Monday, 31 October 2011

A Day in the Life of an Unemployed...

Someone once said, ‘The Hardest work in the world is being out of work’ & I must say I totally agree with it. Every morning when I wake up it feels like I’m on a job that I do not enjoy at all. What started out as a well-deserved vacation has now turned into a period of I-desperately-need-a-job. My mind it seems has gone into hibernation mode and only a very small part of the brain needed for everyday functioning is awake and running.

My day begins around the time when offices are getting ready for their lunch break. I have but forgotten what a breakfast feels like. By the time I have read the news, the world has moved on from them and has found newer issues to deal with. So after completing that pointless exercise, I go up to my room to check my emails, Facebook updates and sports news. Such is my routine that I open the websites in the same order day after day.

The day’s first moments of any kind of real activity or excitement comes in the form of an argument that my mother and I have everyday over if I should take a bath before having my lunch. We have the same argument every day, but it is still difficult to predict who will win on that particular day. Some days I win and have my lunch with a slight sense of victory while on other days I have to reluctantly give in and take a bath! Whoever came up with this rule probably didn't have a life himself.

Afternoons are generally a busy time. I lie down on my couch and watch a film or the latest episode of one of the many series I follow. The temperature being so high just makes a person even lazier and I for one don’t feel like doing anything. Even the small job of pausing the video to go and answer nature’s call seems very tedious!

Evenings are much more bearable. I’m either out meeting and hanging out with friends or at home counting every second till it is time for dinner. Dinner time means sitting down with family downstairs and eating together and watching some television. This by the way is the only time of the day when I watch TV, so you can imagine just how much time I spend in front of my laptop!

After dinner I come back to my room and it is that time of the day when I realise that I’m wasting precious time and how I should be looking harder for a job. Every night I also look at my blog and tell myself to write something. But every time I sit down to write something, it is too much for the small functioning part of my brain to process and it short-circuits. In other words to protect its vital functioning parts it sends me into day-dreaming mode. Though creative juices have all but dried up, it is a wonder how I get to watch a new dream every night! The brain of ours is indeed an incredible organ!

Anyway the point of writing all the above is nothing but another way of telling myself to get out this sorry state of living and get a job!

Friday, 30 September 2011

Break ke Baad…(After a Break)

It’s been quite some time since I last wrote something on my blog. In that time so much has changed. I have shifted base from UK back home, enjoyed a small vacation, completed a project that I had taken up, got back into the process of applying for a job and again preparing for a small trip to London next month. I’ve been asked quite a few times by so many people as to why I had not written anything new on my blog. Though I have given each of them a different answer, the truth is that I have been plain lazy! But fret not I have brought myself out of it and am getting back to blogging regularly.

So since my last post, I have finished my course and have come back home. The last two weeks before the end were the most hectic I had had in the past year, but I wouldn’t have wanted it to be any different. Loved working with my group on my dissertation. I used to spend the days in our University library designing the magazine and the nights at home writing for my portfolio. Can you imagine a written portfolio of 8000 words? Phew! Those two weeks though flew by and before I realised it was time for my flight home and I was bidding my classmates an emotional farewell.

The last day in UK was very similar to my first day there. I was at my uncle’s place; we ordered a large pizza and watched a film on his huge home theatre before it was time for me to leave. Though there is nothing like returning home, there was an odd sense of loss at leaving UK. The whole time during the journey from Manchester to Dubai I was dreaming of the year gone by in the UK and how much I would miss it. It was only when I touched the Indian shores did I start thinking about home.

I was welcomed back to India in the ways foreign dignitaries are. The first two weeks were all about jet lag, meeting friends, gorging on Indian food, attending countless calls, repeating the same stories a thousand times and most importantly changing my lifestyle. Though I was enjoying myself here with friends and family, I dreamt of UK every night. Every night I used to dream of some random moment that I spent in the UK. I was longing to go back and it was as if UK heard my pleas. Within a week I received a mail from my tutor informing me that I had been short-listed for an award and she wanted me to be present at the award ceremony to be held in London. It was the opening I was looking for and luckily my parents agreed to let me go to London for 3-4 days.

I have been spending the last few days lazing around, watching films and TV-series, applying for jobs and willing the days to go by sooner so that I can visit the country I have come to love so much.

That’s all for now folks! I shall write more frequently! Stay tuned!!

Saturday, 13 August 2011

The Sister I have...

Someone once said, ‘A sister is a gift from God, sent from above to make life worthwhile here below.’ I’m sure if I to were to introduce him to my sister, he would bite his tongue.

The whole world might pass by, but she won't stop texting
I've got a sister who is three years younger to me and who for the better part of her life has wished for this particular statistic to be reversed. It is only in the last couple of years during which she has realised that it is nigh impossible for such a thing to happen and that I’m the better person!!! Well anyway since this day is about sisters, let me talk about her.

So Sudipta Satpathy, my sister, is a FRIENDS watching, clothes shopping, money spending, continuously talking, eternally texting, ohh and did I mention clothes shopping, 21-year old girl. If I’ve missed out something pardon me, it is after all a lot of adjectives to describe a girl.

So what more can I say about her?! Our relationship is anything but a conventional brother-sister relationship. I guess that is the reason why I cherish it even more. She’s more of a friend to me than a sister. For as far as I can remember we have always been at loggerheads about every single thing in our lives.

I have seen her grow in front of me from a child whom I’ve always troubled to a girl who thinks she has the will to take over the world. From out of nowhere she has matured a lot. But this has come at a price and a price that my father has had to bear. She has contracted the disease that many girls of her age tend to get. Shopping! Her wardrobe is the testimony of how many types of clothes and accessories are available in Mumbai. I guess she must have secretly hired a contractor to deepen her wardrobe somehow because for the life of me I cannot understand how that small place that our parents had her built can accommodate so many things. Our shoe stand is another place that has been illegally encroached. But again no one has the power to complain!

Another person who is I’m sure grateful for her existence is the owner of Vodafone. At the very least 1% of the total worldwide earnings of Vodafone must surely come from my sister and her group of friends. Almost every moment of their lives when they aren’t shopping, my sister and her friends Sneha Varghese and Sneha Valsan (hope I’ve got their spellings right) are either talking on the phone or texting. If their calls and texts are recorded and printed, the book will be bigger than the Constitution of India.

Well I guess I should stop here. If I keep writing my post won't end and eventually it'll crash the Google servers! This post is dedicated to you (it is about you anyway), so you can cross another thing from your wish list. Though I do not believe in Rakshabandhan this is a gift for you.  Hope you've enjoyed it!

Monday, 1 August 2011

The Rabbit and the Turtle...

One day a rabbit was boasting about how fast he could run. He was laughing at the turtle for being so slow. Much to the rabbit’s surprise, the turtle challenged him to a race. The rabbit thought this was a good joke and accepted the challenge. The fox was to be the umpire of the race.

Since this was the 21st century the rules of the race were changed. The rabbit and the turtle were asked to choose a car each which they would race to the chequered flag. On the day of the race the rabbit arrived at the starting line in a petrol car while the smart turtle chose a diesel car.

The rabbit mocked the turtle and boasted about his car, its huge petrol engine and how much horse-power it had. The turtle though chose to keep quiet. He had chosen a car with the latest Multijet Diesel engine and knew he had made the correct choice.

The contenders...

As the race began, the rabbit raced ahead of the turtle, just like everyone thought. But every few kilometres he had to make a pit-stop to refill his car’s thirsty engine. The petrol engine though churning out a lot of power was drinking petrol by the gallons. The rabbit though was not worried and was sure that even if the turtle passed him, he would be able to race to the finish line ahead of him.

All this time the turtle gained steadily on the rabbit. His car’s diesel engine though not as powerful was very efficient & the turtle knew that in the course of the race this would help him a lot. His car’s diesel engine kept going on and on.

Pretty soon the turtle caught up with the rabbit as he was filling up at a petrol station. From this point on the race heated up. The rabbit had realised that if he were to stay in the race he would have to drive carefully so that his car’s engine wouldn't sap the petrol.

For the last kilometre their cars were neck to neck with just a hair’s breadth separating them. None of the waiting audience was able to hazard a guess on who will win. But even with all the careful driving the petrol engine was no match to the diesel’s efficiency. With the chequered flag agonizingly close, the rabbit’s car spluttered to a stop drained of its very last drop of petrol & the turtle passed the finishing line. There was a huge roar from the audience. The turtle had won and the rabbit was humbled.

Moral: The moral of the story my friends is that contrary to the popular belief, diesel engines these days are technologically more advanced than the petrol engines and are clearly the better option. Ask the rabbit!!

If you don’t believe me then go to your closest Fiat showroom and try out their latest Punto and Linea diesel. This post was written in response to the contest 'SWITCH TO DIESEL' hosted by FIAT on Indibloggers.

Take advantage of FIAT’s upgrade offer and you could get lucky with a free upgrade to Fiat Multijet diesel technology - for the price of a petrol car. For more details click here.

Tuesday, 26 July 2011


Finally I've got what I have been waiting for quite some time. Thank you BlogAdda for choosing me as their 'Notable Newbie'!! It is quite an honour.


It is nothing less than a Filmfare Award for me. Now I reckon I should aim for the Oscars (if there is one)!!

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my Mom and Dad who have pestered me to start and keep writing in order to improve myself. I also want to thank my 'Bada Mamu' (Uncle) Umashankar Mishra, who is quite simply the biggest fan of my blog. He has read all my posts, commented on each of them and also like my parents pestered me to keep writing. Lastly I would like to thank my friends and readers who take the pains to read my posts (read ramblings).

Thank You all.

Keep reading !! :)

Cheerio !!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

An Art Lost in Time…

Bollywood has come a long way. From the black & white films of Guru Dutt to the nationalistic films of Manoj Kumar to the angry young men in Manmohan Desai’s films to today’s films for the NRIs, Bollywood has kept pace with the changing times. I consider myself lucky to have witnessed such changes over the last two decades. But there is one change which I wish should have never taken place.

Be it the angry young man Amitabh Bachchan screaming through the poster of Kaala Patthar or Nargis carrying the weight of the world in the poster of Mother India, film posters have been an integral part of Bollywood history. If you were to walk past cinemas in the 80s & the early 90s you could have never missed the huge colourful film posters. These posters would have been stuck half-hazardly everywhere on street lamps, walls, electric boxes or on the back of the city buses.

Every poster in those times told a story or portrayed an emotion. You could sense the love between Rajesh Khanna and Sharmila Tagore in the poster of Aradhana or the cheekiness of Mehmood in the poster of Garam Masala. I remember when I was a child I had seen the poster of Dream Girl somewhere and I couldn’t believe how beautiful Hema Malini was. Recently in the film Om Shanti Om, the scene where Shahrukh Khan talks to the film poster as if he is actually talking to Deepika sums up exactly what I’m trying to say.

But in recent times film posters I feel have lost their charm. They are just photoshoped images of actors and actresses looking glamorous or seductive. While some are heavy on special effects others are heavy on airbrushes! There are no emotions or charm in there. For example recently the poster of Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara had three guys on the roads showing off their abs. What does that say about the film??

I think the reason for this can be due to the fact that earlier the posters were hand painted by people on minimum wages who were genuinely film-going fans. They would worship these posters and would feel responsible for the actors and actresses to look good on their posters. Their passion for what they did was unparalleled. They would also use the money they earned to go watch the film. Today these people have been replaced by marketing gurus who have top quality designers under them proficient in the use of Photoshop. They may or may not actually go to watch the film. They do what they have been told to and they do it very well. But there is no passion in it. Some may argue saying that this is what the audience today wants. Maybe it is or maybe not, I still feel sad that such art has been lost in time.

Is there any way of getting those days back? I wish I could go back to the time when we could say, ‘Phata poster nikla Hero’!

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Click a Pic...

Photos or pictures as they say speak a thousand words. If they did speak, they would tell us about all the things that happened on that particular day. Be it birthdays, functions, hanging out with friends, family times or any other occasion, there would always be a story to tell. The ways in which we get our photos clicked have undergone a lot of changes in the last century or so and I’m sure if the photographs could speak they would say the same story.

In the age of the Black & White Cameras, to get your photo clicked was nothing less than an occasion. Girls and boys alike used to spend hours dressing up so that they looked good in the photo. The trip to the local studio would have been nothing less than a parade. Look at me I’m going to the photo studio to get my photo clicked. Have you seen such photos? Not a strand of hair will be out of place.

 The timeline...
Then came the time of colour handheld cameras. It was also the time when cameras started becoming a household thing. I still remember our black Olympus camera. It was heavy by today’s standards but it still was a thing of beauty. If I remember correctly it was also me who destroyed it. Every occasion was saved as a memory in big photo albums making such occasions even more special. I sometimes still look through old photo albums for nostalgic reasons. But because of the high cost of camera rolls and their development, photos had to be clicked carefully. My dad was the expert of this period. He never liked it if I wasted even a single film on the roll and taught me how to handle a camera.

All this changed when digital cameras entered the market. It revolutionised the way we clicked photographs. Not having to think about the high costs of camera rolls and photo development anymore, clicking photos entered into a kind of frenzy. People started using cameras as if they are using a gun. I guess at this time the word ‘shooting’ was used in its literal sense. People began clicking photos of anything and everything. Where they used to spend hours looking for the right way to click a photo; now they spent that time clicking 100 photos in the hope that at least one would come right. The best though was how parents couldn’t get used to this new phenomenon initially. I remember my parents telling me not to click stupid pictures and waste the space. It took them quite a while to get used to the fact that I could just delete any picture I didn’t like.

Now again there has come a change in the way we click our photos. Though the hardware has remained much the same, the change is more of a syndrome. It is something I like to call the Facebook-Profile-Pic syndrome. It has affected the young generation or what we are also known as the Social Media generation. These days when we click our own photo we have to click one which is suitable for our display pic on Facebook. We rate it according to how many ‘likes’ or ‘comments’ we think we will get. It has to be either very funny or very suave. People might argue saying that they do not care about such things, but even they will admit they feel a bit disappointed if no one comments or likes their picture. It is but human!

So you might be thinking why I wrote about things you may already be aware of. Well I was recently going through my pictures and noticed just how much they have all changed! From the young and cute where I was unaware of the fact that my picture was being clicked, to a bit older when I had to look smart to now when I have to have a crazy photo of myself.

With technological innovations happening all the time, what do you think will be the next change?

Saturday, 2 July 2011

Phone - A Friend....

When I left home & came to the UK for my higher studies there were a lot of things I had to leave behind. Family, friends, home, my country were only a few of them. But instead of feeling sad, I slowly settled into a daily routine of studies and exploring this new place, and began to enjoy and look forward to each new day. 

However, there were moments when I felt lonely and homesick. I missed my friends, my family and I admit there were times when I wanted to pack my bags and go back home. But in times like these I found a friend at one of the most unexpected places.

It has always been said that books are a man’s best friend. You can spend hours reading them, treat them ruthlessly & still they will never complain. But in my case books weren’t sufficient. In fact every time I sat down to read a book, my mind wandered to my family, home & friends. Hence, in a dire situation that I was, a certain something came to my rescue; it was my HTC Smartphone. Yes, you heard me right and before you roll your eyes, just listen to what I’ve got to say. 

We both love to travel and hence it always carries an app called ‘Google Maps’. Many a times we lost our way while exploring Sheffield. All we had to do was use the maps to get back on track. It is not jealous of my other friends and in fact likes it when I chat with them. So it has the ‘WhatsApp’ messenger with which my friends in India are only a buzz away. I’m a person who loves music & like a true friend it stores all my favourite songs in its ‘Music Player’. Our best moments together have been captured in its brilliant ‘5MP Camera’ & so very often we check them out in the gallery and relive those memories. It’s also very multi-dimensional in nature. With a range of apps to download from the Android Market, it adapts quickly to my changing needs. Nevertheless, our friendship is not only because of all its qualities, my HTC has brought some changes in me as well. For a person who was content with checking his emails and Facebook only a couple of times a day on his laptop, now feels the need to check them every half hour. 

From the time I have bought the HTC, it has become a very close friend of mine. Like the books it loves to spend hours with me and immediately forgives me if I happen to drop it by accident. But that’s not all. We have got so much more in common. 

My HTC is indeed a reflection of what I am. Like a true friend is has also seen to it that its personality has rubbed off on me. I’ll never forget the contribution it had in my life when I needed a friend. It does everything for me except help with the dishes, but if I needed someone to help me with those, I would have hired a butler! Long last our friendship my dear HTC.

P.S – I would like to thank my Uncle who pestered me into choosing an HTC. If not for him, I would have ended up with a BlackBerry or something.

P.P.S – This blog is written in response to the contest 'CHANGE IS EASY' hosted by Dell Inspiron Laptop on Indibloggers. Dell has rid us of the monotony of single colours on laptops by introducing changeable covers. So go be a part of the Change!

                                                For people on IndiBlogger...Do vote for me!! :)

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Love at First Touch

As I laid my eyes on her from across the room, there was a tingling down my spine & I knew I had to touch her. The room was crowded & there was a group of people surrounding her, but I kept my patience. I waited until they left her & then I made my move. As I held her in my hands, it just felt right. She brought a smile to my face & I knew this was true love. There in the crowded showroom I was in love with Apple’s iPad 2.

I’m a geek at heart & have always wanted to own all the gadgets in the world. Absurd though it may sound, that is how much I like gadgets. I can spend an entire day locked in a room without food if you give me a stack of gadget magazines to drool at. Though I like all the gadgets, I have only ever fallen in love with a couple of gadgets in my life. My first love was the Pentium-1 PC dad bought home and the second was my Playstation 2 gifted by my uncle.  But in that showroom as I held the iPad 2, I knew this time it was different.

The iPad was like a dream girl come to life. Her screen was bright and colourful with each pixel glowing like the radiant sun. Her touch-response was unearthly with even my slightest touch ensuring a response. Every page or App opened almost at the speed of thought. It was as if she could read my mind. Though I was standing in a busy showroom at a Mall, I was transported into a world where it was just the both of us. I could for a second imagine us both running behind trees in slow motion & singing songs like in the old Bollywood films.  

I couldn’t help but think that it was as if Apple had kept me in mind when designing this gadget. Apple has been credited with ushering in this current trend of Tablet PCs in the market following which other companies too have followed. But experts have always considered iPads to be way ahead of others. I had never believed them until that moment.

Though I already own gadgets which fulfil most of my needs, I need to have this one. If not for the high price Apple have put on her, I wouldn’t have left her lying in the crowded showroom. I’ll do whatever needs to be done to get her. If no one takes the cue & gifts me one, I know where my first salary is going..

My heart's locked inside her as an app

Sunday, 12 June 2011

The End of an Era

A typical study time.
As I sat in the loo answering nature’s call and relieving the pressures of life and my stomach, I felt a tug in my navel and my immediate first thought was that I was being teleported. What actually happened was that I had  somehow travelled back in time. A montage of pictures danced in front of my eyes. Not till I really concentrated did I realise what the pictures were all about.

I saw pictures of me sitting on a bed or at my study table through different times struggling to concentrate on my textbooks. These pictures were reliving the story of my life or rather the story of my struggle against education.

 I was never a good student, still am not I think. All my life my tutors said that I was a student who was bright but also who never worked hard enough. In truth I never felt like studying and I always saw studies as nothing less than torture. I always dreamed of education becoming a real-life dictator so I could lead a revolution to topple his tyrannical regime. (A result of all those Hollywood films I might add!!)

My parents much like the loyal officers of the dictator, screamed, cajoled and used every possible trick in the book to make me submit to his powers. I continued studying just to keep their hearts.  As I grew older, my love for studies kept decreasing. I passed my first hurdle, i.e., my 10th standard under a strict measure of control. Imagine my life when I had no access to a TV, computer or comic books for a year. I still pride myself on my sheer mental strength to survive that phase.

Post-Grad times...
The next few years were rocky to say the least. I didn’t do well in my studies, failed in my academics and my parents and not until a couple of years back did things stabilise. Until then I had never looked at studies as a goal that I needed to achieve. But things changed, new people came into my life and they had a huge contribution in changing my perception towards life.

I did well in my graduation, much better actually than I or anyone would ever expect. To some extent I surpassed my parent’s expectations. I got into one of the best universities in the UK and now as I have finished my course, I finally realise the magnanimity of what I have achieved. I’ve done what every child (including me) dreams of every second he or she ‘has’ to study. I have completed my education. Yes you heard me, complete. Finito.

If you would have asked me during my school days, I would have never in my wildest dreams imagined that one day I would  complete my education and that too so well. I would have probably told you that I would be expelled from my college at some point of time or maybe sit at the till of a shop as my parents had threatened to do. (I had actually also thought of a name for the shop when they had threatened me!!)

The feeling of completing my education though is completely opposite of what I had expected. Instead of being on cloud 9, it is a very bitter-sweet feeling. Yes I know I will never have to sit through nights learning and mugging up pages and pages of text. But I may never get to enjoy life as I have in my college times. Once in a job I may not be able to go anywhere and anytime I want to, let alone get enough time to meet my friends. There would be no more bunking classes and the excitement and the sense of adventure that comes with it. I think it’s too big a thing to sacrifice in order to give up studying. But that is what life is and as I was reeling on my last thought, I was wrenched back into the real world. I realised it was time to flush. Phew! What a moment in the loo!

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

A Superhero Fantasy

I hear her scream from a mile away. It is a scream for help and the pitch of her voice tells me how urgent the situation is. I jump off the ledge and in a matter of seconds I’m by her side. I punch the thug square on his face and save the day. The lady is grateful and comes forward to give me a kiss. But at that precise moment I wake up with a start.

Have you noticed this is how superhero dreams always tend to end? You never get the reward for your heroics. Maybe this is how superheroes are supposed to be. Always selfless and never expecting a reward. Frustrating though it may seem, a person never really stops dreaming of becoming a superhero.  Be it a child or a 70 year old, we always want to become a superhero and do something heroic.

But what’s with this childlike fantasy? Well there’s no denying the coolness factor that goes with being a superhero. Different age-groups perceive it in different ways. Children grow up reading comic books and want to become like those heroes. They always dream of flying to school or being super-powerful so they can pick up their school bus or uproot buildings and trees. A child also bonds with his father by imagining him as a superhero. I used to think my father could tackle a gang of thugs single-handedly until the day he burst my bubble.

Adults on the other hand cannot resist the sense of power, the ability to do things that no one else can do and the feeling of being special because God made you so. Add to that how superheroes are being glorified and given a sense of realism in today’s Hollywood films and everyone wants to become like them.

 I too have always wanted to become a superhero. There have been times when I have actually prayed to God asking him to grant me super powers. My power-wish-list has always changed according to the situation I was in at that time. I want to fly, teleport, travel back in time, etc. etc. I have even analysed why I haven’t been granted these powers, but never got a logical answer. Maybe it's because I have always wanted these powers for selfish reasons.

But I feel the real reason behind this fantasy is for a person to be able to do something which he or she isn’t capable of. Dreaming of being a superhero brings in a sense of escapism. A person always feels that by being a superhero he or she won’t ever have to work again and just fly away from the hustle-bustle of life. They also feel they can do something of which they have always dreamed of but have not been able to. In other words they just want to be kids again!

This post is dedicated to Suraj Shetty, who has always dreamed of being Goku! He is 24 today and he still dreams! This is your birthday gift mate!

Tuesday, 24 May 2011

Bollywood: 2011 to End on a High?

Big-budget blockbusters, low-budget Indies, films with women in the lead and films made with critics in mind, this year Bollywood holds nothing back to promise us one of the biggest and most entertaining years yet.

For all the talk of how some of the new age films are leaps and bounds ahead of multi-crore blockbusters, the fact still remains that these big-budget films fill the Box Office coffers. Of course on occasions a low-budget film like Tere Bin Laden or a Love, Sex Aur Dhoka will do well at the Box Office, but the real money still comes from these so called biggies.

The first half of this year has been a mixed bag of sorts with some films doing really well and some much anticipated films doing badly. Films like No One Killed Jessica with two actresses in the lead broke all norms and raked in Rs. 40 crore while the much anticipated film Dhobi Ghat starring Aamir Khan failed miserably.

But as we enter the business part of the year, we can look forward to some big films coming our way.

The first to watch out for is Zoya Akhtar’s Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara starring Hrithik Roshan, Farhan Akhtar, Abhay Deol, Katrina Kaif and Kalki Koechlin. It is the story of three best friends who set out on a bachelor trip to Spain where they rediscover life and deal with their own problems. Katrina’s character is said to inspire them to live their lives to the fullest and have fun while it lasts. This brings back the fond memories of the all-boys film Dil Chahta Hai. This seems like an interesting film, especially from the urban multiplex audience perspective. This might just turn out to be Zoya’s Dil Chahta Hai.

Next up is Imtiaz Ali’s Rockstar starring the current heartthrob Ranbir Kapoor, debutant Nargis Fakhri and Aditi Rao Hydari. Rock Star is about a young super-successful musician who doesn’t believe in love but is advised to fall in love to enrich the expanse of musical experience and become emotionally richer. He does allow himself to fall in love but finds it impossible to fall out of love when asked to do so. With two of the most talented names coming together for a film, it is hardly surprising that the expectations are already sky-high. With maestro A. R. Rahman providing the music score, there is a lot to look for in this film. But it isn’t only the film that is in the spotlight, rumours are flying in B-Town linking Ranbir with Nargis. We will have to wait and see how true these rumours are, but in the meanwhile we can safely say that this film is going to be huge.

Releasing on Eid is Salman Khan’s My Love Story also starring Kareena Kapoor and is a remake of a Telugu film Bodyguard. The story revolves around young Lovely Singh (Salman), who has a very strange habit that is he adulates anyone with a trace of heroism. Whenever he develops an admiration towards a person, he prefers to move with that person as a sort of bodyguard. Salman Khan usually carries a film on his courage of conviction rather than any element related to the film. His fans would definitely patronise this film but the success depends on how forgiving audiences are at the given point in time. His last film Dabanng is one such example where the film was a massive hit only because of Salman’s star power rather than it being a good film. So let’s wait and see how good this might be.

Sriram Raghavan’s Agent Vinod is one which I can’t wait to watch. Starring Saif Ali Khan and Kareena Kapoor as his girlfriend it is being said that this film is similar to that of James Bond and I’m sure it will be another one of Sriram’s film noirs ala Johnny Gaddar and Ek Haseena Thi.

Another film am looking forward to is Karan Johar’s remake of the 90’s classic Agneepath. The original was an instant classic and Amitabh Bachhan’s character of Vijay Dinanath Chahaun, the vengeful underworld don, has gone down in the history books as one of the most memorable characters in Bollywood history. The remake has been in the news ever since Hrithik Roshan was announced as the lead, since it was expected that Amitabh’s son Abhishek Bachhan would be the one to emulate his father. Another surprise has been the exclusion of Mithun Chakraborty’s memorable character of Krishnan Iyer MA in the remake. Johar has promised that the remake will be big and on an international stage with shooting all around the globe.  Interesting though it might sound, we will have to wait and watch how well the remake lives up to the original’s cult status.

Last and probably this year’s most awaited film is Anubhav Sinha’s Ra. One starring some of the biggest names in the industry with the likes of Sharukh Khan, Arjun Rampal and Kareena Kapoor in the lead. Sharukh plays the protagonist G. One and Arjun plays the villain. Since Shankar’s sci-fi film Robot was a massive hit, the standards for this film have been raised several notches up. This has the potential to be the biggest hit of this year and the buzz around the film is bound to lure the audiences to screens. Lets hope that Shahrukh's most ambitious project yet isn't like Akshay Kumar's Chaandni Chowk to China.

Happy watching!!

Wednesday, 18 May 2011

From 'Heroine' to 'Actress'

The phrase ‘women-centric films in Bollywood’ suggests films focusing on the issues faced by women in today’s society. Never will you find an Indian actress wielding guns and kicking ass. They are more likely to be portrayed as a helpless mother, devoted wife, over-caring sister, daughter or a vamp. But it looks likes the times they are a changing.

Women-centric films have always been able to target only a very niche audience. Though they have brought women into the spotlight and got critical acclaim, they haven’t been commercial hits. Films like Fiza (2000), Chandni Bar (2001), Chameli (2003), Satta (2003), Dor (2006) and Corporate (2006) were a critical success but a dud at Box office.

If you look back in history, Bollywood has always been a domain ruled by male actors. All the major hits and commercial successes have had a superstar actor in the lead. The three Khans namely Aamir Khan, Sharukh Khan and Salman Khan are credited with bringing Bollywood to where it is today. Many films with one of them in the lead have worked on their star power alone. Such a thing can never happen with an Indian actress. Producer Ekta Kapoor summed this up in an interview when she said: “In cinema, it’s the males you idolize and the females you fantasize about.”

The films responsible for the change...

But now directors like Vishal Bharadwaj and newcomers Alankrita Shrivastava and Rajkumar Gupta are trying to break the mould and present women in a more realistic and unconventional way. Gupta’s film ‘No One Killed Jessica’ breaks the norm by casting two actresses in the lead rather than a leading male actor. Starring Vidya Balan and Rani Mukherji, the film created a buzz as it was inspired by the 1999 murder of model Jessica Lall.

Films as they say are a reflection of real life. Women in India and around the world are redefining their status and role in society and that is being reflected in Hindi cinema. Women are no longer the shy or sensitive sorts who hide behind the veil, but very much on par with men. Power is slowly being balanced in today’s world and it is becoming evident with these films.

It is so refreshing to see the change in the way women are being portrayed on the screen. 
In the 80's and 90's there were some really perverse depictions of women, objectifying them to the core and making them appear like air heads. But Aisha proved that today’s female characters can be strong minded and contain substance, which is probably why the word ‘heroine’ is gradually being replaced by ‘actress'.

Other films like Bharadwaj’s ‘7 Khoon Maaf’ and Alankrita’s ‘Turning 30’ have women in important lead parts and ‘Aisha’, a modern adaptation of the 1815 British novel Emma by Jane Austen is the best example. It was well received by the audience. These films are also raking in the moolah which will only encourage the directors to make more such films. Aisha grossed a total of Rs. 18.75 crore at the box office, while No One Killed Jessica, made on a budget of Rs. 9 crore generated a business of Rs. 40 crore worldwide.

And it doesn’t stop there as Bharadwaj is yet again gearing up to make another female oriented film that is inspired from a chapter of writer S. Hussain Zaidi's book, 'Mafia Queens of Mumbai'. Nagesh Kukunoor director of Dor is currently making a film ‘Mod’ starring Ayesha Takia in the lead.

Friday, 15 April 2011

A Writer's Block...

The good old cursor

I sit in my room staring at the blank white space of MSWord and the blinking cursor waiting for me to start typing so that it can race all across the screen. Its only purpose in life it seems is to race from one end of the page to the other leaving behind a slew of letters and words. A noble profession I might add considering how the lives and careers of writers and journalists around the world depend upon this blinking black line.

You might be wondering at this point, where exactly I am going here. Well the simple answer to that is nowhere. I have been struck by the one disease writers fear the most; Writer’s Block. It is a condition, in which a writer loses the ability to produce new work.

This is how my mind must look like now.
Ever since the World Cup concluded I have been thinking of something good to write about but have yet to find anything. I have tried my usual methods of thinking, i.e., staring outside the window, looking at the clouds and the sky, drinking coffee, listening to classical music, taking long showers and day dreaming, but to no avail. My mind it seems has just gone blank.

I've not gone mad, far from it. When it comes to talking or chatting with friends, I come up with hundreds of things to talk and discuss about. But the moment I sit down to write, my mind goes blank. It is as if there is a wall isolating the part of my mind that is necessary for writing from the rest. Try as I might I cannot break or scale this wall, it’s just too high and impenetrable.

In a funny way this wall reminds me of the advertisement for Ambhuja Cement. It is the one where two families try to break the wall separating them using all the means in hand including a stick of dynamite. When nothing works a voice in the background says, “Tutega kaise, Ambhuja Cementse jo bana hai”. It is the same voice I hear every time I try breaking the wall in my mind. This block is making me crazy!

On a serious note though, as I write this piece, I cannot help but wonder, ‘What if this thing happens to me when I’m in a job?’ The answer though quite simple is very scary. I better get myself out of this misery soon!  

Sunday, 3 April 2011

India the World Champions...

the moment...

As the ball left Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s bat and sailed high over the boundary rope, there was a collective roar by 2 billion people. A roar which reverberated across the globe reaching every corner of the world announcing the arrival of India, the world champions in cricket. Yes, after a long wait of 28 years India has again captured the Holy Grail of cricket; the Cricket World Cup.

The great Muhammad Ali once said that, ‘Champions are made from something they have deep inside them – a desire, a dream, a vision’. The Indian cricket team proved this today. After the catastrophe that was the 2007 World Cup, it didn’t look like Indian cricket would reach the top of the rankings much less win another World Cup. There was a need for massive rebuilding and restructuring. It was a time to bid farewell to the old and welcome the new.

It all began with the new captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s desire to be the absolute best. He is a born leader and it immediately showed when he brought in young players to form a great mix of young and old in the team. His desire and positivity rubbed onto his team mates as the team steadily climbed to the top of the rankings in both the ODIs and Tests. The team also won the inaugural Twenty20 World Cup. Things became better and better as the team’s performances hit a consistent high and it also showed in the results.

They even dared to dream of winning a World Cup again and it was no surprise then that India entered into this World Cup as favourites to win. Things began well but hit a low as they tied a match against England and lost to the South Africans. But instead of being bogged down, the team rose to the occasion with every player playing his role. The stellar performances against Australia and Pakistan showed the character of the team and the players. Today against the Sri Lankans this was even more evident when having lost two early wickets they held their nerves to come up top in one of the most exciting World Cup finals.

Players like Yuvraj Singh, Sachin Tendulkar, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Dhoni and Harbhajan Singh lead by an example and inspired the others to perform. Players started peaking at the right moment. Suresh Raina came from the bench to finish off a very crucial game against the Australians. Nehra after having a horrid match against the South Africans came back with a strong performance against Pakistan in the semi-finals. Dhoni though leading the team from the front, saved his best for the last as he played one of his best innings when it mattered the most, in the finals.

A vision that was created in 1983 as a relatively unheard team felled the giants of cricket to lift the World Cup has been achieved again. It has taken 28 years of hard work and passion to achieve it but the wait has been worth every moment. A country which has been many a time blamed to be underachievers has answered her critics. Today as the Indian cricket team lifted the World Cup, I was ecstatic and I had tears in my eyes. But like Sachin I couldn't stop them or cared as they were the tears of happiness and pride. 

The World Champions of 2011...

Tuesday, 29 March 2011

India vs. Pakistan: More than just cricket match…

When you read words like ‘Bring It On…’, ‘Frenzy peaks’ and  ‘More than a game..’,  in bold headlines, you can be sure it is the run-in towards one of sport’s greatest and most intense rivalries. A rivalry so huge, that other famous sport rivalries like those between Manchester United and Manchester City or Barcelona and Real Madrid feel like mere playground squabbles. A cricket match between India and Pakistan.

the greatest sporting rivalry...
Unlike other matches where the players have to deal with the people’s passion for cricket, in these matches they have to deal with the passion, the pride of their nation and an almost unbearable burden of the people’s expectations. Such is the pressure under which the players have to play a cricket match and every one of the 180 matches played between these countries which include Tests, ODIs and T20s has managed to maintain the same amount of intensity.

In the run up to the game there is an almost visible shift in the wind and the effect is felt in so many spheres of life. The tension in the air is palpable, people wait impatiently for the match day to come, and the streets are filled with people showing their support for their teams. Temples and other places of worship see a sudden increase in attendance. TV broadcast channels run continuous analysis, expert’s views and endless reruns of their team’s past victories while newspapers and magazines extend their sports sections to accommodate the various articles. The political system too is not spared as all the unresolved agendas between the two countries are suddenly put into spotlight and the politicians run for cover to avoid talking about ‘Peace Talks’ between the two countries. It has also been observed that both countries suffer a considerable drop in production on the day. But my favourite would have to be how people get busy thinking about unique excuses to skip office or college on the day. I can sympathise with them, as I too have been thinking for a good excuse since last week!

Since India and Pakistan won their respective quarterfinal matches last week, the subcontinent is buzzing with nationalistic sentiments. I might even be bold enough to say that people in both the countries seem to be making preparations for a war rather than a cricket match, such is the intensity. The world seems to have totally forgotten about the other semi-final match between Sri Lanka and New Zealand.

The captains leading by an example
In terms of statistics when both the countries are compared, Pakistan is ahead of India in the number of wins in Tests and ODIs. But when it comes to the day of the match, predicting a winner is near to impossible as both the teams are quite similar and the pressure and intensity bring the best out of both sets of players. When it comes to World Cups though, India holds a clean record against Pakistan; 4-0.

But when the players take field tomorrow, all statistics, expert views and analysis and history between the two will be forgotten. All that will matter is how well the teams perform and who wins. For a moment the World Cup itself will be forgotten and only this match will matter. Whatever happens, it is surely going to be a cracker of a semi-final at Mohali tomorrow.

Monday, 21 March 2011

A Tale of Two Cities - Mumbai & London…

Mumbai at its full glory

Having lived in Mumbai all my life, it is quite natural that I feel attached to the city. But in my case there has always been more to this attachment. I have been in love with Mumbai since the day I lay my eyes on her. My love reached another level when I was allowed to go out on my own. Since that day I have been exploring and in the process discovering something new about Mumbai every time I go out.

I have loved everything about Mumbai, her glorious past, her architecture, the people, the glamour and most importantly the feeling of being at home. Like most Mumbaikars I complain about the state of roads, the pollution, the noise, the traffic, etc. But if you were to ask me to name a place that is as close to being a paradise as can be, I would immediately say Mumbai. I will even go on record to say that if ever there is a city where I would wish to settle down and eventually die, it is Mumbai.

When I left home last year, apart from feeling sad about leaving my family and friends, I was sad because I was also leaving Mumbai. Unlike those times when it used to be for short vacations, this time I knew I would be leaving her for good. All the memories came flooding back to me in the short time between the plane taxing to the runway and the take-off. The times on local-trains and the black and yellow taxis, eating at road-side stalls, sitting and staring out at the sea on Marine Drive, wading through knee-deep water during one particular monsoon and so much more. The montage of pictures, videos and sounds was simply mind-numbing.

Life at Sheffield has been good and slowly but steadily I have settled in quite well. I like Sheffield for its beauty, peace and I like how life moves about at its own pace here. But this is not a place which I would call home. I always get a feeling that I am living at a holiday resort. There has always been something amiss which I couldn’t put a finger on until 4 days ago.

A class trip presented me with the opportunity to finally visit London. From everything that I had heard, seen and read about London, I had always thought of it to be the Mumbai of UK. What I had not realised was just how right I was in my imagination. As I stepped onto the streets of London, I immediately felt as if I was home. Somehow having left Sheffield that morning I had landed in Mumbai. I was back among the crowds, the hustle-bustle of the city and I loved every tiny bit of it.

The city was buzzing with life. The traffic was endless. There was a purpose in the steps of each person either going to work or going back home after a hard day’s work at office. The buildings were a beautiful blend of ancient gothic and modern architecture. There was a sense of power in the air and authority to the place as if the entire country depended upon this place and it does. The rides on the Underground tube were reminiscent to the countless hours I had spent on the Mumbai local trains. I felt so much at home that for the first hour or so I was busy soaking it all in. Every step that I took reminded me of Mumbai.

The three days that I spent in London flew by at lightning speed. But it has left a lasting impression on me. I have finally found a home away from home. I do not know what the future holds for me and I cannot predict if I will get to live and work at London. All I know is until the day I return to Mumbai, if there is a place where I would love to live and call it my home, it is London. 

Friday, 11 March 2011

Tablet Wars…

Gone are the days when a person was stuck in his house, office or a shady cyber-café to be able to access the internet. In the age where being connected to the internet means being connected to the world, technology has to ascertain that a person no matter where should stay connected. Laptops and smartphones have had a big role in making this a reality, but a recent trend in the market is all set to try and make them obsolete.

Apple ipad the trend setter
Apple’s iPad, much like many of Apple’s other products, set a new trend in the market for Tablet Pcs. A tablet personal computer (tablet PC) is a portable personal computer equipped with a touch screen as a primary input device and designed to be operated and owned by an individual. The term was made popular as a concept presented by Microsoft in 2001.

A person can use a tablet as a miniature version of laptop or a larger version of a smartphone. You can surf the internet, listen to music, watch videos, use the office tools or just play games on it. Being connected to either the Android store or the Apple store, gives you options to customise your tablet according to your need. Tablets use 3G or Wi-Fi to stay connected and boast of decent battery power and thus are the ideal device to carry with you when travelling.

Though not the perfect piece of hardware by any standards, iPad still was a huge success selling 3 million in just 80 days. It has since then sold more than 14 million devices and this is largely because of the absence of any kind of competition. Though in 2010 other tablets were introduced, iPad still managed to garner 75 percent of the market share in the tablet market.

The competition though has just got tougher with the introduction of two heavyweights; iPad’s successor the Apple iPad2 and Motorola Xoom.  Both incredibly powerful and boasting configurations which are way ahead of the rest of the pack, they are two of the most-awaited gadgets. With other options becoming available like Samsung’s Galaxy Tab series, HTC’s Flyer, BlackBerry’s PlayBook, Viewsonic’s ViewPad 7 and Olivetti’s Olipad among others, this is surely a very exciting time.

There is certainly a buzz going on in the market and companies are eager to cash in on this changing trend in computing. But only time will tell if tablets prove to be a technological revolution or merely a ripple-effect in the ever-changing world of computing technology.

Wednesday, 2 March 2011

When the Belly Rules the Mind...

As far as I can remember the one question that I have always pestered my mother with is: “What’s there to eat?” No matter how much I have eaten or how stuffed I am, just before the next meal time I would find myself standing at the entrance of the kitchen looking at my mother cooking and then finally asking the question. I have asked her the question so many times that if I were to die before a meal time, my tombstone would read, ‘Passed away without knowing what was being cooked.” In order to avoid such a scenario I am trying to do certain good deeds which will come in use when it is my time to go. I would love to go on a full stomach.

George Bernard Shaw once said that there is no love sincerer than the love of food and I absolutely agree with him. I have always loved food. I mean who doesn’t? I come from a country where the easiest way to make a person happy is to serve him a scrumptious meal. Once he is done eating, he won’t ask you for anything else. I’m no different, as I love everything about food. I love the smell of it which incidentally I find better than the fragrance of any perfume in the world, I love the way it satisfies you, I love the fact that a person is always spoilt for choice when he has to choose what to eat and obviously I love to eat. It is my parent’s genes and God’s grace that have kept me slim (if not fit) no matter how much I eat.

 But what has actually surprised me is just how much I love to cook. Being the epitome of laziness, I am surprised just how much I am willing to persevere to in order make that perfect dish. I am not saying I am a great cook, good maybe, but not great. I have never learnt to cook and the only knowledge I had of cooking was when I was getting certain basic lessons from my mother before coming to the UK. But I guess all those years of standing at the entrance of the kitchen and peeking at mother cooking must have ingrained these cooking skills into me at some subconscious level.

I still remember the first meal that I cooked after coming to the UK. When I began to cook, somehow I just knew what to do next and ended up cooking a meal that even my flatmates loved. That just spurred me on. I love to try new dishes, be it eating or trying to make them. I scour the net in search of new dishes to make or just add ingredients to make certain dishes taste a tad different. I have come to love cooking so much that it has become a way of unwinding after a long day. Cooking and then eating a meal that has been well made just takes away all the tiredness and then I go back to being at my best; lazy. The one thing that I hate about cooking though is cleaning afterwards. I just hate doing the dishes and after cooking every meal I wish that we had a dishwasher in our flat. Oh well, I guess one cannot get everything one wishes for in life.

Below are the pictures of the dishes that I have cooked so far. It is not much, but when you look at them and then at me, you will wonder where it all goes. Please don't mind the quality of the photos, most of the times I am just so hungry to sit still and click a good photo. Enjoy!!

Pasta with Meat

Veg Fajitas with Cheese

Cholle with Roti & Raita

Spaghetti & Meatballs!

Aalu ke Paronthe

Sweet & Sour Chicken

Vegetable Pulau with Chicken Gravy

Chicken Dopiaza and Roti