Andaaz-e-Bayaan : My Expressions, My style!











{September 23, 2016}   दिल-ए-बर्बाद

याद कर-कर के तुझे ख़ुद को ही सताना है;

दिल-ए-बर्बाद का ये शौक़ भी पुराना है।

तेरे कूचे में पुरानी सी जो इमारत है;
नामुक़म्मल ख़्वाहिशों का आशियाना है।

यूँ तो मिलती है मुझे दाद-ए-वफ़ा ख़ूब मगर;

ये शहर तेरी जफ़ाओं का भी दीवाना है।

मेरे दामन पे लगे दाग़ यूँ न मिट सकेंगे;

ये हसरतों के क़त्ल का फ़साना है।

ये आशार ज़रा ग़ौर से पढ़ना ऐ दोस्त!

हाल-ए-दिल तुझको किसी तरह तो सुनाना है।

मेरा पैग़ाम ऐ क़ासिद रखो हिफ़ाज़त से;

महज़ अल्फ़ाज़ नहीं, दर्द का ख़ज़ाना है।

अश्क़ आँखों के लिए अजनबी से हो गए हैं;

इन्हें मालूम है वो राज़ जो छुपाना है।

Yaad kar kar ke tujhe khud ko hi satana hai;
Dil-e-barbaad ka ye shauq bhi purana hai.
Tere kooche mein purani si jo imaarat hai;
Namuqammal khwaahishon ka aashiyana hai.
Yoon to milti hai mujhe daad-e-wafa khoob magar;
Ye sheher teri jafaaon ka bhi deewana hai.
Mere daaman pe lage daagh yun na mit sakenge;
Ye hasraton ke qatl ka fasaana hai.

Ye aashaar zara gaur se padhna aey dost;
Haal-e-dil tujhko kisi tarah to sunaana hai.

Mera paigaam aey qaasid rakho hifaazat se; 

Mehez alfaaz nahin, dard ka khazana hai.

Ashq aankhon ke liye ajnabi se ho gaye hain;
Inhein maloom hai vo raaz jo chhupana hai.

-Astha Kaushik

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{June 23, 2016}   Udta Punjab: Close to Reality

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Saadde munde theek, horaan de kharaab (Our kids are well-behaved, those of others are notorious),” says a doctor (Kareena Kapoor) to the elder brother of a teenage drug addict, with sarcasm evident in her tone. The practice of blaming the “company” a child keeps rather than his /her own desire to indulge in socially deviant behaviour (continuous intake of drugs, in this case) is perhaps one of the greatest reasons which ruins a child’s present as well as future. “Udta Punjab” touches many such issues responsible for the growing drug addiction among the youth and their terribly fatal effects.

Four different individuals who have nothing in common, are fighting against a common enemy: Subtance Abuse. The difference however is, in the two kinds of war being fought. As Dr. Preet Sahani (Kareena Kapoor) rightly points out in a scene, one “War against Drugs” is being fought by the people who are trying their best to relieve the addicts of their dependence on drugs, while the other one is being fought by the addicts themselves against their weak, dependent self which makes it impossible for them to forego the addiction. “Vo jeetenge, tabhi hum jeetenge (If they win, only then can we),” concludes Dr. Preet referring to the youth of Punjab in specific, impeccably represented in the movie by Tommy Singh, a pop singer (Shahid Kapoor) and Kumari Pinky, a migrant worker (Alia Bhatt).

The first half of the movie focuses on the issue of substance abuse rampant in Punjab, while the other half focuses on effectively dealing with it. A teenage migrant worker from Bihar namely  Kumari Pinky who works at the farms of the local landlords in Punjab, plans of using a packet of cocaine as a shortcut for making easy money. But that proves to be the biggest mistake of her life and she pays for it by being compelled to become an addict herself. While she tries to escape from the terrible situation she gets caught into, Tommy Singh, a popular singer comes to her rescue who himself is a drug addict. As both the characters deal with the situation on a personal level, the movie beautifully portrays an important issue which is majorly responsible for the increasing level of drug intake among the youth i.e., the fact that substance abuse is portrayed as a “Style Statement” by certain celebrities like Tommy Singh, without paying heed to the clichéd “With great fame comes great responsibility.” In a particular scene, Tommy Singh is shown regretting the fact that an attempt to ape his “style” was the only reason why many teenagers took to drugs.

The other half of the movie focuses on dealing with the issue more effectively, through the other two characters Dr. Preet and Sartaj Singh (Diljit Dosanjh), a policeman. While Dr. Preet deals with such patients on a daily basis and has a humanitarian concern for them, Sub Inspector Sartaj Singh becomes a part of the fight only after he gets to know that his own younger brother had become an addict. Here, the movie quite boldly explores a rather sensitive issue: the passive involvement of local politicians and the police department in the procurement and transportation of drugs and other psychotropic substances across Punjab. So, as far as the script goes, it is well written barring Kareena’s “Doctor-turned-detective” character which looks funny as well as unrealistic.

Although, all four lead characters are impeccably portrayed by Kareena, Shahid, Dilijit and Alia; it is Alia who just doesn’t let you take eyes off her. The soundtrack has some beautiful numbers to boast of like, “Da da Dasse” and “Ik kudi”. Once again, Abhishek Chaubey has proved that he is a wonderful director indeed.



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माननीय श्री सोनू निगम जी को मेरा सादर प्रणाम।
मान्यवर, हमें ये जानकार हार्दिक प्रसन्नता हुई  कि संगीत के अलावा भी आपको कई विषयों के बारे में विस्तृत जानकारी है। कुछ दिन पहले आपने अपने अभूतपूर्व धार्मिक विचारों का इस प्रकार वर्णन किया कि धर्म की व्याख्या ही बदली हुई सी जान पड़ी। यूं तो ईश्वर के विभिन्न स्वरूपों के दर्शन हमें आसाराम बापू एवं राधे माँ जैसे अवतारों के माध्यम से होते ही रहते हैं, किन्तु आपने जिस प्रकार अबोध जनता का मार्गदर्शन किया है, वो अनिर्वचनीय है। आप जैसे महानुभावों के उच्च विचारों से ही ये ज्ञात हुआ कि ईश्वर ने हम जैसे अबोध बालक/बालिकाओं के मानसिक एवं आध्यात्मिक विकास हेतु राधे माँ जैसी महान स्त्री को मनुष्य रूप में पृथ्वी पर भेजा है।
अब चूँकि ईश्वर की कृपा असीम है और इसलिए कपड़ों के माध्यम से उसे सीमित नहीं किया जा सकता, राधे माँ को भी वस्त्रों के बारे में अधिक सोच विचार नहीं करना चाहिए। राधे माँ तो काली माँ के समान हैं ! उनके वश में जीवन, मरण, काल, नियति सबकुछ है। उनकी असीम कृपा से कृत-कृत्य उनके भक्त, स्वप्न  में भी अपनी माता के विषय में कुछ अप्रिय नहीं सुन सकते। आप भी उन्हीं श्रद्धालुओं में से एक हैं जिनके मन में माँ के प्रति इतनी अटल आस्था है कि उनका ध्यान माँ के वस्त्रों पर जाता ही नहीं है। न केवल वस्त्रों पर, अपितु उनका ध्यान इस तथ्य पर भी नहीं जाता कि जिस राधे माँ को वस्त्रों की आवश्यकता  नहीं, जो स्वयं माँ काली की तरह असीम है, उसे हर जगह उसके अनेक श्रद्धालु गोद में उठाकर ले जाते हैं।  माँ स्वयं एक कदम भी चल नहीं पाती। प्रिय सोनू निगम जी, क्या आप इस तथ्य पर भी थोड़ा प्रकाश डालेंगे कि राधे माँ जिस त्रिशूल को अपने हाथ में हर समय रखती हैं, वे उसका चमत्कारिक प्रयोग कब और किस प्रकार करेंगी? माँ काली की भाँति, राधे माँ कब गरीबी, भुखमरी, घूसख़ोरी एवं आतंकवाद रूपी असुरों का संघार करेंगी? राधे माँ ऐसे मुजरिमों एवं आतंकवादियों को अपनी ईश्वरीय शक्ति से क्यों नहीं पकड़ लातीं जो आजतक क़ानून के लम्बे हाथों से कोसों दूर हैं? काली माँ का अवतार तो असुरों का संहार करने हेतु हुआ था, पर राधे माँ का अवतार किस प्रयोजन से हुआ है?
कहीं ऐसा तो नहीं कि माँ काली ने राधे माँ का जन्म ही इस प्रयोजन से किया हो कि आप जैसे भक्तजन ये भली भाँति समझ जाएँ कि ईश्वर क्या है और क्या नहीं है? हो सकता है काली माँ ने राधे माँ द्वारा हम सबको ये समझाने का प्रयत्न किया हो कि हमें अपनी माता को पहचानने में त्रुटि नहीं करनी चाहिए। एक नवजात शिशु तो अपनी माँ को उसके स्पर्श मात्र से पहचान लेता है, परन्तु आप तो वस्त्र देख कर भी भ्रमित ही रहे सोनू जी!



{August 12, 2015}   Zubeidaa: Tragic Life, Fatal End

  


“So gaye hain, kho gaye hain, dil ke afaaane;
Koi to aata, phir se kabhi unko jagaane…”

The first scene of Shyam Benegal’s masterpiece has this soulful song by Lata Mangeshkar playing in the background. The lyrics aptly convey the emotions of the protagonist whose failed relationships and sheer loneliness compel her to take a decision which has fatal consequences.

The story revolves around Zubeidaa (Karisma Kapoor),the daughter of Suleman Seth (Amrish Puri), a rich producer-director who is against his daughter’s ambitions to become a film actress. Against her will, Zubeidaa is married to Mehboob Alam (Vinod Sharawat), the son of her father’s friend who later divorces her leaving behind a baby boy, Riyaz. Just when she begins to lose all hopes of having a good life ahead, she is introduced to Raja Vijayendra Singh (Manoj Bajpayi) of Fatehpur, by her father’s mistress (Lillete Dubey). Zubeidaa suddenly finds herself on Cloud Nine. She marries the king against her parents’ wish and is forced to leave behind her son before leaving for her matrimonial home which is now, a royal palace. Initially, she finds the regal setup quite flattering but later realizes that she is nothing more than a bird in a golden cage. Another thing that quite disturbs her all the time is her constant comparison of herself with her husband’s first wife, Mandira Devi (Rekha). She eventually realizes that owing to her religion and other factors, she is looked down upon by the people of Fatehpur and this becomes clear by the behaviour of her husband’s younger brother, Uday Singh (Rahul Singh). He tries to flirt with her initially but when she does not respond to his advances in a positive way, he tries to force himself upon her. 

Heartbroken and insulted, Zubeidaa decides that she would not let herself be treated like a mere object of satisfying a king’s lust. She insists on accompanying her husband whenever he goes for political campaigning but he takes along his Hindu wife, Mandira Devi, instead. Zubeidaa finds herself caught in the web of circumstances that don’t seem to change any which way. However, she is not a typical ‘damsel in distress’, rather a bold and uncompromising woman who loves her husband dearly. At the same time, she commands respect that she rightly deserves being his wife and not just the tag of a queen. Deep inside, she realizes that perhaps she would not get what she had been looking for, ever again. “Shayad hum mar kar hi khush reh sakte hain. Ab ke jo hum bichhde to shayad khawabon mein milein, jaise sookhue hue phool kitaabon mein milein…,” is the last thought that comes to her before she makes a major decision for herself. 

After deciding something best known only to her, she leaves for the airport, where the king is about to board the flight along with Mandira Devi. She adamantly insists on accompanying the king for his political tour and boards the plane. The plane crashes leaving everyone wondering as to whether she had deliberately done that or was it an accident. This question is left unanswered by the director. 

 The movie according to some, is based on the real life story of Maharaja Hanwant Singh of Jodhpur who had married a muslim actress Zubeidaa, who stayed with him in Jodhpur’s Ummed Bhavan Palace. The writer of this movie Khalid Mohammad, is none other than the son of late Zubeidaa, who is called “Riyaz” in the movie. However, Benegal denied the movie having any links to real Zubeidaa. 
The soundtrack is beautiful with soothing numbers like “Mehndi hai rachne wali” and “Dheeme dheeme gaaoon” other than the theme song. As for actors, all have played their roles commendably well, with Karisma Kapoor at her very best. 



{August 8, 2015}   Hindustan sans Hindi?

  

Situation 1, (Year 2005): A thirteen year old school girl is told by her class teacher to pay the fine for committing an offence she didn’t even realize she did: she spoke in Hindi. It is a rule in that public school that any student who is heard speaking in Hindi shall have to pay a fine of two rupees. 

This was not the only incident when she was fined. She was fined many times and would happily pay the amount every time she was punished. When asked the reason for the retaliation on her part, she would rather unapologetically say, “I don’t think in order to learn English, I have to stop using Hindi.” 
Situation 2, (Year 2015): A law student is surrounded by many of her classmates on the last working day of her 5 year Law course. The reason is quite surprising: those surrounding her want her to fill their forms in Hindi, as per the instructions on the forms. They find it really hard to write their names in Hindi, for they have almost completely forgotten the Devanagari Script. The girl obviously helps her friends write their names as well their parents’ names in Hindi.

The girl mentioned in Situation 1 grew up to be a law student in Situation 2, who continued to speak, read and write in Hindi as much as she could despite facing strong protest from not just her teachers but also her father, who believed that Hindi was no longer a useful language in today’s world. She could never understand the relevance of abandoning the use of one language in order to have a good command of the other. The fact that many schools stress on making their premises an “Only English” zone, leads to Situation 2 when these kids grow up. It is ironic that a country that struggled so hard to release itself from the clutches of the colonial rule, has happily accepted a foreign language at the expense of a language spoken by the majority of its population. “Most of the undergraduate students who have Hindi as a part of their curriculum don’t know the basics of the script”, says Dr. Kamla Kaushik, Associate Professor (Hindi), Satyawati College. The argument put forth by the students generally is that they hardly ever write in Hindi after matriculation and the pressure to survive in today’s increasingly competitive world makes them use English as much as they can. Result? Anyone who doesn’t have good command of English is considered almost an illiterate by the others who are good at it. Many of those who are a bit hesitant in using the language, prefer sitting on the last benches of the classroom quietly, just to avoid becoming an object of mockery. It is not contested that the use of English has become almost inevitable in order to survive in today’s world where everything starting from the elementary education to a professional degree, requires a reasonably good command of the language. However, the discrimination faced by Hindi Speakers as against those who use English is so terrible at times that the person using Hindi feels as if he is committing a crime. So far as my experience is concerned, I have known many who are equally good at using both English and Hindi, and they never abandoned the usage of one for the other. Mahatma Gandhi, in his address to the Gujrat Education Conference at Bharuch in 1917, had stressed the need of a national language and expressed that Hindi is the only language which could be adopted as national language because this is a language spoken by majority of the Indians. It has the potential of being used as an economic, religious and political communication link. The Constitution makers had deliberated the issue of Official Language in detail at the time of framing the Constitution and it was decided that Hindi in Devanagari script should be adopted as the official language of the Union. This is the basis of declaring Hindi as the Official Language of the Union under Article 343(1).  

Language, be it any, is ultimately a medium of expressing one’s thoughts and no language is “Superior” or “Inferior” to the other. However, these days, using English has become more of a compulsion or a “status symbol” rather than choice. Many people deliberately use English in order to show that they are intellectually superior to those who use Hindi, which is far from true. And this fear of being considered “inferior” is to a very great extent responsible for a generation which talks in slangs instead of using proper words for communication since that is considered more “stylish”. 

Another factor which requires serious consideration is the reduced presence of Hindi literature in the school curriculum. These days, Hindi is an optional subject after class eighth and the students are free to opt for other foreign languages like German or French, which is why they lose touch with the language at a very young age. While on the other hand, aspirants of the two most prestigious examinations, i.e. the Judicial services and the Civil services examinations, are required to have an excellent command of both Hindi and English. Why is Hindi not considered at par with English, then? The question definitely warrants attention. 

I can’t say about others, but I definitely don’t regret the decision of paying the fine instead of abandoning my mother tongue, ten years ago.
 



{April 2, 2015}   Much Ado About Choice

Since every other undeserving video gets viral on YouTube, Deepika Padukone’s “My choice” did not come as a surprise. However, the video has managed to irritate me far more than any other has ever had, which is why I chose to write.

“My choice”. What does that mean? Well, it means that  a magazine like “Vogue” which has always showcased females as glamorous, seductive and sensuous has come out with a video to educate women that they have a “choice”. Irony, indeed.

The so-called choices that the video boasts of are: to wear the clothes women want to, come home at 4 a.m., have sex outside marriage, have sex with both men and women etc.

One question. If at all you want to come home at 4 a.m. or have sex outside marriage, why proudly announce that you have chosen to do so? Obviously, you have! That’s like saying,”I have just had tea, and having it was my choice!” 

 Then towards the end, the soundtrack says,”I am the snowfall, you are the snowflake,”suggestive of the “man vs. woman” undertone. Since when did feminism begin to mean disgracing men? The video has miserably failed to put the point across. A liberal woman doesn’t need to be insensitive, careless or taboo-breaker. She doesn’t need to wear revealing clothes or have an extra-marital affair in order to assert her liberty. Besides choices are always personal, including, choosing not to choose. Choice itself means you have an option, or else it would have been mandatory; and since you do have a choice, you are free to do whatever you want to. It’s your choice to come home at 4 a.m., you do as chosen by you. So?



img A sincere advice to those who believe that Bollywood is all about Melodrama, Singing and dancing around trees, a “damsel in distress” heroine, and a villain using all his dirty tricks to woo her: Watch Gulzar’s “Mausam”.

Loosely based on A.J. Cronin’s novel, “The Judas Tree“, Mausam is a movie which is simply unforgettable.  Both Sharmila Tagore and Sanjeev Kumar have done full justice to the remarkably well written script.

The story is about a young medical student in Darjeeling, Amarnath Gill (Sanjeev Kumar) who falls for a girl called Chanda (Sharmila Tagore), the daughter of a local healer, Thapa (Om Shivpuri). Both decide that they would marry after Amarnath comes back from his training in another town and becomes a full fledged Doctor. Unfortunately, Amarnath doesn’t return to fulfill his promise due to an unfavourable incident while Chanda keeps awaiting him till her last breath. Years later, Dr. Amarnath Gill who is now a famous Surgeon, visits Darjeeling to spend his vacations and starts enquiring about Chanda. He is shocked to find out that Chanda was married to an old and disabled man, had a daughter named Kajli and died of old age and insanity. The fact that his unfulfilled promise left Chanda in terrible shock and pain which ultimately led to her untimely death leaves Amarnath guilt-ridden and shattered. He sees only one way to undo his wrong: searching for Kajli and helping her lead a better life. But to his utter dismay, he soon meets Kajli (who resembles her mother very closely in appearance) only to find out that she has become a prostitute. The burden of guilt increases multifold and Amarnath is now determined to help Kajli start her life afresh. But he soon realizes that it isn’t as easy as he had thought it to be. Kajli, dejected and hopeless, initially sees him as a prospective customer and later start developing feelings of love and affection for him. Amarnath hides from Kajli, his relationship with Chanda precisely because Kajli has immense hatred for the man whose broken promise had ruined her mother’s life. But later, when she confesses her love for him, he is disgusted with her narrowness of looking at a male-female relationship. He tells her that he is the same doctor with whom her mother was in love with. The movie ends with Kajli forgiving him and both of them looking forward to a new life.

The story deals with various emotional conflicts and dilemmas that each one of us faces in our lives and is too subtle in presenting them. The guilt-ridden doctor, ably played by Sanjeev Kumar, perfectly depicts how the burden of committing a mistake decades ago, can haunt a person and what all can repentance make him do. In the process of bringing Kajli back to leading a normal life, Amarnath is frowned upon by the society. But his guilt surpasses every other thing and he continues doing what according to him is the only way to undo his wrong. The character of Kajli is no less complex. Her abandoning the life of a prostitute is as difficult and painful as is her forced transition from a normal village girl to a prostitute. Her trust on relationships is broken by her own uncle who after raping her sells her to a brothel. And when she becomes used to the pain and agony faced by a prostitute, a man enters her life who wants her to leave prostitution and lead a happy life. Since Kajli’s life had been completely devoid of a father figure and she had seen women being exploited and objectified by the males, the only relationship she knows of is the male-female relationship which involves physical intimacy. That is why each time when Amarnath addresses her as “Beti”, she feels disgusted. Kajli faces two major emotional conflicts: One: Amarnath, the man she develops feelings for, is frowned upon by the society for keeping a prostitute with him and she finds herself responsible for it (The song “Ruke ruke se kadam” aptly describes her state of mind). Two: the only man who doesn’t objectify her, cares for her and whom she wants to marry is actually the same person who had ruined her mother’s life. Forgiving the man whom she has immense hatred for is too very difficult, but when she realizes that perhaps, it is the only right thing to do, she does.

The last dialogue of Sanjeev Kumar, “Peechhe mud ke dekhne ke liye hum dono ke paas kuch nahi hai beti. Chalo mere saath”, hints at the new beginning of their life, together.

Sanjeev Kumar has played the role of the aged doctor impeccably well, while Sharmila Tagore, who plays a double role in the movie, has delivered a brilliant performance both as Chanda and Kajli for which she deservedly got the National Award in the “Best Actress” category. Apart from that Gulzar’s direction and Madan Mohan’s music is an icing on the cake. I would like to conclude with the only thought that comes to the mind of anyone who has seen this movie, whenever the word “Mausam” is mentioned:

“Dil Dhoondhta hai, phir wohi, fursat ke raat din;  

Baithe rahe tasavvur-e-jaana kiye hue….”



{September 9, 2013}   SATYAGRAHA: A BUNDLE OF FLAWS

satyagraha-20130828110712-11981An extremist-turned-moderate battles against a supposedly “unjust” ruler. He has the backing of an idealist who opines that an enemy must be defeated by persuasion and not by any other violent method.
Sounds familiar?
Yes. Unfortunately, Prakash Jha has nothing new to offer this time. “Satyagraha” is a thorough disappointment.
The plot has “Daddu ji” (Amitabh Bachchan) as the central character who is a socialist engaged in the welfare of society post his retirement as the principal of a local village school. His only son Akhilesh, a civil engineer, dies in a road accident which is later found to be a murder. Then we have Manav Raghavendra, (Ajay Devgan) the oh-so-rich friend of Akhilesh, who is a firm believer of capitalism. After his friend’s death he joins Dadduji in his “Satyagraha” against the corrupt government.
There are three other characters in the movie, Yasmeen (Kareena Kapoor Khan), a jornalist, Sumitra, (Amrita Rao) the daughter-in-law of Dadduji and Arjun (Arjun Rampal), an ex- student of Dadduji who was denied formal education in the local village school owing to his violent and mischievous acts. One of the biggest flaws of the script is the fact that the movie could have been easily made without the presence of these characters.
The entire plot is almost a recapitulation of the Anna Hazare’s public protest against the government. There is nothing new in the script and the moment novelty steps in, it gradually turns into a major irritant.
The plot before the intermission revolves around public protest against the corrupt government but the moment you are back on your seat with a “popcorn and burger combo”, you get a sudden “where-is-it-going?” thought.
The public protest suddenly becomes personal and it is revealed that Akhikesh was murdered as the result of a conspiracy hatched by the younger brother of the state chief minister.
Dadduji, whom the audience wad relating to Anna Hazare throughout the movie, suddenly steps into the shoes of Mahatma Gandhi. Not just that, there is an addition to the almost absent sound track, “Raghupati Raghav Raja Ram”, a prayer which is most commonly associated with the father of the nation.
From this point onwards, the entire plot becomes almost predictable. Infact, the plot shows some far-from-reality stuff which actually looks funny. Manav Raghavendra, disposes off his Rs.600 crore (approx.) business in the favour of his shareholders just because his conscience doesn’t allow him to be “corrupt” (he suddenly realizes he had been looting the public) anymore. This sudden transition in his status is the most unrealistic part of the plot.
After that, movie has little to offer. As could be easily predicted by now, a violent public upsurge and the subsequent force used by the government to suppress the same, leads to the assassination of Dadduji in a manner much similar to the assassination of Mahatma Gandhi. Before breathing his last, Dadduji pleads with the public to follow the path of non violence, yet again, reminding the audience of Gandhi ji.
The plot has major conceptual flaws.
Firstly, the cause for which Mahatma Gandhi fought cannot be equated with fighting against a democratically elected government. The latter half of the movie shows politicians as conspirators and murderers which is an altogether different issue. It makes the issue of public interest pretty narrow in its scope.
Secondly, there is an attempt to club the media, the corporate sector and the common man in one single group which is battling against the corrupt government. Well, this seems far from reality. As for the media, its job is to generate awareness among the masses for which a journalist need not be in love with the person who is protesting. This makes the character
of Yasmeen absolutely useless to the plot.
Thirdly, the movie nowhere justifies the much exaggerated step of Daddu ji, where he slaps the District Collector for being corrupt. What else if not prison was he expecting, as the result of hurting a government servant on duty and that too for no good reason? And then follows the big protest march with posters all around appealing to set him free.
Fourthly, the fast-unto-death has been justified as the only non-violent method to fight the government, which is nothing more than plain blackmail.Apart from these evident errors in the plot, there are some poorly edited scenes which was least expected of a Prakash Jha Film.

As for the actors, Ajay Devgan, Amitabh Bachchan and Manoj Bajpayee have done a good job.
Kareena Kapoor Khan and Amrita Rao were not too bad either. Arjun Rampal never acted and he didn’t surprise us this time either.
The song “Ras ke bhare tore nain” is a major irritant in the movie since it is not required at all. The video of the song shows some romantic sequences of Ajay Devgan and Kaeeena Kapoor Khan which do nothing except highlighting the “touch-me-not-post-marriage” tag of the Bahu Begum.

Overall, it is a failed attempt by an otherwise successful director.



{May 2, 2013}   Maid in India

maid

“Baaki sab to theek hai, par humein chik-chik pasand nahi bibiji,” declared my new maid after ensuring that everything else including the breed of my dog was of her choice. The “chik-chik” she had referred to, meant something way different from what I had thought it to be. After a week of her stay at my home as a full-time domestic help, certain definitions related to houselhold chores were updated in my vocabulary. Presenting a new Code of Conduct for the employers of the modern Shanta-Baayis and Ramu Kakas, which is much efficiently implemented than any other legislation in India:

a) Chik-Chik : Forget the older definition of the term which suggested usual quarrels on trivial household issues. These days, the term is not just interpreted rather strictly, but is a matter of great offence to the maids. The list of Do’s and Don’ts that you often expect your domestic help to follow might be taken as an interference in their seemingly perfect job, especially if it is related to their all time favourite activities, like watching T.V. and talking on cellphone. So, never say “never”.

b) Chhutti: Well, this term might seem to be too familiar but there is a considerable change in the demands for holidays that the modern domestic helps expect you to understand. Don’t be shocked if the list of holidays they want exceeds that of the Gazetted Holidays. The wedding of “Bhola”, their childhood friend is far more important than the Republic Day. You dare not refuse them the permission to visit their village for a week or two. Apart from that, you are not allowed to get annoyed at their sudden absenteeism which is likely to happen atleast 5 times a month.

c) Full-time maid: If you are still interpreting the term as “somebody who does all household work and is at your service almost the entire day”, then here’s a bad news for you. A “Full time” domestic help stands for “somebody who supervises other part-time maids at your home.” Yes! You have to have more than two or three separate maids for dusting, washing the dishes, cleaning, cooking etc. The reason is simple: There is a lot of work and the full time maid needs time for herself too. She is too busy with her cellphone or the latest episode of some soap opera.

d) Perks: Oh! Yes. You got that right. The modern domestic help wants better perks than a Government officer. The monthly pay totally excludes things like gifts that you are supposed to give them on various festive occasions, at least a pair or two of clothes every month and if the maid stays at your place, then not only the necessities but also luxuries like branded soaps and shampoos have to be provided by you. And don’t you dare act smart by buying them comparatively cheaper stuff, as that would lead to extra salt in your curry or some unbaked vegetable served to you.

2.Some important advice:

a) Buy some patience if you lack it or else the maid will eventually make you buy some.

b) Be extremely polite every time you talk to them, even if the maid has just spoilt the vegetable because she was busy worrying about the protagonist of her favourite serial who had met with an accident.

c) The most important device in the lives of today’s generation of domestic helps is their Cellphone. Talking to their Best friend, Chachaji, Buaji, Mausaji or Jijaji is much more important than cooking dinner or washing the dishes. You are not allowed to get irritated even if s/he has been talking for more than an hour and it’s already 1 am in the night. You might not get to sleep properly, but then that’s better than doing all the household work on your own, isn’t it?

d) No restrictions, whatsoever. That includes letting them sleep whenever they are tired of gossiping about you with the maid-next-door, permission to visit the weekly “mangal bazaar or shukr bazaar” with their “good friends”, letting them watch their favourite daily soap the timing of which clashes with that of your favourite T.V. show etc.

3. Punishments:

a) Rigorous imprisonment for an indefinite period of time: Not abiding by any of the above mentioned rules might get you into a difficult situation, especially if you are into a nine to five job. Apart from doing all household chores all by yourself, you might also have to cancel some important meetings and remain confined to the four walls of your house most of the time.

b) Long term effects: Don’t expect a new maid to agree to work at your place very easily. Your previous maid would have circulated the tales of your “utterly annoying and torturous” behaviour among all other maids of the locality, faster than a local daily. Your new image in the locality would be of an ever complaining, annoying employer who finds a reason to find a fault in them every now and then.

c) Miscellaneous Losses: This list is endless. You got late for the meeting with your Boss because you forgot that the milk on the burner was boiling, and by the time you realized that, it was a little too late. The unpressed shirt you wore on your first date left a very bad impression on your latest crush. You forgot to put the air conditioner off because you were in a rush and by the time you came back from office, your house in Delhi was colder than the one in Shimla and the electricity bill for the month was more than your wife’s shopping bills.

In an era where getting a husband or wife is easier than getting a domestic help, most of the urban households are facing trouble dealing with such issues, especially the working women. It’s not as if there is no flip side to the coin and the domestic helps are not exploited by the employers, but then, that does nothing to the woes of those who are actually courteous and nice to them. The exclusion of domestic helps from the Labour Laws is a major reason for this trouble. A new legislation solely for the domestic helps is under consideration by the Government which is aimed at fixing minimum wages, working hours and other such conditions for this sector.
It is hoped that the legislation would provide the much needed uniformity in the age old Master-Servant relationship and come as a relief to both the employers and the domestic helps.
Till then, we the employers, must solemnly resolve to abide by the above mentioned code.



meena_kumari_220108_014 We often get to hear about actors who don’t need glycerine for showing melancholy. While some of them are good at acting, others are good at being natural. She belonged to the latter category.
It was Mahjabeen who took birth and Meena Kumari who died; but besides sharing a common soul, they shared a similar pain.
Mahjabeen, who was better known as Meena Kumari to the Bollywood, was left on the stairs of an orphanage by her father just after few days of birth, in 1932. Little did he know, that it was actually the beginning of a series of abandonments the little girl had to go through in the few precious years of her survival; first by parents, then by husband and finally by life. Though, she was brought back by her father, she was treated more as a source of income rather than a daughter.
Having been denied formal education, Mahjabeen lost her childhood rather early and was forced into acting due to poor financial conditions.
After playing several small and unnoticed roles, she bagged her first Filmfare Award for the best actress in Vijay Bhatt’s ‘Baiju Banwara’ in the year 1954, after which there was no looking back. The Bollywood welcomed her as Meena Kumari, a name given to her by none other than Vijay Bhatt. She reached the top of her career, with a series of successful movies like, Parineeta, Aarti, Main Chup Rahungi, Sahib, biwi aur Ghulam etc. but what made Meena Kumari who she was, was her role of chhoti bahu in Sahib, biwi aur Ghulam. The movie explored the expectations and sexual desires of an unsatisfied wife who goes against her morals in order to please her husband. The character was played by Meena Kumari with an unparalleled finesse and thus, she was termed the ”Tragedy Queen” of Bollywood.
Her career was more or less at the same height throughout, except for a small duration when she underwent a major accident and permanently lost her two fingers. However, it didn’t affect her career much since she was destined to be successful and also due to the constant support of the love of her life: Kamal Amrohi.
Meena Kumari found in Amrohi, who was already married and was 15 years older than her, everything that she had missed out till then, especially love.
They both got married but yet again, life was cruel to her. Both of them had several personal and professional conflicts and finally, Meena Kumari got divorced in the year 1964.
At the time of divorce she wrote,
“Talaq to de rahe ho nazar-e-qehar ke saath,
Jawani bhi meri lauta do mehar ke sath”

The pain of leading a troubled married life was evident in her portrayal of the depressed chhoti bahu who becomes alcoholic to get the attention of her indifferent husband. We thought she had acted too well, but perhaps she wasn’t acting at all. Ironically, the life of Meena Kumari took the same turn as that of chhoti bahu and she too, started drinking heavily.
Depression and alcohol proved to be a deadly combination for the “Tragedy Queen” and her health began to deteriorate. She began to lose her charm and beauty which affected her career badly. Due to ill health and heavy drinking she at times got fainted on the sets.
It seemed as if the uncalled for fame and success did little to the void in her life and the wounds of a bleeding soul remained unhealed. Her last film Pakeezah, directed by Kamal Amrohi was a major hit and one of the best films of Indian cinema. Unfortunately, Meena Kumari didn’t live to see its success and died of Liver cirrhosis in 1974.
During the shooting of Pakeezah, Meena Kumari was facing severe health troubles despite which she did complete justice to the role.
She knew it was going to be her last movie.
Although there were many good actors during the Golden era, Meena Kumari had something special about her.
When chhoti bahu pleads, “na jao saiyan chhuda ke baiyan…”, one can feel her pain with a mere look in eyes! Meena Kumari didn’t need dialogues to convey herself, her deep, mesmerizing eyes did it all.
When the courtesan with a golden heart says, “jo kahi gayi na mujhse vo zamana keh raha hai, ke fasana ban gayi hai meri baat talte talte….”, we can feel it coming straight from Meena Kumari rather than her character.

I sometimes wonder what it is like to hear from an actor who is left with few days of survival something like, “Aaj ki raat bachenge to seher dekhenge….”
The audiences wouldn’t know whether to be appreciative of the lyrics or sad about the prophesy which they knew was soon to come true. Meena Kumari’s life was a combination of pain and bitter sarcasm which was also manifested in many of her wonderfully written poems.

It is saddening to learn that such a beautiful soul had that tragic a life. Nevertheless, Indian Cinema shall be forever grateful to her for an unsurpassed contribution and her fans shall continue to love her forever!

“Ye noor kaisa hai raakh ka sa rang pahne,
barf ki laash hai laave ka sa badan pahne,
goongi chaahat hai rusvaai ka kafan pehne,
har ek qatra muqaddas hai maile aansu ka,
ek hujoom-e-apaahij hai aab-e-kausar par ye kaisaa shor hai jo be-aavaaz phailaa hai,
rupahli chhaanv mein badnaamion ka dera hai,
ye kaisi jannat hai jo chaunk-chaunk jaati hai,
ek intezaar-e-mujassam ka naam –– Khamoshi,
aur ehsaas-e-bekaraaN pe ye sarhad kaisi?
dar-o-diivaar kahan rooh ki aavargii ke,
noor ki vaadi talak lams ka ek safar-e-tavil,
har ek mod pe bas do hi naam milte hain,
Maut kah lo jo mohabbat nahin kehne paao,
Maut keh lo jo mohabbat nahin kehne paao.”



et cetera