Thursday, August 14, 2014

Where The Mind Is Without Fear (retold in 12 movie posters)

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high

Where knowledge is free

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments

By narrow domestic walls

Where words come out from the depth of truth

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection

Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way

Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit

Where the mind is led forward by thee

Into ever-widening thought and action

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father,

...let my country awake.

Poem: Where The Mind Is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore
Movie posters belong to the creators. Please don't sue me. :)

Tuesday, August 12, 2014


no margin for error, almost.

you failed, almost.

had to sleep hungry, almost.

best fondue you will ever have, almost.

so much money it was obscene, almost.

it rammed into the car, almost.

so funny i died, almost.

flew so high you could touch the clouds, almost.

it crashed, almost.

fifteen seconds of famous, almost.

so dark i was lost, almost.

it rained, almost.

so bad it was good, almost.

charlie bit my finger, almost.

so loud the earth shook, almost.

so faint it was a whisper, almost.

took your breath away, almost.

so far that there was no going back, almost.

so close, so close, almost.

dived so deep that you couldn't see the sun, almost.

'twas a huge fall and you slipped!, almost.

you caught it, almost.

so happy i could die, almost.

one things, almost.

human, almost.

it killed you, almost.

almost... so you keep going.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

A love letter to mother-in-law

Dear (potential) mother-in-law,

I know you are madly in love with me. But you know what they say, "Love ain't enough, dufus." Ye zaalim duniyaa aur ye kaatil zamaana. Let's take a step back, okay?

Susheel padha-likhaa ladkaa who will take good care of your daughter jise aapne itne pyaar se paal pos kar badaa kiya hai, what's there to not love? I get it. I love myself too. And if that isn't love, it will have to do until the real thing comes along.

Look, I know you want nothing but happiness for your daughter. I know the pressures society puts on you. I'm aware about "log kya kahenge". Just let her breathe, okay? It might be that she doesn't want to get married right now. It might be that she wants to figure out other things in her life, instead of "settling down." There is hardly an "umar" to get married. And I really hope you didn't freak out if your Visakhapatnam-raised daughter told you that she was in love with a Bihari boy and wanted to marry him. All those apprehensions about different cultures, communities, languages, or if the guy earned enough or not - look, it doesn't matter. If she told you about him, let her go. You believe in love, right? Trust your daughter to make the right decision for herself and her family. If the guy loves your daughter, he cannot not love you too. You will be surprised at the number of times I have heard "We cannot go against our parents' wishes." That's you, silly. Doesn't it make you all teared up with joy? Because sanskaar.

Stop pestering her. Things have changed, you know, and it's okay. Really. Ladki ki bua ki baaton mai mat aaiye. I wouldn't blame her though, I blame an overdose of Ekta Kapoor soaps, where she gets her ideas from. Your love got you and me here. Love gets challenged all the time, and if your love for me is enduring and true, we will get through all of this too one day.

I am reminded of a dialogue from Scent of a Woman. No, no, not the "This is such a crock of SHIT." one. The other one. This one:

"Let her continue on her journey. 
You hold this girl's future in your hands. It's a valuable future. Believe me. 
Don't destroy it. Protect it. Embrace it. It's gonna make you proud one day, 
I promise you."

One day, I will meet your daughter at some CCD a couple of times, and we both will really like each other. When that day comes, I will take you to a fancy restaurant, I will kneel, hold your hands, look straight into your eyes, and sincerely ask you, "Will you let your daughter marry me?" Okay?

Looking forward to stuffing myself with the kachoris and the gulaab jamuns which you are going to prepare for me when I visit after becoming your damaad ji.


Monday, January 27, 2014

86th Academy Awards

Note 1: Well, I did a post on Oscars last year, so I am going to do one every year now. Talk about being clingy, heh.

Note 2.0: Post 2.0 is going to be bigger and better, aww yeah!

It hasn't been a stellar year for movies compared to the previous year, neither there nor here. A year of massive snubs too (I weep for you, Coen brothers, Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson). '12 years a slave' emerges as the 'Lincoln' from last year, and TEN nominations for 'American Hustle', are you effing kidding me?! The race is wide open (which makes it mildly interesting), and my prediction is that this year predictions in general are going to go for a toss. My sentiments for this year's Oscars are best summarized by the movie nominated this year for Makeup and Hairstyling, a movie that will be selling DVDs with 'Oscar nominee' plastered on its cover - 'Jackass Presents: Bad Grandpa'.

The complete list of nominations is available here. This is going to be a difficult year for predictions, so whenever in doubt, I will stick to a golden rule - snub American Hustle!

CategoryPredictionPickVishesh TippaniQuotesHit / Miss
Best Motion Picture of the Year12 Years a SlaveThe Wolf of Wall StreetThe Wolf of Wall Street is by far the best movie of this year, its only fault being that it isn't "Best Picture material". F.U. American Hustle, I wish Jonah Hill peed all over you.From TWOWS: "My name is Jordan Belfort. The year I turned 26, I made 49 million dollars, which really pissed me off because it was three shy of a million a week."Hit! But they got it wrong. Time.
Best Performance by an Actor in a Leading RoleMatthew McConaughey, Dallas Buyers ClubLeonardo DiCaprio, The Wolf of Wall Streetsee: Best Motion Picture of the Year
P.S.: F.U. American Hustle.
From TWOWS: "I am not gonna die sober!"Hit! So disappointed for Leo!
Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading RoleCate Blanchett, Blue Jasmine
Kill me for saying it, but I don't think Amy Adams' cleavage deserves an Oscar. F.U."Who do you have to sleep with around here to get a Stoli martini with a twist of lemon?"Hit!
Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting RoleJared Leto, Dallas Buyers Club
see: Best Achievement in Makeup and Hairstyling"Relax, I don't bite. I guess you're handsome, in a Texas, hick, white trash, dumb kind of way."Hit! 
Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting RoleLupita Nyong'o, 12 Years a Slave
If only Scarlett Johansson was nominated. Sigh. And F. U. JLaw, Eff. You. You didn't deserve it last year, you don't deserve it this year.From Her:
"You know, I can feel the fear that you carry around and I wish there was... something I could do to help you let go of it because if you could, I don't think you'd feel so alone anymore."
Hit! So much deserve! 
Best Achievement in DirectingAlfonso CuarĂ³n, GravityMartin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Streetsee: Best Motion Picture of the YearFrom TWOWS:
'The name of the game, moving the money from the client's pocket to your pocket.'
'But if you can make your clients money at the same time it's advantageous to everyone, correct?'
Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the ScreenSpike Jonze, Her
The writing is just devastating. Devastating. Isn't that what great writing is supposed to be?"Sometimes I think I have felt everything I'm ever gonna feel. And from here on out, I'm not gonna feel anything new. Just lesser versions of what I've already felt."Hit!
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published12 Years a SlaveRichard Linklater, Before MidnightAnyone who has followed the 'Before...' series will hardly contest that Linklater deserves this, but well...From Before Midnight:
"Like sunlight, sunset, we appear, we disappear. We are so important to some, but... we are just passing through."
Best Animated Feature Film of the YearFrozen
'Olaf! You're melting!'
'Some people are worth melting for.'
Best Foreign Language Film of the YearThe Great Beauty
The Great Beauty is what To Rome with Love should have been, or rather what this movie should have been called.'We're all on the brink of despair; all we can do is look each other in the face, keep each other company, joke a little... don't you agree?'Hit!
Best Achievement in CinematographyGravity
Technical awards for Gravity is quite a no-brainer this year. From the camera-work to sound, Gravity is, without a doubt, going to sweep the technical awards.'Houston, I have a bad feeling about this mission.'
'Please elaborate.'
'Well, it reminds of a story.'
Best Achievement in EditingGravityCaptain PhillipsCaptain Phillips' climax got close to Argo's climax. It's tough to beat Gravity for the technical awards this year.From Captain Phillips:
"Shut up, Irish. Too much talking."
Best Achievement in Production DesignAmerican HustleHerHer was a surprise (and deserving) nomination for this category, and the minimalism in the look and feel of the movie only goes on to show how much thought was put into it. Oh, and yes, F. U. American Hustle.From Her:
"Your past is just a story you tell yourself."
Miss. The Great Gatsby.
Best Achievement in Costume DesignAmerican Hustle
Probably the only good thing about American Hustle. Yup, Amy Adams' cleavage wasn't one."But, you know I thought you were mysterious like my mother. Until, it turned out... the mysterious just meant depressed." Miss. Because in-your-face costumes are the way to go. :| The Great Gatsby.
Best Achievement in Makeup and HairstylingDallas Buyers Club
see: Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original ScoreSteven Price, Gravity
While I really wish Thomas Newman, after being nominated 11 times before this (including Wall·E), won this one for his great score in a music-heavy Saving Mr. Banks, I feel Steven Price deserves this one. Check it out.
Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song'Let it go', Frozen'Ordinary Love', U2, Mandela: Long Walk to FreedomThis is a tough one to pick, between 'Ordinary Love' and 'Let it go'. I do want to see U2 win, after they didn't win the last time they were nominated. And while you are at it, 'The Moon Song' from 'Her' is absolutely heart-breaking.
Best Achievement in Sound MixingGravity
see: Best Achievement in Cinematography
Best Achievement in Sound EditingGravity
see: Best Achievement in Cinematography
Best Achievement in Visual EffectsGravity
see: Best Achievement in Cinematography

18 / 20

Who are you rooting for?

86th Academy Awards...

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Starry Night

Her hands were on his cheek, his hands around her waist, as they lay there facing each other.

She was gently slapping him on his cheek. He, smiling, gripped her hand and tried to shove it away. She burst out laughing. She managed to free her hand and once again, continued with her playful slapping, him giving up and playing along with her this time, she unable to contain her laughter.

Their baby, comfortably nestled between them, had his sleep broken. She shushed him hurriedly, and began to caress her child. She felt a little guilty now as they lay there silently. Their child fell asleep once more.

He murmured something, she listened intently. She re-assured him, and gently caressed his cheek. He smiled. He was happy. She was starting to fall asleep. He carefully adjusted her head-rest. He kept looking at her with his folded hands below his head, unable to fall asleep.

He will have to find someplace else for his family to sleep tomorrow.

Adjacent to the ledge they slept on, a person tried to squeeze his bike into the last remaining gap in the small parking area there. A car honked and zipped past, narrowly avoiding the person coming towards it on a bicycle. The last few shops began to pull their shutters down. A young professional, carrying a bag-pack after a long, tiring day at work, stopped at the corner paan-shop for a cup of tea and a smoke. A group of friends stood beside the shop as they laughed at each others' stories about their day, each holding a cup of tea in one hand and a cigarette in the other. There was a queue of annoyed people at the nearby A.T.M., waiting to withdraw money and go about their lives. Across the street, a fat middle-aged man alongwith his two spriteful children, followed by his wife and his old mother, slowly walked towards their car in the parking-lot to get back home after having a sumptuous dinner at the near-by gourmet restaurant. A street-light flickered. The leaves on the road-side trees rustled in the soft, gentle breeze. The sky was clear, but stars were not visible. They twinkled somewhere, silently, alone.

None of it mattered.

[Based on an eye-witness episode.]

Monday, September 23, 2013


He hated midnight flights. On top of that, this was going to be a 16 hour long flight, straight to the other end of the world. Courtesy lost sleep and timezones, he would be miserable for days. He had been having nightmares about the journey. As they announced the call for boarding, he dragged himself towards the gate to be greeted by a mocking 'Enjoy your flight, sir.'. As if they knew.

He boarded the craft and walked towards his assigned seat. He had the middle one, the other two seats were unoccupied.

She made her way through the aisle, stopping near him. She struggled to put her luggage into the overhead bin. He tried to get up and help, but by then she had already managed it on her own. She pointed towards her window seat next to him, followed by a 2-minute awkward choreography of letting her get to her seat. As they took their seats, he turned to her and gave a well-do-we-have-any-other-choice smile, which she tried to acknowledge but pretty much ended up ignoring him. 'Alright, so be it.'

The safety announcements designed for 5-year-olds began. The craft taxied, sped along the runway, and took off. Entertainment was switched on, wine and dinner started being served, the air eased. He turned towards her to make a conversation. She was going to be next to him throughout the ordeal, so he might atleast make it not awkward.

'Do you fly along this route often?'

It seemed to him as if she made too much effort to return a casual smile. 'Doesn't seem interested in a conversation', he thought. Fine.

The trolley stopped beside them. He asked for white wine to go along with the peanuts. She took red. He put on his headphones and turned his entertainment on. His pick was 'Wall·E'. She looked outside the window while they sipped their wine. 'Why do they make these peanut packets so difficult to open?!', he thought getting annoyed. Everytime! As he managed to open his after much struggle, he saw her beside him struggling too. He popped a peanut in, sipped his wine, and continued to watch his movie. After looking at her struggle some more, he took his headphones off.

'May I help you with that?'
She smiled sheepishly.
'There you go.'

Food was served soon. More wine was poured. As she started with the appetizers, she began...

'I love this movie.'
'Yes, it's an amazing movie! This is probably for the hundredth time that I am watching this.'
'Haha, really? I don't think I love it that much. Which is your favorite scene from the movie?'
'Dancing, surely. It's amazingly done.'
'Yes. For me it would be the last scene though. I swear I must have cried during that scene.'
'Haha. Well, for what it's worth, I didn't like how they ended the movie. Wall·E shouldn't have gotten his memory back. Sad endings are more real.'
'So, what are you? Clinically insane, or a sadistic psychopath?'
'Haha, c'mon! Firstly, neither. Secondly, I have a theory about movie endings...'
'...which is?'
'Most movies actually end about two or three scenes before they end the movie.'
'See, for me this movie ends when we learn that Wall·E lost his memory. Everything after that is mostly appeasing the audience. This happens in so many movies!'
'Ah... I see. So you are a sadistic psychopath. Do you do it professionally or just as a hobby, being a psychopath?'
'It's a hobby.'
'I don't need to raise any alarms then. Yet.'
'Not at all! And if you needed to, you wouldn't have gotten the chance. I am that good.'
'Haha. Hey listen, I am sorry about earlier.'
'The peanuts?'
'No, before that. It wasn't nice of me.'
'I know. And the company of sadistic psychopaths doesn't help too much, does it?'
'Cut me some slack, will you?!'
'I will, if you stop taking it all too seriously.'

Both smiled. Paused. 'So...', they both began together. 'Please go on', he said.

'So...why do you hate flying so much?'
'How did you know that?!'
'It's hard not to know when it is written all over you.'
'16 hours in a metal tube being hurled across the sky, huddled like cattle and you can hardly sleep, with nowhere else to go. What is there to love about it?'
'How about the fact that you are going the reach the other end of the planet in less than a day, all the while dining, sipping wine, watching your favorite movie? And you're flying! Just look outside!' The moon followed them, the stars twinkled, and the clouds glistened.
'Haha, yes of course. Maybe travelling frequently makes you grumpy. Or maybe, the reason of the travel affects how you feel about the travel. You are right, I have no reason to complain. Do you travel a lot?'
'I do. I love travelling! More like, I like the journey as much, if not more, than the destination. Travelling gives you a lot of time to introspect. Sometimes you meet interesting people along the way.'
'I'll take it that you mean me (too) when you say that.'
'...and you had to ruin it. Bravo, monsieur!'
'Haha. Alright, dinner's done. I'll see if I can sleep for a while.'
'Yes, the time-zone monster awaits us too.'

He finished the movie, and slept. Several hours passed before they woke up. He began...

'You know, I haven't slept with a girl before.'
'Wow, you did NOT just say that!'
'I did.'
'And it was a horrible pun.'
'I know.'
They both laughed. Paused.

'Do you love someone?', she asked.
'That is a little too personal, don't you think?'
'You did not think about that before sleeping with me?! And your reply makes me sure you don't.'
'I am not really sure what that means. Love. Everyone else seems to know.'
'Well, maybe you need to fall in love once to understand it.'
'...and that's exactly what everyone says! It's so pissing off! Do you? Love someone?'
'So it isn't personal if you ask?! Well, it's complicated. I don't think I would be able to explain.'

'Okay. Tell me, then, what do you think love is? Is there a definition? What is your definition of love?'
'Love is bottomless empathy, born out of the heart’s revelation that another person is every bit as real as you are. To love a specific person, and to identify with his or her struggles and joys as if they were your own, you have to surrender some of your self.' [link]

'It's like the way you feel about travelling.'
'That the journey is as much, if not more, important as the destination.'
'If you put it that way, yes.'

'That's what I feel about "Life".'
'As in?'
'As in, it's like a journey. People's paths cross with each other, and they become experiences for one another. I met you here, and I will remember this. But I don't know if we will ever meet again. In life we meet people who walk one-way with us. It's who comes back with you that counts. I think maybe that's love.'
'Then the movie doesn't really end there for you.'
'Two scenes before Wall·E ends, it doesn't end there for you. Wall·E comes back in the end, doesn't he?'
'I never thought about it like that before.'

He exited towards the terminal. It had been a long journey, but he felt surprisingly fresh. As he walked, suddenly, the airport was filled with piercing white light coming from a single source. He shut his eyes and almost knelt. The light began to fade, and when he could see again, he saw that he was alone there, and the airport deserted. He began to move hurriedly towards the exit, the place looked liked it had been ransacked. He came out from the exit, she stood in front of him. She was the only one there besides him. He didn't know what to do. She walked towards him, smiled, and gently said, 'Let's go back.'

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Aam Aadmi Party: the political start-up

"Aaj hum yahaan aayein hain sabse ye kehne, ki kuch to karna hoga. Hum sabko kuch karna hoga."

"Koi bhi desh perfect nahi hota. Use perfect banaana hota hai. Police mai bharti honge, military join karenge, IAS banenge, politics ka hissa ban ke iss desh ki sarkaar chalaayenge. Ye desh badlega, hum badlenge ise."

-- Rang De Basanti (2006)

I quoted from Rang De Basanti, but it does not mean that this is going to be an incensed hysterical rant of a twenty-something someone which goes "Inquilab Zindabad!". Inquilab, sure. But let's put it into perspective and context. Inquilab will happen. One step at a time.

Election is coming.

It's easy to talk about politics sitting in our rooms, dissing any and everything that is happening around us. Heck, even this post qualifies. People here in India, and people abroad too - US, Europe, or farther east, you name it. "India has gone beyond a point-of-no-return." Sure, it must have sounded profound sitting in a room in a high-rise with a city skyline view in some sophisticated corner of the world, or here, in India. Sorry, no. But I have no interest in a conversation that begins or ends with that sentence, whether you live in India, or live abroad and intend to come back. It does not sound profound to me because I intend to spend my life in this country, by choice. Hopefully.

I would not care if haters and dissers shoot holes into this post. By all means, go ahead. I admit I don't know my politics or economics. Let the intellectual masturbation begin. But I will not engage you in a conversation unless you give me a viable choice in the upcoming Delhi elections in November. We'll talk about NaMo vs Rahul Gandhi, sure, after the Delhi elections.

It is really sad that after 66 years of our country's independence, the issues today, still, in the capital of India are Water, Electricity, Safety of Women, and Corruption. Forget Infrastructure, Public Health, or a healthy eco-system for entrepreneurs, we haven't afforded ourselves that luxury. Not yet.

We, the youth, are lucky to have been born at a very opportune moment in the history of our country. We have the privilege to be a part of the 'Indian growth story', to be the Indian growth story. Be a part of it. Engage. Of course, it is unreasonable to ask people to quit whatever they wish to do with their lives and set out "to clean the system". No. But help those who are trying, in whatever little way. You can still be a part of it. That's why I am writing this.

I know about a start-up that is trying to win the Delhi elections. I hope they do. It was unthinkable until a year ago, that a newly formed political party could think of forming a state government, let alone contesting elections with a strong foothold, or even fielding candidates in all the contested constituencies with confidence. Today, not so much. AAP doesn't have a long history, nor do they have the money or the adequate resources even, but they do have the passion and the will to do something. They believe they can, I believe they can. Sure, you or me might not agree with everything that they say or want to do, but do you agree with anyone a hundred percent? And if not them, who is your pick, and why? The question is whether anyone, anyone with the will and the passion can make a difference if they want? This is the test.

Santosh died. No, I am not using her name to sensationalize this and drive my point across. The fact is, a good person wanted to contest the elections, and she died. It is NOT trivial. Can you do something about it?

Take a look at their candidates list. Go ahead, look at their profiles. There is a commando who lost his hearing a hundred percent during 26/11, and was fired from the Army after that. Or this construction worker living in the slums, who is looking to contest from Rajouri Garden. And then, there is an ex-IRS IITian who championed the cause of RTI. He is pitting himself against Sheila Dixit. These people are getting their voice heard. We are getting our voice heard.

At the very least what I'm confident of is this, that these candidates won't be murderers or rapists, and that if they are deemed incapable or corrupt, they will be sacked by their own party. Atleast give these people a chance. One chance. And like all start-ups, they need money to scale. They have been angel funded by several investors, and are looking to mobilize resources through crowdsourcing.

What are you doing, Delhi? I'm jealous because you got this opportunity before I did. And things are happening and will, with or without you. Here's what the donations to AAP from our country looks like [link] :

Almost as much from Maharashtra as from Delhi?! And it's not even Maharashtra's elections! There is still time. Get on board with this, man.

1) You can donate in kind. There is much more than just money that is required to contest elections. You can give whatever you have to spare. [link]

2) You can adopt a constituency. From anywhere. [link]

3) You can make a recurring donation every month. [link]

4) Or, you can just donate once and be done with it. [link]

5) And the least you can do is get your voter i-card made and exercise your franchise. Vote. [link]

An incident happened not so long ago. Arvind Kejriwal was asked by a journalist, "What would you do if you don't win the Delhi elections?". He responded by saying, "If we lose, what will you do?"

Atleast we are talking about the right things.

So... what will you do?

Oh, and in this interview, Arvind Kejriwal answers most of the questions commonly posed by the haters and the dissers. Do watch. You might not agree with him or still be unsatisfied, but atleast hear what he has got to say.

If you know me personally, or have been following this blog, you would know that I am not someone who begs for likes and shares. But this one time, I will. If this post struck a chord, please share it. It's only a click, and is much less to ask than an Inquilab.