Monday, March 02, 2015

Dum Laga Ke Haisha : An Ode To Women

I am just back home after watching a Dum Lagaa Ke Haishaa. And boy! How disappointed I am! I mean how can such a film not have a budget for promotions. Does Yash Raj Films only promote films that have the Rani of their house in it? If there is a film that’s truly a feather in the cap of Yash Raj Films, it is THIS ONE. I mean, Dum Lagaa Ke Haishaa.

The film is an ode to women in our country.  The story in short - The film is set in the Varanasi of the 90s. Prem Prakash Tewari  is a tenth fail who is forced to marry a fat woman – Sandhya Verma. The woman is a graduate, his family lies about Ayushman’s qualification, to match her. They get unhappily married, and they are doomed to a life of being unhappily married forever. Sandhya but discovers that Prem has been forced to marry her when she catches him red handed in an angry rant to his friends about how his wife is as fat as a buffalo. She leaves him, but not before slapping him and getting slapped at that very moment.  What follows is a series of dramatic turns that I want you to watch and experience for yourself.

A film has a soul of its own. This film has a soul and a heart and a mind of its own.  The Hindi film industry is not known to be respectful towards women. She is either a devi or the devil, never the average Joanna you meet everyday. This film does just the opposite. It  gives you a peek into the life of an average looking plump woman who is at complete ease with how she looks. She agrees to an arranged marriage, but holds the reigns of it in her able hands. Even the groom gets married to her with no dowry, in awe with her qualifications as she could financially uplift the  family  in crisis. While widespread misogyny is captured in the terms of expectations from a woman, the film also captures the fact that a woman could be empowered with education to take a stand. A woman can be in complete ease of her body and doesn’t have to turn to size zero for her hubby dearest.  Sandhya, the character, also reserves her right to sexual desires, and is in control of what she expects from life. She battles misogynistic mindsets from the women in her maternal home and sasural ably. She doesn’t mind telling her father-in-law that he did no right by getting his son forcefully married to her.  She doesn’t mind reclaiming her room from her younger brother, when she returns home, determined to divorce her husband. She is in control throughout. She does feel bad, she does express that she feels insulted, but she doesn’t resign to a life of self-pity ever, she rather does the opposite. She reclaims her life and takes her freedom.

The film is set in 90s, but is relevant even for this era. Given this, why the director chose the 90s as a theme to set the film in is not apparent in the film, but nevertheless, it is one of the most enjoyable things. Production wise,  A lot of effort has been put in to set every frame in the 90s. The film also has the male protagonist named Prem which was the most popular name then, thanks to Salman Khan and Sooraj Bharjatya. I wonder why there has been no opposition from Right Wing Groups, considering that this film shows  Half Chaddi Boys of RSS in a not so very flattering way.
After Queen that released last year, this film marks the beginning of roles that are Women Empowering and that too without giving us any gyan on Nari Shakti and stuff.

Watch this film and you will agree with me that Bhumi Pednekar deserves every award. Ayushman is kiss-worthy.  Sheeba, as the nasty Bua is another star worthy of every award.   This film may not have ‘london thumakda” moments, like in Queen. But makes a strong case for valuing self worth just as Queen does.  Though no one can match a kangana doing a  Rani in Queen, Bhumi takes the character of Sandhya to heights of brilliance. This is the kind of performance that could easily make a classroom study for young  actors who wish to learn about the nuances of acting.  She is too good.

Lastly, this is one movie where you will wait till the credits finally roll.  Why? Watch the film and find out. Believe me, it is worth your money.  This is the kind of film that should be released on 08 March. This is a piece of art, a mark of brilliance.


Wednesday, January 21, 2015

The Non-Crazy Part Of The Crazy Cukkad Family

Just out of the screening of Crazy Cukkad Family. Cinema is an instrument of change. This small film in the midst of mega budget multicrore films manages to leave an indelible mark in the mind of the viewer.

It is remarkable to note that a film that is comically themed on human greed, very substantially makes a point about human nature and human need of love. This is the first film I have seen besides my own - Amen, that shows a homosexual couple in a happily-ever-after moment. The film makes a  makes a poignant point without no taste of preachiness about acceptance of a Gay Couple and that of a cross dressing straight man. The cherry on the cake is a scene where a gay marriage is shown alongside a heterosexual marriage with no shoo-sha or humour.

In a sharp contrast it doesn't show gay people as cheaters or losers or diseased or specially gifted. The characters are shown at par with the heterosexual counterparts, as greedy and selfish and as human as everyone else in the ensemble cast. It normalises and equalises same sex relationships.

This film portrays that in a greedy dysfunctional crazy and abnormal family too, the most normal thing is being gay. It is not an 'issue' or a 'cause', the character is just gay. As simple as it reads here.  In a nation where Bollywood is a religion, crazy cukkad family would definitely be placed on the pedestal for the healthy depiction of queer content.

If you are LGBT especially, do yourself a favour - watch this film.

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

@DNA, humanity beyond journalism

Yesterday night I had one of the most scary experiences of my life. I am a regular with the mumbai local and contrary to the regular criticism about the mumbai locals, I am in fact a great lover of my daily travels to work in my beloved Mumbai local.  Besides being economical, quicker and pollution free, it is also a great reservoir of stories of empathy, community spirit and in general, human nature.

But every service has its pit falls and slip ups.  I embarked on my regular late night train travel from Reay Road station. It was just another late day at work. I took the train at 1140 to panvel. I boarded the first class compartment which had a dozen odd  people. The train went smooth sailing in  complete steam till chunabhati station... A little beyond chunabhati it suddenly stopped. It didn't bother me much as delay is the middle name of Harbour Line of the central railways but as it took longer, it was getting frustrating. There were young commuters, presumably in their mid twenties who jumped down the train and walked from the deserted place where the train had stopped towards kurla station.  There was an aged  man who was in the train who was unable to jump and walk the tracks. I decided to stay with him in the train. In half an hour, the compartment just had the aged man and me, or so, I thought. I was wrong, just behind my seat was a young man who in all possibility was a drug addict who was in no control of his senses. He was continuously blabbering that he will kill, he will bomb and slaughter those who ill treated him.  The immediate emotion  was not of scare but of empathy, but as silences enveloped the compartment and his voice got stronger along with the the whistling of the untimely wind, the other emotion took over. It was 01:10 am  the dead of the night. I was glad that i was in a city that never sleeps, but the ones who were awake were better sleeping. I wanted to get down the train the train, but as I peeped out of the train, there were a group of drunken rowdies who were howling louder than rabid wolves. The thought of risking them did pass my mind, but then i looked back at the aged gentleman, he wouldn't be able to jump to the tracks and walk right till the station. We were clearly trapped between the devil and the deep sea. I chose to risk my judgements on the mentally unstable person rather.

A firm believer of "share it to diminish it, if not demolish it", I took to facebook to share my fears and that made all the difference. Within seconds there was an outpouring of empathy especially from my friends in the field of journalism.  What touched me most, was that I received an immediate message from Yogesh Pawar, assistant editor of DNA offering to speak to a cop he knows  at tilak nagar station. He further asked me to take a cab and come down to his place and that his wife and he would be happy to have me over and also treat me with some sambhar rice. It was 1ish in the night. It is easy to dismiss something as lip service, but he was serious. He also spoke to me over the phone and ask me not to be heroic but understand that anyone in such a situation could be vulnerable. As I took a few minutes more to decide the train miraculously started surging ahead. I dont believe much in god, unless I need to ask something from no one but the universe   and need to put a figurative name for an unknown force  there, but I am a firm believer in the genesis of good vibes and thoughts that manifest in positive reactions. Thanks to people like yogesh, in a world increasingly ridden with slaughter and hatred, the total sum of positivity will always remain a constant.

Thank you Yogesh. And congrats DNA and the Zee Media Group for having him as a part of your family.

Yogesh, you have covered many human interest stories in your life that have pushed the envelope of equality, empathy and justice, I thought the best way to say thank you for what you did yesterday would be to reply to your kindness in the same written word.

(I know this post maybe ridden with grammatical errors, but I'd rather keep it in its virgin heartfelt firstthoughts form)

Monday, November 03, 2014

Sometimes I wish upon a star

One of those nights where after nursing the wounds of the world, I find time to feel my own.

Sometimes, one does go through gloomy phases in life when you feel lonely in a world that you are way too known. Well, its a popular perception that people who are known are surrounded by people all the while and are lucky in matters of lust and love. Well, it is a myth. Most often the inverse is true.

I'm in no haste in falling in love or anything, (one mistake in haste is a good lesson) but I do feel the pang of lying alone under the moonlit sky. I do feel that one day, I find someone to share this space with.


Friday, October 31, 2014

The "Woh" is a Man

The Bangalore Case where the husband cheated on the wife with another man raises a few eye brows and many questions

Read about the case here :

1) I empathize with the wife, I really do, but is slapping 377 on the husband justified?

2) Would we have slapped 377 on this guy if the guy cheated on his wife with another woman and the wife caught them in 'unnatural acts' per the legal parlance?

3) Would the trauma the wife suffered be any less or any different if the 'woh' was a  woman.

4) The media revealed the name of the employer and other details  which makes it easy to identify the husband. Would the case be any less serious if the husband worked at the barber shop and not an IT firm? Would they have dared to do the same if it was the wife who was the culprit?

5) We take a moral high ground when it comes to cheating on your partner, cross your hearts and tell me, haven't you ever cheated?

6) It takes me ages to argue with the police and get a simple FIR for stalking a woman registered. Who are these lovely policemen who register a 377 on a infidelity case?

7)I  stand for equal rights. If the wife feels cheated - grant her divorce. If the husband caused mental trauma - demand alimony. But slapping 377, isnt it stretching this too far with malicious intent?

8) Also the journalism stoops to a new low here. Why reveal the identity of the man?

I received a string of Whatsapp messages from a friend who championed women rights and thought the man deserved no sympathy because he 'cheated'. He stopped sending me messages when I asked him "weren't you in a relationship with someone when you were giving me a blowjob some years back? "

We are a homophobic and hypocritical society. Hence proved.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

A bit of me on the stage, and a bit of you.

How does one feel when a part of your body stands in front of you live and alive  in flesh and blood?

Martin's play - the tricky part, trickles down your spine leaving chill and thrill down your spine at the same time. It is a play that has four characters on stage - a stool, a book, a photograph and Martin.

So human his play is that you dissolve in it completely.

While Martin inspires the world and people call it 'courage' , to me it is his way of therapy and finding himself by connecting the dots of the past and the present is what is most inspiring.

Post the play, martin and I took questions from the audience. Modesty has never been my nature, so while you make your judgments allow me my moments of pride.  It was happy to note from the counsellors present in the audience,  that some survivors read my posts and look up to me. While I scare some people by holding a mirror to their past that they would rather not address, I also am seen as the level , the benchmark of where people  want to reach in dealing with their abuse. I can tell you guys and girls and trans persons that we all set our own benchmarks. There are levels that you may reach that I aspire to be. Every case of abuse and every method of dealing with it is as diverse as chalk and cheese though it looks very similar in some angles. Martin's life or mine is a story, just a story that resonates with your life. Parts of it is true to yours, but a part of it is also unique. The paths you discover to deal with it, and rise from it will also be unique and independent to your life. Be the god of your story. Write your own happy sad story with a happiness in continuum.

I have been planning something with a friend I am very fond of-  Sapna Moti Bhavnani since quite sometime now. Rather to put it correctly we have been planning something together. But I should confess, i haven't found the courage to write down my piece completely. There are phases when I lose my train of thought.  Now I will. Martin inspires me to connect the dots of my past and present.

Do yourself a favor - watch The Tricky Part. It is empowering, but more importantly, its theapeautic.

Forced to lure - a case study

"I know what has happened. I know what you have done. I know you repent. I want you to know, no matter what has happened, whatever you have done or not done - I will not judge you. I will stand by you through this. I will love you. I dont want you to believe in me. I want you to believe in yourself. I want you to see yourself from my eyes, for you will see then that you are without sin"


Context : as a young girl she was forced to lure boys and girls her age then and get them to "play"with her abuser. It has taken her 8 years of talking-it-out to stop feeling guilty. In her late 30s now, she has put her past in her past. She is writing her memoir about her interactions with me. Which she intends to publish someday when she decides to go completely public about her life. :)

Happy I be.

*some primary identifiers have been changed to protect the identity of the survivor*

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Not the Tiger's fault

If a human lands in a tiger enclosure and becomes a meal, it is not the mistake of the tiger. It's his natural prey.

Condolences to the family of the deceased, but it is not the animals fault.

I want an india sans Zoos and circuses. At least, in India we dont deserve zoos.  If you want to look at animals go into the wild. Every school should get in touch with environmentalists for nature trails where they could meet animals at their home and also get educated about wild animals and plants. What does one gain by watching animals  in an ill kept badly managed filthy environment which is way far from being a simulator of nature's wilderness

Also, we make no effort in educating our kids against hooting and pelting stones on poor helpless animals imprisoned by human(un)kind for no fault of theirs. I call for a boycott of zoos. If we want to learn about animals, travel to their homes.... And more importantly, be a guest at their home, not a pest.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sushant's effeminacy upsets you?

Well, it is pretty petty of people in the LGBT community to pull down Sushant because he is effeminate. In your definition, He may be campy, over the top, drama queen... But he is himself. It takes immense amount of courage to be yourself in a world that wants you to be a clone of what they deem fit is 'agreeable' or 'representative' of their thought.  Sushant Divgikar is a real diva, and he is only competing with himself every time he goes on stage, every time winning over his own performance, exceeding his benchmarks of excellence every single time. Not surprising that it seems to have irked many insane minds whose business is to only poke fun or pass judgments. It is sad though that these livid tongues dont ever come on the stage and represent what they deem fit. They hide behind  silhoutes and tinted glasses holding a concave mirror to society, in which they hate to see themselves. I pity such naysayers, I really pity them because their shortsightedness and discriminatory attitude of putting down a gay man as feminine is in a way a  bad reflection of their own misogynistic mindset that thinks its okay to be gay as long as you are a man-gay. I pity them because they fail to understand that the gay world is as diverse as characters in sholay, each distinct, none totally representative of reality. I pity them because they could only see sushant's twisted arm, his lady gagaish dress, his queeny shorts... But they didn't see his talent they didn't see the strength and energy he brought to the screen. I really wish to see them grow, some meat between their ears, as much of it, is just between their legs.

And to end, I'd like to tell the whole damn world - there is no one representative of the gay community. Not me, not Ashok,  Not pallav, and not Ricky martin, Elton john or even Ellen de generes. We all are different as chalk and cheese.

I have always heard this phrase 'dont act gay, act normal'. What is normal? Aren't we defining a new stereotype called 'normal'.

- Normal is the biggest stereotype.

Sushant refuses to be that stereotype. Deal with it.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

#RakshaBandhan against Patriachy

Today many sisters will tie a designer thread on their brother's wrists. It is called Rakhsha bandhan. The girls will urge their brothers to protect them. The brothers will feel happy that they can control their sisters with the intention of protecting them.  Women have to be protected.

The He can't be weak, he has the responsibility of  protecting the She. The She can't be strong, but even if she is, this festival asserts the right of the He to protect the She. The brother will have to give gifts to the sister, and the sister will have to accept them, even if she is stronger than him and healthier in wealth.  Women have to be protected.
I am not only talking from the women's point of view. The HE in this country is expected to be strong, to be richer and to not go weak at any circumstance. The He is made to feel ashamed every time he cries or shies, for thatis the domain of the She. He is the macho being and is expected to be like that all his life, whether just out of cradle or closer to the tomb, immaterial . He is pressurized all his life to be strong. For women have to be protected.

So, it is not surprising that to assert his strength,  he chooses violence in place of benevolence.  He restricts and constricts the She to assert his right to protect. This  is re-affirmed with traditions and customs.  Yes, women have to be protected.

The pressure is so much on him that it goes beyond the confines of the home to women outside. He looks at himself and realizes that the thing that is different between He  and She is that he has the organ that can be inserted inside her.  He unknowingly starts worshiping the organ. Like in tradition, in sex, he is the giver, she is the accepter. So he chooses to thrust his manhood on anyone and anything that it would enter. He thrusts it on women, but also on any orifice in the body of transpersons, homosexual men, or even weaker men who in his opinion are woman-like. All because, women, need  to be protected.

It is a beautiful festival. But let this be against misogyny. I would appreciate if all genders tie rakhi to  each other.  Or better still, tie rakhi to the one who will protect you. Men, women, transperson – immaterial.  If protection is the essence of the festival, let's make it real. Protect the ones who need protection, but more importantly, empower them so that they don't need to tie you a rakhi tomorrow.

You know what I mean?
watch these lovely illustrations  from

Please show them your love - follow them. 

Friday, August 08, 2014

Set the bird free!

Hey did you want to tell me that you were raped?
That you would have died and had a narrow escape?
That you are angry and hate yourself?
That you have not felt happy feeling yourself?

You dont want to listen to advice, I won't give you,
I will not champion your bravery for that is not true,
I will leave you alone, and watch you cry,
I will not hold you close till your tears run dry.

Then I will put you on my chest and tell you nothing my friend,
I will not belittle your pain with words that can't comfort what you underwent.
I will be like a stone, and give you my ear,
I want you to know that I may be far, yet I am near.

I know you are scared, that you will be not believed, that your life will be called a pretense,
That you will be called a story,  that no one will believe your utterance.

I understand your unsaid, and all that you want to say,
I see the unseen in big wild bombay,
I understand you are outraged,
The emotions you have caged,
Even if it was not to open it to me,
It is time to uncage, set the bird free.
Set the bird free!!!

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Someone Spat On My Face #Homophobia

Fucking Asshole!

Am at the station platform  an asshole just screamed  GUD from a train that passed by and SPAT on me from the running train.  It missed my face by a few inches. Heading home to wash myself and change the shirt.

I would have roasted his balls and humiliated him like no ones business if was on ground. 

If this can happen to me, so can it with anybody. But it is not the time to hide. It is  time to stand up the fight.

It also gave me an understanding today about the mawallis screaming AYE ITEM to girls at the platform.

Bullying  is on a rise.
Thank you India. Thank you so fucking much. 

You have to pay heavily for facilitating  the loss of dignity of a gazillion LGBTIQ people in india.

There is absolutely #NoGoingBack now. Spit on me you fucking moron. Spit one as I am right here going to light fire up your ass. Fucking asshole.

You think I will be ashamed, you thonk I will cow down and hide. I will get up you asshole. I will get up and wear my fucking sexuality on my sleeve now. You fucking deal with it.

I will wait for you to attack me again. And then I will get you screwed by the same public in the train.

Think I was taking my freedom too easy and was being too cozy and being complacent. In fact, I was just telling a friend that we should be doing something compelling and provocative with hard truths to get people to sign the petition and this spit happened. It was almost like being given a reason enough to share.

I am sharing not to scare you. Yes it is a difficult time. But women go through harrassment this every fucking day. I can hide my sexuality, can she hide her gender?

It is why all movements need to step up together. And stand up equally and unequivocally for the tenets of human rights. It is not gay rights anymore. It all stems out of the same mindset to impose the thought of the majority on the minority.

P.S. I am least apologetic for the language. I needed to vent. And I feel violated.
I drafted this post almost an hour ago but wondered if I should post it considering that I am known, would this spread panic. But  then I thought I need to post for my own selfish reasons. I wish to scream shout and vent it fucking out. That's my way of coping with anger and stress. You have a problem - go fuck yourself.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Humshakal : Rights of Admission Reserved

Yesterday, we had 4 hours to kill between the massive plantation drive at Maharashtra Nature Park that we were organizing. We didn't know what to do to in the interim. We came up with the brilliant idea of watching a film in the theater close by. We didn't want a heavy dose film rather we wanted a stupid silly film to watch and laugh our way back to our plants.  The result – we bought tickets for Humshakal.

We reached the theater almost half an hour after the show and left in less than 45 minutes, but we were really not feeling bad. The AC was good and cozy. We took a small nap, while occasionally wink-opening our eyes to catch this classic.  We all expected a silly film. A real silly film. This film is different, you need to qualify to watch it.  Here is the  qualifying criteria :  

  • ·         You are not offended by silly jokes.
  • ·         Reality makes no sense to you.
  • ·         You don't care if a mentally challenged are teased or the film propagates stupid myths in the name of humour
  • ·         you don't get into your activistic mode on seeing people given shock treatment because they are "PAGAL" -  just for fun.
  • ·         You are not a real cinema lover.
  • ·         You want to make out with your partner and you don't have PLACE.
  • ·         You are overtly empathetic and flaunt your superb sense of humour,  so you will excuse the director  for the stupidity because you notice that he jokes about his own film (himmatwala)
  • ·         Your idea of good lyrics is "Tere iraade hain bade hi shaitani,  Not available hai meri ye jawaani"
  • ·         You want to support Bipasha Basu and Saif Ali Khan's sinking careers and this film is your charity to them.
And if the reasons above are not listed above, you have no right to watch this film.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

This Is How We Treat Survivors Of Sexual Assaults

In India we respect the victim of sexual assault only if she is dead. (well in some cases not even after death) If she is living, we rape her/him/hir again verbally. We ask "Look at the CCTV cameras does she look assaulted?" "O! That Bitch, she wants compensation" "huh! She was possibly drunk or drugged" "doesnt she kiss people and sleep with them otherwise... Randi saali". The victim has to prove that they are one. Like when they are getting molested, assaulted, raped ... they are supposed to think "evidence" "evidence"... "let me collate evidence". 

Like, when you have someone feel up your groin, fingering your vagina, pressing your nipples, pushing his penis on your rectum, you need to be thinking –"I should collect EVIDENCE" 

You are supposed to not waste time and run to the police. Even if you are bleeding and scarred for life and know that there would be the whole world turning its eye on you.. You have no right to wait till you attain a calm composure. Even if you are dying in pain, physical or emotional- you need to report. For you will be asked " why were you quiet for so many days, bitch, were you plotting".

If you seek help from someone you know could. And if the cheif minister has issues with that person... The victim will be called the enemy of the state. If she happens to be a "not looking" raped, not having swollen eyes and is seen in a party after the time of rape she is called a liar. She needs to look raped. If she is a film star and high profile, one thinks that she probably knows to fib and spin a yarn, like she does in front of the camera she does here.

Some of the others will be kind. They will call the raped one courageous. Send the person mails championing her move. Put the raped one on a pedestal. Make the raped one a wall flower - a piece of art for all kind souls to flaunt and fart. 

May be, the one distressed don't need all of these. May be they just need some space, some light of their own sun, sometime minus judgments, some time to regain strength. Is that too much to ask for?