PVR and Children’s Film Society tie up

Isn’t this good news? Would be a very good change for a kiddie birthday party or a class outing.

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The Children’s Film Society, India has tied up with PVR Cinemas to release three of its latest films, on book-a-show basis. These are Gattu (directed by Rajan Khosa), Gopi Gawaiya Baja Bajaiya (directed by Shilpa Ranade) and Kaphal-Wild Berries (directed by Batul Mukhtiar).

This facility is available to all schools, NGOs, corporate houses and individual groups. You can book-a-show at an average rate of Rs.100 a ticket, for a minimum of 100 people at a PVR cinema nearest to you, at a notice of 2-3 weeks.

For further details, please contact Ms. Amirbanu at chairperson@cfsindia.org. CC ceo@cfsindia.org and marketing@cfsindia.org

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Hurt

I’m going to stop making excuses for the long absences because I have a feeling you’re used to them now. I’ve been meaning to write for a while but and it took two things to shake me out of my stupor. The more recent of Indians ill-treating their kids in Norway and the film, Talaash.

Every family has it’s own way of handling matters and I don’t think any of us can be arrogant enough to imagine that ours is the only and best way. But not every parent always does everything with their child’s best interests at heart. If I had a rupee for every selfish parent I’ve come across, I’d be a rich, retired woman.

It is very sad and slightly embarrassing to have at least one Indian couple pulled up every year on grounds of ill-treating their kids. Until yesterday the only information we had was that their 7 year old was bed-wetting and they threatened to send him back to India. I can only imagine the child’s mortification at wetting himself in school and I wonder how the parents thought threats would be the solution. Is it not clear that there is something seriously wrong with him? And who are these people go abroad on projects if they’re not even educated enough or aware enough to check with a specialist when they see something so unusual in their child, I remarked to the OA while watching the news.

At which point the OA pointed out that a degree in software engineering or geophysics is just that – a degree. It doesn’t make you any more aware as a person or more involved as a parent. It is a reminder of the premium we place on a degree in this country, without any effort towards general awareness. Sit and mug for your engineering entrances, never mind that you know nothing about the world around you. All the code writing ability on earth will not change the way some people think and there are still those who won’t step out in an eclipse if they’re pregnant or who will think their wife is unclean for 3 days every month. I notice compassion is a quality we rarely seek to develop in ourselves.

Interestingly, none of the Indian media until today mentioned the fact that the boy was apparently being beaten with hot metal items and belts. This made my stomach turn. If it is true, I hope Norwegian legal system locks them up for life.

In the  Stavanger case the couple spoke of cultural differences – some of the objections against them were that they were feeding the kids by hand and co-sleeping with them. People who move abroad and consistently do stuff that is culturally inappropriate are my next peeve. I’m sure there is no law against feeding kids by hand, but when in Rome… Surely you realise that your kids will need to eat with a fork and spoon in school. Surely you know they will be teased by classmates who hear that they still sleep with their parents at age 6 or whatever it is that is culturally appropriate there. Kids depend on their parents to support them and give them their best and sometimes the best is ensuring that they don’t stick out like sore thumbs anymore than they already do, that they feel at home around their friends. Their social circle is not your village elders in India. Of course once it gets out and about in school, this is the route it will take, with social service knocking at your door to see why your teenage daughter is asked to eat away from the family for a couple of days and sleep on the floor. And then it is too late to cry foul. Years ago I had written a post objecting to a British (was it?) plan to give out little booklets to educate immigrants on the culture. I was offended because I can wield my fork as well as the next person, know my cheeses and certainly don’t go about spitting on walls. But I’d not factored in the likes of these who go abroad and give the rest of us a bad reputation in the name of culture.

If culture really overrides all else for you, then you should stay home and steep your kids in it like a teabag. Throwing them into the hot water of contradictions in another country is just not fair. And I’ve heard it so often from friends and cousins abroad during our growing years – the desi tiffin that no one wants to share (unless you live in some hardcore desi district), the teeka you wear to school and cannot rub off until your mother leaves the bus stop by which time everyone has seen it and begun to make fun of you. I’m not prescribing uniformity. I’m asking for compassion for kids. Childhood/ adolescence is hard enough without us making them banners carrying our political slogans. Culture is what we are deep inside – not what we take to school in our tiffin. A sandwich for tiffin is not denial, just as sleeping in their own cots won’t reduce the family bond.

I’m also surprised that the family is putting pressure on the Indian government to help them. How is it that people will jump at the opportunity to go abroad and work, make the most of the fantastic infrastructure, work life balance, blah de blah, but not give a fig about the local laws and customs that make it the fantastic country it is? And now you come running home to mummy for help. I’m glad the Ministry of External Affairs has put its foot down and refused to get involved. I’d be horrified if they did.

I took forever to write this post today because it was in between work and home. I stepped out twice to pick up the kids from the bus stop and one of those times I saw a mother walking her son back from school. Neatly oiled hair, ragged saree and ragged shawl, cracked heals in worn slippers. Her son on the other hand was in a neat albeit faded school uniform and dusty shoes with a girl’s woollen cap on his head.  Now I know where the closest school for the disadvantaged is and I realised how far they’d come walking from.

Nothing we don’t see on a daily basis in India, but coming close on the heels of the Norway cases it broke my heart. How often we say the poor shouldn’t have kids if they cannot afford to give them the basics – an education, a good home. Well, who decides what the basics are here? I’d imagine love is the basic. Here was a mother denying herself so that her child was warm, and getting an education. And she has to walk twice the distance everyday to pick up and drop him so that he doesn’t have to maneuver through traffic each way. They were chatting cheerfully as they passed me and didn’t even notice the woman whose eyes welled up as they walked by. And on the other hand you have these rich families based abroad, ill-treating the kids society doesn’t grudge them. Yes, they give them better food, warm clothes, homes and education, but what about time and love?

Speaking of safety and kids, there is Talaash. At this point I’m going to warn you to stay away if you haven’t seen the movie, because spoilers lie ahead. Two emotions dominate my parenting. Love and terror. Love so strong, it hurts. Terror that I will lose this precious love, so fierce that it constricts. It explains why I have worked from home for the last 8 years. It’s not the best way to live, but it is the only way I know. The first time you hold your child, you worry that you might drop him. At the first sign of a cold, you worry about his health. For the first few days you’re terrified of drowning him in the bathtub. When he begins to take school transport, you worry about accidents. There is no end to the fears, just as the love is limitless.

And to me, that is all Talaash was about. I went with an open mind and didn’t look for loopholes in the thriller. To me it was just two parents who went through every parent’s worst nightmare – losing a child. And then it depicted the way their grief manifested itself. People are complaining that it is wasn’t what you expected of Aamir. Heck, why are you expecting anything from Aamir? He’s just another human, just another entertainer, just an artist who probably wanted to explore a genre he hadn’t. Personally I’m glad he picked this route and not the creaking gates and screeching ghouls. I’m glad he took the paranormal and with this gentle exploration said, hey, who knows… I’m amused when people pick loopholes in a paranormal film – who sent you the memo on what ghosts are supposed to do/say/look like?

It all comes back in a loop of course, to the Indian couples in Norway. THIS is what happens when you lose a child. How could you have taken this privilege, this blessing, so lightly? May God forgive them. I know I can’t.

I want my money back

I’d like to begin by blaming Dipta. I should have learnt long ago that no good can come of any plan that involves him, but clearly I’m a fool.  So I call up and say – “Let’s go for a movie, guys…” His voice drawls… “The only movie playing is Robot… ”  At exactly that point I should have hung up and ended the matter. But, I repeat, I am a fool.

Let the audience note that there were other films running. And there were plenty of other options like biryani at Karim’s or kebabs from Shamim. Or a walk down dusty mall road. Or simply lying on the floor and staring at the ceiling which might have been infinitely more fulfilling than what we ended up watching. His wife is a smarter woman than I because she begged off – Superstar Rajni is not her scene.

And as I’ve realised, not mine either. I quite enjoy the sunglasses flip and the finger pointing, mind it. I love the crazy stunts. But take away Rajni the hero and tell me that a robot is doing it and I really don’t care to see a man older than my father in inch thick make up, spewing silly lines like – Akal nahi, nickle hai. Rajni is meant to be Rajni. In sci-fi anything is possible so it is no great thrill if he runs alongside a speeding train and beats up 80 people with his left finger. It might as well have been Simbu, Madhavan, John Abraham or Tusshar Kapoor for all I care.

I have to admit I went there bubbling over with excitement, enthu cutlet that I am. The OA held on to my hand because I threatened to fall down the escalator in sheer eagerness. When the credits began I stood up and cheered as soon as his name rolled in. My four companions visibly blanched and tried to hunch down in their seats and disassociate themselves. When I entered I noticed that the foyer was full of people who spoke the four South Indian languages  and it seemed an evening full of promise and much celebration and noise. But sometime before Aishwarya entered and after the robot spoke, the joy decreased and the light in my eyes dimmed.  I also realised that the junta didn’t have as much enthu as they would have had in Chennai. No one screamed, no one threw money, no one launched themselves at the screen. Very disappointing. Eventually I gave up all pretense of enjoying the movie.  I’d only recommend it for the fancy sets for awe and the terrible costumes for a laugh.

A few thoughts

– Why did Ash do this movie – other than the money, that is. There can’t have been any creative satisfaction for her in the role she played. She fake smiled, fake cried and truly hammed. It was not her movie. It was not the role of a lifetime. She had to wear ridiculous costumes and dance to songs like Kilimanjaro and then go click click click, dedo bose… *shudder* How does she sleep at night and go out in public after this embarrassment? I’d be saving money for my kids’ therapy if I’d starred in the song. As for why Rajni did the film – I don’t claim to understand his choice in films, but if at 60 plus if I am still getting films designed for me (same goes for the Big B), I’d go along with any tomfoolery and not complain.

– Speaking of the songs. What was Rahman smoking? My ears have never been so assaulted. And to think I defended him even in the face of crap like Jai Ho (Yeah, I’m one of the few who doesn’t see what the deal with that song is). Will the real Rahman please stand up? The guy who did the music for Dilli 6 and Roja.  I’ve never understood why songs in translation are so stilted. Why can’t they just write new lyrics without stumbling over their tongues and killing poetry? Mohit, Mohit, Mohit.. why did you agree to sing that crappy Neutron Electron number and how did your accent change? I’m going to have to pretend this didn’t happen if we want this relationship to last. Just don’t do it again.

-In translation, the dialogues and humour suck. Wait, let me re-phrase that. I thought it sucked in general, but the Tamil gags lost all meaning to our group other than this guy and me. I am inclined to agree with Dipta. Humour is very different across the country and the audience that finds Golmaal funny will not be amused by TVs being plucked off the wall and flung to the floor. But then neither did the hajaar people sharing that hall with me.

– Again, to agree with a point Dipta made, there is some cultural baggage and perhaps my loss here is that I don’t have any association with Rajni. On the other hand I don’t have it with the Big B either. I’d really rather not watch 60% of the films he’s done in the last 10 years.

Sigh. I could go on. But I don’t believe the movie is worth my time and energy. Go read Dipta’s post instead. Let me end with a line Dipta threw at us as we walked out – After this movie, Shankar should be dismantled.

And oh, Dipta? To make up for this, you owe me dinner at Karim’s. Pay up right now.

Edited to add: Here’s another review I loved . And another related piece by Memsaab story.

Dear Abhay Deol

I’ve never really liked you. I don’t care for your face, your body isn’t up to the mark and your acting is passable. What really works for you though,  is your choice in films – you have your strategy well worked out. Until you picked Aisha.

How could the man who picked DevD, agree to even watch the film, let alone act in it? If I were you, I’d not make this mistake twice. Stay away from the candy floss – its the last thing standing between you and failure. That said, I loved the music. Particularly Gal mitthi mitthi( – the kids are freaking out to it) and Sham.

All the best,

TMM

The men in blue

I’ve never enjoyed cricket. Never understood the fuss over it and slowly grew to dislike the way a cricket match made life come to a standstill, delayed buses, cancelled parties and so on.

Until I read Anuja Chauhan’s The Zoya Factor and fell in love with skipper Nikhil Khoda. A lifetime of my grandmother gently guiding me away from M&Bs towards loftier literature and I regressed at 30 to fall in love with a dark, brooding, cricketer! Anuja sure did a good job of giving us a lust-worthy hero!

A few months down the line I go to watch Dil Bole Hadippa against my better judgment and let Shahid sweep me off my feet. There is something about men in uniform!!

I wondered how I could fall for two cricketers and then I realised it’s simply because sportsmen are so masterful!! Yeah I know, I’m easy to please that way. All the regular formulas work. Give me someone tall, dark, brooding, cocky and watch me have fun bringing him down to his knees (sometimes its the other way around). However this only seems to work with fictional heroes. None of our desi cricketers are really hot and articulate. They’re good at their job I suppose (if I am to believe what the OA says) – but they don’t really set my pulse racing.

I have had friends who worshiped Dravid and truth be told I did think he was cute in a certain way, but that’s about all there was to it. As for Dhoni and his kind *shudder* – inarticulate, uninteresting, cocky bunch who are just not my type. I remember one of my earliest assignments when I had to interview Irfan Pathan. I didn’t want to take it up because err… I didn’t recognise him. And the editor insisting on me doing it because the other girls were drooling far too much to get a decent interview. I had a tough time wriggling out of that one.

Anyway all this to just bring myself to acknowledge in public that I liked two fake cricketers so that I don’t go back on it.  Hey, it’s a start!

Dil Bole Hadippa was a decent watch. If for no other reason than that it’s inspirational to see the amount of weight Rani has lost! And if you want to be caught up in the whole Punjabi wave – I’m a Punjabi-phile, I am! On the other hand, you’d have to be deaf to tolerate the music. It was beyond awful and the lyrics were a string of gibberish. Ugh

Speaking of music, these two are my current favourite bollywood numbers.

And this one. What does Sanjay Dutt think he’s doing with Lara? He’s old enough to be her pop and the worst part is that he LOOKS it. And what is he wearing in the water? Is he in such terrible shape under it all? Ugh. I think Lara is looking awesome and I LOVE the song. On the other hand, I can’t help but ask – how many of us go to the beach covered in junk jewellery, hot though she looks. The OA freaks out if I put on sunscreen and wants to know why I am wearing ‘makeup’ to go to the beach!

Balika Badhu

…is one of my favourite movies. I loved it as a kid and when I happened to catch it on TV again a few days ago, I watched it with just as much pleasure.

I don’t believe in child marriage. But there does seem to some sense to getting your kids married when their hormones are running wild and also in letting them grow up together and have all their firsts together. I know I TOTALLY resent the OA’s first kiss although I refuse to allow him the same luxury/right!

I particularly loved the song “Bade achche lagte hain….”

The words are simple, sweet and so apt. I think back to when I was around that age and it’s true and just so simple – you just LIKE the person so much. And here I’d like to believe that like is better than love because ‘like’ is so easy and comfortable. So much more than the intensity of ‘love’… and yet, as true.

Anyway – the Bean had to dress up in a salwar suit as a teacher for some school thingummie. I can’t stand salwar suits on little kids (but YES! I love sarees on everyone) so I sent her in a saree. Used to seeing me in one, she was thrilled and patiently stood there in a lehenga as I wrapped her into it and pinned her up in just two places – hopefully by the time she’s 15 she will be safety-pin free and do me proud! A little red bindi, some bangles and the only thing betraying what a baby she is – two orange butterfly clips holding her curls off her face.

She’s a mischievous little brat and ran around even after she was dressed up, unencumbered and unhampered by the yards of fabric, actually climbing up on chairs and peeking into windows, reminding me of my favourite little heroine, the Balika Badhu – look at her up on her toes!  Thank you Susie Q Maashi for a lovely gift – it’s being worn with much excitement and is much appreciated.

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