Tuesday, November 17, 2009


Dear Bal Thackeray,
Do us all a favour and shut up. Seriously. I don't know if you ever did anything good for your precious state, apart from create chaos, but even if you did, I don't care.
I'm not writing as a journalist, Mr Thackeray. Nor as a political commentator and not even as a passionate Indian as such.
I'm simply a crazy Tendulkar fan. Now, we are not to be messed with, Mr Thackeray. We outnumber journalists and commentators and we're nowhere near as rational.
Do you know, Mr Thackeray, on April 24th, 1998, when India played Australia at Sharjah in the Coca-Cola Cup final, I skipped school to watch that match? It was Sachin's 24th birthday and how we partied. He made 134 runs and we won the series. I had posters of Sachin and photos of that match all over my room.
I don't recall anybody staying home from school to listen to one of your speeches.
That is what he inspires, Mr Thackeray. That is how much he is loved.
And how does he do it? How does a short, stocky, squeaky-voiced man rise to this kind of popularity? Maybe because he brings people together, Mr Thackeray. Not by giving long bhashans, but by engaging cricket lovers all over the world to come together and have fun.
He is more patriotic than you will ever be, Mr Thackeray. He has done more for your Mumbai, your Maharashtra and all the un-Maharashtrian bits of India than all your saffron snobbery. Go to Wankhede Stadium sometime when there's an India match on. All the spectators may or may not be Maharashtrians, but they'll be cheering extra-loud when Sachin walks out.
Get over it, Mr Thackeray.
The world loves Sachin. A section of Maharshtra loves you.
Sachin has been 20 years in cricket, is dignified and a damn good sport. You guys destroy greeting card shops and slap MLAs on national television.
You tell me which one of you is the better Mumbaikar.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Hello from No 10 Rue de Presbourg

I used to call this plave Moulin Rouge on account of the red carpeting, red bedspread, towels etc, but really, No 10 Rue de Presbourg is SO much more alluring and grand-sounding. The building is old - it used to be a house ( I like to think some Comte owned it and then fell on hard times and was forced to let it out for rent) and it has retained pretty much all its old-timeyness. The staircase is winding, the hallways are long and silent. Best of all are the doorbells....those round, ornamental, brass ones with a knob in the centre that you have to press.

The apartment itself is tiny, perfect for one messy person to live in. Luckily, Dad and I are alike enough as to BE one person, so we're ok.
The bathroom...is weird. There is a large mirror over the basin and a full-length one behind the door. The thing is...the full-length one is what you see if you sit on the pot and turn your head to the side. Seriously, who wants to see themselves while sitting on the pot?! If that is the French sense of humour, they're better off leaving it to the Brits.
I'm sleeping on a red(of course) sofa. It isn't long enough...my feet stick out at the end. It's nice knowing there's something I'm too tall for :)
It's autumn in Paris and there are maple leaves and heavy rain. There has been much potatoes, cheese and meat happening, and I have already found 5 pairs of shoes I covet!
Yesterday. I arrived without getting into too much trouble. Arrived home to find I had misplaced my comb and that my father does not believe in clothes irons. He has one, but has no idea how to use it. So...my first outing in Paris on this trip was sans ironed clothes and with hair straight off a 10 hour flight. Good thing I'm not concerned with glamour, I guess!
Today, I wandered my my way through the Arc de Triumph and all the way down Champs-Elysees. Everybody walks very fast there. There are cafes and restaurants all over, but I think they are frequented mostly by men who wish to avoid shopping with their partners. So they sit down and have coffee or a glass of wine while their lady shops happily, then comes and meets them.
My apologies for the rather scattered entry....I'm fearfully sleepy, and the laptop is almost out of battery. I'd put it to charge, but I already managed to blow up the hairdryer this morning, simply by plugging it in.
Au revoir,

Saturday, August 15, 2009


It's been a long, long week. We're understaffed at work, I've had days when I've worked like a well-oiled machine, and a couple of days when I was just too tired to do anything. But good things have happened to. I had a long talk with Shakun two days ago. And a long-ish chat with Frobscottled. There is something about connecting, listening to these important people that softens me. Frobscottled is in a fragile place just now, and I wish, wish, wish I could be there with her. Shakun is...as beautiful as ever. As eager, as forgiving, as ready to let me be. My job doesn't allow for softness. And I don't regret what I become in my workplace. But catching up, trying to bring some calmness, some joy to a friend's mind satisfies me no end.
Apart from this, I bought lovely new agarbattis and have been having good vibes with A. I've never written a poem for A, or filled page after page in my journal about him....maybe it's because there's very little left unsaid between us. Either way..good feelings are always welcome.
Now..am off to sleep. Looking forward to a lazy Independence Day :)

Apart from this,

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Will you go out with me?

At work today, there was some talk of doing a feature on 'How to ask a girl/guy out.' I was asked my preferred 'style' of being asked out...and of course I didn't know. This is mainly because all the guys I've dated have been very good friends. So our 'first date' was simply us hanging out and having fun.
But it did get me thinking. How would I like somebody to ask me out? Now, the word/concept of 'date' unnerves me. There's just too much of 'what will he think?' and 'do I seem to too eager???' and 'ohmigod do I have food stuck in my teeth??!!' I don't like making a big deal of dates. The same goes with being asked out. I don't want melodrama. I'd like it if he was quietly persistent and not in the least arrogant. If he asked me in a way that I simply couldn't refuse. Not because I didn't want to hurt him, but because he made me want to know him.
One thing I definitely don't want is to be 'proposed to.' I don't want some guy telling me he loves me right at the start. Or saying, 'Will you be my girlfriend?'
I can never simply be a date or a girlfriend...these are terms that make me squirm. I'll be a partner, a chum, a buddy, a lover, a force of nature...and I'd like the guy who asks me out to get that. Which explains why I've been friends first with all my boyfriends.
So there you have it. Don't try to date me, make me want to know you...and you've got yourself a good deal

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Fanspeak: Harry Potter & the Half-Blood Prince

I wanted to write this review soon as I was out of the theatre, because, well, a day of work, too much talk and not enough attention leaves its mark on my writing. But I shall put my fascination with Harry Potter above all this...

Firstly, the HP movies are worth watching only if you're an HP fan. If you're a fan of fine cinema, I'm not too sure what you'll get out of them, except maybe the adaptation and the cinematography. You have to have read the books breathlessly, ensured you watch every movie first-day-first-show and follow all bits of Potter news with nothing less than obsession.

The makers of Half-Blood Prince depend heavily on the goodwill of HP fans. A fan who has read the print version of HBP will know its bulk, understand that to bring the intricacies, the dozens of connections that JK Rowling penned, are not possible to squeeze into a two-and-a-half-hour long film.

Instead, director David Yates looks at the bigger picture, the wider issues in the story. The characters are growing up. They are more confident, more daring, more accepting of what lies ahead. Daniel Radcliffe is a grown-up Harry. He can ask out a pretty girl in a diner without turning blue in the face. He knows his path will never be easy, and if need be, he will sweet-talk Professor Slughorn to get what he wants. Rupert Grint is his usual, goofy, lovable Ron (man I love the guy!) and Emma Watson is fresh and pretty. But it is Tom Felton who steals the show. Draco is tortured, torn in this part of the story. Felton's hollow cheeks, haunted eyes and occasional outbursts are perfect for a teenage boy chosen and condemned to perform dark deeds.

Growing up, the Potter clan of characters are also forming new relationships. Ron and Hermione are intensely aware of one another. Ron, despite his best efforts to play it cool, notices when Hermione has toothpaste at the corner of her mouth or a Butterbeer moustache. Harry and Ginny are together in the audience's mind right from the start of the movie, when she hugs him soon as he arrives at The Burrow. The Kiss, that is so magnified in the book is underplayed here to say the least. But there are moments of wonderful anticipation that had the audience on their feet and hooting. Ginny saucily asking, 'Who's the Half-Blood Prince?' and tossing the book of spells playfully at Harry. Ginny feeding Harry a pastry. But what cements the bond is after when Harry is leaning over Dumbledore's lifeless body and Ginny steps through the crowd, kneels next to him and holds him. Rarely has Harry Potter had somebody to physically comfort him.

Nostalgia and a subtle sensuality shimmers all around HBP. This is the last movie where we will see the clan as students in Hogwarts. Innocence is rapidly dying out, whether by falling in love or by plotting the Headmaster's death. These are the themes the movie picks out. In cinematography, in the sweeping background score and the director/screeplay writer's understanding that Rowling's characters, as well as their own actors are moving, albeit shakily, towards adulthood. That perhaps, is the movie's greatest strength.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Letters from the open seas

My grandparents are currently in the US, visiting my aunt. They went on a 10-day Alaskan cruise. Here are the mails my grandad sent me.

The cruise was an experience that was beyond description...it had to be gone through as it a different world as it were. If we were forty years younger, we would have gone onto the ice-land instead of viewing it from the ship. And the ship and its arrangements and luxuries - those were really countless, of all paid for as part of the fare, but you have to imagine a 14-storied vessel carrying 2200 passengers looked after by about 1000 -strong crew who organised and ran, besides the ship, five restaurants, one fully equipped Broadway-standard theatre-hall,one dining hall that could seat probably all the passengers at a time, a cyber cafe, three fully covered heated swimming pools besides five open-air ones including a zacuzzi ( spelling ? ) and probably two dozen eating places covering half a deck which catered for all tastes 24 hours.Yes, I had taken about 200 photographs which have been edited to about 80, all waiting to be processed from the digital camera., but no photograph can show the majesty of the scenes.Hope I shall be able to show those to all soon.

A while later...

I forgot some important points.11th was devoted to the best Club incl the foremost viewing gallery and behind them was a huge area devoted to indoor games including table-tennis, billiards, computers and outside them were a shuffleboard and a jogging track 1/3rd km longwhich ran roubd all these. the three decks above them were the places where passengers could go for viewing and watching and photographing the surroundings. It was from these that jampacked passengers took pictures of the Inside Passage, glaciers and icebergs of various sizes.Several classes were held - for exotic dancing, making wine and champagne cocktails, GK contests were held etc. All these were hled when there were nothing much to see except open seas. The stage shows were of Broadway hits and of the same quality. There is no end to the experiences.

Saturday, June 27, 2009


Dear Michael,

I've been sitting watching your videos, listening to your songs, reading bits and pieces of your life...

Had I known you even a little bit, I would likely have played big sister to you and screamed when you got your skin changed. I'd have told you not to be stupid. Because your smile was genuine when your skin was dark. As was your sadness. You were far more poignant sitting in a blue sweater singing 'She's Out of My Life'than going 'You Are Not Alone' with droopy hair.

I'm sorry, I'm being mean. I don't speak ill of musicians usually, and certainly not dead ones. But then that's what I like about you, Mikey. That you wear silver jumpsuits and sparkling socks and yet...people on the road, when they're arguing sometimes say, 'ei, apne aap ko Michael Jackson samajhta hai kya??' And they would all know exactly who they were talking about. Nobody says, 'ei, apne aap ko Jim Morrison samajhta hai kya?'

You want to know a secret Mikey? Eh? When I was about seven years old, I thought the epitome of success was to be able to walk like you did in Billy Jean. You know, with the jacket slung over your shoulder and one hand in your pocket. I fell in love with Slash at age six, but playing the guitar with a cigarette peeking through your hair just isn't attainable. You always seen much more within reach.

I won't talk about skin and lawsuits and loneliness - what could I say that you haven't lived through countless times...

I've been writing to you entirely in the present tense, have you realised? I'm not sure why, it just seems more feasible, more direct. Or maybe it's that your videos are playing even as I write.

I'm not sure about things that live in our hearts, Mikey...I mean, no offence, but yours stopped. What chance has mine got to preserve you forever...

So I'll make no promises with my heart, y'hear? But I'll tell you this, you'll always be in my feet and in my pelvis. Because without you there I have no hope of ever doing with them what you do.

I wish you peace, Mikey. As much as I possibly can wish. I think it was the one thing even you couldn't dance your way to.

Yours, in sequins and freaky hats,


Saturday, June 13, 2009


The main reason I haven't been writing is that I've been working, eating junk and sleeping. Not very exciting. Another, more complex reason is that this blog is accessible to too many people. It's nice, sometimes, to be found by some of them...but I tend to clam up when observed by too many.

Also, blame it on journalism, on being crammed into a writing/editing mould for 8 hours a day...but I have temporarily lost the ability to be random and totally honest.
Which means...if I'm crying bucketfuls of tears and snot, I can't lurch over to the laptop and type out a few broken lines through trembling fingers. I now write like somebody who edits copies that are read by a certain number of people.
In a way, it's great...it's just the kind of discipline I was looking for. But, the downside is that by the time I'm through with being a journalist (yes, I do stop) I'm too tired to write anything of my own.
I figured this out a few minutes ago while replying to a comment on my previous post. I used the word 'beautiful' in my response...and the word felt strange to my fingers. I haven't written it in a long time, you see.
No one's stopping me from being poetic and hyper-intense on my blog...it's just that the written word is taking on new meaning for me as a job
If you notice, this post is written in small paragraphs, like a news article :)
My typing speed, my spelling and grammar, my ability to read a page and point out at least five mistakes in it - all these are sharpening. For this I am grateful.
But there has to be a time when I write madly, uncaring of who might be reading it later. When I put italics in at my will and break sentences

just because it's fun.

Thursday, May 07, 2009

These days

Work has taken over my life. My sleep, my schedule, my way of typing...all are determined by that I work in a newsroom. It's not really a bad thing, I am enjoying myself mostly and loving the money at the end of each month. There are days, however, when I step outside myself to take a look at the Liquifier-at-work, and I cringe. I've never been the most professional of people, in that I am incapable of doing anything with hands and without heart. And too much of heart in the world of the media, in the world of the tabloid, is suicidal.

At work, I must be cool, wickedly funny, quick and profane. Hence on my one day off a week, I watch the BBC-made Pride & Prejudice, wander the aisles of bookshops and don't touch my laptop till past 11 pm when I am sure most of my colleagues will have logged off and left.

I like my workplace, and I am getting better at what I do. I do make a nuisance of myself still, but I've secured an Office Mother and a fellow hug-freak. And there are friends who willingly drop me home and buy me cigarettes and invite me for drinks. But I still think of this as transient work. But, I have a job and I have an earning at the end of the month. There is no greater joy for me than this.

In other news, have been missing A immensely. I am not used to having a guy interested in me also interested in knowing everything about my life. And then I discovered A. And then had to let go. Ugh!

The Gestapo came, stayed, pissed me off and went. Though due to my working hours, I didn't get to see them much, and when I did, I was so abrupt that they were scared to give me too much shit.

I need to get back to writing. For some reason, even those must-write-or-my-eyeballs-will-turn-green-and-pop-out moments have died. It is tiredness, and an utter lack of inspiration. But I do need to glue my bum to a chair and make a start.

I've been meeting/chatting with interesting people - a graphic novelist, filmmakers, tattoo artists etc. So maybe there's not an utter lack of inspiration. And most of these people are my age, or younger!

I have also been suffering from the Attention Deficit Disorders of Others, which simply means there are guys who aren't noticing me as much as they should. Not in the sense of a romance, but just in terms in attention. Ah well, one must work harder if one wants everything.

Tis all for now, am falling asleep over the keyboard.

Goodnight now!

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

For N

I worry when the women in my life fall apart. I have been brought up, nurtured, tortured, cut deeply and healed almost exclusively by women. Both my grandmothers are immensely strong in their own ways. My pishi (dad's sister) lives a solitary and very full life in New York City. She's been battling widowhood since age 26, and very recently had to battle cancer as well. Mum started her life anew at age 42, in a country she didn't know, in a language she had never known. My stepmum....well, she married my dad. No, I'm not being ironic, he's great, but not easy to live with. He came into her life 17 years older than she, and a daughter in tow.
I have girlfriends who have picked me off the floor, literally and emotionally. Both jobs I've had so far have brought me in contact with far more women than men.
N is my great-aunt - my grandad's younger sister. As long as I've known her, she 's been the zaniest, most fiercely independent person. After her husband died and her three sons were living their own lives, she continued to live in a big house in what was then a remote place called Salt Lake. She loved the crossword, reading and whiskey.
She would be chewing gutkha all the time and we were all convinced she would get terrible ulcers in her mouth.
She didn't like having people over or going to visit. She would call me a lot, though, when I was living with the Gestapo. We'd talk, make fun of everybody in the family and discuss what romance novels we could exchange the next time she came over.
She was the only person I liked going to bookshops with because she was never in a hurry, never looking over my shoulder to see what I was buying or how much it cost. When I called her after my F.Y. results to tell her I'd got a First Class, the conversation like this.
She: Hello
Me: N, I got my results.
She: Who the hell is this??
Me: It's Tia
She: Oh. So, did you phail??
Me: Nope, got a First Class
She: Oh, it's all one and the same

At age 60, she decided to do medical transcription. She gave the preliminary test and passed with flying colours.
Then, about a year back, she had a stroke that left her partially paralysed. She now lives with her oldest son in Ahmedabad. She doesn't read anymore.
N was the brightest of my grandfather's siblings. She had general knowledge that was astounding. She was an artist - the walls of her house and the GP's had many of her paintings. Ganesh was her favourite subject to draw. Everybody called her eccentric, they couldn't understand why she lived alone and woke up at noon and stayed up most nights listening to jazz and sipping a stiff whiskey. She was dark and plump and had little hair. Imagine not having such a person in your life...
And now she's a 'was.'

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Of Mr Winter, theatre and discipline

I was leafing through my old Creative Writing book a few nights ago. Those pages are a result of many afternoons spent with Mr Joe Winter in the 11th and 12th. He was a towering man, sixty years old with light-blue eyes and a booming voice. An Englishman who fell in love with Rabindranath Tagore and Jibananda Das. And the word kobi (Bengali for poet). The classes were quiet. He would come in, read to us, or talk about a topic we could write about. We wrote about light. Blindness. Once we wrote about The Cave. Nobody knew what cave we were writing about - it didn't matter. I wrote about a psychiatrist, a professional explorer of the dark cave that is the human mind.
There were afternoons just before exams when nobody would stay back for his classes. It would be him and me. I liked his classes. He encouraged gentleness, he pointed out cliches. He got me up on stage to recite William Blake.
Nobody could ask to leave the class without getting a droll 'Going for a quick smoke, are we? Off with you then.' He would check our writing individually - read out some that needed to be heard. It was like being back in kindergarten where we lined up at the teacher's desk with our exercise books. In many ways, it was what we needed. To show up on time. To write steadily for 45 minutes. To respect silence.
Towards the end of the year, our class performed Harold Pinter's Mountain Language. Pinter isn't about gentleness, and we shocked a lot of our audience, including Mr Winter. There were scenes where a prison guard assaults a young woman. We had full creative control in the play and we made it brutally vivid. There were scenes where an old woman (me) is whipped. We didn't have a whip handy, we used a metal-tipped belt, but it was enough to elicit major gasps from the audience. And leave bruises on my neck and arm after every rehearsal.
I don't think Mr Winter was overtly happy at the direction we had taken. But I liked that he admitted to being shocked. I miss so many things about those two years. I think I was more of a writer as far as discipline and regularity goes back then, than I am now. A lot of what I wrote was sloppy, sappy - I cringed quite a few times while reading.
But I was there. I sat down with paper and pen and got moving. I was a writer.

Thursday, March 05, 2009

This side of 24....

needs a lot of changes. Only I can make.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009


Look here.

Saturday, February 07, 2009

For the girlies

I hang out with little girls a lot. They're E's friends, but I get along famously with most of them. Today, we had a party at home and I saw some of the girlies after a long time. I was struck by how they're growing.
The sudden terrible consciousness of their...and others bodies. Preteen and teen years are intensely physical. There's Scrawny who was a complete tomboy and now, at almost 12 years of age has breasts and prefers to sit and read on her own, because 'there's only so much you can do with a bunch of boys.' There are the 8 and 9 year olds who giggle at words like 'romantic' and 'kiss.' They never say the words out loud, they whisper and say, 'it's like what happened on Hannah Montana.'
I remember doing that. I didn't giggle. But I whispered, and I wrote. I had a diary with big, red hearts on it and it had pages and pages of everyday whisperings and wonderings and little love skits. Those were the years when love meant Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge, when pictures of Shah Rukh Khan (he wasn't SRK in those days!) papered the walls of my room, when I was totally sure that love affairs were exactly what I saw sitting in Priya Cinema with tears running down my cheeks.
The laughter changes. We still giggle, but it lacks the awkwardness of twelve years ago. These girlies will soon be having endless phone conversations and send SMS's about everything. They'll be walking and dancing while wondering who's watching them and what the watching means. There will be competition about bodies and clothes and dating and sex. And there will be the Girlfriends.
And there will be more giggling and endless talks. And hugs of course.
And boys who will mess up their heads endlessly because that's just what boys do! I hope I'll always know what the girlies are up to.

Monday, February 02, 2009

Fanspeak: 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days

There are movies that make me think of perfectly made toast with just-about-melted better. And there are movies that cause me to be perfectly still and feel pain as though someone had cut between my toes.
4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days is one of my favourite examples of the latter kind. Set in Communist Romania of the 1980's, the film is about two college roommates who try to organise an illegal abortion (Communist Romania had a natalist policy against abortion). Gabita (Laura Vasiliu) is four months pregnant and desperate not to be. Her roommate Otilia (Ana Maria Marinca) is straight-spoken and gets things done. Together, they book a hotel room for three days and enlist the help of a doctor to perform the necessary operation. Dr Bebe (note the irony of the name!) is a businessman. He wants a hotel where he will not be asked for his ID, he wants sex in return for his services. 'Did I mention money when we spoke?' he asks scathingly of Gabita when she timidly tells him they do not have a lot of cash handy.
Otilia has sex with the doctor, the operation is performed. Meanwhile, Otilia has to go to her boyfriend's house for his mother's birthday. She sits there, listening to the elders talking, is reprimanded for accepting a cigarette and eventually leaves and goes back to the hotel. Gabita has 'gotten rid' of the foetus and she asks Otilia to dispose of it. This is perhaps the most mesmerising and horrifying scene in the movie. Before this, there is not much shown that could be called graphic. Aside from a bare backside in the women's showers in the dorm and Otilia coming into the bathroom naked from the waist down after sex with Dr Bebe, nothing is 'shown.'
But after Gabita tells Otilia to take the foetus away, the camera focusses on Otilia's face as she stares at the dead pile of flesh.
I was half-expecting that it would cut to a safe shot of Otilia disposing of a trash bag in which, we assume, the foetus is. But such assumptions are not allowed. The camera swings around suddenly and makes us see what Otilia is seeing. I don't know what was used to create that 'foetus' but it sure as hell worked. I was sickened, shocked, exhilarated at the boldness. All I could think was, 'that is as new and as naked as flesh can ever get...'
The girls wrap up the foetus and Otilia puts it in her bag and leaves to dispose of it. We see her walking the streets of Bucharest at night, her bag hung across her body as it has been the entire film. She is tense and in a hurry, but my eyes never left the bag as it bounced slightly against her hip.
The foetus is disposed of, and the last scene is in the restaurant of the hotel. The two girls are looking at menus, and Otilia tells Gabita that they will never speak of this again. It is a brilliant climax.
This is bare-boned storytelling at its barest. It made me think of bodies, of how little control it is possible to have over them. The Romania Gabita and Otilia lived in was pro-population building, hence Gabita could not choose to get rid of her baby without going against the law. The film does not speak of irresponsibility on her part. There are no morals in 4 weeks.
There is a scene where Otilia asks her boyfriend what he would do if she were pregnant. 'I told you not to come inside me last week!' she chastises him. He simply replies that he would marry her if such a thing happened, and since she is not pregnant, there is no point in talking about it. A conversation that is hardly uncommon, but in light of Gabita's plight, becomes a palpable fear.
I love Otilia's character. She is willing to go to whatever lengths and refuses to whine about it. Nor does she glorify herself. She goes to her boyfriend's house in the same clothes she took off to have sex with the doctor. She isn't apologetic, nor does she feel any need to tell him about it. 'I was helping Gabita to get an abortion,' is all she says.
Writer-director-producer Cristian Mungiu says this movie is based on a real story he once heard and could never forget. This must be one of many stories from that period. Women, their friendships and their very personal ways of getting around political dictates.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Fanspeak: Luck by Chance

Had Zoya Akhtar written Luck by Chance as a speech, this is how it might have sounded:

This is us! We have images and we have realities. Sometimes they coincide, but more often they don't. Yes, we have the actresses of yesteryear who were forced into acting and forced to sleep with producers. Yes, there are those who never make it big. Yes, there are those who rise through sheer calculation. And yes, there is a remarkable link of coincidences that shape this business. There are promises made. And made. They don't always work out. We, the industrywallahs do get tired. And we do pretend. We can be double-faced.
I'm not offering excuses for the way we are. I don't want us to be like Hollywood, in fact I'm tired of the term 'Bollywood.' We are a mish-mash of glitter and covers and hard work and dirty politics and a lot of love. And I'm an observer who figured we're one big story that needed to be told, and I've had fun telling it.
That's all.
Both Akhtar kids have perfected the art of subtle, understated scripting. Luck by Chance is driven by its characters and their detailing. The star kid who assures us that being the progeny of the famous is anything but easy, the dominating diva of old-time cinema who works ferociously on her daughter's image...they are all somewhat steroetyped, but very real-life characters of the industry.
The dialogues, as with most Excel Entertainment productions are pretty non-filmy. Farhan Akhtar is known to want his characters to talk 'like people talk' and LBC is no exception, except in some scenes where it only just stops short of being preachy.
Konkona is good through most of the movie, except in her last scene with Farhan, where I feel she could've been more spunky. Dimple Kapadia does a wonderful job. She manages to be insecure, enjoy the attention of a young actor and be determined to remain important by taking over her daughter's career completely. One doesn't know whether to drown her or feel sorry for her, which I think is exactly what the director wanted.
Farhan...(sigh sigh sigh...see, there's a reason I called this Fanspeak and not a review!)...he's definitely grown as an actor. In Rock On, he was essentially a passionate music-lover who lost himself half-way. In LBC, he is selfish, lovable, calculating, cool and utterly focussed. He gets hurt, he sheds tears, he charms his leading lady and her mother to bits, he falls in love, but ditches his girlfriend without a second thought when it comes to getting what he wants. Farhan has the most shades in LBC and he pretty much pulls it off. His dialogue delivery could be better, but he plays Vikram the flirt, Vikram the starry-eyed newcomer, Vikram the calculating user and all the other Vikrams with proficiency.
All in all, if LBC swings on the strength of its cast, with Farhan leading the way. Zoya's done a good job of ensuring that her main characters have purpose and are well-rounded, despite there being so many of them. I'm glad LBC happened, and not just because I got to see Farhan getting out of a swimming pool and to observe that he has a dolphin tattoo on his bicep!
All good wishes to LBC and Excel!

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Of Glumstones and meeting-rooms

Vocabulary: Glumstone (noun): a metaphor for the emotional heaviness that occurs when he leaves , the cigarette packet is empty, the 'fat days' and other such life-threatening disorders. Created by: Liquifier

Lots has been happening. Work is becoming increasingly hectic and I am learning to cope with rush and daily pandemonium and return willingly the next day for more. I went for a meeting for the first time in this job today, and it wasn't half bad.

I don't like meetings in meeting-rooms and conference-halls, I've always though them to be stuffy and suited-booted, places where I wouldn't be able to say 'but that's not cool!' tnt meetings usually happened outdoors over ice-cream or chai, or they were one-on-one sessions with Boss which I totally loved.

Today's meeting was supposed to be a full-on blasting session for all the deskies, but somehow it turned out rather nice. The meeting-room wasn't very stuffy, we all trooped in, sat wherever we could and aired out a few issues.

I'm not doing great at work, but I'm improving. I'm reminded of my first 2-3 months at the Store when I would overcharge customers on the card-machine and didn't know how to reload the stapler. I am proud to say that two years after having quit my daily shift routine, I can handle the till and customers pretty well. I'm hoping it'll be the same with this job.

It's like A says, work is work, and whether you're hungover, stoned or heartbroken, you get in on time and ensure the breakfast muffins don't burn. Or in my case, ensure the headline balances and the page is checked, proofread and sent to press by 9:30 pm.

I am also learning that there are some Glumstones that even Meg Cabot and Lays Magic Masala cannot dissolve. Trust me, this was a shock. No matter how tragic my life was looking, Helen Fielding, Betty Neels, Meg Cabot and The Nanny Diaries go a long way in making me feel that I am a total sex-goddess and I will lurch off into the sunset with a half-empty bottle of pink champagne. But there are Glumstones that stay lodged just above your ribcage and deep in our gut. And sometimes you have to take a reluctant peek inside and have some conversations you'd rather avoid to get rid of the damn things. I think it's called growing-up or something equally heinous....

Thursday, January 22, 2009


Antaheen releases today!. Go see the website for more details. Yay for my mashi and all at Screenplay :)

I got

pwetty earrings and a bag for my stepmum. Picked up apple and cinnamon agarbattis (I light at least 4 a day now).
I wandered dazedly around bookshops, managed to read an entire Farhan Akhtar interview without buying the magazine (thank you Manney's!). I mean, not that he didn't look totally cool wearing Dunhill or whatever but not even for my future co-writer am I paying 100 bucks for GQ.
Got a manicure and pedicure. My nails are now so glossy that I could use them as mirrors if my face were a leetle smaller.
Picked up Bhumika and an Arabic movie called Caramel to watch tonight.
Maybe I should've thrown in a visit to the Store, scheduled a laughter session with some of the girls...basically covered all my bases.
Because I still feel like shit


....and that is why I'm sticking to Slash, Mr Darcy and E. The only men who have never let me down!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


Gee, I never thought the first wedding I'd shed tears over would be one I was told about second-handedly 6 weeks after it was over.
Akash has never figured on this blog, for all that I've known him for over two years now. He was one of the chief Attention Givers of my life, that's the best I can describe him.
The first time I met Akash, he took my chin in his hand, looked at me closely and went 'theek thaak hain, thoda damaged, but theek thaak.' He loved pink. Once when we were meeting after a long time, he ran across the Store in slow motion (very SRK style) to hug me.
I'd tell you all about how he started working at the Store yada yada and how nice and interesting he is and all, but it all sounds very inane.
Akash-who-I-knew and Akash who-is-now-married-and-never-bothered-to-tell-me seem to be two entirely different people. Oh, I'm sure he still loves pink and is as interesting and nice as ever, but...well, now there will be boundaries. And I'll freely admit I'm jealous that I won't be the object of his attention anymore. Not in the same free-flowing way. Now he has to consider other people before he meets me. And spoiled little brat that I am, I hate being second to anyone in importance!
I feel like Winona Ryder in Little Women when she goes ' Oh, why must we get married at all, why can't things just stay the way they are??!!'
Things don't, and the very very small part of me that is mature and wise and all things nice gets that. The rest of me is plotting to kill Akash with my bare hands for not telling me. If I ever talk to him again that is. Not that murder requires speech, but still.
We probably would never have dated or anything. And it is horrible of me to want to hang onto someone because they so unconditionally took note of me. But I don't want to be the bigger person right now.
So, Akash, in a few days, when I can say it truthfully, I will send you good wishes and plenty of joy. Right now, I'm just going to say goodbye to the you-I-knew. And I'm awfully glad I did.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009


It was in the song you played, and that you let me steal
a t-shirt from you.
It was in that you wouldn't give up.
No matter how distant I became, you never pushed, you just stayed. It was in that you
never hid that you were sometimes
confused, that you felt it when I didn't call back. There were times when we
would look at one another...and I would
look away
in a hurry.

I didn't want to encourage our eyes.

I was so sure you could never be anyone.

You broke through that certainty.
You didn't develop wide shoulders or a great muscles,
you didn't stride into the room to the sound of a soft orchestra like they do in the movies

in fact you weren't there at all.

It was in our voices, in the moments we both knew

we were smiling together. It was in that you were the first person

I shared a glass with, and it didn't

seem casual.

I'd say thank you, but I'm afraid because that sounds like an ending.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

Congratulate us! We got our first gun!

E just got back from a week-long vacation to Mumbai. He's been home only a few hours and I'm realizing that I'd kind of missed being a parent.
The first thing he showed me was a new dart-gun he managed to coax our aunt to buy. It's called the Maverick-something-or-other, and it's hideous. It's the first toy of its kind he's got. We sternly discourage anything resembling a weapon in this house.
He was so excited about it, he went on about how he and his friends had a 'war' - which a friend's sister started (typical! blame the woman!) and how his gun was powerful enough to break down their 'base' and how they had makeshift sandbags 'just like they did at the Grand Hyatt in Mumbai...'
It's silly to go back to my own childhood when I try to understand him. Every generation has its own nightmarish experiences that later become part of history.
E's talking in military terms, his slow shift to thinking that to strike out at another is strength...all of this upsets me. But...I wonder if maybe it would be more nurturing to let him learn everything, and teach him to use it positively. Yes, there are bad guys in the world...in fact there's a friggin large number of them! E needs to learn to handle them.
These days...nobody uses the phrase 'too young' anymore. No one is too young to do anything, it seems. Watch a terrorist attack live, have a baby, smoke a cigarette, start earning...
I know so many parents who take their kids to movies that I would balk at letting E see. I don't like video games and PlayStation because they zombi-fy kids.
But our not liking it doesn't really mean E does not have access to it. It's the same with the dart-gun. E would never even have asked for it here in Pune. But he's got that boy-thrill at having it, at the feeling of power one gets from being armed for the first time.
I don't like it. But I don't want his eyes closed against it.
Ah parenting...how I have missed your worrisome, complicated self.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Up the rebels!

Ok....so, my day was spent trying to figure out my reimbursements, staring incomprehensibly at a tax worksheet that some poor sod who thought I would understand it sent me, missing out on pizza because I went to withdraw money that hadn't yet reached my account and being certain I was going to get my butt kicked for not being dramatic enough with my work.

At least my job's not boring! And I can still come home and laugh, albeit tiredly.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

The Working Life

The work culture is creeping up on me. Claiming reimbursements, setting up a salary account, wondering how much I'll be able to save and so on. Or maybe that's the money culture. At the end of it, that's probably the only reason I'm doing what I'm doing. I like the work, I have become better informed about a lot of things in the last month than I have ever been before. Basic language skills have come back strongly. But I think my main aim is to work my way to financial independence. Yesterday, a co-worker was telling me that no matter what other job she goes to, she knows she will eventually always return to the news room.
I wonder if I'll ever be that certain about my work life.
I am lucky, though. Nobody shoved me into becoming a software engineer or a doctor. I just happened to be talking to a neighbour who put me onto the paper, I went in for a 'chat' next day, and they thought I might do.
I am having to be far, far less snobbish about writing. I edit and re-write news that I might never have read in earlier days. I make it accessible and make it sound interesting. At least I'm supposed to. And all this must happen before 9:30 pm sans any errors.
Writing, making movies and all that jazz I want to do require one ability above all...that of being able to stick to it. Of being interested in every little bit you create. And that is what my work will teach me.