Under The Same Sky

To be able to travel all of India and then set off to explore other countries was my deep desire of younger days. This was way back before multiple travel channels started luring the viewers with spellbinding foreign landscapes. I don’t know exactly when I brushed  aside my desire and slid it in the  impractical wish compartment of my mind.

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I let go of this primeval wish in course of time. I forgot how much I was hungry to learn about new people and their everyday life, to ingest varied cultures, looked forward to try the exotic food and be blown by mystical beautiful landscapes.  I would first try fathom the differences but secretly search for similarities.

Yes, I #SayYesToTheWorld. I would love to go on a blind date with a new territory that I haven’t googled yet. Even though it is bit of adventurous, I’m sure I can expect elementary goodness from the people under the same sky.  So I wouldn’t mind this #TheBlindList and look forward to know the women of that country, the men of that country, the children, the old folks, the politics, the economics, the history, the food, and also to triumphantly survive the weather.  I would love a home stay to grasp this all at its core.

Meeting many people of different nationalities is good for the extension of your soul – are words from a goodbye mail that I have held on to until now. Given my feeble memory, it is very strange how much I remember people from many of the trips. I don’t remember their names and their faces have blurred with the passing time. I remember the conversations. I remember a young boy from a train journey excitingly speaking of his visit to his sister’s home for the first time after her marriage. It was his first tryst with the northern region of India and as a lone traveler he was quite proud of himself. And I remember a fellow woman passenger who offered me to come to her place in case no other passenger hopped in an all vacant ladies compartment. It was a late evening train and her concern touched me. Some insignificant memories, some bits of insightful discussion on local politics, tips on must visit tourist spots, eatery places and many more talks with strangers that I will never meet.

Travel brings that magic to everything regular. You get a certain adrenaline rush at the onset of it.  It is a nervous energy but soon converts into glee as we get past the logistics. There is never a dull moment after you land in the new place. I think the first thing I will look forward is to try the new cuisine. I’m a vegetarian but I’m most certain I will find good local vegetarian meal there if I explore deep. 

I know I can’t remain immune to the heartache after returning home.  When I come back, the memories of those faces, the walks, the scenery, the distinct food flavors, the souvenirs will be the reason that  one more ethnicity, a civilization will be included in my prayers. The news about them will hold my attention. Some news will worry me, some will bring smile and some victory stories will make me proud. Just like that.

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Boys Over Flowers – Korean Drama

So I watched a Korean TV series at the insistence of my friend, Ishani. By now, she has watched 7 to 8 Korean dramas and is totally fascinated by the culture, the actors and the food shots.

She recommended me to start with this one – Boys Over Flowers, a 2009 drama, available on Netflix. I too love diving into a totally different cultural backdrop of a drama and feel enthralled to encounter the mystique and newness of a different civilization. Although, I was being hesitant to start at first as I tend to binge watch and get absorbed in the world. And then it is a struggle to get out of this world and come to terms with reality. I starkly feel the dullness of my routine after the fantasy trip. It happens with books too but the audio and visual impact of a series takes it to a different level (That’s why I don’t do drugs and alcohol..this is cheap).

Despite that it is a typical rich guy poor girl + college drama + coming of age story, it was a compelling watch because of the tight script and gave me many teary bouts – quite against my wishes.

The series is a Korean adaptation of a Japanese novel. This is how I’m illuminated on several levels starting with geography gyaan. I realize Korea is somewhere near Japan past China and not somewhere near Singapore. 😛

But first you have to digest/ ignore some things about the drama. Even though I have a criminal background of watching a few Ekta K series (it’s my dark past.. I don’t do it now..), I still couldn’t get over few things. The drama opens with a boy driven to the verge of suicide in a Richie kids school  and the group of boys responsible are the lead characters..You don’t get the details of how and why, neither any remorse is shown later by any of them for it. Jan di, an ordinary girl saves this guy and enters the school that is well beyond her family’s financial strength. You have to just thank the writer gods that this girl was born or these guys would have stayed pathetic all their lives. The sexism and the bullying you have to buy them with the justification of poor little rich lonely guys.

Only one guy is different among them and he is the second lead. It was bit shocking for me to see that the bad boy turns into a lover of the girl (he is a good actor and my friend’s favorite) stressing on proverbial say that good girls like bad guys (no, they don’t). Though in her defense, Jan di falls for this nice guy first but he has missed the bus.

I had difficulty to swallow this part. The second lead gets to be with Jan di wherever she is – more screen time than with her boyfriend. She just has to breathe a problem and he is there to help her out (it’s really sweet and not as cheesy as I sound). It doesn’t help that he is strikingly good looking with stoic screen presence and a disarming smile. The way they have an understanding of each others pain and the way their faces lit up seeing each other..uff..

Watch this!

 

The actors in the Korean drama seem to be engaged in singing and other art career as well in real life. Many tracks in the series are sung by the actors themselves. Probably, their actor training is more profound. The lead actress playing Jan di is marvelous, ably pulling the center character(She has a semi autobiographical novel, a best seller to her credit, wow). The Korean society too is heavily patriarchal like us. So they too have Korean dramas championing the cause of women empowerment just like our bahus triumph in the end by surviving all the murder attempts by their saas.

I would have loved watching more Korean series, but can’t indulge in so much mind consumption. May be I will try movies instead.

At least, I now know where Korea is..

The Yellow Cassette

The Yellow Cassette we called it. I and my father were rummaging through old melodies in a cassette shop one evening in 90s. We picked up a few along with this one, a Lata Mangeshkar collection. When we returned home, we both were surprised about the songs listed. We looked at each other puzzled and each denying to be responsible for the selection. Khair. What was done was done. They were sung by Lata Mangeshkar alright. One or two songs were somewhat familiar to me, but others completely new. Even my father seemed to recognize only some.

As it happened in those days to the destiny of cassettes in an unsystematic household, that we lost its cover. Yet, the cassette looked distinctly unpolished yellow and we could distinguish it from others. We named it Piwali(yellow) Cassette.

Lata Mangeshkar’s divine rendering of these unknown gems charmed us sooner than later. We soon loved the songs in this cassette and more than got over the regret of picking up a wrong cassette. I’m listing here some of those songs. I’m missing some more but it is difficult to recognize particularly as them in ocean of the other black and white favorites.

Here, have a look in this Pensieve.

 

 

 

 

 

World Suicide Prevention Day

Reading so many posts of survival on world suicide prevention day. In this modern urban age, we don’t fear wild animals from forests that may attack us, but there are still monsters of insecurities that will eat you if they find you alone. The best thing is the age old technique to not be alone and walk in a group called family. But everyone ain’t lucky, not always. You are bound to find yourself weak and lonely at some or the other point in your life. Some tips I use to survive may help you too. This may not be profound or adept points. Writing anyway as sometimes you could be making big sense with basics.

1. Know that you are doing very good by just surviving. The worthless feeling is one huge beast. Achievements can be accomplished at any age of your life. If you made someone feel better, put a smile on their face with small chat, it is an achievement.

2. Address your fears. Keep knowing what you are thinking and why. Don’t hide things from you. Make time to monitor your thoughts now and then.

3. Cry your heart out whenever you feel like. Don’t worry what someone will think seeing you vulnerable. Accepting vulnerability helps a lot.

4. Don’t insist on seeking help to hear you out from same friend/ set of friends. Accept help from all kinds of friends who are reaching out to you. Sometimes even an opponent genuinely wants to be nice to you and an old friend breaks your heart. It is the moment.

5. Listen to agonies of a friend/neighbour/ even a stranger intently. It’s quite a worthy feel you get for the day even if not for a lifetime.

Big thank you to all my friends who made this life bearable.

Some Carried Away Musing..

I finished reading Murder on Orient Express. Classic FOMO for Agatha novel made me read it. I had a feeling that I know how it ends. Although, turning the pages of investigation details didn’t give me a been-here feel.  We can fairly conclude on this basis that it was the movie that I had watched earlier as movies always skip minute details of the written version(see, I’m a smart detective myself – of me).

The climax where everyone on the train except the investigating team is a murderer got me brooding. I wondered on the same plot with changed contexts. Cassetti was a cruel mafia don. He had kidnapped and murdered a sweet, angelic child in one of his criminal undertakings. Thanks to legal loopholes, he got away with the crime. There was a possibility of him committing the crime again as he was a man with zero conscience. After Poirot uncovers the mystery, he lets off all  murderers by putting across a dummy theory for the local police.

This is all a writer’s doing. She makes the reader sentimental for a fictitious young girl. We think it is quite alright if someone as gruesome as Cassetti is killed by some common otherwise law abiding people. They have selflessly volunteered to murder him only for the cause of justice to the family. Because they are 12 people in total, it is quite equivalent to a judgement passed by 12 member jury in the court of law. This she cleverly feeds her readers as a reasoning given by one of her story character(an ex army guy!!) without herself justifying it.

As long as these 12 people get united on avenging murder of a toddler, you may understand and pardon. What happens when the cause changes? When a community, a group of people is not okay with a couple marrying outside their caste or within same Gotra and they go ahead dictating an honor killing? Or, when some villagers think it is okay to kill a Muslim butcher because they doubt he slaughtered a cow, an animal they worship?

My comparison of fiction and reality is flawed here. Because Agatha Christie, even in her fiction, takes care  that the basis on which this crime stands is pure love for this young sweetheart adored by every staff member and the extended family. While honor killing is purely about bruised ego of unprogressive communities. There is arrogant pride of caste/religion reflected when they don’t hesitate to challenge the Constitution of the country by taking law in to their own hands. In mob lynching cases, hate is the motivating factor than love.

Even so, in both cases common people are directed by emotions and without the intelligence applied for long term repercussions.  No one here believes in repairing the legal loopholes. That which is the longer tedious road, an age long journey, and which will test your true dedication for any cause.

Mind is a very strange thing..Along with honor killing and lynching examples, one other example that was running in my head, somewhat far-fetched, yet fits in the theme of the society trials is the Ram Sita story.

The Dhobi/ Washer-man echoed sentiments of majority of citizens in the Ram’s Kingdom about giving away Sita. I have strong feelings for this part of Ramayana even if some believe Uttar Ramayana is not real Ramayana. The wide acceptance of the story makes all the difference. Ram did not do justice to these two women in his life. Of course you didn’t think the Washer-man’s wife whose trial made the Washer-man opine on Sita’s character, could manage to get justice, did you?

Abandoning of wives became mainstream because Ram, the idealist, the supreme lord did so. A woman was pitied for the wrong done to her, people wailed feeling her pain, wrote plays and poems  for the ostracizing, but her sinner’s culpability never amounted to legal actions. It was women’s fate, we said. If Sita put up with injustice, who are you to demand justice?

The murderers planned plot in the novel made me envisage the power of conviction a group carries while committing a crime. As I realized how passionately opinionated people are during social trials, this time I was sympathetic about the pressure Ram faced. He had vowed that he was going to be a people-friendly king instead of a dictator. People challenged him on this when they couldn’t stand Sita on the ruling throne with him. He succumbed to the pressure. The grievance is not about failing as an ideal husband but rather as an ideal king. He did not take the pressure second time when people wanted him to marry again. But a long term harm to womankind for generations  was already done.

A society of commoners is not always a victim enduring whims of Monarchs. It can be pretty damaging to generations like in this case.

So is people’s devotion to their subject not pious always. People worship Ram for protecting their patriarchal system. The worshiping is also a message to generations about endorsing someone that reciprocates majoritarian opinion. Much has been always said about a king who couldn’t stand people’s pressure. Here we have to judge a society who took him as their ideal. A society does face consequences of all the actions whether if they have been mute participants or active ones. Often, the lessons are not learnt. I wish there was a Ayodhyayan instead of Ramayan and people learned how they lost their ideal King because they couldn’t help interfere a couple’s marriage and made it a state’s business.

A rotten Monarch can be defeated by a collective protest of the people. But a corrupt society is more difficult problem because it almost never is ready to acknowledge the fault within. I think people to date want to look away from how Ayodhyaites ruined their first chance of democracy by not accepting how a majoritarian say is not how democracy works. You have to take care that injustice is not done to even one person in the state.

Mahanati Savithri

Would I find biopic of this yesteryear Telugu-Tamil superstar interesting? I wondered as I noticed this new movie on Amazon Prime. What struck me was the name of the movie – Mahanati. Even though it is a Telugu title, Marathi folks will get it. We too use the word Nati for actress. And though we don’t attach Maha to either Nat or Nati, it is an adjective meaning, supreme (e.g. Maharashtra 😉 ).

This made me curious. Who was this actress that earned this title in an era predominantly of male actors? Why had her name not reached us like other legendary south Indian actors?

Savithri was a Superstar of Telugu and Tamil Cinema. Born in the year 1936, her career kick-started in the late ’40s. She performed many a multifaceted roles with great talent. Her expressive facial features only made it all look easy. She donned a golden era of Tamil-Telugu movies- an era when actresses too had meaty roles in the movies. Sivaji Ganesan, M.G. Ramachandran, Gemini Ganesan(her husband), NT Rama Rao, and Nageshwar Rao were her contemporaries and she was as important as them in determining the box-office success of a movie. You can decipher the enormity of her unceasing popularity on these facts that her career took an upsurge after her marriage and it did not slow down even when she looked overweight in some movies. (Just wow!)

Story told in Mahanati
Savithri’s father died when she was very young. She and her mother took refuge at her Uncle’s home. Her Uncle, who struggled with her to get her into the movies, did not suffice her need for fatherly affection. But thankfully, he was also not a mercenary guardian. The actual saga started after her marriage – a superstar’s marriage to another superstar who was already married. Actor Gemini Ganesan, at the time, fathered two daughters from his first legal marriage. He fathered two more daughters(one being Bollywood star, Rekha) from an illicit affair. He revealed his relationship with Pushpavalli to Savithri but publicly admitted it much later. He convinced her that both relationships didn’t count because they just happened.

At first, G. Ganesan encouraged and supported Savithri’s endeavors like a good husband. But unable to match up with her popularity, he eventually grew insecure. She slowed down her fast paced career to cater to his ego but the sacrifice went in vain. Her husband’s adultery came as a shock she didn’t recover from.

Savithri took to drinking and became alcoholic. She faced a financial crisis owing to her philanthropic nature and an income tax raid. For the sake of her children, she tried to rise again and did stabilize her falling, but one weak moment broke her finally.

Post Movie Thoughts
Both the periods, the ’80s and the ’50s, are well depicted in the biopic. Except for the costumes of Dulquer Salmaan which are quite an obstacle in accepting him as G. Ganesan of 1950s. Although, his enactment is bang on. Savithri by Keerthi Reddy is immaculate.

Savithri is a story must heard. Mahanati is a great filler on the life of this terrific actress for the rest of the country. I googled to know more about her. Some articles deny that she was financially a complete broke in her end days. But she did move into a smaller house on the cheaper side of the town and she did land in the hospital like shown in the movie.

Some expressed displeasure for unfair presentation of G. Ganesan. The movie, I think, couldn’t possibly make light of the doom he brought on her. And many suffered other than Savithri..

I found this unfortunate destiny very intriguing; that Devdas was her favorite book as she played Parvati in the Telugu version of the movie and then went on the self destruction path of Devdas.

What awed me most was Savithri’s generosity. Every one associated with her vouches for her benevolence. She donated generously in her good days. In her trying times when there was no ready cash, she sold her sarees  to help complete strangers. The lack of proper treatment for herself consumed her with the thought of building an equipped alcohol rehab center to help addicts like her. 

Even though if by now she sounds to you like a perfect tragedy queen, she was quite the opposite – a mischievous, adventurous and full of spirit human. Sharing some fun videos of the real  Savithri that I enjoyed immensely.


This is from Telugu movie Mayabazaar -an episode from Mahabharata. Savithri is having a blast playing as a giant turned woman (on Krishna’s instructions) 
to set things right.


Do you remember this video that went viral as skype calls in Mahabharata days? It too is from Mayabazaar.


I enjoyed this video like a 7 year old. A mischievous gigantic heart-in-the-right-place Rakshasa causing trouble to the unholy wedding by eating up all the food..What’s not to like?


This song with NTR is so musical…so lovely
..


I didn’t feel any translation need  for above songs. But I wish there are subtitles provided to all the movie videos instead of the new utterly mediocre dubbing trend. 
That’s how I have enjoyed watching regional movies in the good old Doordarshan days..

My favorite face! – S.V. Rangarao

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The movie concluded for me in becoming an amusing look-up ride for many other legendary actors. I knew some names like N.T. Ramarao and M.G. Ramachandran because they were also former Chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu, respectively. I had heard name Sivaji Ganesan (though I remained ignorant that G. Ganesan was different Ganesan until now) because my father was a fan. A. Nageshwar Rao  and S.V. Ranga Rao were complete new names to me. In one article, Dilip Kumar says that he thinks Devdas performed by A. Nageshwar Rao was the best one.

What I liked about the actors pairing with Savithri is they have like grown up together. You see how they come of age through their 20s to 30s beginning with playful roles to the matured ones.

Savithri died young in her 40s but with numerous movies to her credit in such a short life. And although I was grieving at the end of the movie Mahanati, discovering her and her era thereupon has been an enriching and upbeat experience.

 

 

 

 

US #Unnao&Kathua

And he spoke. He spoke because we pushed him to. All political leaders do that and he is no different. It breaks our heart when we get disapointed in leaders we idolize. I have been there quite a few times. But it is necessary to see the reality. See a person as he or she is and not like the one in your imagination. Before him, his opponent spoke. He was also pushed into. They all check the pulse of the society and react accordingly. This is our only strength. We can make our leaders do what we wish to but we have to remain united. They know this and try to divide us on our views. It becomes easy to rule us then. Opinions of 1.32 billions can never match. But most of the times our basic needs do match. And we are yet far from accomplishing many such basic needs. So get carried away by a persona and become a society that crumbles at the drop of a hat or motivate them to act right. Totally up to us – if there is us…

P.S. Never underestimate the power of speaking out your mind when you think no one seems to side with you.

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!