The Case Of Two “Thappad” S

#bollywood #taapseepannu #anubhavsinha #entertainment #movies #review


( Disclaimer: This is not a comparison in whatever form of the two movies,please)


Once again, the film going and loving junta in India ,are talking about a ‘thappad’ ( slap on the face). The last time it happened was with the release of ‘Dabbang’ in 2010. A gloriously gorgeous( and typically Indian male fantasy)Sonakshi Sinha, sulkily cooed “Thappad se darr nahi lagta sahab, pyar se lagta hai” to an equally gorgeous hunk-y Salman Khan, oozing testosterone and machismo.


The audience went wild! So did I! Nothing to beat a kitschy, irreverent, entertaining Bollywood movie to trigger an endorphin rush.Plus, it also eased the pain of shelling out an alarming Rs 1250/- for the Pepsi popcorn duo; and yes, somewhere it calmed down the irrational anger at the Man Friday who had got ‘Zandu’ balm that morning instead of my regular ‘Amrutanjan’.


Nine years later, a sweet, pretty girl-next-door Tapsee Panu, divorces her rather likeable , successful , meterosexual husband for a single slap at a party in their home. This time the audience is silent! So am I! The emotions this ‘thappad’ evokes are many: of varying shades of feminism, of a sense of individualism, of consent and obligation, of choices and consequences, of courage and conviction, of what is and what ought to be,of multi-layered relationships, of violence and tenderness.


These are not easy or convenient emotions and certainly not those which can be measured in rigid , contrasting shades of black and white.They are clothed in that ephemeral shade of grey. While watching the movie, my indecisiveness was such that it would have put Hamlet to shame!And therein lies the greatness of this movie: that it does not force you to choose and walk up one, single straitjacket path; rather, it allows you to choose to walk on many paths.Most importantly, it does not moralize.Most crucially, it makes you think, introspect and reflect.


The path that I chose to walk on was that of individualism.


Here’s a definition from Wikipedia which tells you about my belief and choice:Individualism is the moral stance, political philosophy, ideology, or social outlook that emphasizes the moral worth of the individual.[Individualists promote the exercise of one’s goals and desires and so value independence and self-reliance and advocate that interests of the individual should achieve precedence over the state or a social group, while opposing external interference upon one’s own interests by society or institutions such as the government.Individualism makes the individual its focus and so starts “with the fundamental premise that the human individual is of primary importance in the struggle for liberation.”


In the movie, Amrita, brings this individualism out very surely and strongly. That, she can be many things to society in its entirety, but the most important is her ‘being’.One is reminded of the advice of the terribly boring , terrifyingly succinct Polonius to his son Laertes: “This above all: to thine own self be true,

And it must follow, as the night the day,

Thou canst not then be false to any man.” ( Act 1, Scene 3, Hamlet).


A few words about the movie, now. Spectacular performances by each and every actor, whether they were essaying major or minor roles.A nuanced and very, very intelligent direction. Other cinematic fortes– a tight, seamless editing; the musical score; the locales and backgrounds;the costumes and make-up–all admirably and ably support and enhance this very important film.


My personal favorite actors in the movie have been: Taapsee Pannu( Amrita):take a bow, comrade!

Kumud Mishra (Amrita’s father): because I am forever Daddy’s girl!

Pavail Gulati(Amrita’s husband): because I didn’t hate you.


My friends and family threaten to keep a safe distance from me while watching movies especially in movie theatres.For I embarrass them–you see, I cry most horrifyingly.When Shah Rukh Khan died in ‘ Kal Ho Na Ho’,I morphed into a pathetic dragon and tears flowed out of my eyes and nose! When a choked Amrita explains herself/her actions/her choice to her mother-in-law at the end of the movie ( what a performance by both ), I didn’t cry though—I just let those unshed tears go to that deep well that Hafiz of Shiraz refers to:

“There are different wells within us.

Some fill with each good rain,

Others are far, far too deep

For that.”


Alright, folks. Lets now see the two ‘thappads’ in context.


I don’t fear the slap nor do I fear the love.


What I fear is when I stop being me.


Five Hidden Messages in “Four More Shots, please”

#amazonprimevideoIn #fourmoreshotsplease #pritishnandycommunications #entertainment


Let’s start with the verdict since we in India are so quick to judge : WATCH THE SERIES


I actually binge watched both the seasons together recently after getting emphatic recommendations from a friend. To be honest, I liked the first season more as I feel it’s more edgy and brilliant. By the time , I reached the second season ( ably sustained by endless cups of matcha and banana chips), there was this cozy, happy homecoming feeling–one that was amplified as one realized that the girls had “ found’ themselves and moved into their inner core, however tough or heart breaking their trials might have been.


Art imitates life. For after all, isn’t that what Pablo Picasso said :“That everything you imagine is real ?” When we watch the series we realize that we are not being told a ‘story’. This is reality! Conveyed through stellar performances of the main protagonists and a tad mercurial but brilliant direction, it does not shy away from ugly truths and cracks. Rather, it accepts the flaws in human beings and thereby vindicates Cocteau’s words that “The world owes its enchantment to these curious creatures and their fancies; but its multiple complicity rejects them. Thistledown spirits, tragic, heartrending in their evanescence, they must go blowing headlong to perdition.” Tragically,because it involves explosive cuts into the psyche, mindset and ‘beingness’ of the general population (except for the discerning few), the series has had its fair share of detractors and been subject to moral policing as well as unnecessary sanctimonious calls.


The series admirably highlights through little stories , many complex issues of ( a) female friendship & bonding ( b) female identity ( c) sexual freedom and choice ( d) millennial relationships ( e) women’s emancipation ( f) problems of patriarchy ( g) costs of urbanisation & rapid technological advance (h) alienation.


But, in five seemingly underplayed areas, the series succinctly puts out a very strong message or highlights a crucial fact. Let me tell where and how :


Damini Rizvi Roy: The two part surname immediately tells a little tale that her parents belong to two different and main religions of the country, sending out a strong signal of love and tolerance. The name Damini , which means ‘lightning’,and her being a journalist possibly conveys that the profession is/needs to be just that–hard hitting and fearless.In fact, I got reminded of the Bollywood movie “ Damini’’ ( 1993 ) which again was bold and beautiful.


A male as a Gynaecologist : This one smashes gender stereotyping and also simultaneously the gender politics that has unfortunately entered into the field of medicine. There has been a trend where male doctors are disappearing from gynaecology. Women tend to prefer and feel more comfortable with a female doctor. Definitely, it’s a personal choice, but medical acumen should not really be sacrificed at the altar of gender. A little non-seriously I wonder, that though my gynecologist is a female, would I have dithered if a Milind Soman look alike was around ? Bingo! Doctors in Indian movies etc have rarely been portrayed as hot–poor guys!


Choice to cast Umang Singh as a traditional Punjabi girl: This character could have been from any state in India. Why from the North and a state, both, which are known for male dominance in all spheres and very clear cut gender roles ? That LGBT-ism is natural and nothing to be ashamed of or to be condemned is what the series seeks bravely to achieve by using traditional male bastions as a backdrop. What a message for seeking inclusivity and tolerance !


The Boho Look of Kavya: The power of costumes and their effect on visual storytelling! And the need to recognize the contribution of people who work behind the scenes!Just by that quirky, Bohemian, hippie-chic way of dressing , the essence/need/role of this supporting actor was conveyed brilliantly. One didn’t hate her and yes one could also understand why she fit in with Varun ( a brilliant performance)—opposites sometimes don’t attract, but similarities do.


Breathe and be Imperfect: Totally flawed women with imperfect near and dear ones ? Plus brokeness and damage ? And this won my heart for it is based on the Japanese concept of “Wabi-sabi’’– the world view centered on the acceptance of transience and imperfection.This ancient aesthetic philosophy rooted in Zen Buddhism, particularly the tea ceremony,is a ritual of purity and simplicity in which masters prized bowls that were handmade and irregularly shaped, with uneven glaze, cracks– seeing an anchored, perverse beauty in their deliberate imperfection. The related Japanese art “kintsugi’– literally golden (“kin”) and repair (“tsugi”)–this uses a precious metal – liquid gold, liquid silver or lacquer dusted with powdered gold to bring together the pieces of a broken pottery item and at the same time beautifully enhance the breaks. Hey, it’s okay to carry a few precious scars….thats what I learnt.


Do watch,people!This is a new breed of actors and creators who are bold and are not afraid to experiment which is the elixir of creativity. We seriously also need to question why the land which produced the ‘ Kamasutra’ is so queasy about the birds and the bees ?


That’s all for now—time for my shot! Matcha,please.















The Canteen Omelette

#cooking #omelette #JNU #memories

 The other day I was reading an article in ‘The New Yorker’. It was called “ Mastering the Art of Making a French Omelette’ by Bill Buford. A delightful piece of writing, it proves what I firmly believe in : that cooking is a highly creative idea and process.So when women ( mainly) either complain about  the drudgery of cooking or consider it fashionably feminist to avoid the kitchen, my brain formulates a rather tart response. Somewhat along the lines of ‘ You need intelligence and a rich appreciation of beauty to be able to cook’. The same applies to men who scoff at this ‘un-macho’ activity and tend to categorise it , most regrettably, lower than speeding and soccer.


In about a thousand words, the author conjures up images of such sensuality and  perfection, that one wonders if one is reading about cooking an egg or listening to Neruda’s poetry! Or this as well–“There is communion of more than our bodies when bread is broken and wine drunk”.( MFK Fisher) In 1956, American columnist Harriet Van Horne wrote an article for Vogue magazine , which started with the words “Cooking is like love — it should be entered into with abandon or not at all”. The description of omelette making in the article by Monsieur Buford belongs to that category and condition of l’amour.


Then I thought about that ‘omelette’ which perhaps most of us are familiar with here in India.It forms an essential part of growing up and  the fond nostalgic ideal of the carefree college /university days. It perhaps can rightfully be thought of as a rite of passage that marked the beginning of flying away from the nest and ended with responsibility and choices of the adult world. I am talking about the omelette that is the staple food in college canteens served between two slices of bread  and most usually with the other iconic ‘cutting chai’.


I studied in JNU,Delhi and I relate to the ‘bread aamlet’ or ‘bun anda’ of the Ganga dhaba. Each college/university would have its similar point of rendezvous and  similar fare.In fact, this fabled bread omelette, along with a few grounded, plebeian dishes, is almost akin to the ‘ little tradition’ of that place. Till date, I keep coming across people at parties and happening do’s–successful, erudite, the movers & shakers etc– who after settling into a comfort zone of good booze ( mainly),good food, good music wage wars about ‘whose canteen was better in college’! The conversations veer off towards gut wrenching sentimentality and the end result is most certainly ‘  hamara bread omelette’ of mythical and magical prowess.


The omelette would be normally made out of two eggs and whisked in a very disreputable steel glass with an equally sad bent spoon. In would go, thrown with flamboyant dexterity, chopped onions,green chilly salt and an alarmingly colored powder–it , I guess, was a mix of pepper, red chilly, garam masala and the dust in the atmosphere. This would then be dumped on a huge frying pan where oil of doubtful vintage sizzled; side by side, two slices of bread or a bun sliced into two would also be lightly grilled. My friends, both, male and female, would glare at Sushil, the gentle dhaba chap ( God bless him!) coz invariably he was partial towards me–so my omelette would have a dash of chopped green coriander and much, much, much extra maska on the bun.Many theories were advanced for this treachery by Sushil but the one I loved and believe/d in was the common love for dogs that we shared.A very important ritual of this omelette was also the part of  conveying that the dish was ready– ‘Do bun anda , Boss’ would be shouted across the transistor blaring in the background and general din of voices. Here,enters a magnificent feminist aphorism—”boss’’ could be a girl or a boy. I loved it and would often think that there should be a study on this —how mundane and ordinary people or stuff sometimes contain great thoughts, ideas and attitude. 


How would this omelette be rated by gourmets and connoisseurs of fine food/dining? I really cannot say! There was a  dismal,significant lack of those parameters by which its loftiness would be judged— the method, color, texture, shape, right temperature, ingredients ( free range eggs, aux fine herbes etc ), fragrance, the utensils used. Yet, I guess, it would pass the test solely on one account–the cheerfulness, devotion and love which went into making the omelette and feeding it to those far away from home. Disclaimer:The nobleness  and magnanimity of this thought must also take into account the infinite wonders of a hot omelette over the horrifying hostel mess food! 


 “in the abstract art of cooking,

ingredients trump appliances,

passion supersedes expertise,

creativity triumphs over technique,

spontaneity inspires invention,

and wine makes even the worst culinary disaster taste delicious.” ( Bob Blumer)


Apply that to the omelette and raise a toast to it—wherever, whichever, however! 


Why I Dismantled the CCTV



A week back the CCTV guys came to install the rather smart looking ( read:bloody expensive) surveillance system in my house.My K9 hooligan gang, consisting of six Great Danes, one each of Boxer, Labrador, Daschund, Pug ,are quite enough to deter and maim any hapless intruder–plus, they are aided by the ever growing desi community dogs who I feed and take care of.Yet,my well to do and highly successful friends were insistent on the CCTV-”It is a big deterrent and you especially need it”, they told me caustically, perhaps a wee bit miffed at my hippie lifestyle.


Soon, the perimeter of the house, rooftops, drive way , all entrances were being fortified. The chaps worked efficiently and converesed amongst themselves in some unintelligible technical jargon. I sleepily watched them as Roberta Flack crooned on my headphones, content that they were doing the job well.


The peace was broken suddenly with the arrival of my next door neighbor Pammi Aunty, She is the MIss Marple of my colony and a large , imposing lady of around 70 years with henna-ed hair. Originally hailing from Amritsar, she now stays with her son after the death of her husband,While she is definitely well meaning , her inquisitiveness, penchant for giving all sorts of advice and her mission of incessantly culling the neighbourhood’s “secrets”,terrify a lot of people. However, I am one of her favourites for alongwith the advice, she also gets me homemade besan ladoos, mathris, pinni etc.She keeps telling me lovingly that I look like a “Punjabi kudi” that makes me flinch and mentally promise myself that I really need to stop snacking on samosas.

Well, Pammi Aunty was miffed that I had not told her about the CCTV.Soon her anger dissolved though as she set about to inspect the range , placement, efficacy etc of the system. The technicians quailed at the onslaught. But the team head was able to answer her satisfactorily–it perhaps helped that he had friends and family in Punjab too.Then, she firmly told me that the CCTV needs to be installed inside the house to keep an eye on the staff. My feeble protest that it was unnecessary and that she was watching too many true crime series on Netflix fell on deaf ears. Criminal intentions and plotting by the staff as well as keeping an eye on the ghee, milk,sugar in the kitchen is an existential necessity she hissed. My angst that it will be add to the cost was pooh-pooed away. Using the “mitti di khushboo’ connection, she pounced on the team head and l must admit garnered a delightfully hard bargain. Game, set, match to Aunty! And,I was left with a house security system that would awe any secret service.


A brief note, now, about my life after that fateful day.

Well,to be fair to all –men, women and machine– there was a psychological high, definitely. I felt safe and secure. Everyone in my quiet neighbourhood talked about it with awe. I even became a CCTV role model!

But, my joy was short lived. My identity morphed into that of a reverse Big Brother! I draw your attention to George Orwell in 1984 “Always eyes watching you and the voice enveloping you. Asleep or awake, indoors or out of doors, in the bath or bed- no escape. Nothing was your own except the few cubic centimeters in your skull.”

I kept looking at the monitor, which is installed in my study, every now or then to check for “intrusions”. Each time any of my dogs barked –whether at 4 am or 4 pm— I would rush to peer at the large monitor! If I didn’t see anything, I actually started running to the areas of imagined intrusion at weird times. My predominantly eastern India genes and their unbearable heaviness of being during the afternoon siestas revolted at such uncalled for activity. I panicked when one of the cameras failed—I thought it was tampering rather than possible Chinese goods malfunction. My suspicion became so absolutely live and pulsating that that I started imagining a terror attack from China via the CCTV—very insidiously funny actually.Like the scare sometime back about Facebook leaking all your information/data—I had panicked too! Till I realized that the information is as worthless as me.

Yet, despite the obvious and unnecessary discomfort, I hung on to the CCTV.

The chilling climax comes now.

Thanks to Pammi Aunty’s intervention and the CCTV inside the house, I was privy to vital acts and information that had a deep bearing on my being.

I saw that my cook sneezed while tempering that tasty “arhar dal” which I loved. He didn’t switch on the fan, as ‘thaaanda laagche’’, while kneading the ‘atta’—I trembled at the possible final destination of the droplets of sweat. Sometimes, he lovingly checked to see whether male appendages in the southern anatomical regions of his body , were there or not.

I saw that my maid preened in front of my full length mirror. My smile turned into a snarl when I saw her liberally using my Forest Essentials Ojas Glow Night Beauty Balm–why, I gingerly dip my pinky finger into the exorbitant pot to take out just a wee amount!

The gardner snored behind the big oak tree during much of his working hours while my Man Friday watched Tik -Tok videos on his mobile and laughed uproariously if he was not checking out the maid’s voluptuous charms and trying to engage her in “ishq baazi”

And then I heard snippets of conversations about me and my lifestyle: why does she have so many dogs, is that photo of the bearded man ( Che Guevara) her husband’s, why is she always in old track pants, arrey baba how much coffee she drinks, she is nice but sometimes screams unnecessarily , tell her she will become deaf if she listens to loud music, why should there be three types of floor cleaner, yesterday she had a fight on phone and used horrible gaalis…cheeee, maybe the bearded shahib’s name is JImmy Page coz she was telling someone she will only marry him ,why does she not go to the beauty parlor like me ,is she going to set up a book shop, why so many books,her friends are drunkards and sutte baazis, never goes to the temple , she ate omelette on karwa chauth…hai ram,what a crazy woman she is …talks to the cat etc etc.

The verdict thus as you see, was not encouraging at all! I brooded and sulked.I even forgot to listen to Led Zeppelin! Such was my existential angst.

Deep introspection led me to the conclusion that I can’t and wont change my staff—for despite some of their irritating and rather ghastly idiosyncrasies, I sense an innate goodness in them. How ? Each one of them actually loves my animals.That is a character trait of the highest order for me.Period.

And naturally, I cant change myself.I am not just the black but the psychedelic sheep of the family. But I will be unashamedly, unapologetically me.

For peace of mind, thus, out went the CCTV.

I guess I will rescue couple more dogs.












And the music hits me…

Their sound slices through my brain like a sonic scalpel!

Whoa! Bravo! Absolute brilliance!

Discovered accidentally while I was net surfing.

The edginess reminds me of David Bowie.

There is this rush of adrenalin pushing me into an alien world.

It’s heady, charged, spinning into the dark uknown.



It’s beautiful.

Salute, Imagine Dragons!

#newagerock #alternative


Sometimes you find inspiration from unexpected sources.

Here is a little plant & flower which blooms in a wall of stone & concrete.

When I reached my house this afternoon ( that’s the outside boundary wall of the house), my man Friday was all set to uproot the plant and repair the breach in the wall.

I stopped him.

The plant and me looked at each other and smiled.

Kindred spirits, you might say.

So I have named the plant ” Sthithapragyan”.

And when I leave this house, she will go with me.

A strange friendship?

Those are always the best.

#courage #inspiration

On Friendship

There are times when I smile at the contents of a “Whatsapp”. Not laugh or feel amused at a witty forward.But genuinely smile and rejoice…from the bottom of my heart.

One such instance was a recent conversation between my friend Geetanjali. She is my childhood buddy.But we haven’t met since the last twenty  years. In school, I remember her being my comrade in every possible scrape that would drive the nuns mad ( we studied in a convent). In college , though we studied different disciplines, we met most frequently to giggle over gossip. Then jobs and marriages happened. And she moved to a different continent.

We got back in touch, thanks to Facebook.


Geetanjali: Yesterday, I got an email from an artist .I have taken her classes.She was announced the Copley Master this year. She wrote to say she loved having my painting right next to hers at the gallery.I hadn’t told her that my work was selected as well.But I am so bloody unproductive and moody…..then once in a while, I hear from you with your amazing poetry…then I feel alive.

Me: * smiles*

Maybe ,I am too emotional as I type this. But wait! No , I am not emotional.What I am actually is ? Blessed. Yes, to have a friend as she, to have a friendship as this.

E.B White says  in ‘Charlotte’s Web” –“Why did you do all this for me?’ he asked. ‘I don’t deserve it. I’ve never done anything for you.’ ‘You have been my friend,’ replied Charlotte. ‘That in itself is a tremendous thing.”

Here’s to friendship,guys.



“My place is the Placeless, my trace is the Traceless ;
‘Tis neither body nor soul, for I belong to the soul of the Beloved.
I have put duality away, I have seen that the two worlds are one;
One I seek, One I know, One I see, One I call”- Rumi

( The Ecstatic World of Rumi, Hafiz & Lalla)

Thor to my defence

I have just ordered Thor’s hammer paper weight for my office desk. I am told it works better than sarcasm & frosty glares on “men-troubled by hormones & imagination -wanting to have coffee” category of colleagues 😈

#thor #womenpower #