Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Of lazy days and foggy eves Of misty mornings on desetred streets Of alarm snooze and non stop sneeze Of early sunsets on barren trees Of milder suns and piercing breeze Of peeling 'skin and orangees' Of cold creams and petroleum jellies Ah! How much I miss "Winter Delhi's"


The golden rods Of an angry heater Flickering fainting Almost Dying Warming the room’s volume Reluctant eyes Lead heavy Bargaining for five minutes Laden with dreams and rheum The day wakes up late, The Sun snoozes Eclipsed by clouds- The foggy shroud! The unbathed people Smelling of flavored perfumes The weak sighted head lights The halogen glasses on high beam In the cavern of my mouth The stalagmites of gritting teeth gleam The angry needles In mom’s magical hands Fight to knit some love Turn colorful woolen balls In pretty designs…a cat, a dog or dove The sun retires too early Devoured by the dark sky’s yawn Deserted streets Frozen feet The eerie wintry silence Broken by the clock Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock Buried under a blanket On a cold bed Bit of brandy and Vaseline Without wait Shut my eyes gate To gather some wintry dreams!

Saturday, July 28, 2012

What we men want...the lit-slut test in Cocktail!

So when the world is singing peaens to Cocktail, I have my bones to give to the makers. Cliches abound in this film as well. It’s almost ironic the makers show Veronica so forward, drinking, making merry, clubbing, dating multiple men and sundry, they sadly are so conservative in their mindsets. In this happy façade of making so called progressive films (which means shooting in pubs and bars for most Indian film makers or force a string of abuses, crass language) some clichés still haunt our sensibilities. I will come to the point straight away. In Hindi films, heroes don’t fall for anyone who is a tomboy (Kuch Kuch Hota hain), fun to hang out with (Dil toh Pagal hain) or a wild child in Cocktail. So unless a Kajol slips into a saree and smears her eyes with kohl and adorns her hands with bangles, a SRK wouldn’t give her a second look. Saif Ali Khan sleeps with Deepika, keeps crooning how he doesn’t want to play the husband and enjoy his bachelorhood all lifelong and ends up falling for the desi girl who prays, cooks and picks dirty clothes from the floor. Finally Deepika has to cook lamb biryani and that something with yogurt (raita) and prays every morning and get into a salwar kameez to score with Saif and his mom. Almost like a litmus (or shall I say lit-slut test to turn from a slut into a Savitri). It’s appalling how her character is subtly labeled as a slut or else why would’t a Gautam get married to her. Coz we don’t marry morally inferior girls in Hindi films. Isn’t that regressive? Men do love independent women who don’t subscribe to the set parts played by spouses in a marriage. They not just date them and end up marrying the good old Indian bahu. I am almost aghast to see such a conformist orthodox movie coming from someone who gave me immense hopes after Being Cyrus and (Socha na tha).

Friday, July 13, 2012

Cocktail review

I have always been a big Imtiaz fan. I totally loved Socha na tha (my fav till date) and Jab we met. At one point I could watch any film that has any remote connection with Imtiaz. Hence I even survived the snail paced Ahista Ahista where he had done the screenplay. Imtiaz’s forte is relationships, romcoms and I dig such movies. Give me a light hearted comedy over any science fiction or superhero film. Off late Imtiaz had disappointed me a bit. Rockstar was such a disaster dude. Cocktail is fun and passable. There are a lot of things I like in the film. The dialogues are conversation, the film speaks my language and some of the scenes, and situations are fun, candid and dealt as is. For the first time in a love triangle we have the hero sit down the two ladies and talk about the triangular equation. See you love me, I love her, I said it. Brilliant scene. The scene where Deepika breaks down in the club and accuses Diana is brilliant again. Deepika is smoldering hot. Her smile is worth a million bucks. And she has acted well in the film. She has carried off drunken emotional scenes pretty well. Maybe she should always be drunk in all her films to deliver well as an actor. Stereotypes abound in Cocktail too. The problem with Indian film makers is that we can’t paint real characters. We still can’t accept a free willed woman who drinks, parties and dates men and hence the need to justify it with uncaring rich parents who don’t play, just pay and are never seen in the film. Such a done to death formula to evoke sympathy for the character I feel. Another cliché we follow is our location. Every time we have a love triangle, extra marital affairs, live in couples or wild child characters or something, we transport everyone to the west. Australia in Salam Namaste, New York in Kabhi Alvida Na kehna and (I don’t know which exotic country) in Cocktail. What, we don’t have live in couples or divorces or extra marital affairs in India? Also I find it amusing to find dialogues like- tumne us apartment ko ghar bana diya hain. Dah. It’s interesting to see how Saif’s botoxed face can still move muscles and emote. But how long can we see such happy go lucky characters in movies. Characters that stop random people at airports, act too familiar, flirt and are always happy. Characters that have a job but never seen working, characters wearing designer clothes, always making merry. I hate happy characters. Over familiar characters. I hate too much of pseudo happiness in films. Diana is breath of fresh air. She is beautiful and acts well. Long way to go but passable. Above average rather. Dimple played her part so well. The age though shows. The soundtrack is superb but way too many songs. Films that break into a song every fifteen minutes should be banned. It’s strange we haven’t yet found out which Korean/Russian songs Pritam have flicked his brilliant tunes from for Cocktail. Cocktail could have been a great film if they managed the length of the film well. Cut the melodrama dude. Come to the point faster. The film is long but deal able. One time watch I feel.

Sunday, July 1, 2012


When I think of RD Burman I think of his music brilliance, his compositions, the singers he was associated with and mostly everything belonging to the golden era. I could never fathom in my wildest of dreams that someone born in late thirties could affect the musical choices of someone born in 2008. Separated not only by time and distance but also by different cultures, upbringing, socio-economic backgrounds and a thousand other things, the only thing that untied Pancham da with the four year old Aanya was his timeless music. 27th June- RD Burman’s birth anniversary. When the rest of the radio stations across the world tomtommed about, quote unquote the never heard trivia on RD Burman or touched base with musicians of the yesteryears to know a thing or two about the great music director, I turned the game all around by having the YOUNGEST Burman fan Aanya, all of four years old who could recognize Pancha Da compositions from the back of her frigging hand. To have a four year old sing ‘roz roz aankhon tale’ was a brilliant idea to break the monotony of Pancham da’s birthday celebrations. I was in the gym that it occurred to me that I should call my colleague John who once told me that his younger daughter was a huge Burman fan. He was a bit skeptical. Aanya is an unpredictable, moody child who has a mind of her own and would not talk if she doesn’t feel like. I assured him I was good with kids and it was my job to get the best out of her without much realizing what I was getting into. Aanya came to the office just before my show. Seeing too many people around overwhelmed her. She wore a colorful frock with pink sandals, carried a notepad with her and her hair was uncombed and every time anyone tried talking to her, she hid behind her father’s legs looking for protection. Gosh it was difficult to break ice with her. Ice creams, chips, chocolates, nothing worked with her. John and I walked her around the office to give her a sense of familiarity and make her feel home. It was getting close to my show and we hadn’t even exchanged our friendly hellos. I saw the notebook in her hand. I fished out a pen from my pocket and we both sat in the middle of the corridor, oblivion to the people passing by. She started doodling and she was bloody good at it. She made a couple of faces and instantly pointed out ‘eyes’ ‘ears’ and ‘lips’ when asked. I then drew a rough sketch of her on the notepad. Her eyes lit up the moment she recognized her face. She looked up, smiled at me and said pointing at the sketch- Aanya. That was the moment. We became friends. I escorted her to the studio. The song was about to end and I had good four minutes to prepare her. I told her I would ask her to sing the birthday song for RD Burman and a couple of his songs and she happily nodded to everything. She even told me she would sing ‘Dum maro Dum.’ The song ended. I pushed the faders up, switched on our mikes, introduced her and asked her to sing the birthday song. She twitched her lips, blinked her eyes, gave me a sheepish smile and said “Let’s play the cooking game.” I had no clue where that came from. The smart ass RJ in me said ‘pehle gana phir khana’ but she wasn’t willing to comply. She was too cute to be denied of her innocent demand. And hence we started cooking biryani on air. My hands formed the cooking gas and her rather creative ingredients were chocolate, sugar and salt. She then put the dish in the oven and when baked enough, she suggested we licked it. My heart tickled all pink at the cute, adorable attempt at cooking chocolate biryani, the one that we couldn’t eat but only lick. Aanya had opened up and how. She mentioned Chammak Challo when I asked her for favorite RD song. She complained how hot it was outside, talked about the ‘sleeping’ animals she saw in the zoo and black cows in the farm house the other day. “Do animals sing too” was my desperate attempt to bring her back on track and thankfully she said yes. I hit the jackpot there. I asked her which song cows would sing on RD’s birth anniversary and she happily started singing happy birthday to you RD B-r-u-m-a-n in her most endearing voice. That set the ball rolling. She sang Dum maro Dum and lakdi ki kathi. I played five seconds of RD’s tunes and she recognized them in a jiffy. My heart almost broke into a million pieces when I heard the youngest, cutest, almost lisp rendition of ‘roz roz aankhone tale.’ It was a jaw dropping moment for me to see a FOUR year old sing such an unfamiliar, rather somber tune of RD- his biggest achievement indeed.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Arjun Kapoor and Parineeti Chopra

In my almost two decades of radio career (f*ck I am old), I have interviewed celebs of all kinds, good, bad, ugly, tantrum throwing, over friendly, superstars, shooting stars, even the dust. I have enjoyed some interviews thoroughly and slept through the rest but it’s always fun meeting celebs, asking them questions, trying to break through the cool façade they shield their real selves with and finally managing a candid moment or two. I didn’t have to try much with Parineeti Chopra. She stands in sharp contrast to her uptight, boring, always politically correct but hot and sexy superstar cousin Priyanka Chopra. Parineeti is a breath of fresh air in an industry which is all about ‘it was great working with him’ ‘he is such a professional actor’ ‘if the script demands’ blah. Even when she is giving some safe answers, she either apologized for doing so or admitted she was sounding profusely boring. Whenever I interview anyone, I look for some fun, light-hearted, some shocking, some never before moments that I call promo worthy moments (that can run in the promos of my show) but most of all, I look for honesty. You can be the dullest human being on the face of this Earth, bore me to death with your yawn worthy answers, but if you serve it with any amounts of genuineness, I would have respect for you. Parineeti lived up to my expectation. She was as candid as it gets. Full respect. And immense respect for the man who lost his mom just before the release of his first film and here he is talking about his film, his once scale breaking weight, his likes, dislikes and facing adulation, speculation and all that in between with a smile. Arjun Kapoor was very unlike Parineeti. He was somber, to the point and very economical with his words hardly leaving me with any promo worthy moments, but he was honest in all his answers. Genuine and Forthright. I love Shakespeares. If you are glib, can juggle with words, convey your thoughts articulately, I fall for you. At one point in time I used to mistake them as intelligent. Not any longer. Arjun Kapoor is cogent with his words and intelligent too. The man speaks fast and thinks faster, has a sense of humor too. Alas! I couldn’t get enough of it on the phone though. Ishaqzade releases on 11th May. I will watch it not only for two of them who gave me brilliant interviews but also for the man who made one of the best films in 2010, Do Doni Char. I want to see what magic Habib Faisal weaves this time in Ishaqzade.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Singing the unsung...

Amidst a thousand award functions that can be easily replaced with each other, Filmfare Awards 2011-2012 had one heart wrenching moment when Utha Uthup came to receive her first Filmfare in her 42 years of singing career. She had tears in her eyes and that broke my heart. Such a candid, heartfelt moment was that!

Every decade had seen a couple of singers ruling the roost in our film industry. Be it Lata and Asha in sixties and seventies or Alka and Kavita in eighties or Sunidhi and Shreya in nineties. Thank god for new filmmakers, new cinematic sensibilities and the era of experimentation. We have clearly moved on from ‘awesome singers’ to ‘awesome songs’. With films based on characters and situations, it has opened a world of opportunities for singers who were once told –you-are-not-a-hero’s-voice.

Neeraj Shridhar who at one point in time was too anglicised for our desi heroes has now a song in practically every album lending his voice to every Khan, Kapoor or a Kumar that there is! Mika and Mohit Chauhan who made money only during college festivals, hopping from college to another singing their ONE HIT and making hay till the sun lasted have now a myriad of experimental albums to their credit.

And the most heartbreaking of all- Usha Uthup. I have been a huge fan of Usha ji. Be it tu mujhe jaan se bhi pyara hain or hari om hari, hari om hari, I have grown up listening to her. And now when I play her songs ‘daaaaaaarling’ from Saat Khoon maaf or ‘kolkattttttaaaaa’ from Kahaani on my radio show, there’s extra excitement in my voice, a divine intervention, a poetic justice. Imagine recognition eludes you for forty long years; you don’t give up; you continue doing what you can do the best; in hapless hope of some pat on the back sometime; and one fine day you hear your name announced as the best singer of the year, the moment that only sweet dreams were made of four for decades, dawns now, leaving you totally choked. What a tear-jerker!