Tanu Weds Manu Returns and a Newspaper Column

Last Friday night I watched the much applauded Bollywood movie ‘Tanu Weds Manu Returns’. The motivation was this column by Mint Lounge editor Priya Ramani. The column written from a modern day feminist point of view extols the actions of Kangana Ranaut’s character ‘Tanu’, which reminded me of the movie Queen, a brilliant film by the way, and I thought this one would be such a movie as well, but boy was I wrong. Let’s dissect the movie based on the points raised in the column point by point.

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So the movie is about Tanu, a small town Kanpur girl, who is married to a doctor from Delhi and lives in London. It is shown that she’s fed up of her husband as there is little ‘excitement’ in her married life. Her husband, called a ‘sturdy slug’ and a ‘bore’ in the column, who provides for the family and gives her a stable and comfortable life, appears to have done everything on his part to keep her happy; from moving from Southall to countryside on her insistence to opening a creche for her as she claimed to be bored of doing nothing at home all day. In return he gets to see her entitled-self complaining about her life, flirting with random men in pubs, body-shaming him in front of others, and getting him a complementary admission to a mental asylum.
But then, that’s what ‘sturdy slugs’ deserve as per the column, including infidelity.

So next, Tanu goes back to India after leaving her husband to fend for himself in a British mental asylum, and with the symbolism of open, flowing hair, goes around engaging with her exes (note that the couple are not separated yet). But the poor ‘sturdy slug’ is still not over her (despite all he had to face from an ungrateful Tanu) and bumps into her lookalike in the form of a Haryanvi athlete called ‘Datto’ on the grounds of Delhi University. Credit where it is due, the character is very well enacted by Ranaut and in the movie. Datto appears to be a genuinely nice and understanding woman, unlike Tanu, but the tone with which the article is written, it barely mentions the character once and keeps on praising the virtues of a self-centered Tanu. Anyway, the two get emotionally involved and decide to get married. Knowing this suddenly Tanu has the longing to go back to her husband and make things right. She goes around looking for him and in one scene she is shown to have knocked the doors of his parents’ house. There she threatens them that if she wants she can send them to jail, of course, without their fault as the biased matrimony laws such as Section 498A, Domestic Violence Act among others have had a rampant history of misuse against innocent families, and Tanu seems to be aware of this. Dangerous woman.

Finally Tanu gets to meet Datto, and guess what? The kind of person she is, she ridicules her and points and laughs at her for being a rustic village woman. She calls her a ‘joker’, a ‘ganwar‘ and tells her husband that ‘She’ deserved better than Datto as it would ruin her reputation that her husband left her for an evidently unsophisticated woman.
Then Datto responds to her pointing out her hypocrisy by reminding her that she has nothing in her to flaunt about, that before the wedding she lived on the financial support of her parents, and post it on her husband’s, that she has bought nothing ever with her own money, and that she travels the world, boozes etc. on her husband’s credit card. She goes on to compare herself with Tanu that she has secured admission in DU through her own efforts via the athlete quota and that she’s a state level athlete. She further reminds her that unlike her she can fend for herself. Tanu is visibly startled and later blames her husband for not standing up to her. Well, why would any human at such condescending behavior?
Not surprisingly, the column fails to mention this part. By the way, it is to be noted that the creche her husband had opened for Tanu was closed as apparently as she made the children drink alcohol. Another example of her godforsaken attitude is when in an earlier scene post coming to India she ridicules a guest at her home working in an IT firm. Wonder what she had achieved to behave with so much of entitlement.

In the end, as it is a standard Bollywood movie, Tanu and her husband get together and the column exclaims as to why? How could Tanu get back together with her ‘slug’ husband, she should have in turn been with her ex and married him as she deserved better than her husband. Well, here I partly agree, even I wonder why they got back together. Despite such attitude and behavior of Tanu, why on earth did her husband decide to get back with her? (Well, one theory I can think of is he harbored the fear of being slapped with false cases; just kidding, not really, but think about it!)

So, in a gist, Tanu has achieved nothing whatsoever in her life, lives a comfortable life in London where she has everything she can ask for and that she could never afford on her own, she contributes little to her marriage and is unhappy because her husband is a ‘bore’, is ungrateful to the extent that she’s complaining all the time notwithstanding of admitting her husband in a mental asylum. She has a serious attitude problem, is condescending towards almost everyone, and is immoral to the extent that she threatens to falsely accuse people under the laws that are in her favor.
The column ignores all of the above and keeps on praising the spirit of Tanu.

Now I don’t care two hoots about mass Bollywood movies to devote a blog piece about them, but watching the movie after reading the said column made me ponder about the hypocrisy of the modern day feminist movement. Imagine if it were the man in the relationship doing the same because he felt the woman was a ‘bore’? Well, that movie is called Queen (again, a brilliant movie) and we have seen how similar behavior by the man was looked upon as. Even Ms. Ramani is all praises about it (rightfully) in the same column. But when it’s the other way around, the man is still the culprit. The man is always the culprit.

Think.

Stranger To History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands

Aatish Taseer, I hadn’t heard of him until this year’s India Today Conclave where he was moderating the session with Salman Rushdie. At the same time I got to know that he is the son of the slain Pakistani politician Salman Taseer. Being born in India to an estranged Pakistani father and an Indian mother (journalist Tavleen Singh) and spending his childhood amongst Sikh relatives in Delhi, he has admitted that he was lost about his religious identity. Amidst no contact with his Muslim father and his speculations about his Muslim identity while living with his Sikh mother in India, he set out to travel across the Middle East in a bid to understand his father’s religion. Starting from London, he travelled through Turkey, Syria, Saudi Arabia, Iran and finally to his father’s nation, Pakistan. In the amazing and fascinating book authored by him ‘Stranger To History: A Son’s Journey Through Islamic Lands’ he has described his experiences of his turbulent journey and his understanding of (fundamentalist) Islam which to a progressive and educated Muslim like him, made little sense. It’s a great read describing his journey blended perfectly with bits of his upbringing, how his parents met and how he met his father for the first time in Lahore.

Taseer, an ardent Shiva worshipper at young age who later also wanted to grow his hair to sport, like his Sikh cousins, a turban, first discovered his Muslim identity at the age of five or six while urinating at his aunt’s lawn in Delhi. He was spotted by his Sikh cousin who screamed looking at his penis ‘Aatish ka susu nanga hai’ indicating that he was circumcised.

In 2005 in London after the 7/7 bombings, he noticed how second generation British Pakistanis overlooking their humble roots were being influenced by fundamentalist, radical and extremist Islam. There he interviewed Hasan Butt, an extremist Islamist, for Time Magazine and sent a copy of the article to his father in Pakistan who was furious after reading it and sent a stern reply to Aatish because as per him, Aatish hadn’t understood the Islamist ideologies and Pakistani ethos and had written this article as an ignorant Muslim. After this incident Aatish made up his mind to understand his father’s religion and set out for the journey of Islamic lands.

In Turkey he experienced the ‘sub culture’ of some radical Islamists who refrained from being a part of Turkey’s aggressive secularism and lived in their ghettos which they considered unadulterated Islamic territories and didn’t prefer even entry of other people from the rest of secular Turkey. There he met Abdullah, a person with strong Islamic values but with regret of succumbing to world system, i.e. he thought modernisation and western values were against Islam, but sadly he couldn’t do anything about it (Note, he is not extremist, only fundamentalist).
In my view Abdullah was blinded by Islam with his unrealistic notions about the religion, with the attitude of anything that is western is wrong, ranging from camera to culture. He wanted a new societal structure (but still not by the means of extremism unlike Butt) he was not content to be told in secular Turkey to conceal his religion and wear European clothes. He saw secularism as a tool of oppression of Muslim ideologies.
(I may seem biased while evaluating Abdullah for I am always pro secularism, be it soft one like India’s or enforced one like Turkey’s).

Then in Syria he saw the infamous Prophet Mohammed cartoons published by a Denmark newspaper and how the Muslims in Syria (and all over the world) saw it as a conspiracy by ‘enemies of Islam’ and a war against all Muslims. (That’s what I don’t understand, blaming entire nation on basis of one newspaper and seeing it as enemy, this attitude of Wahhabi Muslims needs a serious reality check).
Then he saw a political movement brewing under the covering of Abu Nour Mosque where under the name of Islamic studies, students were gradually being influenced towards political and extremist Islam.
To me, Turkey is a perfect example of how modern day Islamic polity can be secular and progressive. Other Islamic nations should strive to achieve this, but sadly they are in the air of the Wahhabi  fundamentalist ideologies of their religion which in today’s world are archaic. Such ideologies gave birth to Iranian Revolution in 1979 and turned Iran into an Islamic state from a secular one. And Iran happened to be next in Taseer’s journey after Saudi Arabia.

In Saudi Arabia Taseer headed for Umrah (an off season pilgrimage to Mecca), where he had to cover the Shiva tattoo on his right arm to prevent catching the eye of fellow pilgrims.

In Shia Iran, a country where Islam is not religion but politics, where Islamic democracy did more bad than liberal dictatorship (well of course if they link religion to state) which certainly as per Iranians was bliss looking at the country’s condition under Khomeini. There he met Mohammad Rahimi who once supported the Iranian revolution but now knowing the negative aftermaths wanted Iran to be pre 1979, this showed the plight of people in the Islamic republic being fed up of the ‘regime’.  Iran was a country where people were even arrested for wearing T shirts that ‘exposed’ their elbows and the religious police took away people’s pet dogs because under Sharia, dogs were considered unclean. It was a republic that had passed through an Islamic filter which proved derogatory for Iran.
In Iran he met Nargis who switched to Hinduism from Islam and became a Krishna worshipper; this definitely gives shudders thinking of following other religion in a state where sentence for apostasy is death. In Hare Krishna centre when Iranian spies came the chants changed from ‘Krishna, Rama’ to ‘Ali Allah’. Such was the fear of the regime.

In the end he had bad encounters with the regime and was forced to leave the country in a hurry and took a flight to Karachi via Dubai, now he was in  Pakistan, his father’s land, a country aptly described as one providing menial man power to oil rich Islamic Arab monarchies. There in Karachi he saw people who were concerned about their country’s future, that Sindh and Punjab can be saved by Sufism but its the tribal belt of Pakistan that would put their country to doom and has brought them bad name.
In Pakistan I felt Taseer portrayed more of its internal problems and his encounters with his father rather than focussing on Islam.
His writing on Pakistan reminded me of the 2007 BBC documentary, ‘Saira Khan’s Pakistan Adventures’ where Pakistan is shown in very good light as if there is nothing wrong with the country and all is good there but this book, written around the same time when the documentary was broadcasted, shows the true face of the country, it goes deep into the feudalism, rampant crime, corruption, hatred between Mohajirs (Indian Muslims migrated in 1947) and local Sindhis; Taseer also writes about the goons of political parties (just like in India where parties like Samajwadi thrive on goondaraj) who forced newspapers to write about them.

Then he met his father in Lahore for the second time in his life and got to know his views about Islam. His father doubted the scale of Hitler’s holocaust, this showed how secluded he was in his own ‘Muslim’ world.
(Many Muslims deny holocaust because they are in conflict with Jews and the state of Israel, they feel the state is formed in the Muslim lands (Palestine) after getting sympathy from the Britain and UN. Hence by denying holocaust they are trying to justify their claim on the land. To me it seems funny, they are denying a well documented fact that wasn’t even conducted by them).
In all Taseer wanted to find what made his father a Muslim even though he wasn’t a practicing one, but then he got his answer, his father was Muslim because he doubted the Holocaust, hated America and Israel, thought Hindus were weak and cowardly, and because the glories of the Islamic past excited him.
That’s how Taseer portrayed the face of modern day Islam in his book.

Now what I perceive of modern day Islam is that no doubt, there are many fundamentalists and extremists (and I am sorry to say) who give this faith a bad name, but not all follow their ideology.
Many Muslims, particularly Wahhabis perceive anything non Muslim as threat and because of such attitude, Islam is today, an extremely sensitive faith. In the modern context Wahhabis even see democracy (even in other countries) as a threat. They put their religion before their nation which is very wrong. Most of  their understanding is limited to the religion or region where they come from, i.e. it is confined to Islam. In the view of the west, It is an unreasonable religion (the ruling class of the Islamic states makes it so, not the common people).

Having said all this, I would like to express my respect for this religion (just like any religion on this planet)
I haven’t seen Muslims in other countries but from what I have seen in India, none of the Muslims I have encountered subscribe to the extremist/fundamentalist ideologies. Of course ruling out few groups like Deoband who banned Salman  Rushdie’s entry in India in Jaipur’s literary fest (but again it’s the polity or the ruling class to blame, not an ordinary Muslim on the streets). In fact in India most of the common Muslims are not even bothered by the Jew Arab conflict or the Israel Palestine Issue. If you would like to see the Jew Muslim harmony, visit the Magen Abraham Synagogue in Ahmedabad, situated in a Muslim majority area, where just outside the synagogue, Muslim vendors sell their products on the street not being bothered by Jews praying behind them, such is the harmony that two religions who are hostile towards each other globally,  peacefully coexist in one narrow street in India. This is in contrast even to the very liberal and tolerant UAE which bans people with Israeli passports to entering in its land.

This tolerance is because Islam in the subcontinent is influenced by Sufism, hence it is more soft; while the one in the Arab world/Iran/Afghanistan(Taliban) is the intolerant Wahhabism. Sufism is the kind of Islam I can identify with. I believe that this rise in Wahhabi ideology is the reaction to modernism, the Muslims experienced sudden dislodging from power because of Imperialism and colonialism, also they started to feel danger from other religions some 300-400 years ago when there was the  growth of west, European powers grew strong and Muslim empires failed, hence Wahabbi Islam today has strayed from the path intended to be followed by Prophet Mohammad and earned a bad reputation world wide, otherwise in its nascent stage  it was once a religion of peace and tolerance (and it is even today in India).

Anyway, like me, if middle east and Arab/Islamic world fascinates you then you should read this book and you won’t be disappointed. The reason I picked up this book was that it was written in a form of travelogue of the middle east. What more could I ask for?

Bol!

Bol PosterBack in 2008 when I had seen this Pakistani film named ‘Khuda Kay Liye’ after listening about it on a Medium-Wave radio station, I was left pretty much stunned and amazed by the brilliant concept the makers of the film had thought of; and it was quite an apt and realistic story which ‘must’ have conspired with many Muslims after 9/11. The film was a very nice effort to show to the people the real agonies faced by the Muslims and Pakistanis in the world after 9/11! But what surprised me the most was that the film came out from Pakistan! Now fortunately I haven’t been one of those countless people in India who are programmed since a young age to loathe Pakistan, in fact I believe in what ‘The Times Of India’ says everyday, ‘Love All Nations Alike’; but still what I perceived of Pakistan back then was a nation ruled by a dictator where there must be no artistic freedom and people being supressed of their rights; and being a backward nation there couldn’t be adequate resources for them to have their own film industry which produced quality movies! So immature of me! But this flick changed it all!

Now when the same guy Shoaib Mansoor came up with his second film ‘Bol’ which luckily was released in India, I knew I had to watch it! So few days back I saw this another brilliant work by him and once again this fellow rendered me speechless!
A serious and thought provoking movie which focuses on the problems faced by many families in Pakistan (and India too) headed by overtly religious minded people who badly misinterpret and are blind and staunch followers of the lessons their faith has to offer. The movie though is based in modern day Lahore, one watching it here in India will also ‘feel’ the agony and the helplessness of the family portrayed even though there is vast difference in our upbringing in urban India and their life in Lahore; such amazing is the acting, the cinematography and the direction! The film is made to show that unspoken face of the Pakistani society which many tend to ignore or never think much deeply about! The problem of being a blind follower of one’s religion, bringing people in the world without proper means to look after them, homosexuality, poverty, education, misinterpretations of religion, corruption, generation gap etc. are some of the issues which have light thrown on them in this film which make it a bit too long but who cares until the story is sane and it grips you to the end.

The performance by Humaima Malick (Zainab) is worth appreciating. It was a difficult role I would say and she surprised me by doing it all so naturally. One statement mentioned by her telling her sisters to drop the Burqas (Islamic Veils) and live their lives freely kind of stunned me; for in a country which has its foundations based on the stones of its religion, such statement made in a mainstream film could have been controversial (It sure would have been if it was India). But it was boldly stated without any issues; it made me wonder about the broad-mindedness and openness of the people of Pakistan which is worth appreciating. Also the stunningword Iman Ali (Mina) does an appreciable job in the film.

The stark contrasts shown in the film, thanks to the amazing cinematography are worth mentioning; the many colors of Lahore from its congested lanes to swanky malls, from old mosques to lush fields; all this would account for your mini Lahore tour. Also the beauty of the Urdu language is clearly seen in this film! And yes, the music is too good and way above the kind of music we have in today’s Bollywood movies. I would like to mention the songs ‘Hona Tha Pyar’, ‘Kaho’ and ‘Mumkin Hai’ which are exceptional. And one thing I noticed that these songs have been carefully interleaved in the storyline unlike in Bollywood movies.

It is a wonderful movie and every sensible person should see it, but if you are one of those Bose DKs (the term I will use from now onwards for the ‘MTV Generation’ youth of India) who likes typical Bollywood movies with Happy Endings and at least 5 songs put in randomly and out of place, then this movie is not for you! Better go and waste your time and money on some crap like Delhi Belly, Bodyguard, Brother ki Dulhan etc.
Sometimes I wonder that if Pakistanis can make such evocative movies about social issues, why can’t our filmmakers in India? But again it depends on the kind of movies people enjoy for the filmmakers have to earn their revenues from them. And because of these Bose DKs our film industry comes up with something as disgusting as Delhi Belly and as stupid as Akshay Kumar movies. The last rational film I seem to remember in Bollywood was ‘No One Killed Jessica’.
In the end there are two things we need to learn from Pakistan:
1. How to make good music by reviving our pop music industry and
2. How to make sane and rational movies.

The Tree of Life!

I rarely write about movies on this blog for I am not a movie freak but when I do, then that movie’s worth a watch! This Tuesday evening I went for ‘The Tree of Life’. Previously I thought that it had not been released in Ahmedabad for that gay guy with a moustache reviewing the flick on CNN IBN said that it is out just in Delhi, Bombay and Bangalore (sigh!! Bangalore!) but then someone clued me in that it is out here in Ahmedabad, I checked and found out that there was just one show per day in the entire city and I knew that I had to watch it for it wouldn’t last more than a week in this city. So with not more than 15 people they played it. (Luckily this time it didn’t got scraped! I guess PVR is true to its words.)

Non linear storyline the movie had, the likes of ‘Pulp Fiction’!! The film is odd and not for everyone, specially not for those ‘MTV Generation’ youth who enjoy Bollywood crap of the senseless kind of Delhi Belly, because the movie is thought provoking and they’d find it pointless and boring. A film so complex that every thought one spends on it will still never make complete sense. Probably the most unique film I’ve ever seen. I could connect to this film because it talks about the concept of infinity (in certain parts) which I think about a lot when I lay down beneath the starry sky couple of times a week and ponder upon this wonderful idea (probably Claude Vorilhon through his book pushed me in this direction Smile with tongue out, otherwise his book can be interpreted as an entertaining fiction read, UFO Religion! Hahha!!) It contemplates human existence from the perspective of eternity. It shows how pointless in this infinite expanse of time and universe are the lives, love and loss of the people of a small family in 20th century America. Also it attempts to put life from a perspective of a young prudish boy. The more you think about it, the more you’ll understand the depth of the concept and more you’ll like the movie.

This movie takes you to another world where life seems so simpler. I grew up in the age when internet was in its nascent stage and not much popular in India and I remember just hanging out with kids in the neighborhood, walking around, cycling, playing ‘real’ games in those summer days. I remember being outside and climbing trees and walls. The age where people didn’t used to have ‘online’ friends and had real knowledge which did not fail with the broadband. Those who grew up in the 90s, 80s and certainly those even before will enjoy this face of the film too.

The movie is about the life of Jack (Sean Penn), the eldest son of Mr and Mrs O’Brien (Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain) who is shown to have been lost in this modern world which is without a soul, he reminisces about the good old days of his childhood where he had a younger brother (who died as an adult) and retrospects his relationship with him and how he misses him in present time. In this non linear retrospection it is shown from the time since he and his brothers were born. This part was literally a hair raising experience for me. Coming of a new life in the world, super cute babies, their purr like cries, even cuter way in which the relation of the young Sean Penn with his younger brother is portrayed (a little part of it can be seen in the trailer above) and of course brilliant performance by Jessica Chastain with amazing cinematography moves you from within.
Then as he grows up his relationship with his parents is focussed upon. His kind and empathetic mother and his rigidly strict father who makes Jack call him Sir, makes him listen to Classical, ‘Gentlemen’s music’ and teaches him discipline and other necessary lessons of life to  mould him to the guy he is today. Then Jack is shown indulging in acts of vandalisation as he turns into a teenager and is shown introspecting and coping up with his racy teenage hormones. The family then relocates as Mr O’Brien is broke and it is brilliantly shown how he asks for forgiveness from Jack for being so harsh to him.
The film then again shows adult Jack who is shown as lost and walking through places resembling The Grand canyon and The Yellowstone National park and on a beach he is reconciled with all the dead members of his family including his parents and his younger brother and also his younger self.
And lastly, in the first half while showing the birth of Universe from the Big Bang to complex molecular organisms to dinosaurs, the voiceovers in the movie which asks certain questions would leave you wondering about their answers. 

In the end, I would say that its a brilliant movie; amazing cinematography, wonderful graphics, charming music and brilliant visuals; thought provoking and may leave you with lot of engaging discussions with the person who has seen it. Worth watching twice if you are a kind of person who likes such movies.

PS: Spotted watching the movie were  the author Esther David and this very common species found in Ahmedabad – ‘The annoying gujju couple’ who was sitting just 2 seats away from me and who continuously kept on giggling and chatting and then giggling and then again chatting… Glad they left early, must’ve been one of those who bought the ticket by looking at the star cast and might have not realised that it was a damn serious flick!!

O Jerusalem!

After watching the flick Munich I’ve been looking for a book on Israeli History for long, after looking for them online where I couldn’t succeed, I visited both Ahmedabad’s Landmark store and Crossword but to no avail for the books I was looking for, ‘Israel Is Real’ by Rich Cohen and ‘Vengeance’ by George Jonas were out of stock. But on one fine day I stuck upon this book named ‘O Jerusalem!’ by Dominique Lapierre and Larry Collins in the library and I can say that it was one of the best reads I have ever had. With 656 pages it seems to be a painful read but believe me that once you start reading it, it engrosses you to the extent that you will lose the count of time. With every single and minute detail of what might have conspired during the birth of the Jewish State of Israel in 1948 and its partition from Arab Palestine, this book clearly shows the effort put in by the authors during their 3 years of research for this book.

The narrative no doubt is fast paced, but is riveting to the very end. The authors have tried to trace the roots of the Arab-Jew conflict with accurate details. In one sense the story is quite moving, after suffering from Hitler’s holocaust which killed 6 million Jews in World War II, it shows the struggles faced by the Jews in 1948 against Arab hatred towards them. In another sense the authors have tried to justify this hatred from Arabs’ point of view that how Israel with the support of United Nations and the British Government have taken over that part of Palestine which belonged to the Arabs since 7 centuries. In short, the authors are neither pro Jews, nor pro Arabs. Both Arabs and the Jews have events in the book that evoke both condemnation and praise and still there is no ugly rhetoric against any one group or party and no emotional outbursts by the authors. The scene is put before you just like it happened. Each party in the war has their flaws and triumphs described without much aplomb or tears. The book is so fascinating that its like reading pulp fiction but the fact that it is all true gives you shudders.

Jewish leaders as mentioned in the book, David Ben Gurion and Golda Meir, for them a Jewish homeland was not just a dream, it was their life’s ambition, their passion. I don’t much condone what Israel is doing in the present times with Lebanon and Palestine, but unless you understand the Jewish history, their background, their way of thinking, you just cannot make any headway in that issue. Since past, Israelis have been those people who will die for their land after all they have achieved their hard earned freedom after much efforts and in a dramatic way, dramatic in the sense that even after strong Arab opposition, they marked that piece of land right in the heart of the Arab world which they wanted as their own homeland, Israel, the only Jewish majority nation on the planet.

Talking about the Arabs as mentioned, just after the partition was announced the it was clear with them that now in front of them was an impeding war just as it was clear with the Jews. Even though Arabs were larger in number but the arms that Israel had far outnumbered theirs. Also it is shown how Arabs underestimated Jews resolve, they didn’t know how important for them was this hard earned piece of land, how strong was their feelings for their own state.
In short, by driving out Arabs from their centuries old land, Israelis conducted grave injustice towards them but also Arabs closed out all options of compromise by not recognizing the historical rights of the Jews towards the holy land.

If you want to understand the Arab-Israeli conflict, this book is a must. In fact every person who wonders why the Israel-Palestine  problem at the Gaza strip and elsewhere can never be solved, this book is a must. I would suggest this book to any person who likes quality reads.

You Know You Are In Ahmedabad When…

Ahmedabad from an outsider’s point of view

  • All the signs around you are in Gujarati.
  • Narendra Modi is talked about as if he’s a demi God.
  • Auto rickshaws have metres just for the heck of it.
  • Auto rickshaw drivers drive recklessly and too roughly on the road.
  • Summers are unbearable but Winters are extremely pleasant.
  • Sometimes you find the local accent too hard to emulate.
  • There is no KFC in sight.
  • You have a separate Gujarati Books Section at every Crossword Store  and you actually see people reading stuff from that section.
  • There is no discotheque or a pub.
  • You don’t get booze, not even beer.
  • People all over the city listen to just Bollywood crap.
  • Every single FM station has its Gujarati Jingle.
  • You will consider yourself lucky if you get to listen to ‘Non Bollywood’ genres on radio.
  • You get confused about the name of the city: ‘Ahmedabad’ or ‘Amdavad’.
  • People will talk to you in Gujarati by default not considering that you may be uncomfortable in that language.
  • You will find the people here too conservative and orthodox.
  • You will find almost empty movie halls in the screening of Hollywood movies and Farah Khan movies run houseful.
  • The auto rickshaw drivers at the airport would ask for exorbitant amounts even if your destination is just 3 kilometres away.
  • People spitting on the roads and on the stairways of commercial buildings is a norm.

I guess I will stop here. I have a suggestion; I guess you readers can add more points to this. Please leave it in your comments. Not that I am expecting a lot of them considering the trend, but I am willing to take a chance.

Black Swan–Excellence Extraordinaire

Being done with my exams today I decided to go out and watch the Academy Award grabber ‘The King’s Speech’ but I didn’t know that I would be disappointed later, not disappointed with the movie but in the sense not getting to watch the movie. And the reason for that – ‘not adequate number of people to run the show.’ This fumed me and what added fuel to the fire was that some Bollywood flick named ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ was running houseful simultaneously. (I know Kangana Ranaut is hot but please! which girl looks hot in a sari or the stuff she wears in that movie!?) This made me ponder upon the fact that I am living in an utterly dumbass and worthless city! People go and watch some stupid Bollywood flick with a name like ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ and no one is there to watch a multiple Oscar winning movie. (This also reminds me how the first day first show of Michael Jackson’s This Is It was cancelled for the same reason leaving me disappointed and fuming on the people) Anyways ‘Black Swan’ at another movieplex was thankfully being shown at that time so I headed for it. And there too, NOT to my surprise, just 8 odd people including me were in the auditorium. Okay, so leave this aside, lets get on how amazing this movie was…

Before going on any further let me say that if asked, I would give a 5/5 to this movie! Why? read on…

picture courtesy: en.wikipedia.orgThere are rarely some movies which just blow you away. Black Swan is one of them. The direction so bold and captivating, the plot so out of the ordinary that it makes you glued to your seat (even when you have to  pee). It makes you lose yourself in it. The acting is so natural. Natalie Portman’s performance is simply mesmerizing, its a difficult role but still she has done it with her finesse. The Camera Work is The Best. The camera weaves in and out of the ballet performers, from being in the far corner to being right up in the actors’ faces. The print is grainy and thus has the natural feel to it. There are some scenes which scare the shit out of you and believe me, you will wait for them to get over so that you can breathe easy. The soothing music is another thing to look for. The movie is a must watch, an experience to remember and let me warn you, if you are not into emotional side of life (read if you are a carefree teenager) then this movie is not for you for one needs a bit of emotional maturity to watch this movie, also mental maturity so that you don’t drop your jaw on the bold scenes and the lesbian kiss in the movie. The flick leaves you with bunch of mixed feelings.

The movie is basically about a ballet dancer who gets her big break when she is chosen for the main role of the play ‘Swan Queen’, and how she deals with the pressure of performance, the suffocative control of her mother, her anxieties regarding the rivals who want the role and and ultimately the discovery of the unknown dark side of her and the attainment of perfection and freedom.

A must watch! Unless you are ‘Tanu Weds Manu’ typos, watch it in whatever manner you can, go out (if you’re in Ahmedabad then take out at least 5 friends along with you otherwise you would be disappointed like me) rent a DVD, download it illegally or by any damn means but do watch it, btw watching it on Big Screen would be an altogether different experience.

I felt it – Perfect – I was perfect

PS – While moving out in the elevator I overheard a bunch of guys saying in gujju that it took them entire movie to understand what’s going on just like Inception! Buggers!

(picture courtesy:en.wikipedia.org)