In Memorium

This is not my story but I felt this needed a platform and hence, I am presenting it. On 27th April, I had a conversation with my mother on Whatsapp. I have tried to keep her words unedited here, adding only what is necessary to increase clarity.

Maa: Feeling sad My fav handsome actor is no more. Saw him at Manali in1973 with 1st wife and eldest son . All of them were really beautiful just can’t forget talked with him at o ne feet distance​

Me: Really u had met him   wow… I was wondering who you liked better Vinod Khanna or Sashi Kapoor…

Maa: We had gone for excursion from University to kulu Manali. After field work we went to a apple juice shop there he was with his family. He is so tall handsome actually the whole familywas beautiful. Akshay(e) was on his ‘kol’ ( lap), we touched the baby took pictures but I don’t have. They had no ‘gham’*(Airs). Sashi is good looking but vinod is too handsome.

Me: Thats a nice story you should write it on FB.

There is nothing off great importance in this chat perhaps for the readers. But for me, it had importance, a few thoughts crossed my mind. We are not so different despite what we call the generation gap. My mom reminiscing about her college days is just like how I would look back on mine. I haven’t met many celebrities but may be I would sound as wistful when remembering the first time I went to Eden Garden to watch Rahul Dravid play a test match. 

Life brings us two choices, one to be happy the other to be miserable. In her sadness my mom still found that memory that glowed in her mind like a beacon. That’s how it works. There are days when we are surrounded by loss or failure or sadness and on those days something bright in our mind lifts us up. I am reminded of a pop culture reference from the movie X MenFirstclass where Charles helps Eric harness his true power and strength by finding the happiest memory in his mind and brightening it. Our strength comes from our happiness. And happiness is not money it’s experiences to be treasured. 

My mom has not been a teacher for a while now but as I always say, she continues to teach me everyday in some little way how to live a fulfilled life. She is my greatest teacher. And that is why I thought it was important to share her remembering a man who was part of her life when she grew up. Idols like Vinod Khanna touch many lives in distinct ways. And only those who are touched understand the true loss. For the rest of us he may be a yeasteryear actor but to many he means a lot more than just a Cine Idol. In India Cinema and Sports are probably more influential than politics and hence, when a mighty giant falls in those spheres, people sit up , wonder , perhaps even quietly contemplate the meaning of life. I dedicate this post Mr. Vinod Khanna. MAY HIS SOUL REST IN PEACE.

Thank You Mom for sharing your bright and beautiful memory of Mr. Khanna.

Image source : Google

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Bansali’s Devdas – Looking Back

Sanjay Leela Bansali’s Devdas was an awful retelling of the classic with it’s caricature of Bengali culture; but as a film that showcases 4 leading actors it does make for good scope to judge screen presence. Madhuri Dixit is the best of the lot , followed by Jackie Shroff. SRK playing the titular character flounders under bad direction and Aishwarya keeps channeling her Hum Dil De Chuke Sanam self and is shallow and pretentious. I have always felt like slapping the nyakami out of Aish’s Paro and knocking SRK’s Dev on the head to turn his senses back on. 

Kiron Kher is considered a powerful actor yet SLB forces her to hyperventilate , open her mouth too wide or deliver her insipid dialogues with grandeur. She started as a lovable character in the movie but by the middle she turns into a vengeful spirit, spewing unnecessary venom.

Of course, SLB wrote all his characters with so many flaws that it is hard to like or feel sorry for them. Paro is too proud for her own good and her ego gets the better of her. Strangely her childhood sweetheart is potrayed with same flaws. Devdas is an egotistical failure. He has not achieved anything in life. He is nothing without his parental wealth. In fact after leaving his parents he lives off Chunilal. You may say that the original characters are drawn up as flawed. But somehow between my reading of the original and SLB’s interpretation I found his vision makes the characters mean , vindictive, smaller. That’s the trouble of SLB’s grand canvas, the characters become small. 

The standout in this is Madhuri Dixit’s acting prowress. Every frame she occupies is grand and she is grander than the backdrop. She is better than any other actors with whom she shares screen space. Her acting is sans nyakami , the eccentricities of her character become ‘ada‘ rather than Aish’s ‘nyakami‘. 

Today when I re watched the movie after years I suddenly felt disappointed that Bollywood lost a powerful actor like Madhuri Dixit too early. Had she been part of the industry now she would have had her choice of roles. As the industry now has few writers and directors who would have made beautiful and poignant movies with Madhuri. 

But at least SLB has left us with Devdas where you can be mesmeriesed by her.

THE END

NINETY FIVE

Some may call the Television and idiot box but I have learnt many things from my years of TV addiction. As a child I understood the difference between sausage, ham and steak because of the Tom and Jerry cartoons. I knew what a jet pack was because of Jetsons. And before Jurassic Park, dinosaurs were not alien to me because of the Flintstones. Now, with the TV actually turning into a source of mediocre forms of entertainment, I focus more on TV Series, from America and UK. I have learned about Tracheotomy from House M.D. and such other trivia.

Recently I have been watching a few series which have a lingering theme in them, it makes sense to have that common thread run through them because they are also part of the same Marvel Universe. Yes, I am talking about the series of The Flash, Arrow, Supergirl, Legends of tomorrow. Combine that with my tryst with Doctor Strange in the theaters, this one concept has been intriguing me. The same theory was mentioned in The Big Bang Theory, as something Sheldon believes in, which got me thinking, Multiverse theory is not just part of comic books it is possibly something scientific. Then I re watched Interstellar and as with all Christopher Nolan movies, each time you watch them you become aware of a nuance you had missed earlier. This Multiverse theory was everywhere.

Like all millennials, if I can call myself that, I turned to the internet for my answers.Here is some basics about what is Multiverse?

The multiverse (or meta-universe) is the hypothetical set of possible universes, including the universe in which we live. Together, these universes comprise everything that exists: the entirety of space, time, matter, energy, and the physical laws and constants that describe them. The various universes within the multiverse are called “parallel universes”, “other universes” or “alternative universes”.

This comes from Wikipedia and for more details do check out the link here.

In fact most of the comics characters we have grown up with from DC comics and Marvel comics have always been intermingling the stories from their different worlds sometimes bringing all the superheroes into the same world and time. Hence, we have the Avengers and Justice League. One is given more story lines and better stories with this intersection of time and space but sometimes, too much playing around with the time and space concepts can hurt your head in the audience trying to understand everything that is going on. In fact 2017 Oscar nominated movie Arrival also speaks about it to some degree, not the multi verse theory as such but the concept of Non linear time. The same kind of concept of time, was referred to in Interstellar. Our understanding of time is linear, currently, in some future time or in the case of Alien travelling across the universe to meet us may see and understand time in a non linear fashion. Here is link on the Linear vs Non Linear view of time.

The more I am reading about this, the more I am intrigued and after watching Arrival, I am beginning to grasp the concepts much better. Of course, one must understand that these are theories which have several anti-theories too. But for the time being this science fiction and comic book fan is happy.

 

THE END.

 

EIGHTY TWO

I am by nature opinionated. For the longest time I can remember my dream was to become a columnist in a leading daily, somewhat like Sobha de. Of course with the course of time the realisation dawned on me that in order to be a columnist there was a lot of hard work involved.  Yes, I am not denying the fact that hard work is the pre requisite for any success in any field but the lazy impatient personality that I have thought it was too tedious to try and make it as a columnist.  Note how brilliantly I have circumvented the need for any actual talent to become a columnist. I like writing in fact I think I write well sometimes. But just like hobbies from childhood many things fade with time and lack of practise. The same has happened to my writing skills. I haven’t tried to groom myself to become a writer.  Yet, I have opinions which I like to share. My next best recourse has been the social media namely Facebook. It gave me scope to vent my opinions and bore unsuspecting friends reading their newsfeed. In fact my initial days of blogging were mostly spent in putting forth my random opinion on things.  Over the years I have come to find that not everyone welcomes my opinions. Off late I have found myself trying to stay away from sharing my opinions.

Coming back to why I started talking about my opinionated self. I have been finding it difficult to write well researched blog posts in the past one year. It seems to me the best way to continue towards my goal of making it to the 100th post is to stick to opinions. Yes, that could be what I focus on for the next few posts. In fact I am someone who reads a lot of news and I have opinions on most of them but I am also lazy not to leave a comment on the online posts. Perhaps this would be the to fit forum to voice the opinions which I keep dormant.  With this thought I started to type this post. Today my opinion is about the media obsession and focus on Priyanka Chopra and her acceptance in Hollywood post her stint with the ABC produced Quantico. The TV series has competed the first season and shooting is on for the season 2. In the meantime Piggy chops has won herself a People’s Choice award. I admit that’s an achievement. To be associated with a mainstream TV series produced by ABC is a great boost to her image as a crossover star from Bollywood but most recently everyone is losing their head over her presenting at Oscars. I am a wide eyed fan of the Oscars and I am a bit offended by the fact she is being hyped up by the media. It seems to me that she is the favour of the season and celebrity status is as good as your last success or award for someone like Priyanka Chopra. But the man who I find to be the real bearer of torch if acting skills of Indians and an ambassador of Bollywood is Irfa  Khan. He is a phenomenal actor whether he plays an inspector interrogating Dev Patel in Slumdog Millionaire or the adult Pi. He has been part of many Hollywood movies from a Ang Lee Epic to a Danny Boyle drama. He has worked with Ron Howard now for Inferno and from what I read he was approached by Steven Spielberg and he missed out on working on The Martian. He has been part of blockbusters like the Amazing Spiderman. He is part of good entertaining movies quietly without the hype. I have been wondering why his PR team , don’t know if he has one, hasn’t promoted him better. Anil Kapoor was more hyped for Slumdog Millionaire,  in fact he bagged the Hindi version of 24 , his pathetic role in Mission Impossible 3 post all of the Oscar promotion.
I don’t grudge Priyanka her share of the limelight but in the same time when she was releasing contrived music albums Irfan Khan was doing good work. I hope audiences around the world who love good movies and good actors remember him and focus on him instead of the bling and flash and bang of Priyanka Chopra.
I would only compare Irfan with only one other actor, Om  Puri who has been part of great Hollywood projects from before my birth. Recently I watched the 100 feet journey it was so poignant, it reminded me once again that the artistry of acting is not dead in this Era of fast paced , computer graphics driven story telling. But that is a story for another post.
My contention is Irfan should receive adulation , promotion and recognition for his contribution to our collective pride as Indians in the world of movies.

THE END.

EIGHTY

They hailed it as a box office success and almost at once everyone forgot that the star of the movie had stood trial for manslaughter and had been acquitted with a slap on the wrist after a decade of heel dragging by the Indian judiciary system. Yes I am referring to Bajrangi Bhaijan. My initial reaction had been to avoid watching it at all costs as a protest. However I finally had to watch it just to see why were people losing their minds and opening up their tear ducts to this stellar performance by an actor who can barely act.
So there I was sitting in front of the screen with a not so open mind. I was instantly amazed at the sad attempt to manipulate the audience with the deaf and dumb cute girl who strangely hasn’t been taught to read and write. Even strange is the introduction of Sallu Bhai as a Selfie taking ( why on earth do we need a silly song sequence) RSS cadet. Was it to make him seem like the strong Hindutva driven man and hence his complete 360 degree turn into a soft and mushy humanitarian just because the girl got duped and taken to a brothel? Oh the Sallu bhai in his perfect tear jerk avatar as the saviour , the brother,  the man.
I could not make head or tale of the reason why there was a back story and a love interest for Sallu bhai. Does Sallu bhai need a heroine? What was the need to cast a Kareena in that role? This could have yet another big break from some starry eyes Aishwarya look a like. But we got Kareena instead to increase the star value of the movie.  And her choice of movies of late have left me questioning her ability to really compete with the likes of Deepika who can definitely choose better. So they add a heroine who has about 5 scenes in total because bollywood masala movie needs a hero and heroine it cannot do with only a good guy and cute little girl story. The character of the heroine despite being a teacher seems completely bedazzled why thr wonderful mediocrity and stupidity of the man. He who must make some money and rent a house that is the pre condition set by the girl’s father to be allowed to marry. What utter nonsense is that. Is this even practical?

Of course bhai meets the cute little girl and all senses go out the window instead of taking her to a police station  he gives her shelter next comes the revelation that she is Pakistani and the sudden change in fortunes. The movie bow moves to bhai’s attempt to get into Pakistan without a Visa. Absolutely mindlessness follows after this. Add a Nawazuddin in a funny role, a few police men chasing them around. By this time you know as viewer that the denouement is merely delayed and the last drop of tear need to be extracted from you. Hence there is the much awaited reunion followed by an intense anti climax where you almost believe that the movie will redeem itself by showcasing the conclusion of this foolhardy yet heroic mission with a sacrifice. But no Sallu Bhai has never had the courage to breathe his last. I am not a movie buff correct me if I am wrong. Many stars have taken the plunge some early in their career some later to die a sudden death or one which is heroic. But no how can it be a Sallu bhai movie if the director doesn’t pull out all stops. So the Indian and thr Pakistanis gather at an unknown border and watch the release and crossover of Bhai and Lo behold his fiance and family are in attendance almost immediately  ( no planning required) and so does the girl and her parents . Makes me wonder that if the girl’s home was this near to the border of India why on earth di everyone travel. Days and weeks to reach the remote mountains! Anyway logic was never the strong point of the movie. What bewilders  me is at this opportune moment then dumb girl finds her voice just like that, right that moment,  without any medical intervention.
It is a terrible truth that we make bad movies but the fact that everyone is taken in by such movies makes it worse. The fact that everywhere I go I hear people who I consider to be above average intelligence wax eloquent about the powerhouse performance of Sallu and the innocent naturalness of the girl, it makes me sad. I would like to say it gags me to see people being manipulated to easily.
I have nothing against the hold actor. Bravo to her for putting up the ridiculous performance. She was a good instrument in the hand of the director.  But what about Salman Khan. This is same man who has murdered another man yet we all forgot about it and bought tickets for the show and made him even more money. Why are we so pathetic? Why can’t we be furious why doesn’t a mob burn his effigy or rip his posters or boycott his movies? Because he is a movie star because we don’t care because it want someone important who does because how does it matter so many years later because not watching this movie will not punish him.
Will not watching the movie at least leave you with some morality and principle?
May be I am the fool in all of this.

THE END.