The Magic’s Gone

Anybody who knows me knows I eat, live and breathe movies. I enjoy an abstract French film as much as a grand Chinese picture. I dig dramatic sci-fi films as much as I adore romantic comedies that make you weep and smile at the same time. But when it comes Indian cinema there’s a different magic. It’s like speaking your mother tongue. It comforts you.

Once a year, when Shah Rukh Khan movie releases, I am all dreamy eyed. I love the man, have loved him since his TV (Circus) days. The so called ‘purist’ cinema lovers might sneer at me for saying this but I think Shah Rukh is talented and smart. He can do offbeat cinema (remember Anjaam, Maya Memsaab and Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa) and he carries off being the quintessential ‘Rahul’ who dances in Swiss valleys with a chiffon clad woman. Smartly enough, he’s realised that the way to the heart of the masses is through these dreamy ‘Yashrij’ish romances.

Of course, now that he’s been labelled the ‘King Khan’, he’s moved away from the typical romances and explored different genres of cinema. I believe that two of his best performances have been ‘Swades’ and ‘Chak De India’. In Swades he played the NRI who comes back to India and rediscovers his love for the ’Motherland’ and in Chak De he plays a fallen Hockey player who coaches an all girls team to play at the World Cup.

These off beat roles of his made me love the actor so much that with the promos of Rab Ne Bana Di Jodi, I nearly jumped out of my seat with excitement. I couldn’t wait to watch Shah Rukh play this simple man with a moustache, when we all know how far from this character the real SRK is. The tagline for the Aditya Chopra movie promised us an extraordinary love story and as a girl who grew up watching Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge, I believed it would be. In fact, for a long time I haven’t felt the magic at the movies.

As I settled into Rab Ne… I waited for the magic to strike me but… nothing. The story talks about how love can be beyond appearances and there’s this guy who just loves his wife. But, something’s missing! Something about the story is unconvincing.

You might say most Yashraj films are illogical and unrealistic but that’s ignored because there’s a certain dreamy haze that surrounds the movie. Rab Ne… tries to have a dreamy haze and yet attempts to give slight ‘realistic’ references. I drooled over the simple man Suri’s true love for his wife and the confused Jat ‘Raj’. He’s over the top, he hams and yet you like him. But eventually you start yawning. The story moves at an excruciatingly slow pace and you end up wondering where the love is. It almost ends up being a Balaji serial type of a love story.

So yes, every couple has an extraordinary love story, and this one had an extraordinarily boring one! Somebody please bring the magic back in films… until then, I’m settling for the Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge DVD.

Mumbai Girl Speaks

I love Mumbai for many reasons but one of major reasons is that I can be out at anytime of the day without worrying about security. Somehow, many of my friends who’ve lived in different cities especially up north say that Mumbai is designed for the independent woman.

I’ve explored the streets of Mumbai at every odd hour of the day. I’ve lost track of time thanks to an engrossing conversation on the Shivaji Park katta at 4 am. I’ve walked alone after sundown and if some guy tried acting funny, all I’ve had to do is confront and create a commotion, a handful of friendly Mumbaites have always rushed to help. That’s the beauty of this city. Every person is your friendly neighborhood hero.

Every once in a while though you see how some guy or a group of guys acted smart. Be it the indecent behavior at Gateway or the New Years Eve fiasco at the Marriott last year, these instances almost always end up with fingers pointing to the girls. ‘They were skimpily dressed,’, ‘They spoke rather brashly’, or ‘they were rude and dressed suggestively’. Are you kidding us? It’s like a murderer saying, ‘He irritated the shit out of me, so I just shot him.’

No matter what clothes I wear, nobody has the right to behave in such a disgusting manner. I want the freedom to wear what I want to. Wearing a salwar kameez will not help keep these pervs under control.

Why am I writing this? Recently I saw a man sitting right under my house and something about him was strange.  As soon as I walked past him, the guy started to walk with me and suddenly came real close and tried to talk to me. My instinct caused me to yell at him. He didn’t stop walking behind me. He actually followed me to a cab! I got in the cab and got on my way. See the other thing about Bombay is that you have to go on and get to work. Bombay doesn’t wait for anybody, not even for a girl who’d like to beat up a puny little guy who was unnecessarily following her.

Saturday mornings are beautiful. I wake up slightly late and laze around a little before heading out to walk in Parsi colony. At 7 am the place is swarming with fitness freaks, but at 9 am on a sunny Saturday morning, there’s just about a handful of people. I like my solitude (yeah so nobody laughs when I break into a momentary jig to ‘Desi Girl’ on my iPod). But lately five gardens is sort of a psycho central. I keep an eye out for any funny things especially since some git tried to grab my phone and run.  The weirdo who’d tried to talk to me, was actually standing at the corner and followed me for an entire round before I walked too fast for him and got home. The next day the same guy is waiting under my building.

I’d screamt at him, given him angry stares and yet the guy kept following me. Time had come to tell Dad and then a police complaint was made. The guy was new to Mumbai and apparently couldn’t deal with the culture shock. But is that an excuse to be acting all weird? He probably didn’t mean any harm, sure, but does that mean you tolerate someone following you around? Do you continue to tolerate a freak who tries to talk to you even after you have scream at him?

Does a culture shock disillusion you from identifying the appropriate from the inappropriate? How many times are we going to discount these guys for their lack of respect for women? Whether they are in a culture shock or they suffer from humungous egos, nothing justifies acting odd with a woman. And we Mumbai girls will not let these losers dictate the way we dress or the time we get out. We will hunt you guys down and kick your ass- Mumbai style!

War Is Not The Answer

The attacks on 26/11 have scarred Mumbai, but Mumbai has bounced back. The streets, the hotels and the stations are all back in business. In fact, Leopold opened its shutters within two days and as a symbol of defeat to the terrorists, has been crowded with people sipping from beer towers throughout.

One thing that will not bounce back is the faith in the government and administration. The citizens are enraged. They want answers and most of them have solutions themselves too. The political parties are red faced, and they might do something but that’s a whole different issue.

For one, many people I meet are convinced that we shouldn’t be tolerating Pakistan’s support for terrorism and we should attack Pakistan. Hang on, the terrorists are trained in Pakistan, but that doesn’t mean the country supports it. My friend who’s a journalist in Pakistan says that they too, face the same issue. She attends a concert and two days later the venue is blown up. We should support and help Pakistan figure out effective means of combating terrorism.

There was a video on YouTube, in which a Pakistani journalist criticises India for pointing finger to Pakistan, every time there’s an attack. Certain points are true, but, you clearly see that the media in Pakistan is creating an anti-India sentiment. ‘They ask me why I am pro-India, and I tell them of the love I found in my Indian friends. But they’re so shallow they do not understand,’ writes my friend. She is my soul-mate, somebody who held my hand through tough times and somebody who loves me for who I am. And without a word exchanged, she knows I reciprocate the same.

Just as we are pointing fingers towards Pakistan, they will soon point fingers right back at us. At such a stage, a war will only add to the animosity between the countries and undo all the efforts that we have put in for the peace process.

History stands witness that a war only kills innocent people and rarely targets the real cause that stands behind a war. The innocent lives, the enraged emotions give birth to a hatred that knows no reason. These symptoms breed innocent minds that are vulnerable to terrorism. They are trained in the name of the ones they lost, in the name of revenge and in the name of Allah to wield weapons and kill even more. This doesn’t do much for their cause, but yes, some larger power out there ends up using them as a puppet to execute a horrifying plan that unfolds in the darkness caused by terror.

If we go to war right now, I only see more hatred, more lives lost and more destruction. The terror outfits will have succeeded. They want us to be Indians vs Pakistanis, Hindus vs Muslims etc. They want us to be divided.

I stand for being one. One power, one religion that believes that lives are precious. A power that believes in fighting as one and learning from the diversities. Am I dreaming? Yes, maybe I am. But I will not let the bastards grind me down.

I love my country, I am just as enraged and disturbed by the acts of terrorism. However, I do not want a war of any form. Not a religious war, not a inter-country war all I want is a movement to develop higher value of emotions and people.