Sunday, 14 February 2016

Why I did not like ' The Vagina Monologue'

It is all with a fluttering heart and a giggling group that I had gone to see a play named 'Vagina Monologue' by playwright Ms.Eve Ensler who had created quite a stir in her plain speak against abuse of women in our society. . The name itself created a nervousness and set an expectation. What a bold name ,so it had to be about all things untold about the deep dark secrets and pain of womanhood and what with Nirbhaya case and multiple others,it was indeed time that someone took up the cudgel . The cudgel was taken up by

So there I stood in a long cue which  grew quite serpentine by seconds and comprised  of very well dressed nouveau rich, old money and sedan, clumsy looking teenagers with chewing gummy careless charcoaled looks..but women. I was so happy to see women's willingness to come out of cupboard and hushed up lives and really search for an identity.

 The play started after a long dedicated introduction and daring announcement by a 'cool' lady that the play was all about 'How, a rather well meaning person ,in the distant land of America ,had once had an inspirational thought that to eradicate all crimes against women and to safeguard womanhood she needed to educate the world about 'Vagina'! I was really concentrating hard to fathom the depth of the play's intense theme,when, just before the lights dimmed I witnessed a great rush of a huge number of people rapidly filling up the hall. To my utter surprise I found the audience in the auditorium was now at a ratio of 40:60 women to men.

The play was in a format of a string of interviews of women belonging to every status and every group expressing their feelings about what was 'down there'. The whole enactment was duly interspersed with songs belted out by a live band. To give the performers of the band their due credit, they really performed all the songs with themes of womanhood ,rather well and earned many rounds of applause.

But the theme of 'Down there' was what I will talk about now. When the whole audience sat in rapt silence,while revelation after shocking revelation hit us about 'menstrual blood being beautiful', 'down there being hair raising (ahem) and how men treated women only as 'down there' and how women did not know about their orgasmic 'down there', I could only sit and groan. Hats off to the theater group of St. Xavier's College and range of really talented performers who had finally once and for all had revealed the mysteries of womanhood. Each statement of revelation was greeted with sometimes polite claps and sometimes loud applause.

So why did I feel so miserable? Why I felt so humiliated and violated each time I heard the claps? So why am I really writing this post?

You see, I have always enjoyed my womanhood and have always maintained that if God had ever given me a choice in choosing my own gender, I would definitely have chosen to be a woman.The right to remain a woman with my vanity and dignity intact is a choice I exercise. A voice of awareness and a voice of protest need not always mean that you need to de-robe a woman or her personal assets and try to tell everyone how they have the privilege to walk and talk naked if they want to, about women. The play could have been more potent in spreading it's message if the script had kept the dignity alive. I know all the branding gurus will say  that I am contributing much in spreading the good word about a play, but to me the harsh, sometimes uncouth dialogues and the penchant to talk more about 'sex' and not zero in to the problems in accepting a woman's role in today's world , was what had kept the play from creating an impact in the audience. I am sure the play would continue attracting people with such a title display but 50% of the same audience will also go back to watching 'Khuli Khirki' or something like that to arouse their desire.

It is said that the playwright was so possessive about her script that she would never allow anyone to re-edit it again, even if they wanted to customize it according to their country and culture. Hence the dialogues sometimes convey an undertone of a culture which is very different from us.

It was a difficult play to direct. Due credit goes to Suprovo Thakur and all the cast and crew of this production by Shriek of Silence. I just
wish  the voice against gender abuse could be raised without a public abuse of the essence of the womanhood.

 For reference please read:

Friday, 24 April 2015

A book review- Half Mother by Shahnaz Bashir

"Mothers are hardly ever pitied"- Maxim Gorky (1868-1963) In his novel 'Mother' 

Why do I read fictions? Well, I read fictions because I am addicted to good stories told with good literature. I read fictions because at times I recognise myself in many of the characters and most of all I read fictions because they take me nearer to people and places yet unknown to me. But when I had picked up this book, I didn't really expect any of these reasons to be satisfied. First,The book had the words 'a novel' written on it as if it had no bearings with reality. Second,as a contrast to the story's synopsis on the back cover, the book contains only 182 pages. Third reason was that, this was the author's first novel and that didn't really make it a safe bet.

I started reading the book, which is a tale of a woman during the time of insurgence in Kashmir in 1990s. The story was familiar for me as it was often heard . But as I turned the pages, I started to understand Haleema and her life around her father Ab Jaan and son Imran. Simple people living a very normal day to day lives and then time and circumstances tear them apart. Ab Jaan is killed in an army ambush and Imran is picked up by the army never to return to his mother again. Haleema's jouney form a shy reserved person who sincerely minded her own business to a vociferous leader of ARDP- Association of Relatives of Disappeared Person and her end, respected and surrounded by many but without her son by her side, was not only heart touching but it somehow kept me hungry wanting to know what had happened next.

The author successfully keeps political opinions and controversies out of the book. It is almost as if Haleemas of this world are not touched by the politics of the political leaders and warring factions. Its a story about simple people who protested against the opressive forces around them. Simplicity of language and the flow of the tale keeps one engrossed. Nothing changes, but the search in different jails and mortuaries, for their loved ones goes on and on. The apathy shown by the army officer Khuswaha and a highly placed political leader Mir Sahab is almost parallel. None spares the plight of the poor victims. Power, and absolute power, corruption , a strange unwillingness of the people in power to do anything about the plight of the common people who would often get cornered by millitants and army both with political parties in the sidelines, is potrayed in the story over and over again. A touch of socialist thoughts are reflected with the sharp difference potrayed between the rich and famous in the valley and the suburban poor milieu.

The storyline is stargely reminiscent of Maxim Gorky's 'Mother' where Pelagea Nilovna mother of Pavel represents the working class in Russia under the rule of Tsers. She, like Haleema works and fends for her only son Pavel as the husband is spineless and weak and only a source of trouble. The thematic setting is almost parallell. In 'Mother' the story is woven against the backdrop of Pre-Russian Revolution and in 'Half Mother' the setting is the time of insugence in Kashmir. Both are the  tales of a mother raising her voice against the opressive forces of the time. In one of his interviews, the author Shahnaz Bashir does express his liking for many Russian authors like Leo Tolstoy and Gorky, Chekov. Hence an influence is but exopected.

The only disconnect that I felt with the story was that although the incidents were very linear, they were often very onesided and almost took an impassive view of the reasons behind the insurgency and the sufferings of many other communities in the valley. But then to defend the author, he did say that it is an imaginary tale and imagination will always have biased views.

But overall, its a brilliant attempt by the author to write about those terrible times. He uses the language beautifully to make his satement. The character of Izhar is interwoven in the theme as if to make a statement of what jounalism should be and what it is. May be one day the Imrans and Pavels would come back and find their homes empty, because time has posed as a villain and had robbed them off their lives. The line which beautifully sums up the plight of the valley is 'The reports on Kashmir are on the lower shelves- handy, yet dusty,scrabbled and shop soiled, Kashmir is mentioned everywhere-in books,news reports, political reports, but it has disappeared form the world, an enforced disappearance on its own.'

( Disclaimer: Besides the spoiler this article does not by any means contain my personal or political opinion about Kashmir)

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Of Samosas, Patties and microwaves.

This post is an objection and a loud cry against the injustice that reigns in  the food outlets of India today.The situation is actually a human rights violation to the rights of mankind, who love the crispy crunchy flaky outer layer of two awesome food article named 'Samosa and Patties.'

Now before I raise a hue and cry about the case, I need to take you a bit down the memory lane. So it all started when I was young and was bred on the street foods of Delhi. Now Delhi street foods are quite chatpata spicy but they are a curious combination of Punjabi, Hariyanvi and Mumbai street food. So my youth was surrounded by papri-chat, golgappas, bhelpuris, and masala chukandar , fruit chats, bhel papri and most of all aloo tikkis and samosas. 
Delhi street food- origin - Indian Peninsula.(only veg. Non veg was an addition in late 90's
And then came Samosas- well crispy flaky coating of flour with succulent aloo and matar(green peas) with loads of spices filled in. Served with khatta-mitha chutney . But deep fried and crispy crunchy. It wasn't till much later when I was transported to Kolkata that I learned that Samosas can have lots of fillings,other than the omnipotent aloo and can taste much better.

Well, in Kolkata they are known as Shingara. The recipe is the same, but the only difference was the artistic variety to the fillings that are added here. Like: Aloo Motor(greenpeas),fullcopie'-r(Caulifower)
Mangshor(mutton keema) and even Misti Kheerer Shingara(Condensed milk) and of course the regenerated version of Shingara i.e.Gujia( filled with suji-coconut and nuts-all grated and stirred with sugar)
Shingara as they should look -like this
The issue here is not the variety, its just an introduction to how this eternal food was maligned and maltreated with vigor by the food outlets of Kolkata and India. The teleybhaja (deep fried vegetables) shops and any sweet shops have a wooden box with one side glass cover and with a bulb inside where it would keep all the Kochooris and Shingaras and telebhajas warm and crispy. The operational word here being 'crispy'.

But now they look like this.:(

Another victim of the same violation of crispy rights is the Patties or as we so lovingly call it the Paatiees. The crispy and flaky baked confectionery item filled with veg and non-veg fillings, which crackle when you bite and melts in your mouth as you chew. A successful way of eating patties is only complete when you have to dust the flakes off your clothes and litter the floor. You can surreptitiously eat them off your clothes too,if no one is looking.

Gone are those good old days when you never ate these food items during any social occasions and even if you did you felt quite embarrassed with the flaky residues. Now with smart age gadgets we have Microwaves and limp,no flakes, no crisp and no taste- Samosa-Shingara-Pattiees.

You dare order for one of these in any food outlet and they would dish out one, out of the microwave with 30 sec warming time and lo and behold you will have the Samosa/Shingara/ Pattiees in front of you, piping hot but sans the crisp and flakes. I mean, instead of biting into them, you need to tear them out like a chapati and treat the filling like a portion of  curry and eat them!!

They would taste exactly like 1 hour old 'Luchi Tarkari' or 'Rooti Tarkari with a coating of butter'. Gone are the flakes and the crisp and the rustle and the murmur of those delicious delicacies. I have often tried to counsel the shop owners/ waiters/ servers, that  Samosas/ Shingaras/Patties should be either warmed with bulbs (check out the wooden boxes. The heating device is fine) or Ovens( Not micro or macro, just simple oven) or non stick frying pans on low heat( they might have blisters on their outer layer but it will be crispy). But my prayers,advice has absolutely fallen into deaf ears. The menace of microwave has brought an end to the crispy and flaky era of the great heritage of Samosas/Shingaras and Patties. You can cry, shout slogans or plead for mercy but all in vain. The food will go into the micro-ovens and they will come out 30 yrs older with a sad demeanor. 

The only saving grace is that magical 1hour time (4-5pm),when all the sweet shops serve piping hot 'Kochuri and Shingaras' . But as for the crispy oven fresh hot patties, they are a breed which has gone into archives only to be replaced by the micro-oven-ed version. Flury's, Monginis, Kathleen, Sugar & Spice, Cakes, My Cake Shop, Great Eastern , Grand, and many many many more have conspired to let the patties die a lumpy-limpy  death. Is it really time to bid a final adieu to the era of crispy flakes?


Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Rape & Abuse - A question of education?

This is not a story, but it surely starts with a story. It goes like this:

I often chat with a young friend of mine. He is a research scholar in a very reputed University. He would disappear from Whats App and FB often not to be seen or heard for long spans. It was one of his sudden appearances on Whats App, left me wondering about my destination as a socially conscious person.

After exchanging pleasantries, (and he is a very courteous person) I asked him about what has been keeping him busy. The university he hails from had recently hosted one of the biggest seminar and workshop on women's security. So I asked him whether he was a part of that seminar and the union which had hosted it. The conversation went thus:

M: Are you a part of the Union and did you take part in the Seminar?
A: Why did you ask me that? No I am not.
M: But why weren't you? I thought it was a wonderful effort by the University. In today's age where
      women are under constant threat and attacks to bring the issues of rape and abuse and attacks on
      women to a common platform with such good speakers, it was indeed commendable.
A: Hmm. May be.  May I ask you something?
M: Yep, ask.
A: Who are these people who abused and raped women?
M: (Being a socially outspoken person,I replied) Well these are the people who have lots of
      aggression in them to the point that they become brutally violent. Mental debilitating factors
      also work.
A: Ok. I agree but are these the same men or boys that you interact with everyday?
M: See abusers and rapers can exist anywhere. They have a problem as far as the thought process are
A: No, you are not getting my point, who are prostitutes?
M: Come on A, we all know prostitution emerges out of poverty and illiteracy. (here I too paused for       a moment and my mind was racing) But A, prostitution is a profession where as raping is not.
A: So answer me who are these people who rape and do not go for paid sex? Is it poverty and
     illiteracy only?
M: (In a complete counselor's voice) Well men, who are educated, comes from a good background,
      are culturally aware and have high moral sense will never indulge in such heinous crime. This    
     do not apply only to men even to women. ( Problem emerged even when I was indulging in such l
      long rhetoric sentences it sounded hollow to my ears) Well what do you say?
A: You understand that , I understand that but the ones who rape women irrespective of their age,
      do they really understand this?

To say the least I was stumped. I believe I am a person who believes in a semblance of what, we term as "Equality among genders". Then, when we preach and teach men in general about how they should respect their woman kind and how we should educate our men to be responsible people, are we really on the right track? Are we preaching to those who anyway won't harm an ant let alone raping a woman?
These are certain questions which A posed and he is all of 26 years of age and doing technical scientific research. Well, I am on my search and getting ready to answer him, because he deserves to know and so do we.

Sunday, 8 March 2015

Women's Day - Some thoughts.

Women's Day- Random Thoughts.

(When I started writing this post, the first thing that came to my mind was -Why celebrate a special day? I am pretty glad that I am a woman and have never regretted the fact despite many trials and tribulations in my life. Being born as a girl child , we all face discrimination one way or the other in some ways and some forms, some mild and some severe. But that should never take away the flavor of being a women from us. Instead of trying to show the world that we are as good as men
( the thought itself reeks of bias) why can't we find our own niche in life? Is it really the society around us or we ourselves that grow up with many shackled thoughts? There are many facets of being a women....Have we really learned to enjoy those facets?)

: Wish you all a Happy Women’s day!

: Really? Today ? Women’s day?

: Yes, you didn't know?
: Know what? Actually I feel happy every day, so just didn't know what else to feel.
: You are kidding! Today is our special day. We celebrate it!
: We do? Do we? How?

:Well for one, you wish everyone in FB in a single post with a , meaningful deep message and a picture from Google images. Then you message everyone in What’s app ‘Happy Women’s day’. :)

: My God! You worked so hard! I mean individually to everyone! Taking such pain to make every woman feel good on this special day! Vow!

: Wait, wait. It was easier on What’s App. I just forwarded the messages,someone had sent to me and so on. It’s just that. J

: Oh! Ok. And then? I mean any more good news?
: Oh yes. Don’t you listen to news? Our PM has pledged a war on crime against women. There we have done it J
: We have? I mean finally Government will take a good look at women’s  safety issues?

: Yes. He is already doing it, you know . I mean after he convinces PDP that all is well and they can do as they wish at the expense of taxpayers, and strategies how to solve other major problems like 'Swachh Bharat' corruption, political juggling and alignment, controlling all the wings -be it left or right, getting his personalized suit auctioned, and multiple trips to cover all the countries in the world, while he is PM (it is a cramped schedule and a tough job, you know?)  he will surely take this up.

: Hmm.  So anything more? Till now I haven’t heard anything new. Any special offer or any exclusive service for women?
: Yes, yes . After today all women are beautiful and safe. There are special offer on Snapdeal and Amazon and many other e-commerce site only for women on Women’s Day.
: Really? But tell me have we really thought beyond it? Are we really talking of a progressive society here or just fashionably progressive ? You know customized women's empowerment?
: AAAAAA..... Erm, what is that? What is that thinking beyond? Beyond what?

: Women and happiness has always been related to the overall well being of the society. Have we taken a good look at the concepts of our society? Have we changed  our families enough to treat both boys and girls as equal? I mean equal to the extent that no special favors are done to them, on the basis of their gender? Have we educated all women and taught them not be a harbinger of the discrimination themselves while being mothers/sisters/sister-in-laws/mother-in-laws? 

When men ask for dowry, as a mother and a wife  do we protest and not let this crime to continue? Have we convinced all parents to make their daughters strong enough so that she can distinguish between  right and wrong? Have we convinced all the parents not to mollycoddle their daughters and instead make them street smart so that they can take care of themselves and know about the dangers lurking in the dark?
Have we been successful in not taking advantage of the fact that we are women and stop being an inactive person letting others pamper us and take all the decisions ? Have we stopped looking for a neighborhood college for our daughters instead of making them mentally and physically strong so that they can avail best of education wherever they please? 

Have we taught our society that women deserve to be accepted in all colors and forms and not on the basis of their vital statistics? Have we even taught our daughters to sense danger and be away from it? Have we given ourselves and our children(irrespective of gender) enough freedom to chose the suitable path in their lives and maybe learn from their mistakes?

: But....How can we do all these? When?

: No we cannot, because we are busy telling our daughters, what they shouldn't do and not what all they can do, if only they focus. We are busy being scared and protect our daughters more and more, hide them teach them how to hide, teach them how not to dress, instead of telling them that whatever they wear should make them feel confident and add to their self esteem. We are busy designing petite clothes for women and then tell them that they cannot wear it because men’s pheromones may act up. We are busy telling our daughters that, whatever profession they may chose but they must keep marriage in mind. We are too busy telling them with every little action that they are the weaker sex and thus tell them that they are beautiful and not ‘capable, confident and courageous’ .  They day, each mother and each father and each member of the family treat each  member(irrespective of gender) of the family with equal respect, love honor and make them confident and self dependent, with enough space provided for the freedom of choice we will not have a special day kept aside for women to tell them that they are ‘beautiful’, and special laws need to be made to keep them safe.

( I know I was on a roll there, but this needed to be said because the rut is deep down within each one of us, either we are too loud or do not speak at all.
And last but not the least, some rotten mentality does not represent the gender called: Men. By discrimination and special favors we are only giving rise to a resistant mentality where even men feel cornered at times)

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Haider : Vishal's Chutzpah

It was a much awaited movie for me as I  had thoroughly enjoyed the experience of  Maqbool and Omkara and thus was quite excited about Vishal Bharadwaj's yet another Shakespeare to Bharadwaj adaptation. Vishal's  adoption of the Shakespearean themes and the amazing amalgamation of the settings in the Indian backdrop has never ceased to amaze me. So I went to watch Haider with an expectation. The story is much known, so my inquisition was about how it was re-sized with Kashmir issue.

Shahid as Hamlet
Sir Lawrence Olivier as Hamlet


The director actually faced a big challenge and as all Vishal Bharadwaj's followers know, he likes challenges. So he tackled them one by one. First it was the story line and then the politically troubled backdrop. Hamlet was penned by Shakespeare based on the legend of Amleth ,as recounted in XIIth century Danish history with the plot beginning the King being murdered by his younger brother for the elder brother's  wife and the throne, and ends in the new king being killed by the elder brother's son with the help of his mother who had married the younger brother after being widowed . A love-hate-betrayal story against the backdrop of 1160 Denmark. This story was recorded around the end of 12th Century by historian Sarco Grammaticus a clerk to Absalon the fearsome warrior-bishop who had expanded the Danish empire in the Baltic and had founded Copenhagen. Absalon's main political goal was to free Denmark from entanglement with Holy Roman Empire. So we begin with the similarities. But is this a story about Kashmir or a personal tragedy of a leader of a clan? Is Haider really the leader of a clan?
Grave digger's scene in Hamlet

                                              Grave digger's song in Haider

Thematic challenge in direction:
Here we can call it Vishal Bharadwaj's 'chutzpah' as he tries to spin the theme of Kashmir in 1995, as close to the ground reality as possible. He doesn't seek sympathy but just brazenly relates the incidents of human indignity with an honesty that leaves us shaken. The sudden approaches, nightly army searches, missing person's lists and Haider's search for his father ,is all interwoven into  the tragedy of a state, being  integrated with theme of pain and vendetta. With this as the background ,we realize how very easy it is to influence and malign the hearts of the people ,taking full advantage of the personal tragedy that each one suffers. It is a state which is after all utterly affected by turmoil.
 VB portrays that with a vividness that leaves us to wonder what lies behind all the hatred, tortures searches protests plotting killings massacres and the politics. Is it only a political question of belonging or over the years the issue has been diluted with there own people working out of self interest just like Haider's Chacha Khurram and many others.

 The best statement in the movie is maybe uttered by Haider when he acts as a madman and speaks to a small crowd in a crossroad symbolizing his own personal crossroad of "Hum hain ki nahin". To be or not to be that has always been the question in Kashmir even when they have been faced with terrifying choices. Us par ya is par is not really the important question here ,where minds are always mislead by the impression that grass is really greener on the other side. It is the question of what is important - The land or the people. 
Haider speaks to a crowd 'Hum hain ki nahin'
Haider is first and foremost a personal tragedy which is craftily portrayed by the director to bring around the tragedy of a state just as Amleth was to Denmark. The story won hands down and so did the editing and cinematography
The major portion of the movie was shot in curious shades of white blue black and grey giving a flip to the dark theme of the story. This movie is not a docu-feature on Kashmir, so if anyone expects the wondrous scenic beauty and the beatific mountains to be there, they would be disappointed. The use of the color red and burgundy is unique. Red shawl worn by Ghazala or Mohji, red muffler woven by Arshia which she gifts to her father, later this same muffler is used by her father to tie Haider's hands, black and red in the song Bismil, dried burgundy mehendi in Mohji's hand which looked like dried blood, all this successfully enhances the theme of love expectation & betrayal in challenging times and how it shapes man's lives.


 Trusts are broken for petty personal gains, loyalty is questioned and so is honor and identity. The scars that it leaves behind, spoils human capability of forming trust again and ability to express viewpoints fearlessly to simplfy relations. It enhances a fear psychosis and is compounded by inabilities which shrouds personal lives. The movie is a statement of this personal tragedy.
Another directorial excellence lay in the creation of the character of Rooh Daar - the soul, played by Irfan Khan. The justice rendered to the theme of Hamlet's father's ghost in the  play Hamlet. What a terrific creation. The gravedigger's scene with a seductive invitation to death-' arey aaona so jaona ' too was aptly dealt with in the complicated theme of Haider a.k.a Hamlet in the story. Death is mocked at and is accepted as fate ,thereby challenging Islamic belief and faith as death being ultimate truth and destiny.

Kudos to the composer and the director Vishal Bharadwaj for the beautifully befitting use of music in the movie. His own voice did justice to the songs which mainly played as background score and was situation based. The song 'Bismi'l has powerful lyrics and is well sung and choreographed well enough to keep the audience glued to the screen. The only regret is that, the beautiful penultimate song sung by Rekha Bharadwaj is used as the background score for the credit roll out ,when almost everyone leaves the hall. I and few others however stayed back to listen and was duly impressed.
                                                     Bismil - The video version.

The movie would have worked as well without the director's disclaimer that it was adapted from Hamlet. Then we wouldn't have looked for the similarities and dissimilarities and come up with 'what could have been' as VB did an exceptionally good job in the thematic integration of Hamlet with Haider accept for one vital disconnect.
Hamlet's father was a warrior king who would have abject belief in the word 'revenge' but Haider's father Dr.Hilal Meer was a doctor who helped anyone who was ill even if they were hardcore militants. He was a soul who was shown to be dedicated to the cause of the ailing, so for a person of his psyche the word 'revenge' would have very little meaning and that too for a personal reason like avenging your own brother, seemed unrealistic. The persona did not match with the deliverance. 
A doctor, a singer,a loving father, a benevolent heart and a sympathizer for those who seek freedom, is expected to seek revenge maybe for a national cause but for a personal cause he simply would not have the heart to incite his much loved son to the point of  murdering his own brother. He also mentions that Haider would need to curve out those eyes of his own uncle which had cast evil looks on his wife and Haider's mother.This seemed somewhat unrealistic and disconnected from the character.

Vishal's credit:

He dared where others won't. To speak in such clear terms about Kashmir and with such issues being related to the present day scenario indeed took some guts. He ran the risk of angering both Hindus and Muslims. He actually had the courage to take up the theme of Oedipus complex which haunts Hamlet and is integrated into the character of Haider.

This is indeed an uphill task and a statement against the emotionally illogical religious misinterpretations. He also puts declarative dialogues in Haider's role about Kashmir and the many unanswered questions. He actually dared to show a fragment of the atrocities and also dared to change the end of the story, where he leaves it to the imagination of the audience by not killing Haider or his uncle. That they will die is again left to the question of whether to 'be and not to be' dead.

Shahid as Haider, Tabu as Ghazala Meer, Kay Kay Menon- Khurram Meer, Narendra Jha- Dr.Hilal Meer, Irfan - Rooh Daar, Lalit Parimoo as Pervez Lone -  all excelled in retaining the thread of interest throughout the movie and requires special mention and credit. Shraddha however (least mentioned the better) needs to learn more.

Yes, absolutely a must see. Do not compare with his other creations, do not be critically literature conscious and I am sure you will  be definitely drawn into the dark and thought provoking theme of Haider. A movie worth remembering.

( I tried to keep this article free from many personal interactions with my Kashmiri friends as this is a review and not a ground to exhibit my political opinion. I hope I succeeded in that)


Sunday, 12 October 2014

Half Girlfriend : To be or not to be.

Aww! Isn't he cute?

It is often said that you should never judge a book by it's cover and in this case never judge a book by its title. 'Half Girlfriend' sounded intriguing enough for me to make me pick up the book and read what's inside. It related to the present scenario in my life where I am in a transition phase of being a 'Half wife' and  a 'Half daughter' and a 'Half Daughter in law' and may be half of everything that I used to be. So I decided to follow the guidance  that Chetan Bhagat might provide to this halved life of mine.I started reading the book. It was absolutely engrossing to the point of no return. Here I might mention, that many of my well read, well informed, well acclaimed blogger friends will probably smirk at my choice of  author, but I like CB and that's it.
Concept of Half:
The concept might have started with a half but the hero of the story did go through a tumultuous span of 5 and 1/2 yrs to make the 'half' a full, so he didn't really have any life saving formula for the 'halves' except to make them full. Although it would have been mighty intriguing if Riya Somani could have not been fully committed at the end of the story in the  fairy tale completion of a love theme.
 I mean who wouldn't love a world without any pressing 'have to do it, in spite of myself' situation in personal relationships? But well, as they say 'Love conquers all' and in this case, even a college sweetheart- who actually loved the Hero- but went ahead and married her childhood friend- to please the family- and thus dropped out of St.Stephen's, Delhi ,English honors/sports quota- to be abused and get  divorced within a year- and get a job which could support a rental bungalow for  Rs.20000/per month- only meant to be rented out to the foreigners -and still lead a lavish lifestyle as much as to hire cars and travel to remote parts of Bihar on a sales marketing job by air conditioned cars , and stay in 5 star accommodations while on official tours and well rest is a long story, but is won over, bowled over completely at the end.

The Story:
I liked what he wrote cause I am a die hard romantic who is an addicted viewer of Romedy Now. I have completely grown up on Mills& Boon and Harlequin and Danielle Steels and often cry while reading syrupy love stories. I cry when they meet, I cry when they separate after an accident/misunderstanding/ family pressure and Oh boy! do I cry when they reunite! 
So I liked what CB wrote and the icing on the cake was when Madhav Jha finds Riya Somani the day before he was about to leave New York. The epilogue was absolutely a heart-winner  when the disgruntled Rani Sahiba is completely engrossed in raising and tackling her grandson , leaving everything she had passionately done for years i.e run a school in a backward maltreated village in Bihar, to her 'beta and bahu' . Perfect!

The Style Bhai...
The flow of the novel was fluid to say the least. From the first page to the last page it is an action packed emotional story which takes us from Patna to Delhi to Dumraon to Delhi to UK to USA to Delhi to Dumraon. The story has everything from college fascination to marital discord with an angle of child abuse thrown in and thoughts spared to social up-gradation tagged to a meeting with Bill Gates  and finally a prince who wins the heart of his princess and they both run a school with a huge grant money from Bill Gates Foundation to live happily ever after (with a 3 months visit in a year to USA, as their perk). Aren't they lucky? I actually forgot to mention both their 'drop dead good looks' (Dipika Padukone and Siddharth Malhotra starer for sure)

I loved the story and would request all my practical friends not to read it if they do not believe in fantasies and Romedy Now and Bollywood. The book is a complete script of a 3 and 1/2 hours blockbuster release of Bollywood production sure to be released in 2015. A sure fire box office cyclone. It has every masala ,so be ready with your handkerchiefs and  'Fanta, popcorn cold drinksh' for a superbly entertaining show. 

Well done CB,you have won my heart. Never shall I question the power of your imagination. It is good, getting better and very soon you will be the best. I do miss my Mills and Boon days, you just gave me back a bit of my teenage.

Disclaimer: People who are addicted to literature and meaningful books which they expect will remain with them for ever and give their life a better meaning and all that blah blah blah, should never consider reading even the first and the last page of this great saga.Humph!