Growing up with Cinema

My journey with films started in 1987 when my parents took me to the theater for the first time . They had purposely bought tickets to the night show because it would be easy to manage with a 3 yr old when he is asleep. As soon as the screen lit up I got up on my seat, eyes wide open in amazement and asked my parents “Itna bada T.V., yeh chalta kahan se hai??” and my parents pointed upwards to the projector room from where a faint glare was coming into the large theater. Sleep was nowhere to be seen in my eyes that night, only the joy of watching something magical. My mom kept trying to force a milk bottle in my mouth and I kept pushing it away with all my might, eyes glued to the giant screen. Maybe if the film had been boring my enthusiasm would have died down, but how could it be, after all it was Mr. India, one of the finest films in Indian Cinema.

From that point on I was hooked to the world of cinema and could never get enough of it. Unfortunately, I didn’t get too many chances as going to the theater was rare at that time and my dad got posted to Baroda which meant even fewer films. So whenever I traveled back to Delhi to visit my relatives I would try my best to watch as many films as possible. I was particularly interested in going to my grandmother’s house because there was a video library downstairs. It was at my grandmother’s place that my love for cinema reached new heights and I discovered my first idol. 1991 saw me go crazy over two Amitabh Bachchan films, Ajooba (my first superhero film) & Hum . I would watch these films back to back the entire day and fight with anyone who wanted to watch something different. I would even enact scenes like running in slow-motion, jumping from the bed, shouting, and so on. Amitabh became my idol and I saw every movie which he was in. I distinctly remember a 1983 film called Pukar featuring Amitabh which I was watching with my parents on TV. In the climax of the film Amitabh gets shot and probably dies. As soon as I saw him dying on screen, tears started rolling down my eyes and I started howling (not crying).  Bollywood had totally taken over me, Hollywood was next.

I got my first taste of Hollywood and Steven Spielberg in 1993 with Jurrasic Park. It was an extraordinary film and simply blew me away. I was a 9 yr old boy with a powerful imagination but this film was beyond anything I could ever imagine. It was all I talked about for so many days, at home, with other kids at school, narrating to those who had not seen it in back in Baroda.

Then came the age where I could start understanding love stories somewhat and think of the girl in class I had a crush on. I am sure we all have done that at some point during that age. 1994 was Hum Aapke Hain Kaun which I saw 3-4 months after the release as it was running house-full all the time. One year later in 1995 I saw Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jayenge and just like every other guy I wanted to be like Shahrukh Khan. He was my next superstar, one I followed to the extent of buying & wearing the stupid ‘Cool’ neck chain he wore in Kuch Kuch Hota Hai. I went on to do some more crazy stuff like exploding imaginary bombs after watching Border & wearing powerless glasses after watching Kaho Na Pyaar Hai. 

My hysteria went to an all time high with The Matrix in 1999 which influenced me to the extent of getting me interested in computers and technology. My email ids, my computer, my hard drives, everything was derived from the film. I even bought the original soundtrack which made me fall in love with rock music. It is this film that made me call myself a film buff because I have probably seen it more than 100 times and there was a point when I could narrate the lines of the entire film. (Have stopped doing that coz people started suggesting that I needed professional help)

Last but not the least by any means are Lagaan in 2001Haasil in 2003 which are two of my all-time favorite films (Haasil taking the top slot). These were the films that made me appreciate the nuances and subtlety of acting and cinema. I love cricket and I love films, It was only logical that I would go crazy about Lagaan. However, it was not just the cricket that I loved, it was the manner in which it was portrayed. In comparison, Haasil is special for a very different reason, It was the first time that I realized that there can be good films without big stars, there is acting without shouting and a film can also tell realistic stories and still entertain. For me Haasil is one of the finest pieces of acting I had ever seen. Instantly Irfaan Khan became my favorite Khan and Haasil became my favorite Hindi film.

This love continues with Wall-E, Khosla Ka Ghosla, Rush, Oye Lucky Lucky Oye, Argo, Wolf of Wall Street, Gravity, Gangs of Wasseypur, Do Dooni Chaar, Udaan, Inception, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Peepli Live, Talaash, Queen…………and so many more. Each one leaving a mark on my life, each one having its own signature.

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Its the little things…

People watch films for entertainment and praise some of them a great deal. But do they really embrace them or learn from them? Just to clear the air, this article is not about films, its purpose is very different. I want to talk about a particular instance from a film that inspired me a great deal.  It helped me to live a better life & find meaning in small things. The scene is from Bluffmaster where Boman Irani asks Abhishek Bachchan “How many days of your life do you remember?”  and let me tell you, no answer is good enough!

When this question came up, my mind started racing, sifting through memories trying to locate the best ones. It was like the timeline from Person of Interest moving back & forth or maybe even like Sherlock, running across my mind palace opening one door after the other. I don’t think the point was to count nor was it meant as a memory test, it was to realize that the ‘pursuit of happiness’ should never end.

So what did i remember? after racking my brain, I stopped at a memory which was of a time when I was maybe 12 years old. I had been living in Bangalore for over 2 years and I had not been able to find a ‘Go To’ place for comics. One day in school, I heard about this library that rented out comics and I thought to myself “Could this be it or is it just a myth?” I took directions and peddled away on my Hercules Top Gear using all the strength in my legs. I reached the location only to spot a very small shop with an single bulb. My heart sank. “How could this be a library?, There is no way they would have any comics. All this peddling for nothing?” As I parked my bicycle next to a street lamp and started walking towards the shop, I started prioritizing. “Please please, if nothing else let there be Tintin, and may be Asterix and may be even Archies and….” Clearly I had no clue what prioritization meant. I reached the entrance and heard some kids shouting “Aaj mein leke jaunga, last time tu leke gaya tha Dhruv wali, Kirigi Ka Kahar“. I stepped inside and got blown away. Endless rows of comics stacked one rack after the other, the entrance was small but the collection wasn’t. It was like Alice in Wonderland, I tumbled down the rabbit hole and was amazed at the world of comics underneath. There was Nagraj, Dhruv, Chacha Chaudhary, Tinkle, Champak and….Archies, Asterix, Tintin and may more. It couldn’t get any better.

I took the membership, picked up a Tintin and rode back home without a care in this world. No thoughts of pending homework, assignments or upcoming tests could bother me. I reached home with a Joker-esque smile on my face, had a bath, picked up the comic and started reading it lying down on the bed. That moment, as I lay there reading, i remember very clearly, saying these words “This Is Life”. I was just so happy because my mind was constantly going back to the hundreds of comics still lying on the shelf waiting for me.I couldn’t stop smiling.

This was such a small incident and yet, it has been with me for so long. There are so many little things like this that make us happy. I think the problem is that we focus too much on that one big happiness (a huge birthday bash, a lavish wedding, a long holiday) rather than the small innocuous moments which we always recollect with so much fondness. That is why we forget a big dinner party at a friends house but remember countless moments from our college cafeteria with the same friends. So If you still want to ask for more, ask for more such days because no matter what you say now, these will be the only days that will be worth anything in your life.

Kya Zinda Ho Tum?

Over the years a thought has come to my mind countless times but somehow I never got around to writing about it. How many people
do you meet who say “I am satisfied with my job”, one or two in a lifetime. Today a job is where you spend more time than even your home. What is also true is that most people are unhappy with their jobs. I have thought long and hard as to why this happens. Why is it so hard to find jobs that one would enjoy, be passionate  about, or be happy with? I am sure most of the people want such a job, then why can’t they get it.

The answer lies within each one of us, we just need to deep dive into our subconscious mind and take a peek. I come across people even from IITs and IIMs who are unhappy with  their jobs. Why I point out the colleges is because these are the most elite institutions in the country and passing out of such an institute not only gives you a much better chance to get a job than the rest of India, most times it also gives you the privilege to choose. Is the problem then in the factors that our decision is based on? Do we not assign a proper weight to passion or interest? Maybe. Let me give an example. There are so many people who would be shocked if someone told them that he/she left a job paying 75 grand/month for a job which pays just 50 grand/month.  I think a lot of people would call him/her crazy. “Abey thode din aur kar leta na kaam, acche paise toh mil rahe the”, “Itna bhi kya bura hoga, salary toh achi hai na”. Well I did it, and I don’t regret it at all. For me, passion will always weigh more than CTC.

Today we live in a world where we are judged 24X7. When we go to office, go for a meeting, go for a party, go out for coffee or even go to the kirana wala to buy bread n eggs. So what one values is how he/she is perceived by the world. Uncle aunty package poochenge toh kya batayeinge? MBA ke baad bhi itne hi paise milte hai? Saath wale toh keh rahe ki unke beta ka package isse double hai. I want to ask the saath walon ka beta, ‘Dude even with a package of 20 lacs, Are You Happy?’ Each and every person who steps into the world for a career is reduced to just three letters, CTC. Most poeple who ask don’t even know what it means. But, what they accomplish is to push people away from doing what they would love to, what they are passionate about.

Passion is what drives me and people who know me know that. One of my professors told me this story that became my inspiration for writing this. Once a baby camel asked his mother “Mom, why do we have a hump on our back?”,  the mother replied “So that we can store water for a long time”, then the son asked “But why do we have such huge feet?”, the mother replied “So that we can walk properly on sand” and then the son asked “Then WTF are we doing in the Zoo?”. If you are made for the desert, you belong in the desert. Another inspirational message for this piece came from a book written by Sir Ken Robinson, The Element – How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything. He also has one of the most watched talks on Ted.com about how ‘Education Kills Creativity’. Its a must watch. I strongly believe that this problem would not have been so bad had education been a little different.

Basically what I am trying to say is Do what you Love, Its not that difficult. The first step to doing that is to get out of your comfort zone. (Yes even though we are miserable in our jobs, we somehow manage to be comfortable as it is routine). Remember what Joker said in The Dark Knight, “No one panics when things go according to plan”. If for some reason you think that’s not possible with your job then I suggest you find time to do other things that you are passionate about. Read, write, play a sport, catch up with friends. If you are packed during the week, find time on the weekend. If sports is something you like then getup at 6 and go play. I am sure you can find time at 6 in the morning. Unless you are happy, you are just wasting time and Farhan Akhtar rightly puts it in a film about living life. Toh Kya Zinda Ho Tum?

Dilon mein tum apni Betaabiyan leke chal rahe ho, Toh zinda ho tum; Nazar mein khwabon ki Bijliyan leke chal rahe ho, Toh zinda ho tum; Hawa ke jhokon ke jaise Aazad rehno sikho, Tum ek dariya ke jaise Lehron mein behna sikho; Har ek lamhe se tum milo Khole apni bhaayein, Har ek pal ek naya samha Dekhen yeh nigahaein; Jo apni aankhon mein Hairaniyan leke chal rahe ho, Toh zinda ho tum; Dilon mein tum apni Betaabiyan leke chal rahe ho, Toh zinda ho tum

An Ode to Nice Guys

This is the first write up on my blog that has been written by someone else. I don’t know this person and I don’t know if he will mind his write up being put up in someone else’s blog. All i know is its a beautifully written piece and is my all time favourite which is why it is worth sharing with everyone around, specially the nice guys. The write up starts after the picture which i found to be in perfect harmony with what’s written underneath.

Ode to the Nice Guys
This rant was written for the Wharton Undergraduate Journal

This is a tribute to the nice guys. The nice guys that finish last, that never become more than friends, that endure hours of whining and bitching about what assholes guys are, while disproving the very point. This is dedicated to those guys who always provide a shoulder to lean on but restrain themselves to tentative hugs, those guys who hold open doors and give reassuring pats on the back and sit patiently outside the changing room at department stores. This is in honor of the guys that obligingly reiterate how cute/beautiful/smart/funny/sexy their female friends are at the appropriate moment, because they know most girls need that litany of support. This is in honor of the guys with open minds, with laid-back attitudes, with honest concern. This is in honor of the guys who respect a girl’s every facet, from her privacy to her theology to her clothing style.

This is for the guys who escort their drunk, bewildered female friends back from parties and never take advantage once they’re at her door, for the guys who accompany girls to bars as buffers against the rest of the creepy male population, for the guys who know a girl is fishing for compliments but give them out anyway, for the guys who always play by the rules in a game where the rules favor cheaters, for the guys who are accredited as boyfriend material but somehow don’t end up being boyfriends, for all the nice guys who are overlooked, underestimated, and unappreciated, for all the nice guys who are manipulated, misled, and unjustly abandoned, this is for you.

This is for that time she left 40 urgent messages on your cell phone, and when you called her back, she spent three hours painstakingly dissecting two sentences her boyfriend said to her over dinner. And even though you thought her boyfriend was a chump and a jerk, you assured her that it was all ok and she shouldn’t worry about it. This is for that time she interrupted the best killing spree you’d ever orchestrated in GTA3 to rant about a rumor that romantically linked her and the guy she thinks is the most repulsive person in the world. And even though you thought it was immature and you had nothing against the guy, you paused the game for two hours and helped her concoct a counter-rumor to spread around the floor. This is also for that time she didn’t have a date, so after numerous vows that there was nothing “serious” between the two of you, she dragged you to a party where you knew nobody, the beer was awful, and she flirted shamelessly with you, justifying each fit of reckless teasing by announcing to everyone: “oh, but we’re just friends!” And even though you were invited purely as a symbolic warm body for her ego, you went anyways. Because you’re nice like that.

The nice guys don’t often get credit where credit is due. And perhaps more disturbing, the nice guys don’t seem to get laid as often as they should. And I wish I could logically explain this trend, but I can’t. From what I have observed on campus and what I have learned from talking to friends at other schools and in the workplace, the only conclusion I can form is that many girls are just illogical, manipulative bitches. Many of them claim they just want to date a nice guy, but when presented with such a specimen, they say irrational, confusing things such as “oh, he’s too nice to date” or “he would be a good boyfriend but he’s not for me” or “he already puts up with so much from me, I couldn’t possibly ask him out!” or the most frustrating of all: “no, it would ruin our friendship.” Yet, they continue to lament the lack of datable men in the world, and they expect their too-nice-to-date male friends to sympathize and apologize for the men that are jerks. Sorry, guys, girls like that are beyond my ability to fathom. I can’t figure out why the connection breaks down between what they say (I want a nice guy!) and what they do (I’m going to sleep with this complete ass now!). But one thing I can do, is say that the nice-guy-finishes-last phenomenon doesn’t last forever. There are definitely many girls who grow out of that train of thought and realize they should be dating the nice guys, not taking them for granted. The tricky part is finding those girls, and even trickier, finding the ones that are single.

So, until those girls are found, I propose a toast to all the nice guys. You know who you are, and I know you’re sick of hearing yourself described as ubiquitously nice. But the truth of the matter is, the world needs your patience in the department store, your holding open of doors, your party escorting services, your propensity to be a sucker for a pretty smile. For all the crazy, inane, absurd things you tolerate, for all the situations where you are the faceless, nameless hero, my accolades, my acknowledgement, and my gratitude go out to you. You do have credibility in this society, and your well deserved vindication is coming.

Fu-zu Jen, SEAS/WH, 2003

Flashback: Feelings Test

This is when you.......
This is when you.......

This post will be the first in a series of… well not so many when i think about it. Some days back i was going through my old stuff and remembered that i used to write a diary in school. So i started looking for it and did manage to find it. But i was so surprised when i read what I had written inside. I felt as if all the entries were by a different person and some of them were simply hilarious. At least that’s how they seem now. So i thought i should put up a post from that time when no one knew what blogging was and all we had were our not so  faithful diaries. (They just couldn’t keep it in. I mean if my mom happen to  get hold of one, then that was it. My diary would totally sell me out.)

Anyway (enough silliness), This is something i wrote when i was in 11th std. No, 12th std. No, 11th. I guess it was 12th only. I was studying for my chemistry bored(read board)exam and i was well ….really bored. I was reading about Fehling’s test. Let me just help all the non science students and standing out(read outstanding) students(like me) a little. It was some weird test where you mixed a lot of shit and if in the end there was brick red colour, the test was positive. So now this is what i made out of it.

Feeling’s Test – A test to see if the girl you love loves you or not.

Take about 50gms of courage(keep some in reserve just in case), 10gms of a mixture of the girl’s likes and dislikes, a little bit of honesty(don’t go asking your friends what it looks like), 5 to 10 lines of  romantic songs which express your love well (Note: originality mite lessen the reaction time), and loads of love.

Add all this up and mix nicely. Keep the girl under close observation(not too close……….yet 🙂 ) when you are mixing all the ingredients. If a pale red colour appears on her face and then it dissolves slowly to give way to some positive developments around her lips( this phenomenon is known as a smile which appears only for a few lucky ones) then the test is positive.

But if the colour that appears is not pale red but instead is dark red and fumes start coming out of the ears……then run for your life coz its gonna blow.

.....start running
.....start running

Important: If the girl’s face turns green and looks like she is gonna throw up then it means that you havn’t read the prerequisites for this test properly. A bath is COMPULSORY.