Thursday, October 8, 2009

The City of Blinding Lights....

“Like a mother she nurtures her children… endures all the blows thrown upon her; silent with her suffering, yet always abuzz… delusional but never deceiving. Like a true friend she stands by you when you fall, picks you up and teaches you how to walk again; never lets you feel alone. Hopeful and forgiving, here, thousands of dreams are fulfilled everyday; thousands of lives change everyday; shinning with the glow of her wide eyed people; as they walk through her streets, with their hearts on their sleeves. Call her Mumbai, call her Bombay, for her it’s just a name, nothing will deter her spirit… For she is the city of blinding lights…”

They say, HOME IS WHERE THE HEART IS! This is why I don’t think I would ever be able to call any other city, MY HOME! My love affair with this city started years back, when a five year old I would roam around Nariman Point and Chowpatty, gawking at the beauty of the Queen’s Necklace… on a horse carriage! That was romantic for me… like a silly five year old with missing front teeth I would stare at the skyscrapers, the beauty of the Haji Ali Dargah as it shone with all its might under the full moon… The ice cream at Yankie Doodle, the chat at Juhu Beach, Fantasy Land, Buddi Ka Baal at the Gateway of India… that was my Bombay!

Over the years, a lot of course has changed, along with the name… from being the sone ki chiddiya , this city has now become the biggest target to communal remarks, terror attacks, economic instability, natural calamities and above all abuse from her citizens… The ones who claim to be her well wishers… blah blah blah! The question here is: when is this going to end? The answer; (coming from another so called well wisher!)… Get the UPites and Biharis out of this city… it will end. In actuality; this has just started another controversy altogether. The solution: Peace Marches? Tried… Candle Light Vigils? Tried… Violence and Destruction? Tried… Result: None worked… Moral: Let this city be, let the people be… overpopulated or not, corrupt or not, She still one of the most welcoming, safe and friendly cities in the entire world… She still is the financial capital of the world’s fastest growing economy… she still is the city of never ending hope… here no one is just a face in the crowd… everyone has a story to tell… everyone has been touched by the humility and affection this city has to offer in some way or the other.

Guess that’s why they say that the spirit of this city is unbreakable… but to say the truth… it’s not the spirit… it’s the faith that the millions of people living in this city have in her… it’s the hope they have in their hearts, when they set out of their houses every morning, that they will at the end of their day get back to their houses safe and sound, for this city, true to her motherly nature, will embrace her children and shelter them from the evil… and the extend of her love shall not depend upon whether you are a Khan, a Kapoor or a Kadam...

Who said it’s all about the name? That’s why she is the city of blinding lights!

Sunday, July 12, 2009

love beyond the forbidden lines...

“Noor! Noor! Kaha thi itni der?” her mother yelled at her, as she tiptoed into her house. “It is my anklet, it has to be”, she thought to herself.

She knew wandering around so late in the evenings was not very safe, and besides it gave a bad name to the family, but she enjoyed the thrill these escapades of hers gave her. And above all, this was the safest time to meet Imran.

Imran, the very thought of him lit up her midnight black eyes and a warm shy smile appeared on her face!

Imran entered his house, smiling, only to be greeted by his father’s grim, disapproving gaze. He knew it, he had sensed it. Imran’s instincts were at work again. For the 21 years of his life, and for as long as his memory allowed him to remember, he knew that his father would always know what he has been up to without him having told him anything. He dreaded it, he tried to hide, lie, and nothing worked.

“Kaun hain woh? Kya karti hain? Kya tum firse who Anwar ki beti, kya naam hain uska, ha, Naaz, uske saath toh nahi…” Salim Mohammad Khan’s stern and powerful voice breaks through the awkward silence in the room. “abhi se he bol deta hun, accha nahi hoga yeh, tum jaante ho na ki Anwar ka mazhab bhale he islam hain, par woh hindustani nahi”

Imran is speechless. He looks at his father coldly, his blood boiling inside.

Anwar Rahman Sharif is one of those unfortunate Indian Muslims who haven’t got their due in their own country. Born to an Indian mother and Pakistani father, at the time of partition, his mother, decided to stay in her country. His father had been killed in the post-partition riots; a few months before Anwar was born.

He had never seen his father’s face, which is probably why he was hostile towards emotions, barring that of hate, towards love. He had been bought up in a torn country, still healing from years of slavery and then a part of hers being brutally cut away. In the beautiful snow covered valley of Kashmir, Anwar could only hear painful screams echoing through his growing up years.

“Abba ko pata chala na to tumhari khair nahi”, Naaz’s thoughts are interrupted by her mothers voice.
She looks at her mother and quietly walks into the kitchen, avoiding meeting her eye.


Anwar Rahman Sharif is sitting in his courtyard, smoking a hookah, when Iliyas, one of his employees comes rushing to him. “Maine un dono ko aaj fir saath dekha, wahi jagah par. Main, maaf karna, eek chotey muh badi baat kehta hun aapse, yeh thik nahi ho raha”
“Utha lo use, maar do” Anwar says cooldly.
He waits for Iliyas to leave. And then he storms into the house.

“Naaz!” he yells.
She comes running out to her father, her heart beating fast.
“Aaj ke bad dum is ghar ke bahar nahi niklogi, aur agar Imran se milne ka socha bhi toh bas…”
She tries to speak, but words refuse to come out of her mouth. She has never seen her father this furious.
Quietly she walks into her room, shutting the door behind her.
“Main usse kal milungi, dhopahar ko jab ammi-abba so rahe honge tab bhaag jayungi, aur wapas nahi aaungi”, she tells herself.

Imran is walking back home after meeting a friend. It is close to midnight and the streets are deserted. Suddenly he feels something hit his head really hard. He falls on the ground unconscious.

His head hurts, his body is tied, his throat is dry, its dark around him, he tries to move, that’s when a light comes on, and Iliyas’s face appears from the dark, “Yeh Naaz se pyar karne ke liye hain”, and stabs him in the stomach.

Imran struggles to say something, his body giving up. His mind is running wild. He can hear Naaz calling out his name, giggling on his jokes, the sound of her bangles, her anklets. He makes one last attempt before he gives up forever and shuts his eyes for the last time picturing Naaz looking at him her hands stretched out, smiling.

Naaz packs her bag through the night, her heart beating fast with excitement. She occasionally stops dreaming of her life with Imran. At noon the next day, as planned she sneaks out. She goes to their secret place, where they meet everyday. Half and hour and she knows he’ll be there.

“Abbu ne kaha tumse kabhi na milu, toh main bhaag ayi. Hum saath rahenge. Ab toh mere ammi-abba ko pataneka dar bhi nahi!” she thinks about what she is going to tell him again and again.

He is late, she is getting restless. She fidgets with her dupatta, looking around. The sun is about to set. She can’t even think of going back home; Atleast not without him. He doesn’t come. He never will, but what has happened of him, she will never know...

*I'm not too sure of this one so comments would be appreciated.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Playing Poker with Hearts!!!

Just a dark room,
with no doors or windows in sight,
the walls closing on me,
squeezing me tight,
I'm scared and unsure,
I don't know what to do,
with no way out,
no hiding away from you,
your words hit my head,
as you sit and play your game,
the stakes are high and I am going to lose,
yet, I don't know whom to blame,
at times i wish, to just run away,
break free from these invisible ties,
I feel suffocated and blinded,
by your fake promises and lies,
but as they say, its beginners luck,
I win on the king of hearts,
I think I have won over you,
oblivious its just because its the start,
you are the master deceiver,
with a poker straight face,
while I am still the rookie,
betting it all on just an ace,
the flop and turn have opened,
hoping for a heart flush to be there,
little do i know, you already have a queen on the table,
and in your hand, a queen pair!
ours is a game of bluff,
where I have blindly let it all go,
But you'll never know what I am playing on,
If I'm losing, I'll fold before I have to show!

*Hope you guys get the metaphor!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Summer's Last Dusk

Yellow, a melancholy yellow was the sky,

the sun hidden behind the blue-gray clouds,

Birds returning to their nests,

Everything else, as if laid to rest,

A time when everyone was heading home,

Waiting to embrace love and warmth,

Her eyes, captured every moment perfectly,

Not missing a single beat,

She stood there cold,

Oblivious to the humid summer heat,

The twinkle of her tears,

Shone through her painfully beautiful eyes,

With the last dusk of summer,

She had said all her good byes

Escaped from that warm embrace,

With all her pride, vanity and grace,

The skies slowly turned into a beautiful gray,

She looked up, smiled,

For the last time she silently prayed,

The thundering echoed,

With the shattering of her heart,

As the rains came down,

Ripping the sky apart,

She drenched herself,

In her tears and the rain,

With summer's last dusk,

She finally parted with her pain.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Drops of Joy

The land was barren, with few signs of civilization in sight. The roads were roads uneven, dusty, with a few lifeless trees lined on the sides, providing absolutely no shade whatsoever. Isolated mud houses lay scattered across the otherwise empty land, with parched paths leading their way.

Sultanpur, wasn't a beautiful picture that monsoon. The summer had been hottest ever, dull and dry; with the sun piercing through the skin of the humans and the cattle alike. Oh, how they had waited for the rains to arrive. The otherwise full Barna Reservoir too, had gone dry. The whether was definitely being harsh on them.

Abdul sat with his legs folded under the banyan tree, sweat trickled down from his head, which was boiling under his turban, up to his brows. He fiercely rubbed it away,
"Baarish aane ka nam nahi leti, aur yeh tapti dhoop toh humien maar he degi, aise main hum kisan log kya kare? Fasal toh waise bhi sadd rahi hain, ab toh hamari guy aur bhaisien hi mar rahi hain... aise main sarkar ko paisa kaha se de hum?"

A few people voices agreed with him, as the sarpanch looked angrily. Shadab Mohammed had been the village head for donkeys years, but never had he witnessed this kind of outrage and grief in his dear hometown. His anger was the outcome of his grief and helplessness. He had tried to reason with the government authorities, but it was futile. "Woh harami logo ko kya pata gareebi, lachari aur bebasi kya hain!" he'd curse them everytime they'd let him down. He was angry, dejected, upset, helpless, everything but what this season would have otherwise made him feel like. Never before had he seen this happen to his people. A farmer killed himself in the fear of debt and because of the ever increasing pressure from the government, while another had already lost his cattle. The air was hot, more from the anger and rage, than the sun.

That night when Abdul returned home, Shabnam, his 7 year old daughter was waiting for him, her eyes filled with hope, her birthday was coming and she was expecting a gift from beloved abba, she knew he'd get her something from the bada sheher! Shabnam walked up to her abba with a glass of water tightly clutched between her palms.

"Abba, aap jab sheher jaaoge tab mere liye ek accha sa taufah lekar aana...", she said with bursting enthusiasm. "Mere janamdin aa raha hain nah!"

Not knowing what to say, Abdul looked at his wife, hoping she could help him out. He hated breaking his daughter's heart, but in the current scenario he could barely manage to earn enough to suffice for their daily roti. As much as he wanted to, he couldn't fulfill his beloved daughter's wish.

Nazia, his wife looked at him, her eyes clearly sensing the pain her husband's going through. She quietly looked at her husband, she tried to say something, but choked on her words. She ran into the kitchen, her dupatta covering her face, as she shed silent tears.

Just then Shabnam entered the room, she guessed something was amiss. She pulled her ammi's hand and said, "ammi, koi bat nahi, agar abba ke paas paise nahi toh jaane do, mujhe kuch nahi chahiye".

Nazia looked at her little daughter, tears swelling in her eyes. She pulls her daughter close to her, holding her tightly. If only the monsoon had arrived on time she thought.

Abdul was on one of his regular visits to Bhopal. He had come along with Shadab bhai and a few other villagers. They had to meet the sarkari babus in order to seek some relief for the farmers. With less than a hundred rupees in the pocket of his worn out pants, he and the others were determined to put an end to their misery.

"Hum kya kar sakate hain, sab toh upar bhaithe huye logo ke haath main hain"
Said a certain Mr. Very Fat Dubey. If anyone ever needed proof that corruption exists, his pot belly itself would prove the point. His half bald head shone under the tube light, while beetle leaf juice trickled down the corner of his mouth. Throughout their conversation he would make frequent references and gestures, clearly showing that he expected a big fat bribe.

Disheartened and angry, they left the office for the bus station. That's when Abdul's eyes fell on a toy shop, a beautiful doll was kept on the mantle. Almost instantly Shabnam's face flashed across his eyes. He looked at it, tempted to buy it for his daughter, and then put his hand in his pocket, knowing that buying it would mean spending that little spare money he had with him for rougher days. Hesitatingly he walked up to the shop, and before thinking any more he bought it. "Jo hoga, so hoga", he said to himself. That night when he reached home, it was way past midnight. Shabnam was already asleep. He quietly kept the doll beside her and went off to sleep.

Next morning Abdul was woken up by the sound of Shabnam yelling with joy, he drowsily opened his eyes, expecting to see his daughter playing with the doll, but what he saw was like a dream, a miracle, a blessing. He saw Shabnam standing in the courtyard, her hands stretched out, as drops of joy fell from the sky drenching her in happiness!

Monday, March 30, 2009

Wonderwall - Revised!

Her head was spinning, as Oasis kept on screaming “Wonderwall” into her ears. How she loved this song, somehow it went with every single mood of hers, all the time. She quietly took another gulp of her beer, it she always said, helped her calm down, made her feel numb. She needed that, more than anything else. May be not… she needed something else more… But as of now, with the other requirement seemed more distant than it was, so, she instinctively and more like she said to “calm” herself down, settled for the beer!

It was a long long time ago, though it sounds like the start of a perfect Fairy Tale, hers by no means was anything close to perfect. She had always managed to make the wrong choices in her life... however; she never regretted any of them. Until now…

Long back, she had met him first at a friend’s party; he was a friend’s friend. Back then, he was like the charming stranger, she the simple girl with a perpetually broken heart. She caught him looking at her a couple of times, and gave a shy smile back. Her heart began beating fast as he approached her, not because he was painfully good looking, but because she was scared of letting anyone into her life. She had made a rule to not let any stranger into her life, but too late, she had unknowingly broken her own rule. He had made his grand yet quiet entry into her life. Time passed as they got to know each other better. Theirs was a warm and loving friendship, filled with some extremely special moments.

The most endearingly special of which happened one night, they had gone out for diner, and then to the beach for a walk. It was her favorite place. That’s when he had turned to her looked into her eyes and before any of them could say a thing, they kissed. A chill ran down her spine… “It personified going weak in the knees”, she said with a dreamy smile. She smiled a lot during those days; it helped her cover up for her sadness, the tears would hide themselves behind her broken smile. The kiss was special for her; yet, she never discussed it with him… she didn’t feel the need to. She was in love with him. He too loved her back, she thought so at least. She didn’t believe in fairy tales or knights in shining armors, nor did she believe in glass slippers or midnight magic spells. However, for her at that time all of it made sense, their mere existence didn’t seem stupid or imaginative to her. After all she believed she had found her “Wonderwall”

But then one day, her “Wonderwall” came crashing down. He had called her to meet him; he said that he had something to tell her, something important. She thought that this was the right time, and decided that she would tell him that she loved him; “he loves me back, I have nothing to worry about!”, she has tried to pacify her own nervousness by saying that.. Confidently, she had walked upto him that day, looked into his eyes, and said “I think I am in love with you”, sounding more nervous than she had thought she was, he looked at her and said, “I love you too, after all you are my closest friend!” and that’s when she saw her walk in, she was beautiful, and the look in his eyes said it all.

He held her close, and said, meet her, she is Ria... He held her by the arm and took her aside, "Isn't she cute? I Love her!!” he gushed like a small boy in love! Just then she (Ria) came along, he immediately looked at her, his eyes gleaming with love and pride... "Ria, meet her, she is my closest friend…”

She stood there, partially shocked, partially surprised, a riot of emotions had already been sparked of in her head, she could have died, could have disappeared if given a choice, she wished she were dreaming, she could punch him, could crawl into his arms and cry like a baby! But none of that happened, instead, she just looked at him and smiled…”Oh, I am so happy for you guys!”, she said trying her best to sound convincingly enthusiastic, while “Wonderwall” echoed in her mind.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Complexities of the Mind!!!

What if we humans were not living creatures, but robots? What if we could condition ourselves to be the way our whims and fancies want us to be! Wouldn't it be cool?!

Stupid, Random thought.

The human mind is by far the most complex of god's creations! It has the ability to create mamoth world peace threatening issues out of stupid situations that can be avoided in a simple way - Ingore... See, Listen, Forget! A simple three step process that will reduce half the issues we humans keep piling up in our systems! But no, for some reason, that just doesnt seem to happen with most of us! We love thinking, that is our favourite passtime. Admit it. What do you do when you have nothing to do, u think! About something or the other. Your brain inevitably begins to wander into directions you didn't even know existed! (Especially with us girls!)

A lot of times we act according to what people around us want us to. Why? Cause we think, what if my XYZ action brings about a XYZ reaction! What if this, what if that.. blah blah blah! Why don't we just speak our mind? Why think so much? Why not just let it all be and free yourselves from the excess emotional and illogical baggage we all like roaming around with? (Funilly, here too I am thinking! About my excess emotional baggage! Such is the human mind!!) Why not just leave it all behind and for once do something silly, something stupid, something random!

As Shel Silverstein puts it, "Draw a crazy picture,Write a nutty poem,Sing a mumble-gumble song,Whistle through your comb.Do a loony-goony dance'Cross the kitchen floor,Put something silly in the world; That ain't been there before."

So, I am now hoping I can put in my own silly contribution too! Don't think! Go ahead, you don't really need to be mechanical to condition yourself according to your whims and fancies!

I rest my case here.

-- Himalee Shah

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

For What?!!!?

All that waiting for hours,
For that one phone call,
I had given it everything,
Thinking you'd never let me fall.

All those hours spent waiting,
Just to see you for a while,
You know just for that endearing smile,
Even in the rain i'd walk for a mile.

Those moments we spent still haunt me,
Hidden away from the rest of the world,
I could never be what you always wanted,
I was always that perfectly imperfect girl.

So much for what,
When it all had to fall flat,
I've tried but still can't figure out,
What did I do to deserve all that...

-- Himalee Shah

Friday, February 13, 2009

The knight in shining armour! the magic spells!! hail St. Valentine!!

Ohkay, it is the 14th of Febuary, love is in the air, people al over the world are waiting to proclaim their undying love to each other blah, blah, blah!

I am not an anti valentine person, but i guess that little glitch comes very naturally especially when you dont have that special someone on valentines. However, I personally do feel Valentines Day is a pretty stupid idea, honestly, Why would anyone in Love need a specific day to show it? But i know there are many out there who may beg to differ! I am not starting a debate here, honesly, I couldnt care less. But since everyone around me is talking about love, and practically most of my friends are getting hooked up with someone or the other, I have started to wonder how twisted our perception of love and relationships is... I remember as a kid i would read about Knights in shining armours and the magic spells, as a 5 year old I did believe in it too, but as I grew up, I obviously realised that all of it is best saved for fairy tales and yashraj movies. But however, even on a more realistic level, the current perception that people have of love and romance leaves me baffled.

I am not a die hard romantic, or the kind of person who believes in climbing roof tops and shouting out to the world how I am in love with someone... But yea, the sheer fraudulence of these relationships is what startles me. More than genuine feelings, it seems more like a battle of who is with who and who is doing who, in this whole hollow competitive mess, the sincerity of relationships has gone for a toss... I could be wrong, so could be my observation. I don't care; every action has an equal and opposite reaction anyway!

Till then, Hail St. Valentine, bring on the heart shaped baloons and a dozen red roses for our lovers here!
I am just going to be content spending some quality time with my friends and some beer!!

-- Himalee Shah

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

From DEVDas to DEV D

I am no movie critic, in fact, I am not even certified enough to be one! I don't understand half the shit that goes into making a movie. Friday after Friday we see so many dreams being painted on celluloid; Friday after Friday we see critics and the audience mercilessly ripping them apart. I won’t say they are being unfair, I would be a hypocrite then; I have done that too! However now, off late, (may be cause I as a part of my job have to deal with these Fridays pretty closely!) have started to understand the anxiety of the people who have put in their soul into creating something.
-- Himalee Shah

This Friday we witnessed one such dream being painted on celluloid, one of the most courageous movies made in recent times, defying the conventional laws of making Hindi movies came Anurag Kashyap’s much talked about (mostly cause of its innovative publicity design and a commendable soundtrack) DEV D. A coming of age movie in its true sense and an outrageously real and contemporary version of the very guy we all have grown up either watching in its various screen adaptations or reading about, Devdas.

Even though the movie was much in news, considering the audience reaction and feedback on Kashyap’s last movie, I still was skeptical, unsure if the movie would be as great as its promos promised it to be. But on watching the movie, I must admit, I was awed with Kashyap’s vision as well as audacity. DEV D is aching real, in every aspect, from the egoistic DEV to the survivor CHANDA or the boisterous PARO, every character is achingly real in his/her own sense. The movie breaks convention, sets the stage for a new school of cinema, belonging to the people who are in tune with their vision and know their audience well. But I am not getting into the detailing of that; technically, of what I understand, the story is well written, Kashyap has mixed the DPS scandal and Sarat Chandra’s classic in a contemporary setting with great flamboyance making a perfect cocktail. The cinematography too is amazing, the music (which is being already spoken about) is exceptional, the editing is acceptable (though a little bit of trimming wouldn’t hurt); the performances (Abhay Deol; especially) are top notch. But what strikes me the most (like I’ve already mentioned) is the characterization. All the characters, extremists in their own rights, still have shades of each of us in them. Whether it is the scene where Dev breaks the glass by throwing it on the wall, or Chanda talking about her past to Dev or Paro cycling into the fields with a mattress tied behind; each of the scenes without the use of melodramatic lines or over the top expressions stay with you even after the movie has ended.

I am glad DEV D happened, I am glad we have a Anurag Kashyap who has the vision to make something that breaks convention, I am glad we have a UTV that believes in these visions, I am glad we have a Abhay Deol who is not worried about if the “audience will accept him” in a particular role or not. After this refreshing change; I am looking forward to more from filmmakers belonging to this school of thought. Till then I don’t mind O/D-ing on this Emotional Atyachar!!
--Himalee Shah