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Weaver of dreams


The noise and chaotic city,

drunker stuttering aimlessly,

a glass of tea,

thick smoke flowing from the slum,

curling past Arabian Sea,

lone light,

impassioned discourses,

war not meant to happen,

far from pellets and guns,

train whooshes,

gentle breeze,

fly chasing at the railway station,

a game to kill time,

beggar eyeing the dime,

a pocket filled with hope,

not called Maximum City for nothing,

hope,

Unquenched dreams,

countless tales weaved.

Love

V

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Film Review: Gully Boy is India’s hip hop, youth anthem and triumph of underdogs


Film Review: Gully Boy

Cast: Ranveer Singh, Alia Bhatt, Vijay Raaz,  Siddhant Chaturvedi, Sheeba Chaddha and Kalki

Screenplay: Zoya Akhtar-Reema Kagti

Director: Zoya Akhtar

Rating: Four stars

 

Few movies can celebrate music and the underdogs with triumph and honestly delving into the dark side of Mumbai’s underbelly.  Ace director Zoya Akhtar’s successfully makes the shift away from the educated and suave upper class in Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara and Dil Dhadakne Do to Gully Boy lending credence to a powerful vision effectively translated on screen, making it as real as it gets.  At one glance: Gully Boy scores in the depiction of relationships and aspirations in tapping the realism in Mumbai, the city of dreams and extremities, the noire aspect in portraying the struggle of underdogs against all odds.

 

What’s On!

Music has always been celebrated in Hindi movies and the rare instance when a movie sashays its way to celebrate a youth anthem. Once in a decade a rare gem comes to touch emotions and souls be it a Rock On and now Gully Boy is one such a film hitting a storm in celebrating Indian Hip Hop. Zoya Akhtar’s latest offering blends socialism, feminism and perhaps has a political connotation with the liberating songs with Azaadi that has little do in the present context and even if it does, it plays in a very subdued manner. The narration initially moves at a slow pace but there is a legitimate reason as it taps into the core of the characters, struggles and pathos.

The movie has been brilliantly shot in the slums, particularly depicting Dharavi and street life in Mumbai.  Cinematography is flawless in depicting the class divide in a super striking manner. Zoya Akhtar effectively captures the angst and the dialogues on the class structure between Murad and his uncle and inching towards the climax with his father Shakir (Vijay Raaz) hinges on life lessons. The emotional confrontation is gut-wrenching and showcases the generation clash about values.

The different strands are connected together, from Asli Hip Pop and the breaking of cliché where mainstream movies have portrayed the Muslim wearing skullcap as religious fundamentalists. The songs are pure ecstasy about Hip Hop as an art form which sadly has been given less importance in films and the writing duo Zoya Akhtar-Reema Kagti drives not just a strong message but packs a solid punch.

Ranveer Singh has always portrayed boisterous characters which the audience loves him for but as Murad he completely transforms himself as the sober Murad, carrying angst in the most subdued manner in the film. He is incredibly extraordinary as Murad and no over-the-top acting in showcasing his mettle as he flits with ease in the character’s skin.

 

 

Alia Bhatt as Safeena is simply breathtaking and sensational making it difficult to fathom that she is the same girl who debuted in SOTY. She simply explodes in Gully Boy as the over possessive and jealous girlfriend who will not think twice in breaking bones and I would argue that in some places, she gains an edge over Ranveer Singh. As Safeena, she plays not just a hijab-wearing Muslim unabashedly showing her identity as a woman but a typical hatke Mumbai girl who many of us encountered.

The revelation in the film is no doubt Siddhant Chaturvedi as the hip hop MC Sher and the alter ego of Murad, holding him strong in places. Both Ranveer and Siddhant are today’s Jai-Veeru, both intrinsic to the film’s screenplay and narration. Amruta Subhash as Murad’s mother adds a dash of feminity trapped in a patriarchal world when the husband takes a second wife arguing she couldn’t satisfy him but her dialogue on the husband not knowing how to touch her forces us to think on the topic of sexuality that we mostly shy away from.

There is a debate on Gully Boy’s end which many find abrupt but somehow, I like it celebrating the unsung hero in synch with the Hip Hop theme. The songs, right from Mere Gally mein is an ode to the lesser mortals in slums which the over-entitled superior class mentality mock and the end song celebrates triumph and optimism. Mera time aayega is nothing less than a celebration of music, art, creativity, individuality and identity. The song has been shot in a marvelous and aesthetic manner. I call it a youth anthem. Bohot Hard Hai, bhidu!

 

What’s Not!

Gully Boy is a path-breaking film that should make India swoon over rap and hip hop in questioning cliché. Yet, there are few clichés that the makers could have done without and particularly the love triangle in the subplot with Kalki’s wafer-thin character. Truth be told, I find her character as totally unnecessary and the time for filmmakers to chuck out love triangles in Hindi movies for we need to move ahead with times and such sub-themes have been done overtly since ages.

 

Final Verdict:

Gully Boy is a coming of age cinema owing to its fresh theme about Hip Hop meets the underdogs to thrive against all odds. Zoya Akhtar has succeeded where Slumdog millionaire has failed for it doesn’t fall into a trap. The film is honest and bares its soul open for if you stay or like me having stayed in Mumbai, you will know what I mean. A perfect ode not just to Mumbai the City and Bombay an Emotion but aspirations, dreams and bringing alive a class people whom we all love to forget, the slum people who make the city prosper 24 by 7. Gully Boy will be easily counted among the best works of Zoya Akhtar who has given a career milestone to both Ranveer Singh and Alia Bhatt, tapping into their depth and range as actors. Zoya’s Gully Boy has set a trend that many would try to emulate.  Mind-blowing performances and stunning one-liners, “Mere boyfriend ke saath koi gulu gulu karenga toh toh dhoptuingi hi na usko… Agar sab thik raha, to ek din main aapka liver transplant kar sakti hui.”

 

Love

V

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Pulwana attack: Deceit and bloodshed bear no spine


A soldier protecting our border,

lives lost,

families shedding tears,

the darkest hour,

how many sons of the soil,

India will sacrifice!

a silent prayer,

will perhaps do,

rhetoric will not!

brutal loss of lives,

too much to take,

tears the sacred thread,

when will terror learn?

For it has no spine,

a cowardice act never did,

ghastly attack,

innocent blood shed,

our heroes of war,

anger and sadness filling our hearts,

a child losing a father,

a wife’s memory of a husband,

mother and father,

a son not to war but terrorism,

hidden weapons belong to ghouls,

striking by deceit,

a day when love ought to be celebrated,

hatred winning,

we sit helplessly,

nurturing wounds and death of not one,

but 44 men in uniform,

real heroism is not murder,

we have lost compassion,

to brute and humiliating forces,

a shattering and loss of faith,

terrorism is a deadly disease,

knowing no religion, faith or class,

nobody is spared,

men of honor lay lives for a nation,

standing like rock,

we need flowers not explosives,

as coffins wrapped in the tricolor were buried,

games are being played,

no human can stay silent over this mass carnage,

avenge we shall,

not death but hatred,

stay united and honor our martyred soldiers,

bowing to countless acts bravery and sacrifice.

A tribute to #Pulwamasoldiers

Jai Hind

V

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Day 4: Balm to the soul, just don’t give a fuck


Take it easy, breathe free, relax and focus away to bring mindfulness.  It is pointless at times to complicate things by cluttering the brain or staying put on matters such as uneasiness, fear or anger to tear the hair out. The last week was quite challenging with nibbling sensation in the head, pain, and tightness in the neck that bugged me not only through days but during the jogging session.

I ran decently for the first two rounds and the third one is normally kept for both slow and brisk walking when suddenly a spurt of uneasiness, gloating stomach, and irregular breathing was felt. Don’t freak out for it was nothing serious but this sensation wasn’t leaving me by the slightest inch.  Trundling like an engine, I spotted the dappled evening sun and the beautifully designed sun making for a glittered sight pushed to take a break. I stopped and removed the phone, went on a clicking spree, shooting the sky in all its radiance, indulging in selfies, a wonderful feeling being surrounded by nature, trees and grass. The joggers looked at me and wondering what this guy was up to.

I ignored them and was totally unfazed. Instead, I went on a selfie rampage and captured the sky, making me truly happy. In a way, the mind verged away from distraction and pressure coupled with uneasiness disappeared.  This was a moment of reckoning and dawned upon me on how we tend to burden ourselves. What truly matters is indulging in ME times, sinking in a moment of mindfulness even in a crowd feels like balm to the soul. Just don’t give a fuck. We live in constant stress and are always pacing to outdo each other in the quest to come first, whether it’s going for movie, grabbing coffee or exercising.

Such activities are meant to distract us and keep the mind clutter free from the humdrum but we hardly listen to the signs. Liberate the mind from anything and almost everything, empty this garbage trunk that keeps flowing throughout the day. Just let it go and savor every minute that we owe to no one but ourselves.

The body is constantly under pressure. We need to go slow and ease out for not everything is about competition whether with ourselves or the entire world.  Remove the fear or blockage preventing us to take risks for if we never try, discovering the self-worth may just be a distant dream eluding us. Don’t push yourself against the wall is oft-repeated but actually the biggest disservice or harm someone can do to itself. It pays to be ordinary and not extraordinary, be a rabbit walking slowly and not always be the tortoise leaping ahead. Life is no race that always needs to be won or bragging our worth to the world.

A huge lesson learned on that day for the subconscious was afflicted with pain and restlessness. The constant thoughts about aimless direction life tend to take and the constant fear of missing out keeps coming in various forms. The past remains in the past and there is little that I can do overturn things which are outside my control. It shouldn’t weigh heavily on my mental or physical health. Time to remove the unnecessary pressure or stress, being more a social construct than anything else. Ever wondered on taking the bus or a car on a lone drive, admiring the mountains or sea water! Just do it for I intend to travel aimlessly in the unknown path to unravel myself, for there are so much about the real us and identity eluding us.

Much love

V

 

 

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A new ‘mirage’ destination


Dry leaves,

soiled in mud,

like trapped emotions,

deserted forest,

a pair of legs lolling and wandering,

quest for better shores,

a destination of hope,

yearning for the lone wooden ship,

looking smaller,

looming away,

an illusion,

as eyes longed for its sight,

floating in the still water,

fellow travelers exchanging silent glances,

pain,

defeat,

rejection

bruise,

hoping for a new destination,

leaving behind memory,

discarding distress,

dream to open eyes in a new world,

of wealth and contentment,

a long wait,

moon losing its sheen,

a mirage at cusp of dark,

for fatalist men and women,

don’t dare dream.

Love

V

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Book Review: The Curse-A dystopian Thriller a virtuoso thriller


Book Review: The Curse-A Dystopian Thriller

Author: Randeep Wadehra

Genre: Thriller

Rating: Four stars and a half

 

 

Introduction:

Let me get it straight, The Curse-A Dystopian thriller is not your average cup of tea or daily staple that can be read easily at one go. The thriller, living up to its name, has quite a complex start in depicting the backdrop, setting and fleshing of characters, lending an element of grey, greed and drunk unabashedly on power to corrupt and exploit, the unsung tribal life in the face of ruthless men and women who would stop at nothing. Once, the reader gets a grasp of the novel, it turns out to be a pulsating affair with its own twists and contours.  As a thriller, The Curse is simply unstoppable.

 

Narration:

The land of Patalnagar is ruled by the most powerful and ruthless President Daulat and his temptress wife Kaamini who wouldn’t stop at nothing to get her way, relying on his master strategist Yodha a man at war with himself, the entire system inside the corridor of power.  Daulat has no dearth of opponents, from Virudh, Jwaala, Guru Ji, Zordar TV and its firebrand reporter Shabd. The Curse makes for an explosive cocktail, enmeshed with analogies and rooted dichotomy set against the political narrative in India and the TV rhubarb lending redolence to real life similarities, including an uncanny resemblance to Arnab Goswami.

Author Randeep Wadehra’s writing is lyrical, saturnine at times, a staccato of sort blending a political mamody fighting for values, revolution and against a ruthless ruler. The narrative, tessellated with words and the slightest details conveys meanings, enmeshed in poetic narration or live theatre pushes one to be in awe with expressions and gripping sequences sending an adrenaline rush. Flipping through pages, one cannot help drawing comparison to the Indian mythological tale on the triumph of good over evil, for instance, the Mahabharata, in a very subdued yet sublime fashion.

 

The Republic of Bodh is cursed and destined to witness the biggest human wreckage after Justice Insaaf is mercilessly murdered by the unknown face of despotism.  In Patalnagar Bastee, the second most important after Asurlok, the poor are exploited and Daulat dreams of reigning supreme. The ugly and cocky fights in parliament serve as an antidote to real life scenes of present times legislators make for high voltage crescendo when the most powerful man is stripped naked, an image lapped by the media. The stage is set in deciphering sensuality in the painting of Kaamini’s character.

The author has the rare knack in lending expression and prose in character detailing about the noire aspect deftly explored and various sub-themes of revenge, insecurity, betrayal, painful past and the wicked political game is baked in a legerdemain fashion. The art of political mind games, the third eye and enticing words on the modern day politics and its subjects is what ‘roman-a-clef’ is made of in inferring to an India of unrest, raging intolerance and constant influx. Past is always painful and scars cannot be washed ashore by tears. Kaamini is the alter ego of President Chaupat and unabashedly uses her charm as the temptress to plant doubt in the mind of the ‘emasculated husband’ and holding the trump card.

The narrative is enticing and alluring at the same time with political slurs wrestling the attention of the average reader.  A literature potboiler Wadehra ingeniously sucks the reader in the story, the various punch lines and cutting edge dialogues makes for sheer delight. You name it, you get it…crab shit, ideological hodgepodge, churls for viles, Tinpot Raja and Frog Crap.

There is no right and wrong, black and white in the well-wrought characters inimical to the plot in depicting vulnerability, helplessness and unbreakable spirit.

Eroticism forms an inherent part of this unequal power game played violently, a war with the mind, hinging on class struggle hiding the bedroom veiled secret. It’s fleshed out in a subdued manner yet makes for a balancing act through the words wielding a powerful impact, tit for tat on the wrestling ground laden with gender or inequality bias.

“You may be the man in my bed and a great screw, but he is the man in my life and a blue blood.”

The conversational conflict about sex lends an appealing tone and the author injects life in this sequence, ushering on mayhem waiting to unfurl itself. The suspense doesn’t lack tautness. The author has left no stone in tightening the pace in this adventurous thriller. Conflict and war can be sublime and poetic at the same time about tribal exploitation where the story flits at frenetic pace, and the ideological difference between violence, revolution and reforms makes for very dispassionate arguments.

The language is gory and scary, perhaps painting a romanticized notion of pain where humans are uprooted and facing violence at every single moment.  Wadehra holds the reader in sway in this literary fest which is a delight to the eyes while painting the chasm of bruise that a fellow human carry, turning a saint into a demon. Picture this out:

“Scented breeze flirted with charismatic clouds to sprinkle happy melodies all over the river. Lusty river tides roared as they rose and flattened like sated bests…skies rained blood upon the screaming children. The horrified children watched the raging fires encircle them. Men, women, and children clad in blood-sodden appeared…they danced amid billowing crimson flames, their torsos bearing ugly marks of wounds and burns and lower parts shackled in iron chains.”

The writing is charming and alternating between picturesque beauty to turn beastly, gory and bloodshed making violence a thirst and passion to be quenched. Beautifully painted and described, one is stunned at the narration evoking pain and torn hearts suiting the agenda of vile men and women.

 

What’s Not!

The curse is a coming of age thriller and Guru ji is one character splayed with the Gandhian values, advocating a return to the principle of simplicity. The ideas propounded through Guru Ji in the Weaverbirds Party manifesto on voting from home is innovative in this age of social media and technology. However, the narration loses the steam and dredges into routine in the chapter where Guru unpeels the party manifesto being built on fertile and getting repetitive ground as he gets too much into the nitty-gritty of an ideal society.

 

 

Final words:

The climax is riveting, baking surprise till the end, right from the chaotic gunshot and gliding towards the tense chase to wipe off life, part of a huge conspiracy for power hunt. Innocent lives are uprooted and turned into smithereens. Does it ring a bell to the world’s biggest conspiracies we are oblivious to? One couldn’t help avoiding comparison to a political India constantly on the upsurge and The Curse makes for a propulsive read, the speeding gunshot, a shocking, plot spinning finale with the twists and turns.  The moment, you feel the novel reaches the end Randeep Wadehra as a master story teller ratchets the real face of evil. The Curse-A dystopian thriller is one such rare book, with sharply drawn characters, savage love and intimacy, greed, corruption where the fearful Saaya radicals making it one hell of a kind virtuoso thriller.

Check the book blurb on Goodreads and click on Amazon to buy The Curse: A Dystopian Thriller. I thank Rubina Ramesh of The Book Club Group who offered me a review copy. Check her website here.

Connect with the author on Google, and follow him on Twitter.

 

 

Love

V

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Why I am reading so much in 2019?


Reading is no competition but an art to be savored every single moment, gently flitting the pages, every word caressed by the eye and scent of paper wafting in the nostril and breathing expression. This year has been a roll and almost on the cusp of reading 10 books. Yet, it’s no competition but a pleasure to feel words.

I have stopped the Goodread challenge which is over the top and showing off reading skills to the world. Truth be told, I am not reading hugely to compete with everyone but for the sheer joy of it. Enough time has been lost missing on the beauty of rich literature or swayed by words and don’t wanna let the fun flit out of the window.  I’ve never read so much as of now. Why I am reading so much? There is no finality but to be transported in a unique and enthralling experience, pretty much like life after death. The genre is different and slowly moving away from my favorite rom-coms. Some super short Kindle books and almost wrapping up Paulo Coelho’s Hippie, an amazing journey about individuality and finding self. The book is deeply soul and something that will stay with you forever.

There is another book review pending for Randeep Vadehra’s The Curse: A dystopian thriller which is an amazing read, racy and pacy at the same time. The author has lent depth to thriller and after ages, finding a genre worth its name. I have turned into a slow reader and lapping so much of books is a personal challenge. We tend to while away moments by ending up on social media and books are the answer to cut on unproductive slacking, basking in the glory of words, is inspiring to hone one’s writing skills. At times, ideas brim in the head but can be a herculean task to translate into words.

Reading is an oxymoron like love, mental masturbation and discovering the self, painting an imagery unfurling in front of us. I have this peculiar habit of hoarding books lying on the shelf for years.  The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy is one such book which I grabbed 2 years ago and will be next one to discover. Roy has always been a favorite and the lyrical expression is a hit with me. Another favorite of mine is Salman Rushdie whose expressions, descriptions and vocabulary are seamlessly beautiful, lending charm and soul to the settings.

We don’t need a single reason to read a lot. One must love reading and honestly, prefer the world of books over mundane gossip or mindless conversation which is counterproductive to the mind or better still bonding with someone over the vastness of literature makes for aesthetic conversation. Cultivate and hone the skills of reading makes one an artist, respecting the priceless words lending value to the mind. I owe my love for words to Maa who borrowed books for me from the local library from Enid Blyton to Agatha Christie and Jane Eyre or Mills & Boons, believe it or not as a young child and making me sit in the kids’ corner reading. I have no intention to slow down my reading pace. A tip: Try to keep 30 minutes in the evening or afternoon reading and I promise lusting for words.

Love

V