Silent Whispers

Chasing Illusionary Butterflies!

A Reader’s Delight

Posted by Mrityunjay on October 4, 2014

“What a miracle it is that out of these small, flat, rigid squares of paper unfolds world after world after world, worlds that sing to you, comfort and quiet or excite you. Books help us understand who we are and how we are to behave. They show us what community and friendship mean; they show us how to live and die.” — Anne Lamott

Well, that’s what reading does. At least to me. September was a great month in terms of reading. I used to to be a voracious reader. I still am but mostly it’s been restricted to online reading. How I wish I could write reviews, feelings, reactions, lessons etc on whatever I read but then, procrastination is too good of an addiction to get rid of. Last month, I finished four books in places as usual or absurd as; my uni-dimensional room, near the sea-shore, in the train and even while talking to some boring people on phone. Reading tends to give you a huge high (Unless you are not reading Chetan Bhagat), making you totally unaware of what’s happening around and providing the oft-needed escape route from irritating reality which we all so secretly desire. So, this time, I was hooked to Survival/Adventure genre (May be something to do with my current mindset and also because ghost of Charles Darwin keeps reminding of importance of survival). I was looking for some real stories and not fiction which my life already has enough of! And once I had devoured one book, I wanted more…and more..First, I landed up with “Skeletons on the Zahara” by Dean King.

skeletons on the zaharaSo basically as one GoodReads review says, “Skeletons on the Zahara is a true story of twelve American sailors shipwrecked off the coast of Africa in 1815. They faced incredible odds when they were captured by Arab nomads and sold into slavery. They crossed the Sahara (called the Zahara back then) and faced starvation, beatings, dehydration, sunburn, and hostile tribes. They did incredible things in order to survive.” That pretty much sums up the story line. Now, take your eyes off the screen for a minute and imagine the entire scenario. Think of the plight, travails, suffering and the mountain of the odds faced by the sailors in the unforgiving desert with temperature crossing fifty? Can you imagine the hardships? Did you just notice some lumps in your throat? if you did, just buy the book and read it.

Post reading, I googled about the entire expedition gone terribly wrong and about the authenticity of the voyage under the guidance of Captain James Riley. As the author claims, everything seems true. Dean King has undoubtedly done his research, personally visiting many details of locations that Riley had visited. This is an extraordinary detail of a survival journey gone haywire. Many a times, details were so lucid that I felt dehydrated while reading the book and needed a glass of water and the water never tasted this better. It’s a perfect tale of human suffering and human endurance, both assimilated in a way that we tend to realize that most of the details could be incomprehensible to the first world mind. I have always been very interested about far-flung places and historical events so that way, I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Sahara, Morocco, facts about camels, cultural and theological aspects etc. It was also interesting to get a glimpse into social and anthropological insights into Arab culture circa 1815, a major part of which, unfortunately remains unchanged even now.

If you are a true literature aficionados you won’t find the writing style of Dean King very appealing. Sometimes, it felt rushed, some other times, it felt as if we could have done with some more details but then I liked it this way only. It was a prose told in a factual way. Queasy, dehydrating story of fate and pluck. Go, read it.

Second book was Escape from Camp 14” which is about escape and survival of a person born in North Korean political prisonescape 14 camp. it’s gut-wrenching story about a nation, possibly most isolated and draconian in nature. North Korea has largely remained an enigma to the outer world. We all are pretty much well aware of what is taking place in Iraq, Syria, Saudi Arabia or other such regressive nations but North Korea has remained, by and large, a closed country. It’s isolated, belligerent, almost on the verge of bankruptcy and starving yet the world hears nothing about them. A wild estimate says, more than 2 lakhs people in this tiny peninsula are being held in it’s political prison camps with no respite in sight.

This is the story of Shin Donghyuk who was not just born and brought up in one such camp but also managed to survive and escape to Sotuh Korea and then to USA. Truly Remarkable! While reading this story, you can almost imagine what must have gone through the Nazi concentration camps and Gulags run by Soviet Russia at the behest of Stalin. It was that brutal and inhumane. You can be forgiven for assuming that you were reading a dystopian novel. Being a citizen of a thriving democracy like India, it was hard to imagine people are still being made to live on planet Earth in that fashion. Just the notion of that possibility can give you worst nightmares. Damn it Man, I am so lucky to be an Indian.

From literature point of view, “Escape from Camp 14” is not at all beautiful. Written by Washington Post correspondent Blaine Harden, the book has more of a journalistic style of narration. I did expect more drama, more fluidity & lucidity in storytelling but it was not to be. At times, it felt pretty straight forward and bland but all in all, this book was a huge eye opener.

That was all about the first two books. Will cover 2 more in next post. To sum it up, what I find most exciting about survival stories is how you start feeling grateful to all that you have been provided with. When you read, hear and think about such stories, you feel amazed at what the human body and spirit can endure without breaking. I mean, I do 20 sets of Surya-Namaskar or Push-Ups and I feel like drinking water every few minutes lest I fall flat with exhaustion. But how the hell these guys could go for months walking through the desert with almost nothing to eat or drink. It’s almost unbelievable but don’t they say, truth is stranger than fiction?


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My Journey to the Unknown- Day 4 & 5

Posted by Mrityunjay on September 25, 2014

4th day:- I guess today was the least eventful day. Why? Goa, no? Self-explanatory. Rent a bike. Roam around. Just that, sun was at its most arrogant today. So a church, beach and a bit of jazz was all that was possible. Also, I realized I am more of a mountain person than a beach guy…Rest ‘Usual Goa’ stuff.. So there!

5th Day- Off to Belgaum. Left early morning. 150 kms from Panjim. Kadamba bus (Goa state transport). I was halfway through when I just didn’t like going further. I just felt I was rushing through things. Perhaps I was not. But I just felt like stopping there. In hindsight, I think I should not have accepted free flat/bike accommodation in Goa. Somehow that triggered comfort n laziness which in turn broke the momentum and rhythm. So I am on hold. Will go back to Mumbai, I guess.Panjim Church

Reflections so far! And notes to Myself:-

  • Yesterday I talked about total Expenses being 2100 or so. Yes, the idea was to have a budget trip and to be frugal. See..Point is, once you loosen your purse string, the world is at your feet. It’s only a matter of swiping your debit/credit card once and You can have best of resort and private cab and all. Money simple brings the business and the end consumer in direct contact removing all the intermediary factors. That works really fine in every other sector but for travel. While you travel, it’s these intermediary factors that provide you with real thrill, fun and experience. How else could I have met these folks like Bunty, Rakesh, Salim, Fishermen, those two ladies et al who actually enriched me with so many wonderful memories? Money facilitates not completes.
  • People- None I repeat none of the people that I asked for help, direction and other stuff refused me. It was incredible. Honest, grounded and traditional folks. Though I own minuscule element of cynicism and sarcasm floats through my veins, this entire trip makes me love Neanderthal even more. Homo sapiens, did you say? Oh puhleez, Let’s not flatter ourselves. At the same time, Best memories are those that you do not capture on camera. None of the people who I befriended had any pics clicked with me, nor any sort of phone number, Facebook thing exchanged. Sometimes it’s better this way. In any case over familiarity breeds contempt. Just memories and feel good factor.Karmali
  • My insomnia was not cured. But it doesn’t matter any more. I guess my mind and body is just not tired enough though mind seems to be in perpetual motion. As Dheeraj Rai had once suggested, “subah-subah 10 km daud ja or 100 km cycle chala le..apne aap bed pe gir jayega”! How wonderful of him! ‘Keep it simple stupid’ funda. Additionally, on Belgaum highway, a dhaabe wala told me “yaha ki coffee piyo..neend bhaag jayegi”. I said that’s the problem na. Neend ko laana hai.. his reply was- “insomnia is a disease of rich people!” am not rich but his response made my day. .and dil ko behlaane ke liye ye khyal bura nahi hai…
  • Had a chance to interact with a group of different nationalities @Calangute/Baga till 2-3 in night. A Dutch/French/Argentine. Conversation ranged from Louis van Gaal, Robben, Van Persie, Total football, French Riviera, Marseilles, Bordeaux Wine fermentation/tasting process, Jean Reno, Carla Bruni to Argentine stagflation, Currency Devaluation, Messi, Di Maria, Erstwhile Dictatorship, Che Guevara and impact of Jorge Luis Borges etc and plenty more which I can’t really remember. There is only that much you can recollect when you are under the influence of strange liquids. It helped that both French n Argentine were as fluent in English as I was. ;).. . point is- Reading, GK, Literature and world cinema really helps. Personally for me, such conversations are just so rare and so fulfilling…

What Else? I guess, I have so much to talk and say..but all this looks like I was point preaching or sounding so..I admit, certain things mentioned here are not possible for people with wifey/kids in tow..but any ways..thank you to all of you for allowing me to take you all to this..journey/adventure/experience/escape whatever you call it..Really Really appreciate it..Cheers.. Winding up..

P.S- I think, I am having ‘Travel Withdrawal Symptoms’ since coming back because my heart is feeling trance, tandava and tranquility all at the same time but then Didn’t Kurt Vonnegut say, “Bizarre travel plans are dancing lessons from God”? Adios!

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My Journey to the Unknown- Day 3

Posted by Mrityunjay on September 24, 2014

You travel far and wide and you meet yourself. At last I can say, if not completely, I did manage to meet a part of myself. And it’s a wonderful part, I must say. Well, So much for humility!

20140912_121953Left Tarkarli early morning. Back to Malvan. Tried Sindhudurg fort but it was out of bound. High tides. Saw how fishermen were bringing one boat after another loaded with varieties of fishes. Pretty unique the subsequent bidding war. 5 huges mori (small sharks) and bidding started with 100 bucks which finally culminated @15000 Rs./ when only one bidder was standing. My earlier experience of bidding was restricted to Bollywood potboilers.

Wandering for a while. Then a bus to kudal. Then another to Sawantwadi. Lost for a while. Then to Amboli. Great spectacle of flora and fauna. Beauty. Everywhere.

Finding fanny? I am rather smelling fenny! What is this place? Just saw water being more expensive than some other sort of liquids! What the hell? This signboard- Tuborg @30!! “Ya khuda, ye Kaise khwaab dikha raha hai! Aise khoobsurat mazak mat karo..mat karo!” Then I see Gateway to heaven- Panjim. Voila! Goa! How? Well..

Just when I was about to embark further in Amboli, got a call from this amazing soulDevbaugh Dheeraj Rai (A dear friend)- “wanna have a cup of tea?” Oh yes! Where? Madgaon! WTF! He saying “it’s just 100-150 km. Big Deal”. Yeah, right! For Someone cycling for 200 kms before his breakfast every Sunday, definitely 150 km is nothing. But you actually mean tea in Goa!? Never mind! What then! Thought for a second. Back to Sawantwadi. A lift to Baanda. Another bus to Panjim. Then another to Madgaon. Reached at 4. The dude comes to have a cup of cutting. 5 min. Then he says, I have got a flight to catch! Oh man! I felt betrayed..but It was one hell of tea session.

But before leaving, he gifted me his wonderful Junior! Oh you dirty mind! It’s a MALE offering me his flat to stay. Should I? Why not. It’s one night may be! He also offered his bike not expecting me to touch it and just enjoy his refrigerator filled with some dark coloured obscene liquids. But it wouldn’t be fun, no? 7 in the evening. Let me roam. its been ages in this magic land. Raining heavily. Got the bike ferried in a ferry! Some ferry-tales that’s happening with me. .err..fairy tales I meant!

It’s called Calangute beach! And I am so wet. Figuratively speaking! Some light issues. Only candles. Befriending/conversating with guys from Nagaland. Then some Jaats. Now it’s guys from Netherlands..hick! Those girls. . They. .awes..hick! *poof*

P.S- 64 hours since I left Mumbai. Almost 1000 kms covered. Total Expenses incurred until reaching Calungute- 2200/- (Don’t raise your eyebrows please..I am also surprised! ) but UNTIL NOW! And’s Goa..well..

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My Journey to the Unknown- Day 2

Posted by Mrityunjay on September 23, 2014

Let me Finish Day One first.

Kudal then! 8 o’ clock. Train was in sync with my mood. Pretty late. Rejoicing every nondescript station of konkan. Sleepy town. Hardly anything after 8. Kudal to kasaal.ST bus.Wait. Then to Malvan. Wait again. ST bus again. Has to be a frugal trip. 2 local females. Interacting with me in Konkani/Marathi/Malvani mix. Basically sign language. Aghast at my unknown schedule. “Aise Koi karta hai! Na koi dost hai tera na hotel booking. Ab tu raat mein kaha jayega! Umm… Chal mere ghar! Tu sharif dikhta hai. .main mere husband se baat karegi”! Felt humbled but no.. really..I will manage. They relented. Wished me and warned me from doing it again. 10 P.M. Where in Malwan? Not a soul in sight. Shops closed. Street dogs not showing any fondness for me. Another stranger on pulsar and ruptured sound of silencer. Nice. Chit-chat. “Chal mere saath”. – I hopped on. Not knowing, not imagining anything. -“Eat here. Good food within budget. Be Right Back”. After 20 mins. “Food done? Ok. Have talked to someone. Nearby home stay. Sleep there for the night. Call Me in case of any problem”. Basic room. No frills. Just like my one BHK. Except, it had a double bed for a single soul. 3rd floor. Coconut trees swaying to the rhythm of whistling wind in pitch dark night. Delight of strangers. Beauty of not hiring any service. Thank you Bunty.

Day 2:-

A Lovely Morning. House owner-“stay more. Use my bike. Go wherever you want.” Umm.. Nah. I will just leave and find my way. “Ok. As you wish but please visit nearby Ganesh temple. My request. It will be good for you.” Touched again. Done deal. Temple. Done. Rock garden. Done. Chivala beach. Clean. Isolated. Done. Next?

DevbaugTarkarli. ST ticket- 9 Rs. Sleepy village. Pristine water. Coconuts. Cashewnut. Narrow pathways. Virginal feel. Roaming on beach. Off season. No crowd. Complete solitude. Tanned. Humble souls. Knock-knock! House stay? Welcome. Lunch. Want Fresh fish? Oh yes. Come then. A River close by. Hunting and teaching me how to fish. What joy man! One hour konkan style preparation. Can’t forget this taste ever.. Siesta.

Devbag. another Gaon, Surrounded by River on one side and sea on the other. And the confluence of River & sea at tipping point. Magical. Conversations with several locals. Beach cricket with fishermen and kids. Can still feel my youth. Nice. Tried few selfies but Man, I am so damn bad at 20140912_182750it. Invited by a fisherman to visit his hut for a cup of tea. Unbearable stench but..but for man’s sincere desire to host me! He explained business of fishing, seasonality, equipment, ROI etc. Good to know. By the way, lovely tea. Adios Sir.

Beautiful sunset. And several delicacies of veg items. Gastronomical orgasm. Feeling like a traveller. Not a tourist. Happy. Tomorrow? Let it come first. Today is magnificent.

P.S- Pics of Tarkarli beach and the place where I stayed.

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My Journey to the Unknown- Day 1

Posted by Mrityunjay on September 21, 2014

Morning 5 A.M. Divorced from sleep. And a sudden urge to travel. How about Konkan? Never been to famed konkan railway. A quick online check. Plenty of seats. No rush. Sleeper? Been a decade. AC won’t be fun. A quick bag pack. But go where? Never mind dude. First get in the train. 

Man, never seen so much greenery. It’s green, Green and blinding Green. Eyes started seeing better. Wearing soul getting rid of inertia. Coach footsteps felt like plush cushion of La Meridian. Add to that constant drizzling. .showering my being with strangest of pleasures. And then this aged crazy Goan-Portuguese couple. As normally happens, Husband confiding in me the glorious pages of his youth & inevitable failed love affair. Wife staring at me with suspicious eyes. Me Not knowing how to react. But I have been an integral listening part to several love stories of folks. One more to the list. He pestering me about my destination. Not satisfied with my answer he accusing me of going to meet my secret mistress. What a lovely crime to be accused of. Loved it.

20140911_102907 (2)Bunch of Goa bound beautiful girls from Delhi. Oh Delhi! Oh girls! Dhak-dhak! Sigh! Loud singing. Me joining the chorus- come to Goa na with us. Too tempting but..Nah, this is supposed to be a solo journey.

Then tunnel after tunnel. Beautiful reflection of life. Sunshine, rain, nature and darkness. But where should I get down? Sindhudurg? Umm..looks too crowded. Adavali? Can’t see a single soul. Kudal? May be! It has a nice ring to it. Now? Figuring out.

With that, am gone. *poof*

P.S- I first posted this on Facebook (that’s why this minimal writing method. Feels like Codes written during WW2) though I had this nagging feeling that this deserves a proper blog post. But blame it on my eternal procrastination habits. However, I felt nudged by Kedar, Anand and then Manish (Twitter). Could have been more elaborate but let it be..for the time being..;)

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Succumb or Perish!

Posted by Mrityunjay on November 20, 2013

Sometimes you find yourself trapped at that secluded space of life where you find yourself unable to reach to anyone. You silently hope for others to reach out to you as one does to one’s equal. But that remains a hope. Just that. You are stranded in that corner as a loner, by choice and by chance as well.

When the entire world finds you incapable of offering anything substantial, you tend to turn into a plague for them. The words of hope, empathy starts appearing like begging bowls of pity and consolation. You can’t see any semblance of respect in those eyes. All you see is an intense gesture of revulsion whispering blames at your door for being such a miserable sight. What could be more devastating than that? It’s not just survival of the fittest but acceptance of the fittest also. Your acceptance is subject to your actual and perceived ability to offer. This actually completes a self-prophesying cycle.

From the journey of being an innocent boy to a bitter teen to a confused and disillusioned adult, occasionally you forget to let go of those unspeakable grudges. May be its because of a disenchanted spirit collecting garbage from others’ emotional outpouring combining with a ego fuelled soul? Or may be because of instability of emotional senses who could never really mature from half complete teen development?! How about the inability to hold back your tongue which insists on speaking your mind and putting across the forthright convictions emanating from it?

In a world made fertile by conspiracy theories of unscrupulous minds, isolation is often the natural culmination of your reluctance to compromise and you have no choice but to deal with it and suffer because you made the choices. World never owed you a loving, especially when you have a reputation for being difficult. Succumb or perish!

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Vague Memories

Posted by Mrityunjay on November 14, 2013

Some of those memories seem so far away. .as if they had happened to another person in another life. . Not you. . Not in this life. . So that’s that? Is this really another life and me another person?  Or is it just hallucination pulling curtains over your cognitive dissonance? Is this a case of reality blinded by imagination or my thoughts seduced by aphrodisiacal fallacies?

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Lessons I’ve learned About Life

Posted by Mrityunjay on January 12, 2012

The year 2012 has begun on a peaceful note. It is that time of the year when you are experiencing chilled winter weather, all cuddled up inside the blanket, munching on whatever fatty items you could lay your hands on. Winter is said to instigate mood blues but in my case it is more of reflections of times gone by, that has kept me staring into emptiness. I have been on this earth for nearly three decades and that’s a long long period. When you are in a city like Delhi, where there are buildings that measure their age by the millennia, it helps to put that brief blink of the eye into perspective. I have been around for long enough yet the pattern of my past signals me as if I have barely begun.

Talking about reflections, I guess I have managed to imbibe certain lessons. No, I am not bright enough to grab these lessons when they first appeared but it’s more like repeated demonstrations of a given law by life when you are finally forced to make it a part of your bloodstream. Call it lessons or discoveries about life, world and people; I am going to list some of them. You might have read them before or heard from some motivational speaker but well..I am talking about my own experiences.

  • Nobody, I repeat nobody has it all figured out. Don’t even bother to solve all the riddles life throws at you.

  • People come and go including some close ones. But old friends stay there. Trust me, there is no better balm than spending a good evening with an old friend over a cup of coffee or better, a bottle of beer.

  • There are always subtle signals left on the trail. The idea is to identify them.

  • Too easy to say. Said often. Yet I repeat, let go of expectations. Whether it’s from people, books, job, family, beloved, just let go or reduce it to minimum. There is no point putting your expectations in a predetermined box that has little to do with reality. Imagine, you setting up an idealized version of the thing (or person) and then try to fit the reality into this ideal? Tell me how is it going to work?

  • Some of the best things in life are free. Totally. Think of a good book, an old friend, a walk around the neighborhood park, a good hug, talking to any random kid, rain during the winter or even when you are all cuddled up under the quilt. All are free.

  • The worst sin one can do is to compare himself/herself to others. I am unique. You are unique. Nothing else matters.

  • When you are fed up of your life, pick a book.

  • We Indians are generally terrible at accepting compliments as compliments.

  • Make sure your mind remains broad and waist narrow. Not vice-versa.

  • Having no friends is a sure recipe of a disastrous life.

  • Pharma companies want to cure us and not prevent us from diseases. No wonder, ever welfare-oriented governments still allow junks foods to be sold at schools and hospitals.

  • “Gut feeling” is a reality, not just a euphemism.

  • Comfort is the most common addiction in the world. Not for nothing, Seth Godin and Edward De Bono keep talking about moving out of your comfort zone.

  • Stay clear of cribbers. S.T.A.Y C.L.E.A.R!

  • Unhappiness is the most contagious disease. You know what you have to do!

  • It’s futile changing other people. You can’t. I have accepted it with heavy heart and so have others when it comes to changing me.

  • World is a grand stage and I am the greatest story ever told, accompanied by several extras, Each one of them overflowing with a strong character.  

  • Someone else will always have more. Whether it’s money, friends, perks, sex appeal or blog visitors. Forget that.

  • The world does not owe me a loving. Period.

  • Beware of free advice. It’s worth what it costs.

  • Possessions are best example of human stupidity. Cost you everything and add no real value to your life, except for instant gratification and earning some brownie points among your colleagues and neighbors.

  • Develop strong hobbies. They are cathartic and purge you of all your pent-up suffocations.

  • Not all of us have goals. And yet, we can live perfectly happy without them.

  • When greed takes over, we stop being grateful for whatever we have. Going by all the available social parameters of basic necessities, education, human capital etc, I think I am in the top 20% of the world population. I couldn’t have asked for more.

  • Don’t worry about what people think. They hardly do it anyways!

  • Career and life are two different terms. Don’t confuse them with each other.

  • Your body never lies to you. Give it a patient hearing.

  • Get some perspective. If not, develop it. Things always appear different when you think of a certain situation by imagining yourself as a third person.

  • Never trust the elegantly suited stock market analysts on CNBC. Read their faces and you will know, these experts are no different than well-trained parrots programmed to repeat certain things during certain periods.

  • Question everything. All that our parents, education system, media, critics want us to conform to. There are always alternatives. All our information sources are influenced by some ulterior motives or others.

  • Don’t judge people. Each one of us has certain characteristics that will appeal to others and certain other traits that will make them abhor us. Pick the parts that you like and work around it. Ignore the rest.  

  • Stop wasting your life watching 100-crore Bollywood grosser, Big Boss, SplitVilla, Roadies and soap operas served on prime time. Instead, find your way around NGC & Animal Planet. World will be a better place with this smallest of sacrifices.

  • Do less. Trying to do more all the time sucks the juice out of your own life energy.

  • Women are complex characters are they are also from earth. Deal with it.

  • One lesson that is hard to accept but that’s the truth- Sometimes you have to remove certain people from your life, even if they’re family.

  • Nothing is ever a certainty. Things keep changing their characters.

  • Finally, Nothing is ever in black & white. Everything is grey.

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Art Vs Entertainment

Posted by Mrityunjay on December 23, 2011

Dabangg- 100 Crore plus. Ready- 100 Crore plus. Bodyguard-100 Crore plus. Singham- 100 crore plus. Yeah, we all know that oft-repeated piece of statistics. But does it convey any specific message? Or gives us a clue into movie-goers’ psyche? Does that redefine the way Bollywood movies are being made or will be made?

Yes, it does and many more. Let me list them:-

1) It is raining hits in Bollywood courtesy supremely glorified Heroes with bulging biceps and pampered pectorals. We are actually celebrating the re-arrival of 1980s where impregnable male protagonists are knocking the stuffing out of all competition. These Alpha-males with raging fire in their belly have succeeded in making ‘action’ as the flavor of the season.

2) Despite all the rumblings about how new-age filmmakers are trying to cater to so-called ‘mature’ audience that expects products with a difference, the truth lies in the fact that Indian viewers still prefer ‘masala’ films. Forget all that noise about emerging niche segments (read multiplex generation). We, the people still want our dose of action, emotion, drama and melodrama. Call it a sense of identification that average movie-goer associates with the Bollywood he has grown up with or increasing ire against the current political system, but this trend is here to continue.

3) Once upon a time, we used to look at south-Indian action flicks with considerable reservations as it did not match our class but now Bollywood can shamelessly copy/remake one southern blockbuster after another and set the cash registers ringing.

4) To the average Hindi movie watcher, the notion of Hero can do no wrong and it is he who always wins no matters what the odds are, still holds true. Screw the concept of realism.

5) The more they change, the more they remain the same. Whosoever said that, give him a hug on my behalf. Evolution can go backwards for Darwin’s sake. And that explains why we still love stereotypes. Whether it is an illiterate hawker or a sophisticated MBA professional working in a MNC, he will love Bajirao Singham equally.

Now, my personal ramblings-

Some of these blockbusters are actually so bad that your wife as well as you yourself can’t understand how you can bear to watch them. That these movies are so dumb, they’re actually hysterical. And yet we love them. Why? A mere flight of fantasy or a trip to escapism? If yes, why? Because we are so much disgusted with current system and its propagators/politicos that we will whistle for anyone who can beat these bad guys to pulp? Remember the excitement you felt when Mr. Singham and his esteemed colleagues thrashed the corrupt neta in a locked room. We so wish we could be there and do the same.

Most of us are pseudo-intellectuals who cannot really go ga-ga over for instance, something like a ‘Dhobi Ghaat’ because it’s a slice of life film that doesn’t rely on special effects, reminds us of struggle of everyday life and because it does not boast of chest-thumping villain or a one-man army hero or an actress who keeps threatening us with her bursting bust. It is so hard for us to accept that life is simply grey and not black and white as an average masala movie would have us believe. To me, movies are a significant medium of art. But powers-that-be are simply offering us crap entertainment. This might lead to eternal debate of Art Vs Entertainment and I know, people these days are just not looking for art. They want entertainment and I have no issues with them. But do you seriously think, likes of BajiRao Singham, Chulbul Pandey or a Lovely Singh can be bracketed under ‘entertainment’? Are we that screwed up in our lives that we will accept any garbage that film-makers are offering us under the garb of entertainment? But then, I should not really blame such intense movie-watchers who are brought up on Santa-Banta & Khuswant Singh jokes in the name of humurous literature!

Salman Khan and Rohit Shetty have repeatedly said, we are offering what audience wants. Yes, they are right. They are right about we people being so moronic with a poor taste. They are selling what audiences are lapping up with glee and excitement. If people are so much hailing the anti-establishment hero in 80s mould, shouldn’t they go back to watching movies like, ‘Paap ko jalakar raakh kar doonga’, ‘Kasam paida karne waale ki’, ‘Data’, ‘Mar mitenge’, ‘Loha’, ‘Ilaaka’, ‘Khoon bhari maang’, ‘Hukumat’ etc? After all, we are living on the nostalgia factor!

David Cronenberg once said, “Entertainment wants to give you what you want. Art wants to give you what you don’t know you want”. A fellow blogger says, “Entertainment is terrified of losing you, and is willing to change itself to be more to your taste. Art doesn’t give a f*ck whether it loses you — if you’re lost, that’s your problem. Entertainment condescends to what it perceives as your level. Art assumes you’re at a high level and wants to take you higher — it accentuates.” That explains everything, doesn’t it?

I am sick and tired of the cliché that people love such movies or David Dhawan’s movies simply because they want to escape from the brutal reality faced by them in their daily lives. If this is true then world deserves to be a cruel and barbaric place. I am not sure how many people actually agree with me on these false notions and eulogizing of ‘masala capers’ because in the end, audiences will say ‘it was paisa-vasool’, silly actors and directors are getting lots of new offers, multiplexes are happy about increasing footfalls and producers are laughing all the way to the bank.

As one guy would say “The bottom line with Bollywood movies as with Hollywood movies is MONEY. Audiences want and expect a certain formula, music, dancing, romance, barely clad women gyrating and a hero. I think the typical movie viewer wants to escape for a couple hours from their own life and watch a fantasy world unravel before them. Bollywood is working with bigger budgets, sets and technology now so it’s becoming more sophisticated according to the audiences tastes.”

By the way Oscar Wilde once said, “Yes, the public is wonderfully tolerant. It forgives everything except genius.”

I am ready to be stoned!

Posted in Movies | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Child Suicide

Posted by Mrityunjay on November 15, 2011

Early morning. 7 AM to be precise. My phone rings loudly. I, instead of soaking the morning sunshine, wake up irritated. But few minutes on the phone and that intense irritation paved way to puzzled and a frightened state of mind. The caller was not known to me. He was a teenager calling from Jamshedpur, Jharkhand. He sounded helpless and extremely anxious. He told me about his intention of attempting suicide if his conditions do not improve in coming few days. The kid also talked about distressed family environment which is partly because of domestic violence committed on his mother by her in-laws and mainly because of the exam stress and poor academic scores registered by the guy.

Distress calls from friends and acquaintances are not a new phenomenon for me but yeah, it was definitely shocking considering it was coming from a stranger who actually thought and believed that I could help him in such matters. The story goes like this. A year or two back, I had posted a press release on “Growing trend in Child and Student Suicides in India” with the purpose of promoting a particular website. I did it for a client while I was still working as a freelance writer. The article was simple, I posted and forgot it. The post also had my email id and phone number. That was that.

Few days later, I got an email from a kid. I will paste that message here:-

I know that we should not suicide but we are getting lots of pressure from our parents. Take an example of me, recently we had class 12th board paper and the result has also been declared. Usually i used to get marks between 40-50 in mathematics but today my luck is not with me i was failed in this subject. I have scored 17 out of 100. It was an unbelievable for me. I cried a lot and then i talk with my father and he didn’t scold me but my mother is not knowing about my result and i am very afraid that she will scold me. During that time i thought its better for me to suicide than showing my face to my mother. My father told me that he will console my mother but i know her very much. She will not let me come to my home. She will kill me if she came to know me that i am compartment. I failed in mathematics. I don’t know what to do. I just want to leave this world. I want to suicide. My mother has never understood me and i know that she will never forgive me and I don’t want that to happen. So I thought that its better for me to suicide. I am so sorry to my parents that I can’t contact them because I know that if they came to know that I am going to suicide. Sorry sir, but I can’t control myself. Good Byeeee sir.”

I was stunned. I immediately wrote a reply and tried to explain and convince him with the best of my abilities. There was no phone number given so I couldn’t reach out to him through any other way. He did not reply. I mailed 2-3 times after that. There was no reply. This happened almost a year back but this mail still haunts me. I still think about that guy and wonder what happened to him. This mail was followed by few other mails but those were mostly about data pertaining to children suicide in India or for some research reports or from NGOs.

And now this call. I am unable to get over his shivering voice screaming helplessness. I kick myself for not doing much because his parting note never felt assured or consoled. He was on the verge of crying. Though, he mentioned about calling me again but he hasn’t. I tried calling back on that landline number but the person picking phone says, it’s from a STD booth. From STD booth at 7’o clock in the morning??

Why have things come to such a pass? Something must be terribly wrong with our society when young kids decide to end their lives? Thinking of it, how many of these victims would actually be able to spell suicide correctly? According to National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), students’ suicides have witnessed exponential increase in last few years. The data for the year 2010 places the figure at 7379. It also means, on an average 20 students left this world every day. Who should we blame? Parents or our social system? How many parents actually try to read the distress signals that their children keep sending? The signals could be anxiety disorders, avoiding social gatherings, lack of confidence etc etc. Is it ok to expect our children to be the smartest kids in the neighborhood? Not to forget, we would also like them to be most intelligent, possessing highest IQs, excellent in extra-curricular activities along with studies of course! We keep changing the rules and establishing higher benchmarks and all of a sudden something snaps. Love, care remains there but understanding goes for a toss.

I know, blogging about children suicide in India is not going to make much difference. But not writing about it is also not going to make any difference either. Even I felt the pangs only when I was at the other end of a seemingly small incident. A writer once said that more than one soul dies in a suicide. Children are fragile and break easily. When will we learn this simple, plain truth?  I wonder, what sort of social order are we creating in one of the fastest growing economies of the world?

Posted in Silent Expressions | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 5 Comments »

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