Monday, 26 November 2012

A tribute to Yash Chopra

Something I wrote for Sterling Holidays -

A scion of love; a veteran filmmaker and a man that could make any place on Earth look gorgeous. In his wake, Yash Chopra leaves a void in the Indian film industry.

She stands amidst a field of yellow sarson flowers, pristine in a simple white salwar suit, staring intently at him—gauging whether he is real or a mere figment of her imagination. He stands afar, gazing at her. Then, ever so slowly, he extends his arms and she breaks out into a smile. Without a word, without a thought, she runs towards his open arms and they become one. Tujhe Dekha Toh…
dilwale dulhania le jayenge shahrukh khan

Courtesy: Yash Raj Films

The opening scene of one of the most romantic songs of all time is etched in our memory, as it is. That was the magic that only the scion of romance and veteran Bollywood director, Yash Chopra could create. Oftentimes, he didn’t need words—he wrote epic tales of love expressed on celluloid of gorgeous locales.

At the risk of unbridled posthumous flattery, Yash Chopra was to Indian films what Martin Scorcese is to Hollywood. At a time when heroes were the prime focus of Hindi films and the action genre was being lapped up by the masses, Chopra delved into the world of love. He redefined love and romance for Indian cinema and used beautiful backdrops to do this—the valleys of Kashmir; the snow-peaked mountains of Switzerland; the sarson da khets in Punjab; the field of flowers in Netherlands. Fascinated with femininity, he made his heroines look beautiful, with the white sari, or gorgeous chiffons in lovely pastels becoming a signature of sorts in his films. How could you not fall in love?

Contrary to popular belief, Chopra did not shoot his films only in Switzerland. Yes, he loved the country deeply—so much so, that the Jungfrau Railways in Switzerland named a train after the director and a suite in the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel was also named after him.
Coach named after Yashji in Jungfrau Railways in Switzerland

Courtesy: Yash Raj Films
Suite in the Victoria-Jungfrau Grand Hotel

Courtesy: Yash Raj Films

Nonetheless, despite the soft corner he had for the world’s neutral country and a fondness for European locations, Chopra did not miss the beauty his own country offered. Kashmir, Punjab and Jaipur were some all-time favourites. Like any other filmmaker, as director and/or producer, Chopra too shot a fair number of scenes in studios created in Mumbai. But those aren’t the one you associate with the man, do you? It’s the love that blossoms in the open meadows, amid the thousand swaying flowers and pristine settings that stays with you, long after you have left the theatre.
chandni Flim

Courtesy: Yash Raj Films

The thing with Chopra’s films was not that it was a mere show of budget, but it was a medium to carry the story forward; to make the viewer connect; to make the audience fall in love—he was offering a whole package, an experience of Indian cinema. The man had vision. He even managed to make Delhi look picturesque in Chandni. Time and again he shot in the beautiful locales of Kashmir, as seen in the song Dekha Ek Khwab from the movie Silsila. He even made The Span Resort in Manali in the film Mujhse Dosti Karoge look like a home.
Dekha Ek Khwab in Silsila

Courtesy: Yash Raj Films
mujhse dosti karoge movie location

Courtesy: Yash Raj Films

Today, the man who made magic on screen is no more. No more will he be weaving unconditional love stories against sigh-inducing locales. No more will we see our own love stories on celluloid told by the King of Romance.
It’s almost like he knew. Jab Tak Hai Jaan, he said, would be his last film. And last film it is. Despite Kashmir’s war-torn landscape, Yash Chopra went back there to shoot his last film. Shah Rukh Khan said that though he was sad that he wasn’t able to visit the valley with his father, he was glad he went with his father figure.
jab tak hai jaan shahrukh khan and anushka sharma

Courtesy: Yash Raj Films

In Chopra, the country has not only lost one of its finest filmmakers, but also the foremost champion of love—something much-needed in this hatred-filled world. But Chopra leaves behind a legacy of love, which we can only hope will inspire the violent, love-starved miscreants we read about every day. Rest assured that your legacy will live on, Sir. Rest in peace.
jab tak hai jaan yash chopra romance

Courtesy: Yash Raj Films

Wednesday, 21 November 2012

The *Finally!* day

I want to write today. I feel like writing today. In fact, I’m exploding to write today. I’m not sure what I will write about and yet, I want to write about everything. Everything that’s happened lately, in this city I live in, in my life, in my head. Tap tap tap...

So we’ve heard, read, watched and discussed enough of what happened last weekend. I will not comment or air my views, lest I get arrested (something I really don’t need in my life right now) since clearly democracy is a word used fast and loose in our country.

Anyhoo. I have *never* seen Bombay the way it was this weekend. The mothership of course, has impeccable timing and decided to land just a couple of hours after the announcement was made. So obviously, she had to be picked up. I stepped out of the house and a chill ran down my spine. It was positively eerie. Empty, dark streets with a few people here and there desperately trying to get home. Thankfully, I had company, very supportive, generous company who had my back, to get to the airport with me. After two long walks and two short bus rides, we were dropped off right outside the departure gate at the domestic airport. After picking her up, after just about 30-45 minutes, the company managed to flag down a cab to take us home for a mere Rs 400 (a meagre amount compared to the Rs 1,000 upwards demands the other cabbies were making). We made it home before 10pm—sheer luck or God’s blessing. Who’da thunk!

The weekend was spent in a pretty familial setting with the mothership cooking and us eating and sleeping (and the other two going ballistic without the television). On Sunday, I felt like we were living in the times of the Emergency. We stocked up on food and supplies, all bought surreptitiously of course, and enough to last us at least two weeks. And lo and behold! All was back to normal the next day *facepalm* Oh well, this *event* was something every Mumbaikar was prepared for, and I suppose every experience is a new memory registered.

Yesterday was a day of finalies. Kasab was finally hanged and the victims, martyrs, their families and every Indian were given justice and redemption. Yes, I know there is much debate amongst us armchair politicians sitting in the ivory towers of our laptops and desktops, logging into facebook and twitter, discussing the demerits of capital punishment.

Frankly, I’m not sure which side of it I am on, in general, but in this case... let me put it in this way—never have I been more pleased to hear of someone’s death. Yes, he was a young life and no one (perhaps) has the right to take away someone else’s. But he had. He had taken away the lives of scores of *innocent* people after meticulous planning and thought. Yes, maybe he was naive and in need and therefore, easily brainwashed; but this *brainwashing* should have worn off in the four years he spent on Indian soil behind bars made of our hard-earned tax money, no? Sorry, can’t condone something like this. More importantly, I was lucky and blessed that I did not lose any loved one in that terrorist attack. But for those who did, this was the only way of getting some sort of closure. It will not bring back those who died, but they may now feel that their lives were not lost in vain. Or something like that.

Yesterday, I also finally got my hands on Fifty Shades of Grey. Yes, I’ve been dying to read it and I’m sure I will love it, so sue me. I’m on the third chapter and I’m already hooked. One of my besties and I plan to go through all three books, though she wanted to start from the last one. No!

Jab Tak Hai Jaan was also *finally* watched yesterday. I had tickets for mothership and myself for Sunday, but well... read the above.

I know, the movie is crap; how can a 43-year-old SRK pose as a 25-year-old; which 21-year-old in 2002 would, in her right mind, make such promises (especially of not having sex :-o) to God, such a loose premise, etc. etc. But it’s a love story, and if you’re reading this post, you either know me or have read my other posts and therefore know that I am a hopeless romantic. Even my own love life is a Hindi movie storyline in my head. So! I left my brain at work and enjoyed the timepass movie. But I gotta say—I didn’t feel the passion and extent of their love, like I usually would, especially in a Yash Chopra film, simply because Katrina Kaif canNOT act to save her life. Which is such a pity, because she’s so pretty. (Ooh that rhymed!). Anushka Sharma was good, yes, but isn’t she getting a little typecast? This whole bubbly, energetic, mufat Delhi girl—bit much now, yes?

Anyway, what really did make me senti was the end-credit. Yash Chopra is dead, it’s sad. He really did know how to build em love stories. Sigh. Also, there’s just one line in the film that I totally got—(translated and paraphrased) the memory is a darned thing; when you want to forget some thoughts, feelings and well, memories, it will not let you, all your life. And sometimes, when you want to remember something, no matter how hard you try, you will just not be able to. SO true! I totally want an invention like a memory delete—Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind types. Someday maybe, someday.

Ok, I think I’m done for now. Sorry for the random rambling. But... no, there is no but. I might just post some more later today ;)

Thursday, 15 November 2012


It’s been a hellish week. Hellish. Moving is tough, no doubt, but I, of course, have carried my crap luck along with me, so managed to invite hajaar different, unbelievable problems into the new place. It’s such a nice apartment and yet so tainted from the word go.

To top that off I’m being an idiot—raking up my past and unsure about my future. Women just don’t learn, supreme idiots we are. I’ve reached a stage where I am just exhausted, of myself and of my life. I’m tired of fighting a new battle everyday and of being strong. I’m tired of putting up a brave face when I feel anything but that. I’m tired of living in fear and in discomfort. I’m lacking purpose and vision and no one can give this to me but me. I’m tired of Bombay. I no longer feel proud of myself and the life I’ve made for myself. All this, for what? Is it really worth it? I know the answer and it’s no.

I’m tired of being there for people, no matter whether they’ve been there for me or not, no matter what they’ve done for me, or only when I’ve fit into their scheme of convenience. I’m tired of being treated like a yo-yo ball. I’m a decently good person who’s just exhausted. I’m tired of being tested day in and day out. This isn’t how it was all supposed to pan out.

I’m grateful for the handful of people who have got my back, but everyone has their own life to lead and deal with. Maybe it’s time to take a call on my own. No I’m not happy, so isn’t it time to cut any possible umbilical cord that may be holding me back, and make a move that will perhaps make me happy? Chances need to be taken, right? How will I know if I never try it? I mean, can it get any worse? I doubt.

I spoke to my best friend’s mother today, and she made perfect sense. She said that after a certain stage in life, all you really want is peace of mind. That’s so true. At this point, that’s all I yearn for, that’s all I desire. Too much to ask for, eh? The power of prayer *really* seems to be working, since the last time I did a little puja, a couple of days ago for Diwali, the incense stick attacked me and burnt my hand. Are you serious?

Home is where the heart is, right? I definitely do not feel at home and don’t get me started on my heart. Maybe, just maybe, it’s time to listen to my instinct, and pack my bags. Maybe it’s time.

Home is where the heart is, and that’s on my mind. 

Friday, 9 November 2012

Life is a rollercoaster... NaNa Na Na

I’m writing today on popular demand. Yes, I actually have people asking me to post on my blog :-o. I’m so thrilled, overwhelmed, flattered, humbled etc etc etc. My body and brain have given up on me, but it’s ok, I write from my heart, so here it is! (Profound and filmy, innit?)

Manic is how I will describe my life. When it rains, hurricane Sandy hits. So in short, I haven’t slept in days, weeks possibly, and there’s no sleep in my destiny for the next few days either. But on to more fun stuff.

My friends and I went for our first-ever Bacardi NH7 Weekender last weekend in Pune. Whatte fun it was! Open air, six stages with myriad music, alcohol albeit in enclosed, restricted spaces, long drives, more music, and the company of some of the people I love the most. In fact, even my friend from Chennai flew down to spend a week with me, and luckily, ‘twas this weekend.

Well, I’m sure most of you have already heard enough about NH7; i.e. those of you who weren’t there, so I won’t harp on the things everyone else is talking about. I’ll just talk about my favourite gig. Well, actually I think the Dewarists stage was a unanimous favourite for all those who went. And of all the gigs performed on that stage, my heart bled experiencing Kailasa. Now I’ve always loved Kailash Kher’s music and voice, and generally him too—he’s really sweet, cute, etc.  

But standing in front of that stage, swaying along with another 100 people, listening to him belt out one heart-wrenching song after the other... Sigh. See, so strange, as I’m writing this, I can feel the same welcome, sweet ache I felt while watching his concert (I am listening to one of his songs now, but still).

His songs are all about unconditional, inconvenient, painful and wonderful love (a little of this is borrowed from Carrie Bradshaw - Sex and the City). Basically the kind of love we all want to feel, we all want in our lives, we all want to never lose. And then we do, lose it that is. And then we listen to Kailasa. And our hearts bleed. And ache. You get my drift.

NH7 was a first for me in many ways. It also fell on a significant date for me, so I was definitely fuddled up through the weekend and most of the music hit home—far sooner and deeper than it may have otherwise.

What would we do without music in our lives? Sigh. I’m one of those who, once obsessed with a song, listen to it on repeat, all day, every day, for days. I write, work, pine, dance and do lots more to music. Thank God for it!

I came back from my fantastical weekend only to dive straight into a pile of work, with a huge side of lots of stress to go with it. And most importantly, I’m moving homes—unfortunately still in Bombay. Right now I can only hope and pray that the next time I shift, it will at least be out of this city.

Tonight is my last night at my current house. It’s been a good house, this. Yes, it’s been a home. Almost like my first real grown-up home in Bombay. And almost all my friends have loved it here too. We’ve had some great times here. Over a year ago, two people took great care to set it up, making it a lot more than just functional. It was small, it sometimes got lonely, it saw lots of fight, but even more love, many tears but so many more bouts of uncontrollable laughter. It’s sheltered us, opened its arms to my friends, family and just about anyone else. It’s been a good home, this.

Till a few days ago, I was thrilled at the prospect of leaving this apartment. I was devoured by the frenzy of packing, booking movers, and generally other stuff related to a shift. And suddenly, two days ago, with most of my life packed up in suitcases and cartons, I looked around and felt incredibly sad. Sad that I had to leave this place, sad that it truly marks an end, and sad that it is the end of an era. This is harder than I thought. Harder than either of us thought and I think our tears have stained the walls. But I hope whatever good karma this home gave us, rubs off onto the new tenant, and that I carry some with me onto the beautiful new apartment I’m about to make a home. Vagabond, I am in this city, and forever will be.

Forgive my rambling and if this post hasn’t been as entertaining as the ones before, or if you don’t relate to it at all. Life has been a rollercoaster the last few weeks—emotionally and physically. I have no idea what lies in store ahead; yes I’m at crossroads again. But for now, all I truly want to do is sleep.