IT”S TIME TO ROCK ON

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“ If there is one regret in my life, its not being able to play football. I was very good ,Ma’am, and believe that it should have been my career….but my father insisted I join the Government”.

That was what a junior colleague, told me over coffee and gupshup on one of those days in office, which seemed to stretch on endlessly for no reason. I heard the catch in his voice and startled, looked up to see him lost and a little bewildered. Something I had not expected ,perhaps, to encounter in a person who was in a secure, well paying, respectable job.

Deep conversations with the right people make you either fulfilled or restless -I have come to this conclusion after many, many such interactions over the years. It has also been my experience that both the feelings are absolutely and strangely compatible. And yes, indisputably, these conversations make you grow. Read somewhere that  ‘ you are the books you read, the films you watch, the music you listen to, the people you meet, the dreams you have, the conversations you engage in. …you are what you take from these “

It is with this background that that I pushed off , last Friday, straight from work to watch “ Rock On 2”.  The rather grim faces of  moviegoers  who had caught  the first show did not portend too well for the movie. I caught phrases like ‘ without any imagination’’,  “ absolutely lacked direction’,  “pointless yaar…paisa barbaad’’, ‘’so contrived’’ etc.

The movie sadly turned out to be all of these. It was a very superficial, urbane hash of very deja-vu feelings and ideas .  Farhan Akhtar as Aditya is disturbed  and feels personally responsible for the death of a young boy, Rahul Sharma, who had hopes of becoming a ‘modern’ music star . He seeks redemption and retreats to picturesque Meghalaya for some heavy soul -searching. Arjun Rampal as Joe Mascarhenas is now a Mr Moneybags in Mumbai , owning a posh club and a judge of  a reality show ( seriously, when is the world going to wake up to this assault on one’s senses? )  In Purab Kohli as KD , hope springs eternal about a re-union with his former  “Magik” bandmates.  Nothing magical seems to be happening to “Magik’’ though. Its more like ‘’ subeh hoti hai, shaam hoti hai, umr yun hi tamaam hoti hai “ ( Ghalib) , till the  agonizingly cliched arrival  of Shraddha Kapoor as Jiah. Yes, she is none other than  Rahul’s younger sister and musically gifted too. She is troubled by her brother’s suicide and blames her renowned Hindustani- classical- musician- father for  it, naturally. Misunderstandings, heartbreaks, partings all happen but finally end up in a happy story.  We are also sensitized to a have vs have-not crisis in the North East via  Ba Singh–a supposedly old timer from Meghalaya who looks more like the ubiquitous Chinese old man in all the Chinese bric-a-bracs that we love to buy from Lajpat Nagar market. Thus, the sequel to the cult musical drama that had moved us , almost eight years back, failed to elicit any fervor.

Yet, I sat through the movie and pinged my sister that it is eminently watchable.

Why did it work for me ? Well, to be fair , individual performances were rather good.  Shraddha Kapoor deserves a special mention. The cinematography was breathtaking. I rather fancied a red, knitted artsy  jacket worn by Farhan Akhtar ( Damn! I need to visit the  North East emporiums on Baba Kharak Singh Marg). Oh yes, how can I forget to mention the super hot , jaan-leva Arjun Rampal ?

But, it was that yearning in my young colleague’s  voice for a dream not pursued, a passion that was snuffed out and sorrowfully a life not being ‘lived’ but just ‘existing’ which flashed in my mind as I watched the movie. The dark truth of Pink Floyd’s “ Another Brick In The Wall’ as manifest in parental control/aspirations , societal definition of the ‘ideal’  and an alienation of Kierkegaardian proportions  are the intangible but throbbing elements in the movie. It brought back memories also of my father’s wrath when I played the riffs of Led Zeppelin’s ‘Kashmir’ on my sitar. I was being trained in HIndustani classical music , in the Vishnupur gharana tradition- that music flowed in my veins, but so did Jimi Hendrix.  Did Ravi Shankar’s collaboration with George Harrison not produce great music ? Purity in music, I did respect but my gypsy soul  also longed for the music of  that piper at the gates of dawn.Like most of my generation, I listened to my parents too and moulded myself on their expectations, despite my psychedelic sheep orientation. They wanted the best for me and I love them for that. Today, I am middle aged , secure and respectable-I pay my taxes and usually don’t jump red lights. But within the not-too-rigid walls of my life, I do what I love –save animals, wear red lipstick ,read Rumi and rock to Led Zeppelin. Just as Jiah does with her music and life.

Rock on, I tell my young colleague- its not and never too late to live that life you yearn for.  The age factor will not allow him to be a footballer now, I realize.But there are so many other ways he can be connected to the sport in real time. Maybe he will set up a football academy ? Own a club ? And help, support , inspire that little boy whose father possibly says  ‘’ Son, you need to become an engineer/lawyer/doctor/IAS officer! Concentrate on studies not football!’’

And yes, I hope ‘’ Rock On 3 “ happens for all of us who seem to have got stuck, for whatever reason, in lives which doesn’t let us /stops us from dancing the mambo.

The accidental sufi bids you au revoir and as usual leaves you with a favorite song ….its fusion music….something which my Dad , the purist, would frown upon 😉

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Ae Dil Hai Mushkil: Have we all not felt that unbearable heaviness of being ?

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There is  currently that delicious nip in the air which I  so love about Delhi weather . Despite the killer smog, Sunday afternoon today was bliss after the totally awesome rajma chawal, which my pug ( adopted from Friendicoes)Tony Iommi ( named after the legendary Black Sabbath guitarist) shared with me.

So great was our satisfaction with life ( read : siesta) that I started having second thoughts about going for “Ae Dil hai Mushkil”. The reviews, even after a 4 star rating by some leading dailies, have been pretty scathing.The movie doesn’t have any of my favorite Bollywood actors. My friends also refused to accompany me– one of them remembered that I had howled my heart out in another Karan Johar film, ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’’, when Shahrukh Khan had died. They didn’t want to repeat the embarrassment, it seems.

I guess it was  the theme of ‘unrequited love’ of the movie which won over the rajma chawal induced somnolence.That feeling of yearning is something each of us possibly can/will relate to. Deep down it  glows like embers…what Gulzar sahab says Ek chhota sa lamha hai jo khatm nahee hota, mai lakh jalata hun, yeh bhasm nahee hota” ( There is a small moment in time, which doesnt end. I try to burn it endlessly, but it dosent turn into ashes).

Great  art, literature, music they say is born when and if the heart is forced to want and weep.From the unrequited love themes in the comic strip “Peanuts’ to  Milan Kundera’s ‘The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, I have been fascinated with the incapacity of the human mind to deal with it and the beauty that comes into existence because of it. It is a beauty which is tender, fragile but surprisingly powerful.Would you not describe Jo & Laurie’s relationship ( Little Women) in precisely these very words ? Or, perhaps, think why does Adele make so much sense to many hard core rocker chicks ( me included) ?

Thus, I thrilled to hear Shahrukh Khan, in a cameo, speak about the exquisiteness of,both, joy and sorrow, that unrequited love brings. That scene perhaps nailed  the movie for me. A brilliantly played out scene which has many complex nuances and bold takes that is usually not seen in mainstream Hindi cinema. We see a middle aged woman with a younger lover–confident in her sexuality  and unapologetic; a wife strong enough to  leave her famous husband for his indiscretion and carve out a niche for herself; a relationship of ex’s which tries to be civil, but hey, we know ‘move on’ is an oxymoron;a young man who is jealous of his lover’s ex but acknowledges his wisdom. I shall refuse to speak about the Hindu-Muslim angle which is being talked about. It is so trite that it  should be insulting to any one’s sensibilities.

The movie definitely cannot be trashed and trolled. Both Ranbir Kapoor  and Anushka Sharma have essayed their roles well. Although, the director fails to bring about the edginess in Alizeh’s character –think Deepika Padukone in “Cocktail” ? And though Saba is poised and mature, I couldn’t help but remember Dimple Kapadia in “ Dil Chahta Hai”.

All in all, go watch the movie, people.

Especially if Ghalib thrills you, like he does me.

aah ko chahiye ek umr asar hone tak,

kaun jiitaa hai teri zulf ke sar hone tak’’ aashiqi sabr talab aur tamanna betaab

dil ka kya rang karoon khoon-e-jigar hone tak

humne maana ke tagaaful na karoge lekin

khaak ho jayenge hum, tumko khabar hone tak

gham-e-hasti ka asad kis se ho juz marg ilaaz

shamma har rang mein jalti hai sahar hone tak’’

 (Translation : Love demands patience and yearning restless

How do I placate my heart till my destruction?

Though I believe you may not ignore me, but

I will turn into ashes by the time you understand my plight

O Asad!, There is no remedy for the anguish of living save death

The candle has to burn till morning no matter what)

Well, the accidental sufi bids you au revoir with a a very favorite song of hers 🙂