Sunday, 12 January 2014

Five Faves from My FilmySthan

    Brainers or no-Brainers, Bollywood is our leading source of entertainment , that's assured to be delivered in packets, every Friday round the year! Saturdays are spent dissecting the films and bashing the producers for spending crores on loads of garbage! But often , we come across certain films that simply mesmerise us with their sheer story-telling capability and thought provoking potential, despite not boasting of a jewel-encrusted line-up !! Here are five of my favourites from the recent past, that have managed to capture my imagination:

 1) Shaitaan : Rich friends, erratic lifestyle, booze, drugs ....and a run-over of an innocent person triggered off this cat-&-mouse chase , with relatively unknown faces putting in power-packed performances as vulnerable college-students. That the desperation of youth & lack of experience can bring in catastrophic consequences , was shown in this edge-of-the-seat thriller , with the murky world of terrorism too finding a reference that fitted into the plot. As one by one , the friends met with horrendous experiences, we shuddered to think what lay next. After difference of opinions cropped up among the schemers, and factions amongst them threatened to pull out & reveal the fake kidnapping plot, the events turned too nasty to keep us unflinching. The background score added an eerie touch to the proceedings, with known songs thrown in unrecognisable manners! Shaitaan reminded us once more, how stability at home affected the mental build-up of youngsters, and that money was indeed the root of all evils ! 

2) The LunchBox: those eyes of Irrfan Khan, the brow-mopping in kitchen of Nimrat Kaur , the enthusiastic-but-flawed trainee of Nawazuddin Siddique.....the whole cast put their hearts into the film that flowed , like a clear stream of water down a hillside ! The pace was languid, but that helped us get under the skins of the actors as we felt their excitement,anguish, disgust and disappointments. We all have a soft corner towards 'love-letters'.....they bring back the flavour of our candy floss romance days from our teens. But when two veterans of life engage in sharing 'love' notes , we support their cause....we hope , they let the fresh air of romance blow away the monotony of their lives.
The super portrayal of the upstairs Aunty , who was never seen , but kept on her supply of free advice, plus kitchen goodies by a basket from the window above, was the revelation, that struck a cord within our hearts .As the film drew to a close,I almost could see myself egging on Saajan Fernandes towards his lady-love , who was perilously close to being lost to him forever. 


3) Udaan : a tyrant Dad , a good-for-nothing son , a step brother.....and the uncertainty grasping the mind of an adolescent . Vikramaditya Motwane took us back to the days , when we were a confused lot in reality, but always thought of ourselves as rebels. We were thrilled as Rohan & his friends escaped boarding school to go watch an adult film at a hall, were scared when they were caught and expelled! We shared his frustration at being forced to work , at a place , where he didn't love it . We tried to impart our energy into Rohan so that he could beat his father in the races in which he was challeneged. His uncle was the genial person , we all wished we had. And when step-brother Arjun was befriended, we jubilated at the union! 
Rohan's tears broke our hearts , we felt the Adrenaline surge when he punched his Dad straight in the face and beat him in the sprint as he fled! And slow claps were reserved for the end, when a boarding-bound Arjun was whisked away by Rohan, who promised to ensure a good life for him! Atta boy! 


4) Kahaani : as a guy from Kolkata, I'm rather partial to this one , as Vidya Balan stole the show in this suspense thriller, along with a bevy of Bong actors, ably supporting her with stellar roles! The venom-spewing Nawazuddin Siddique & the blood-curdling smile of Bob Biswas : both became institutions of acting brilliance with their roles. Vidya, putting glamour far behind her, became the Bengali lady with a huge baby bump , who scoured Kolkata's streets intently , taking all of us along with her , in search of her lost husband! We hoped she would find her husband, we wished that she would face the almost unreachable Milan Damji, the prime suspect in a terror attack. We revelled in the glory of Durga Puja, rode the trams with Vidya , smiled at Parambrata's depiction of the 'soft' policeman, got terrified by the audacious Khan of Nawazuddin. As North Kolkata came alive ,through its alleys, and South Kolkata played a pivotal part in the gripping climax, we were left putting together the various pieces of jigsaw in our brains , that fell in place !!


5) Iqbal : when a young Indian guy is talking about Entertainment,how can cricket not be in it? Specially when a film named Iqbal had left us in a lasting feel-good state? Shreyas Talpade , Naseeruddin Shah and director Nagesh Kukoonoor each complemented the other to script a beautiful family movie, that held aloft the spirit of cricket. We loved the enthusiasm of Iqbal's sister, the bubbly village girl who could put us urban guys to shame with her in-depth knowledge of the game! We enjoyed the fact that the story was written from a Bowler's point-of-view , when all of us have upheld Batsmen as the heroes all the time! The eccentric coach of Naseeruddin had us guffawing , his inimitable style of coaching his ward made us feel he's a flawed genius. That Iqbal couldn't communicate with words was a blessing in disguise, as his epic snubs to the corrupt selectors drew our applause. By the time of the predictable ending ,with Iqbal as an Indian team pacer, the simple film had ensured that its stupendous "Aashayein Khile Dil ki...." reverberated in our minds for days to come! 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

#Back2School : reliving the South Point High School days

It's been roughly 7 years since we left South Point High School , but Pointers all over the world are never short on enthusiasm , whenever anything related to the school comes up! So when the Back2School programme was announced by the South Point Ex-Students' Association (ASPEXS) , as part of the School's Diamond Jubilee Celebrations , Facebook was full of plans , of friends , who'd get to walk the corridors, classrooms ( & toilets) , together , after a long, long time!! 

4th January 2013 indeed turned out to be special, as we went back in time to relive our days as Happy Pointers once more, clicking photographs, talking to teachers, checking out the labs and libraries, and jiving to the songs belted out by ex-Pointers. Here's how we waltzed through our Alma Mater on a lovely Saturday afternoon!!

The official invitation card that was made , and posted on Facebook by #ASPEXS .
  Pointers had arrived en-masse : the ground was Choc-a-Bloc with ex Pointers!! 

 Physics lab: The wheels that remained the same ever after!!
#59 : My Seat of experiments in the Chemistry lab !! Standing there, suddenly remembered the episode , when i choked and nearly fainted on a test tube, while trying to look closely into it as to why it wasn't giving out Ammonia !! :P

             This is 'Chemistry' : The school sweethearts dish out a picture-perfect pose in the  Chemistry!

The old habit of looking up at Notices on the notice board still stays !!
We managed to fit in as many batchmates as we could, in this pic on the staircase.......
 "Those who know the answer, raise your hands...." , and Debayan raised his hand emphatically!! Only....... back then , people used to sit behind the desks, and not ON them!!

When we were students, we often ended up having these expressions in the Biology lab, not because they were snakes, but because of the huge number of their physical features that we had to mug up! Attempting the same expressions yet again!! 
our school magazine ASCENT : down the years! A memorable collection....felt good to sift through the pages of the past editions, and comparing with the present ones!!

We have never been lacking in the trophy cabinet , and this one is just the tip of the iceberg. Pointers bring in new trophies almost every month,so the total collection is monstrous!!

Soma Aunty ....the one woman who made our Class VIII E Afternoon (2002-03) a brilliant brigade....who taught us effortless use of the English language, 

ensured that English periods were never-ever dull with her real-life anecdotes,
spelt all the difficult words on the board in her exquisite handwriting....!!
....she's still the same: witty & elegant, but oh ....missed her trademark hairband!

the group selfie: without which , reunions are not quite complete!

Love in small packets : the notes were tiny, but reflected lots and lots of fondness for the Alma Mater!

As the performers on stage started churning out one foot-tapping number after another, Upamanyu, Debayan, Indranil (not in pic)  started their killer moves !! Not wanting to be left behind, Aritra attempted a few steps too!!
The ex-Pointer sang a number of evergreen Bengali songs...his medleys made the crowd go mad...........

..............................and there was no shortage of appreciation too !!

What we have for South Point is hard to express in a book, let alone on a single page...but Aritra trying to sum up his feelings in a few words!!

 the rush to pose beneath the school logo: managed to do it despite the huge rush there!!

We are Pointers ready to grow ...We are the Pointers with COURAGE TO KNOW!!!!

Friday, 3 January 2014

Getting 'INKED' : Our VOICE, Our VOTE

Piklu, Bablai, Pratik & Tinni ....from the last Elections

"It's confirmed ....I'm getting myself inked this year!"
I knew this piece of voice message would kick start an incredulous sounding plethora of voices, on a Sunday morning, from the other members of my Wechat 'Housing Buddies' group! (We were childhood friends,  residents of the same housing complex,  until recently, when jobs got some of us to drift apart! )

Within a few seconds, there was Tinni: "Doc, are you alright??"

Sure enough, Piklu blasted in, " Bhai, khorak korchhis sokkal-bela ?"  (Colloquial Bengali for: Bro, you're making this lame joke, first up, early Sunday morning?" )

Bablai , our 'yo' guy,working in Bangalore barged into the conversation , " Yo mate, I'm in.... I'll get myself a new one too!"

Pratik , posted in Chennai , was the last one to chime in, " but seriously Doc, where have you intended to do this bit of Tattoo ?? On your cheeks??" And sent in a nastily smirking smiley! :)) 

I had framed my words deliberately, just to incite their curiosity, because ,to my friends, the very idea of me, the quintessentially sober Bengali 'Good boy' Doctor was preposterous! To them, I was the last person who'd get himself 'inked' !! 

So I again sent in a voice message, " I think we're all together in this! We're going to get this done together! "
Bablai was excited," Done! I'm game already! I need my second tattoo, right here, on the forearm! " 
Pratik was guarded, " I demand to know, where has Doc decided to get himself inked! Is Titas up for some new experiment of his???! "

Piklu was not interested at all, while Tinni sent in a 'Punch' sticker!

With the stage set, I finally decided to spill the beans: " Guys, come on! All of us are gonna have our left index fingers inked with indelible ink! We are going into the General Elections , you see! So when are you all returning to Kolkata? You're all going to get leave from work to vote, right?"

Bablai was the first to respond, " Sure bro! I'm always looking for excuses to return home. I'm coming back definitely! "
Tinni was excited, " Yep! My second chance to vote! I sure feel strong ,being one of the driving force , who can change the course of my nation! " 
Pratik's voice made me uncomfortable, " Hey .... Politics doesn't interest me in any way! Voting ,or no voting, it's all the same! "
Piklu, reciprocated, " Yeah, Prats man.... Even I'm not sure whether I'll go to the booth. No point standing in a queue , and pressing a meaningless button, to select a so-called People's Representative , who'll be a parasite on us only! "

Pratik was fast ," And I don't feel that I can stand his haughtiness in front of the public & media, for the next five years of his tenure. At least, by not voting, I'll feel I've done something right by not having a hand in choosing an evil person! "

I had vague  premonitions that we'd have this sort of diverse opinion in our group chat , so the abrupt turn in conversation , didn't surprise me too much. So I now tried to reason," Let me say something. Mates, do look at the bigger picture. Don't you feel, we have this responsibility to select wisely, and shape a better tomorrow for India? As Tinni said, don't we feel powerful??" 
Tinni put in a 'Thumbs Up' smiley! 
Bablai put in a sticker , showing him flexing his biceps! :)) 
Even Pratik guffawed at Bablai's choice of sticker! /wahaha 

This time Piklu had something to say," Look, I don't disagree with your view Titas....but the point is , ....Have you ever seen any politician keeping his promises after being elected ?? "
I was prepared for this, "Look, I know we've been duped many a time by our own representatives, but the point remains that we as educated Indians, citizens of our proud nation,can't be aloof to the 'need-for-change' calls resonating within our own motherland."

Tinni chuckled, " Titas is doing pretty well today!  Bravo!" 
Piklu simply replied with a "hmmm /hmm " ....

I went on, " We are privileged that we are empowered with technology ! Now is the time to let go of past grievances & look forward to exercising our rights. Channelise all your angst to your fingers & vote, to demand better governance.  It's possible to be attained. Remember, even the elected candidates would be wary of the powers of our generation today.....What social media like Facebook , Twitter, social Apps like Wechat, Whatsapp, Hike , Viber can do. Our politicians know we can form opinions and arouse the youth of today in no time. So, we the Young Indians are very much on the way to redefine our nation's destiny." 

Tinni added her own views, "we youngsters must stick together in this endeavour to change India's outlook. We share this common goal, so anybody who is indifferent to the need to vote is actually shirking responsibility towards the nation. Sitting at home & cursing the leaders won't do any good to anyone. "

Bablai, who is usually in a constant euphoric state (ensuring we never have a dull moment),and doesn't really claim to be one aware of current affairs, floored us with a brainwave of his, " Guys,  there's this new Voting Button with 'None Of The Above-NOTA' . If you are really averse to someone, opt for NOTA .Do exercise it...but there's no bravado in not voting at all!"

Pratik, who had been silent for some time, now said, "Thanks for the timely reminder Bablai!! Had forgotten all about the NOTA!! Hell yeah, I don't want somebody to forge his identity as Pratik Sarkar and vote in my absence.  I'm gonna be there alright!"

Tinni was elated, "So we are all going to be here right??Me & Titas are stationed in housing as always. Our South Indian recruits would be joining in for the elections!! But our other Kolkata dude Piklu hasn't yet made up his mind right?? He would voluntarily stay away when we four get together, I presume ?? "
Bablai responded, "Would Piklu dare do that , if I get back to Kolkata?? Doesn't he value his life??"

Piklu retorted, " Yes people, our mentor Titas has done a good job in counselling me with his well-versed voice messages !! He can run for the elections himself,  has the Devil's powers to influence people, it seems. Looks like he can make a living out of motivational speaking!!"

But Pratik had a query, "I don't understand one thing. Can't they put in an e-Voting system,so we can vote from where we are??"
Bablai didn't like it. He hated being away from home, away from friends: "Arre Pratik, we are getting to meet on the pretext of the Elections only.  Why grumble??"

Tinni understood Pratik's concern, " Look, Prats has a valid point.  In the long run,e-Voting might be the way forward. It looks feasible enough. We can have a system in place that allows SMS votes to be cast. It will have the option of registering only one vote from a registered voter. Will help people who loathe standing in queues. "
I asked, " What if someone has multiple numbers?? "
Tinni answered , "There's already a new system of stringent rules in place that validates all new customers with proper identification before granting a connection. Telecom companies will have to play a major role in making e-Voting possible soon ! They will probably start off on trial, in municipality elections in metro cities, with a sizeable technologically adept population!"

Bablai was once more the wisecrack, " but I guess , in that case, there would've been no provision of the indelible ink mark on your finger!! And our buddy Titas would've had to think up a new line to start off our group chat , rather than startling all of us , with his 'Getting INKED' Stunt! :P "

We all sent in crazy smileys. :D :D :D /floor /wahaha  =)) ....officially signing our petition,  to be Kolkata's  representatives as the new agents of change in Elections 2014 !!!! 

The pictures are from our first voting experience,  when we were enthusiastic to have breached the 'Adulthood' Level, and went to vote in a bunch! Hope to keep the tradition alive this time also!