The buried talent.

In the treasure chest of my innumerable pointless talents, lies buried one that I never mention. My grandmother frequently admonished me over it saying that it stirred up snakes from their hiding places. I had successfully exorcised this talent after my college years when recently like a blast from the past, I heard a familiar song. It got stuck in my head, like a bee buzzing inside my ear until I finally succumbed. I whistled it, recorded it on whatsapp and sent it to my buddy from college. She laughed uncontrollably on hearing it as it brought back memories of an embarrassing incident from twenty years back that we both felt best forgotten.

“Do you mind if I write about it” , I asked.

“Oh, do that”, she said, “nobody will believe you anyway.”

So here’s the incident. A tall tale from 20 years back when we were in college.

Clangggggg!!!

The lift came to a sudden halt after a long drawn out creak and shudder. She helplessly turned to the person stuck with her inside it who looked equally startled. He ruffled his hair and cursed under his breath. They were on their way to labour room from the gynaec casuality. The lift was an ancient rusted contraption whose time had finally come. She tried screaming, but she knew it was useless. He kept fiddling with the buttons and pounding on the collapsible steel door but to no avail. It was 2 am in the morning. There was nothing they could do, until and unless someone noticed their absence and came hunting for them.

He was not one cut out for great chatter. Everyone knew he was crazy about her best friend as he literally stalked her across the campus. She sat crosslegged, on the floor of the lift , resigned to her fate. Of all the people in the world she had to be stuck in a lift, it had to be this guy! Somebody else’s stalker. Sigh! He stretched out on the floor, his arms folded under his head, legs resting on the door. Her weak attempt at polite conversation, “It’s so quiet in here, no?”, was met with a grunt. The writing on the wall was clear. He didn’t give a damn for small talk.

An hour later, while she was thanking her stars that she had gone to the loo just before entering the lift, he was whistling softly to himself. The tune seemed familiar, but he was whistling it so badly that it was difficult to pick it up at first. Then suddenly with a start , she recognised the song. It was the one she dreaded. ‘Jaadu teri Nazar.’ The song was a runaway hit from the movie Darr which starred Shahrukh Khan and Juhi Chawla. It was all about a crazed stalker with an intractable stammer and his muse. So HE was the guy who was leaving those strange love notes with lines from this very song in her books and satchel . He had probably given up on her best friend and transferred his craziness to her. She shuddered inwardly and glanced around. It was a confined space little bigger than a box with a small gap for air circulation. Was it possible that he had fixed the lift? If he decided to act smart, there was nothing much she could do about it. But on the other hand, he was only a batchmate, he wouldn’t have the guts to do anything , she consoled herself.

He gave a loud yawn and stood up and stretched himself. He looked genuinely bored out of his wits. She scrambled to her feet , wondering what he was going to do. He mumbled something about getting pins and needles sitting so still and started exercising in front of her. She flattened herself against the lift wall and watched him bend and jump and do push-ups and planks . Every time he jumped, the lift creaked noisily. She thought the lift would go hurtling down to the bottom in a killer drop, but was too terrified to protest. And he was too utterly indifferent to her presence to bother about niceties. Then suddenly he stared in her direction and moved towards her, with his thumb outstretched. She stifled a scream and stepped backwards. He reached out and jabbed at the lift buttons next to her ear one last time. She got so petrified that she jump-started into action and whacked blindly with all her might. She hit his solar plexus and he collapsed before her like a limp sack of sand. He was out cold. Unconscious but not dead, she decided after feeling his pulse. She realized that she must have accidentally hit him in one of the correct vital spots or the marmam that they mention in Kalaripayattu ( a traditional martial arts form) .

She then sat down next to him and waited for morning. They were discovered soon by an attender who raised the alarm and called for the repairman. When they finally opened the door, she daintily jumped out after stepping over the guy who was still sprawled out on the floor. He revived after a glass of cold water was splashed on his face. When he came to , she was busy giving some detailed explanation about how the poor air circulation had got to him. He didn’t say a word , of course. He just looked at her in a stunned manner.

Finally, when he got a chance, he whispered hoarsely , “Why did you try to kill me? I was only going to press the lift button.”

“Oho”, she said , arching her eyebrows. “I thought you were going to attack me.”

He looked aghast. “ Attack !?”

She said, “Why don’t you admit it, you are the guy who has been sending me those stupid love notes.”

“ What notes?”He sounded genuinely puzzled now. What an actor he is, she thought.

“Those littles notes scribbled in red sketchpen. With the lines Tu hai meri Kiran ….written on it. They were hidden in my notebooks and purse.”

His eyes almost popped out.

“I swear by all the deities in this world that I never did such a thing.”

“You whistled the exact same tune in the lift”, she said accusingly.

“Darr was playing on TV last weekend. I happened to watch a bit of it. The tune was stuck in my head.”

She just shrugged her shoulders and wearily walked back to the hostel , mulling over his words. Either he was a world class actor or he was genuinely innocent .

At the hostel entrance, she spotted me, her best friend. I was sitting in the lobby, reading the newspaper, with a steaming mug of tea next to me.

So I asked her, “How was last night’s duty? You look very tired.”

She collapsed on the steel foldable chair and told me what happened. I listened to the story wide-eyed and couldn’t help feeling a little agitated at the end of it.

“You knocked him out unconscious?”

“Yea, it was a flight or fight response. No scope for flight so I had to fight.”

“How is he now?”, I asked .

“Looks a bit stunned. Didn’t expect this from me, I bet. But of course he won’t tell anyone. It’s a disgrace for a beefy guy like him to have been thumped by a chit of girl like me. I have no regrets anyway. Such cheek, to send me those silly notes and then whistle the very same tune. What does he take me for? You know , he can’t even whistle as well as you. Yours rings so loud and clear. His goes Phweeet…at the end of the line.”

I carefully folded away the newspaper, looked into her eye and said, “He is innocent.”

She frowned, “How can you say that with such conviction?”

I cleared my throat uneasily. This was going to be hard to explain. “Those notes….with the song lyrics written in red sketchpen. That was me and the gang. We played a prank on you, sweetie.”

She groaned and cradled her head in her hands. “I should have guessed. Now what am I going to tell him!!!”

I grinned cheekily. “Try saying this. Would you believe me if I told you that this was all an embarrassing mistake?”

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The ultimate mic drop

During my college days, in the late nineties in Calicut, I have come across this term multiple times in more flowery language. Vedi, charak, cheez, randee,whore, slut, pro. Mentioning this is considered the ultimate mic drop.The terminal insult beyond which none exists. The moment this is mentioned, is the moment of victory, because no woman in her right mind will dare respond to this. And all through my growing up years, I have been counselled about this. How to talk softly, how to walk slowly, how to laugh in hushed tones, how to sit with ones legs pushed close together. In short , how not to behave like a guy. Ooops! Not a guy.How not to behave like a prostitute.

When I first came to Calicut, I had come smartly dressed in a denim pinafore and white polo neck full sleeve Tshirt with oxidised earrings dangling from each ear. From where I grew up, in this get-up, nobody would give me a second glance. Here, at the principal’s office , while filling in the forms itself , there was a small crowd milling around me, pretending to be busy, but quite openly staring. Two weeks later when classes started and I actually joined college, I had wisened up. Only frumpy salwar kameezs’ were packed in my suitcase. No frocks, no skirts. I had oiled my hair well and plaited it as modestly as possible. Do in Rome as the Roman’s do, I reminded myself. The dupatta had to be folded in pleats and pinned severely on both sides firmly with a safety pin lest it give a hint of what’s underneath. “It’s our lajjavastra”, explained my roommate with a guffaw. Lajjavastra in Hindi, is translated as the article of clothing to cover your shame. After lecture classes came practicals and soon the lajjavastra had to be worn like a python wrap around one’s neck, with the white coat over it. “Simply pinning it won’t do”, she explained . “Cause’ if you bend to peer into the microscope ( the black , monocular ones which needed natural light for reflection), there is a good chance of some lajja escaping.” It was suffocating and it felt really hot to stuff it around your bosom in the summers, but there was no other go. This was the price you paid for saving your lajja.

On Fridays, we used to step out to town, some 10 of us girls , all dressed smartly , like how normal college kids would go for a movie. We were walking towards the bus stop in staggered groups of two and three. A stray man suddenly jumps in my path. This is mid-afternoon , at the busiest point in the campus. He comes close, his nose just an inch away and looks straight down at my chest. He utters some profanity which I thankfully don’t understand. I too look down alarmed, at my T-shirt wondering what was on it. Next second, my friend was dragging me away by the elbow. I remember crying in the bus afterwards.

Another thing I learnt the hard way was that T-shirts with captions on it is a bad idea.

This I realized to my discomfort, when I wore a T-shirt with Thanda thanda pani scrawled on it. (Remember that pop song by Remo Fernandes?) A man in the bus kept peering at it, pretending to try and read it aloud with gestures to go with it much to the amusement of the male co-passengers. I angrily retorted back , but that only made him more excited. The lady sitting next to me admonished me for responding to him in the first place. “These are unsavoury characters, stay clear of them”. Her spontaneous advice session ended on the note of, “Next time, dress more carefully, ok? ”

Once while going out to the public library in town, I tried out a red colour lipstick. It was

going well with my red bandhini work dupatta and it made me really happy to dab it on. Not exactly a khoon-choosi red. A dull cherry red. It was a gift from my cousin. I had barely reached the hostel lobby, when one of my batchmates, stopped me.

“Where are you going ?”

“Town. To the public library”

“Are you crazy to go with that red lipstick?”

“Why, is it that obvious? I thought it was a subtle shade.”

“Look here, in Calicut only prostitutes wear red lipstick.”

Of course, that was a bit too much to digest. I quickly washed it off and returned to the lobby.

“Now it’s gone”, she said inspecting my lips carefully. I thanked her for warning me about the social repercussions of walking around in red lipstick and returned back to my room. I somehow didn’t feel like going out anymore. The library books could wait another day. Seeing my woebegone face, my roommate asked me what happened. I told her and she agreed that our batchmate had a point. It was better to be safe than sorry.

“Moreover, do you know what lipstick is made up of?”

“No”, I said.

She leaned over and whispered into my ear, “Monkey’s blood”

“You gotta be kidding “, I said rubbing my lips.

“Of course I am”, she said, bursting into laughter.

Another occasion was when my mother was coming to visit and I was going to receive her with my friend in the town bus. I was excitedly talking about all the places I planned to take Mum over the weekend, when my hand got stuck in the jagged edge of a steel window rod. I yelled out “Ouch!”. Everyone in the bus turned around and glared at me. One of our senior batch girls sitting behind us in the bus, told me to speak softly and avoid saying words like ‘Ouch’ which sounded sexy. Apparently, again only prostitutes spoke loudly in public spaces to attract attention to themselves. It was as if someone had done a randomised controlled trial on behavioural characteristics of prostitutes.

With time, I became more Roman than the Romans themselves. I barely looked like the smartly dressed teenager I was when I first came to Calicut. The focus was to be as inconspicuous as possible, to merge and if possible dissolve into the surroundings. Like that Old World Lizard. The garden chameleon with protruding eyes that rotated independently to spot every potential voyeur and a highly developed neurosensory ability to blend into the background. I had learnt my lesson. Do nothing to trigger the ultimate insult. Do nothing to tempt the caveman hidden in every Malayali man. No sudden movements. The same logic one applies while dealing with wild animals.

For the occasional long weekend I used to catch the overnight bus and escape to my aunt’s house- a sprawling bungalow in the heart of Bangalore city. The big attraction was piping hot food , a nice western toilet with no worries about anyone waiting in queue outside and a big,soft bed I could sink into all by myself. One afternoon ,my aunt

had some visitors. A couple with a restless ten year old kid . In no time, I found myself

sitting with an uninterested kid in the verandah. I’m not too great with kids so I smile at her, and get her some paper and pencils, thinking I’ll make her draw something to occupy her so I can avoid kiddie conversation and continue reading my paperback in peace. She peers curiously at my dupatta secured carefully to both sides with safety pins.

“Are you a teacher?”

” No”, I say, ” I’m a medical student”.

She isn’t convinced. She gives me a once-over and asks again,

“Then why are you dressed like a teacher?”.

I wallow in self pity for a while to the depths I have descended. I had hit new lows in my own personal sense of fashion . I swear to never, ever use those safety pins on my

dupatta again. I restock my wardrobe with glitzy net dupattas and well-fitting salwar

kameezs.They could ogle till the cows came home. This is the way I wanted to be-beautiful and bindaas.

A shout out to all those women who feel sad about being awarded by this epithet. Don’t worry, you aren’t the only one. Except for a few fiercely protected birds in golden cages, every little bird who has tried to fly has heard this word. Don’t let a single word clip your wings, sister.

Sacred Games: Netflix series: my review.

Getting Netflix took some convincing as I never watch TV at home. The hubby kept insisting that I would never find time to see it. I was wondering how to go about it when an opportunity presented in itself. A Saturday evening and as we were getting ready to go out for a drive to the regular beach-cum-dinner, he apologetically tells me he has just got a call from his friends and he would like to go out with them instead. Like a good South Indian wife I didn’t cauterize him. Instead I wistfully say, “Ah! If only I had something interesting to watch , I wouldn’t have minded staying at home alone with the kids on a Saturday evening.” And the rest was history. Within minutes we got Netflix. I explain to my kids that this is A stuff and you can’t even be in the same room when I watch it, so both of them are locked inside the study with a novel and colouring books and the smaller TV which nobody wants to see. Forty minutes later , I’m into two episodes, I want to watch the remaining six, but I feel guilty and let them out and get down to making dinner. My elder one isn’t much bothered, because she’d rather read her book in peace. My younger one, however is flustered at this new approbiation of her Peppa pig TV time. “Ammayuke mobilil irinnu kutthikalichoode?” ( Isn’t it enough for you to sit and play on your mobile?) she asks me,with an annoyed look. One more lock out the next day, a binge watch to the finish late into the night and I watch all eight episodes of the series.

Ganesh Gaitonde is the underworld don with a God complex. The ‘I am God’ stuff gets mentioned multiple times, enough to get any surgeon worth his salt really mad. I don’t think it’s really advisable that surgeons watch this. In fact, there should be a statuatory warning to this effect right in the beginning. The irate surgeon gets up and switches off the remote and mutters in disgust. “I am God, I am God”……..“bleh!”……… “ every Ganesh , Girish and Gaitonde now thinks he is God !” Nawazuddin Siddiqui plays Gaitonde, to perfection. The narration is lead by him as a gangster with a compelling story to tell. A countdown story set in the grim underbelly of Mumbai with his three baap’s who moulded him into the fine fellow he turned out to be. He chooses to tell his story to Sartaj Singh, the only honest cop in Mumbai. Saif Ali Khan gives a sterling performance. It was a relief to see a tech savvy and quick on the uptake cop here for once. Honesty goes hand in hand with brains, thankfully. Anjali Mathur is the Delhi girl who is a RAW agent played by Radhika Apte. She disappoints. She plays this character in the same way she plays her other recent role in ‘Lust stories’ . As an incredibly nervous wreck of a Professor who has an affair with her student whom she ends up stalking. A bit like watching a firecracker crackle under the stress of what she has got herself into. While she was fascinating there, she plays this role with the same nervous, edgy energy which over here seems a bit off. Besides the lead characters, there are a few well etched out smaller roles. Top cop Parulkar , Sartaj’s boss played by Neeraj Kabi is brilliant as the sold-his-soul –to-the-devil bad cop. Sartaj’s aide , constable Katekar, played by Jitendra Joshi is a natural. Bunty, Gaitonde’s right hand man on an automated wheelchair played by Jatin Sarna is spot on. Kukkoo, a cabare singer who adores the former actress Parveen Babi, is played to stunning perfection by Kubbra Sait. Zoya Mirza , the mysterious Bollywood actress with a past she is desperate to bury, played by Elnaaz Norouzi, sizzles in her role.

Now I haven’t watched too many Hollywood gangster movies or any similar web series so I really don’t know how this stands in comparison. I found the script , taut and gripping. A bit too much of macabre sex , but then that again, is I suspect, essentially behenjispeak. I grew up in the late, flowers-nodding-for-a-kiss eighties and clueless , Internet-charged-at-30- rupees-per- hour- in – cramped- cafes nineties. The torture scenes are gory and despicable. It’s no use pressing the fast forward button, because you might miss a crucial dialogue or two. One thing I found intriguing is that though there is mention of the Congress, especially Rajiv Gandhi, in a disparaging light, and though I think someone did protest, nobody is screaming for this to be banned. Rahul Gandhi’s singular statement on this deserves a round of applause. “ My father lived and died in the service of India. The views of a character on a fictional web series can never change that.” In these days of easily offended sensibilities, this comes as a veritable surprise. The crux of the series lies in Gaitonde’s realization that ‘sabse bada dhanda is religion’. He sticks to his sense of fairness initially and steers clear of this Hindu-Muslim nonsense, as he puts it. But later on ,he realizes that nothing can ignite our country as swiftly as religious divides can. From the highly educated professor to the man on the street, nothing makes our blood boil more than religion. Drugs, smuggling , guns are all small fry compared to this business- the biggest business of all. The gangwar between Gaitonde and his adversary Isa Suleiman eerily mirror the one between Chotta Rajan and Dawood. The episodes get more gripping from the third onwards. It’s simply unstoppable from the fifth one.Definitely worth a watch if you can stomach a good deal of violence.

The armrest usurpers

You tend to encounter this annoying subspecies of XY / aggressive subspecies of XX in aeroplanes and cinema theatres . And if you have the misfortune to be stuck in a middle seat with both specimens on either side of you , then it’s a double whammy . The annoying XY on the left fastens his seatbelt much before take off so that he can focus on the airhostess as she uncomfortably ignores the ogling and mechanically tells you what to do if the aeroplane decides to go for a dip in the sea. This is one part where I mentally shut off but this time I thought it was prudent to pay attention considering my plane was starting to look a bit like a sea plane in the rainwashed runway . The moment I fasten my seatbelt, Wham! the infringement happens. The hairy arm is firmly on the armrest. I turn sideways and give a piercing glare but this guy has the skin of a rhino. I contemplate giving him a lecture and reclaiming my turf but then I think , what if I sleep off and he ( eeeks !! ) puts his arm over mine? I ponder over it and decide against it. It’s less risky to doze off with my arms folded across my chest than assert my armrest rights and get a free hand massage. I strangely begin to think of definitions of risk I struggled with in my misspent youth . Relative risk . Odds ratio. Attributable risk.

I continue with my crossed arms pretzel like position and try to focus on my Kindle as our plane charges headlong into the charcoal grey skies. I start wondering what will happen if we crash. My elder daughter will rue the fact that I had taken the Kindle with me. ( Some of her books are also on it.) My younger one would cry for the promised lollipop that she would not get on my return. The hubby would shed a tear for not having the foresight to take more policies in my name. In other words, I am utterly dispensable. This was rubbed into my soul with a handful of salt, when I was getting ready to leave home on a long trip, for the first time. I was overcome with guilt at leaving my kid alone and I was frantically cooking and stacking the fridge with labeled Tupperware boxes lest I’m missed. The hubby was watching this frenzied activity with a bemused smile. Finally, when he could take it no longer, he looked up from his newspaper and said, “Do not harbour delusions of indispensability “.

Melancholic flashback apart, I realise this existential angst has been triggered because my arms are aching a bit in this cramped position. I can’t seem to focus on my novel either. I now shift my attention to my second armrest usurper . On my right is the burly and aggressive XX. She needs two seats ideally. She has my right armrest in a vice like grip with her elbow and arm intruding into my shrunken seat space. I mentally compose a few polite sentences expressing my concern at the appropriation but change my mind when she whips out a hand mirror and blood red lipstick from her handbag and proceeds to vigorously paint her lips. There is a restrained violence with every firm stroke of the lip. The arm rest is free for a few seconds but I don’t dare claim it. When I surreptitiously see her rubbing her lips against each other , I know it’s no use asking. She is so NOT going to agree.

At long last we reach our destination. The annoying XY in a sudden fit of chivalry gets me my shoulder bag from the overhead luggage loft. This is something I’m perfectly capable of doing myself, but still I mumble a thanks and briskly walk away. I’ve had enough of my 2 co-passengers . You aren’t a gentleman if you don’t let go of the armrest, mister. As I’m waiting near the baggage claim belt and rubbing my aching arms I see my two armrest usurpers storming in there in an agitated manner. The aggressive XX spots me first , points in my direction and comes for me like a charging rhino. The XY is also running behind her. This is worse than a nightmare. For a minute I think of abandoning my checked in baggage and making a dash for it. After all ,I just had some clothes in there. Could they have by means of some new app or something have read the loathsome thoughts I harboured for usurping my armrest? Could they have somehow seen through my twisted mind? Surely technology had not advanced so far , as yet. Better sense prevails and I hold my ground.

I hold up my head high , keep my voice steady and valiantly ask, “What is it?”

I can’t help thinking to myself , ‘Do you want to know when this loser is flying next so that you get both your armrests to yourself? ‘

“ Huff! Puff! He gave you my bag by mistake. See , same shoulder bag ! “

I look at her bag. It’s identical ! I zip open my shoulder bag to reconfirm it isn’t mine and sheepishly make the exchange . The XY admits it’s his fault. I console him by saying I probably would have picked the wrong bag anyway. And the XX is too glad to have got her bag back to scold us for being so careless. We start chatting while waiting for the baggage belt to start rolling . The aggressive XX gives me a few sound tips on how to check in early so I get my choice of seats. The annoying XY advises me to always open and check my carrybag before exiting the plane. The luggage comes rolling in and we three grimly shake hands and part ways . I leave the airport, after waving goodbye to my co passengers, my newfound acquaintances , the armrest thugs.

If a woman gets into trouble…

It was around the time the movie ‘Arike’ had released when after reporting a case of Hodgkin Lymphoma in a 14 year old boy, I got a request from the bystanders to meet them outside the lab. I stepped out to see his father and grandfather waiting to see me. They were in denial as this was initially reported as negative from the referring centre. I spoke to them briefly explaining things and urged them to meet the medical oncologist who would be able to explain things better. I got back to my microscope and after 5 minutes I again got a request to meet them once more. This time it was the boy’s grandfather. “The boy is inconsolable. Can you speak to him for a few minutes?”

He stepped out and the boy strolled in and stood in gloomy silence across the corridor. I asked random questions about his school , his friends, but he stood with his shoulders stooped , hands in his pant pockets, looking down at the ground. Finally, I told him, “ Do you know you have exactly the same illness that Mamta Mohandas has?”.

He immediately looks up, his face brightening for once.

“Really? The same thing?”

I put on my solemn pathologist mask and reply, “The very the same thing.”

He shyly grins at me and saunters out to meet his grandfather. I couldn’t stop thinking of him with mixed emotions for the rest of the day. The actress Mamta was on treatment for Hodgkin Lymphoma and we were all in awe of her for her fighting spirit and her determination to continue acting inspite of all that she went through. ‘Arike’ was a sweet love triangle. I loved this particular Shyamaprasad movie because the story was one which brought back some funny memories. The protagonist played by actress Mamta ghostwrites love letters for her slightly capricious friend who loves the idea of being in love, played by Samvritha. A small deception so typical of our times, before the internet came into our lives and copy-paste-tweak became the norm for writing love letters. The 14 year old boy went through his treatment well and every time he would come for a follow up visit he made it a point to come and say Hi to me.

It hurts now to see an actress we both held in such high regard then, make such careless statements on victim blaming. And it’s not just her, a lot of supposedly emancipated women think the same too.

At a time when the #metoo movement was at its peak, Vidya Balan was asked if she has faced a similar situation in Bollywood. Her stunning reply was that in the 12 years of her career nobody propositioned her because she didn’t come across as ‘too needy.’

When you make a casual statement like this it’s effectively saying that when a woman is sexually harassed, she gave the perpetrator an open opportunity to approach her . By dressing ‘inappropriately’. By giving mixed signals. By entering a closed space like a lift with him. By getting into his taxi for a late night shift. By going for that early morning walk. By stepping out of your home instead of sitting tight in a corner of your kitchen. And if you got raped sitting smugly in that kitchen corner, you deserve it for not being smart enough to defend yourself. Didn’t you realise it, you old fool, you had it coming.

So Mamta, Vidya, and your ilk, if this didn’t happen to you, good for you !

But if you are so uncomprehending , so blind, so as not to see it around you, it speaks volumes about the cosy cocoon of self-deception you have wrapped yourself into.

Dhadak or Sairat ?

Hindi movie in theatre with Dolby Surround or Marathi movie at home with subtitles?

With the buzz around Dhadak getting deafening by the minute, I thought it wouldn’t be fair to watch it without first watching the original Marathi movie, ‘Sairat’. And after watching it I’ve made up my mind. I don’t want to see what khichadi KJo is going to cook out of this. This story simply cannot be redone in a stylised urban setting.

I think countless Hindi movies have been made on similar themes but none hits you in the gut like ‘Sairat’ does. The only recent Hindi movie which comes somewhat near in comparison is Habib Faisal’s 2012 movie, ‘Ishaqzaade’. It explores the Hindu Muslim antipathy in the same way as ‘Sairat’ lays threadbare caste politics in the village of Bittergaon. This movie belongs to Rinku Rajguru , the Marathi actress who plays Archie ( short for Archana) in the film. She is the ‘hero’ of this movie and blows us away with her kickass performance. The story takes you through the familiar ride of adolescent love which doesn’t pay heed to their difference in status. In one telling scene , a newly joined male class teacher reprimands a senior boy (Archie’s brother) for talking into his mobile during class. The boy coolly cuts the call and gives the class teacher a slap on his face and walks away. The same evening the principal and the class teacher go to the boy’s home. They both stand deferentially before the boy’s father who smiles forgivingly and tells the principal in a kindly tone, “ You should introduce him to all your students. Didn’t he know he was my son?” It’s stunning moments like this that make this movie a classic.

See it before Dhadak releases. Why go for the duplicate when you can see the original?

Pic below is a still from the movie where Archie comes to college riding a Bullet.

Dhadak or Sairat?

Sairat ! Sairat ! Sairat !

The MOST foolish thing

It was raining cats and dogs that evening. The 7 year old was inconsolable. “ It was really foolish of me . I shouldn’t have done it ..” she kept repeating this again and again, her eyes welling up with tears. She is a kid who takes everything her mother says very seriously. She doodles on her notepad and glares sullenly at silver slanting slopes of rain beating down viciously into the red soil from her study window. Her gaze is fierce and self absorbed. Her mother hovers around doing this and that. Sensing the stormy thoughts buzzing through her daughter’s mind she decides to try and lighten the mood by telling her a story from her childhood. Of the most foolish thing she, her mother, did as a kid. Her mother being a bit of a colossal fool had many incidents to choose from , but she decides to tell her about just one.

“ I must have been 7. My brother 4. The girl next door was 6. We were at her place, the house in the next lane, to play as usual. But visitors had arrived and had parked their car right in the middle of our cricket pitch. Two other kids , aged 6 and 9 had also turned up to play. The one aged 9 , was our ringleader. As our pitch was unfairly occupied we elected to play Blind man’s bluff“

“ Amma! What’s the big deal? It’s not exactly such an unsafe thing to blindfold someone.”

“It is if you decide to play on the terrace of your friend’s one storey house. “

“ What ?! “ gasped the 7 year old. Her woes were forgotten now. The mother was secretly pleased that her daughter had sensed it was a foolish thing to do. On prodding, she continued.

“ They realised it was dangerous as the terrace walls were low so they improvised by bringing in a rule of another game. If the blindfolded person walked close to a terrace wall we would shout out Cold. And if she walked away from it we would shout out Hot. So the ringleader said she would go first. We blindfolded her, twirled her around and hooted with laughter as she tried to catch us. The Hot Cold warnings helped keep her away from harms way. But 10 minutes into the game she started feeling annoyed as she hadn’t caught anyone. She suspected us of bluffing on the Hot Cold warnings and suddenly started doing just the opposite. She would dart purposely when it was Cold, going dangerously close to the terrace wall. At one point we four all screamed out Cold together, but she was certain we were doing it to trick her . She continued moving recklessly towards the edge. ‘Cold’ we screamed , the blood in our veins freezing into ice . But it was too late. Before our eyes she toppled across the wall and fell face down into the cemented floor. A kid with a broken bleeding nose was rushed away to emergency care”.

“ She died?!”

“Luckily the fall was short. She escaped with only a fractured nose. “

“ Did they fix it back?”

“ The doctors managed to do that.”

“ Did you get a scolding?”

“Well, I was the seniormost among the remaining kids, so guess who got scolded the most?”

“ Oh no.”

“ Your blunder doesn’t seem so foolish now, does it?”

The 7 year old gives her mother a watery smile. The angry clouds of self castigation seem to have drifted away. “You are right, Amma. That was an extraordinarily foolish thing to do.”

“ Not easy to beat that, huh?”

She grins. “It’s tough “.

Image courtesy: Blind man’s bluff by NataliaRak on Deviant Art.