Observing the Movies: Baahubali 2: The Conclusion

2017 ends in a few hours. In keeping with tradition, I wanted to have a post that would capture the year. This time around, I could think of no better way than to talk about this film. I’d started writing about it when I’d seen it many months ago but I suppose it was supposed to be published thusly.

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ठहराव

This blog completes another year, life takes another year, and we keep running in our quest to score some bauble or the other. This year, these past months, those who know me know that I’ve been running more than most. Thankfully, tomorrow, that project ends: and you will all see the results on one of the biggest stages out there!

Before this madness begun, however, I’d taken a small vacation. It was my first visit to Goa, and, during the stay, I found myself on a small property in South Goa. There, beside a small stream, I saw a night sky akin to the image you see above. There was complete silence, the only sounds of crickets chirping somewhere amidst the woods and weeds, and a soothing wind.

In that silence, by a river, sung to by the breeze – I found a moment of rest. Elusive as it is in this day and age, it brought me a realisation. And that brings you this poem. Do read, and let me know what it brings you!

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Farewell 2016: You Killed Liberal for Me

As the year 2016 draws to a close, many will rush to call it an annus horribilis. From Brexit to Trump, from the migrant crisis to Aleppo, much went wrong with the world. Like the many others before it on these topics, there’s probably no point in this post. Still, I feel a need to say something out loud.

So here goes…

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दीपक हो

Today is Diwali, the biggest festival of Hindu culture. I’d written previously about it here, but like most muses, it is something I can keep coming back to.

But it isn’t the festival that is the muse. Instead, all the things it symbolises: righteousness, its conquest of evil, and the inevitability of this victory – these make Diwali my favourite festival. It is an infinite fount of everything that keeps us human.

So, without further ado, I present to you this poem. And, of course, wish you a very happy (and hopeful) Diwali.

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केशव को

Today’s Janmashtami, the festival celebrating the birth of Krishna, the 9th avatar of Vishnu. Of His 10 avatars, Krishna is considered a ‘Poorna Avatar’ – the incarnation of Vishnu in His entirety.

Krishna is complete, is absolute. He enunciated the knowledge of the Srimadbhagvat Gita. He is Yogeshwar, the Lord of Yoga. For those with a rudimentary knowledge of the Hindu belief system, Yoga is the practical application of Indian spirituality and not just a form of exercise. There are several kinds of Yoga – each a different path to achieving Moksha, liberation.

However, this is all enough and all nothing. For I firmly believe that Krishna is beyond words and thoughts, beyond experience and feeling. Surdas, the legendary Indian bhakta and poet who wrote about Krishna all his life, in fact claimed that all attempts to write about Him were futile. It is a beautiful irony, but again, highlights Surdas’ love for his Maker, and his Maker’s divinity. Here, sample it in the glorious voice of the late great Jagjit Singh!

While I’m none to argue with the wisdom of Surdas, I have humbly attempted to write about Krishna…

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A Song Against Dreams

Today is August 15th, 2016. India, the country, celebrates her 70th birthday. Of course, it is my firm (uneducated, uninformed, bigoted – to use the terms en vogue for folks such as ourselves) belief that India the civilisation can’t be dated.

Anyway, each year on this day, everyone and their uncles start harping about the “dreams” of a billion Indians. Right from the nation’s political leaders, the media, and increasingly, brands. What space you can find is plastered with proclamations of fulfilling said dreams, in whatever manner they can, by each of these entities.

And I have a problem with this…

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जाने कैसी मुलाक़ात होगी

Marriage is the final triumph of societal life. All actions in public life stem from it, reach for it, and once the task is done, are set in motion again for the next generation. Nature has, of course, wired every species to seek survival. Man, thankfully, is the only one that makes such a show of it.

But since the show is there, it gives rise to many stories and many rituals. Cultures change them with great frequency, art celebrates it in all. In India, we have the arranged marriage – where parents get a couple together, having previously satisfied themselves of the financial, societal, and emotional state of the other family. The young (would be) couple meets in a public place with a great delegation of their relatives, and is usually given a little amount of time to talk to each other and get to know the person. At least a couple such meetings happen, usually more.

It is a process subject to great contemporary ridicule but also has considerable success. Anyone reading this in the West will probably be shocked by this way of going about the business of marriage, but they will hopefully appreciate that things change in other parts of the world.

But even when some things change, some remain the same.

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चलो कहीं डेरा डाल लेते हैं

This year has begun with great promise: one made by me, some made by life. After all the running around and hassles of the years gone by, there look to be signs of peace.

There is hope that we can settle down (in more ways than one), let go of the trifles of everyday living, and rest.

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आज छोड़ चलते हैं

2015 is coming to an end, and with that a phase of life draws to a close. In wishing you all a very happy 2016, and indeed, the rest of your life, I also wish goodbye to the days that have passed… This poem is a celebration of the era that draws to a close today – childhood, with all its vicissitudes and victories, with all its charms and challenges, with all its memories.

I hope you had a great 2015. I wish you all the love, hope, strength, and fulfillment in 2016!

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Winter in the City

Here’s something I had written earlier, forgotten about completely, and rediscovered recently. Since summer is still marauding us these days, I think publishing a poem about winter still makes sense.

After all, aren’t we all in a perpetual yearning for the beautiful days of the past or the beautiful days of tomorrow? Aren’t we all just looking for an escape even when we know there isn’t one?

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Observing the Movies: Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!

I consider myself a person with some ability to think. As is natural, this ability finds itself applied to all things that have for me even the remotest fascination. Movies do, which is why I have thought about them, discussed (and dissected) about them, and occasionally written about them hither and thither. I’ve wanted to do so in some long form for the longest time, and am finally doing so.

‘Gravity’ was probably the first movie that I realised I couldn’t write sufficiently about in just a Facebook post. But writing about the movie seemed tougher the longer time I spent on it, especially since the writing kept getting pushed. Ultimately, it was after watching Dibakar Bannerjee’s ‘Detective Byomkesh Bakshy!’ that I realised that this was it, I had to get started.

The piece is fragmented into sections – as best as native WordPress and my limited knowledge of it allows me – so feel free to skip to the headings that seem interesting. I’ve tried to ensure you won’t miss much if you do.

 

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Suddenly in the Midst of Summer

Today marks the anniversary of this blog. Today is also the festival of Holi, the Hindu festival of colour and Spring.

This year, though, the festivities will be a shade calmer: the sudden cool prevalent over much of India will prevent many from indulging in the usual wild splashing and watering of people, emotions, and life itself.

However, this unexpected cold does have some benefits. Some I’ve tried capturing in the lines below. Like always, do let me know how you like them.

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All Vacations Must End

At times, your words don’t come from you. They are too powerful to belong to one voice, their meaning too deep for one tale. Recently, I uttered some of this sort. They were said to someone I know in a jovial tone, without much thought gone in their formation.

And yet, when I reflected on them, I was saddened. Extremely. By their weight, the lost possibilities they spoke of, the grief of demise they had. Moved, I wrote this poem, and made those words its title. Let me know how you like it.

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कोशिश

Was pondering upon what I would want from the year 2015, and I formed my thoughts in these verses. Hope you read it, and like it!

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The 14 Best Cast Superheroes and Villains

Cinema!

That great level playing field of dreams, where all that we see and all that we dream in our most intimate thoughts find a voice, a playing out. It is the last great bastion of magical idealism left open for the masses – books are too exclusivist, sadly, and television in this country, well, the less said about that the better.

Hollywood has been dream merchant at a noticeably greater scale than our Hindi film industry, if you set aside cultural preferences (you know, we have colours and a hundred different traditions, and song and dance at our weddings. And chiffon sarees.) And, of late, they’ve gone all out after discovering that big-budget superhero films – in which everyday people (like us) have extraordinary powers (that everyday people like us wish we had) and available beautiful women (that everyday people like us wish we had), make do without really working at a mundane job (that everyday people like us wish we could) battle villains who aren’t really menacing and have a long-drawn, almost bound to fail due to its sheer scale and idiocy, plan to conquer the world or thereabouts, which is usually some version of New York City.

See, that’s what I said earlier: their scale of being a dream merchant is greater! Being the master marketers they are, they’ve hit upon the perfect formula: take the quarter/half life crisis fantasy of the majority of the population, and show them the awesomeness they could have unleashed. Instant, seven-figure bling! Sadly, much like all other excesses of capitalism, the product of these efforts are quite poor. Paper thin plots, mostly repeated and rehashed by several other films, plastic acting, and the inevitable victory of the hero over a villain.

Anyway, the point of this post isn’t to malign the superhero film genre (it is one by now, no?), it is to celebrate it. More specifically, its thespians: adults who have worn tight suits, mouthed things that don’t really mean anything most of the time, and battled with more bad guys in a movie than they have met normal guys in their lives, but done so with a great deal of dedication, courage, and even a little panache.

It is the end of the year, and the season of lists (in addition to the season of celebrations, of course). A little over a couple of years ago, I made a list of the most beautiful women I’d encountered in cinema, this is a list of the most inspired casting in superhero films. All images, of course, are used only for representation with no commercial gains, and their rights belong to their respective owners.

In some specific order, then:

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The 20 Similarities Between Interstellar and Inception

“Now you’re looking for the secret… but you won’t find it, because of course you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to know. You want to be fooled.”

So, ‘Interstellar’, eh?

When Cutter utters (sorry!) the above words in ‘The Prestige’, it is almost as if Christopher Nolan is teasing all of us. I think the majority of us who’ve seen ‘Interstellar’ won’t really understand the hardcore Physics this movie is built around. We may certainly grasp some of it, and if you’ve read a little (which, really, you ought to), its terms won’t sound entirely alien (ha ha, see what I did there?).

What will also not feel quite alien – especially if you don’t have a life, and are the kind to think about a film long after leaving the movies – is the film’s plot. Because, as the title of this piece tries to tell you, you’ve seen it previously as ‘Inception’. How, you ask? Here’s how! Needless to say, spoilers follow…

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मुलाक़ात

कुछ दिनों पहले एक ख़याल आया था जो कविता में बुन सकता था। यूं तो यह ख़याल अक़्सर धुंआ हो जाते हैं, यह रह गया कहीं।

फिर अगले ही दिन कुछ बेवजह, या शायद यूं ही मंज़ूर हो उसे जिसकी मर्ज़ी चलती है, मैं एक पसंदीदा कविता से आन मिला। लॉर्ड अल्फ्रेड टेन्नीसन ने लिखी थी, और मैंने हमेशा माना है की उसकी आखरी पंक्ति जीवन का आधार भी है और उद्देश्य भी।

जो मेरे ज़हन में था और जो टेन्नीसन के ज़हन में रहा होगा, दोनों ख़याल कहीं जाकर मिलते से लगे। जो लगा सो यह कविता लिखनी शुरू की। आशा है की यहां आपको भी मिलते नज़र आएंगे…

और हाँ, अगर आप उस कविता को पहचान गए हैं (और गर साहित्य और कविता में ज़रा रूचि है तो न पहचानने की कोई वजह भी नहीं), तो कमेंट्स में बताइयेगा!

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दोबारा

रिश्तों की उम्र कौन माप पाया है?

कुछ सदियों ज़िंदा रहते हैं, हमें शेरों-कहानियों में मिलते हैं। कुछ पूरी ज़िन्दगी अपने पैरों पर खड़े होने में लगा देते हैं, कुछ पूरी ज़िन्दगी हर दिन जीते हैं। हर एक की अपनी उम्र होती है। हाँ, कहानियां सबकी एक ही लगती है मुझे।

काफ़ी रिश्तों को क़रीब से देखा है मैंने। पाया है की जहां ख़ुशी है, रंग हैं, वह सब लोगों के अपने हैं।  पर जहां कलह है, दुःख, रुस्वाई है, उन सबकी एक सी पहचान होती है। ऐसा लगता है की मानों एक को देख लिया हो, तो सबको देख लिया। हम उन्ही मसौदों पर रूठते हैं, वैसे ही बेगैरद लहज़े से बात करतें हैं, उसी दर्द से बिछड़ते हैं, वही आंसू रोते हैं… सब वही है, हमने कुछ नहीं सीखा है। इन्ही उलझनों से गुज़रने का नाम हमने ज़िन्दगी कर दिया है। यही चेहरे, यही मोड़, यही सब चलता रहता है, एक के बाद एक, दोबारा…

इन्ही किस्सों, कहानियों, दोस्तों, और लोगों के ग़म को देखा है मैंने, और उसे संजो के ये कविता लिखी है। उमीद है कुछ पसंद आएगी।

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सावन

बारिशों के दिन हैं, बारिश चाहे कमज़ोर ही सही।

गर्मियों की झुलस के बाद जो पहली बूँद गिरती है, यूँ लगता है जैसे दम घुटने से साँस भर पहले ज़िन्दगी फिर से बहने लगी हो। सूखी, प्यासी-सी धरती और प्यासे-से अरमानों को एक राह मिलती है। जो कहीं रुकने लगी थीं, थमने लगी थीं, वो दुआएँ पेड़ों की टहनियों पर पत्ते बन खिलती दिखती हैं। हाँ, सिर्फ भला होता है ऐसा भी नहीं है। हमारे शहरों की जर्जर व्यवस्थाओं को बारिशों में डूबते देखते हैं, सड़कों पे बनती नदियों में गलते कागज़ों के कारवां हर साल न जाने कौन सा समंदर तलाशते हैं।

जीवन की बाकी तस्वीरों की तरह, सावन के भी दो चेहरे हैं: यह सृजन भी है, यह विनाश भी है। आगे लफ़्ज़ों में लेकिन कुछ एक ही सूरत दिखेगी – आशा की – और इसकी वजह भी है। आस-पास की गर्त, की दुर्व्यवस्था न गिनने से कम होगी न व्याख्या करने से। हाँ, शायद खूबसूरती और प्रयास को सोचकर हम मन के अनगिनत तनावों को भुला सकेंगे, आने वाले सवालों को टटोलने की थोड़ी ज़्यादा हिम्मत जुड़ा सकेंगे।

कई कविताएं लिखी हैं पर काफ़ी वक्त से इतना वक्त किसी ने नहीं लिया। पढ़ के बताइयेगा ज़रूर कैसी लगी…

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​वोह आँखें क्या कहती हैं

नारी का सम्मान कहाँ और स्तर कहाँ…

बम्बई की ट्रेन्स में सफ़र करता हूँ रोज़, और फर्स्ट क्लास के डब्बे लेडीज और जनरल में बंटे हैं। मेरी नज़र अक्सर फेंस के उस पर खड़ी औरतों, लड़कियों पर पड़ जाती है। उन चेहरों में, उन आखों में, उनमें अनेक सवाल, कई किस्से दिखते हैं।

बस उन्हें एक रूप देकर यहाँ लिखा है।

कैसी लगी बताइयेगा…

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Songs By The Lake

I don’t believe in Valentine’s, but I so do believe in love. And here’s something I wrote celebrating it.

It’s the first “story” I have published here. Let me know how you like it.


They sat there, on the shore, watching the sun set over the calm waters. A frigid wind was blowing, as if it had been waiting for the sun to descend, and the birds had vacated the skies.

Far away, they knew, there were people waiting. Homes, families, the call of the world. They knew that, for the next God alone knows how long, that’s where they were going to be. These were precious moments.

But neither spoke, or perhaps could speak. Their eyes scanned the horizon, and a glint of moisture resided in them. Their fingers were entwined, those of his left and her right, but they sat distanced. Intermittently, he would take his little finger and poke, scratch hers. She let him.

The sun was a mere ring, faint, on the water’s edge. Night had all but put him to sleep, and with a loving smile.

She spoke.

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बातें

कल किसी से बात चल रही थी। उनकी एक बात से कुछ ख्याल आया, खूबसूरत था। उस ख्याल को उनसे बातों बातों में यूँ पिरोया।

गर अच्छा लगे तो कहिएगा…

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ज़िन्दगी मुस्कान है

पिछले साल सोचा था कि हिंदी में लिखेंगे। वोह तो हुआ नहीं। अब पहले दिन से ही भली शुरुआत कर रहा हूँ।

अक्सर यह देखा है कि ज़िन्दगी से मायूस होते हैं, इससे मोहब्बत नहीं रहती। मज़ाक कि बात नहीं लगती कि हम इसकी बेवफाईओं के कारण इससे नफरत करना जानते हैं, यह भूल जाते हैं कि बेवफा ही सही पर है तो एक ही? यह चली गयी तो जायेंगे कहाँ?

तो इस साल थोडा उम्मीद से शुरू हो, थोड़ी आशा कि ओर चले, इस आरज़ू के साथ आपको एक तोहफा देता हूँ…

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Ghosts

The last post might have led you to believe that I am quite bitter at the end of the year. But that’s not entirely true!

The end of any particular thing makes me quite emotional and vulnerable, and Nostalgia rather frequently gathers its dark clouds and pours forth memories and miseries in a storm I am quite incapable of withstanding. From this storm of friends and lovers, good times and bad, hopes and hermitages, alliances and accords, come scenes that were once lived.

I see them, feel them, but they are distant. I cannot touch them, but only endure them in moments of pathos and hopelessness. My friends, should you read this, know that I remember our time together. I am grateful that I found you, and you me, and of all that passed to this point. I am happy that I will always have you.

What time is once past is finished, and yet we keep going back, like ghosts.

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Of Education, Leadership, and the AAP Experiment

If there is one outright positive adjective I’d like to use for myself, it’d be individualistic. I think as me first, and mostly, that’s all how I can think.

The year gone by got me a lot of chances to reflect on that word: me. And since this is my blog, I’d like to share a few of them with you.

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Intermittent

The Bombay suburban trains – colloquially referred to as the ‘locals’ – are a fascinating experience.

A strange, harmonious-amidst-chaos world in this city that is little-harmony-amidst-massive-chaos. They are a legend unto themselves, an embodiment of this city, a symbol of its liveliness, anarchy, and beauty, an icon. Maybe it is the innate desire for journeys that endears them to us, maybe the perfect cultural and socio-economic pot pourri that they carry each day, or perhaps it is, bereft of imagination, just the convenience of travel they offer in a city that is too large for its own good.

Just like this poem here, the following is something that just erupted on a ride I took on the suburban rail today.

Hope you like it…

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A New Deal

Each year, I believe, brings with it its own learnings. I don’t want to, as is my habit otherwise, to look past and reflect and write a quite incomprehensible memoir of what happened in the 365 days that just passed. What is the purpose of it? I am, just as we are all, very likely to make the same mistakes, enjoy the same shenanigans, and live the same truths again.

Nothing, largely, ever changes. Things just get draped anew.

So, instead, I’ve decided to look at the year ahead. While this is also in accordance with my habit otherwise, I think it is at least a tad bit more optimistic.

And a better way, frankly, of spending a month you’ve absolutely no clue what to do with or about.

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Her

Shakespeare once wrote a play that he couldn’t name. Ultimately, he went with ‘As You Like It’, leaving his audience to name and interpret what they saw the way the saw fit.

Now, yours truly is humble enough to recognise he’s no Shakespeare, or even comes close. But he was in a quandary quite similar with this post.

Let me know if you like the name, and, of course, the poem itself. It is something very different from what I usually write, and she who I’ve to thank for this will know how grateful I am to her.

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There She Stands

Hello world!

I believe I can justifiably say that, for I’ve been missing from this blog for the longest time – over a 100 days, WordPress tells me. During this, boy has a lot happened, most of which I wanted to write about here. But for reasons best known to Reason, I couldn’t. And then, suddenly, I couldn’t write at all. I wouldn’t call it any writer’s block, for the way I understand, that is when you at least have a will pushing you to write. In my case, I was blank – no ideas, no desire to write.

This morning, though, something just clicked. I’ve no clue why or how it happened, only glad that it did. Inspiration came, and as is usually its habit, at a place and from a source least expected.

It is a distinctly Bombay experience, the local trains. These days, I travel by two daily to reach the place of my internship at Andheri, changing at Vadala Road. So why am I boring you with the details? Because as I approached the latter, across the barricade that separates the first class from the women’s coach, I spotted this woman. Her expression I can’t describe – which is exactly how I believe it should be between Man and Woman – and stood staring outside the wide gates. As is usual in such cases, I’ve no clue to her identity, nor what she was seeing or thinking. But looking at her, and wondering what gave her the expression that she carried, somewhere Coelho’s divine Word decided to descend once again on my being.

And do I feel happy.

Here’s the poem this episode spawned. As always, I await your reactions.

Continue reading “There She Stands”

Nothing

I don’t know whether there is a method in madness or not, but there sure is a bit of divinity in it. In fact, in that state of existence, when we are at our most primeval self, we are closest to all that is good in us, all that the Maker put in, and all that Man, despite his best efforts, hasn’t been able to defile.

And in a morning spent in such phantasms of Life, I came up with this. Do let me know, as usual, how you like it.

Continue reading “Nothing”
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