You

Once upon a time

In days of adolescence and thoughts so pure

Asked a question to myself, my version of yore

Who is she, the one of your dreams, the one for you?

A name, a picture or a thought out of the blue

The answer, it is here, through life and years

Through exploring myself and growing in layers

 

She is,

This painting of perfect colors

All my imaginations, dreams and fantasies

All my aspirations, hopes and necessities

Every little detail of my vivid desires

Rolled into one, and filled with ice and fires

 

She is,

The perfect poise to my chaos

The sonorous noise to my silences

The seamless rationale to my biases

An easy foil to my follies

A breezy cure to my pain

And an easy allure to a new world.

A world with her

That of unparalleled addiction, of reality and imagination

Of being with her, of feeling her touch

On my body and my soul

Of being with her, in parts and in whole

 

She is,

An imagination blending into reality

Off late, a clear picture of thoughts with a name

A voice, an opinion, a being and a face so pretty

Like the dawn of a morning with drops of dew

I think of all this, and love sprouts out of the blue

She is, need I say, my own precious You.

 

 

Let’s talk about rape

A few days ago while hosting a game of Tambola (housie) in the customary fun segment of an engagement event, as I announced – King’s corner: first and last numbers of top row; and queen’s corner: first and last numbers of the bottom row, something suddenly hit me. I stopped and re-defined the prizes – top row as the Queen’s corner and bottom one as the King’s corner, much to the amusement of my audience. Too much of symbolism here, and it doesn’t even qualify as a token gesture towards a cause; but what it stirred in me was a stream of thoughts, about the casual ways in which we perceive and propagate the gender (in)equality norms.

Rape, as has been often repeated (and cannot ever be overemphasized), is not about sex. It is about a gravely misplaced sense of power, superiority and control – over the other gender. Prima facie, and undeniably so, people who commit such acts are in themselves particularly vicious. But at the same time, as a civilization we need to analyze the roots of that sense of power, superiority, control and inequality. A society is like a person in the way its ethos and values manifest themselves and grow with time. In its collective view of people, issues, ideas it forms a certain set of beliefs and morals. These, when averaged over time intervals emerge as the accepted societal norms, which are not easy to change. These norms get so deeply ingrained in each and every aspect of the society, that we get accustomed to them as the normal way of life. This, my friends, is nothing but culture – something which we as Human Resource professionals obsess with day in and out, and for all the right reasons. In an organization, we define culture as the inherent values, practices and the way of doing things; for a society culture defines the way things happen. Rape – a grave offence against humanity, may not be directly linked to such token gestures, but this and various other components of the culture are responsible for nurturing and breeding a mindset which when combined with a lack of human spirit, manifests itself in ugly forms such as rape. So, when I talk of rape and how to sensitize our society to it and prevent any such occurring, I look at rebuilding the culture, carefully modifying, monitoring and developing a culture of equality everywhere – in my home, in my workplace and in my mind.

A casual glance at any aspect of society (not specific to ours) will yield clear observations – of how a subtle dominance of a gender has been hinted at. Workplaces are no exceptions, since they are more or less a simulation of the larger society we live in, just that in most cases our consideration set gets limited to the supposedly privileged set of people – educated and intellectuals. But does that mean they are devoid of such biases? Not really.

From the symbolism inherent in naming certain positions as male by default (e.g. chairman), to designing work spaces and practices without taking consideration of the comfort of both the genders, it exists. In all those times, where a woman riding high on the corporate ladder is often doubted upon, or the success is attributed to her gender, it exists. Things are changing, but is that change widespread? Can that change be attributed internally to our conscious or is it just something we are expected to do? As the answers to these questions will reveal, a lot is still left to be done. As the architect of the workplace policies and processes, it is on us to ensure the intent behind them is right, and more importantly, they are not seen as a favor or a benefit but a very natural part of an organic ecosystem. Every time, while looking for a suitable candidate for a job we come across this line – this work isn’t suitable for a woman – the bias persists. Instead of taking into account this apparent fitment, why can’t our efforts be directed towards making the work conditions suitable for everyone? This is where again, the external (to workplace) society comes into picture, where sadly the bias exists to a greater extent. It is right there, when we tell young boys not to ‘cry like a girl’, or when we complement our daughters by calling them ‘son of the house’. It is right there when we associate courage with ‘having balls’, and it is glaringly and disgustingly out there when we define a victory or failure as ‘raped/got raped’. It is right there when our movies translate rape into ‘losing honor’ (izzat lootna), and propagate victim shaming without a thought. This casual sexism, is in fact so deeply ingrained in most aspects of our society that it is mostly passed off as the norm and becomes acceptable. This affects most the workplaces which are not as regulated or sophisticated – the unorganized sector. But no, none of these are why rapes happen exactly. As said earlier, it an act of an unfit and disfigured mind, but all these aspects of the culture do feed that mind. That’s exactly where we need to begin the change.

Yes, we must talk about rape. But before that, we must wake up and shake away this delusion that we are not a part of this problem. We must, as professionals, as citizens, as parents, as students and most importantly as humans – take a conscious call to redesign the culture of the society we live in. It doesn’t really require much of us – just the belief in the cause will do for starters. We must talk about equality and act on it – in our life decisions, of marriage, of children, of career and sharing responsibilities, credits and even blames. We must tell our young generations in no uncertain terms what equality is, how it should manifest itself in their day to day activities – from sharing their food, toys, books to respecting each other’s choices, bodies and consent. We must teach our girls, but before that convince ourselves that women (or for that matter, men) don’t ‘have to’ be a certain way, they can be who and what they want for themselves.

Let’s take this as a project – perhaps the most important one ever – to remove this menace from the very root. As the flagbearers of culture, we have to make a start, right now – in our workplaces, in our homes, in our families, but most importantly, in ourselves.

Valentine’s Day

…ke aisa beparwaaah man pehle to na tha….

Valentine’s Day music, colors and vibes greeted him everywhere on his way to work. He was still a good half an hour away from the place but his thoughts had already reached there, although in a different time. The first time he had seen her, it took him a few seconds but he did realize that there was something special about her. Something that would make him turn and look at her again. Not that she was one of the most beautiful girls he had ever seen, nor was she that sorts of attractive whom everyone would declare as the office (or college) hottie right away. Yet, the manner in which she said – thanks, I hope you have a good time here, made his heart skip a beat. It could have been her name, that of a former beauty queen, bollywood star and his childhood favorite. It could have been those expressions galore on her face which made her eyes have a life of her own, or the slender face on which a couple of long stresses were always there, or her slim frame, or the melodious voice which had so much poise that even in the noise of surroundings it could make one feel calm and had a soothing effect in his heart, or the hesitant, half fulfilled smile on her lips which looked just about ready to break into a heartfelt laughter- it could have been anything.

In next few days, as much as he tried not to let that feeling grow, his heart couldn’t care more. They met, got along well and whether due to only ease of access and suitability, many lunches, tea and dinner happened together. Meanwhile, her best friend, also his colleague in office, probably discharging the duties of a best friend told him to not even think of her as she had someone since many years and they would be getting married soon. He laughed it away, though a little part of him did tell him to stop right there and inhibit himself, the moment he saw her all the caution was replaced by pure happiness, and gave way to smooth flowing conversations. Soon there were many more lunches, coffee and dinners. He started adjusting his work timings so that they could leave together and spend time in the metro.

The train of thoughts halted abruptly, he was already in his office. Only last day he got to know she was getting engaged and that news had once again opened a trail of thoughts in his mind, and he could not decide where and when he needed to stop. The songs playing at the reception were all talking of feeling the love, soaking him in its fragrance. He walked towards his seat, on the way she said hello and smiled at him. In a moment his heart uplifted and a warmth spread through him and all he could feel was a pure positive energy. Through the chit-chat, office gossips and lunch and advices, what remained throughout the day was the palpable feeling of attraction that he felt and how buoyant it made him feel.

He walked out of the train that day happy and upbeat, with the music slowing down.

… deewana hua badal, le pyaar me angdaai…

He was happy, in the least mindful of ways he could ever be. A happiness which didn’t expect anything in return, a happiness of a feeling, of love, of having found an experience which could make his heart dance with joy and lips wide with a smile. It was happy Valentine’s day!

 

Delhi, my friend

It’s a belief I have held for long now – cities are like people. With both, you tend to lose objectivity in your feelings and start viewing them through the lenses of experiences you have had and memories you created with them. More often than not, it starts with a sense of uncomfortable unfamiliarity, progresses with moments of intense dislike and regret and gradually with time you begin to know them, accept them with all their flaws and eventually develop a relationship which is deeper than what objectivity can perceive. So, if Varanasi has been that family member for me which I have just known to love always in that cocooned sense of comfort and ownership, Pilani and Jamshedpur have been those growing up companions with whom I grew up, learnt about what it means to grow up and come out of that protective shell.

Delhi, on the other hand, over a period of time (3 years, and more) has become like that close friend, who you might find many flaws with, constantly crib about yet develop a deep sense of affection and a sense of belonging. From the tall towers of Noida – Ghaziabad, to the affable and loud neighborhood of Patel Nagar, to the superficial posh of the South Delhi to the glitzy shine of the Millennium city Gurgaon with a dark underbelly, all of them seem familiar now. Few years back, it was this big halt on the way to my college and my eyes would never get tired of staring at the tall buildings, wide roads, curvy flyovers and the metro in construction. Even today, the magic remains intact – only with higher intensity and with a mixture of many other emotions. The wide roads which would seem like the route to a different world altogether, today after 3000 kms of biking on them seem like my own companion who share the joy of the wind blowing on my face leaving the metropolis behind. The flyovers which teased me with their twists and curves and rise and fall take me along with them in their joyride. The metro which seemed to be digging a whole new world into the future now seems like a way of life, no more than taking a rickshaw back in the towns of hinterland. The pubs and bars with their edgy lights and sounds seemed alien now embrace me with all the warmth- mostly of the memories of good times. You don’t really belong to a city unless you know its ways, its lanes and roads and getting across it. The joy which I feel on covering the width and length of the NCR on 2 wheels is something which will always fill my heart with a warm feeling, and a belief that yes I know this city, I know its roads.

Delhi is not just another city, it is actually a combination of many of them, each with a different flavor of its own. Like a giant beast with many limbs, it goes on expanding ever and not always in dignified proportions, often out of sync with each other and resulting in case when it grows so big that one part does not know about the other. Noida and Ghaziabad – with its mixed contours of UP and sprinkling of the metropolis, offer a comfort the kind of which you get from meeting a person from your hometown in a new place. Greater Noida is all that, only in a much more beautiful, planned and evolved way, mostly due to lack of the population. The connecting link – The Expressway will always remain the first love of my bike, and the memories we share their together will be precious. Gurgaon, (no, not Gurgram) a living metaphor of the classic Indian metro planning (i.e. a disaster) is a different breed altogether – with its super posh and rich skyline, drinking addas and of course that place called Cyber Hub. Delhi, of course the center of it all (literally and figuratively) remains that heady cocktail of political storms, bits of history round every corner and the origin of all things big in the country. Move beyond the borders to the interior and you find a city of civilization in process and in construction co-existing together

And that is something which is common to all part of this monster called the National Capital Region – construction. As if the capital wants to stand as a metaphor to the ever growing dreams of the Indian populace, it is since time immemorial (at least in my life time) has always been a work in progress. Large stretches of lands in Noida and Gurgaon offer a scenic (in a weird way) views of towers getting erected one floor above the other, one tower behind the other. Before the roads and people kick in, there is this whole another world of slums of the construction workers and their families which inhabit it, and a few years later the same places are inhabited by the people who occupy the other end of the divide of the society. Some areas just seem perpetually under construction, with the ever changing demographics of the NCR. As if along with my personal growth, the mega city also grows, and both of us still struggling to identify if this is the point to stop, or if all went right.

It seems alright though, both the city and the time spent here. The single required and sufficient evidence for that is the pain that I feel as I move on, and the wonderful people and memories I share with them, and the roads, the metro, the malls, flyovers and all things which shape and define the city. This city has given me a lot – in material, emotional and financial all terms, but as I leave, I leave a part of my soul behind. A part which will always care about the status of that proposed tram network in Chandni Chowk, the trial runs of the Jama Masjid metro line, the launch of new luxury townships in Sohna Road, the Noida-Greater Noida Metro line, the taxi-pods of Manesar-Gurgaon, the happy hours at CP, the new stores and skiing zone in the Mall of India and the pollution levels in the air. Even though I might live somewhere else, love someplace else, and objectively find some other place better, the time spent here and my relationship is with Delhi will remain the same. For all your flaws, Delhi you have been a great friend, and a friend for lifetime for sure. Until we meet next, keep growing!

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Udta Punjab -Stunning, hard-hitting and an absolute high!

* * * 1/2

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Alright, so this is a brilliant work by Kashyap and co, though it makes you uncomfortable and concerned about more than one cause.

  • The problem that the movie very effectively portrays – that of drug menace in Punjab. Reading about it print is different from watching it unfold in front of you, and the movie makes you very uncomfortable about the situation in the state. But more than anything, it makes you aware (and in a much better way than those anti-smoking ads before the movie) of how substance abuse is injurious to health and life!
  • The problem that the movie inadvertently drew attention of the country towards – the actions and logic (or lack of it) behind them of CBFC, voiced by our very own Mr. Nihlani. It is strange to think that someone could perceive this movie as promoting substance abuse, verbal abuse or defaming Punjab. This shamefully points towards a severe handicap in artistic understanding, or worse, a political hidden agenda.

Abhishek Chaubey, who already impressed the critics and audience with his Ishqiya franchise, ups the ante here and succeeds in giving the audience a film which is cool, fun, entertaining, explicit, bold, socially relevant, and technically brilliant without ever being preachy. Despite having easy temptation to fall into the trap, the movie not for a single moment glamorizes drugs and that is a major achievement. Yes, there is a lot of cussing but nothing seems unjustified or out of the place given the characters and their milieu. Infact one shudders to think what the CBFC would have made of the movie if the makers hadn’t gone to the court.

The film tells the stories of 4 characters in a drug laden Punjab. Tommy Singh (Shahid Kapoor) is a coke snorting rockstar idolized by many in the state, Sartaj (Diljit Dosanh) a cop living in cartels with the drug mafia and police until his own family gets affected by it, Preet (Kareena Kapoor) a doctor and drug rehabilitation worker who along with Sartaj tries to fight the problem, and an unnamed Bihari migrant worker (Alia Bhatt) whose encounters with the powder lead her places,  not all being the ones where she’d have wanted to. Though all the performances are good, stars of the show are definitely Alia and Shahid (arguably, in that order). Alia Bhatt has to be seen to be believed. The way she has modified herself completely- right from accent to body language, she is a revelation. Hats off to the young actor, she is no more a student, rather actor of the year! Shahid Kapoor excels once again his role, bringing alive both the madness and humane side of the rockstar. Diljit makes an impressive debut and is very likable. Amit Trivedi scores big again, and the way music has been integrated into the script is commendable. The abuse-laden dialogues are as real as they get hence are effective in conveying the intent of the story.

To nitpick, the first half cold have been a bit more clear, the deliberate steps to say ‘’drugs are bad’’ often come into the way of story-telling. Also, a particular sequence in the end seems to be a deliberate attempt to take the story in a certain direction instead of flowing free and organically. But even with these, Udta Punjab scores high, scales new heights and makes you care for the characters, people and the beautiful state in a strong way.  Go watch it, not to be missed at any cost!

Wanderlust

Amidst days of mundaneness

Through nights of restlessness

A wave of pulsating thoughts

A flash of craving, of images of wilderness

I am gripped by this sudden surge

Of breaking free, of forgetting fears, of forging a fable

Of giving in to this feeling

This feeling of living a dream,

A dream which was lived through

A fable which is real, only it doesn’t seem so

Even the mortal evidences seem to lie

That feeling that sensation continues to weaken

The images in mind and in physics keep blurring

And the craving gets stronger

To break this mundane routine and revisit the dream

To relive the wanderlust

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Memories

10th May 2012

I am reading The Time Traveler’s Wife. It is the kind of read which has a slow but moving impact on the conscious. There is a certain weird sense of excitement mixed with a hint of sadness. The constantly changing dials of time leaves you with a certain sense of melancholy, stillness, of being stationery while everything else is moving in time and space.

If I could travel in time, I would perhaps go back to a sleepy summer morning of an early 2000, the time when responsibilities meant finishing the homework and fear meant being grounded in the evening for the previous evening’s wrongdoings. I would probably hide myself in one of the numerous attics of that old, small ancestral home and watch myself enter the place, all excited and happy about being in the ‘’big’’ city, Varanasi. The big city of Banaras offered so many luxuries which my sleepy little town of Sultanpur didn’t. There were fewer hours of powercut; there were better places to eat, and there was actually a building with a lift in it. There was the second channel on TV – DD Metro, which broadcasted soaps like Kundli, Kalash and the most awaited of them all – Kabhi Sautan Kabhi Saheli. As the 11 year old me would update myself of all the happenings from my cousins, in the attic I would watch and laugh at the absurdity of it, and think of watching Youtube clips of some of those shows.

I would probably come out of the attic on her sight- Dadi (my grandmother). But then would stop myself remembering that she was a heart patient, and then I would perhaps suffice myself only with the sight of an 11 year old me eating from her hands, and hiding my face in her lap if she tried to make me eat the lauki ki sabzi. Then I would watch her walk to the washbasin, with the little me holding her hand. As she would pass through the perennially accumulated pool of water , I would definitely jump down from the attic to stop her, only to remember that it would be two years later when that water would make her rest on the bed forever. And the helplessness, sheer futility of my being there would make me cry, perhaps.

I would like to sit in the small window, (which opened to a vast playground, full of people, and trees, and cows, and dogs) hidden behind the curtain, in the breaking hours of dawn, and watch Baba (my grandfather) wake me up forcibly as I pull my sheets higher and higher, and him never giving up in his efforts despite the disapproving looks from Dadi lying in her bed. And 5mins later, would follow Baba and myself in the narrow lanes of Banaras, as we set off for our morning dose of fresh, healthy air. A group of cows would approach, lost in their own paradise, and seeing the scared look on my face, I would try to tow them away, but Baba would already be there. Now both of me (s) would be equally excited on seeing that beautiful little temple outside the Sanskrit University Gate. The 12 year old me, because the road was so wide there, and the median was decorated with plants and designs, and it felt an achievement to stand there; and the 22 year old me because of seeing that temple after years, and with the knowledge that it was the temple where ‘Ganga’ in Ram teri Ganga Maili stays in the movie, and that would most probably bring to my mind the picture of a white saree clad Mandakini under the waterfall, and I would shake away the feeling disapprovingly with guilt.

Now there would be no point of hiding, with the hoards of people jogging away their morning blues in the lush green campus of the university. I would try to decipher the hymns which Baba always chants, but his voice would get lost in the temple bells, chirping of birds, and bhajans playing in the Shiv temple in vicinity.

Perhaps sensing my fatigue, Baba would ask me to go rest in the temple while he completed his rounds of ‘vyayam’. Then I would be confused where to go- with him or with me. I’d probably stop with myself, on the opposite side of the pillar, with shoulders back to back. I would try to listen to my thoughts, to know what was I thinking at that moment. Perhaps about the jalebi-samosa that Baba would get my on the way back, or the breakfast that Mummy would be cooking at home, or the Chutti-Chutti episode of last day, and praying to Shiv ji  that there is no power cut at that time.

And then our stomachs would grumble. Some things stay the same over years, and the bowel motion is one nasty little such thing. While I would prefer travelling back to my time, the little me would cling to Baba as he appears and in a very nonchalant manner, and brings a bottle full of water and directs me to an empty space guarded by shrubs. I would run, holding my belly tight.

And I too, would move back to my time, to avoid the sight, and the overwhelming power of memories. Will it make me happy that it was, or will it make me sad that it is not, is something I do not know. Such is the nature of memories, intriguing.

Neerja – Soars high

* * * *

Sonam Kapoor, Shabana Azmi, Shekhar Ravijani, Yogendra Tiku

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Just a few weeks ago, we had a movie based on a real life incident which tried its best to create a hero, often forgetting the thin line between creative liberty and distortion of facts, yet at best emerged as an average fare which sailed through thanks to the nationalist flavour of the week. This week debutant director Ram Madhvani shows us how it is done. Simply put, Neerja soars high, and before landing at its rather tragic destination, makes you feel for the lead character, Neerja in a way so strong that it is a testimonial to the power of cinema, or to be precise, good cinema.

That Neerja Bhanot’s story is inspirational and the young woman did something extraordinary is an established fact. But often good stories do not result in good movies, and thankfully this is not one of those cases. The movie tells the story of a (yet to be) 23 year old Neerja Bhanot (Sonam Kapoor), who lives with her doting parents (Shabana Azmi, Yogendra Tiku) brothers. Post a successful modelling career, she has just got her first opportunity as the head purser in a Pan Am flight directed to Frankfurt via Karachi. Amidst the ill-fated plane that gets hijacked, her past consisting of an abusive marriage that haunts her, and supportive parents, how Neerja shows exceptional courage and human spirit forms the crux of the story. The makers get the 80’s set up right, though the Rajesh Khanna reference is overdone at times. Also, a few of the Bollywood clichés about parents could have been avoided in an otherwise realistic movie. Thankfully, the director doesn’t waste much time in build-up, and is very effective in maintaining an atmosphere of tension and distress throughout the movie. The moments before the main event kicks in work well to establish the characters we care for, before the calamity strikes. Once we are in the plane, there is no looking back. The fear is almost palpable, keeping the audience on the edge of their seats throughout, despite knowing what is about to unfold; and when is does, it is heart wrenching. It is probably the saddest that you’ll feel at the movies in a while, (except the times when your choice of the movie makes you sad) and that’s the power of this beautiful story, told in a very powerful way.

Sonam Kapoor must be applauded for her choice of the movie, for this might very well be the career defining role for her. While there were doubts about how well she could pull this off, there is no denying that this is her best work yet. In a role that demands a lot from her – looking picture perfect as an air-hostess and channeling her inner strength on screen, she excels. In the scenes where she is about to break down and yet derives strength from her past, she is exceptional.  Shekhar Ravijani and Yogendra Tiku play their roles well. However, expectedly the performance which breaks your heart, and is sure to move you to tears is that of the veteran, Shabana Azmi. Her reactions when she gets to know of the hijack are priceless. And then there is the climax speech, which is bound to make everyone reach out for tissues. The music, cinematography and dialogues are all controlled, devoid of any unnecessary frills and offer able support to the emotional core of the movie, the main strength of it.

Emotional core, a necessity for any work of art, yet a rare phenomenon in our industry. Movies like Neerja show us cinema can do more than giving you a good time and making you laugh. This is a story which deserved to be told, and has been told in such a real manner that it is often uncomfortable. But then, comfort isn’t the point of art, well not always.

Must watch.

Bajirao Mastani: A visual , artistic and royal beauty K. Asif would be proud of

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* * * *

Mesmerizing palaces, fountains and chandeliers, alluring classical dance numbers, royal court and pride,  shayaris and constant references to the moon and Gods, epic battle scenes and a forbidden love – if all this reminds you of Mughal-e-Azam, then come and  relish with absolute delight and almost palpable sense of pleasure, this visually enchanting, dramatically appealing and artistically satisfying saga of love made by a man who obviously is in love with his art, our history and the K. Asif classic. Bajrao Mastani, in a very assuring way, is Sanjay Leela Bhansali in his top form, weaving his own version of a world that existed only in the pages of history, with cinematic liberties and imaginations, but nonetheless with absolute finesse. The result is almost a cinematic masterpiece. This could very well be the Mughal-e-Azam of this generation.

Sanjay Leela Bhansali has always been associated with beautiful imagery on screen – of grand sets, classical music, larger than life situations and performances. But of late, he has been accused of overindulgence in these show pieces and losing the plot somewhere in them – Guzaarish, Saawariya or RamLeela. But here he reminds us of the stuff he is capable of. While each and every scene of the movie is a beautiful painting, all the dance numbers are a lesson in elegance, class and royal charm – the beauty of the movie lies mostly in the screenplay. The story of forbidden love between Peshwa Bajirao (Ranveer) and a Muslim warrior princess Mastani (Deepika) and a dutiful wife Kashibai ( Priyanka) has been weaved beautifully, albeit with significant creative liberty. But when the result is as magnificent as this, one can’t really complain, not after the loud disclaimer at the start, which seems an afterthought of the protests. There is too much to love and marvel over here. The obvious – the amazing sets of Bajirao’s courts, palace, Mastani Mehel and ofcourse that beautiful ode to Mughal-e-azam’s Sheesh mehel – Aaina Mehel, and the musical confession of love in court – Deepika does an Anarkali, and succeeds at it. The music is soothing, melodious and true to the spirit of the movie. The dialogues, full of poetry, shayari and references to Radha, Krishna, Chand are equally effective and transport you to a different era altogether.  The war sequences are choreographed aptly, though never being the focus of the screenplay. The dance numbers add to the allure of the entire set up, and the leading ladies perform beautifully. The story does not restrict itself to only romance, but also weaves in a significant amount of social commentary, very relevant to today’s time, without being preachy. The performances are top notch. While Ranveer is no doubt excellent, with his accent, body language and expressions, the ladies steal the show. Deepika as Mastani shines, quite literally. Her eyes speak volume, convey the determination and love that grows within her, and needless to say she looks a million bucks. Priyanka has an understated role, but the gravitas she brings to it shows the level of her art. The controversial Pinga song might not be accurate historically, but nonetheless is a high point of the movie, a delight for the fans. Also commendable is the way in which the makers keep the on-goings progressive, and avoid the trap of portraying the love, the infidelity as excessively glorified. The dilemmas of the Peshwa, as well as the attempts of Kashibai to come to terms with the situation are dealt with very sensitively and it is impossible not to feel for all the characters.

In this era of mind-numbing tailor made blockbuster movies bereft of any sense of art, aesthetics or basic decency, at the end it comes down the viewers. The course of cinema is determined by the choices we make as audience. This one is a gem, designed not to make a quick buck, but for the love of art of cinema, for a tribute to an immortal movie classic, and most importantly, for the romantic within all of us. Go for this one, for movies like this are not frequent. As K Asif would agree, often it takes half a century to come up with one.

Tamasha : Musings of a master storyteller

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Once upon a time in Bollywood, the usual enemies of love were external – parents,  goons or evil relatives, love was a solution to life’s problems, and a destination in itself. Then came people like Ayan Mukherjee, Shakun Batra, Imtiaz Ali and love became an instrument to self-discovery , and had to face bigger battles- that with self, thoughts and beliefs. Interestingly, Ranbir Kapoor has been a frequent part of such stories, and Tamasha adds an illustrious feather to that hat. This is a beautiful cinematic experience, not so much a commercial love story, but a story of stories, metaphors, soul searching and ultimately, love helping you discover them all. Imtiaz Ali excels with this intense and passionate tale of defying conventions and finding your own story, and comes up with a cinematic triumph!

Tamasha is an experience, a theatrical presentation which uses the metaphor of story-telling beautifully and weaves a character and story about whom you care, and in the process start thinking about your own life and dreams. Why always the same story – the film questions frequently, while also reiterating the fact that most stories, across cultures, nations, times are similar at the core, and all our stories are somewhere a mix of that, but we need to find that within ourself. In a key moment of the film, the moment of realization, the protagonist realizes that it was nothing else but fear that had been stopping him from finding his own story, living his own dream. The strength of that one moment is enormous, and elevates the movie to a different level. The movie tells us the story of a Ved (Ranbir) , who has grown up listening to stories, and lives through them. Unable to separate real life from the stories he hears, when he is forced to give them up and follow the same journey as everyone, he loses his own self and becomes what is expected of him by the society. How a trip to beautiful Corsica and a meeting with Tara (Deepika) changes his life and makes him discover his real self, forms the crux of the story. It might sound a bit high minded, pretentious and first world, but it isn’t. Infact one of the characters says, jinki life me koi problem nahi hoti, wo khud problems create karte hain, and sadly many people especially in our country might agree to that, and that irony itself drives home strongly the point of this movie.

Hence, in no way this is a safe movie to make and be a part of. Imtiaz Ali must be applauded for sticking to his beliefs and coming up with movies which have a strong voice and something to say. But more importantly, it is Ranbir who deserves praise for his strong performance, which once again shows why he is regarded as the next superstar, and despite seeing a few failures has not given in to the safe commercial choices in cinema. His portrayal of Ved is perfect and leaves you spell bound. Deepika shines too, though her role has not been defined clearly and also treated often as secondary to Ranbir’s. A R Rahman is magical as always, adding the required pathos and volumes to silences. The camera beautifully captures the beauty of Corsica and lanes of Hauz Khas Village in Delhi. In second half the movie does meander for some time, and some might find the pacing slow. But with all its ideas of self-actualization and being true to self, the movie does manage to find a middle path between reality, practicality and romanticism, and that’s the best part of the story. Because, how many of us have really been stopped from pursuing our dreams by our parents, or lack of money? More often than not, it is only our fear of breaking the convention, leaving the comfort zones which restricts us. Tamasha teaches us to forget the fears, live our own story, and question, why always the same story!

Go for it, absolutely!