A needle shall be pricked in the skin and a blade sensation reaching the unconscious soul, maketh travel light, experience anguish, agony and bright side of the universe to detach and cut off from everything. The stitch would run like football on this pitch called my body. You shall play and dance with the souls in the imagination to make it a real affair, flirting with the extraordinary and unique jittery sensation. Pretend drunk, breathe easy and detach for you shall not be aware of the game they shall play with your blood, vein and skin.
Come Tuesday, I am going for a minor surgery. Nothing to worry about. A bump was growing the size a bit less than an earphone on my back, behind the neck and the diagnostic showed a lipoma. The doctor calls for a surgery and the bump gotta be removed. It’s something I realized that many people have on the skin after speaking to some friends and acquaintances. Today, met a couple of friends doc at the funeral of my close friend’s Mom who died on Saturday and they told that the lipoma, size of a ball, shall be removed like a child game. To think, I shall be undergoing a surgery after ages, the last time faced the knife was as a child. I shall gear up for D Day and conditioning the self to sustain the pain post that. Hoping the pain shall not be excruciating.
A week flitted in the nick of time and it hasn’t been a good one on Saturday with aunty passing away suddenly which came as a rude shock. The image of the kind lady sitting and chatting with me, making chai, walking or sitting to speak softly, always giving the best of advice. The calm and gentle voice still lingers. It brings me back to the first time I visited their house to meet Prashant and became friends with Prabhas and Pratibha, uncle always motivated me in the positively harsh way on weathering the storms or facing the demons. Two decades plus of great friendship. Of course, aunty always patiently listened to me and making me sit to explain things in the most gentle manner, sharing her student days in India, narrating tales about her hometown in Assam, traveling to Mumbai, the connecting flights or train, filling my plate with amazing food, advising what to eat for a stable health, and the Ayurvedic tips. There are so many beautiful things about life which aunty shared that demands for a brand new post.
Today, when I saw aunty lying on her bed and visitors thronging for one last visit, the impression we got is that she was sleeping and would soon wake in few minutes to make this cup of tea or opening this packet of biscuit. She looks graceful than ever and vivid. But, guess, the memories made will be captured forever and thinking about the happy moments, the ever-smiling lady who spread her energy around.
Memory haunts like an arrow piercing the heart. I watched Sriram Raghavan’s brilliant and cleverly crafted Andhadun with fantabulous performances from the entire crew right from Ayushman Khurana, Tabu and Radhika Apte. There is no doubt the movie is soulful, deep and intriguing beautiful but made the eyes moist. No! Nothing saccharine or mushy mushy emotions about it. It was about Pune. Yes! The movie was shot at locations like Prabhat Road and Cafe Good luck. The brick apartment facing the road and buildings, scooter ride bringing back a vivid picture of exploring this journey and stopping in front of the bungalow gave a sense of powerful vibes in those days. Tears flew watching the movie inside the theater for you know how the lenses captured Pune in its charming essence. Some days were like that.
I shall write in a week’s time or so post the surgery. Wish me luck and love.
The eyes woke up to the splutter of rain and soggy morning welcoming me in the nerve center of Mumbai Central. A quick shower, dressed in a jiffy and skittering out of the modest hotel for which I forked 250 bucks a day in those days, barely enough time to gulp a cutting chai at the doodhwala shop jutting out at the pavement’s edge.
The rain continued unabated. Mud patch formed on the road and pool of water flowing to form a semi-circle. Pressed by time, I got Xerox of certificate done fast and hurtled my way towards the railway station for the post-grad admission at Mumbai University. Our Bachelor results were delayed forever and gotta make the plunge. In those days, nothing would stop me. Another story of foraying past the dingy lanes and posse of city strugglers to eke a life, losing the way from right to left, asking for directions and finally walking down towards the railway station.
One step into the mud and a splutter for you know the shoe is drenched making the awkward step to save the crisply ironed and washed jeans bearing the print of muddy water. I walked in slow motion, avoiding the mud splayed on every spotted surface and no power on earth would save my clothes. I attempted a leg jump from the bridge to hop on the floor at Mumbai Central station, almost slipped and saved by the jerky body movement, scrumming my way at the ticket window.
Mud and rainwater flooding the floor always brought discomfort and what with the fear of tripping and clothes getting soiled. I hate that but slowly the denim’s leg was sucked by the mud. I have a peculiar way of walking, doddering one step at a time to finally reach the platform. Trust me, it was quite a task for me and yeah cutting corners to reach the kiosk buying the morning newspapers. I could breathe and settled at the window seat, flipping the newspaper and watching the view outside. The train slowly chugged and rattled its way outside Central which got me an inkling into this superlong journey to Santacruz. You know the story right? Boogie running slowly during the rains, playing hide and seek much to the chagrin of commuters.
That’s another story on struggling to get off the train at Santacruz, braving an arrow of rain on the bridge transforming itself into water lilies and scampering down on the rickshaw hunt, some acting pricey and the moment I got into one, already soaked from top to toe, clothes sticking like glue. Worst is done. I meekly tell him, Kalina Campus, University of Mumbai braving the rain and harrumphing like an action hero kicking dozen villains’ asses.
The time you try to locate the department, getting into the wrong area and way out, the feeling of being drained and mustering the courage in a feeble voice, asking the administration guy the necessary procedures and removing the file containing all certificates from the bag. The rain knocked me down. I took a breath and few toilet trips. All done. A cup of tea at the canteen.
The rain subsided and smoldered. I plodded my steps into the sprawling Kalina campus walking past the huge gate, hailing a rickshaw back to Santacruz station. A smooth to Mumbai Central this journey. The legs were paining walking at Mumbai Central, past the line of shopping and stopped at the Xerox shop buying notebook and Pen. A never-ending journey, scything my way, skedaddling, sodden in the water pool. Finally, a day’s job done storming in the water. My sweet tooth was craving. I stopped at the sweet mart and indulged in delectable savouries, from hot samosas and sweetery to enjoy the baarish. Back to the hotel room and crashed to wake up in the evening. A second shower called and got down to eat. Treat of the day: Hitting the dance bar, Kingfisher beer flowing and dinner.
Mumbai Monsoon is truly unique and the first bash feels like blip on the memory, a real-time sensory experience that it happened just now. So much for the carefree days where every moment of life counted like water.
In party mood and wanna bring the house down! Meghna’s birthday in Mumbai and the Maximum city will sing, ‘It’s your birthday and let’s party. Yesh! I didn’t forget her birthday after learning my lessons the hard way and like a good boy, Madam’s birthday saved on the Ipad calendar not to bear her brunt.
A special post on M’s special day for we’ve known each other for more than 10 years having studied together in Pune at Fergusson College and caught up quite a bit later when both of us moved to Mumbai. She is one of my closest friends and turns to her for almost anything be it my anxiety issues and like last year was unsure whether I should go for the iPhone. She said life is short. Decision was taken in a jiffy and glad I did. I remember her as one of the sweetest, cutest and shyest person in college. Remember A telling me once if you go and speak to her, she might just run away. Ha! Guess! That’s not true. Well! Almost! But, not anymore.
The first time Madam snapped at me was in class when I asked her phone number which she gave, not without telling me, ‘Don’t just call for any reason’ and I didn’t for the fear of waking up Goddess Durga dormant in her. See! She has a history of shouting at me and another time before leaving India, we clicked a couple of pictures at Andheri when she told, “Vishal! If I ever see my pictures on Facebook, I will never ever speak to you.” The never ever sounded like female version of Arnab Goswami but then didn’t know this man existed.
Time can be buried in the relics of the past. Now, that everyone is literally on WhatsApp, we were the Gchat babies, sitting and chatting forever, whining about our miseries. I used to call her my ‘Internet Girl Friend’. She has seen me closely, at my bad and worse when I was struggling with getting a proper job, the super dark phase and the breakup time in Mumbai. I was literally on alcohol the whole night and she called a couple of times during that week when the slurred voice missing S in the breakup phase. She sweetly chided, “Piyo! Piyo! You are becoming Devdas!” Yes, Meghna! This fancy pen that you gifted me with the tag intact and called Mr Personality is still lying on the table and so what it’s inkless after a decade-plus, I ain’t parting away and still hide it from everyone. Priceless gift from priceless friend.
Megs, Meggo and Megh! She preferred Meggo as her pet name and at times calling her Megs but Megh is a killer name. No prize for guessing! Desi flavor. She knows quite a bit about my embarrassing moments and no spilling the beans here for some reason or the other. And, our secret profession that both of us could have been? In the time of no Whatsapp, we were forever on Gchat, witnessing our darkest secrets.
In the heydays, I turned into a prankster and calling her total loss for not asking that guy S out…nah not spilling the beans for what happens in the past…well stays in the past. Funny how when she crushed on her current boyfriend T she pinged and wow, that was breaking news. She was like I’m telling something and don’t say anything. Our hilarious G talk when she did all the talking and me staying mum, listening. And to think she always complained about how I keep blabbering and constantly telling to eat my food. Those days!
We spoke on phonewa today and endlessly on birthday gal plans! I know everything, you see and hope to see ya soon when I land in Amchi Mumbai. Hope you like this virtual birthday wala gift! Don’t fire me, alrighty.
Happy birthday Meghna and not calling you M on this post for you could have been a gossip columnist. Do you remember Flute?
Meet the versatile Nozzer Pardiwala whose latest film, IISTOO is making waves and deemed as a game changer in the Indie film categories based on the vibrant Parsi community. Educator, book author, supercool Dad and husband, blogger.
For the first time, you can watch IISTOO dialogue promo on the below link:
There is something very candid and in-your-face about Nozzer Pardiwala, he can be straightforward in a super gentle manner. We have come across countless tales and splash of passion for films. After all, who is that person on earth or truly Desi Indian who is not crazy about films being a nation sworn off lights, camera and action?
Nozzer Bhai, like I call him, is passionate about everything that he does in bundles, an educator and writer of several books and films. He started with the short film, Dabba with his two boys, Shahaan and Shahen about food wastage while Khwaab Not Out on the undying love for cricket.
The No Coppola filmmaker, as Nozzer Pardiwala calls himself has recently helmed the 32 minutes film IISTOO depicting the typical Parsi household. A filmmaker or passion for movies makes him a maverick, crazy soul for method in madness rules. Nozzer has a crazy little secret to share: “Life is a big circle where many prefer to call it a long journey. I always wanted to become a film maker but lacked the courage in telling it to the world. It occurred umpteen times in coming close to my dream but never made that choice. Once as a teenager, I went all the way to FTII Pune with the ‘full intention’ to hone the skills of becoming a filmmaker,” he muses.
“For some reason, I presented the prospectus to my father who would fork out the fees but told him that I wanted to pursue Cinematography. He scanned the prospectus and told, ‘But, for that you need to be in Science.’ I responded, ‘Yes, that’s the reason I cannot do it. Full stop. I couldn’t muster the courage to tell, ‘Dad! I am intrigued by the entire process and want to become a director. I wanted to make Films!!!’ Finally, I just wanted to convey the same to my father which I am doing through this interview.”
Like in the movies, there is poetic justice and felicity perhaps. Nozzer Pardiwala is churning his dreams with both gaiety and passion, a rare trait in a pursuer of dreams. He is a charmer of sort and the various anecdotes narrated in the vicissitude of passion for films and finding an element of grace, unwavering charm in Nozzer’s tales. Here’s another one: “Once in college, I happened to bump into Vishal Bhardwaj in the washroom of a restaurant in Juhu. I was peeing and saw him. The moment, I was washing my hand and walking out, I complimented him for Satya’s musical score.”
An elated Bhardwaj asked the young man politely, “You recognize me?” Anyone would be on the top of the moon and the film infatuated young man said, “Yes! I do.” He recounts: “Those were the days when Vishal was just a music director and not yet the accomplished filmmaker that we all know today. He walked back to the table with Robin Bhatt and another gentleman I didn’t recognize. As I sat devouring the starters and the conversation slipping from the mind, someone tapped me on the shoulder. Guess what? Vishal Bhardwaj handed me a phone number scribbled on the restaurant receipt’s counterfoil, asking me to call him for a meeting. What else can one ask?”
Nozzer shares, “My relatives asked who he is. I was dazzled and convinced this was it. But, again, what stopped me from reaching out him was the lack of faith in the self and yet destiny kept showering me with opportunities.”
He harked with a philosophical twinge how at that time, the voice of reason came from other people telling him that Bhardwaj was probably drunk and wouldn’t remember him. Don’t they say destiny is a strange thing and years later, the film maker made a serial, Gubbare and the much acclaimed Makdee.
“I called him after Makdee and went to meet him to the office when we crossed each other’s path in the lift. I handed him a letter, telling about the meeting eons ago. But…he moved ahead in life while I was still stuck in time. It took me years in the routine humdrum of life to finally proclaim, I was ready to make films. It struck me that the best way to learn filmmaking was to make one. I have been doing just that.”
Nozzer has to his credit an incredible record of 16 short films, kickstarting with Dabba and the latest offering is IISTOO. He says, “I am no Coppola because am still mastering the art of filmmaking. Every film has been a great learning step, understanding the rules and breaking a few.”
Dabba was the first step in Nozzer’s journey and one can say he hit the ‘marquee’ with IISTOO depicting the typical Parsi household. There are many of us holding an image of the Parsi community as a close-knit family with our own ideas, probably owing it to the picture painted by mainstream Hindi films. The Parsi film-maker belches out, “The film is not at all the ‘Bollywood’ caricature portrayed about the community and in more than one way, the film brings to light several issues faced that we were shying away from.”
He says, “The only issue that we keep lamenting is the fact that we are dwindling but no one really wants to delve on the reasons. I am truly proud of the fact that IISTOO comes close and is a true-to-life account of the Parsi culture and using certain lingo from my childhood days that even my actors were surprised to hear.”
The film is a startup project described by Nozzer Pardiwala as, ‘The Non-Conforming Parsi Filmz’ paid in real time by subscribers, removing the middlemen when it comes to private viewing, bringing closer the maker and audience. The concept, he says, is not easy or smooth. “Today, giants like Netflix has taken the market by storm, offering viewers a slew of content globally and while a host of major players like Amazon, Hotstar are offering subscriptions at dirt price that makes it very difficult to thrive and survive, or for that matter convincing a viewer to watch a short film for 31 minutes,” he affirms.
The filmmaker avers on a reality about getting accustomed to watching free content on You Tube that one cannot imagine something like pay per view exists.
“I experimented with this idea but this Self Publishing has in various ways ruined the literary world of books. In many ways, free viewing was good for You Tube but not for small content makers who actually in sum total make up what You Tube is. The latter is going the Netflix way in conveniently filtering off small content partners like us,” Nozzer rues.
“On a personal level, I feel that as an independent filmmaker either to keep churning film content for a niche audience and taking the products to the audience, like some Indie makers are doing or simply wait for a media giant to acquire the rights.”
The plethora of film content showcased should be encouraged at a time where the entire space is festooned by Web TV. Where does the independent maker go in the scheme of things or make up for the lack of funding? Nozeer reflects, “Funding is a word, I am sure, every indie film maker is intimidated or afraid of. It’s a near-impossible task to secure funding unless you are a name to reckon with and have a couple of filthy rich friends with an acting dream. All my projects are self-funded and still waiting for someone to finance my next venture.”
Film festivals are a good way to get your pet project noticed, he tells, but then again one has to be wary of the fact that not all such fests are genuine but just a money-making racket. One such portal is, ‘filmfreeway.com’ as a good and right place to showcase one’s project’, he says. IISTOO is making waves for being officially selected for screening at the PALENA Film Festival Italy and is taking off at Filmi Toronto’s South Asian Film festival, Filmingo Film Festival and Mami.
In an age besotted by technology and social media, paid viewing comes at the right time as an interesting and attractive value proposal to drive content and giving fillip to young, passionate filmmakers trudging this route. There may be no secret formula to unearth but Nozzer believes that in the near future, a working segment hovering between 50 minutes to 90 minutes screen time may come as a good start.
“This concept may not be the exact fit for a short film but just about a feature length which of course, is not comparable to Bollywood with a running time above 2 hours. Such kind of films would have a particular reach at the niche box office and earn decent money at the ticket counters. We need to honor actors like Manoj Bajpai for their courage and effort to make such model work, albeit Hindi films. In parallel, Akshay Kumar is doing the same in mainstream Hindi cinema. We need more courageous actors like Bajpai to follow this route to ensure the viability of such products. Before this happens, I suppose the short films genre should be used simply to showcase one’s skills to keep learning and growing,” he says.
Cinema is growing in leaps and bounds. There is no doubt that there is enough room for everyone whether it’s mainstream movies and indie films where crunching BO numbers have significantly altered with scope for growth. Of course, there is a new generation increasingly restless what with technology on exclusive forums where less censorship stands to benefit motion pictures, sit-coms and shorties. Nozzer agrees, “It is definitely an exciting phase but purely for the art of filmmaking. Film-makers are experimenting and working wonders on the screen.”
He hints at Rima Das’s Village Rockstars described as ‘truly an Indie film carving a place as an Oscar nomination for India representing today’s times when filmmaking is truly an art form and not a jagir of mainstream production houses.’
Of course, the economics of films is still prevalent with no big banners initially supporting Village Rockstar, he tells the unvarnished truth.
Working a fine balance between art and commerce should be the tipping point. Heralding the first step for an indie filmmaker should be the norm since nobody is waiting with truckload of money to pour into your creation. He urges, “Pick up that camera and start shooting.”
Being a typical Gemini, Nozzer creative head is brimming with ideas with a slew of projects lining up. He announces, “Firstly, the web series based on my blogs KEKI KAKA is vying for my attention and next on my list is the feature Bun Maska at the scripting stage. I may just pick up my camera to shoot another shortie. The ideas are flowing and so let’s see which one hits the screen first.”
Click here to know more about ISSTOO and support Independent film makers by paying a nominal amount to watch the movie in real time.
Remember our delectable food palate in childhood concocted with grandmotherly love to whip a food haven and a perfect storm beating the fever hands down, saving a dreaded trip away from the doctor’s injection. The infallible grandmother hack, a maven of sort is back with a bang blowing every known ailment into smithereens.
Our own desi celebrity nutritionist, Kavita Devgan who is eponymous with excellence and the who’s who in glamour and wellness swearing by her name dabbles into a multitude of things, right from being a popular journalist, columnist for leading publications, brand ambassador for healthy products and panelist comes with her second book, Ultimate Grandmother Hacks. The book is already getting rave reviews after her first outing, ‘Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People’ hit the bull’s eye.
In this hearty tete-a-tete, Kavita bares it all on what went behind writing the Ultimate Grandmother Hacks serving as a tribute to the old granny’s wisdom. She calls her new book as, “A compilation of habits I grew with and consider as super healthy, time-tested food habits to groom a cohesive lifestyle. It’s all about rediscovering the joy in eating.”
The nuggets not of munching a bite at KFC but wisdom are found plenty in the book, discussing at length the various foods and habits followed to the hilt by our grandparents and parents are as relevant today as it were before. “I basically didn’t want us and the next generation to put them into oblivion the age-old wisdom and hence, incepted the tricks in the book. This constitutes the drive behind its making,” she elaborates.
The prolific health consultant has a career spanning over 20 years, having built a solid reputation in wellness the right way, contributing significantly to alter lifestyle by innovating big time through cutting-edge, customized but down-to-earth programmes. Like many, Kavita has an interesting story laden with an anecdote to tell where she almost wore the white gown in hospitals.
She quips: “Well! My Dad wanted me to become a doctor and I even took up bio in plus two which shows my love for the subject. He was really keen but by the time, I finished my 12th standard, I already made my mind. Medicine would not be the next step!”
“I wasn’t very sure what to pursue but somehow it became crystal clear of not seeing myself as a doctor. My Dad tried to coax me. I resisted and finally got my way.”
One can well sense that Kavita was quite the rebel and she gets candid, “Once I make up my mind, I stick to it. The rest followed. She studied Home science (Hons) with specialization in nutrition at Delhi University which was, ‘More interesting than other Science streams like Botany and Zoology.”
Kavita found her ‘mojo’ like a delectable plate for which she thanks God as, ‘love at first lesson for me.’ “The potential of prevention dawned upon and was as sure as hell to what I wanted to do. What helped was that I was naturally inclined or put it this way, maybe a healthy eater owing to my genes and mom’s effort making me a good fit.”
Post-graduation, the diet connoisseur topped it up with a specialization in Dietetics and Public health nutrition. An internship followed at Safdurjung Hospital giving her the first career exposure before becoming a qualified dietician. She was ready to embrace this tryst with destiny.
Ultimate Grandmother Hacks is a blend of the old school and modern methods, serving as the yummiest topping and irresistible in inculcating time-tested food habits in our lifestyle forming the taste bud. The book, she says, was brewing in her mind for quite some time and wasn’t really an uphill task to pen. The idea of selling old age hacks remained an important challenge, though. Kavita says, “The complex task was to make the hacks inviting and doable to the present generation…I wanted to shatter the myth that old advice is impractical, time-consuming and tough to follow.” The trick lies in diligently cherry picking 50 habits in the book that today’s generation wouldn’t reject outright. She calls them, ‘a treasure trove that made it a smooth sailing affair.”
We live in the age of social media and internet where every single bit of information about proper diet is obtained at one click. How does one become discernible when it comes to the truckload of proper diet and nutrition in making the balancing act, whittling down to eating right and proper? Kavita doles out a simple advice: “Always follow common sense and only believe information hailing from a professional having recognized medicinal and nutritional qualifications responding to your needs and common sense. Most importantly, take it up only if it speaks to you in such a way ensuring follow-up for the long-term.
We live in hectic times warranting a change in a crazy routine, food habits and to trim the fats building inside the body. When it comes to dieting and proper nutrition, there are huge misconceptions wrecking our world. “Ah yes, most of us got our fundas all wrong,” Kavita tells. “Dieting has been giving a wrong connotation and it doesn’t mean giving up on food but replacing bad ones with the good. Fact remains that we need to stop bringing focus on calories only but train our guns on nutrients. The moment we do that and plating ‘good for us food’, calories will take care of themselves. You lose weight automatically,” she asserts.
Her first book, ‘Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People’ garnered several accolades for proper and healthy lifestyle making the D-word for dieting easy. The author believes the book worked because of its real and down-to-earth approach. “In the book, I’ve woven together the simple good habits observed during my practice which worked. The methods are not only time-tested but practical advice helping people to stay thin.”
“I firmly believe people are becoming increasingly tired of impractical, silly fad diets that only mess up their health and the book’s USP was its reliable factor felt by readers in dishing out doable advice…I guess the reason it got unprecedented love.”
It’s been two years since ‘Don’t Diet! 50 Habits of Thin People’ was out and Kavita says, people still come to her and telling the impact it had on them to alter their health and losing weight for the better.
It’s all about breaking a myth and decoding the person behind the name. Kavita Devgan calls herself, ‘a very liberal dietician’ who doesn’t believe in ‘All’ or ‘Nothing approach’ but rather the answer lies somewhere in between.
“The inner core belief is all about practicing moderation and serving as the answer to everything,” she says. The mantra and advice to everyone is, “More of the good and less of the bad.” She has a tale to narrate: “In the start, I had people coming to me and telling they find it difficult to wrap around the head that I let them eat everything, and worry about actually putting on weight instead of losing. But, slowly they understand this is the right way,” she muses.
The next time you try to resist the temptation of munching on the sweet or yummy dish, remember the quintessential food date with Kavita Devgan and old age ‘Ultimate Grandmother Hacks.’ As good as it gets, the Kavita way!
You got a date with the Ultimate Grandmother Hacks and click on Amazon and Flipkart to book your space.
A combo of high quality protein, complex carbohydrate and good fat. Egg with some oats, few nuts or a tbsp of roasted seeds.
Focussing on nutrition -quality more than quantity.
Always a fruit; this is the best time to eat a portion of mandatory fruit.
Grandmother Hacks vs modern day pills:
Our grandmothers somehow already knew (though logic and common sense) what modern science is only now discovering.
Being Healthy means:
Waking up with a spring in your feet every morning and having boundless energy through the day. Making it an everyday affair.
First thing you have in the morning:
Lots of water.
Your food consists of:
A little of everything.
Three nutrition tips in a day:
Get in enough protein,fats and fibre; ensure enough antioxidants and micro nutrients, and eat something raw everyday to score good enzymes.
Perhaps, we would move on after that! New story feeds would replace this old debate after Hindi cinema-I prefer to call it that-or better Indian cinema, me too moment! The moment may just slip away to create a mass movement against sexual harassment. Hollywood showed us how and the campaign had a searing effect that brought to task several powerful men in the industry who attempted assault, rape and exploited women sexually. Will the Hindi film industry stand up for its women incurring the wrath of sex-hungry predators?
Tanushree Dutta is a victim and not the perpetrator of the crime. She may not have opened a can of worms but spoke about something that has been hidden under the carpet. Hollywood had its metoo moments last year to declare war on sexual harassment? Are we in India going to miss this metoo moment? It’s not a moment but much larger questions need to be asked where we heard countless stories about women harassed in the sanctity of their workplace, not solely restricted to the entertainment industry. There is a dire need to look at the larger picture jutting across industries and in the boardrooms as secret vaults. The time is NOW. Victim shaming or whataboutery will not work! Time to get rid of idiotic arguments on why she waited for a decade plus to speak about it! She did. At that time, she was a young lady whose voice was crushed but nonetheless stood her ground based on moral principles. There were no social media during those days. From what I remember, only Orkut was present that didn’t wield such a huge influence, unlike today.
A young woman who started her career at the prime age of 22 faced sexual harassment from a much senior superstar, old enough to be her father. Granted, he acts well and is a power of immense talent. One can imagine what the young actor must have gone through that she was compelled to leave everything and abandon her career. Her only fault? Standing for truth and daring to take on the powerful and mighty who wouldn’t take NO for an answer! They ganged against her when she was the victim of sexual harassment from a predator and his acolytes. They told she refused to ‘cooperate’. So what if his name is Nana Patekar, a hugely respected actor of immense caliber who uplifted farmers in the state of Maharashtra! We need to bring a demarcation between Nana, the star and the man who wronged a young woman who set her sight with big dreams in the eyes foraying in Mumbai’s film factory.
It’s not a question on how respected an actor is in the eyes of admirers or industry but a question of what is right or wrong. The fact remains that Tanushree filed a complaint with Cine and Television Artistes Association on being sexually harassed on the sets and her car being vandalized by MNS political goons. On the contrary, she was victimized by an entire gang slapping fine and a counter FIR launched against her. This misogyny is blatant. A young girl whose career has been destroyed by vultures. It reflects a larger malaise when a girl suffered for more than a decade for daring to take on the powerful and this whole whataboutery on why she stayed silent is misplaced. Sadly, the Hindi film industry like its Hollywood counterpart is ruled by the Omerta code of silence. Today, there is a huge opportunity to address the trauma of what the girl has gone through and nothing can set things right or compensate for the lost years.
Tanushree doesn’t deserve the criticism or aspersion cast on her character. Rather, we must applaud her courage to ignite this Metoo Movement and we have in front of us an opportunity to address this appalling sexist misogyny. The worst is, will people like Nana Patekar go scotfree and his ilk like so-called and self-claimed nationalist Vivek Agnihotri who has a history of insulting women on Twitter who dare to express dissenting views having the gall to tell an actor to shed her clothes to give co-actors acting clue go unpunished? Are we going to miss this cue? What happened to the FIR lodged by Dutta against Patekar for alleged sexual assault? Why this silence on the part of the biggest voices in the film industry, except few sanest people?
Tanushree is the one who suffered during all those years where she lost so many things, perhaps her own self with this intimidation. It’s no publicity stunt but a woman who has been wronged by a system, a rotten mentality yet being questioned by a patriarchal society. If we cannot stand and make a distinction between what is right or wrong, we don’t have a right to speak about Nirbhaya, women being raped or sexually assaulted or the Vishaka guideline at work to protect women. Perhaps, tomorrow something else will hog the headline to make the breaking news and Tanushree’s side of her story will be forgotten. It would be the perversion of justice in spite of the fact that there were eye witnesses during the shooting of Horns OK with journalist Janice Sequeira and Shyni Shetty as an AD corroborating with Tanushree’s version on the sets.
The film industry reflects a mirror image of society and is a medium of powerful expression. There have been several instances where questions asked whether the Hindi cinema which the world call, Bollywood will ever have a metoo moment or movement. Well! It does now and if this moment ever slips it will be the biggest shame and disgrace. Better for the film industry not speak about poetic justice if they cannot give a woman who has been wronged justice. This incident has taken everything from Tanushree, stripped of her dignity as a human being but it didn’t deter her from walking the tightrope, fighting for every woman who has been harassed.
No man has the right to touch a woman without her consent. The clock is ticking like a time bomb. Tanushree is one who suffered and the fact that she came in the open to narrate what she has gone through, taking the onus and facing unwanted whataboutery casting aspersion on her character reflects the nerves of steel. It was not easy for her in 2008. It is not easy for her in 2018. As a society, we owe justice to Tanushree. Will a case be filed against her alleged molesters, the likes of Nana Patekar and Vivek Agnihotri to be prosecuted in court? We owe it not just to the lady but every woman who has been molested at the workplace, their temple.
I stand up with Tanushree Dutta. Do you? A mass movement must be triggered for her likes to obtain justice or else it will be a real shame for courage to lose its sheen. People like Nana Patekar cannot go and hide behind law suits.
“Autonomy is intrinsic in dignified human existence and Section 497 denudes women from making choices and held adultery as a relic of past. Legislature has imposed a condition on sexuality of women by making adultery as offence. Section 497 is a denial of the substance of equality.”
What is moral may not necessarily be legal! Case in point is the five bench Supreme Court judges struck down the archaic Adultery law under the Indian Penal Code 1860 criminalizing sexual relationship between a man and a married woman without the consent of the former’s husband.
In modern times, it is bizarre that as a country, such law owing to the Victorian Era was in force till yesterday when putting to the fore the principle of free will and freedom vs discrimination, unequal rights and the violation of dignity stacked against women. This offense called Adultery is a by-product of a patriarchal society where a woman has no right when it comes to her body and decided by a man, in this case, the husband. The by-gone law implies that only a man could prosecute a woman and albeit, no case if adultery is done with the husband’s approval. There is something called consenting adults when it comes to relationships between two individuals who own their respective bodies.
After decriminalizing homosexuality, the judgment striking down adultery comes as a breath of fresh air when there is a rampant debate about women’s sexuality, freedom of choice and equality. We have witnessed several instances where women facing all kinds of discrimination and assault, sexual in nature or imbalance equation when it comes to gender equality. As one reads the judgment, an impression is built on the reasons why a woman has no say when it comes to her body and only the husband can take the plunge as if he owns the wife. The question of sexual autonomy arises in a democratic and plural society like India that doesn’t need a Panchayat mentality who will decide whether a woman has committed a crime or not. For once, we must chuck out all moral arguments when it comes to equality, right for choice and freedom. It’s not a question of for or against whether it’s adultery, homosexuality or abortion for that matter but rather Pro-choice arguments must make the cut. No society can afford to treat women like a doormat where she is denied the fundamental legal rights and rightfully, the bench comes to correct a grave injustice in our society. Till the law criminalized adultery, women were denied basic human and dignified rights in making a decision when it comes to their personal lives.
Let’s get it straight: The SC made a thought-provoking point in the judgment that women are no chattel that should raise an even bigger but sane argument on whether the lack of sexual satisfaction should be a valid ground for divorce. What if the claim was made by a woman in court in contrast to a man having the right to prosecute when it comes to adultery? The devil lies in the details. It’s simple: One doesn’t need coercion to prevent a couple, either a man or women to indulge in an extra-marital relationship for if it does happen, then there is something terribly wrong in a marriage. No law can save a marriage and the sheer legality cannot act as a deterrence to divorce. One cannot and shouldn’t be prosecuted for sex which makes it an extremely ridiculous argument now confined to the past relics or stone age.
There should no law that repress a woman be it her freedom of choice or sexual right for that matter hinging on privacy. The learned judges and the Supreme Court is on a spree to correct anomalies that have shamed us as a nation. The fundamental denial of right is being corrected which augurs well for us where patriarchy has always gained an upper hand. Time for us to discard this suppression of fundamental rights for no man can decide what is right and wrong or moral and immoral for a woman. We can look up at the recent judgment to trigger a revolution that would make marital rape a crime and again the Triple Talaq ordinance remaining a crime remains a mystery. The paradox is that Triple Talaq as an offense denies fundamental rights to women.
Judge Dipak Misra observed: “Adultery might not be the cause of unhappy marriage, it could be a result of an unhappy marriage.” It’s a very telling statement that must propel discussions on the principles of free will, equality, choices or sexual rights in a patriarchal society where the rules benefit men. Where does the woman stand? Yes! She is not a chattel but a citizen whose rights is ensured by the Indian Constitution. The Supreme Court stood tall as a pillar of democracy guaranteeing freedom and equality representing, I, Me and You at a time where our values are increasingly under scanner.