Tribute: The Thinking Actor, Om Puri


He was the unconventional hero and actor at a time when the Hindi film industry was festooned with movies that carried masala appeal where trinity of stars, Dilip Kumar, Raj Kapoor and Dev Anand ruled supremely and their turf was taken by one  Rajesh Khanna, for whom the term superstar was coined for the first time. One day, walked a tall and lanky man called Amitabh Bachchan who stormed the entire industry and whom the media called the angry young man. One would be tempted to ask where someone like Om Puri and his ilk would fit. He did. Puri Saab gave a new definition and edge to cinema and methodical acting that the audience-both mainstream and artistic-fell in love with.

The methodical actor, the first among his kin who steered this acting revolution, belonged to what I’d call the Alumni of the school of the 70s in the same school as Farooq Shaikh, Smita Patil, Shabana Azmi, Naseeruddin Shah, Amol Palekar and Deepti Naval who came with a wave of change to revolutionize cinema. It’s a sin to call it parallel cinema, a poor cousin of mainstream. It’s my firm belief that cinema is cinema, no matter how we define it.

A graduate of the premiere Film Television Institute of India (FTII) in Pune, Om Puri debuted in the Marathi film Ghashiram Kotwal based on a play by the Maharashtrian playwright, Vijay Tendulkar. Puri Saab went on to play remarkable roles in what was dubbed at that time as ‘art house’ cinemas such as Aakrosh, Arth Satya, Bhumika, Jaane Bhi do Yaaro, Mandi, Bhavni Bhavai and Albert Pinto ko Gussa Kya Aata Hai, where he shared screen presence with Smita Patil, who is arguably one of the finest actresses Hindi cinema has produced. Such was the times. Shyam Bengal was one of the rare directors who captured and brought to life one of the gems of the industry, be it in Aakrosh, Kalyug, Arohan or Bhumika.

A still from Govind Nihilani’s Ardh Satya with Om Puri and Smita Patil.

Om Puri Saab is one of the rare actors who never went over the top with his restrained acting histrionics, demeanor, body language and expression was honest to the core and a treat to watch. He was one actor who was an institution in himself and would serve as fodder to future actors and students of cinema. I personally believe that despite hailing from the theater background or art cinema, he showed the way and bare no contempt to what media terms as commercial outings where he held his might and polished acting into a fine art. I enjoyed watching Puri Saab in comic and commercial capers to the likes of Hera Pheri, Mere Baap Pehle Aap, Singh is King, Ghayal, and Narsimha. Who can forget the villain in Narsimha or, for that matter, his entry in Jaane Bhi do Yaaro? One just needs to sit and watch how he sashays, take a pause and mouths the dialogues. A tale of introspection, energy, observing and taking the game forward. Om Puri’s outing in commercial outings shows how a great actor should never shy away to venture and every act is part of its inherent skills, free from prejudices or baggage.

The clash of titans, Om Puri and Amitabh Bachchan in Dev, helmed by Govind Nihilani in 2004.

Two of the great actors and thespians, Amitabh Bachchan and Om Puri crossed swords in movies like Kyon Ho Gaya Na, Laqshya, Babul but what takes the cake is Dev which showcases the conflict, angst and deep-rooted ideological differences rooted in the system. The same was brought alive on screen by the two geniuses, Puri and Bachchan, on par with each other and hailing from two vastly distinct cinematic school of thoughts. A tale of art meeting mainstream cinema that was tapped with such ingenuity and competence by Govind Nihilani. Puri played Tejinder Khosla while Bachchan played Dev Pratap Singh brought the house on fire, bringing a rare intensity in what is the real deal and conflict is ridden in the system. Simply brilliant.

As Om Puri bade us farewell, a certain void is sensed which would make it very rare to fill and one is tempted to say that the golden era of acting is slowly waning away. The thinking actor that Om Saab was, never shied away at speaking his mind and hitting at intolerance raging in our society, getting it real at every juncture. He belonged to a very humble background and it was something that showed during his interviews, this kindness that made Puri Saab so human.

Hindi cinema lost one of its most sparkling mind and actors that echoed the real issues facing our society in films like Mirch Masala, Dharavi, Dev, Ardh Satya and wowed the global audience in international flicks such as Gandhi, East is East and My Son the Fanatic. Take a bow, Sir. Perhaps, you have gone too soon but retributive justice in a way for us to honor you posthumous when you never got your due as an actor.

 

V

 

 

 

 

 

Film Review: Dangal is master-piece of faction


Film Review: Dangal

Producer: Aamir Khan Productions

Director: Nitesh Tiwari

Cast: Aamir Khan, Sakshi Tanwar, Fatima Sana Shaikh, Sanya Malhotra, Zaira Wasim and Suhani Bhatnagar, Ritwik Sahore and Girish Kulkarni

Rating: 4 stars

There is one man in the film industry who is in himself a brand for excellence and who rarely disappoints his audience who rightly expect sparks, be it at the ticket counter or in terms of aesthetic quality. No prize for guessing? Mr. Perfectionist, Aamir Khan. He simply takes Dangal to another level, playing Mahavir Singh Phogat that will set the bar to a soaring high in the display of such a mature character, wearing shades of ruthlessness as a father and expressing the pain conveyed in his eyes. It’s a fab act. A film like Dangal on sports and real life personalities will serve as a strong reference point in years to come through the helming of a terrific script, brilliant execution by Nitesh Tiwari and the entire cast excelling.

Dangal traces the story of Mahavir Singh Phogat, the journey and rise of his daughters, Babita and Geeta whom he helped trained to win big in wrestling. It’s not easy to make a film on sports and depicting real life characters but it is where Dangal scores high, beautifully blending fiction, entertainment, and fact. A master story-telling of faction.

Aamir Khan leads the ensemble cast and carries the film on his shoulders from start-to-finish playing the wrestler who couldn’t make it big but see the dreams in his daughters. The actor’s body language is terrific and effortless emote, without going over the top which is one of the core strength of the film. The best thing is Aamir evades the pit of not letting his real-life persona tower above the script and watch Dangal to know what I mean. It constitutes the beauty of this film. Moreover, his transformation in the movie and gaining weight is beautifully sketched and presented on screen.

Sakshi Tanwar competently matches Khan and her body language is simply fantastic and conveys the multitude emotions in a restrained manner. Debutant Fatima Sheikh impresses as Gita and she is at her natural best, playing the character.  She is excellent in her first film and will fetch awards along with her reel sister Sanya Malhotra. Both actors share an explosive chemistry. Their younger selves in the movie, Zaira Wasim, and Suhani Bhatnagar are not only excellent but also endearing and relatable. Ritwik Sahore who plays the younger version of Aamir’s nephew is first-rate and endearing, while Aparshakti Khurrana (the elder version) performs competently. The coach role played by Girish Kulkarni is a perfect fit for the role, high on ego, arrogance, and scheming.

The film has several poignant and stand-out scenes where the child bride reminds the Phogat sisters on how Mahavir Singh Phogat is a father every girl deserve for believing in women who are married off and treated as a burden in the village of Haryana. The scene is executed in a subtle manner, touching the plight of woman in our society where dreaming big is perhaps not allowed. The scene where Aamir Khan pleads in front of the board for his daughters to stay in the institute or Geeta wrestling with the father is executed in an unblemished manner. The devil lies in the detail and the wrestling scenes are shot and captured with sheer cinematic brilliance.

On the other hand, the filmmaker has taken creative liberties and it shows in the scene where Aamir Khan is locked inside the room seems to be out of place and done with the aim of pouring masala. It goes against the whole spirit of the film and is one of the minor setbacks in the film.

The editing is cutting-edge, outstanding screenplay and the direction by Neeraj Tiwari is a stroke play that engages the audience through a seamless blend of emotions, sports, vanity, gently touching women conditions and patriotism. Aamir Khan act is the real icing in a film that not only entertains but bring to the fore the story of two of the most brilliant women athletes and the sacrifice of their father. The actor is stupendous in delivering the Haryanvi accent to near perfection. Dangal will be remembered as one of the biggest masterpieces in recent times and the movie will be counted among Hindi cinema’s golden era.

V

PS: I am taking a blogging break for the New Year and see you in another week. Keep reading and commenting.

Happy New Year

V

WoW: Throw back to a year gone into oblivion


I cannot complain or rile as I look back to the year that was. Every single day, moment or year is a new beginning for me as I mull or fail to understand the hoopla about the new year for it’s just a change in the calendar. The year 2016 was a challenge and a sort of game changer for me since I was taught the virtues of patience and go with the flow in life. Nothing is permanent, success and failure, or high and lows.

Things shaped for me during the second half of the year where I was blessed with an exciting opportunity in my career where I turned into a consultant in the field of media and journalism and 2017 sounds exciting as I debut as a Corporate trainer. It was the best phase in my life where things suddenly changed for the best despite the hiccups and challenge in the year that started quite slow. I was like, not again since it’s been three lean years for me, bringing me face-to-face with my destiny where I suffered depression, failure, and the ongoing struggling.

There are so many things that you learn in this journey when you start questioning yourself and mulling whether you are doing things the right way. The month of January started on a wrong note when a close cousin-brother passed away suddenly in UK and few deaths in the family.  One thing that I learned is the need to detach as human beings which I feel is very important.

The second month of the year was the time I took a courageous decision which made me proud. I resigned from a job that wasn’t fulfilling and the offers I turned down due to paltry salary offered. It taught me something very important, always respect yourself for if you don’t, nobody will. I was broke but patience was on my side and slowly the rewards showed. I was taught the need to learn, unlearn old things, learn new things to grow as a person and to chuck out negative energy from life. Over this year, I have learned one thing: Your priority matters the most, not that of relatives or people who don’t play a role in your life. I have become individualistic and made the self-triumph. I am still learning to say No to people. I also make it a point to compete with myself as an individual to improve my game and not with others. I believe, it’s how we grow as human beings. I became calmer, composed and a much happier person in my space.

The self-matters as we are on a quest to discover ourselves and never lose yourself by making people’s happiness matter more than yours. Refuse an invitation if you feel like and distance yourself from toxic people. Never compromise on your space and don’t be afraid to say so.

It was the year where I came across new people and renewed my bond with old ones, meeting my Rakhi sister along with her husband after a decade. Would you believe that? We were together in college at Pune and couldn’t believe of meeting in another country. It reaffirmed my faith in magic and positivity. The best friend is also getting married in Mumbai and after he broke the news, it came as a shock. Of all the people, not him!

The year ended with few worries after I was diagnosed with gastric issues and the test showed slow rhythm in the heart beat due to smoking. The face went numb one day with pains traveling in the body, dizziness, and weakness. The slow heart beat was attributed to heavy smoking. It came as a blessing in disguise for I was able to drastically cut smoking in the month of December. I am also back into yoga and practicing regularly at home. The year I chose health over bad toxic habits.

It was also the year where the wrong man and a racist won the US Presidential Election and Brexit triumphed over human sanity. It is a dangerous time when racism and human prejudices are towering above everything else. But, it’s no reason to stop believing and we should act as a watchdog against intolerance in every part of the globe. Closer home, demonetisation takes the pie in being the news of the year. Pulp fiction has a name. Any guesses?!

In short, 2016 became the defining year for me where I was taught the virtue of patience and a gentle reminder that I need to be more open to opportunities, stop being hyper and calm down. Not every downturn in life is a sign of failure but a lesson. Learn and move on. It was the year when I made a comeback from a professional and personal perspective.

Wishing all of you a blissful Happy New year 2017, crowned with good health, wealth, money, and prosperity.

V

‘This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.’

Top 10 Hindi films of 2016


pink-002

 

As we look back, 2016 was a fantastic year for the Hindi film industry, despite the missus and low where hard-hitting, masala bonanza, and meaningful flicks triumphed. A year of cinema where film makers battled censorship and took to court sycophants to ensure artistic freedom prevailed. There were double standards yet cinema, in all its form, triumphed. There were stories that triumphed where women were told in a deep baritone that they have every right to party at night and no one has the right to touch or call them a slut. The coming of age cinema, the celebration of a cricket icon, a real life heroine that we forget and fell in love with again or celebrating women wrestlers. Or, another one who sashayed its way to redefine stardom and obsession with our stars. I call 2016 as the year where women triumphed in the courtroom and the film takes the pie as one of the top in the list. Think again! It’s an ex-ae quo for the best film as Pink meets Neerja Bhanot the real life heroine and a martyr who seeped in our lives again.

Top 10 Films of the Year

  1. Pink and Neerja (ex-ae quo )

PINK

It was the return of court drama on-screen after more than two decades when the brilliant Damini was made in the 1990s. Bachchan senior donned the black coat in PINK and became the voice of women in society. PINK became a game changer and a mass movement where women related with the characters played by Taapse, Kirtee, and Andrea.  It’s a movie that every woman but also every man should watch for its hard-hitting dialogues that Amitabh Bachchan nails along with the three leading ladies. It’s time that we become the change in a disgusting patriarchal society. Pink is one movie that should and must make its way in the school curriculum.

Neerja

It was Sonam Kapoor year where she played the real-life Neerja Bhanot who sacrificed her life in the late 80s to save the lives of many innocent children and passengers as head purser. It’s a human tragedy that the real Neerja was forgotten by us and credit should go to Ram Madhavan who brought her back in our memories to make her stay alive. Sonam delivers the best performance of her career in Neerja and deserves all awards and honor in the country. It’s one film that made me emotional and tears ran down on my cheek watching the movie that stayed for long. Certainly, along with PINK, Neerja makes the cut to the best film of the year

2. Dangal

Aamir Khan is not called Mr. Perfectionist for no reason and Dangal super successful running at the box office proves why it’s one of the best-made biopic this year. A film about wrestling tracing the historical journey of Geeta and Babita’s win at the Olympics through the sacrifice of their father, played with elan by Amir Khan as Mahavir Singh Phogat. Aamir redefines acting and plays a mature character that will redefine acting, taking it to the next level that deserves admiration. The actor gained weight to play the tough and ruthless father in a film which showcases the poignant daughter-father relationship in a country where women have no right to dream. Aamir deserves every honor for believing in this project which taps obsession with the male child and goes to length to believe in women athletes. A film that honors India as a country and our small towns. The girls, Fatima and Sanya will certain fetch awards for being the year’s best debutants.

3. Mahendra Singh Dhoni (MSD)

Cricket is a religion in India and MSD is one of the most loved icons in this country. MSD is a biopic that plays a fitting tribute to Dhoni where Sushant Singh Rajput does full justice to this role and shines through as one of the best performances of the year.  The actor simply nailed it and was perfect as MSD. Director Neeraj Pandey narrates the tale of Dhoni, tracing his struggling days and the pinnacle of success, beautifully presenting the World Cup footage in the most aesthetic fashion.

4. Udta Punjab

The controversies and silly attempts to censor Udta Punjab are the only blot to the bigger picture but that didn’t deter the film from emerging as one of the most well made films of the year, touching the scourge of drugs that youth in the Northern part of India face. It’s such an honest attempt with Shahid Kapoor in top form, Alia Bhatt pushing the envelope further, Kareena Kapoor Khan’s lovable character and the new-found Diljith that makes this gritty tale one of the most brilliantly told stories.

5. Fan

Shah Rukh Khan deserves applause for experimenting with Fan in a sensational double role, playing himself Aryan Khanna and the star obsessed Gaurav in a clash where he was phenomenally terrific.  An actor should always challenge its audience and King Khan does that in one of his best-remembered roles during the last few years. Fan is one film that stands out be it the clash between the superstar and his fan, obsession for film stars and the portrayal of the star obsessed Gaurav, played to perfection by SRK. Maneesh Sharma, as the director ups the game and pushes Shah Rukh Khan to the edge as an actor to play two diametrically opposed characters which makes Fan a winner.

6. Kapoor & Sons

 

A story about a dysfunctional family makes Kapoor & Sons one of the most sensitively portrayed films made this year. The film came as a breath of fresh air with its lead actors Siddharth, Fawad, Alia, Rajat Kapoor, Ratna Pathak and of course, Rishi Kapoor winning our hearts. The makeup of thespian actor Rishi Kapoor turning into a 90-year-old grandfather was the cherry on the cake and he was truly lovable.

7. Sultan

The sports drama Sultan where Salman Khan and Anushka Sharma play wrestlers and mouthing in near perfect Haryanvi accent won our hearts. It’s a film about sports and how the human ego that can destroy the career and relationships, tracing Sultan’s the rise, fall and comeback of the wrestler against all odds. The film will be counted as one of Salman Khan’s top-notch performance in his career spanning more than 25 years.

8. Ae Dil Hai Mushkil/Befikre

 

Karan Johar’s Ae Dil Hai Mushkil came as the surprise package of the year and cut off from his usual cliché and candy floss romance that he is so famous for. KJo’s latest offering of the past year was one of this most mature work on human relationship, beautiful depicting the analogy of love vs friendship where Ranbir Kapoor showed his mettle and proved why he is one of the most bankable talents in the film industry, living up to his illustrious lineage. Anushka Sharma stole our hearts as the flawless performer in this author backed role and was at her natural best. Aishwarya Rai Bachchan was picture perfect and KJO presented her in the most elegant manner, her personality put to the forefront, making a huge fashion statement as India’s answer to Julia Roberts. Full marks KJO.

Befikre

befikre-poster

Another director who gave us DDLJ presented a fresh couple Ranveer Singh and Vani Kapoor in this film which is an ode to Gen X where the dialogues are such a perfect fit in depicting romance and relationships among the urban youth. A cocktail of love where songs Labon ka Karobar and Nashe si chad Gayi were the killer. A must watch films for the youth on the changing equation of love which proves why Aditya Chopra is still counted among the best storytellers the Hindi film industry has produced.

9. Dear Zindagi

08a70-dear-zindagi-take-2-look-poster-teaser

This Gauri Shinde’s flick on human relationships and depression came as a lull of fresh air towards the year-end, showcasing Alia’s talent and proving why she is one of the most nurtured talent of her generation. Of course, Shah Rukh Khan can be quite a show-stealer and his chemistry with a much younger Alia remains the highlight of the film. Dear Zindagi has some very poignant scenes that make it find its way among the top movies of the year.

10. Airlift

This Akshay Kumar-Nimrat Kaur story is based on the real-life incident where a business man, Ranjit Katyal rescued 170,000 of his Indian compatriots caught in the Iraq-Kuwait war situation. Akshay Kumar carries the role of the suave businessman on his shoulders and portrays the nuances of one of the most powerful man suddenly becoming helpless in such a powerful manner. Of course, Nimrat Kaur is one of the most natural actresses who matches Kumar in every frame and plays his better half so effortlessly. The film beautifully merges human pain, war affliction, and patriotism. Brilliant.

Love N Happy New Year

V

 

Sex with an Ex (6)


The room was dark and eerie. Rohini stood frozen as a walking shadow flicked behind her on the white coated wall. A candle was lit and flashed on her near perfect and attractive face with the fading wrinkle.

Rohini’s hair fell on her round and angular face, that no sane man could keep away from. She wondered why Ajay doesn’t find her attractive anymore. She leaped to her feet and stood like a statue, shivering to death when a rapacious lip pressed and bit her ear. Suddenly, a stiff male hand traveled inside her bra and squeezed her boob that became stiff and she felt her inside exploding like molten lava.

She wore an air of relief when the male voice that whispered into her air sounded familiar. She turned around to unbutton his shirt.  He carried her into her arms to the bed and gently tells, “Your hair and colorful string of hippie necklaces are embarrassing me.” It made her desirable. “It’s simple. Remove them carefully. I am all yours tonight.” She pulled off her skirt and bra as an invitation to him and felt his force inside her.

Rohini was scheming and knew that sex is a weapon which she would control this man like a TV remote in her hand and press at will. She wore a calm demeanor, spoke seductively and paused at regular interval.  “I hope the amazing sex that we are having will not distract you from the duty. We need to act fast. Baby, it’s the time to stop losing the time or else, our plan will fizzle in the air. After all, it is a question of crores. It’s time for you to gain her trust. It’s not happening. She is confused and it’s the time to hit when the iron is hot. Mess up with her mind. She is our passport to heaven.”

He nodded but knew at the same time, that Rohini cannot be trusted. She cannot be a stupid woman who fell for his charm but today she is showing her true colors. He knows that he gotta be cautious for she will not wait a second to finish him once the mission is over.

*********************************************************

The furtive eyes of Anita followed Ajay as he drove the gray silver BMW car on the busy street of Mumbai and almost cursed at the yellow-and-black cabbie doing a U-turn in front of them. He avoided the taxi just in time and banged on his window. “Easy,” Anita said. “Bhenchod,” Ajay cursed.

Anita cleared her throat and spoke with composure, “It’s not happening, Ajay. This relationship is not going anywhere unlike this car. Sex and just sex. Bas! You don’t have the balls to divorce your wife. I cannot be kept in the dark. Truth is I don’t have the courage to break up with my fiance.”

He stopped the car and unfastened the seat belt, caressed her hair to move closer to her. “No,” she hollered. “Don’t fucking touch me, I dare you.” “Be patient, babe,” he tried to calm her. Thud! A huge explosion deafened their ears and the glass windows splintered, hitting them on their faces. Ajay and Anita clutched to each other and their eyes slowly blinked. They fell unconscious.

It’s been months that they were closely watched by a roving eye and every move they made, be it inside the hotel room lying naked, smooching passionately or squabbled were shot on camera.

Earlier chapters can be read here.

 

To be continued…

Book Review: Smitten with Smita


Book Review: Smith Patil, A Brief Incandescence

Author: Maithili Rao

Publisher: Harper Collins

Rating: Four and a half

smita-patil

 

I have always felt a deep and strong connection with one of the best actresses that ever sashayed in Indian cinema, Smita Patil. Her looks, smoldering expressions and the raw intensity in her eyes simply stays with you and capture your heart. For me, she is and will always be a Goddess. And, to think, when she died I was very small. Having been born and brought in an Indian family outside the country, I remember Dad took me to a concert when Amitabh Bachchan performed. He came with tears in his eyes. I recall or, like my Dad explained, that Bachchan said that he just got a bad news that one of his closest friends in the industry, Smita Patil, passed away after delivering a baby boy.

It’s a dichotomy that I watched the movies of Smita-ji after she passed away and whenever I think about her, read her impressive work or watch her, tears flow in my eyes. That’s the kind of cosmic bond I have with one of my favorite actresses. I ordered the book of Maithili Rao’s Smita Patil: A Brief Incandescence.

The author has provided a detailed insight and description on the life of Smita-ji, her heart of gold and someone who remains unaffected with showbiz, her craze as a ‘biker woman’ and her body of work. In my world, she is a Mom, sister, friend and perhaps, we were connected in an earlier birth if something like that ever exist. She is a national phenomenon which the author has successfully unraveled in Smita the person, daughter, and actress. The beauty of the book lies in the fact that as a reader and admirer, you are invited into her life, interacting with the actor where Maithili Rao makes you a part of her existence. It feels that she never left us.

The book is divided into her Puneri roots, reluctance to move to Bombay and her movies described as ‘Her Dasavatars-her artistic outing and how she makes the leap into commercial cinema. The cherry on the cake is the different testimonies theater actress Vaishali, filmfare editor Jitesh Pillai love letter to his favorite actress, film critic Deepa Deosthalee on ‘Smita and Deepti Naval poem and Nandita Das heart felt letter, ‘Smi: The Sister I never met. It makes you choke with emotions. I did. I cried my heart out.  In Smita Patil and her Dasavatars, Maithili Rao shared tit bits on the critically acclaimed Marathi movie, Mantham, Jait re Jait, Bhumika, Umbartha, Arth, Sagar Sarhadi’s Bazaar, Mandi or commercial outings where she shared screen presence with Bachchan in Namak Halal and Shakti.

Smita-ji was in a hurry, tells the author who speaks about her questionable choice in mainstream cinema where the actor went on record to say the reason is she wants her audience to grow bigger to her art outings. A Brief Incandescence is not just a book but a real-time experience going to the past where interesting snippets on Smita-Ji being an unwanted child, her shift from Marathi medium to English, the Doordarshan newscaster that had such an impact on the audience that Vinod Khanna would storm home to watch this newscaster that haunts or her passion as a biker woman. Yes! I bet that not many of us knew about it.

Born to a politician father Shivaji Rao Patil who served as Union Minister in Maharashtra, Smita-ji has done a lot of selfless work for the poor, in particular women but she is not known to push her way to reach glory. It’s a rare insight on how Mahesh Bhatt pushes her to be selfish and competitive, two personality traits that were not her at all. Maithili Rao provides insights on how she remained unaffected by showbiz where she would go out of her way to hug a spot boy on sets and would feign away the whole ‘I am a star’ kinda thing. Smita Patil is not known to be someone bound by convention, whether in her choice of friends, films or personal relationships so much that when she constructed her house in Bandra, she wanted the construction workers to be her first guests. What a human tragedy that she wasn’t alive to see the sea-facing bungalow that she spent years to choose. The family fed the construction workers in the bungalow.

The famous Aaj Rapat Jaye in Namak Halal is something she abhorred doing and Amitabh Bachchan testified how she has complained that she hates doing it but completed it with some convincing. Smita-ji has nurtured a passion for photography where her shots were showcased an IIT professor Trivedi who discovered the rare pictures that she clicked and screened, ‘Through The Eyes of Smita’ who was the new cinema icon and raptly captured the dream girl Hema Malini. Such is the power of the author Maithili Rao who makes us discover the real Smita Patil.

“She had full knowledge of what she was doing, how and when to open the lens, take out parts and reassemble them. I was surprised. I asked her, how do you know all this. Camera is my shaukh, she replied. If it is my passion, I will learn everything about it.”

-Amitabh Bachchan

The endearing and humane quality in Smita Patil is narrated by Arun Khopkar, “The stardom didn’t weigh heavy on her shoulders. Once she became a friend and you kept the trust, there was no change in the relationship. She has become a kind of role model for women in Maharashtra. Here, was a woman with no airs, whom you could directly approach. She was direct, she had no contamination…”

It’s hard. I mean, an uphill task to draw loopholes on a book that has been written so well, be it the choice of subtle language that captivates readers or the research to decode the person behind the book. Perhaps, the writer’s quest to justify art movies and discard from commercial ones where Smita’s choice of films are questioned. I think she knew what she was doing and her justification, ‘..was one way of enlarging the audience for art cinema once its actors become stars of mainstream films.’

The afterward by her mentor, Shyam Benegal who wrote a letter to Vidya tai (Vidyarao Patil), Smita-ji’s Mom in the form of a beautiful poem by Persian poet, Jalaluddin Rumi, best describes the actor and the person. A Brief Incandescence: Smita Patil is not just a book but an experience in understanding your favorite actor that still haunts you decades after her death. It’s a cinema guide where the author has laid bare the work that Smita Patil has done over the years and detail about each movie is written.

Smita Patil is a phenomenon. Her mythical looks, eyes expressing sparking fury and one of the rarest actors who doesn’t need to deliver punching lines but the eyes do the talking. What is it about her that years after she is gone, she stays with you forever? Perhaps, a soulful experience and an enigma with a sixth sense who could get a feel about someone who met a near fatal experience read Bachchan. It’s a book that touched my inner soul and I know will stay with me forever.

There hasn’t been anyone like Smita-ji and will never be. It comes as no surprise that since 1986, we haven’t had another Smita Patil. We will never have. I have decided to write her a letter every year on her birthday or death anniversary, perhaps my way to be closer to the gentle soul that she was. A healer in the truest sense. I always extend my gratitude to her.

The book shouldn’t be missed for Maithili Rao gives such as brilliant description and her words evoke emotions, building a vivid imagery of the star and the person behind the image. Smita Patil was destined to be in such short span of time.

Postscript: I got the book on December 13, this year and perhaps, it’s a strange sheer coincidence.

Love

V

 

 

Xmas shots


Wordless Wednesday: Xmas shots

Hiya folks,

Xmas is the season to bring in cheers and ringing in the festive season, adorning our lives with happiness, colorful vibes and spreading energy. It’s the time to renew our battery, filled with passion and zest. Sharing Chrismassy pictures with you all.

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With Love N joyful festive holiday

V

 

Book Review: Glitter and Gloss is the season’s rom-com read


Book Review: Glitter and Gloss

Author: Vibha Bhatra

Publisher: Bloomsbury India

Released in: July 26

Pages: 184

Rating: Three and a half stars

 

Introduction

A cocktail of love and break ups, crazy roomies, and friendship exploring the erogenous zones makes Glitter and Gloss an explosive read this winter. It’s the first time I am reading Vibha Batra and she cooks a unique appealing dish of romance, friendship and bitching that makes Laughter Challenge fade in comparison. The book is breezy and the spasm of laughter pumps the adrenaline with Vibha effortlessly exploring the nuance of relationships that never loses steam and it makes her latest romance outing all glitter and gloss.

Blurb:

Misha is a make-up artist who, after a series of mishaps and twists and turns, falls madly in love with Akshay who reciprocates her love with ardour. The only hitch in this perfect romance is her prospective sister-in-law who thinks Misha is everything a Bahu shouldn’t be: garrulous, geeky, gawky, gainfully employed (especially the last bit).

Blurb credit: Goodreads.com

Narration:

The life of Misha as a make-up artist can be drab and routinely blissful in the company of besties, Poulomi and Samy who love hating each other but adore the main protagonist to death. Misha’s bestie is on a mission to save Misha before all the guys go instinct and urge her to hunt desperately for a date. It comes in the form of a fleshed out version of Fawad Khan who doesn’t trot on a horse as the black and shine armor when he comes across Misha in a fashion show. The narration and dialogues are effortlessly done in a constant flow that will make readers laugh their lungs out.

The book will be identified with Gen X and the author makes no bone in sketching the narration in such a manner to tap relationships complexities. Glitter and Gloss truly live to its genre of rom-com with the one-liners and funny situations. The light moments are not forced on its readers and provoke peals of laughter.

The character, Poulomi, is one-of-its-kind and the in-your-face chick that will take us back to our college friends for we all had that one friend for whom the world never goes around and it can be merrily twisted to one’s bizarre imagination. The hero of the book, Akshay is described as a charmingly unique mystery man and Misha gets an adrenaline rush and oxymoron crush drooling over his sexy quotient. Like in the movies, the man comes as a savior to the heroine where love gotta ignites fire.  The first kiss, stoked with ‘head dip and lips brush against mine’ happens in the unlikeliest situation to create a dynamite of sort. The author should be credited for creating the first kiss in the unlikeliest situation or place and injecting intimacy and hilarious touch at the same time.

“He tears his mouth and releases me abruptly from that delicious warm embrace. My eyes fly open as I go from sensuous Cinderella to Piddu Pumpkin…Bade deshon mein aisi choti choti galtiyan hoti rehti hain? My heart threatens to explode out of my chest as I gawk at him.”

Our Akki has a sister, Didi, who swears by jewelry, prayer meets and of course, upholding the family traditions for the new to be Bahu in the Agarwal khandaan. This puts Misha in a fix when Didi meets the former’s Mom who isn’t shy to parade her young boyfriend. It gets hilarious when both Didi and Misha’s mother discuss saat pheras and religious outings. It couldn’t be better framed than that and is one of the core highlights of the book. How Mom almost spoils the fun! The sequence in the narration has been one of the best ‘comedy of errors’ that you could have read in recent times. The cherry on the cake is Misha who imagines herself to be a fresh version of  ‘Tulsi Virani’ and takes it upon herself to save the family honor. A fun ride!

What’s Not!

There are quite a few glitches in this tale of Glitter and Gloss. The new age, Misha, tries hard to be a sati savitri, taking it upon herself to fit in this crazy religious family and being a Manglik, seems regressive in today’s world. Not that, it doesn’t happen in society. Moreover, the transition of the lovelorn couple, Misha, and Akshay wanting to get hitched seems drastic to a certain extent, in my view. Even, the break up between Akshay and Misha seems too sudden. I feel that the author should have delved deeper into the romance angle and flirting to keep the suspense alive till the climax end.

Final Words:

Glitter and Gloss is a refreshing tale with the ‘condom moods killer friends’ spoiling the night’ to the ‘veggie suitor’ feasting on flesh and detectives that makes it a read to kill. Vibha Bhatra has churned a delightful tale of love and romance that will find its way in your hearts. You cannot afford to miss ‘Glitter and Gloss.’

I was contacted by the author who gave me the book for free in exchange for a honest review. You can buy the book here. You can follow the author on Twitter.

 

Wandering Night


Sticky wall.

Dusty fan creaking to life.

Blowing hot air.

Windy breeze seeping through the holes.

Insect crawling on the thatched muddy wall.

Eyes furtively hovering on the roof.

Tired eyes.

Sleep distracted by the sound of fire crackers.

Morons hell-bent to wake up the whole world.

Imagination.

Over thinking.

Sleep gone for a toss.

Stench of cheap booze wafts through.

A lone drunkard wandering at the beach,

not faraway from the humble abode.

Wandering night.

Stillness of thoughts.

Love

V

 

 

 

 

Pune Memoirs Part Two: New Year dhamaka on roof top (3)


Pune Memoirs

Second Year: (Part Two):

December 31, 2005,/ January 1, 2006

I am a party person and can count the number of times that I have attended for my social awkwardness and very inept with socializing with people. It was our batch party where the whole class invited and hosted on the rooftop of our classmate, Aparna’s building at the very posh Panchwati in Pune.

Initially, I was reluctant to attend but finally bulged with the best friend, Adi prodding me and poking fun that I will be sitting alone in the flat when everyone will enjoy at the party.

The lecture got over at noon on December 31st where Pune was hot as hell despite the wintery weather in the evening. I hopped to Savera, our college hang out for coffee and after meeting with friends, I walked in the sun to JM Road, shopping for few music CDs and paperback books. It was a couple of days back that I went to MG Road along with Adi and his now ex girlfriend where I shopped for a nice pair of black shoes and jazzy black trousers for the party.

We were the first one to reach the party and whined time socializing with new people and gradually the crowd thronged to the balcony as my eyeballs hit the bar with Vodka and orange juice doing the rounds. The love interest came that sent my heart into tizzy dressed in a colorful short skirt and accompanied by another female who I normally avoid for she always goes hyper when high on alcohol. Imagine my plight when I was sweetly coaxed by both to turn into a photographer and shoot the nubile sexy pair of legs. I was like, what the fuck! I wonder whether both women are some aliens who descended on planet earth or what!  The worse was the numerous retakes of shooting legs and the women were never tires or shy of posing for the camera. Finally, I was done with relief and headed to the bar to drown myself in the sea of vodka.

It didn’t take me long to get drunk. I swear. I couldn’t dance for the charm of alcohol swept me off its feet. It’s quite funny for when I walked to the bar, I wasn’t drinking alcohol but the sweetened taste of Orange juice that made me weak in the knee. I am no alcoholic but couldn’t resist the mixture of Smirnoff or Romanov Vodka with Orange juice. Now, who the hell gave the idea of mixing both. I think it’s Adi who is fascinated by that mix and claimed the victim in me for in my mind it wasn’t alcohol but Orange juice. I have a thing for Orange juice, often mistaking it for aphrodisiac of sort. That day, I was tricked into high and soaring spirit.

The side effects of gulping three to four drinks in less than an hour pushed me to squat in a corner, far away from the wild crowd dancing and music I was oblivious to. The waves in my brain shunted me off the party world and no activity could knock me off my perch. It didn’t dawn to me that I was sitting close to the grill and barbecue flame caressed my face. The only thing that I could do was get up to pour another drink and smoke like a chimney. I disappeared from the party that left Adi,

I kept disappearing from the party that left Adi, Manish and the others wondering where I have slipped and those morons thought that I might have jumped off the building. They even looked around to see if some inert body was lying somewhere on the ground, drenched in blood.  I wandered outside the building with a fag in hand and called relatives based out of India. I tried calling Mom and Dad to wish them Happy New Year. After all, I had to finish the phone balance that would expire anytime soon. At that time, BPL recharge was the hottest thing in India and the latest SIM that I got blessed yours truly with a balance of 500 bucks and 24 hours later, my account was credit with double the amount that made it 1000 bucks talk time. That’s the real deal.

Somehow, devils have a way of getting back to you like Professor Snape and they heckled me back to the party. I was made to sit like a statue and handed a glass of vodka. I again sneaked out like some runaway groom and was caught again, not without being threatened. The crush broke my heart into tiny pieces as she swarmed in front of me and calling me to join the gang on the dance floor. Now, somebody should have explained that I was not in the state to dance and my fear of tripping since too much of alcohol has flown inside the body. She danced with several dudes. The heart was broken into multiple pieces as if I am some empty glass.

I don’t even remember whether I had dinner past midnight when the whole word was merry making and beeline for food. I was too drunk to remember. All I remember that I squatted on the floor, making an effort with the trembling fingers to return New Year greeting on sms. But, I did remember dancing in a group when Adi dragged me on the floor to swing to the tune of Sukhbir’s Oho ho ho, Ishq Tera Padpaya with Adi trying to lip-synching to Oho ho ho. It’s one of my favorites. I do remember hugging whoever I could to wish happy new year like a statue. I think Adi and his girlfriend stayed with the group since they wanted to gaze at the sunrise on January 1. I left with Manish, Kusum and may be, Neraj past 2 a.m in the morning. I was only too happy to find my bed and slept like a baby.

We ushered in the year 2006 where I vowed to make a fresh start. It’s another thing that I used to make that vow every year. The Vodka gave me such a bad hangover and made me realize that there would be no way my frame would be in the group’s pictures, except two one with Adi and another one with the crush. Blame it on the alcohol that made me wander far away in some isolated world. During the day, the horrible hangover seeped out of my system and finally decided to venture out in the late afternoon. I took a long walk past college when I saw one gay guy that I loathed who was at the party and sitting with a chick and classmate that I came across in college a couple of times. I saw both of them sitting in our college hangout from a distance and both of them started laughing when that guy said something pointing in my direction. I ended up hating that girl and vowed never to speak to her. I didn’t for a long time. To cut a story short, she became a very close pal of my mind and a kinda ‘guy buddy’ friend, someone you wouldn’t like to date but swear the filthiest Hindi cuss words, drink together and share everything, be it crushes or my love interests and her boyfriend.

 

Love

V