#Boycott -2

It has been one month since the unfortunate demise of Sushant Singh Rajput. The incident triggered a massive outrage among people on and off social media. The outrage has resulted into the following ‘’initiatives’’ by the people who were saddened by the alleged harassment and mental trauma caused to Sushant that pushed him to take his life.

  1. Most of the netizens seem to have agreed to boycott movies of Dharma Productions, Yashraj films and of all other stars who are part of the so called ‘’nepo-gang’’. Considering the cinemas do not seem to be opening in the near future, the effectiveness of this can only be tested maybe at Diwali or Christmas- when Sooryavanshi and 83 the movie release. Both of them either star or are made by the member of nepotism gang. But they also star and involve a lot of people (in fact this number will be much larger) who are outsiders to the industry. So the boycott gang will have an ethical dilemma here, which will also be the case for a lot of Dharma/Yashraj movies who star outsiders. (Dostana 2 starring Kartik Aryan) Not just boycott, some people even found time to burn effigies of Salman Khan and Karan Johar amid the pandemic.

  1. Petitions were filed in court against big names of the film industry who were supposedly responsible for the nepotism in the industry. Needless to say, they were dismissed and wasted the time of an over-burdened judiciary. They were perhaps based on the rants of Ms Kangana Ranaut against the ‘’nepo-kids’’. While she is arguably the most talented actor that we have today, employing her sister as her manager and her brother as the legal and finance head of her company is an irony that she couldn’t fathom it seems.

  1. In their angst against harassment and trauma that Sushant was subjected to, perhaps the angry public decided to harass and abuse those who seemed to be responsible for it. Just scroll through the social media profiles (facebook, Instagram, twitter) of any of these – Karan Johar, Alia Bhatt, Sonam Kapoor to see what can be called a case of cyber-harassment. From being called a ‘Chakka, Hijra (it gets must worse) to suicide wish for his kids – Karan Johar’s punishment, in the view of angry netizens was perhaps to be abused for his sexuality and body mannerisms. From rape threats to her and her sister, death-wish for her family and boyfriend, Alia Bhatt’s punishment for being a star-kid and working in movies which were successful was perhaps this in the eyes of angry netizens. Same for Sonam Kapoor – whose punishment for not knowing Sushant when he had just 2 releases was to hear the vilest and horrifying things for her family.
  2. Meanwhile, the police continued their investigation and nothing surprising has come out of it till now. As known already in the public domain, Yashraj had signed a 3 films deal with him out of 2 had released and 3rd (Paani) was in production due to which Sushant missed out on many good projects including a few of Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Later Yashraj backed out of the third movie. If there has been a breach of legal terms of the contract, the police should take action. This is awaited.

The point is, protest is necessary for anything which we- as individual or group feel is not right. But as a society there should be maturity and sensitivity around the right ways to protest. Just like physical violence is not acceptable as protest, bullying and harassment should not be the way. Not only it dilutes the real problem and shifts focus from real solution to theatrics and drama, it also perpetuates a cycle of hatred and violence. If we really feel sad for Sushant and many others whose talent gets lost in the crowd of mediocrity, nepotism and cartels, we must start with giving all kinds of movies the right chance, let the streaming platforms thrive and avoid watching pirated movies, and yes by all means, do not watch movies of Karan Johar, Alia bhatt or anyone you have a problem with – but do not burn or vandalize theatres, and let those who want to watch peacefully.

#Boycott

The whole narrative and conversation around the unfortunate demise of Sushant Singh Rajput is turning into another knee-jerk reaction of boycotting specific people and their work and deviating from the real issues to be addressed – that of mental health and bullying. Yes, Nepotism exists in Bollywood, but to be honest it’s a universal phenomenon which exists almost everywhere except where a job or opportunity is clearly allocated basis a defined process, which most of the organized, structured and good workplaces have. They also have a strong and institutionalized support against any kind of harassment or bullying. So, watching or not watching a Yashraj, Dharma or Salman Khan movie is completely an individual’s choice – any petition cannot stop them from making movies. As the largest production houses of the largest movie industry – they will make movies and those who have problem should not watch – but that will not solve the problem. So any discussion and effort should be directed towards ensuring there is a regulatory body* which cares for the ‘employees’ – which by nature of this industry are mostly contractual or freelancer; a forum for support where anyone who is facing bullying (of which boycott is also a form) can seek help; and which can ensure accountability of the decision makers and proper legal help and support in all professional relationships. And of course as a society we need to be much more sensitive towards mental health and helping those suffering with such challenges. Instead of vilifying specific people and wasting time and effort (a case has been filed against the Johars, Chopras and Khans for ‘murder’ of Sushant with Kangana as ‘witness’!) of authorities, if this outrage can be directed towards making radical changes to the way film industry – followed by all the sectors with less degree of organized employment, that will be the best way to honour the memory of Sushant Singh Rajput.
P.S. There are some bodies like the CINTAA, Producers guild of India but they hardly cover these aspects.

Where has the music gone?

On a hot yellow afternoon of 99

In a sleepy little town on the banks of the Ganges

Leaving for the summer trip to the village

I packed a box of clothes and all necessities

And a mixed tape

Of carefully assorted music, moods and melodies

On the roads in the back seat of the car

Gazing at the trail of trees guarding us from far

The flowing melodies fuelling the excitement of vacation

Started past the hustle of the town with rural peace to precision

My favorite songs of dreams and romance, of life and carelessness

Pausing only with outer chaos – a truck’s horn or a conversation

The songs transcended me and made me one with them

Losing my sense of present and merging with the words and sounds

Imagining myself in all those dreams and fantasies abound

Of growing up, finding love, success and happiness all around

Immersing into the trances of musical quarantine

Of happiness, sorrow, hope, nostalgia and all such themes

Hours flowing into moments, as the village roads ended the wait

Some songs still left, on the other side of the tape

Which, like the hot summer afternoons had no haste.


Where has the music gone?

This hot summer of 2020, fizzled by the freezing air of conditioners

In the urban village of glass facades and sky-scrapers

Has lost the music, lost its charm

And the patience, the silence, the proximity to nature

The notes of music have begun to quiver 

As the songs have moved to the touch of a finger

Gone are the melodies and gone is the wait

Music is what, just a click-bait

Where is the time to lose and give in to the trance?

No mixed tapes and no curation

Just a medley of breathless beats and mindless dance

Of chasing deadlines and instant gratifications

The music in our lives has reduced

Replaced by spurts and pieces of concatenations

Rather than a companion to soul and heart

It has become a background, from afar apart

Where has the music gone? 

Throwback

Major missing happening- To the PVR, Inox, Big, DT, SRS IP, JHV and all the cinemas which had filled our weekends with magic for all these years. #Throwback

वो first day evening show ticket book करने की planning
Book my show पर credit card offers को खोजना
Friday evening में surge pricing वाली cab की booking
और उसमें करना office का बचा हुआ काम
नहीं भूलूंगा मैं , जब तक है जान, जब तक है जान

वो movie के 15 mins पहले से ही cab से उतर कर दौड़ना
Security check और escalators पर crowd से आगे भागना
Audi के बाहर पहुँच कर, time पर आने की ख़ुशी
फिर popcorn and cold drink लेकर seats पर बैठने का आराम
नहीं भूलूंगा मैं , जब तक है जान, जब तक है जान

PVR के endless 20 mins तक annoying ads का torture
But फिर कुछ movie trailers से excitement for the future
Finally opening credits का excitement and happiness
और फिर दो घंटे के लिए खो जाना उस larger-than-life story में
With my favourite भट्ट, कपूर या खान
नहीं भूलूंगा मैं , जब तक है जान, जब तक है जान

Second Take: Ae Dil Hai Mushkil

With no new movies out in the cinemas for us to review, it is high time we start revisiting some of the movies we loved or loved to hate or just hated. So in this series of #SecondTake, here is revisiting one of the Karan Johar’s least liked films – Ae Dil Hai Mushkil.

A very common response of most of the viewers who saw the movie was – what was wrong with the girl? How could she not love him back, despite the boy doing ‘’so much’’ for her? Perhaps that was precisely the point Karan Johar, in his (arguably) most mature work till date wanted to make. That Pyaar dosti, nahi hai!

Yes – in a way ADHM could very well be the anti-thesis of his most popular but perhaps most candy-flossed movie – Kuch Kuch hota hai. While KKHH thrived on the belief of friendship being the first step of love, and created a generation of young teenagers who could never believe that a boy and girl can be friends, ADHM tried to address this point heads on by portraying how the two feelings are completely different and one always cannot and need not transform into other. While in KKHH, the former friend falls into love very conveniently with his old friend after his wife has passed away and he has been lonely for 8 years; In ADHM the friend never falls into love with her best friend who stands by her all along through her marriage, separation and as she battles cancer. This stark difference of thoughts – that love cannot be created or felt in response to someone being there for you – but it just happens when it has to, happens when you feel it is the point that Ae Dil Hai Mushkil tries to drive home. Also that a romantic relationship is not always the happiest culmination of two people’s journey together – it can also be friendship, as it very beautifully shows – Dosti me sukoon hai, Pyaar me Junoon hai.

But of course, the dreamy tale of boy meets girl, they become friends and then fall in love with each other will always be loved more than the one where they don’t. Hence while KKHH is a national favorite and regarded a classic, ADHM could not achieve that cult status. The philosophy aside, even otherwise the movie boasted of some great music – Channa Mereya is a classic and an anthem for the rejected lovers alright; some great performances – watch out for Ranbir’s expressions in the whole sequence of Alizeh’s wedding, they are heartbreakingly real; and a great extended sizzling cameo by Aishwarya which alone was worth the ticket’s price. In today’s times when the conversations around consent and diverse gender equations have become mainstream, maybe it is a good time to re-watch Ae Dil Hai Mushkil on Amazon Prime and fall in love with it!

Bollywood in lockdown

Of all the causalities inflected by the Corona virus, Bollywood is the most underrated one.

24th March 2020 was supposed to be the date when cinemas in hometown of Bollywood (Mumbai) were going 24/7 after a much sought after amendments in the rule. Much awaited flick Sooryavanshi was to open on this date and create new records on the box-office with round the clock shows. But alas, the sun didn’t shine and the dark cloud of Corona engulfed not only Sooryavanshi but entire Bollywood. It has been 50 days since then – all the cinema halls are shut down, shoots are halted, sets are dismantled or destroyed, stars are locked up in their homes, tv channels have run out of new content & showing old shows, paparazzi is scouting the social media feed of stars for gossip and thousands of junior artists, technicians and the on-ground staff are deprived of their earnings.

And so are we the audience, of the magic of the movies. There might be a new found interest and speculation around digital/OTT being the new medium of movies – but can a mobile/laptop/TV screen really replace the big screen? No, it just cannot.

There is nothing like watching your dreams and fantasies come alive on the big screen, with the dark auditorium being lit up by the stars on screen and a group of enthusiastic fans relishing each and every moment and the larger-than-life visuals that give us the bang-for-our-bucks. The magic of the movies combined with the popcorn, the cozied and cocooned environment of the auditorium cannot even be remotely compared to Netflix-and-chill, where the focus is more often than not on the chill part.

Bollywood is not a religion of the minorities in this country, it cannot be caged in the idiot box. The experience of cinema on the big screen cannot be replaced, and whatever it takes, the sun will shine again and Sooryavanshi will illuminate the silver screen and dazzle all of us. The show must (and it will) go on!

Motherhood

As you start discovering the joy of food, it is us more than him who beam at every bite or gulp he takes. Parenthood, an endless journey has just begun for us, and we can’t wait to take those little steps with you into each new day of it. Shephali, here is looking back at last 6 months and you growing together with our baby! On this Mother’s day, here is to your beautiful, endless journey as a mother which is off to a beautiful start.

The first month of your motherhood, I daresay, was more about you- accepting that life will never be the same and dealing the changes all around and within you- physical, mental and emotional. The special circumstances of our baby’s arrival, if anything, made it more challenging and memorable. But what is life if not for a little challenge!

The second month was about learning to realize that he was an inseparable part of you, and while learning to deal with all the challenges, loving him came as naturally to you as breathing. The extreme cold outside was beaten only by the warmth of you love towards him, and the realisation of the protective spirit that we had towards him.

As we moved into his third, it was the time of his first journey towards his home (those that he has many) and us experiencing a whole new world as parents.  By now, while your mind had erased all sense of how you lived before him – you were still learning little things about him and the new things that he did every day still made you nervous and excited at times. We had started seeing the mischief hidden in those small starry eyes.

The fourth month was more of your coming-of-age, as a new mother. You were more assured than ever of handling him, holding him, playing with him and being happy with him. Also, this was when we took our first touristy trip with him (to Khajuraho) and the delight that he was only made us more proud and happy for you and us!

The fifth month was our first festival together and his introduction to our extended family and friends. Like a proud mother, you elated and beamed every time he pulled a cute trick and mesmerized others. Like a proud creator, you wanted to show your creation to everyone and also ward the evil eye off-you. By the end of this month, I felt you had become pretty hands-on with him and your chemistry had become as reactive as it could be.

But as they say, life surprises you when you least expect it. His sixth month was marked with a global crisis that has had the world locked up inside their homes, and hence when we got to spend more than 45 days in the house- just us and him, without a single soul or help in sight, that’s when we learnt what it meant to be hands-on. Ever since he was born, you were always surrounded by people other than us who loved, cared and tended for him; but this month with just us, it has been a whole new level of learning unlearning and taking full ownership of him. As he has transformed into this cute doll with new expressions, actions, emotions everyday – along with him, you have also grown every day. Tending to him (and me!) 24 by 7 all on your own for 50 days, has not been easy, but why am I not surprised?

Covid – 19

What can clapping and banging thalis do? Nothing perhaps, but then this is a crisis the likes of which no one alive has perhaps ever seen, and no one has a ready-made solution. So it does not really matter if it is just symbolism or a token gesture to boast morale in absence of adequate resources to fight this war. This is a war, and an unshakeable spirit of togetherness, determination and positivity are essential weapons, though not necessarily sufficient.

Who would have thought that in this time and age we would face a crisis which invokes the basic instinct of humans, that of survival! These are the times when all other problems and worries of your life suddenly start seeming silly and the well-being of your loved ones is all that you can think about. While the chirping of birds, roads and sky looking cleaner or even the endless binging of shows on OTT platforms might help us divert our thoughts and stay positive, there is no denying that this is war time, and the government and health professionals even at their best do not have the sufficient weapons to take us to victory. The only weapons that can help us are self-discipline and determination– but it will work only if all of us exercise the same and take this seriously.

That’s what this loud exercise was – a war cry, a country declaring that we are standing (and mostly sitting) together and will set an example for the world to follow. The ‘Junta curfew’ should not be considered over, it has just started. Let us all remain indoors and inspire others to follow the same. Everything else in life can wait, now is the time to maintain social distance, in order to save the society itself.

Covid – 19

Needless to say, most of us have never in our lives faced a situation like this. All of us have, with the grace of God led mostly privileged lives where our real issues have been related to ups and downs in our academics, career or relationships, which would impact at worst our self-esteem, social standing, state of mind or quality of life to some extent. But this is the first time perhaps in all our collective living memory that our very existence is at stake. There is no fear greater than that of life – yours and your loved ones’. Hence if this cannot change the collective attitude of us and the society as a whole, nothing can.

As individuals, we should be ever thankful and count our little blessings that we live daily and take for granted. Personal animosities, jealousies, mindless rat-race and the materialistic evaluation of endeavours of life should give way for an as-of-now utopian attitude towards life where we prioritise and treasure people, relations and love – and do not need another quarantine to spend time with family and connect with long lost friends. If all of us as individuals take this call, world will become a much happier place.

As a community, we must realise that while freedom is supreme, it is only equal to responsibility. Following the orders issues by an elected government, respecting those who are serving the public and doing their duties, facilitating them, not spreading rumours and conspiracy theories – these are non-negotiable. A society can fight of any menace if it has discipline – self-imposed as well as that by a responsible authority. If 130 crore people strictly follow social distancing measures to the last bit, this pandemic can be beaten without any doubt.

As a nation, the governments must set their priorities clear – healthcare and sustainability have to be given due importance. All future establishments should be judged on this very important parameter. All scientific, technological and infrastructure advancements must ensure co-existence and sustainable growth with nature. Who could have believed that in 2020 the human race could be held hostage by a virus – putting entire world in a lock down! Now that it has become a reality – it will all be in vain if it doesn’t change the discourse of polls, public administration and services and the way we elect our rulers.

As a species, we should unlearn the old way of living and learn how to exist without damaging the nature. Sustainability should not just be a buzz word but an essential and foremost consideration of all our actions. It is not something that we can just leave for ‘specialists’ to do while leading our lives the way we want. While we are relishing and forwarding the messages about how nature is healing and wildlife is reclaiming spaces – we need to remember this and think about this in all our endeavours.

Kartik

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इन मासूम सी आँखों में

नव जीवन के अंकुरित होते सपनों की चमक कुछ यूँ बिखरी सी है

जैसे सूर्योदय की पहली किरण, और रात के स्याह पटल पर लहराती सुबह की आहट

जैसे शीत लहर के बाद की पहली धूप से मिलती अंतः को गर्माहट

जैसे सूखी धूल-धूसरित धरती पर

मेघ की पहली गर्जन से जीव जंतुओं की सुगबुगाहट

 

इन सुर्ख गुलाबी होठों पे

उस चमक से खिलती जो मीठी सी मुस्कान है

निश्चलता और सरलता से भरी, दुनिया के विकारों से दूर

भविष्य के सुन्दर पलों की कल्पना व अनुमान है

इस नटखट सी हंसी में

मेरे बचपन की कुछ झलक, तो कभी कुछ आज के अरमान हैं

वो एक नन्हा सा खिलौना , तो कभी इश्वर का वरदान है

इस एक हंसी और किलकारी पर, मेरा सब कुछ बलिदान है

 

इन नन्हे से हाथों और खुलती बंद होती मुट्ठियों में

एक पिटारा है, मस्ती और अठखेलियों का

मंत्र-मुग्ध सी और निश्चिंत सी बतकहियों का

शब्दों का आकार लेने की कोशिश में

मधुर संगीत सी अनर्गल निकलती ध्वनियों का

मेरे और हम सबके इंतज़ार में बैठी, असीमित अपार खुशियों का

 

कार्तिक में कार्तिक का आगमन

सहन कर रोग और प्रदूषण का प्रकोप

ठंडी शुद्ध हवा के झोंके के सुकून सा आया

प्रार्थना के संगीत सा, हमारा श्लोक