these ‘IT professionals’ had been fed the success of IT since their teenage years. They had no other option but to choose engineering as their career. And choose they did. The choice brought them straight in front of a computer after their college. It brought loads of money. And it also woke the youth from its slumber. Suddenly, many of them realized that life was not so rosy from outside. It made them realize what they really wanted to do in their lives.

A whole new community sprang on the internet. This community mostly consisted of the disgruntled IT lot. They wanted to be everything but IT professionals. They were trying every possible way to “break free” from the chains of computer and live life their way. Rings a bell? We started with the same situation in the beginning of this piece.

The pattern is getting repeated.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Untitled


The crushing sound of the autumn leaves

Reminds me of your smooth voice

The ugly peacock's feet

Reminds me of your beautiful eyes

The eagle's predatory demeanor

Reminds me of your tender touch

The choked sewages of the city

Remind me of your rich thoughts


                 It will be a sweet unfinished dream

                 The pain embeds into my genes everyday

                 It forces me to live one more day

                 Was the pain fruitful?

                 I'll need to live my life to find out..

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Jaipur Literature Festival 2012



By the time I was into the fourth day of the Jaipur Literature Festival 2012 (JLF), my alienation with this one-of-its-kind festival was complete. I was going to stay for one more day for only two reasons:

1. My train back to Pune was only the next day

2. I wanted to catch a session where one of the chief guests was Rahul Bose.

JLF 2012 was a fair. A massive one. It boasted of many literary figures.

At the same time, it was also flooded with many socialites. These people gave the festival a very 'modern' look and feel.

However, it was also diluting the literaryness of the festival. The whole festival had become a caricature of itself.

And the other irritating part was the incessant crowd of school-going children. Not that they were present there just to enjoy, but a considerable percentage was out there only for a party.

At the end of every day, you would heave a sigh of relief than a score of satisfaction, yearning to go back to your hotel room and order some warm food.

I believe it would be much more prudent if the festival starts charging a certain entrance fee from next year in order to filter the crowd.

The JLF boasted of an army of thinkers, writers and intellectuals. However, the above mentioned reasons made it searingly painful to enjoy their company.

In retrospect, the music program held every evening after the end of the festival was a much better experience, since it had an entrance fee and had a filtered crowd.

Hope William Dalrymple has better ideas next time.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

Do Women need a man to Live in this world?

I recently watched Agneepath. A solid entertainer. Amazing performances by the entire star cast. And really loud, ear shattering background score.

But this post isn't a review of the Karan Johar film. While watching the film, I came across a point where Rauf Lala (Rishi Kapoor) has kidnapped Vijay Dinanath Chauhan's (Hrithik Roshan) sister.

He is holding his sister ransom in front of a huge crowd and running an auction to sell off the girl. There is a loud  drama all round with cries of evil laughter. People are increasing the amount of money they want to pay for the girl.

In the midst of all this, out of the blue - drums start beating, chorus gets louder and Vijay Chauhan bursts on the screen. He is seen killing people coming in his way. He finally reaches the place where his sister is being held. A fight ensues and (spoiler alert!!) he kills Rauf Lala.

The point here is - What would have happened to that girl, if she did not have the muscle wielding Hrtihik as her brother?

She would have easily become a prostitute.

And the sad part is, countless girls become victims of this trade every year, disappearing never to be seen again.

So, what do girls do? How to "save" themselves in this cruel world? Why is power seen as some body who can kill others without any fear?

A documentary Pita, Putra Aur Dharamyuddh presents some more questions on this.


Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 - Eat me up

2012 - Please eat me up

Consume me in your passion

Make me your meal

Stuff me inside

Don't let me go away

Don't allow me to escape

Let the obituary be written

Allow it the freedom to get published

Lest time plays its game again

And we lose ourselves in another cat-fight

Pass off as 'civilized' citizens

And find ourselves celebrating Happy New Year 2013