Thursday, December 28, 2006

End mein kya hota hai?

"So, how was it?" I asked, my mom. She'd just been pampered to an exclusive LAN downloaded screening of Vivah on my PC. Courtesy me.

"Something different, you know," she replied, nodding. Usually that's the expression she gives when the movie either confirms to her beliefs and school of thought. "It was good," she added further with the you-should-have-seen-it-too attitude.

", what happens in the end?" I probe further, getting details out of her.

"You should have seen it!" she quipped. See, I told you. It was coming.

End mein kya hota hai? One of the deepest obsessions film viewers have. What happens in the end? Do they live happily ever after? Do they die? Do they walk into the sunset (without any sunburns) Are they caught by the police? Or on rare occasions... Do they leave room for a Part 2?

We all love listening to stories. Stories about love, victory, heroes, war, adultery, crime... they dissolve into so many genres. Its almost like magic. You enter a dark cinema hall and expect to be told a story on the screen. A story does unfold on most occasions (unlike Dhoom 2, etc) and we're rivetted in our seats.

Till the end.

We're all interested to know, what happens in the end. Or sometimes, we ask ourselves, "What's the point, at the end of it?" Like a senior of my college, who uses the term, "end of the day" in every fourth sentence. It does matter for us to know, the culmination of all efforts which are meant to satisfy a certain 'end'.

However, it pains to know the lack of curiosity of how somebody did it. "Pehle toh gunda tha, chor tha, lekin ab dekho...laakhon mein kama raha hai!"

"Earlier, I was a brat at school, you know! But now..."

"He came to Mumbai with 20 rupees in his pocket. And now see where he is..."

"He used to serve chai before. And now see, he's a laughter champion!"

See? They never tell you HOW they did it. They just tell you the ending. Maybe its because they themselves wouldn't know (the gossip mongrels), how they did it. Maybe they were not curious to know.

Newspapers and magazines, though, sometimes pick up on this curiosity. Journalists are expected to be curious (hello!?) about 'things'. They'll tell you how they did it. It'll take time - they'll tell you every day what Dolly Thakore had for breakfast, what Krsna Mehta is doing today evening, how does Jitesh Kallat manage time effectively, how did Suchitra Pillai manage to hook up with that gora...

They'll tell you... slowly.

Thank God, for magazines, then! A simple extended feature on achievers and how they did it and there you are. You know how they did it, you know how they beat the odds and this precisely could become inspiration for millions of Gajraula ki Madhuris to come try their luck in Bollywood. Their success stories in turn, could inspire a million more.

Nevertheless, it is this very end that everyone's trying to satisfy. The end where life, after being a long, steep, hard climb to the top, suddenly transforms into a plateau. And its at this plateau, you have the mediamen waiting for you. Eager to hear your story. "How did you get here?" "Was it difficult?" "You wanted to be an engineer! You're a super-model now? Why did you take up that engineering seat at all? My nephew who was trying in the same college did not get through!"

But come to think of it, isn't it this very end from where there's a new beginning? We all are persistently try to reach somewhere, achieve a certain status, recognition, fame, glamour...

And in the end it's respect that is all we seek. Kishen Mulchandani may not be interested in putting his nose into your business, but yes, he'll tell this to Pooja Bedi, yelling amidst the Page 3 cacophony: "He's a good hotelier!" All of this, with a certain sense of respect.

Are we trying to work hard to elicit comments from Page 3 people, alone? Nah! We seek respect from the society at large. And they start respecting one fully, only that person has reached that end.

I remember a friend asking me the other day. What kind of ending do you like at the movies - happy, sad, clueless, sequel types... "Kis type ka ending pasand hai tujhe?"

"The sequel one," I reply, primly.


"It leaves room for more. I can come back again. With new hope. Twists and turns to expect."

But most importantly, after I've seen such a film, and anybody asks me, "So, how was it?" I can reply coolly, Mr.A style -

"Game's not over yet!"

Monday, December 25, 2006

A Walk To Remember

Milky moonlight
The crunch of leaves
Noisy crickets
Not a soul in sight
A howl surrounds
A noise rebounds
I skip a heartbeat
Clutching in fright.

The walk has begun
That will last till dawn
With veins throbbing
To the song on my lips

Armed with a pen
Mightier than a sword
Ecstatic in delight
Poised I am, capturing the chants

Sung by the ants,
Sung by the trees,
Splashes from a puddle
In splendid harmony.

A whisper here, a crackle there
A hiss here and a growl there
The walk has just begun, my fellow
Silence beckons in this sleepy hollow

For the song of the forest
Is a song of charm
As if in subtle prayer
The species disarm

A magic is cast
As Nature hums itself to sleep
Listening to their prayer
Spellbound I remain.


Now that, is my second attempt at writing poetry. Deeply inspired from my trip to Lonavla recently.

Six of us. The day has comfortably settled into late evening. Armed with a scribblepad, a pen and a folder, wearing a sweater and a monkey cap, I was the youngest trekking through the dense green forests at Lonavla, a quiet breezy destination on the Western Ghats. The others - my crew members from a television shoot for a travel show, now recently telecast on national television. We're making our way uphill slowly and surely.

The purpose of our climb - to record sounds from nature. Sounds of crickets. Bees. Insects. Snakes (If any. Hope not!)

I'm feeling a terrific sense of adventure. The blood streaming through my veins knows it. These are moments which I've read about in adventure novels, Enid Blyton mysteries, that television series on AXN - Amazon. And now I'm living each and every moment of them.

We're totally bathed in moonlight filtering through the treetops. As we march slowly, finding our way through the dirt track, the cold wild snuggles in through our sweaters. I raise my head like a wolf to the moon and see my warm breath diffuse into the stillness of the air. The recording goes on, slowly and cautiously. And I take copious notes in my scribble pad, in whatever light nature has on offer.

In a few hours, we shall see the sunrise. The breathtaking horizon is still several kilometres away. I feel drowsy occasionally with all the dark figures around. It's been a tiring day of shoot. We've been up since 4am, visiting several caves all day at Karla, Bhaja, Lohagarh, scrambling through highways till the light is right. I'm almost stumbling onto the trees. The crew members have quitened down for the obvious fact that they're looking for natural sounds to record.

And then, came the hiss.

All of us heard it. I almost jumped out of my skin. My first thought was - one of us stepped on it and therefore it hissed. The big question - who was it? On dense bushy paths, sound often gets muffled in a host of various other noises. And our senses often get lost in the transit of fear and logic.

Strangely to confirm our worst fears, we want to hear the hiss once more. Was it really a hiss? I look around to check whether everyone is alright. I check my belongings. All intact.

And then another hiss. I've heard it right, this time. I follow the sound. It's a constant hiss. Strange thing to do for a snake, which has got no business whatsoever in scaring the shit out of us. Our director, a professional wildlife documentary film-maker, knows snake sounds better and claims it's not a snake's hiss. A total of 15 seconds has passed since the first hiss, when we finally chance upon the source of the sound.


A unit member eager to relieve his bladder, back in the bushes. Warm, bodily piss touching the blades of smooth misty-grass. And in the warmth, as it makes contact with the blades of dense grass, comes the frighful but delightful pseudo sound of nature.


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Post Script 2006

A turbulent year of ups and downs is coming to an end. A new year is about to begin. Some unfinished business remains, though. This post is dedicated to all the people who've played a vital role this year in my life. Some heartfelt messages for people in the midst of whom I've been this year ...

Hari - Our friendship ran on a bumpy road as the year began. But as it is with India and its highways, after a rough patch, there's always a lengthy smooth one. But because of the rough patch we went through, I realise you important you are in my life. My intellectual sparring partner. My buddy. All the best with your stint at the Indian Express. Hope you reach places which nobody has 'sawed' till date. (Giggles!) And yes, I couldn't have passed those exams without your help! Muaah!

Dheera - I hope we remain good friends lifelong. You've played a vital role in shaping up this current Arco, who's wardrobe, off late is being admired. (Smiles) But most of all, if you've agreed on this before, I'd consider myself fortunate if I've even come close to the man you always wanted me to be.

Nikita - I've made friends online through chats. But you are my first blog buddy! We've shared crazy experiences together. Sometimes, I feel it's impossible to believe that I havn't met you. And I don't know what designation you've given me (fighting buddy, not fighting buddy, pakaoing buddy, checking out buddy! LOL ) Distance makes the heart go yonder. We;ve had great conversations of fun and masti. And sometimes, that has brought even the loudest snores in the world to a standstill. May the world snore once again and may we relive the magic once again. After you're back from your trip, that is. And I hope, I'm of help to you on any topic personal / professional / nonsensical / checking out.. (Giggles)

Radhika - You wouldn't believe how glad I was, that I found you on the Web after so many years! Brought back old memories and created new moments to cherish forever. You've been a kind and a very open outlet to listen to my PJs. Congrats on your apprenticeship and I pray that you go places, keeping an account of things! My future CA in the making, eh?

Raj - Dude, we've had the most memorable time together. I've always come to you, whenever I've felt the need to escape from the daily rush and the monotony and you've always done more than enough to help me feel refreshed with crackling sense of humour. Our shoots were fabulous - the DON spoof! Our nightouts, the giant wheel at the Ambernath fair, the eating out at Bandra's Muslim hotels during Eid, talking about so many things.. Man! I cherish each and every moment. Thanks for everything you've done for me and I promise that I'll always be there for you.

Pia - You make me clueless about so many things in life. In other words, you make me think. The thinking is always worth it, but in the end, you get pushed to the back-seat. We've shared some great moments with you. Pardon me for 'Meet The Fockers', but I think it was just another faux pas. More happy moments to come in our lives. You have great potential on the career front and you're one of the few caring people I've met this year.

Indrani - Aah..I know I can be an ass sometimes with people. But with you, I've been an ass with a hole. The evening at Bandstand was a classic evening! Few evenings can come close to that, when it comes to class. And our discussions about films, films, films and your consistent desire to start new forms of business... great moments. Hope more of them are in store. I'll try my best not to turn down an invitation from you for a movie!

Sagar - Dude, you've reached new levels this year on the personal front. Wish you all the best. I had a great time in Goa. It was fun meeting your room-mates and knowing them. And thanks for the great coffee, masala bhat and hospitality. Damn, I shouldn't be telling you all this in such a formal language. Tu toh mera yaar hai! School buddies ke saath nahin jamta aisa formal tone.. anyways, just for the sake of my blog.

Abhishek, Raksheet - Guys, we have the most rocking time every time we're together. The Goa trip in summer was a memorable one. No matter where we proceed in lives after our graduation, may we always have such trips together. Such journeys take our friendship to all time highs and make me yearn for more.

Sushmita - We're back as friends this year, after that one year hiatus. Hope you've forgiven me for all the bad and distasteful PJs. You're a sweet and caring girl and that's your best trait. Few people today show it so openly as you do. Thanks for being there!

To all my classmates - I may not have forged a bond of deep friendship with any of you in all these three years, thanks to my elusive nature. I admit I've been obsessed with my professional commitments rather give time for activities like 'hanging out' or college activities. On the academic front, I may have been a bit too dominant in projects, discussions, etc. But I hope all of that was taken in good spirit and not at a personal level. Some things are just in my nature. I hope we are more open about certain things, rather than back bite. Or rather not bite at all. Just keep your mouth shut about it.

And yes, it's time you start blogging. It's a medium to watch out for.

The future is calling. Where are you?

Friday, December 22, 2006

Chat messengers reduce productivity at work

The world is divided into two types of people. One – the hardworking. Two – the hardly working. There is a third category too - people who have enjoyed privileged memberships with both the types. This blog, is about them.

My estimates from reliable sources reveal that the world’s productivity would increase by atleast 12% if Gmail Chat, Google Talk, Yahoo Messenger and MSN Messenger would be banned from office computers. They’re a great way of you sitting on your computer terminal, yet pretending to work. But actually you’re chatting and spending time over casual conversation, (aren't you?) mostly answering rhetorics like ‘Wassup’ and ‘Hows life?’. Questions like these would be better off asked in person face-to-face. You could have Karan Thapar for company and I’d just love to see your face shrivel into a nut as he would sneer at you from behind those glasses. Even for the above questions. [Let me put it to to you this way, Mr.Chaudhuri – You are dating someone. I have the facts with me. The Sunday Times paparazzi spotted you making out with…]

Let’s give Karan some rest for the moment and make-out (not the one you're thinking) how the Third Type of people are a nuisance in your office. While assigned work often goes for a toss, I’ve often seen colleagues having casual chat, pretending to take a break that lasts for hours. Surfing Orkut should be allowed only for specific hours in a day, when the ISP can unblock it. The social networking craze is good way to stay in touch, mind you. And nevertheless, an innovative way to make contacts too.

I believe, a Happy Surfing Hour segment offices would be a constructive idea. All censored sites could be unblocked and staff members can surf and chill-out during that time. It’s better to allow staff to communicate through voice-based conversations, rather than to chat using text. A chat online for one hour mite yield the same results as a phone call for 3 mins. Therefore, rather than keeping the mind engaged to window conversations, emoticons, smileys and short-hand, its appropriate to have a heart-to-heart, however personal on the phone. Remember, productivity is at stake, here!

More so, in media houses, where work largely depends on deadlines. And sticking to deadlines is the topmost priority, no matter what the excuses might be. I think, it is because of these chat windows, that media people end up working long hours at office. It sounds sensible to avoid casual chatting in office environs and finish up with assignments at the earliest.

Recently, a senior at office, logging in from abroad into Google Talk, was shocked to find his subordinate, 'Available' on the same messenger. That too, with the music on! (So much for status messages!) It was the same colleague to whom he had assigned major responsibilities (lucky him), but the fellow was consistently being humbled by the deadline. Productivity of course, got a beating. But what was affected even more was his reputation for avoiding work and chilling during office hours on chat windows.

The senior did not make a big issue out of it, though. He calmly handed over the guy’s responsibilities to me (lucky me) and avoided delegating any major work to him. Perhaps he did not realise this change or maybe perhaps he did. But for the moment though, he’s happy to work-chat-work-chat-chat during office hours.

Some people just don’t get the point, do they?

Monday, December 18, 2006

IBN alive

Prannoy Roy, Sameer Nair, Gautam Adhikari, Vinod Mehta, Chandan Mitra, Vir Sanghvi...Rajdeep Sardesai - the ivy league of ivory towers in the media. They're media moghuls who've come up the hard way and seen the most controversial times in Indian media, including the Emergency. They've survived as journalists through the thick and thin of times, often jeopardising their life and reputations by their much sought-after nods. Vinod Mehta should know best. Rajdeep Sardesai should know it even better.

His news-channel CNN IBN, jointly owned by him and Sameer Manchanda recently completed one year of a roaring presence in the Indian electronic media. The channel has surely etched a place on the remote, which cannot be ignored. It's natural to hurl abuses nowadays at the cable operators if we cannot tune into IBN.

Their anniversary feature was a special episode indeed. A year's round-up of stories that made a difference in some way or the other. IBN's exclusive package of premium electronic media was on showcase in the episode. The presentation made for excellent viewing, as it once for all sent the critics (read All Seeing Spy for WFN) thinking, I hope. The channel's attitude towards news and the presentation of news, seeking it, following it and analysing it for the viewers has been exemplary for a news-channel that is so young. IBN's future looks promising in Indian cities.

Much of the channel's aggression can be attributed to the people who run the channel's editorial functions. Rajdeep Sardesai (Editor-in-chief) and Sagarika Ghose (Features Editor) both are naturally aggressive and noisy, often leaving no stone unturned in flaring their nostrils over a controversy. It's a healthy habit as long as their nostrils flare up in all directions. They're a couple who always enjoy a healthy debate. However, they sometimes try to impose their opinion on the speakers, as is clearly seen in The Verdict, Face the Nation and India 360.

I'm not saying that their imposed opinions are wrong. They most often reflect the larger public sentiment correctly, but as standard journalism practice, they breach a certain protocol. However, its possible, that even they've realised that journalism in India needs to get much more aggressive. For long, the press as the fourth estate has been a mute observer and commentator on the scheme of things. IBN, for once, has realised, that it's time to get the wheels rolling for changes.

However, the channel is not without its flaws. Many a time, their programmes achieve a point of excellent debate. And that is exactly where you hear the anchor go ringing, "I'm sorry, we're running extremely short of time and we'll have to bring this discussion to a close..."
Can't there be programmes which take the leap a little forward? I'm sure there must be common sense enough to understand when a debate is reaching a solution.

The channel is yet to come up with more innovative programming. Debate and opinion being the highlights of IBN, they must include more feature based shows. Why not show documentaries shot in India exposing issues? There must be several stories that do not see a complete coverage due to time shortage on news bulletins.

Sports coverage is highly limited to Krishnamachary Srikanth. God, give him a break! The channel should get more versatile in its views and try to achieve a balance in the sports coverage and analysis.

Paras Tomar, initially an eyesore, today has come of age. He has a style of his own, that's true and he's sinking it in slowly amongst the viewers. But he should still try to let his guest do more of the talking rather than himself!

Hope the channel in all its entirety expands and spreads its impact in all directions. There is a very confident man at the helm of affairs - Rajdeep shouts-all-the-time Sardesai. NDTV, beware.

Sunday, December 17, 2006


'Rudraksh' is the worst film I've ever seen. It had Sanjay Dutt, Sunil Shetty and (oh-why-oh-why) Isha Koppikar. Sanjay Gadhvi's 'Dhoom 2' comes very close to edging out Rudraksh from the much-easily-conferred title. And why not...with over 300 films being released every year at Bollywood, atleast some of them are bound to make it to the 'Hall of Shame'.

The promotional trailer was perhaps the slickest we'd ever seen. It seemed the stage had been set for the ultimate duel. Prince Hrithik in a negative role - master of disguises, techno geek, super-cool quotient and on the other hand you have Junior B, icy cool and persistent. Add a spice of Ash and a bikini-clad Bips gyrating on Brazilian beaches. Perfect formula? Not exactly. Perfect ingredients alright, but the formula, if any, left much to be desired.

Where's the story, dude? Half an hour into the film and I felt like walking out. Some cons of being a journalist. I want to see sense in everything. Why are only two cops chasing a much sought-after Mr.A? Why does Uday Chopra still retain his post even after so many goof-ups? And perhaps, the most important question of all - where did the bikes disappear??

Pop culture saw a craze for a phenomenon called 'biking' after the success of Dhoom. Bikes have always been the biggest brand recall from the original film. If cycling became a rage after Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar, the Hayabusa was the next rage to happen after Dhoom. I missed bikes in the sequel. Totally, you know!!

Uday Chopra was a welcome relief from the average performances from the rest of the cast. His humour was well-placed and the Baywatch runs on the beach were brilliantly shot. The guy deserves roles in those Priyadarshan comedies. Loud, chaotic, goofy and slapstick.

But honestly, the best part of Dhoom 2 were the trailers shown during the intermission. Some great movies are lined up, all of which I'm waiting to see.

Mani Ratnam - Guru

Anurag Basu - Metro

Madhur Bhandarkar - Traffic Signal

Nikhil Advani - Salaam-e-Ishq

Lets hope none of them will be as bad as Dhoom 2. Not even worse.


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Slow, but safe on Kabul Express

Somewhere down the line, I got a feeling that the distributors went overboard hyping up the 'Behind The Scenes' of the film. And then began my apprehension, that, what if the film is not as good as the thrilling stories we heard during the promotional interviews?

Thankfully though, the movie lives up to my expectations.

The story is an experience, somewhat like a slice in the life of two India journalists - played by John and Arshad. Its a journey over a period of two days in war-ravaged Afghanistan post 9/11. They desperately need an exclusive story for their news-channel back in India. And as they board Kabul Express vehicle and their only way to reach Kabul, they are, well, hijacked by Taliban soldier. Hijacked, eh? (Deja vu of Ramgopal Varma's ROAD, since this film too, is about a journey at gunpoint. Aah, anyways...)

Perhaps the most important character in the film, is the country and landscape of Afghanistan itself. Its political and military setting sets the premise when the story takes place and that lends itself to most of the screenplay. The grounding for most of the humour and thrill in the series of events in the journey of Kabul Express is mainly due to the socio-political climate of this country.

What disappointed though, were the rest of the cast and their characterisations. The landscape takes over the proceedings so much, that we get wafer thin portraits of John and Arshad. The only deeply etched character is of Imran Khan, the Pakistani army soldier, who once served the Taliban. Performances by the lead cast are therefore average. Arshad Warsi as always is the saving grace. John-hunky-Abraham has a total of 3 expressions in his Kabul-Express-manual. Big grin, confused grin and no grin with the hair gingerly, under control of course. (I still maintain, Zinda was his best performance.)

The humour for most part of the film is intelligent. It's a colourful relief, considering the barren landscape and dry performances. The Imran-Khan Kapil Dev-All rounder charade was smartly placed and so were other digs and contemporary world politics - Pepsi-Coke! So was the donkey, in the middle of the road.

The film wins on technical aspects - cinematography (Amitabh Mahaley - picture postcard purrfect), editing (Amitabh Shukla - neat) and a haunting background score (Julius Packiam).

The film deservingly is being screened at The Pusan International Festival, Toronto International Festival, London Film Festival, etc.

The entire packaging is of a world-class standard. Indian film-making hereby has gone one level-upstairs. It's not the greatest of films that you'd ever see. But it's an experience of a journey captured in the most difficult of situations in a war-ravaged country. Now that's a first for an Indian film-maker.

Kabir Khan can take a bow.