No Raanjhanaa broke no stereotypes, it did not make a positive impact!

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When the promos of the movie Raanjhanaa came out, people were heard shouting, ‘Oh Raanjhaana has Dhanush in it.. he will break the stereotype of the typical bollywood hero. This will change the way Bollywood had portrayed masculinity till now. Perception that the mainstream bollywood actors have to have a ‘hot body’ with ‘good looks’ would now be de-convoluted’. The above image exactly depicts things that have been doing rounds for long in the media. The moment I heard the afore-mentioned I knew something was wrong. Precisely why I decided to watch the movie!

Honestly, it was exaggeration at its best. The film was a good watch that made no lasting impression just as most of the other bollywood movies. Nothing that was promised was delivered.

If I were to de-construct the movie and the claims made this is exactly how I felt:

1. Dhanush will break the stereotype

It irked me a lot when I read the reviews by film critics that praised Dhanush for his commendable performance and his courage. This takes me back to the time when Gangs of Wasseypur had released. The film had no one from the commercial cinema who is thought to have ‘killer looks’ as per the so called bollywood standards but still managed to build a cult following. Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Huma Qureshi and Richa Chaddha, once unknown are now household names. Raanjhanaa made no such impact and was a sheer disappointment! Dhanush acted well in the movie but he is definitely not the trend setter. Actors like Suniel Shetty, Rajpal Yadav, Omkar Das Manikpuri, Nawazuddin Siddiqui, Rajnikanth have made successful attempts to challenge the persisting notions in mainstream cinema long before Dhanush. The film’s attempt to manipulate the audience through Dhanush’s puppy-dog cuteness is insulting, if not downright sexist; this childish harasser is aggrandized as a pure lover, an innocent, blinded by saintly devotion to yet another undeserving shrewish and calculating female. I felt neither the film nor the character did any justice to Dhanush’s acting capabilities.

2. Ladki sirf do cheezon se pat-ti hai, mehnat se ya fir darr se. 

There is something seriously wrong with this statement. The dialogue has been written and used recklessly in the movie. The film glorifies eve-teasing, encourages the use of acid attacks and slicing wrists as means to get the affection reciprocated when the normal methods fail.  I do not disagree with the fact that a section of Indian men still use such methods to impose their will on the women they are infatuated with, but I do disagree with the modern educated girl in Zoya who failed to stand up to the boy’s antics and instead encouraged him. The film is set in Banaras, Uttar Pradesh and reflects the contrast in mentality of both educated and uneducated men in the state. However, it fails to acknowledge that the mentality issue is prevalent across the whole of India and not just UP alone.

3. If things are not going your way, attempt suicide.

Seriously, what is wrong with people? I know de-evolution is the trend of this century but there are limits to which one can tolerate idiocy. If things do not go your way, you work harder to change them. You do not use force on others neither do you kill yourself. No one promised you that life is going to go exactly how you planned it, but hey, its not going to be that bad either. Since when did slashing wrists started being considered as a pretense of bravery? Gimme a break… do not reason it out with me by saying.. it was love.. I was madly in love.. there was no other way! Sorry, you were not in love, you were only being a fool. In the movie, Zoya never falls for the jobless and uneducated Kundan. She still went for the better looking, educated, sophisticated and goal-oriented Jasjeet and royally ignored his flaws! Moral of the story, education, ambition and confidence is all that is required to win someone over. If they do not work on one person, never mind, there is plenty of fish in the sea. Trust me! 🙂

4. A woman can turn the world around. If she doesn’t like you, she will end up killing you. 

Well, whose mistake is it anyway? Since centuries women have been perceived as timid creatures whom men can channel in which ever way they want to. Now when women have started challenging these age old assumptions and breaking out of the shell, men are suddenly uncomfortable with the whole idea of equal rights and women empowerment. They now brand them as manipulators. Honestly, if it was a man who was to take revenge from another man in politics, he would have resorted to manipulation too but in a much different way. Then why mis-branding women only? *No I am not a feminist but I do believe in equal rights!* As far as Bindiya is concerned, I feel sorry for Sawara having to play this character.

I do not think its the stereotype of male actors in Indian cinema which needs to be broken, its the obsession with use of clichés for depiction of masculinity and the gender stereotyping which needs a major upheaval. It is required that the film makers learn from the reactions of masses post the Delhi Rape case and start writing intelligent scripts. Its time to raise the bar and get your priorities right.

Overall Rating: ** 1/2 on 5

Verdict: An irresponsible attempt to be different

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Random conversations that made sense in December!

I love talking!  May be that is why I started blogging in the first place. 😛 There is nothing like a good conversation to open up your senses or put you into deep thinking. The individual perspectives on relevant or irrelevant matters help broaden your understanding of people around you. In this article, I will be sharing a few of the random conversations I had while I was on a vacation in India.

On my way to Jaipur, I met two adorable girls, a 10 year old and a 12 year old accompanied by their mother. The girls were equally mischievous and intelligent. So, I strike up a conversation with both of them and start asking them about the latest release- Dabangg 2. The girls were quick to say that they thoroughly enjoyed the film and wished we had more cops like Chulbul Pandey in Delhi Police. At first instance, I had a hearty laugh but when I asked them why do they think this way, both of them quoted the Delhi Rape Case. (It was definitely the last thing I wanted to hear) The girls also pointed at an article published in the Times of India which described the failure of Delhi police to judge the molestation of a 12 year old in a moving DTC bus. I was surprised to see how quickly the kids these days can understand such situations. I shared with them an incident that happened with me four and a half years ago. It was a small case of my mobile phone being picked from my trouser’s pocket but it left a lasting impression. It was not the crime which offended me as a citizen but the attitude of the police which came as a shocker. I caught the thief the moment he stole my phone and saw him pass it on to his partner. Though I grabbed one of them by the collar, I could not get hold of the second one as he ran away too quickly. I shouted, created a scene, gathered the crowd and dragged the thief to Uttam Nagar Police station. (Honestly, I have never been so proud of my loud voice and the ability to create a mountain of a molehill. But in this incident, it was my flaws that helped me.) I handed over the culprit to the police and he was taken in custody. A police personnel then took me to the crime site and was quick to throw the case off to Janakpuri jurisdiction as the crime site was 20 centimeters away from Uttam Nagar jurisdiction. I found it absolutely ridiculous but little did I know that the worst was yet to come. When I came back to the police station, I demanded a full body search of the thief though I knew he passed over the phone to his partner. It was at this moment when I got to know that the thief had escaped from the custody. This was more than enough to make me lose my temper and forget that I have a family to worry about and its the police I am raising my voice against. I wrote an FIR report myself as the police was not ready to file one and courageously mentioned ‘The thief was handed over to the police but the police helped him escape and were negligent the whole time. I did my duty as a law abiding citizen but the policemen failed to perform their’s.’ None of the things I did changed anything about the situation. However, when I used ‘approach’, not only did I get a brand new phone, I was also dropped off to my destination in a police jeep in no time. I was asked to withdraw my FIR for obvious reasons. It was after this that I understood that one should stop hoping for protection and justice from them and be their own bodyguards without abusing the law.

As I got to know the girls better, I asked them about their school. They were absolutely elated at the question. It was quite apparent that they loved going to school. Turns out the school in Rohini, Delhi is a public school named after the first Indian religious, education and social reformer- Raja Ram Mohan Roy. Any amount of honour for this man shall be less. I was disappointed when I came to know that neither of the two girls knew about him. The younger one excused herself by saying that she has never seen his photograph or statue in her school, so she has no idea who he was. The only pictures or statues in her school are those of Manmohan Singh, Sonia Gandhi and Shiela Dixit. (Do I need to say anything more? I am pretty sure you would’ve guessed my reaction. Since these were kids, I preferred to shut my mouth.) I then gave them a fifteen minute talk to educate them about one of the greatest reformers India ever produced and his reforms which paved way for new and liberated India. However, amidst everything I realised, we put him on pedestal by naming him as ” The Father of Modern India” but we do not give him his due respect. That is exactly what we have been doing with everything. We have been worshipping and considering things to be sacred whereas we should be applying them in our daily life.  Late Sri Raja Ram Mohan Roy had been fighting against the rotten ideologies that hold no value in present time for decades. He questioned the popular beliefs of Hindus for years and tried his best to establish gender equality in the country. If only we had followed his teachings and not considered them sacred, we would have progressed much before.

The second incident happened in the metro when I was on my way to New Delhi Railway Station. I was travelling in the normal coach in Delhi metro not in the one that is reserved for women when I overheard a conversation between two middle aged men. And of course the topic of the day was, “Delhi Rape Case”. No surprises there! Both the men condemned the crime and were displeased with the government’s attitude. Everything was going in their favour until one of them started to brag about how he has taught his daughter to stay in “her limits” and he is confident that such a thing will never happen with her. Clearly, this man had failed to understand that the plethora of angry men and women at various hotspots of Delhi have been fighting against the idea of keeping women in bounds. Not only that, he indirectly justified the act and stigmatised the rape survivors. If I were a boy being raised with a sister, I would be ashamed of myself if my sister was taught to guard herself because men have no self-control.

One fine evening, I was having a conversation with my mother about how suffocating Delhi has proven to be since December 16. I did not understand why one unfortunate incident was hyped so much? I understand the aggression of the protesters and appreciate their efforts, but I fail to understand, why are all rapes not highlighted as much. There is no question that this case was horrific, but then which rape case isn’t? I was amazed to see the uprising of people and it gave me a ray of hope too. I could see that there exists a section of the society which recognises the need for a change in the mentality of people, while there is another which demands stricter laws. The former demanded a long term solution while the latter saw short term gains. Also, what’s with the names ‘Nirbhaya’, ‘Desh ki Beti’, ‘Amanat’, ‘Damini’? Why did we suddenly feel the need to give the rape survivor a name? Have we again discriminated or have we been biased in a subtle way? These questions left me perplexed for a very long time and I still do not have concrete answers or may be I am purposely not trying to find the answers.

I was constantly following the international reports about the mishap and the coverage was particularly ironic to the recent media controversy over a rape in Ohio. I am 100% sure, more than half of those reading this article would not even be aware of the Ohio controversy. What saddened me more was that my fellow countrymen did not hesitate in sharing these reports on social media platforms. Some even included them in their blogs with additional graphical details. Ethical and unbiased journalism clearly vanished when it came to this particular case. Some websites tried to generate more hits while juvenile writers and organisations saw it as their claim to fame.

Today, I see three different kinds of people in the society.

1. Who are willing to help and be the agents of change.

2. Who shout along with the former but chicken out when it comes to implementation

3. Who laugh at the situation or try to benefit from the situation. This also includes those who are indifferent.

I don’t know who is worse, the second category or the third?  But there is one thing which is very evident in the Indian middle class and that is the desire to change. I hope it does not fade quickly.

Those interested in knowing more about the ohio rape case the following link summarises a few facts http://prinniefied.com/wp/

Dil se Dilli

I know I should be writing the chapters of my thesis and do some literature search and review but I find writing about general stuff more interesting. So here I sit and write about my home-town. I never realised when I fell in love with Delhi until I had to re-locate in 2008. In past 4 and a half years, I have hardly been able to spend time in the city and I miss it all the time. (Clearly, I am homesick and I need to cave in.)

Geographically,region in North India that includes the Union Territory of Delhi, cities of Ghaziabad and Noida in U.P. and Gurgaon and Faridabad in Haryana together form the Delhi/NCR region. However, the residents dissociate themselves from the inhabitants of the NCR by classifying them as ‘pseudo-delhites’ and ‘non-natives’. This is highly evident especially in cases of road rage where regardless of whose fault it was or where you originate from, you are subjected to the rant; ” Abey B****c***, saala, jaat kahin ka!! Teri maa ki… @#$%^&**. Bahar nikalo inhe yahan se. Kharaab kar di dilli.” Inclusion of the NCR region in UCT of Delhi has also changed the meaning of the word ‘bhaiya’. Traditionally used in Hindi language to address elder brother with respect, owing to the recent rise in population of people from other parts of India especially Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh, its usage has become highly controversial. Well these ‘bhaiyas’ are really smart tough. They exactly know how to give delhites a taste of their own medicine. If you hear a vegetable vendor or an auto wallah or a painter talk back to your family members and address them as Aunty Ji or Uncle Ji irrespective of the age, do not get offended. You know where it is coming from! (believe its a brilliant comeback.:P)

The capital of India welcomes people from all parts of the world as there is plenty in store for everyone. A mix of all the Indian cultures and many others from around the world, its hard to divide the people. However, Delhi has long been battling the prejudices against the muslims and the north-east Indians in particular. The word ‘chinki’, a racial slur, is a part of a Delhites vocabulary. It is surprising that the Delhites did not even realise that the term is derogatory and racist until the Ministry of Home Affairs asked all the states and union territories to book anyone who commits an act of atrocity against people from the region under the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes (Prevention of Atrocities) Act. Oh boy! 5 years of imprisonment if you call someone a ‘Chinki’… Better watch your tongue Delhites! The muslims are the worst sufferers when it comes to finding houses as its very hard to escape the stereotypes with the landlords. The community in general is considered to have unhygienic habits and people are mostly mistaken to be terrorists. The city is always on high alert and prone to terrorist attacks which has forced Delhites to not trust anyone. The condition worsens when the individual has a muslim name. Not only are they refused accommodation without consideration, they are often looked down upon and called ‘atankwadi‘ in retaliation when they question. All this inspite of the fact that Delhi’s history is mostly Islamic. The historical monuments like Qutab Minar, Humayun Tomb and Lal Qila, which we Delhites  are proud of are signatures of the Islamic rulers of the past. It is disheartening to know that the muslim community has to bear such harsh attitude across the city.

Despite its problems, Delhi is by far the best city in India when it comes to liveability,  food, cultural diversity and education. It is the home to prime educational institutes such as, the Indian Institute of Technology, All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Delhi University, Jamia Hamdard University and Jawaharlal Nehru University. We do lack an Indian Institute of Management but I am hopeful we will get one very soon.

The city where originated the mughlai cusine  with the famous kebabs, tandoori chicken and biryani, also has its own version of  delicacies from other parts of the world such as the ‘Chicken tandoori panini’, ‘Chinese chaat’, ‘fried momos’ to name a few. The concept of ‘dhabas’ and ‘street food’ is highly popular and well suited to the needs of the habitants. The city loves its food so much that it has an entire street, Paranthe Wali Gali in the busiest market, Chandini Chowk, dedicated to it (karim’s pe murga aur shiv charan ke paranthe nahi khaaye toh janaab aapne kuch nahi khaaya.) Its indeed a foodie’s paradise!!

 Oh! By the way, those waterballs which tantalize your tastebuds, is called  ‘Gol- Gappe’ in Delhi except in Bengali market and CR Park where you may call it as ‘Fuchkas’. Also, ‘Aloo chaat’, which we are very proud of, requires the ‘Aloo’ to be FRIED and mixed with a tonne of spices. End of story!!  Boiled potato would just not do and is absolutely out of question. (For all those obsessed with hygenic stuff, Bitto Tikki Wala is the safest option. Zyada posh hona hai toh Bikaner aur Agarwal bhi hai!)

Delhi is the ‘power hub’ of India as it is home to the prime minister, the president and other prominent political leaders which decide the country’s future. The prevalence of political infrastructure and habitats in the city have influenced the life of the commoners as well. Each and every individual in Delhi has some or the other connection with either a ‘lukha’ or a well known politician. The dialogues, “Tu jaanta nahi hai ki mera baap kaun hai?“,”Tu bas kaam bol, sab setting ho jayegi” are often uttered for a reason.

Similar to the other cities in India, Delhi too has a distinctive lingo with Urdu and English influenced Hindi and a very distinguished vocabulary. Some of the phrases which form a part of a delhites routine dictionary are:

  • ‘Jugaad’, in essence, jugaad is a tribute to native genius, and lateral thinking. It means “can do.” or where there’s a will, there’s a way.
  • Hool Dena‘, meaning to threaten,
  • ‘Lanka Lagna/Lag gayi‘, used when a major trouble hits with everything going wrong and ultimately turning into a disaster
  • ‘Sidey‘; a sidekick or a minor character usually used to describe people with not so prominent roles when narrating a real life incedent
  • ‘Tharki’ , meaning someone who is horny, coquettish, flirtatious
  • Bakchodi’ Absolute bullshit
  • ‘Thulla/Thulli‘ Delhi speak for a police constable
  • ‘Behenji Turned Mod’  A family-type chokri who has suddenly taken to fashion and the good life.
  • ‘Fuchhas’ a college fresh-man
  • ‘Staff’ orginally meaning the member of faculty. However, in Delhi University, the term is used by students from a college when asked by a bus conductor to buy a ticket. It is more of a threat in this case, meaning that the conductor better allow the concerned student(s) free travel or else the bus driver and conductor  will be beaten up by the student(s)’ henchmen.

If insulting our own countrymen and co-habitants wasn’t enough, we delhites also coined a term for the NRIs which the entire country readily accepts. The link for the same is http://samosapedia.com/e/ungli-ready!  😀

Although, the city is prone to terrorist attacks, these never say die spirited people with huge hearts (‘Dilwale‘) continue to live happily without complaining. The phrase, ‘Life goes on no matter what‘ is truly applicable to the delhites along with the mumbaikars. Its a city of vivid and bright colours, with people so different and yet alike, with something to give to anyone who wants to be a part of it. No wonder I love it to bits and the little memories that I made with my friends and family in the city are treasured forever.

We may be ‘show offs’, ‘loud’, annoying and ‘snobs’ of the first lot, but you may never find a friend like us (if you manage to befriend us… which is easy… just show a lot of love and take everything we say lightly..basically tolerate us) ever in your life.

No one lives life the way a Delhite does and you need to live it to know it.

Before I sign out, I leave you with the map of India according to a Delhite. Its as true as it could be.

P.S. I decided to skip describing the experience of shopping in Delhi as I was afraid that I would not be able to confine myself and go on to write a tremendously long post.

When I first met Mr. Rahul Gandhi!

He is dynamic, young,energetic, full of enthusiasm and optimism, a star. That is how All India Congress Committee describes this young leader, speculated to be the next prime minister of the country. (Note: He hasn’t taken any prominent position of power in the cabinet but still congress bets on him for the prime minister-ship in General Elections of 2014.)

Born on June 19, 1970, this 39 year old is on a mission to fulfil his father’s dream about the nation. This half Indian claims to love this country unconditionally. Although new in politics, he managed to live up to the expectations, well at-least claimed to, until he recently made a few mistakes by making politically incorrect and  ignorant statements in public meetings rendering him unpopular among the masses. What he implied and what was made out of it, people stand divided on the thought.

Educated at Modern School, Barakhamba Road, New Delhi,he attained Bachelor’s in Economics from St. Stephen’s College, Delhi University  and then moved on to Harvard jumped to Rolings and finally completed M. Phil from Trinity College, Cambridge. Some of these details are made known to the Indian public and can easily be found on the internet. However, claims have been made that the man in question can very well be lying about the same. Upon independent investigation done by Dr. Subramanian Swami, there was no record of any M.Phil thesis submitted by Rahul Vinci and/or Gandhi in University of Cambridge libraries. His Harvard stint is also regarded as a failure by Dr. Swamy. One may never know the truth, but one is free to chose what and whom to believe.

On his shoulders, this man carries the burden of being born in Nehru-Gandhi family, one of the most influential and most successful political families of India. After all this, he still manages to remain modest. Not even a single hint of attitude, extremely down to earth, humble and open, this man is all praises when you meet him in person.What makes him more appealing is the power of persuasion. He is a leader,without any doubts, but he is blessed with the ability to be able to connect with people. No wonder he has such a huge fan following. Whether its a façade or not, only time will tell.

It was on September 9, 2009 when I got a chance to see the man himself. I was charmed by the simplicity of this man. In spotless white kurta pyjama he sat there carefully observing the audience. All eyes were stuck on him, hundreds were gazing at him but nothing made him conscious. After the welcome address, finally, the moment came when Rahul was given the charge of the microphone. Gladly, he moved towards the podium and uttered his first words. ” I would like to start this as an interactive session, would want to know your opinion on matters and would try to answer all your questions to the best of my ability. You are free to ask me whatever you want.Towards the end of the session, I would like to have 5 minutes to myself where I will share some thoughts of mine with you and will leave you with certain issues to ponder over.” The voice was full of confidence, he was exuberant.

The session begins, first question “Sir..!!”.. “Don’t call me Sir, I’m Rahul, call me by my name”.. ” As you say. So Rahul, What is your leadership style?” with a broad smile on his face he replied, “My Leadership style? Well I don’t have any leadership style as such. Everyone is a leader in our country and we should be proud of this fact.(That is true, everyone is a leader in India and I feel that is a huge problem with us.) We just need to work together. I respect this country for its democracy. I just want to share my vision about this country with you and if you approve of it and work with me towards it we can achieve what we want”.

Next one was hilarious, “Rahul, do you have any slogan for the young like Obama had? the one that stated YES WE CAN!! ????” He again smiled and said, no I do not have a slogan for the youth but I believe in the youth of this country. Such slogans may be able to motivate you temporarily but real motivation comes from within. We all are capable of achieving the impossible, all what we need to do is to break open our shells, express ourselves and be perceptive.”

Now focus shifts from leadership to education. A girl in the front gets up and asks him “Why is there brain drain in India?” To this question Rahul had no clear answer. What all he could reply was,” We can not stop them who wish to pursue higher education abroad. Our constitution doesn’t permit us as it gives us the freedom of movement. We can not even pressurize people to return back as amenities offered there are much more than what we have in our country. But that doesn’t mean our country is less than any other superpower. The cost of educating a child in our country is much less than that in US, UK or Europe. We impart world class education at much lower costs. The west is always hunting for Indians. All what we need is respect for this nation. Once we start respecting our country, situation will not be the same.”

One of the most interesting comments made by him was on the population of this country for which he said “Don’t ever think the population of this country is its minus point. Ours is a young country as majority of the population falls in the age group of 12-45 which is productive and contributes majorly to the economy as compared to countries like France where it’s the elderly that dominate and hence forms the old country.” (Dude, you may be right about the age group, but seriously…we have too many mouths to feed. Its next to impossible to be able to provide for such a huge population. The already existing competition, basic principle of speciation and natural selection is the reason for majority of our problems.)

Next was involvement of political parties in educational institutions in the form of college elections. He strongly favoured this and tried to justify himself, which to an extent he was able to. Apart from this, issue of nuclear deal, sustainable development as well as lack of funds in science and technology also came up. He concluded by quoting his father. He did stop talking but his objective was still not fulfilled. He came down the stage, into the public and gave his email Id . He interacted with a few front rowers and even with a few foreigners. Before leaving he shared a few of his thoughts with us.

He said “World seems to be smaller now, it is connected.. thanks to the technological advancements. We are closer now and this closeness, this sharing of ideas and openness would pave way for a better future.

Be perceptive, be receptive, open up, break your shell, take the lead, think independently. This country needs all of us, it wants all of us to work together. Out of 6 billion people in the world we contribute 1 billion that makes 1/6th of the world’s population. We have a much larger responsibility to fulfill. Don’t just think, put your thoughts into action as well.” ( Hola! We were 6 billion in 2009.. and we are 7 billion in 2012.. OMFG!! Vasectomy .. we need vasectomy.. NOW!!)

And the man walks away..accompanied by his body guards. Room becomes dull again but he manages to leave us with a question. Something to think about.. are we all contributing any thing to our country? Do we even respect it?? He did make an impact, like every other politician in India does. The only thing which gives him an edge over the others is his pro-youth and youth targeted propaganda.

He does manage to win over the youth by motivating them to be the agents of much required change but his lack of tact in his public dealings and inconsistency are the evils that will haunt him for a long time.  The ‘Gandhi’ family name which he carries is a boon and bane at the same time. We can only come to know of his limtis and capabilities when his abilities are put to test in future. So, lets wait and watch if he is only words or there is some substance too.

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