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“I just want to this about that.”
― Steven C. Smith

INKing the Future !

The INK conference happened in Pune last week. 



Just outside the conference, was a hoarding, announcing the INK Conference.  As I trained the camera on the hoarding, in the corner of my frame I noticed a street entrepreneur’s own billboard :‘Key Maker’, it said. He sat there making keys, for people who had locked their doors and lost their keys! 

How serendipitously prophetically descriptive!  Now do me a favour and throw in a few more adjectives, will you?   This was delirium inducing ‘perfect’ metaphorical description that happened by chance. 

For the INK conference unlocked many doors and shackles in the mind. In several cases the doors where shut firm and keys were lost.  But when there is a Key maker around, you get a second chance to open the same silly door!  A Key Maker sat outside making keys for real doors. The INK conference did it for doors in the mind. More on this later. 

Pune was a drive away.  The luggage was packed. The excitement was unbridled and flowing despite an uneventful drive on rather inviting roads. If you don’t take into account a lazy cow who on a whim decided to test if the brakes in my car were good enough to merit the EMI, on the Mumbai-Pune expressway.



The INK setting was fitting.  Taken, as I was by the massive stage, the child like expectation on the faces of fellow participants, that just stopped short of drowning in their own drool, looking at list of speakers who were lined up. 

And it was an EXPERIENCE. The INK Talks curator and her team seemed to have searched the ends of the horizon to put together an eclectic array of speakers and performers who unleashed an array of emotions, thought and of course plenty of cause to reflect on the life I was living. 

A week later as I put this post together, I realise that it is hazardous to list any speakers and ideas.  For while many I would list, the fear of leaving out a speaker or two and one of those stellar ideas that were shared persuasively, persists. So, heres the disclaimer : This blogpost is no comprehensive list of all speakers. Not by a long shot.  

For the INK folks redefined ‘The spectrum’ with their array of speakers. 

There was a scientist from NASA. Speaking of Curiosity. Speaking from NASA. There was another young man whose fascination was ‘space debris’. (I mean, ‘Space Debris’!  This in a day and age, where for many, outer space ends at the gates of a star’s house, I mean a  film star!  And debris of course,  is the neighbours problem! 

Or for that matter being all of 17 and saying ‘I was passionate about bio-ethanol since I was 11”.   When I was 11, other than perhaps collecting ‘photos of cricketers’ wrappers of a chewing gum called Big Fun there wasn’t any much more point to life. Or so I think now.  Such young minds holding court with such clarity was large doses of anti-venom to slow poison that seeps in daily just reading the newspapers. 

If I seem to suggest that it was all about adolescent wizardy, I cant be farther from fact.  Take the case of a 76 year old Hindustani Classical Guru  whose only passion is to spread the knowledge of music which he wants to stay with generations to come, for which he moved  into the house of disciple (herself an accomplished bio-technologist who walked away from all that to be a student of music) to continue the guru-shisya tradition.  

Speaking of music, have you ever considered whatever happened to all the voices that were part of the Gramaphone era? How bewitchingly fetching is it to note that a set of people are precisely at work with that putting it all together. Or for that matter if I tell you that there were people sobbing hearing a Jamaica based artist perform about the girl child, would you believe me?

The conservationists. People who worked with villagers to get them to embrace conservation and wild animals. Amazing innovations at MIT Media Labs that translates into vision for very many people across the world. Speaking of MIT Media Labs, I will never forget this line : “You don’t get a Nobel prize by doing what you have been told to do” said with a matter-of-fact ease by its Director 

A dancer  that brought alive the story of Thimmakka: a lady who made a difference in her village by just planting trees. A very young architect who creates an amphitheater anywhere in half an hour. A young celebrated photographer  who started out life as a rag picker. 

A cricketer  who played marathon innings. An ultra marathoner  whose humour and ease of speech made running marathons look as simple as sinking teeth into a cheese cake! Folks that spoke of Unschooling with such verve.  The graphic designer  of ‘Rolling Stones”. The creator   of The Simpsons & Ernie Pooks comics. The Co-CEO of Archies…

Ah, now did I make it sound like a very ‘light’ array of topics and entertainment.  Hold on.  For there was a doctor who operated on a baby several weeks into pregnancy, while the baby was still connected to the mother! I will never ever be able to forget the gut wrenching account by a serial technology entrepreneur  about letting go of a loved one.  And just as you thought the emotions were getting really kicked on, you had soulful performances. 

Like the one by Oikyotaan rendering awesome baul songs.  And some glued-on-to-your- seat-and-sit-still performances by  Vasundhara DasJoi BaruaShantanu MoitraShruti Hassan and others! 

Ah, I realise that I am in the dreaded maze that I didn’t want to get into the first place. Of mentioning a few and not mentioning others. For every single person that spoke ( and there were more than 50 of them that spoke), rocked the stage.  

Its more than a week later. And am getting old. But I cant forget the conceptual clarity of an ex-CEO and celebrated author  whose idea of India was arresting as India itself. A current CEO  whose organisation is a force to reckon with in the nutrition space.  A hacker  with high energy.  The editor  of Wired  whose message of having a ‘healthy disregard for the impossible” has shaken the basis of thought and action. A week after the conference. 

Ideas wafted in the air. Like incense in the Puja room. For instance did you know that Asteroids are full of platinum and one day, we could actually mine them?  Yeah, go dig them up and spare the hills in Bellary or wherever? 

Or did you, for that matter, know that drip irrigation technology   was saving millions of litres of water right there in Pune!  Or that there could many other ways in refreshing ways in which school curriculum could be designed. 

Would you think it normal that someone  choked on seeing at seeing a picture from her own presentation of the reams of plastic found at the ocean bed? What would you make of a superlatively successful advertising executive who explored the Antartica with the ostensible purpose of conquering fear! 

But for this conference, I would have thought it to be an outrageous idea that someone even thought of impersonating  a guru, founding a religion and make a much awaited film  out of it? If that didn’t perk you ear, how about an activists fight to have her film on child trafficking released after directing it and having it as a finished product. 





Oh! It was such a riot of ideas 

Cars that will see. Dresses that can hug (someone else, that is). Phones that are (more) smart. Computers that can impersonate your thought. 

But, but.  That’s not the point. The things that matter are never about the things themselves. But the people that bring them alive. The singers that touch. The artists that stretch the horizon beyond imagination. And the scientists that make the horizon appear infinitely close. 

Perhaps we could walk away with ‘One moment, One memory and one friend” as what was an eloquently painted goal. That was not to be. You couldn’t go with just one. Be it the moment. Memory. Or friend!  And each was a key to a locked door. Suddenly a ton of possibilities emerged about the future. 

And heres the truth. There are people that go through the motions. There are people that live. And there are people that choose the lives they live. There are plenty of them around the world. When you get to an INK conference, you will see only those that have chosen to live life on their own terms. And it is spectacular. 

“So, tell me about your conference”, said the missus yesterday over dinner. With a fair sense of trepidation that could match that of ringmaster unlocking the cages of a recalcitrant lion who has a headache!   

I could tell from her eyes, that she was half expecting me to start a soliloquy. I hate to disappoint her, you know and it culminated in this blogpost. 

The rest as they say, is history. Even when its about the future. 

________




I got to be part of the conference by writing this blogpost on “Designing The Future” as part of this contest organised by the wonderful people at Blogadda & INK Talks.  

The next year’s conference is in Kochi  & there is a 50% discount on till the end of October! 

An uncommon obituary!

I live by principles.  Did I hear you say ‘yeah, sure’. Well, yes. But wait, I haven’t completed the sentence. “I live by principles, atleast far as this blog goes’. 

One of the principles is, no matter what, I don’t copy paste written material from anywhere. Ofcourse, I am not a famous anchor on CNN or some insanely popular journalist. Not ever a PhD student swiping of research! 

On this blog, the pictures are mine. So is the writing.  Yeah, I cant blame it on my anybody. Especially as  my nephew is a wonderful boy.  

Today, I am breaking this principle by copying and pasting something that is supposed to have been printed in the London Times. The piece was simply brilliant! It had me nodding my head so vigorously that from a distance it would have appeared that a scorpion had got inside my ear. 

I mean, I had to share it. It was purely commonsensical to do that. Read on ! 


An Obituary



Today we mourn the passing of a beloved old friend, Common Sense ,who   has  been with us for many years. No one knows for sure how old he was, since   his   birth records were long ago lost in bureaucratic red tape. He will be   remembered as having cultivated such valuable lessons as:
  – Knowing when to come in out of the rain;
  – Why the early bird gets the worm;
  – Life isn’t always fair;
  – And maybe it was my fault.
Common Sense lived by simple, sound financial policies (don’t spend more  than you can earn) and reliable strategies (adults, not children, are in  charge).
His health began to deteriorate rapidly when well-intentioned but  overbearing regulations were set in place. Reports of a 6-year-old boy   charged with sexual harassment for kissing a classmate; teens suspended   from   school for using mouthwash after lunch; and a teacher fired for    reprimanding  an unruly student, only worsened   his condition.
Common Sense lost ground when parents attacked teachers for doing the   job   that they themselves had failed to do in disciplining their unruly   children.
He declined even further when schools were required to get parental  consent to administer sun lotion or an aspirin to a student; but could    not   inform parents when a   student became pregnant and wanted to have an abortion.
Common Sense lost the will to live as the churches became businesses; and criminals received better treatment than their victims.
Common Sense took a beating   when you couldn’t defend yourself from a burglar in your own home and the burglar could sue you for assault.
Common Sense finally gave up the will to live, after a woman failed to realize that a steaming cup of coffee was hot. She spilled a little in  her  lap, and was promptly awarded a huge settlement.
Common Sense was preceded in death,
  -by his parents, Truth and Trust,
  -by his wife, Discretion,
  -by his daughter, Responsibility,
  -and by his son, Reason.
He is survived by his 5 stepbrothers;
  – I Know My Rights
  – I Want It Now
  – Someone Else Is To Blame
  – I’m A Victim
  – Pay me for Doing Nothing
Not many attended his funeral because so few realized he was gone.  If you still remember  him, pass this on. If not, join the majority and do nothing. ”   

Of course, You don’t have to pass it on. But stop on your tracks and think if you are could bring him back to life. In each one of us!  

Have a great week ahead.

Designing the future

They jumped back. 

Much like I did many months ago. At that time, I was walking the streets of San Francisco when what seemed to be a green shrub moved many meters, came close to me and out sprung a much bearded man. 

Putting on display teeth coloured like the crimson Sun.  

He was playing a prank much like the Canadian show ‘Scare Tactics’, the TV show where hidden cameras capture open mouthed shrieks escaping from the throats of innocent passerby in front of whom are propped corpses or broken bleeding hands or something more grotesque!  

His crimson teeth and his harrowing shriek were gruesome enough for me to yell and jump a good distance. A few more inches and I would have landed in Mumbai. That was how far I jumped and I saw from the corner of my eye the entire city of San Francisco wiping away buckets of tears, full of mirth. 

That was exactly how some people jumped, when I posed them a question, without warning: “Look, if we should be designing the future, what should we do?” It was partly the strength of the question itself that made people emit a sputtering cough.  The other part, I must admit, perhaps was due to the sudden poser of what seemed to be a rather pertinent question in the most inopportune of places. 

Like a bathroom stall. When the guy is standing next to you and doing what he is supposed to be doing in urinal.   Or during the morning run, when ace marathoners were counting their steps and running to a choreographed plan.  And to slightly more comforting environs, like a cab or an auto.  The startled looks from Taxi and autorickshaw drivers will stay etched in my mind forever but co-passengers on a plane whose jaw dropped almost all the way to the Earth upon the sudden propping of the question, was something else though!  

Let me explain this a bit more.  You see, when BlogAdda.com & INK talks put out an opportunity to write out a post on designing the future, they quite helped break a lethargy induced labyrinthine walls that had held ideas to ransom for a long time.  Before I could start, I realized I had to be clear about what I hoped to get: My design for the future.  

And it went like this

I dreamt of a future that will be inclusive. Meaning ‘inclusive of all age groups. Of all classes. Of the rich and poor. Or the fit and the falling.  Irrespective of whether you are based out of Minnesota or Mumbai (The ‘Boulder or Bangalore’ expression has been traipsed all over).  

It had to apply immaterial of whether someone was a janitor or the Joint Secretary! Literacy, economics, skin colour shouldn’t come in the way.   Therefore it should cost next to nothing, yet be simple enough to practice and shouldn’t require “the skill that seems like Edison’s wizardry” to a grandma as she watched her grandson play Angry Birds on the I pad. 

Now that was an inconceivably towering future.  I was happy. 

With some satisfaction I reviewed the contours of what I had come up with. In no time, the satisfaction melted only to be quickly replaced by a deep churn in the stomach. If such was the contour, what could be solution and would I, of all people be able to come up with one?  

I’d rather seek help, I thought. And promptly thought I would ask random people seeking an answer.  It proved to be a swell idea. For every conversation left me refreshed. Some by what people wanted and yet others by the elegance with which people shared it all.  The bottom line: It left me with hope that all is not lost. At least not yet! 

For, the future that people wished to design for themselves was simple. Not one spoke of the next big gadget.  Surprisingly, none spoke of producing electricity from lint in the butt crack. Or something as arrestingly innovative as that.  Not even the everyday utterances like ‘global warming’, price rise or for that matter, corruption. Topics that I thought would stay in the forefront of people’s minds.  

NONE. I was flummoxed. To put it mildy.   

This was no national referendum.  Perhaps it was the surprise element. Or maybe how I looked, or asked the question. Or perhaps it was the lack of time to give a considered response. Whatever!  I had a variety of answers. All in the same genre. 

The answers bordered on these: Empathy. Listening. Conversing. Respecting each other. Innovation. Spreading some real happiness and cheer. Quiet reflection. Kindness.  

That made sense. Think of it, we are immersed in our gadgets. Locked up in apartments with wafer thin walls yet iron like cells. Our worlds have shrunk from the vast expanse that mother Earth had to offer to the silent vacuous confines of singularly lonely spaces punctuated only by the hollow glow of a Television set.  

Our view of the world shaped largely through that hollow glow mistaking argument for debate and searching for new lows in the quest for new least common denominators. We have very little time and lesser interest in seeing if another point to a story or a person exists, leave alone embracing it! 

The stories that we hear of fellow people that inhabit the earth, our next door neighbours and their cultures, their Gods their beliefs, practices are all monochrome ones. Perhaps black and white too.  Very narrow definitions that is easy for us to accept and process. Mixed up and cemented. The spectacular colour that every life can hold aloft for us, forever lost in the perpetual quest for speed in ‘slotting’ people, places and countries.  

A pattern was emerging in my mind and in another conversation; I asked a CEO friend ‘Where should we begin’. And he replied, in-between generous sips of his coffee and silence, ‘it’s not simple you see “. Just as I thought there he goes again, he said:  “If we need to design the future, we have to begin with the people that will take charge of the future. Our children”. 

 That made sense. 

On the way back from that meeting, I asked the elderly taxi driver what we should be doing! He said in a matter of fact manner ‘people must talk to each other’.  It hit me like a ton of brinks and silence engulfed the cab. Ironically omnipresent for the rest of the journey.  

That was a very productive day, by any stretch of imagination.  I was hunched on my desk till the wee hours, pondering on what the two elderly gentlemen had said.  I wrote on a piece of paper: “Are children taught to think?  Do they even get to stay still? Reflect on what they do? What they haven’t done? Do they get to play with a diverse set of other kids? Do they understand the value of simple conversation? Of listening and talking. “ 

I went to bed with those thoughts and woke up in a few hours. My plan for designing the future was ready!  It wasn’t anything spectacularly new.  For in one word, it was about CONVERSATION. 

Conversation!  The future ought to be a world where conversations flourish. Where we hold an idea aloft with empathy and debate it. To understand another not only from one monochromatic view of ‘an ‘issue or a position but to accept a person the way he / she is.  

That led me to my grand action proposal:  It’s time to mandate ‘conversation’ in school. Allocated time. Every day. To just find someone new, and talk. Get to know the person. The family. Perhaps exchange lunch.  Understand the food. Talk about interests. Reflect on the conversations. 


How about writing essays on such conversations?  How do we teach our kids to be passionately curious about many things in the world? To entice them to listen carefully and to sort the music in the noise! The design for our future thus must have conversation at school as a key!

With a flourish I told the missus the grand proposal.  Silence greeted me. Silence with hands on the hips. “Could you change her diaper please” was the response.  

 And as I dutifully changed my daughter’s diaper, I thought if my idea was some idealistic hogwash?  
Another ‘wayward waste of time’ as the missus would have liked me think?  What will it get us?  Will this lead to Promised Land? A land of plenty with smiles with angels playing the harp, science to liberate us and the latest maps that will keep us happy?

Perhaps not.  But this seemed to be a pretty good place to start.  Imagine a future where people talk to each other. Listen with empathy. Pass on some kindness. No, not necessarily ‘agree’ to all what the other person says. But enough to hear the other person that instills grace, even in defeat. 

And what better a place to start than school? My daughter let go of a laugh which thrilled me no end. 

The missus rushed in. Only to see the diaper change accomplished to perfection.  Her arched eyebrow in a surprise laden appreciation was all I needed to think that I had her stamp of approval to my idea.
  

The gap between the end and the bend !


We meet after a long while. After what seems like an eternity.  

He speaks of lost opportunities and missed chances. Inbetween stories of his valorous wins and overflowing juggernaut of his conquests. 

He suddenly stopped, and asked, why he hadnt seen a blogpost from me in a long while. ‘Have you given up on blogging ?’, he asks.

I tell him there is a difference between a ‘bend’ and an ‘end’ ! 

He looks vaguely. Emptily he fiddles with his brand new Rolex, which I think is a fake one, and says, I should blog about this. 

And I agree. 

Waking up yet again !


This blog & its readers have been pretty close to my heart. High up there, on the ‘important aspects of life’ hierarchy. Like all such aspects that are truly important to life like ‘love’, ‘family time’, ‘personal health’ etc, this blog too has silently suffered the insufficient attention (of even the incoherent writing). But as is with everything else that’s part of this ‘A list’, the situation is alterable!

Change !!

These have been busy times. Seeing some deep discussions, decisions and mind occupying stuff. So much so, that blog posts on ‘Teachers Day’, ‘Anniversary’, ‘modern day Bangalore’ and many such, havent had movement beyond two gloriously vapid paragraphs. Such ferociously loquacious attempts have since been consigned to the safe confines of the trash box with an flourish that begs many an award.

Hmm.. inbetween the last post on the Anna Hazare and this one, a few things have changed. While Anna Hazare himself has broken his fast, friends have moved on from having his picture as their profile picture on facebook. Those are besides the point.

What is well within the point, is the fact that my computer monitor screen has been flickering away to oblivion. Singalling the end of many years of dedicated service as pointless blogposts and passionate indulgences ( in photography, reading etc…what were you thinking ? ) were satiated through the net!

In other news, there was some travel. Noticing the pranky nephew and his brand new pranks were hugely satisfying. There were regular business meetings and other interactions that brought me face to face with interesting sets of people and a diversity of perspectives that can be mildly put as ‘abundant’. Which brought me to marvel at the spectrum of God’s creation all the way through. Oh yes, there is a spectrum out there. Let me stop going any further down this road.

Work has been heady and hectic. Had to state that. Just in case there are folks from work read this page. Really. Its been. Ok ?

So today, when the feet kicked out the slumber and emerged from the sheets, there was a resolve to restart all that ‘truly mattered’. With a promise to myself to drum up an explanatory post. That’s this post people.

Thank you for all your love. And just in case you are asking, ‘so whats new ?’… well, people look at the header and the ‘up in the cloud’ addition.

Change they say, generally begins in the head.

On this blog, its gone as far as the ‘header’ and not beyond ! 🙂


A goodbye and a hello !


A certain ‘she’ wrote a seemingly simple mail sometime back. Articulate and without much extravagance, she said that she could ‘sense’ that I was an ‘interesting’ person from whatever she read, but the blog ‘looked dated’. I went over her mail a couple of times. ‘Looks dated’ appeared six times in three paragraphs.

That was setting one energetic cat amidst all the sedentary pigeons. That something needed to be done was becoming evident. Given that this ‘she’ was a regular on the blog and generally had good intentions. Plus this wasn’t exactly the first time I was hearing this. Numerous friends had mentioned it. Many times over. Yet, this time, for some unknown reason, it was action time !

Furtive thought trains lead to ideas that were vacuously vapid or those that required an extravagance of time and money. (Both of which were are in perpetual short supply). If not any of those, whatever emerged from convoluted whorls of the brain, were ‘already taken’ !

Over time, laziness set in. The blog looked the way it always looked, while several attempts at ‘good posts’ came alive as temporal eccentricities! Readers kept coming and going. Ofcourse, some of you have stayed on, which I would like to believe is a function of arrangement of words here, although, I have a lurking feeling that it perhaps a consequence of alignment of my stars.

Either way, thank you!

Many other readers left comments like ‘ I read your blog, the pictures were nice’ which said quite a heapful on the quality of the writing. But life went on. The sun rose in the East and religiously went to the west. The Chinese were conquering the world. Scandal birth rate competed with rabbits’. The milk man was regular and late. Rentals were up. Work kept me occupied. Life was normal.

It was then, that yet another ‘he’ wrote rather plainly, that no matter what I thought of myself, I was no Scott Adams. To dramatise that further, quipped that having Dilbert as a profile picture was akin to having ‘your neighbours kid as your facebook picture’. That dramatisation hit the nail far and deep, not only for the muscle to quake but also the bone to ache.


My erstwhile profile picture

The silver lining though, was that he had presented a seemingly simple solution : Just change the profile picture. ok. First step to the solution. Ok ?

Voila !

Immediately ( a.k.a few weeks) a few precocious folks that are in the know of such cerebral matters were asked. Several ideas were tossed at a speed that was impossible to catch. Many went over the head and some went overboard.

‘If your blog carries your name, your photograph must be the mascot’ insisted most of them. I had to politely explain to them that the attempt was at reader ‘excitement’ and not readership extinction.

Blessed with a plain and forgettable face, bulges in wrong areas and recessionary trends in the rest, I could make a pretty picture in an ad for ‘this man transformed himself using our product’ with a before and after picture.

To spare you a long and laborious story, a new logo was to be created. That stood for ‘Kavis Musings’. Amongst the few options that came up, the missus rooted for this.


“It represents you. Your pictures. And your writing”.

It was stated differently though. Something along the lines of ‘Somekind of a loud mouth with an air of self anointed importance, and a wide eyed grin, waxing eloquence over seminal topics of global importance, that range from the way Trash Cans are designed to spelling mistakes in hoardings’. (And so on. You get the drift. Don’t you?)

Which when politely asked to explain, was eventually translated to : “It represents you. Your pictures. And your writing”. I quite agreed.

So there. That’s my new digital identity. Hopefully, you will like it. And continue to shower your tolerance and genorisity by coming back here.

Quite obviously you will see huge hoardings in your hometown announcing the change. Incase you don’t see those hoardings, please keep looking.

Ohh! I almost forgot. That was blog post number 500.

Kidnap. Movie Review


When the Chocolate Boy is playing kidnapper, well, that is something to see. That was the line that was used to lure me to the movie hall.

Kidnap‘ attempts a whole lot. It does have some interesting twists and turns in the plot. The only problem that i have here, that regulars here are now aware of, is the fact that Hindi movies try too much. Too hard. Stretching the story beyond what is necessary. Even extending it to the point where it tears apart and hurts !

Kidnap is no exception. It has a racy start. [And God ( & only he ) knows why there has to be ‘bikini beach song’ to open the movie & such other ‘generous’ scenes ! Is the average movie goer so much of a starved character that he (or she) is going to get pulled into the movie because of such sequences. It puts me off & perhaps shows an impoverished mind of those at the helm of making such movies].

Coming back to the movie, the dour faced Imran Khan tries his best to look tough by consistently maintaining a dour face. Sanjay Dutt plays the role of a billionaire worth $ 52.7 ( billions of course) & more importantly, father to Minisha Lamba & divorced husband of Vidya Malvade.

The plot is about Imran Khan extracting his revenge for an affront that resulted in a jail sentence, scars on the body etc etc, at the behest of the billionaire gent many years back. And that revenge extraction is through the kidnapping of the billionaire’s daughter and making some ‘demands’.

The demands include, traveling from somewhere in Mumbai to Panvel in about 40 minutes ( i think) & saying ‘sorry’ to a nun on the train, organising a jail break, breaking into a Mutka don’s home, committing a murder etc. I quite liked the underlying this message : travelling from anywhere to anywhere in Mumbai in 40 mins, is as tough as orchestrating a jail break or such other tasks. That is one heck of a social message, to me !!!

Well, Sanjay Dutt, manages to do all of these. Of course. And the flawless execution & remarkable ease of these executions, makes me wonder why my corporate life seems so tough ! Duh !

Ultimately, it has an alls-well-ends-well ending. And as the film meandered to a close, for a moment, i had sweaty palms and a strange fright that the movie would end with Imran Khan and Minisha Lamba ‘falling in love’ ! Thankfully, that pain didnt ensue !

I think one chase sequence involving Sanjay Dutt and Imran Khan was quite absorbing. Although, Sanjay Dutt’s flab shows all the way through ! Other than that, the basic plot of the movie was rather sturdy. And Imran Khan almost manages to carry the film on his shoulders. Those are what go well for the movie.

On the other hand, Minisha Lamba’s screen prescence, minimal chemistry between Imran & Minisha, Sanjay Dutt and Vidya Malvade, gloriously inept dialogues, inappropriate costume design, remarkable overloading / stretching of the story & such else gets you to twist and turn in your seat !

(Minisha Lamba appears to have packed for the kidnapping. Thats the kind of costumes she wears while remaining a captive. Not that what she wore a lot….but you get the idea dont you…!?)

Bolder editing, tauter dialogues, lesser of grind routines, better casting, and absorbing performances would have provided with a much more wholesome experience. I guess thats like all parts of movie making ! Almost !

And when Imran Khan, says, ‘hell is right here’ you may want to think that he is talking about the audience and the movie hall. To be fair, the movie isn’t completely bad. It held promise for a brief while. The angst that resides in me is this : that promise, however brief it was for, did not sustain!

Wish it had.

Welcome To Sajjanpur.

Shyam Benegal was the pull factor ! That name was enough for us to troop into watch ‘Welcome to Sajjanpur‘ ! We weren’t completely disappointed !

Its quite a different movie, than the ones that we have seen from the Benegal stable. Its a very simple, easy and intense tale, told with a fluid pen and structured thought! As usual, the characters, the visuals, smart lines, and neat casting makes the village and the story come alive.

This is a tale about an aspiring novelist beginning his career in his small village, as a letter-writer ! His writing flair comes in handy as a viable option for enabling a largely ‘illiterate’ village to reach out to the world ! And as he becomes the enabler, the world speaks through him, so to speak !

Deeper themes emerge in the movie. In all its ‘humour’ and ‘light-hearted’ tale, Shyam Benegal does manage to bring to the fore, some issues ! Widow-Remarriage, Power and the marginalised sections of society, village politics and their polarisation etc !

As light and flowing it can get, the movie and its themes are quite intense ! At least, it was to me. Some dialogues were really ‘cool’ and so was the music ! This definitely is not in the ‘best of Benegal‘ category, with certain portions floundering quite a bit ! But it all falls in place as it meanders along !

With rustic hindi from the heartland and a realistic portrayal, it did seem to have already attracted a different audience at the multiplexes !

Easy tale. Realistic portrayal. By and large, decent acting. And Benegal as the director. That would help overlook other factors that weigh against the movie !

Must admit, we did get a few good laughs !

A Wednesday !

A Wednesday is a different movie. After a full week of release, we walked into a movie hall with almost each seat taken : This with no glamour girl, no song sequences and more importantly two old men ( ok not that old, but still old)in the lead roles ! You either had to give it to word of mouth that came out of some interesting sequences and acting !

The movie is indeed about terror. Technology. Mobile phones. Etc. But the screenplay is gripping and has a few surprises in store. The movie opens out to a silent title reel. With the odd flicker of dots within the names featured. And proceeds to weave an interesting interplay of simultaneous events. These separate events steadily get woven into one lovely piece of a movie !!

Naseerudin Shah plays a character who is the bomber with technical wizardy. His calls cant be traced. Nor his threats ignored, for he plants bombs at the police station across the commissioners office !

And then, proceeds to make his demands for certain terrorists to be freed. The story unfolds from thereon. All the while having packed home made sandwiches and coffee from a flask! And after buying groceries for home !

I hate to go any further on the storyline, even as i am tempted to do so. Just so that nothing is given away when you & you appreciate the movie in full.

The movie resonates at some level ! Personally, i have a problem with killings. Of any sort. Methodical. Vigilante. Terrorist. Encounter. Etc. To me, a killing is a killing. That belief was tested for a few moments. But those moments were intense moments !

For what was said, held rationale and cold logic. It took me a while to sort things out and re-anchor my feelings around taking of a life !

Its not as though that the movie is a flawless production! But yet, I would brand the movie as very close to ‘must watch’ ! Its different. Neatly executed punctuated with humour, some powerful dialogues and impeccable delivery too.

Anupam Kher plays the Police Commissioner of Mumbai and makes you wish that the avatar who plays the role emerges from the screen and walk into the commissioner’s seat here !

All key characters come alive on screen with superlative performances from the artistes playing them, perhaps with the exception of Jimmy Shergil playing the role of a tough cop.

Naseeruddin Shah oozes presence and character. I wonder why we don’t see more of him on screen. Yet, it is the storyline which keeps you alive with ‘what-happens-next’ curiosity all through. With some subtle and sophisticated humour that appeals to the common man. (From a common man too !!)

We walked out of the movie hall more than satisfied of having caught a good movie ! Second week in a row ( after Tahaan ) !

In half an hour we heard about the bomb blasts in Delhi. My wife wished that the ‘common man’ took a worldly avatar. And seeing the scenes of destruction and chaos, i wished it too. For a brief moment. My belief held over years, was tested.

The movie resonates with the common man who suffer ! For that it deserves a watch.

Tahaan. Movie Review

Tahaan. I voted for this movie because of Santosh Sivan. And got much more than Santosh Sivan and his wizardy with the camera. The cast, storyline, fantastic acting, subtle music all played their part.  More details here.

Tahaan is a story thats set in Kashmir.  It again, has no songs with a thousand human beings providing the backdrop , and no stunt sequences decked with Tata Sumos flying up in the air. No second track ‘comedy’ (sic) !  And all characters in the movie are fully clothed. So.  

The film is about reality, possibilities, choice, love and life itself. 

Well, for all of the above, would you be surprised to know that the story centers around a donkey. Well, a boy and his donkey! I would be.   

An assortment of carefully laid out sequences capture the  journeys of a boy, his love ( for his donkey) and the realities of modern day Kashmir in a tapestry that breezily weaves its way into our hearts & to our minds as well. 

Current day realities of the valley present itself in the form of the military & the accompanying militancy, guns, bullets, deserted homes of Kashmiri Pundits, identity parades, grenades. These are presented befitting the line that meets our eyes before the movie rolls on : all characters in the movie are fictitious & the incidents are non-fictitious

All the same, to me the movie seemed to let out a subtle scream for all conflicts. Or rather, for all people involved in conflicts that are not their own. Kashmir, Iraq, Bosnia Sri Lanka and so on. Where children and their futures can sucked into the vortex with ease that can put the best vacuum cleaners to shame.  

A particular exchange stays fresh. The child asks, ‘who owns the mountains?’ The answer he gets is that we dont own the mountains, but it is the mountains who own us. We pass on and they stay ! ( I want to add, but it is ‘for’ them that we fight.  Sigh )!

The movie endures. Not leaning on populism, propoganda or empty nationalism, the film is a moving depiction of the state of the valley through the eyes of young Tahaan and his realities. The realities of a wide eyed eight your old boy !

Breathtaking visuals.  Interesting portrayals. The simplicity of the story.  Words of wisdom. Factual presentation.  All left us a shaken and stirred. On our way back, we talked about the movie and our own recollections of such other stories of strife. And we remind ourselves that we need to do something. Our bit. 

Long after a movie is over, if the scenes stay with you & you are stirred to action, there cant be a better compliment !  

Do catch a watch.