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Tribute Shri AB Vajpayee: The leader that united a nation even in death


They don’t make leaders like Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee and such men are rare to come. People of the caliber of India’s former and one of the most loved PM walk the earth once in a lifetime. He is a Yug Purush. I will never subscribe to the BJP political ideology but India’s former PM was someone I will always hold in high esteem.  He has been an inspiring man who taught humility in a highly accomplished public life and truly defined Rajdharma.

 

I was watching an old video footage today when at the peak of his popularity, his supporters shouted during the campaign trail, ‘Hamare neta kaisa hai AB Vajpayee jaisa” (We want our leader to be like AB Vajpayee).  It says a lot about the respect, aura, charisma, impeccable integrity, trust and humanely moderate approach to politics and life, despite hailing from the Sangh Parivaar. The kind of mass connect the gentle Prime Minister enjoyed with followers and a popularity looming larger than life and that of his own party speaks volume of his conciliatory approach to politics, cultivating relations and governance.

The year was the late 90s, in 1998 that I started showing a keen interest in politics and international affairs to become attuned with Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee as PM. He commanded a huge amount of respect and recall that while I couldn’t afford buying expensive magazines post my 10th standard, buying an India Today was a rare treat and some foreign affairs magazines borrowed for free at the US embassy to learn about international geopolitics. The dates became a landmark, from May 11-13 where India created history by launching five nuclear tests, popularly known as Pokhran. It didn’t please the super economic power called United States but our PM Vajpayee Ji stood his ground, seeking consensus from the opposition in Lok Sabha and stood mightily to explain why nuclear weapons is a dire need for India’s future. It remains one of the major achievements of the Vajpayee Government, particularly to the then PM’s credit for refusing to be cowed down by US’s imperialist mentality and the veiled threat of sanctions. The first time that I was drawn to Atal-ji.

What stood up was his refusal to insult someone from the opposition and it’s no secret that he was affectionately called Hriday Samrat by his supporters according to respected journalist Prabhu Chawla in a special India Independence Day issue. After all, he held our first PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru in immense respect and the kind of political bonhomie embedded in his speech is something modern day politicians should learn from.  Witch hunting was never in his book so much that he once put his foot down despite pressure to remove Sonia Gandhi as President of the Rajiv Gandhi Trust when informed by the Attorney General Soli Sorabjee. It speaks volume of Shri AB Vajpayee as a PM, visionary leader and humanist.

There is no dearth of reasons why the People’s PM commanded such a huge amount of respect and has been an inspiration for me where the understanding of Indian politics started with him despite being diametrically opposed to the BJP. He was the right man in the wrong party. The vision of an ‘Akand Bharat’ was pioneered by him and in the current political turmoil and uncertainty, it’s the real challenge for India to bring back the moderate era of Vajpayee years that will make us shine and rise as a democracy.

Harking back to those days of ushering into adulthood, the poems recited by AB Vajpayee as the Indian PM and particularly at an event aired live won my heart. I was glued to the TV and swayed by his lyrical renderings of the PM poet. While I can’t recall the exact poem, going back to this priceless gem brings back those moments, “Jo kal the woh aaj nahi hain, Jo aaj hain woh kal nahi honge, Hone na hone ka kaam, Isi tarah chalta rahega, Hum hain, hum rahenge, Yeh bhram bhi sada palta rahega.” The wordsmith that defined the career of India’s former Prime Minister bowed out much before social media seeped into our lives and trust me, the pause in his speech and poetry rendition would have rendered the digital world, PR or even copywriters redundant. The prose often referred to his political tribulations like this one, Toote hue sapnon ki kaun sune siski, antar ki cheer vyatha palakon par thithki, haar nahi maanoonga, raar nahi thanunga, kaal ke kapaal pe likhta mitata hoon, geet naya gaata hoon.” No wonder that as a young student, Shri AB Vajpayee captured my heart and imagination.

The Vajpayee years was characterized by a PM armed with spine and courage to address the United Nations in Hindi which is one of the highs and proudest moments for India. I can never forget that speech at a time when I was preparing to join college and it played an important role in shaping my life. Such are the things that make Atalji one of the figures that inspire me and for whom my admiration bore no limit. It’s very rare to find such gems characterized by courage and truthfulness, particularly in today’s times.

In his tenure as PM, there is so much that Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee has achieved right from the Golden Quadrilateral highway project in 2002, the largest highway project in India, Pradhan Mantri Gramin Sadak Yojna linking five lakh villages to cities, Delhi Metro that change the way India traveled and spearheaded several reform projects that bore fruition with another intellectual PM, Dr Manmohan Singh.

‘Insaniyat (Humanity), Jamhooriyat (Democracy) and Kashmiriyat hold much relevance in today’s times enshrined in the history of an India increasingly characterized by unrest, lynching and mob culture, something that he would have never approved. Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee was not only the first BJP Prime Minister but remained the only one who fobbed off extremist pressure pulled by the RSS with whom he had a strained relationship. Even in death, India’s former PM has reunited a nation, from old to young, liberals, conservative, left and right, Hindu, Muslims and Christians, something that Narendra Modi has failed to do. Post-Gujarat riot, the Bhishma Pitamah of Indian politics words to the present PM on Raj Dharma remains a lesson when moderate views have eluded us. He was the only one who sought and won consensus in politics and like he once said, if you like something about my principles, implement it in your life. A lesson that politicians cutting across all parties should perhaps learn and be more graceful with contrasting views. His legacy will loom large on us as a nation at a time when political discourse is in a pit cutting across political parties.

The most telling thing at Smriti Sthan today was the final rites of Vajpayee-ji being performed by his daughter Ms Namita that showed another facet of the politician who lived his life by the true principle of Hinduism free from bigot views. In a society where a woman performing someone’s last rites is still unthinkable, a strong signal has been sent and perhaps sums up the life of this great man and icon called Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee defining humility as a human being and politician.

 

 

Rest in peace Atalji and remembering you always

V

 

 

 

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Independence Day reflection at stroke of midnight


Patriotism is not jingoism. Neither, it should be forced on the people to stand for the Indian national anthem during movies. It’s a personal choice pretty much like our views on food, culture, politics, language and music. Every August 15 at the stroke of midnight, I make it a point to stand up respectfully listening to our national anthem, Jnana Gana Mana paying adherence to the miniature Indian tricolor on my work desk at home and it’s been years that I made it a point attending the flag raising ceremony at the Indian centre for Indian culture.

Being based out of India, I miss the Independence Day celebration and the fluttering of the tricolor at every traffic signal be it in Mumbai or Pune with kids waving cheerfully. Enthusiasm on Indian roads and symbolism surrounding I-Day sets the mood for a nation forgetting its ethnic, political or religious differences for a day to revel in our diversity and unity celebrating hundred of languages spoken over the length and breadth of the country. Surely, we don’t need August 15 to remind us that we are Indians first and not religious or ethnic affinity that must guide our actions. At the same time, it doesn’t harm in standing freely for the national anthem to show the spirit of togetherness despite the fact that we are weathering the storms or the tough times faced by the country. One thing which I like is how everyone gets into festive mood, the Indian army, NCC, Air Force and all women parade laden with small children forming the tricolor at Red Fort. Every year, the spectacle offers an enthralling affair that the few lucky ones can witness while the rest of us can gush at the grandeur on Indian TV channels.

This year we celebrate the 72nd Independence Day and it offers plenty of opportunities to reflect on our rich legacy as a nation, issues that keep plaguing us and the need to live up as the biggest democracy on earth as well as upholding values such as freedom of expression that makes us a secular nation. Education and inclusive growth, access to basic food or nutrition, laws to deter crime such as rape and sexual assault against women, protecting the rights of every citizen be it majority or minority are major challenges for a modern India. Being Indian in heart and soul, there are certain values which I feel very strongly about and hold close to my chest, our freedom is not and will never be traded. It makes our strength as a nation.

Indian tricolor on my work space.

We shall slug it out on various social media channels on the endless bhakt vs sickular or Modi vs Rahul debate but at least one day, we can take pride on our essence and identity as Indians. Cinema and cricket are our first love, a religion that many who are largely ignorant about the country’s essence fail to understand.  It’s a matter of the heart, I’d like to say to cynics. Yes! There lies a life beyond films or cricket for India is all that and much more.  Independence Day for me is to listen to the favorite patriotic songs and among the favorites are our national anthem Jnana Gana Mana,  Kar chale hum fida from Haqeeqat and Ae Mere watan ke Logon that still brings tears to the eyes.

Of course, the colorful WhatsApp forwards and videos brighten the day for you know Independence Day is special. No matter where I stay in the world, India’s Independence brings back a sea of emotions and the identity is segued into the blood like the umbilical cord. An entire day out tomorrow with the flag raising day in the morning and Pranic Header’s Day as part of the meditation group that I follow. I may watch a patriotic Hindi film tomorrow. As cliché as it sounds, it leaves a feel good feeling. Reflect on our values as Indians and ways we can contribute to making the country better for small steps gravitates towards multiplier effect for we can all contribute in our own small ways. I also pledge to start reading the Indian constitution.

Happy Independence Day

Jai Hind

V

 

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Decoding live wire and electrified soul Brand Vinita Vyas


Interview: Vinita Vyas, Film maker, theatre person and author of Reinventing Brand You-The Theater Way

 

Vinita Vyas. at the book signing of Reinventing Brand You-The Theatre Way.

William Shakespeare once said, “All the world’s a stage”. As we celebrate India’s Independence Day, what does it means to be a free and unique entity to immerse oneself and giving abundant love to the universe. Theatre, acting or writing helps an artist to showcase the various facets of roles, showering love to millions, flitting into different costumes yet staying true to oneself.  Mumbai based Vinita Vyas is one such soul wearing different hats in a lifetime but has forayed into a journey which is no less than a magic pill to be one with herself. She has been an inspiration to me, a free giver of love and I am in awe of her unflinching belief of intimate love showered to strangers in this ecosystem we called World.  What if our life was a pantomime set to channel our energies and injecting energy into an art form? Vinita is grounded and imbibed with the value taught by her Dad and she is spreading the same to people around her in transforming lives. There is not one role that she restricts herself to. The artist who dabbles into several exciting and creative ventures right from theatre artist, creative director, NLP practitioner and producer has seen the nitty gritty of the corporate world before foraying into her passion, theatre. Being an intrinsic part of Darpan Theatre & Cine Arts, Mumbai, the creative artist often uses theatre as an art form to channel energy and helping participants to turn adversity into strength and overcoming the tide conquering the demons.

The author of ‘Reinventing Brand You-The Theatre Way’ reminds us that we are actors on this huge set design called ‘Life’ where impressions are formed every nanosecond. Be the spectator and the actor! Vinita’s Brand You is about the self-image, visual image and perceived image. In a chat with Vinita, I bring to you her achievements as an artist, theatre person and now author to celebrate a woman who sparkles, a unique individual for Independence also means setting the soul free and breaking the mold of a defined image. It’s about the love for plain strangers, giving freely, theatre as an art form and of course, Vinita’s book, Reinventing Brand You-The Theater way where she offers an insight into its making. Sit back and enjoy this transformative journey.

 

Artist and creator of Brand You, Vinita Vyas.

 

  1. Vinita Vyas is a brand. What has gone into the creation of this brand right from business solutions, actor, creative director, producer, NLP and now writer?

 

The passionate purpose which guides me emanate from the words of my father, “Beta, Stay rooted with ‘beyond skies’ being your limit”.

I have always believed in adhering to the personal values in every role donned. My journey keeps verging from one character to the other, however, the core values that I choose to live by remain the same. I have always been fascinated by the vividness of this stage called Life and how different people play their respective roles on and off the stage. And my constant calling has always been towards the purpose of a life enshrined in expressing myself and helping people, my fellow travelers to express themselves totally. It’s the values-driven passionate purpose that made me who I am through my journey so far.

 

  1. People buy People First, Feel Fully…Express Totally and of course Brand you-The Theater Way. How has this ‘intimate journey’ transformed your life as an individual and was it the true calling for you in reaching out to fellow humans?

 

Vishal, I can say that this journey has made me more humane, helping to reach within and know myself better as an entity. I was able to pull out the untold stories from my life and that’s what drives me to inspire my fellow travelers in telling their stories.

 

 

  1. Reinventing Brand you-The Theater Way is about the self-image, visual image and perceived image. How can the real person come alive through the stage character and artists calling the shots in this vibrant adventure that can make or break us?

 

In my book Reinventing Brand You – The Theatre Way, I spoke about the practical techniques that actors use to bring life into a character. The techniques empower and touch the commoners to practice and build their brand value in a creative way.

 

  1. The book appears seemingly to be a mantra in self-development while tapping the inner potential which is often hidden or laden with emotions and challenges at the same time. Was theatre and acting your inner calling as emboldened in your book to transforms lives?

 

Yes, certainly, it does. For me, the most important learning curve during live theatre is simple and the mantra is to be an actor both on and off stage.  One has to be a genuine human being first. It’s a simple mantra: Only by being true to understanding and acknowledging the emotions and challenges the character goes through then only I can find myself in this space of self-awareness and it’s where self-improvisations crop in. Isn’t it?

 

Lights! Camera! Action! Director Vinita call the shots!
  1. You have spoken about your favourite Amitji, Mr. Amitabh Bachhchan the country’s biggest superstar who has reinvented and redefined himself beyond the traditional superstar to break an established image. Behavioral congruency in verbal, visual and vocal, how does it help when you say jo dikhta hai wohi bikhta hai as the individual’s USP in terms of core values one stands up for?

 

Credibility is lent only to One’s visual image ideally when it is based on self-image. What I mean is to be exactly who you truly are and anything becomes believable only when expressed genuinely and in a clear, articulate fashion. Your thoughts and feelings when manifested through the physical and vocal presence make you more of an in-charge of who you are as ‘Brand You.’

 

  1. You boast of an incredible achievement of 13 plus years in the corporate world and cinema. Would you say the techniques applied to weather storms in both your personal and professional life has led you to successfully grow into the refined person that you have become?

 

Being refined (if world assumes me to be) is a process and not a destination/product…so still refining. Multitude of experiences at every step taken are echoed in my life’s journey which helped me to nurture the personal thought process and gave me newer pathways to navigate my ‘self’ on the roads in life. To share an experience, theatre taught me the highest levels of flexibility and its applicability in emotional wisdom.

The warrior weaving stories to a rapt audience.
  1. You are also an associate director for the Hindi film, Take it Easy, Executive director, AD for film projects, staging 18 full-length drama and 5 short plays. How has the journey of foraying into entertainment, theatre or acting started and what does finding expression into the fine arts means to you or the way it has molded Vinita the artist?

 

The journey unfolded during the college days while directing my first Hindi play for an inter-college drama competition. However, the tryst with destiny was fuelled into my blood before I was born. My father along with his elder brother founded a local community theatre club, “Krishna Club” to stage mythological dramas such as “Ramleela” and the likes. My brother, Sunil Prem Vyas who is an award-winning filmmaker carried forward this legacy by founding Darpan Theatre & Cine Arts, Mumbai, which eventually I became a part of.

 

Expression into fine arts and particularly acting satiates the soul endlessly to lead a life filled with fulfillment. Acting has defined me to live many lives and showcase multiple emotions in one life to make it an enriching experience which I enjoy to the hilt as an artist.

 

  1. You have also conducted a series of behavioral skills workshop and some of your interesting articles posted on Linkedin discuss theatre sports, using stage as a pro or adding a little drama to the coaching journey which makes for kick-ass ways. Can you share the way in which participants look at the workshop journey and methods employed to help overcome hesitation or ingrained fear to slay the inner demons like they say?

 

The most common reaction garnered from participants is that the “Expressive Arts Inspired” workshops are super fun and full of self re-realizations for them. Arts give the participants a different lens to perceive the same situation and serve as an enabler to-many-a-times live an experience they may have to in future. Experiences fleshed in a controlled environment act as “net practice” for them to be trained for the final game. We resort to various techniques through mediums of theatre sports as warm-up games, Improvisational theatre games like icebreakers, forum theatre, visual arts, storytelling, narrative psychology, pantomime, and many to help participants get comfortable under their skin and have deeper transformational experiences.

 

  1. You have also offered consultancy services to several leading brands such as PwC, Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone India, Virgin Mobile India, Maruti Suzuki and Network 18. What are the takeaways that one can learn at the individual capacity from the corporate and challenges faced that you tried to inject in say, theatre or personal coaching?

 

In my book, the dire need for “Emotional Wisdom and “Branding Oneself” are very crucial in today’s ever-changing business environment.

 

  1. In today’s time, what are the challenges theatre actors or production companies’ face and the ways in which this art form can be encouraged and given dignity or sheen to attract young talents?

 

The challenges revolve around arranging finances for productions especially when you don’t have a godfather in the industry. And, yes, I would always encourage budding young talents to leap ahead and trudge to build or actively participate in community theatre.

 

  1. I have followed you on Facebook and regularly see how you freely share about life, love and intimacy which make you a free giver of emotions. What makes you so free and limitless in giving love, often intimacy spreading out to plain strangers and how you open your heart out so easily?

 

My belief is very simple, Vishal. I am a deeply involved, engaged soul sharing love in abundance with millions. I don’t know whether they reciprocate or not. It’s beyond me to know whether they like me or not, but have a fabulous love with just about everyone that I see and cannot see because for me, love is not about them. Love is about how I am within myself…….it is a sense of oneness with this universe.

 

  1. As a parting shot, what message you would like to readers after the publication of your book, Reinventing Brand You and what went into its making?

 

I would like each and every reader not let anyone else hold the pen as they weave their unique story of “Brand You.”

Knowing who you truly are in each role essayed on this stage called life is the stepping stone to designing, “Brand You.” Like they say, “jo dikhta hai, woh hi bikta hai”, I am inviting my readers to most genuinely feel the values they believe in for every role and portray the same in everyday behaviour. It’s the secret garden of a fulfilling life.

 

What went into the making of “Brand You” is tracking my own personal growth and life as a coach to myself and pen the very essence of more 12 to 15 years of a professional cum personal life.

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Book Review: A Cage of Desire breaks barriers and explores women sexuality


Book Review: A Cage of Desires

Author: Shuchi Singh Kalra

Publisher: Penguin

Rating: Four stars

Introduction:

Author Shuchi Singh Kalra third and latest offering, ‘A Cage of Desire’ takes readers on an erotic trip set against a middle-class Indian background and its biggest forte is about human desires, pain, longing for love and lost emotions set against a patriarchal society. The premises lend the erotic story a soul that makes it a winner all the way and the author depicts steamy sex scenes in a unique fashion to portray the main character Renu’s ‘desperate’ attempt to wade through the labyrinth of her mind and unfetter herself from society’s shackle.  In short, the author is a rule breaker, upping the quotient right from ‘Done with Men’, ‘I am Big so What’ and now ‘A Cage of Desires’ where she breaks all taboo and writes about sex, tapping into the characters to make them free minus prejudices or taboo. A Cage of Desire is the true winner for it departs from the run-of-the-mill erotic books that stand apart through the unbridled theme.

 

Check the book blurb here.

Picture courtesy: Shuchi Singh Kalra.

 

Narration:

 

The book taps into the life of Renu, a traditional middle-class home maker in this story woven in a simplistic manner taking into account frailties to make her human. There is no overt drama in the first place and this is what makes the book relatable to every woman worth her salt who refuses to be cowed down as an object or ascribed with social labels.

Renu is caught between her children, a thankless father in law and an unhappy marriage with Dev when sparks flow with her tenant Arjun that pushes her to unpeel the madness of limitless sex.  “Renu ultimately blew warm air into the pallu of her cotton saree and began dabbing it on his left eye…her heart raced at the memory of him licking the chocolate icing off her fingers and the mischievous glint in his eyes when he looked at her.”

The biggest tragedy about sex is that we belong to the land of Khajuraho and Kamasutra but desire is suppressed with the baggage that we all know. Lust is forbidden. Sex is bad. Yet, it’s the biggest truth that we shy away from. Kalra shatters this myth in a searing honest manner and the build-up to intimacy, savage sex or love making scenes in the narration is heart pounding.

There is something gentle in the depiction of the human desire and the stillness, ‘inexplicable currents coursing through her body with each advancing step of his’, that meets the storm dripping like current to quench and consume desire.  Of course, the expression, ‘he touched her in a way anyone else did’ speaks about human desire and a sexless marriage.

The main protagonist is an author who writes about sex and erotica by the pen name, ‘Maya’ and the best thing about A Cage of Desire it is a book within a book. It’s a bible on desire and Maya who complement each other beautifully.

It’s about unrequited love with Arjun and the great betrayal gains powerful expression through Urdu prose, hab, aqueedat, ibadat and junoon. I love novelty in books, particular hot erotic ones that are not routine unlike our classic idea of sex that tends to be melancholically mechanic. Kalra doesn’t fall in this trap and introduces the novel concept of love letter to express pain and angst, choking voices and soul stripped in the open. The letter is Renu’s heart torn apart yet crumpled into the bin. This sequence is gut-wrenching about losing in love and serves as an analogy to a naked soul without inhibition.

 

“But I tell you what you are not-you are not the cause of my pain….mine is a very ordinary kind of love really, which is because I am an ordinary person-a little extraordinary may be, not extraordinary.  Ordinarily insane love; the kind that comes with hurt and hope in equal measure…it chokes my breath. It makes me sick in the pit of my stomach.”

 

The best thing about, ‘A Cage of Desire’ is that it is an erotic thriller interwoven with suspense at the right time where the reader is tempted to ask, “Who is Maya?” An ordinary or scheming woman on impersonating identity as the drama unfolds Kalra is a savage, Brutus writer packing a punch that has become her trademark now. The reader is introduced to Kamini, perhaps an alter ego to Maya and a rival at the same time.

The theme of identity and betrayal is recurrent and impactful with Kamini as the vamp in the story. She offers something that Renu fails to offer as a woman embedded in the dichotomy of relationships, laden with the element of simplicity in stark contrast to glamour.

The book is not confined solely to eroticism. There is a thin demarcation line between fiction and truth. We have all heard publicly on social media about manuscripts being plagiarized and stolen. Kalra hits the right nail and the great betrayal almost costing the protagonist her prized work and it flows effortlessly into the story without wielding an accusatory finger.

 

What’s Not!

 

The second love angle in the story between Dev and Kamini doesn’t seem to fit the premise, is fleeting in appearance where both suddenly disappear from the plot.  Renu’s close confident, Akriti, could have been given more space in the book and turned as Renu’s strength.

 

Final Words:

‘A Cage of Desire’ holds no bare unpeeling the layers about sex, identity and pain particularly when Renu makes violent love to Arjun, overpowering him during the act to satiate her hunger. The sequence is telling and blows the lid open on Renu wearing the hat of an angry Goddess and one cannot fail to see a striking resemblance to Kali in the Hindu pantheon spreading havoc on what makes her a bruised woman. Of course, Renu, the woman whose voice was stifled unleashes the beast on Bauji, placating him for his conservative and patriarchal values has an escalating effect on the character that wants to break free in a world stifling voices of women trapped in a bad marriage. Shuchi Singh Kalra’s book is not only coming of age but strives to break barriers on a woman’s legitimate right in claiming what is rightfully hers, body, sexual desires and right to love in a society infested by exploitative norms as the biggest patriarchal excuse. A Cage of Desire is the best book coming on the shelves after ages, exploring Indian eroticism in a rare fashion, fleshing the intimate scenes and zones in-depth. Shuchi Singh Kalra has gone in an experimental and daring fashion where very few writers have gone without fear or cliché. The cherry on cake is Renu finding love with a man, Mihir, fitting with the concept of ‘free love’.

You can click on Amazon for a copy. Connect with Shuchi Singh Kalra on Facebook, and Twitter. Check her website here.

Thanking the author for sending me a copy of her book for review.

 

Love

V

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Day 31: Coffee and friends


Friends are like the flavor of world’s favorite coffee and chocolate swirling on the tongue’s palate. Friendship tales have always been special for the soul’s sanity and the inner strength that keeps me going pretty much like popping vitamin. This Friendship Day on Sunday was a special affair and choosing to celebrate by sitting at the coffee shop with my favorite Cappuccino and chocolate muffin, reading stuff and calling friends via WhatsApp. I wanted to spend the day alone, reminiscing on the moments of glory, making the most wonderfully flawless moment with the soulful family. Yes! I call my friends that.

The only thing about the Cappuccino is don’t know why the coffee shop calls it flat white. Is it an American thing? I am quite curious and intrigued to unpeel the mystery and all connoisseurs do educate me on the whys. I am drifting. Coffee and friends double the shot of craziness and playing in the wild. I must have called and spoken to some six friends on Sunday. Meghna called me in the evening after she missed my calls. We spoke for a long time and this is what I like about friends. This unspoken rule where we can discuss anything under the sun, right from dating, our constant whining the time we were not working and life. The uncertainty that looms large over the choices made and how plans don’t always work.  I used to joke that we should become hookers. We laughed about it. Fuck ups, marriage, dating and career come with no warning signal and there is nothing that we can plan. Twists and turns that we take, halting and changing gear make for quite an interesting conversation and brings the inner peace within.

She was my internet girl friend. That’s how I was calling her and don’t read too much about it. Meeting on Gchat almost every day to discuss life and it has become so rare nowadays, something we haven’t done for more than 2 years with Whatsapp taking away this simplicity or the fact we get so busy sorting out shit and career. The drudgery of routine has taken a toll on our lives. But, there is something special and deep among good friends, the reflection and approach to things, agreeing on the past that shaped us and a future that hasn’t yet been scripted. I asked her about marriage plan and she was like, things are so unpredictable. We spoke endlessly and sharing on the fear of missing out, relationships that didn’t work for me. It dawned upon that the past should be buried and no point languishing over what didn’t click.

There is Ajitabh Bhaiya in Jamshedpur, the best friend Adi in Australia, beast and Amol who are all hitched but felt good speaking to them on this special day celebrating friendship and everything that matters. With Amol,  loads of laugh for no reason and our code Boom Shiva Boom. I love making new friends, blog dost who are on my Facebook list. There is P from Mumbai with whom mails were exchanged since she thought I took a dig on one of her posts but was pointing at the world going crazy over Sridevi’s death. We became friends and connected on a WhatsApp call this week. I have always believed that the vibes should matter when it comes to friendship and am not someone who open up easily to people, Our bonding was a surprise since we happened to speak endlessly for the first time as if we know each other for decades. Mumbai, India and writing keep us going on and on.

I find great joy in reading newspapers in this digital age. Nothing ever beat the happiness of gulping coffee and flipping through the newspaper pages. Being out of India, one of the missing links are newspapers and that was a favorite daily routine every single day in Pune or Mumbai. I would sit and wolf newspapers at one go. Someone traveled to India and brought few copies of DNA and TOI which I lapped. It felt like those days were back with happiness embedded in simplicity.

The goodness about life come in bundle and if that wasn’t enough, yesterday on the way to work, got a WhatsApp message of appreciation from one client whom I helped for an interview she was doing with a magazine. She was happy with my inputs and suggestions that finally got published. It always pays to be appreciated.

With love

V

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Scattered emotions and home


 

My friend Pradita Kapahi who blogs at  The Pradita Chronicles mentioned me on Twitter on a discussion on what makes a place home. The discussion and interpretation which followed with her tribe triggered my creative juice on the idea and feeling of this destination called Home. Today, FB notified me of Friendversary wih Pradita and dedicating this poem to the lady and her tribe. You can follow her on Twitter here.

 

Home is a feeling,

Chime of wind brush stroking the cheek,

lullaby of a child marveling in innocence,

birds’ hymn,

mother’s song and her affectionate palm smearing my temple,

home is an emotion, not a destination,

morning sun flitting past the Arabian Sea,

rainbow lending charm to boulders and glittering in the room,

home is the heart longing for a place left behind,

crevices and wedge,

to rub with undiluted affection,

home is memory,

friends are family,

monsoon splash wiping tears,

local trains,

skyscrapers nurturing aspirations and dreams in the city,

I once dreamed to own and conquer,

home is the place,

I sat during lonely nights on the parapet listening to old songs,

sensitive heart given free ride,

home is imagination,

unbridled joy,

home is maximum city lost in translation,

home is not one place but scattered emotions,

but my vagabond heart wandering aimlessly,

home is the soul, nerves and flesh,

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Film review: Karwaan is slice of life cinema and fun ride


Film Review: Karwaan

Cast: Irfan Khan, Salman Dulquer and Mithila Palkar

Director: Akarsh Khurana

 

Rating: Three and a half stars

 

A slice of life movie, deadpan humor and introspective journey embedded in the 35 mm frame to uncover road journeys is a rarity nowadays.  The Akarsh Khurana helmed Karwaan starring Irfan Khan, Salman Dulquer, and Mithila Palkar is coming of age cinema exploring an introspective journey dealing with the life’s complexities, confusion and a comedy of error sort that makes it a worthwhile fest.  In short, the film is all about human understanding beyond the drudgery of a routine life and humor-laden narration that many youths of this generation will identify with.

 

 

First thing first, Karwaan is about dead bodies changing places from different destinations with the three characters, Avinash, Shaukat and Tanya meeting in the unlikeliest of situations. There is no love lost initially with such contrasting characters screwed by life and complexed equation with families where the biggest Indian fallacy is powerfully brought to the fore, work vs passion. Salman Dulquer as Avinash is super impressive and effortless, be it the complex relation he shares with his father or the lack of understanding with Tanya, today’s girl. The off beat hero doesn’t take too kindly of a girl’s active sex life and one scene bearing tremendous impact is Tanya unfazed attitude of doing a pregnancy test. Mithila Palkar as Tanya simply owns the scene in the most natural manner and shows that she has a brilliant future as an actor. This girl will go places in the next few years and will emerge as one of the most bankable talents in the country.

The film speaks about life, deaths and screw-ups executed in a sensitive and poignant fashion as the camera moves and pans on the three leading protagonists. Existence serves as a dichotomy of sort in this movie and shows that be it millennial or Gen X, we all battle our securities and confusions. It’s jarring and will shock the audience in the most subdued fashion. Who better medium to deliver this message than our own Peter Pan, Irrfan. The guy is simply brilliant and the one-liners or deadpan humor is brand Irrfan that simply lifts the film during the moments it reaches a low ebb. He nails the punch lines be it on death, relations and such tackiness made sexy through the sheer delivery power, “Lo Yaar, Allah Miyyan Se Milne Jaa Rahe The Allah Miyyan Ne Apne Paas Hi Bula Liya Sach Much…Bhai..mayyat par romance mat kar!”

The director has broached several issues that makes for quite an interesting debate on how we are alien to our respective mother tongues in India or that matter, actors belonging to different faiths playing characters out of their cultural boundaries to deliver a strong Pan Indian message in today’s times.

Of course, there are several scenes that stand out right from Irrfan reciting poetry to the ailing man’s wife in the hospital, the photography sequence when Tanya weighs on Avinash to share the moments of life right from the job his Dad’s pressurized him to take and the losing interest for his photography’s passion. The scene where Avinash teaches Tanya about the real, unedited photography unlike the whole Instagram scene is telling and capturing her with a fag is a Kodak moment to be cherished.  A slice of life is all about loosening a bit and rightfully Tanya tells her co-passenger to chill and have some drinks at the stalled wedding. It’s all about making moments counting and stop being conscious.

There are few glitches like the narration’s slow pace in the start before the film enters the premises and the unnecessary sub-romance plot which no doubt introduces Kriti Kharbanda injecting a certain freshness.  At places, the screenplay seems patchy and lacks a certain tautness which slackens the pace to a minimum level.

Karwaan’s strengths as a down-to-earth and real movie far outweigh the minuses where new filmmakers and actors are experimenting and exploring new genres, lending not only a dash of realism but bringing to the fore many layers of our relationships. The film boasts of pivotal roles right from Akash Khurana and Amala Akkineni adding to this fantastic journey which is definitely not your run-of-the-mill fare that deserves to be watched. Cinema is changing and it’s content-driven not formula that will define film-making in future.

 

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