Friday, January 30, 2015

Take Two: Ronit Roy’s Interview in Pune Mirror

As I finished cutting papaya using an old sheet from a Pune Mirror issue as cushion over the table top, I glanced over the sheet that was still unstained. I must have done a clean job. What caught my eye was the picture of two persons along with title of the piece “Take Two”. It was an interview of actor Ronit Roy as interviewed by one reader Angad Singh; perhaps a gesture from the newspaper. Angad Sardar ji smiled contagiously in red t-shirt while Ronit looked dashing handsome in his black suit. “So how different an interview this would be given that Angad was said to be a digital marketing BD guy and not a regular journalist?” I wondered and hence I decided to read the piece…

Angad begins with asking Ronit which of his movies out of Udaan and Two States he loved most. I think this question was asked to educate the uninitiated readers about the fact that Ronit was about a well-known face in Bollywood. Next question horrified me, “What drives you to choose a role?” I remembered this question being asked to each actor or actress as if it was so very important; from the interviews of actors I read while waiting at salons (hair dressers; or stylists?) for my turn at our college joint. “Let me see Ronit’s reply”, I thought with skepticism. “I am not the kind that can make sense of a script and its potential. So I simply go by what the people involved in the making tell me. Moreover, if I have placed my trust in the director or producer, I let them take a call”, said Ronit. And then he adds that at times he gets convinced about a movie in less than a minute (is it when he is unemployed?). Later in the same interview he tells how he turned down his role in Two States twice but in the end when Karan Johar called him and said, “Trust me and do it”, he accepted the movie. I wondered why one would say all this…

Why would an actor, or better put an employed actor who is doing movies which are famous, like to tell the whole world including the directors and producers who could be reading this piece of interview that he could be tricked into a role in a minute or two if the pitch tells about personal trust and falling to emotional blackmailing is one’s weakness? What positive impression does such a revelation leave in the minds of businessmen who are running the show business? Wise men have told us the benefit of remaining plain face and not to reveal our thinking or strategy during negotiations! And here, an actor is virtually sending an open invitation to the bad people to come and cheat him? Obviously not every producer is a cheat and they don’t always need to convince actors so hard to make them agree to a role (because they always discuss the money), but still there are times when bad people do bad things and it is better for actors like Ronit to play safe…

Now let us think how this question is relevant for the “readers” of a newspaper like Pune Mirror? How does Ronit Roy make a decision to join or reject a role? Is Santa Uncle or Sammy Aunty interested in his answer to this question? Are we dreaming that one day we shall bump into a Ronit Roy in a shopping mall and the first question we shall shoot him down with would be “See Ronit, I have a role to offer you, and you can trust me and go for it.”? Do the journalists who earn their paychecks asking such irrelevant questions and wasting the time of both the celebrity actors and their thousands of audiences ever use their mind to think why and for whose behalf they are asking a particular question? As a reader, I would be more interested in knowing about Ronit’s journey in the acting world, about his struggles and successes, or when he speaks about his family and kids – that would make my heart warm. But what do I get? Which of the two movies is your favorites and how do you decide to take up a role? Such questions are for anyone but for readers… And to think that such questions were asked by a reader is more depressing. Perhaps it was edited by some seasoned journalist who has stopped growing up and hence the result.

Still, some portions of the interview are able to warm up our hearts. Angad asks the same stale, ancient, abused question “would you be more comfortable doing television over cinema?” And Ronit replies for our pleasure, “I would be most comfortable taking a walk in the hills”. That’s it! Even the actor is sending signals that the interviewer is asking idiotic questions.

After a while in the same interview, Ronit’s reply lights up our sparks, “I do television because it gives me the power to say no to bad cinema.” Wonderful and classy.

© Rahul

[Reference: ‘Take Two’, Page 21, Pune Mirror, January 11, 2015]

[Disclaimer: Views expressed are personal and do not represent views of any organization author is associated with. You can also go through detailed disclaimer on the blog.]

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Facebook: Who should see this

Did you notice that facebook started this feature where you can share a post with all while making it invisible for someone or for some people chosen by you? Perhaps it was facebook's response to your demand of providing a 'dislike' button. E.g. if you are posting a non-veg dish's picture, you can 'exclude' your vegetarian friends so that they don't get offended. But the same feature can also be used by cheating husbands and wives to avoid each other; by kids to remain hidden from parents' or teachers' snoopy eyes, or by employees who can make fun of their bosses without letting them know. Perhaps this feature was also designed to appeal to our habit of "talking behind the back" of people. So now if you start noticing some positive changes in some people's posts, you have reasons to doubt or suspect if the person has really changed or is it that s/he is just 'excluding' you from the negative posts?

- Rahul

(Disclaimer: I have never posted anything through this mode. But if you want to try: for each post click on Who should see this -> More options -> Custom -> Don't share this with -> mention name)

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Do Indians Speak Too Fast?

Someone said Indians speak too fast... I said they speak so fast because they think so fast. Can someone really speak at a different rate than the speed of thinking unless one spoke nonsense? And they have to think fast because if they don't; someone else will lock the door from inside in the washroom; someone will run away with their chair in the food court; someone will grab that last piece of roti; someone else will put a hankie on the last seat of a bus or train; someone else will stand in the aisle area of an aircraft as soon as the plane halted; or someone else would copy an interesting tweet or a whatsapp joke to get all the likes before they do! See, they have to be as fast for all such important things in life! :)

- Rahul (written and thought by me at the same rate :)

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Giving up Subsidized Gas Cylinders?

Govt has asked people like us to 'give up' subsidized gas cylinders and opt for non-subsidized ones at the market rate. It is expected to help govt spend more on the truly poor and needy. I fully agree to this gesture. And I have promised myself that I shall give up the subsidy when I shall complete repaying my home loan and will become debt free... And before that happens - govt should stop day-dreaming that I am a rich man and hence they can put burden of their noble expectations on people in debt like me. 

(Perhaps you won't find people celebrating their poverty on facebook so often, right? :)

- Rahul

Friday, January 9, 2015

At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps?

I have kept something within me which I want to tell everyone today :) 

When India got freedom at the 00:00 hours of 15 August, 1947, Pt. Nehru said, "At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom." And this speech is considered one of the finest in world history. But I did not understand how Nehru ji could not get it that when it is 00:00 Hours in India, people from rest of the world may not necessarily be sleeping because their local Standard Times are different :) If there were live TVs in those days, some of his counterparts from other nations could be watching him speaking exactly that while sipping their evening tea or coffee! 

I thought people would get angry with me - that now I have started finding faults in Nehru ji also :) But don't you find it funny?

© Rahul 

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Weird Birthday Wishes on Facebook

Facebook acts in weird ways. Sometimes I see - it is someone's birthday and his or her timeline is flooded with wonderful birthday messages... If one posted something on that day - it rains 'likes' & 'comments' on the blessed event. Next day the same person posts "thank you all for your wishes; you made my day" and stuff like that and guess what! Not a single like or comment! :) It looks so horrible and lonely! I think what it means is that people made that flash mob because of either facebook intimations or by virtue of facebook imitations. FB does not intimate them that you are thanking them for yesterday's wishes and hence the curfew. So in order to keep appearing blessed, we need not thank people for something which they did not do out of true heart :) (well, at least statistically) 

- Rahul

Sunday, January 4, 2015

A Life Lived in Love

In childhood we could afford several indulgences. So when I found an old wooden chakla (rolling board) which is used in kitchen to make chapatis, I dug a bit in our garden; fixed it in soil and filled it with water so that birds could come and drink from it. I also spread dry leaves around the water source to give it a 'natural' look. Now it became a routine - filling the pond daily with water so that birds could find water in it. If I could hear some birds singing on the nearby lemon and guava trees - I would peep through the window to see if the birds were drinking water or not. Sometimes squirrels also came nearby. I don't remember if anyone really drank water from there, but who could have stopped me from believing in my entrepreneurship? I remembered all this when I saw this picture today:

© Rahul

Karma or Destiny?

If two boys born under same circumstances in the same home with same genes can be so different; it proves that Karma counts more than Destiny... Let us not blame God for something which is in our own hands (and bellies). 

[Pic: Anant and Akash Ambani]

Friday, January 2, 2015

Our Security Guard

At times we can see some things happening in front of our eyes but can’t, or don’t react much. Story of an old security guard at our society is one such. When we arrived here some years back, we found him working as a security guard. After a while his wife started working as housemaid in the flats starting first from our flat. She was around our mother’s age and surprisingly she took up the role too by behaving somewhat like a mother-in-law to my wife :) Without being asked she would do help her and also gave corrective suggestions on things. We got annoyed at times but also liked her for that. Gradually we got to know that they had many sons and the last one got married sometime back; but they expected their old parents to bear substantial financial burden of running the household. In due course we could see the old man regularly doing overtime and night duties while his wife also worked hard.

A few months ago, the couple also took up the contract of weekly cleaning in the society campus. Every Sunday both husband & wife cleaned up all the stairs, flower plants and lawn, and they did their work seriously. As if even this additional work was not enough – he started cleaning motorbikes and cars in the mornings, which appeared harsh during the winter. Once while entering the society my heart sank at the scene – the security guard was not on duty but he must have finished his vehicle-cleaning work by that time. Hiding himself in the midst of cars in a dark corner, sitting on the ground wearing old rugged clothes, he was eating from the lunchbox he had carried from his home… It was morning so the food must be cold from the previous day. How life had changed for him! Till last year he appeared respectful wearing security guard’s uniform and now he appeared just like any poor servant!

I have been giving him some bucks every once in a while but I didn’t want to get involved in his troubles by being too personal. It is wishful to think his sons and daughters-in-law should have made their life easier and more dignified but I don’t know what challenges they face in their lives! But I can see through that he is in trouble… 

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Happy New Year 2015

I think a New Year is just a conspiracy to give us hope. We hope that new year will be different as if this world or even us will start working in a different manner just because we bought home a new calendar :) Nevertheless like in good movies no animal is ever injured during giving us a good hope. Eat better, do better and feel better in the new year 2015!

Saturday, December 27, 2014

Superman: Salman-Ka-Fan

Arjun Kapoor dances to the tunes of “Mai hun Superman… Salman ka Fan” and something is just too loud to be ignored. We can call it pride or even arrogance; but being Salman-ka-Fan sort of justifies it all… With this brush if we want to paint the fossilized topic of comparing the three famous Khans of Bollywood, how do we rate the Aamir, Shahrukh and Salman?

Aamir had always been too ‘girlish’. Several times he tried too hard to break this image but alas – how could be change it unless he comes on screen with a mask every time! So it does not matter whether he plays a tapori in ‘aati-kya-Khandala’ wearing leather jacket and growing a bit of stubble, he still appears like a cheeky chick. Shahrukh has slightly different flavor - even when clean-shaven he always appeared like unshaven – and he made the ‘boy-next-door’ look his biggest strength. Not all girls actually believe in their dream of marrying a prince – most of them would perhaps agree to marry a frog if the frog wears Versace. And what a rich wrinkled frog Shahrukh has been! A dog can bite, even a cat can bite, but a frog is too harmless to be of any harm – and that is what makes him attractive to girls. Girls could dream a lizard to turn into a monster but never an SRK to be threatening to them – that is quite some quality to possess. That brings us to the only Khan who has remained himself all through the ages. Salman Khan is the only Khan who never needed to humiliate himself in order to win our hearts… Don’t believe it? Just look at coy and childish Aamir playing pK!

Photo: Aamir playing pK

Coming back to Aamir being girlish. It was no surprise that Aamir failed when he tried to portray a Manly (Mangal) Pandey. In order to hide his girlish looks, Aamir tried something which worked just as bad – he tried to play the kid! We all loved him in 3-Idiots because appeared too natural for the juvenile’s role he was playing. He continued the same to Dhoom-3 where he played a character suitable for his looks – that of a cute child. Btw, before that he failed once again in Talash – because he was playing the role of a Manly Policewallah with a manly moustache. So in pK he returned to his comfort zone and this time took it several notches above – he made himself into a clown! Ok, fine, it was alien. But the alien he was playing seemed to have been inspired by a clown – just look at the way he carries himself off…

Photo: Aamir failed each time he played a manly character like Mangal Pandey or in Talash but succeeded when he played a boyish joker or a clown-like alien.

While Aamir thrived on his girlish looks, Shahrukh was neither a proper ‘boy’ nor a proper ‘girl’ and his only strength was his ‘newspaper vendor boy-next-door’ look. So our so called King failed when he played Ashoka the Great. His tapori-panthi, sly, street-smart moves were out-of-class for the classy look and feel needed in the character. Shahrukh also made complete fool of himself when he tried to outdo the original Bachchan’s Don. People would accept him a road-chhap tapori but he appeared to be wearing rented suits and stolen deodorants for his role as a Don. SRK being the only Khan without a look worth second glance outdid all his previous antics by growing his six-packs which appeared more naturally grown in a starving smoking man than a person frequenting a gym of any shape and size. With his eight-packs he proved in front of the whole world how desperate he could be! Before all this madness about body-chiseling SRK was thriving on being a rare combination of intelligence, manners and romanticism. All his earlier life he must have been an ignored, average and invisible boy and hence the viewers connected with him instantly! After all, despite having the worst biopics he always used to get the girl by the end of the movies! How fascinating for the public to see such a pathetic boy getting all beautiful girls from one movie to the other! To the girls, he appeared to possess many complimentary qualities which they would like to have in their boyfriends, if nothing less then nothing more than that also. Being a boring loyal husband was not an option but compulsion to the King Khan without a proper beard.

Photo: Shahrukh failed when he tried characters which required class; was ridiculed when he grew six-packs perhaps as a revenge on God for not giving him a proper body

The only Khan who did not need to humiliate himself in order to make it big at the Box Office has been the undisputed Salman Khan. Salman is the ultimate Dabang of Bollywood – the unashamed handsome devil – who had it all with grace and class each time. The only Khan who when takes his shirt off, people don’t close their mouths with hands, like they did with Aamir’s weirdly tattooed Ghazini or Shahrukh’s not-worth-counting packs. While Aamir might have gone completely nude to promote his one movie and Shahrukh might have nearly killed himself to develop eight-pack abs in this old age, Salman is the man who has grown older with grace worthy of his (sur)name.

Photo: Salman Khan is the unashamed Dabang of Bolywood; the only Khan who did not need to humiliate himself to make it big at the Box Office

While Aamir went after marrying multiple women and also did not miss to create affairs with a White woman abroad to produce illegitimate child and Shahrukh with his poor looks held on to perhaps the only woman who agreed to marry him as a loyal husband, it is Salman who dared to love. When he loved, he made no attempts to hide it. When his women abandoned him, he cried like any human would. And when he loved next time, he made no secret of that either! How can you not love the humanly vulnerable yet rock solid Khan? If you see him or watch his interviews, you would certainly notice one thing about him – he never pretends! He is straightforward and dil-se; what all other phony actors claim to be but are not.
Salman Khan is the only Khan with real fan-following from other men. If you are Salman-ka-Fan, you won’t need to be ashamed, something which comes frequently if we start to think about being fans of Aamir or Shahrukh. That is why Arjun Kapoor says “Salman-ka-Fan” and takes the Taj Mahal by storm:

Photo: Arjun Kapoor sings ‘Salman-ka-Fan’ in Tevar

Salman Khan was the only Khan who had the guts to stand with NaMo (Modi) and fly kites in front of the whole media, even before Modi got power in Delhi. On the other hand, Shahrukh is a known Pakistan-sympathizer while Aamir is by and large non-political.

Photo: Salman Khan with Narendra Modi

Salman Khan is also the only Khan who can pair-up with the Dabang Girl Sonakshi. Imagine girlish Aamir or tapori Shahruku appearing like school-kids in front of the Desi Girl? We would rather eat all the popcorn ever produced than watching the lesser-Khans humiliate themselves once again…

Photo: Salman ‘Dabang’ Khan with Sonakshi ‘Khamosh’ Sinha

On these happier notes, let me now take a break :)

© Rahul | Written in leisure | Cheer Up | Detailed Disclaimer |

Saturday, December 20, 2014

The Madness of King George III

King George III of Britain ruled for 60 years (1760-1820), longer than any other King of Britain, and is considered good king by many historians. George III was very popular in the masses. He was the only British king who did not take a mistress and remained loyal to his only wife (the king and queen had 15 children - 9 sons and 6 daughters). He spent large part of his personal money on art and charity. He was devout to religion and prayed for hours. For most part he acted like a constitutional monarch supporting the initiatives of parliament though also playing power politics. Early in his reign, Britain defeated France and became dominant power in North America and India. Afterwards Americans battled their freedom and became a nation which caused great frustration to him. Later in his life, King George III suffered from some illness which affected his mental balance. 

The movie 'The Madness of King George' shows some of the realities which he had to face even after being a king. When the king goes ill, doctors try methods like bleeding and blistering him as a cure. When he appears mad, he is pushed to ground and sat over by servants, chained in a chair to restrain him, isolated in a castle, and he is treated like any old rag on the street - but perhaps as a method of treatment. His son tries to capture power and the parliamentarians openly ridicule him as a lunatic. 

It shows how life is unfair in a way; how life is a great leveler; how people respect your position and not really you; how relationships change when situation changes...

© Rahul

Wishing Merry Christmas

In our last call before client (from a western country) went on year-end vacations I wished her Merry Christmas and Happy New Year in advance. She said, "Well I do not celebrate Christmas. But thank you." What was my reaction? First reaction was of surprise. But what was I surprised at? I think I was surprised at her frankness, honesty and speaking straight. Now is that something alien in our country? If you wish someone in India "Merry Christmas", and one replies, "I do not celebrate Christmas", I guess you won't judge the person kindly. But if we judge the statement factually and impartially, there is nothing wrong in it. Very often we find people in Western countries open, frank and honest about whatever they do or don't do. In India we beat around the bush. We call it composite culture may be to envelop our insecurities into something of higher purpose as a form of justification. Is it our politeness, accommodating nature, tolerance or conformism and lack of confidence in our individuality which make us not frank and honest about what we do or don't do? I think it is just our lack of thought... I think we are a rushed society with no time to think... 

And btw, Merry Christmas in advance :)

© Rahul

Friday, December 19, 2014

God Speaks

I looked at God as if asking why there was so much pain and misery in this world? It appeared God did not say anything. But He was looking back at me. I got the answer - God wants us to solve all problems. Who says God does not speak? It is us who have forgotten His language!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Hindu Temples I have visited (Part-6)

Maa Samaleswari Mandir, Sambalpur, OdishaThis Devi temple on the banks of Mahanadi River is dedicated to Ma Samaleswari who is the presiding deity of Sambalpur and the temple is highly frequented by people from western part of Odisha and Chhattisgarh apart from other places. Important festivals of this temple are Nuakhai and Navaratra Puja. It is said that when Afghan invader Kalapahad camped near this temple with plans to destroy it, a milkmaid appeared selling milk, curd and cheese in the army camp. Next day entire army including Kalapahar suffered from cholera and had to abandon the invasion plans. Kalapahad had destroyed Konark and Puri temples. Tomb/graves of Kalapahad and his soldiers lie in Sambalpur. This temple is an important Shakta centre in the state.

Shinde Chhatri Mandir in Pune. This is a Shiva temple built by Great MarathaMahadji Shinde in 18th century. It was beautiful experience to worship the holy Shivlingam in the temple. Late Sri Madhavrao Scindia of Gwalior who was a descendant of Mahadji Shinde built the hall and samadhi outside the Shiva temple in memory of his ancestor. The hall has paintings of Schidia/Shinde family members including Late Madhavrao Scindia. The design, architecture and art are extremely beautiful and this remains one of the finest Temple complexes we have seen so far.

Kondhaneshwar Mandir near Pune: This Shiva Temple is inside Singhgad Fort near Pune. The statue of Nandi outside the temple indicate the wear and tear due to weather and destruction: 

Mahabaleshwar Temple in old Mahabaleshwar near Pune: 

Sri Panchganga Temple in Mahabaleshwar. Krishna river originates from inside this temple: 

Jagannath Mandir in Puri, Odisha: It is one of the four sacred Char-Dham pilgrimages. Dedicated to Lord Vishnu or Krishna, the temple was built in the 12th century atop its ruins by King Anantavarman Chodaganga Deva of Eastern Ganga dynasty. The temple is reported to be invaded and destroyed 18 times. In 1360 AD Feroz Shah Tughluq invaded it from Delhi. In 1509 AD, Ismail Ghazi, commander of Sultan of Bengal and in 1568 AD assistants of Sulaiman Karrani, the Afghan Sultan of Bengal invaded it. Thereafter several invasions and plunders on the temple happened by his successive rulers namely Bayazid, Daud, Kuya Khan and Kutlu Khan Lohani who ruled over Orissa one after another. When Ramachandra Deb established an independent kingdom at Khurda in Orissa, the temple was consecrated and the deities re-installed. Sikh ruler Maharaja Ranjit Singh had donated massive amounts of gold to the Jagannath temple. The temple is famous for Rath Yatra. In our visit we could see preparations going on for next year's big event and festival. We also liked the temple surrounding and items being sold nearby. Also visited beautiful Puri beach...

Lingaraj Temple at Bhubaneswar, Odisha: Bhubaneswar is mentioned as Ekamra Kshetra in Brahma Purana. Historians say the temple was built first by the Soma Vanshi king Yayati Kesari in the 7th century who shifted his capital from Jaipur to Bhubaneshwar. Parts of it were added in 11th century and it displays Kalinga Architecture. Lingaraj means "The king of Lingam", the symbol of Shaivism. Shiva was worshiped as Kirtivasa and later as "Harihara" and is commonly referred as Tribhuvaneshwara (also called Bhubaneswar), the master of three worlds - heaven, earth and netherworld. His consort is called Bhuvaneshvari. It is a Shiva temple but Lord Vishnu is also worshiped here (Harihara = Vishnu + Shiva). The temple complex has 50+ other shrines inside it. Once a year, an image of Lingaraja is taken to the Jalamandir in the center of the Bindu Sagar lake. It was wonderful and is one of the biggest temples visited...

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Everything we see is a perspective

Some months back I posted this pic on facebook. I got so many 'likes'. I loved this image because of three reasons: 1. Wisdom in its quote, 2. I am a big fan of Russell Crowe 3. In my wildest fantasies sometimes I fashion myself as a warrior :) But blinded by these reasons, I did not notice what was there on Russell Crowe's shoulders :) Many months afterwards when I realized that there was a dead animal on his shoulders, I said Yuk!!! I wanted to be a warrior but not one who carried dead foxes and wolves on his shoulders! Because after all "What we do in life echoes in eternity"! So I searched for his image without a dead animal on his shoulders. And I don't find one... So what is the message? I see it as a dead animal, he saw it as utility. Marcus Aurelius said, "Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth."

Monday, December 15, 2014


"Logic will get you from A to B. Imagination will take you everywhere." - Albert Einstein

"Do good and feel good. Do bad and feel bad. It is that simple."