Duvidha Movie and an Insight into Dulhan Mehendi of Old Times

Duvidha was the movie I was looking for ever since I watched Shahrukh Khan-Rani Mukherji starred Paheli. Paheli was remake of Duvidha by Mr. Amol Palekar. I found story of Paheli  unique and got curious about the story source. I have made up my mind that I have penchant for stories where ghosts are treated like regular people. I loved Lekin, where the guy falls in love with a ghost and this movie where a ghost falls in love with a woman. The term inter-faith relationship becomes really profound here, I feel.

Not just the ghostly part, but I thought Paheli had a gutsy storyline. It was more amusing that it was based on a movie made during 70’s. Furthermore, the 70’s movie was based on a folklore. This tells that people of all times have ability to comprehend, accept, and carry forward nonconformist stories those that don’t sync with ancient social customs.

I was disillusioned while watching Duvidha.  It is an experimental movie. The story is narrated rather than performed. The narration consists of voice-overs for the thought-process/ monologues of the lead characters. This style was probably adapted because the lead actress, Raisa Padamsee, is half french and couldn’t speak Hindi. It kind of works for her, and only her, to portray a voiceless village woman. Despite my expectation falling, I thought the movie can be viewed as an uncorrupted testimony to vintage North Indian village life –  the house architecture, the ethnic wears (nothing glossy or glamorous about it), the celebration of life events with folk songs etc.

It was the Mehendi design on hands of newly-wed bride that caught my attention amidst this canvas of antique rural life elements.  I got nostalgic viewing the orange colored Mehendi. It is the color you get if you only crush Henna/Mehendi leaves without adding any other coloring agents. It transported me to childhood days when we plucked Mehendi leaves from the wild plantation near the fences and coarsely crushed it with whatever means available. It was never a fine paste like what we get in Mehendi cones today and adding more ingredients to it was out of question for a fun activity!

Dulhan mehendi1

Dulhan Mehendi2

Though I was pleased to see the genuine orange color, I was taken aback by the design. It was such a shabby work. A simple blob of crushed Mehendi that we kids put in the center of our palms looked more thoughtful than this. It almost feels like coloring palms with Mehendi during celebrations was more ritualistic exercise than about art or beautifying effect of it.

Dulhan Mehendi4 (2)

Dulhan Mehendi4 (1)

I’m curious. Were Mehendi designs such a hasty work because it is a rural household? Actually, as you can see in the pictures, the painted hands look alright if you aren’t deep into design patterns.

Unlike Paheli, climax of Duvidha isn’t happy one. Although, it is more convincing end of the story than Paheli. I watched Duvidha on Amazon Prime. It is also available on YouTube but the print quality is better on Amazon. Watch it as a tale of a period, you cannot turn this time wheel now – for better or worse!

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A Simple Exercise to deal with Insomnia

Lately, I went through a brief period of sleepless nights. At First, I blamed it on mosquitoes. Then some days I thought it was my uneasy stomach. Irrespective of the reasons, this ensured misery ahead. Much before this started, I was already dealing with low energy levels in the morning hours for routine tasks, and with sleepless nights I was sure it called for an unproductive day and my growing  irritable mood.

Insomnia and me? Sleep was my remedy to all my life problems. Be it the next day exam during academic days that I felt unprepared for, some future uncertainty making me anxious or just a tough day at work. A sound sleep changed every situation for me. After a good sleep either I  almost did not recall the issue or it wasn’t as pressing anymore. This ability to sleep on an issue, literally, made me take pride in my method of disposing the matter. In my entire life there have been very few nights that I remember being awake. Most of them were due to blocked nose making it hard to respire during common colds.

So, it was almost a record of a kind which I could not retain anymore.. It was a double misery. That something was not quite right and my pride, my best friend, my sleep was eluding me.

I was guilty of skipping walks lately. In morning I decided to keep it for evenings and in the evening I concluded walks are best workouts for mornings. I was trying to get out of this cycle but with mental and physical fatigue, it was a losing battle.  I tried Vipassana but everything going haywire it too didn’t work for me this time.

Then one night after the dinner, I was quite frustrated at my attempt of walking up and down through rooms to compensate for daily walks. I sat me down for a while. Some words from an article where the writer had suggested how even standing is an exercise struck me. And on a whim I decided to just stand in one place for half an hour.

Half-an-hour is a long time – I realized it that night. In five minutes I was starting to feel weird about it. Just stand, do nothing? I had to close my eyes to have a better control on standing straight without leaning on anything. Being overweight, my legs were going to give up sooner than later. I could do no other activity than let my mind wander at the least. I’m used to meditating and focusing on breathing. But this time I just let my mind be. After half -an – hour I went to sleep and slept sound.

I don’t know if this is just a notion. But it’s working. What more, I feel energetic in the morning. So I started doing it twice a day. Once, sometime after breakfast and second before sleeping.

I specifically feel a beginning of increase in mental strength. I could overcome my fear to check my weight on the weighing scale which I was avoiding for long. Some may understand, it’s a big thing..

I recommend this. No harm trying. All you need to do is stand on your feet tall and firm without leaning against anything. A little swaying is okay but trust your legs as your competent support system for the next half an hour. There’s going to be a flood of thoughts rushing to your mind as soon as you feel a little composed. Address the immediate thoughts rushing to you. If you’re agitated, feeling happy, lovely, let be. Remember the breathing in-out thing but don’t insist. Just tell your side of the story to yourself. Be compassionate to yourself like you would expect a friend to be. Try be in the moment or even half an hour can turn out to be a punishment.

This is much more simpler to me than Vipassana. Especially because I don’t feel like procrastinating this laziest exercise. It’s too early to draw any conclusions from this but I shared anyway. Look at it like some kind of home remedy with no side effects.

Mere Man Ki Baat to PM Modiji

Dear Prime Minister Narendra Modiji,

Now, you are not very dear to me but you are dear to many of my friends who are very dear to me. They don’t like that I don’t like you very much. They insist that my failing to see any good change in our country since you became Prime Minister of India is my failure to see any positivism in life. The sky is not falling, they tell. They could be right. May be I criticize impulsively. You see, I was very critical of Congress too. Every one said Congress is bad but Manmohan Singhji is a good man. I didn’t think for a Prime Minister this was good enough a quality. I wrote disapproving blogs then too. But unlike now, my friends thought that I  have a way with words and saw my fragile word blows and Lilliputian efforts with great adoration. It’s really a different kind of a fight when a friend shuts you up by accusing you of spreading negativity. Much tougher than the imaginary fear of becoming a state offender. Here, you end up with strained relationship and bruised confidence.

Since your topic is not open for discussion with many of my friends anymore, I don’t know what  they have to say on your recent divisive statements during Gujarat Elections. The statements weakened arguments of my friends that you aimed for only development of the country. Though, when one gets defensive of a person they favor, reasons and logic fail. They understand it is election time and they understand you need to win. They overlook the methods you choose. By the way, most of my friends are not bigots when it comes to dealings in their personal lives. Some of them may harbor minor prejudices, but you cannot ever imagine them to be comfortable in company of Gaurakshaks, Karni Sena,  Bajrang dal… Just that they don’t see a direct threat to their way of life by these groups. Not yet. You see, my objection is about this willful overlooking of them at any act of you that they would have strongly objected if it weren’t you. I worry that it makes them accomplice in your deeds. Ignoring your tactics as necessary evil, they sacrifice their democratic and secular rights willingly and also compromise rights of others for which they are not authorized!

Yesterday, I and my cousin went for a day-out for a change of milieu we both needed very much. Being a busy Prime Minister, now this letter must have started to disinterest you. But stay put please! In any case I’m just imagining you to be reading this— So we both , I and my cousin, are going through tough times in our life. I needed to inhale some fresh air and she wanted to find some solace by visiting holy shrines nearby. I’m not overtly religious but yeah, I like visiting shrines especially the quiet ones in small places. My cousin wanted to visit a Shiv Mandir and a Church. One of her friend had suggested her to pray in a church.  We started at a wrong hour, at noon, when both the Temple and the Church were closed. Gods were resting. Although, we enjoyed the beautiful scenic views on our way. The rikshaw ride took us on a Narrow curvy road that passed from middle of the green landscapes with ponds on either side,  a large lake, old rounded trees, patches of banana farms etc. There was also uncollected garbage near these eye-soothing water bodies…but you can skillfully take a snap by avoiding it in the frame and the pic looks cool on Instagram. I could have posted some pictures here but they can distract you from the point that I want to make.

So we had a hard luck as we stood before the closed doors of shrines and went for a movie instead. But my cousin was really determined on visiting a Church. In the evening after the movie we could visit a Church nearby. It was very soothing in there. I took a look at the people sitting in there. It would have been hard for me to segregate them as a different community if I had met them at any other place. My sister said her prayer in there and we left after a while.
You may think my cousin is looking for a religion change but she is not. She is a hardcore Hindu and intends to remain so. But this is what we Indians do in times of trouble, we look forward to  whichever God that might come to rescue us in that dire need of the hour and bless us. We may be hesitant of each others religion and various customs but we have absorbed each others Gods. We have been softened on fear about offending our Gods by varied saints through time immemorial who assured us that Sabka Malik ek hain. Votive offerings are made at Ajmer Sharif darga, Shirdi Temple, Churches, Gurudwaras etc. by people of all communities. They take various religious souvenirs from there with them to their households and  place them beside their Gods.
What do you need, a Mandir or a Masjid- you asked people in the election fervor. I don’t know. But I know we need all the Gods. We need all Gods we can have because life is difficult. People need Gods to overcome mental depressions, financial stress,  loss of loved ones, for better life,  to travel safely in  local trains and survive through over crowded railway bridges, to fight inflating tomatoes, onions and LPG gas cylinders, to see their kids well-placed, to fight Cancer, Chikungunya and Ebola, to survive through earth quakes, tsunamis, and famines, to be granted with adequate rains and incomes. Many of these issues can be solved with good governance  but we resort to Gods because politicians have elections to win. God, at the least, is a good listener they say.
So here is a start of my Man ki baat to you, PMji. It’s not entirely your fault if you don’t know what people want if they don’t tell you. The way you try to reach them people should try to tell you their man ki baat too. Like I just tried telling you mine. Thank you for reading or not reading but just letting me write.
Your’s Sincerely,
A God-needy Indian Citizen

1 Nenokkadine – I Alone

My latest crush is Mahesh Babu. The South Indian… sorry, the Telugu superstar to be precise. He has a very charming cute face and can be grouped in fair and handsome guys. It’s not like I saw his movie yesterday, but before this, I vaguely remember him with elite boyish looks playing role of a brat in a flimsy movie. I recently watched one of his movie after years and there is a big transition in his demeanor; a mixture of rough and suave looks which is very captivating.

A sudden wave of  dubbed south Indian movies flooded Hindi T.V channels some years back. I know, it’s unfair to club movies from diverse states as south Indian movies. A friend explained me the difference – the commercially big budget movies with larger than life plots are mostly Tamil and Telugu movies. Malyalam and Kannada pride more on their  story plots with a subtle style of narration and don’t go for a showy budget.

I thought the quirky language translation of these dubbed movies was my private find and an inside joke with my friends. Turned out, it worked for all the viewers out there and I was just one of them. I have wondered on the reasons for such poor translation. Over the period, these dubbed south Indian movies have become pretty good businesses for T.V. channels. Especially so, after the grand successes of Bahubali 1 and 2. Even then the style of translation remains unchanged to the present day; thanks to the audience acceptance.

South Indian audiences are known for their penchant for accepting plain looking actors wholeheartedly as hero of the movie. I wished they accepted actresses with girl-next-door looks too. But it is a heavily patriarchal business. The hero of the movie should look slick in the fight scenes. That’s non negotiable. Expressions are negotiable. Every flaw can be fixed with a larger than life script (though don’t confuse this with terrible scripts, there is a method to madness here).

Mahesh Babu (Babu is probably like an honorific) looks odd man out in this scenario. It’s a wonder how  he managed to be so successful with his urbane looks. The reasons I get are: one, he can emote really well, and two – he is at par with his contemporaries in the fight scenes. There is a vast difference in his earlier and now movies. Even though his lead actress is still secondary and is not part of the larger story, she is really important for him in his now movies. That’s all is a girl’s fantasy even in this day and age. I wanted to watch more of his latest movies so I looked up on movie sites. I found Okkadu, one of his hit on the Amazon Prime. It had no subtitles so I gave up. The other option was 1 Nenokkadine. I googled and the only online review wasn’t encouraging. I looked for the meaning of this title and a page said, Nenokkadine is blending of two words. Neno means I and Okkadine means alone.

1 Nenokkadine

The movie opens with Gautham, a rock star, leaving his concert in midway to chase a face he recognizes from his past. He gets into fatal brawl with the guy and later surrenders at a police station confessing not one but three murders that he committed in recent times. This, to avenge his parents killings, he claims. A reporter Sameera who was on his trail proves that Gautham was hallucinating the murders. The psychiatrist confirms that Gautham is suffering from some mental disorder and his past record with an orphanage tells he is an orphan who never had any parents and neither  were they murdered.

So did Gautham really have parents? He says the shock of witnessing their murders erased his memory of names and even faces of his parents. He therefore could not at the time tell that to police as a kid and is still struggling with the memory. In his imagination, he has come face to face with the killers many a times. I really thought this was one of the best scene in the movie – Gautham comes across one of the killer for real. He confronts the killer at gunpoint believing it to be one more imaginary episode. While the guy/killer is terror-stricken and heavily panting looking at an imminent death, Gautam shoots him dead in a hope to end his hallucinations.

I started watching skeptically but quite enjoyed this thriller. If you forgive some over-the-top cinematic liberties, you will like it.

Kirti Sanon as reporter Sameera plus his love interest is irritating. She undermines Gautham’s psychological condition and rigidly believes that Gautham can make his illness go away. We know that there is lack of mental health awareness  in India but a girlfriend should be more empathetic than this. Yet you understand Gautham’s eventually falling for her as she is the only person who has been this close to his life. Gautham Krishna as young Gautham expresses very well and connects the dotted trail with the older Gautham.

In midst of all Masala and interesting shocks, the emotional component is well built. My heart went out to this guy who is forced to believe against his wishes that he has no parents. The heartache is real, when he thinks he remembers their affection but can’t name them or put a face on them. It is one scary scenario.. imagine  someday there is nobody in your life who identifies you or trusts you? Think the plight of a kid who grew up so lonely..

Talking of cinematic liberty, there are broad daylight murders by our hero and there is no accountability or no police arrests following them(not just Indian police even great Britain police does nothing about the mess). But that is just almost every other Telugu/Tamil movie. The movie could have characterized Sameera more adorable and there is just no role for her in the later half other than tagging along with Gautham wherever he has to go.

Did I manage to write a review without a spoiler? I really liked the climactic scene and one before that but I’m holding back my urge to narrate them here..you should really watch this movie..

P.S. By the time I completed editing this post, I had finished watching Okkadu (without subtitles- what… I even laughed at two jokes), Pokiri (original make of Wanted and certainly better one) and Athadu (didn’t like it much..)

And the movie that I had stumbled on TV was Srimanthudu (titled The Real Tevar in Hindi- see, why I complain about weird translations..)

Immortal Love

Revisited the movie Madhumati after many years. Started watching it on a whim and was surprised at how much of the movie I had no memory of. Probably because when I had watched it earlier for the first time, I was too much in awe of the legendary movie. I have always found the cinematography of black & white movies charming and this movie had unleashed all the beauty and power of B&W: the times and the technology.

This time I watched the  events unfold in the movie with more awareness and there the climax stumped me. Did I just see the ghost of Madhumati abetting Anand babu to commit suicide? That too when he had a chance to continue live a happy life with doppelganger of Madhumati? This was so unlike an Indian woman who prays and fasts for her husband to live long after her..

Madhumati must be convinced that her fiance has no reason to continue to live after her death. That he will never be happy with the other or as much in love as he is with Madhumati.. The one perspective of Madhumati the movie, especially in the horror genre is that she is a dark evil soul. Anand babu is possessed by this evil soul and he must be saved.

Long back I had watched a Marathi play ‘Vat Vat Savitri’, on Doordarshan. A farcical drama where the first wife who has died returns as a result of wrongly exercised planchette and wishes to take her husband with her so that their souls can reunite and they can be together forever. It was  a comedy -the husband is reluctant to die and aghast at listening this  plan of his first wife (no true love) but does not dare to contradict her idea. His second living wife manages to send the spirit of first wife off to the other world but not before first wife’s  few attempts (ensuring hilarity for viewers) to kill her husband.

While there are so many  stories in the history of women immolating after their husbands’ death (a dark history, actually), we don’t see husbands doing same after their wives’ death. At the most we have a Shahjahan who built a ritzy TajMahal in loving memory of his dead wife. Expensive job dudes, but no he did not offer to give up on his life..

Coming back to the classic Madhumati, I have this question.. how can you be sure that in his next life Anand Babu, now Devendra, did not marry the doppelganger of Madhumati? Also, what if Radha, the reincarnation of Madhumati had died in the train accident? Would she again go after her husband’s life?

Rock & Roll

In the times where there is a YouTube video of a six year old kid who can roll classic round Chapatis, it’s not much of an achievement for a 40 year old me. 

But may be a significant growth on personal level. 10 years back, I can’t begin to tell you how much I hated rolling a chapati. I suspected the Chapati dough deliberately spread itself in different directions to tease me and have fun. It was a conspiracy. In return, I hated it back. I dreamed of the world where we will stop insisting on round chapatis. I was born therefore. To rebel against the arrogant roundness of Chapatis and tell the world it isn’t the only shape that exists. 

Then my Mami came and the world lost a hero in this valid cause. Her thin soft luscious (aka, mausut in marathi) chapatis tempted me so much. The only way to have them anytime was attempt them. I’m at least successful in the rolling part. This is Jowar mixed aata so can’t roll as thin as her wheat atta Chapati. It’s not perfect round always and I don’t aspire beyond this. And because mom helps with the roasting part, I still haven’t got it right to the end step. But rolling Chapatis doesn’t anger me anymore. Mami also gifted me this wooden ‘polpat'(Rolling board and rolling pin) few months back which is really good. That’s when I realised how long I have come from those frustrated chapati making sessions to today that too without calculated intentional efforts.

I Wish It Were a Dream

The elevator’s button panel was broken; literally, hanging out.. I experienced  a jerk as the elevator tripped and then stabilized immediately but not before giving me an idea of free fall. Maybe if I try putting the button panel in its place, and then try pressing the button, it will work. But because the elevator had sunk, the original panel place was out of my reach. I was trapped in too small space that ensured suffocation and a panic attack was to follow in moments. Then I woke up from the sleep. How lucky is that?

Bho Bho – Right Ingredients of a Good Thriller

It seemed more easy for me to boast to my friends about my school-friend, Javed, being in the production team of this upcoming new Marathi movie. The movie cast had Prashant Damle and many other renowned actors which made me feel really proud of my friend’s achievement. But actually going for a watch when the movie hit the theater was the difficult part. It was not before second week that saw me viewing the movie in Thane. But here I was now, finally at the big screen, and I was immensely delighted on two notes – one, I was keeping my word to watch it and secondly, it was a thoroughly enjoyable movie.

Bho-Bho-1

I had suspected it to be fun right from when my friend shared the first trailer of Bho-Bho on our whatsapp school group. The story line seemed very novel where a pet dog is accused of murdering its owner, a lady, and a detective is hired by the insurance company to investigate the crime so as to settle the insurance claim of Rs. 1 crore. The detective was being played by Prashant Damle, my favourite actor, and in his first detective role, the actor seemed to be having fun playing the character of Vyankatesh Bhonde. There was this background music played while introducing him as Vyankatesh Bhonde that really tickled me (not to mention the character’s fanciful name). Was the actual movie going to maintain the allure after raising the curiosity, I wondered!

I can now say that if crime investigation stories excite you, you will like this movie. And if you are a canine lover you will most certainly love it. Bho-bho, is a clever and successful amalgamation of both a dog awareness cause + mystery element and balances both very well. The whodunnit story line is gripping and is like one of those amusement park ride where your only job is to sit back and enjoy the twirls.

Can a pet-dog kill its owner? Can it be ungrateful and behave unreasonably like humans? Ask this to the animal lover community and they will rebuff vehemently. They will add that even when they don’t speak our language, there is a reason to their behavior unlike self-absorbed earth species called humans. Looks like we are hell-bent on proving animal lovers right.The movie reminded me of the novel, ‘The curious incident of a dog in the night-time’. No resemblance to the movie, accept, the curiosity factor is used very well in both to make us take a slightly deeper look at our denial of acknowledging the coexisting animal world and our arrogant belief that we are the only priority of this planet.

And though there is this noble cause, the investigation process doesn’t disappoint you at all! There is this detective with non-striking appearance, although with a very eccentric investigation style. But wait, there is method to his madness. The detective, I’m not exaggerating, I saw Vyankatesh Bhonde as a perfect desi version of famous Hercules Poirot from books of Agatha Christie. One might argue on the soundness of evidences he collects in the court of law, but that is exactly what the detective classics never concentrated on. They just kept their focus on satiating the doubts of readers, and Bho bho does this job well. I missed that the character wasn’t given an authoritarian tone while dealing with baddies that would cheer the audience a bit more. But his low profile adds to the humor element of the character. I wish more series of Vyankatesh Bhonde where he is now a more famed personality and solves such unique cases with cause. Seriously, the idea sounds promising!

bho-bho-2

This is a star-studded movie and there are other established actors like Sharad Ponkshe, Subodh Bhave, Ashwini Ekbote, Sanjay Mone, Rajan Bhise, Saurabh Gokhale and many others playing the baddies as well as mundane characters that actually make these roles memorable. Their effortless performances and getting into the skin of regular people is really commendable. It is what is expected from seasoned actors but sometimes the strategy can fail. Everyone here though fits in the tale of a dog-tail very aptly.

It was only second week after the movie released but I had to travel from Virar to Thane as the movie had disappeared from multiplexes in the western suburbs. Ironically, the Sunday show of Thane  was packed. This is really a fun movie not to be missed and I hope it flashes back on  screens of multiplexes of western suburbs of Mumbai as well. You got to see this movie!