The filmy post

So I have to ask. Zeenat Aman or Parveen Babi? My vote for Zeenat Aman – more refined features, better body.

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Just saw DDLJ being advertised for the nth time on TV and realised I’d happily watch it again. It was our generation’s Sholay. Fans of Sholay, don’t lynch me, I think Sholay is the best too. But it reminded me of a really funny incident.

I had learned about this rather prim British game from my grandmother’s youth and happily shared it with the rest of my social circle. It was called Fish Pond. A bowl would be placed in the centre of the room and we all got paper and pens and could drop in anonymous notes. From the timid confessions of love to the most nasty stinkers (but mostly love notes), everything made it’s way in there – and everyone knew if a note was meant for them or not. Soon it became a staple at every party. We’d walk in, drop our notes in the bowl, party, sing, dance, eat and then one of us would read out the notes while the rest would try to guess who had written them. A fitting end to every party.

And then Raj and Simran took the Euro Rail into our lives and everything changed. That evening we played Fish Pond as usual and note after note was read out – all addressed to Raj from Simran and from Simran to Raj. After the first note, I looked up and grinned at the childhood sweetheart thinking it was from him to me. The blank look on his face alerted me to the fact that it wasn’t. A look around the room showed similar looks. Only the person who wrote it knew who it was for – the intendeds were all confused. And so on it went. Thirty notes from and to Raj and Simran. After the first few minutes the humour of the situation sunk in and we roared with laughter. By the end it didn’t matter if the right person got the message. All that mattered was that we’d all imagined ourselves the love struck lead pair of the hit film.

*wipes tears* What’s your funniest Bolly real life moment? Aneela and Dipta are barred from participating. Oh what the hell, jee lo bachchon. Tell us about it.

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I watched Delhi Belly and loved it. I promoted it loud and long on my Facebook page too. The music was fantastic and so was the movie. I know a lot of people took exception to the cursing but I felt right at home! They were talking about a certain section of society and the language was as authentic as it gets. You can’t come from Uttar Pradesh, study in Delhi University and work in media and be a stranger to abuse. I’ve heard the most creative and finally when I realised I wasn’t going to smoke, touch alcohol or play cards in this lifetime, I decided the least I could be an expert on was cuss words. A woman’s got to have some vices!

Two minutes into the movie and that could have been my life 10 years ago. Although a lot of it looked like it had been shot in Bombay or any other part of the country, definitely not Delhi. The bachelors in a filthy flat – check. My brother objects but I have a very clear memory of once walking into his flat and washing a bowl of something indescribable, other than the maggots crawling out of it. After that he and I moved in together because getting his flatmates (lovable though they were) to keep the place clean was a challenge. And we kept the barsati as clean as possible we could with no water -yes, water shortages and Delhi are synonymous. I recall buying 20ltr jars of mineral water to bathe in. I’d go to the parlour down the road and get them to shampoo my hair for Rs 50 once every week or so because I was sure I had layers of shampoo settled in there. Yes, short of washing our arses with OJ we did everything else.

Even if you’re not from Delhi but have watched Dilli 6 you’ll remember the terraces all cheek by jowl. Well, here’s a confession. At night we’d come back from work and prowl the terraces, jumping from one roof to another, hunting for a water tank that was open. And then we’d pass buckets and rob water for our early morning ablutions. The more adventurous would just stand right there and have a quick bath, dressed in shorts and vests as we all used to be. Once I remember the guys getting into the tank to rob the last couple of buckets at the bottom of the syntex tank and eventually just having a nice old tub bath inside it. I am horrified at the thought of anyone doing it to us today, but in those days, we were young and wild and everything was fair. Everything unacceptable was a dare and anyone who didn’t fall in with the plan, fell off the charts.

At night there’d be no electricity and we’d sleep out on the open terrace. Rows of bare mattresses and a guitar strumming softly under the night sky. Yes, the party shifted to our place. People would float in and out and bike and car keys passed around with no fear. One day I recall two guys walk in and sit in a corner, roll a joint and then leave after a while. Later we wondered aloud whose friends of friends they were, only to have everyone shrug. Apparently we’d just been used! This is around the time the whole Kala bandar scare happened and terrified of getting carried off by a monkey man, prone to hallucinating after a couple of bottles of rum, we all shifted back into the barsati, preferring the stifling heat to terror inflicted insomnia.

A few nights ago Dipta and wife, the OA and I and some other friends were lazing around after a potluck dinner. And we began to swap stories of our youthful misdemeanors. I waited for the boys all to hit me with their worst. And I kept waiting.  Suddenly realised that I had the worst stories to tell, sweet innocent that I am, simply by virtue of the company I kept. Very few of the horror stories had me featuring in a starring role. Even so, it’s unnerving to realise that you have the most evil stories to relate compared to the others’ blameless, unblemished lives.

Which is why I watched Delhi Belly with something akin to relief. So we were not the worst. There were people who had obviously done some terrible things in their own time which is where the idea came from. Walk into any media house and the photographers will be rather like Kunaal Roy Kapur. Irreverent (except for the guy who almost dropped his camera when a celeb we were interviewing let her dress slip down to give us an eyeful of err.. you know), wicked sense of humour and always sleepy or hungry! Imran reminds me of my ex, again, a media guy who was freaked out by the thought of me actually being serious enough to want to get hitched! And Vir Das was well… Vir Das.

Some of the humour was slapstick, some of it was totally lost on the junta around us, like the one about the banana looking happy because it was about to be eaten and the earring being an accessory.

I am also amazed by the number of people who actually called/mailed me to ask me what the big deal with the Bhaag DK Bose song was. How many of you really didn’t get it? And no, I am not explaining on the great wide web. I have to draw the line somewhere!

The line is an old schoolboy joke in UP. The original line going Bhaag *beep* ke, aandhi aayi. I recall school friends saying it to this particular friend who was the butt of every joke. Funny, crass, brash, big built, pistol wielding, he was my favourite champion. Once I lost my temper with the boyfriend and this guy looks at me and goes – Want me to throw him in the fish pond?

Yes, I nod, spoilt brat that I am.

He promptly grabs him and throws him into the pool, headfirst. Thankfully Ma walked out right then or the poor boyfriend might not have lived to tell that tale. So our pal stops mid-throw in shock and hangs on to him by the legs. And there is the boyfriend, hanging upside down, head inside the pond, choking and spluttering. Me glaring balefully and believing that he is getting his due. Ma screaming in terror and scared of grabbing in case friend loses balance and lets go. And friend looking at me and saying – I threw him in because you said, I’ll yank him out only if you want, never mind if Aunty kills me after this.

Ma came at me with the fury of a 1000 snakes and I reluctantly told him to pull the boyfriend out. Boyfriend came out soaked from head to chest, spluttering and choking.  And this friend pats him on the back and says genially, in lieu of an apology, “Never mind yaar, you’re a Bengali; you should have just eaten some fish.” And all this while the rest of our gang sitting around watching and splitting their sides laughing. Happy days. And yes, the boyfriend continued to date me inspite of that episode. I’m lovable and forgivable like that.

Anyhow, some years ago that madcap friend of mine fell out of the second floor of a building and is in a wheelchair now. As the hall around me was exploding with laughter when the song started all I could think of, wiping tears away, is how time has passed and how he will never again bhaago, aandhi or no aandhi, wheelchair bound as he is. The song was not so funny anymore.

I also watched Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara. Another three young men, except this time so out of my realm. Making big bucks, deep sea diving, buying their wives Hermes bags. The movie had everything it takes to be a hit – decent music, interesting locales, eye candy (I got my money’s worth the moment Hrithik took off his shirt) and emotion, drama and romance. But it didn’t hit home the way Delhi Belly did for me. Gross, scatalogical, crazy, avenging boyfriends, crazy media parties, makes ups and break ups, communication breakdowns, love, fights, misunderstandings, pranks, that was the story of my youth. Not this sanitised, privileged, landscaped, clean story. Our friends were more likely to wash their butts with your orange juice than screw your girlfriend.

Even so, I am currently listening to this song from the movie on repeat. How can you not? The words are beautiful and Mohit, the true love of my life is singing it while Farhan and Hrithik, the other true loves of my life gladden the eye. As for Abhay, he needs to rethink his roles. He came across as annoying, effeminate and witless. Even his hairy chest couldn’t redeem him. His voice was the most annoying aspect and that is saying something when you’re sharing screen time with Farhan.

 

Anyhow, paisa vasool on both counts. Delhi Belly for taking me down memory lane and ZNMD for letting me aankh seko as the UP term goes. I leave you with my current favourite item number. Ignore the tacky video and just get up, push your chair away from your desk and shake your booty! Goodnight folks.

 

Fight the fight that is worth it

Edited to add a photo at the bottom of the post

The OA doesn’t usually bother to argue with me. It’s either below his dignity or he’d much rather be doing something else. But a few days ago he caught me giving someone unsolicited advice and was most vehement in his disagreement.

I was telling my cousin, who is dating a girl whose parents are against their relationship, that this kind of relationship is not worth pursuing. No doubt it broke his heart, but I love him too much to not warn him of the heart ache and sorrow he is setting himself up for.

‘What?’ the OA exclaimed. You think it wasn’t worth it to marry me? I sighed. There is no easy way to say this to the person you love but sometimes you are too weary to prevaricate or pacify.

You are worth it, I tell him… worth every tear, every sleepless night. And yet, did I need to suffer so much for love? Must I pay for my love with being dragged through the streets in the dust? Did I have to go through that torment, the abuse, the heartache, the insecurity, the rejection, the pain, the self doubt, the humiliation? As a man who loved me – did he think it necessary for me to go through all that to prove my love for him?

It’s not easy to be the one whose parents are objecting  – you have to deal with your own feelings of being torn. But there is some value to it because they’re your own parents. For every harsh thing they say, you have a lifetime of their love and memories to fall back on and forgive.

For the other – its a bit of a slap in the face. There you are, tripping down life’s path, whistling merrily. You meet someone, the heart does a flip, you fall in love, you go home to your family’s welcoming arms and take home said person to be welcomed with much fanfare. And then when your turn comes you are treated with such extreme disgust and disdain that you can’t handle it. Aren’t you lovable? And bright? And isn’t your nose tiptilted just the cutest way possible? Was mamma wrong after all to bring you up feeling so secure and loved and worthy of love?

It’s been 32 years since my parents eloped. Literally. My father came to marry my mother, in only the clothes he wore. When he reached my mom’s house he had to wear my grandfather’s lungi and wait for his clothes to be washed and dried and returned to him and then new clothes were purchased for him. Really. And since it was all really sudden, the magistrate was accosted on his morning walk to sign the papers, an family friend’s house was commandeered for the reception and my mom wore a simple bengali laal paad saree. I look at the pictures and as I look at my young parents smile briliantly out of the sepia toned picture, I feel tears rush to my eyes. Not just because it’s an beautiful moment, but because a 24 year old boy and a 20 year old girl shouldn’t have to go through what they did to do this.

The adrenaline rush shouldn’t come partly from the feeling of sheer relief, that you finally have the one you love. It should be pure, unadulterated joy. Period.  Untouched by any other emotion.

I look at pictures of my own wedding and I see myself frowning in almost every second picture. Because my mind was not on the ceremony or the fanfare. I was terrified. Shitting-bricks-terrified that the OA’s parents would come with either police or goons or just themselves to take back their errant 27 year old by force or simply embarass us with a scene.

I wish it were different. I wish I could smile dewily out of a picture and be the blushing bride. But I wasn’t. I was shit-scared-bride. The one who broke out in a nervous rash days before the wedding because she was so scared of something else going wrong, of her engagement being broken.

It’s been 31 years for my mother and 6 for me and we’re still fighting perceptions that our inlaws have. Still doing the regressive saas bahu dramas that keep TRPs high – except that this is really our life. We’re still hoping that our children will be loved and accepted and treated right by their father’s families. The hope is fast fading. More so for my mother who is now a grandmother and still not given the respect she deserves as the eldest daughter in law of a family.

And frankly, I am sick of this shit. There is really no glory in fighting anybody’s family anymore. You don’t want me to marry your damn son – take him home and tie him to your apron strings. There are enough men out there, still queuing up to have me, mother though I might be. There are enough men out there who will bend backwards to have my mom in their life, graciously ageing as she is, brilliant businesswoman and someone whose warmth floods the room as she enters.

But this isn’t about us wanting out really. It’s just a realisation that it’s high time we stopped fighting these silly caste, creed and religion battles. Six years ago I fought to marry the man I wanted. I put up with ill treatment. I bowed, I was submissive, I was meek and then I snapped.

Today as my cousin extends himself and bends his youthful self backwards to accomodate a girl whose family is against him, I seethe. It makes me so mad to see an intelligent young man, who is gentle, kind, goodnatured and lovable, being rejected. Being made to feel less of a person. Being told he is not good enough.

I’ll support you, I said, but I’d do it with a heavy heart. Because I want my cousin to be appreciated by whichever family he becomes a part of. For all his wonderful qualities, for his quick wit, his ready smile and his helpful ways.

I hate that he has to sneak around, that he has to lie, that he has to do anything that goes against his nature because we were not brought up to be deceitful or to hide love.

If even 30 years after my parents eloped, people younger than them are still holding on to regressive notions, I wish them and their sons and daughters luck and I grab hold of my loved ones and draw them away from such negative people. WE deserve to be married and related to better families. That is all there is to it. We deserve a much better life than to have dementors sucking the joy out of our homes.

Our times are different. Our struggles so many more. Nuclear families, long distance relationships, money issues, lifestyle related health problems, ambitious careers that tear us apart and office environments that make it easy to stray. Do we really want to add toxic in-laws to this pot pourri? Do we need them?

At the very moment that you are called upon to make a choice, you can’t imagine life without that person. Your heart breaks and you are willing to convert, to compromise, to accept, to bow, to hide, to lie, to bend, to lose yourself – just to be with that special person.

But it’s not the end. You don’t have to lose yourself to love another. If he or she cannot cut off their toxic family like a limb ridden with gangrene and move on, don’t get into it at all. You haven’t missed the bus. Another will be along soon enough. If you don’t the poison will spread and soon destroy the entire body.

I was watching Love Aaj Kal (God, Deepika is lovely but its hard to move past the lack of expressions!) and as usual sniffling by the end of it. A young couple torn apart not by warring, feuding families but by choices and circumstances. Similar to Jab We Met or even Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na. Even the damn film industry is sick of feuding families. Laila and Majnu, Romeo and Juliet – they’re good for entertainment value. In our own lives, as we forge our own paths, either wait and get into an arranged marriage or have the sense to pick a partner whose family doesn’t store their brains and heart at the bottom of a scum filled pond.

No doubt, half our country still lives and functions by caste, creed and religion, but today I choose to opt out of it. To stop caring. To stop wasting my love, my time and my energy on those who don’t deserve it. Who don’t deserve a minute of my time, my children’s time or my brother’s time.

Those who want us will come and get us and if not, there is a world out there that loves, wants and needs us – and if not – we’re still here for each other. A tight knit family, the warmth of which carries us through dark days. 

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My dear little baby brother…

You’re a wonderful person. And any family that doesn’t see that and allows their backwardness, their uneducated ways and their prejudices to colour their vision of you, doesn’t deserve you. They deserve what they are asking for  – a man who treats them like shit because they’re the girl’s people, demands dowry and kicks them in the face when they walk in the door (Well why not?! Apparently the Supreme Court has ruled that kicking a daughter in law is not cruelty so I’m guessing this should be okay too! I need to move out of this country.). Seriously. Move on. Your heart will break and I know it will and all I can offer is to pick up the pieces and help you put your life back together. I’m the last person to dismiss young love. But I am the first to tell you that fighting awful inlaws is JUST NOT WORTH IT.

It’s erosive; it eats into your life, into your happiness, into your Kodak moments and makes everything shine just that teeny little bit less.

I love you so much that I will not stand by and watch you ache,

Your youngest mamma…

Phew!! Breathe MM, breathe… 1, 2, 3, 4, 5…

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Yes, that is a picture of the young man, sitting in my lap, sandwiched behind the other little baby cousin.

PS: This post is dedicated to someone who knows I am talking to her. Move on, babe. Neither he nor his family is worth it. You’ve made the best decision of your life, even if it was made for you. Turn your face to the sun, to hope, to light and to more happiness than you’ve ever known. I see it coming. Will you trust me on this one?

Where I’ve been all this while

In case you’re wondering who died to make me not blog for 3-4 days, well, it was almost me. Heatstroke coupled with exhaustion and sleep deprivation. 103 degrees fever, cold sweats, barely conscious, talking rubbish to poor Sue and Deej who called to find out if I was alive (some might argue I talk rubbish even while in the pink of health but that is not relevant right now) and the OA on tour.

The friend who I had gone to dinner with caught me collapsing on the stairs as we got home and stayed for 36 hours medicating me, giving me nariyal paani, taking care of my kids and keeping my house running. For that I can never be grateful enough. I have no idea what would have happened if he hadn’t been there because as I often say, my maids are incompetent and only kept on because they love my children.

The OA returned and had no sympathy. He said that people who imagined that the world would cease to revolve if they took a break and slept, deserved to fall ill. Remind me again, why I married that man.. please.

I recovered over the weekend and ended up watching Seabiscuit and Rang De Basanti yet again. I’ve realised I’m a sucker for that formula. The loser, the underdog, the tinpot car, the bunch of ragtags making up a football team – and I will support them and cry copious amounts of tears unashamedly right through. Never mind that its only a movie and you know the lame horse and jockey are bound to win, if the producer ever hopes to recover his money.

And as I lay there all weak and recovering, I fell in love with RDB again. I know we’ve been there, done that and moved on from 1947… but each time I read about it or watch something, tears rush to my eyes, this time worsened by the state I was in. The Jalianwala Bagh scenes made me see red and as you imagine hundreds of helpless and unarmed women, children, men, being fired on by the British soldiers you wonder if there is any justice.

The second thing that struck me was the Ek Onkar song. I am not a practising Christian in terms of going to Church and I don’t feel a draw to anything else. Even Buddhism that seems to show so many others peace and light. But for some reason the Golden Temple draws me. I’ve been meaning to go for a while now but I don’t want to take the kids in summer and somehow winter never worked out. I also realise that with all religious calls, there will come a time and when my time comes I will be called and everything will fall into place and I will go. Until then, I wait.

RIP Feroze Khan

I woke up to the news of Feroz Khan’s passing away. And my day turned dark…

I wasn’t a huge fan. I found Vinod Khanna much hotter – but Feroz Khan had style like no one did. Not the Big B, not Dharmendra, no one. But I had a very girly crush.

Yes, I know he was too old for me already  – hell – I just realised he was 75 when he passed away – but he was exactly the kind of guy to sweep a girl off her feet. Fast cars, good comebacks, sexy horses, the guitar, the style….

He walked on and filled up the screen with his presence. And now his son can’t fill his shoes. Actually other than Hrithik I don’t know any star son who is filling his father’s rather ample shoes.

I leave you with a song that was special to me because he was in it, I loved singing it and sang it darn well and even had someone strum it for me just that way…. Enjoy. Don’t you just love the words? Har kisi ko nahin milta…. yahan pyaar, zindagi mein…


RIP Feroz Khan. You’ve had a place in Hindi cinema no one will ever fill….

So tell me – what was your favourite Feroz Khan movie/song. I feel like reliving all of that today…