Monday, November 16, 2015

Mourning Paris, Prejudice and Intellectual Snobbery

I have been pouring over reactions and news reports in the aftermath of the terror attack in Paris all weekend. Everything about the attack was chillingly similar to the 26/11 attacks in Mumbai. That is why, despite having taken place in an entirely different continent, somehow this attack hit home. I almost felt personally affected by it.

Now, before you dismiss me as yet another bleeding heart fairy or haul me over the coals for my selective mourning and remind me of Beirut and Baghdad, Kabul and Kashmir, Aleppo and Assam…before you label me a pseudo-intellectual, sickular Conghi…take a deep breath. Think before you vociferously accuse me or any of your fellow Indians, coloured residents of the third world, of having dissociated ourselves from our brown cousins to favour the ‘white first world’.

This article was published in TheQuint. To read the entire article CLICK HERE

I am a Feminist. And it is not a bad thing

... Now let’s take a look at Twinkle Khanna’s arguments about female fetuses being stronger than male ones, and therefore likelier to be born alive. Here’s the thing Mrs Funny Bones. While you have your science right, our country still has social evils like female feticide and infanticide. You say women tend to live longer than men. True. But that’s only if they are not burned for dowry or killed in the name of ‘honour’. I understand you are all empowered women, but please recognize the fact that most girls are deprived of education, proper nutrition and equal wages in our country, this despite legal recourse. It isn’t just poor and uneducated women who need feminism. Highly educated women from privileged sections of society also need feminism in India.

This article was published in TheQuint. To read the entire article CLICK HERE

Hillary Rodham Clinton: She Is Not Shouting, She Doesn’t Need to

I love people, powerful people. I’m fascinated by people who are go-getters. Needless to say that I feel increasingly drawn to Hillary Rodham Clinton a.k.a HRC who famously declared, “I’m a progressive who likes to get things done”.

I’m drawn to her because she is not afraid of facing the truth. HRC has been through several trials by fire, the most recent being the Benghazi hearings. I like how she always stays calm and never fails to make a point. She does not pontificate or mouth coma-inducing platitudes. HRC always has real solutions, a solid plan and hard arithmetic backing for everything she says or does, minus drama and melodrama. That inspires confidence.

This article was published in TheQuint. To read the entire article CLICK HERE

Radhe Maa’s Piety and Why We Are Offended By Her

I have always been intrigued and enamoured by powerful yet flawed women. Whether they are tinsel-town goddesses or every day mango-women, I love the magnificent, confident, captivating creatures that they are! As a young boy I gave my heart to Manju from Chaalbaaz, a lovable rogue and a complete badass. I grew up to fall hard for Jab We Met’s Geet who was at once careless, carefree, sensitive and talkative. I’m also madly in love with reality television’s gift to India, the boisterous, bombastic and very real Rakhi Sawant. I refuse to be hypocritical like most people, who probably binge watched Rakhi Ka Swayamwar in private, and then had the gall to call her a drama queen in public!

This article was published in TheQuint. To read the entire article CLICK HERE

It’s Not About What Does or Doesn’t Make Gandhi Great

They say, a herd is only as fast as its slowest member. A predator always attacks the last animal in the herd. This helps improve the health of the herd by weeding out the weakest. Now think of social evils as predators and our society as a herd. Socially and economically disadvantaged people always suffer more than those who are more in control of their lives and finances.

But we are (supposedly) evolved animals. We cannot leave this lot behind, so that they can be weeded out of our lives. We cannot wish poverty and misery away, just because its unsightly existence contaminates the beauty of the landscape we want to paint for ourselves. We have to empower those who are challenged, because we are human. And, Gandhi, both note-wala and Rajkumar Hirani-wala taught us this.

This article was published in TheQuint. To read the entire article CLICK HERE. 

Why the Meat Ban is Misguided and Difficult to Digest

Bans only antagonize people, sometime so much, that they will purposely do the banned stuff anyway just to further antagonize the people who asked for the ban in the first place. They think, “How dare he tell me what to eat? Now I will eat in front of him... Rok sakko toh rok ke dikhao”. It’s a messed up version of the boy eloping with the girl, just after the girl’s father has forbidden them from ever meeting again, in a cheesy Hindi movie from the 80s. Suddenly I have Neelam, Govinda and Amrish Puri on my mind… but I digress.

This article was published in TheQuint. To read the complete article CLICK HERE.  

To the Australian Boy With the Tattoo – I Am Ashamed

Dear Matt,

This evening when I read an article, I couldn’t stop myself from writing to you. And since what happened with you was in full public view, I would not be a coward and write you a mail, that would coyly land in your inbox.

Matt, you must have heard that my country is known for its pluralistic values. You must have read that India is a land of varied cultures, enshrined in the value of unity in diversity. I belong to a country that has always taught me - ‘Athithi Devo Bhava’, which means, ‘Guests should be treated like God’.

This article was published in TheQuint. To read the entire article please CLICK HERE 

Baba Ramdev, Families of Choice and the Middle East

... In fact, I decided to give Patanjali products a shot to see if they could actually help me get rid of my homosexuality. I wondered if Baba’s concoctions could un-gay me. Far from it. Not only did they fail to kill my libido or my interest in men, they made me feel a special kind of spiritual connection with my own sexuality. I was never a Vaasna ka Pujari, but now I’m actively looking for my Mann Mandir Ka Devtato put a Var Mala aound his neck! I want to do ‘Haath Peele’ before I do ‘Mooh Kaala’. Infact Baba Ramdev’s Yoga positions have made me more flexible. I’ll be sure to send him a thankyou note after my Suhag Raat, if my Pati Parmeshwar is pleased with my performance (wink! wink!)

This article was published in TheQuint. To read more CLICK HERE

Love, Sex Ed & Prejudice in the Age of Innocence

“Tch tch… What is this world coming to?” lamented an old man sitting next to me on the train to work. “14-year-old children are… are…”. He couldn’t even bring himself to complete the sentence. He was reacting to a newspaper report on how the average age of first sexual intercourse in India is 14 years.

Love starts brewing at a young age, so does the understanding of sex.
But instead of angrily dismissing it as “14-year-olds have no business having sex”, it is important to educate and disseminate information regarding sex and sexuality to children and young adults. Mainly because it is a wild perverted world out there and one needs to have good control over the mind and body during the growing up years.

This article was published in TheQuint. To read more CLICK HERE

Here’s Why I Am Turning Vegan for a Month

...November is ‘World Vegan Month’ and I am giving it a shot. I’m vegetarian, but have decided to take another step forward to fulfill a promise made to every furry friend I have had. I’m going vegan. To be vegan is to rid one’s diet of not just chicken, meat, sea food or eggs but all animal products including dairy and even honey!

I owe this to Jimmy… to his love and how it has been a blessing to me and my kind for as long as I can remember. Jimmy was my dearest friend and confidante. He was a bow-wow, who helped me deal with my insecurities and fears of a disturbed childhood ridden with several rapes, financial crises and loneliness. All it took for this loving canine to heal me, was listening to me with commitment and compassion as I unloaded some of my heaviest burdens.

Whenever I came back home, Jimmy would greet me with unbridled joy. But when he could sense that something was weighing me down, Jimmy would gently lead me to my room and insist that I shut the door. He would rub his head under my chin and urge me to share my anguish with him....

This article was published in TheQuint. To read more CLICK HERE

Of Devious Devis and Devilish Divas

...Yes, the Sheena story was responsible for Indrani finally losing sheen, but it also highlighted our typical Indian tendency to humiliate women who have had more than one male partner. “She had so many husbands, she was shrewd,” the neighbourhood gossip would wonder aloud as her kitty-party friends nod their heads meaningfully. Indrani has already been pronounced guilty by a section of the news media and society on account of her allegedly colourful personal life even before the actual trial begins. We are judging her on account of her alleged indiscretions! Our collective ‘decency and morality’ demands that all women be (to quote my favourite red-lipped-trident wielding Radhe Maa) “Pure and Pious”. Women are as capable of both good and evil as men or transpersons. Gender or even sexuality does not determine your ability to uphold the law. Why should it be so difficult for us to digest that?

Not so long ago, I read about the case of a boy being sexually abused by his mother. There again, social media was replete with posts asking, “how can a mother do this?” It is almost like saying that fathers as abusers are more palatable!....

This article was published in TheQuint. To read more CLICK HERE

Friday, September 25, 2015

@TimeOutTheFilm : Cinema That Stirs Conversations #MustWatch

Time Out takes the giant leap of faith in Indian cinema. It touches on intricacies of issues that are not discussed in Indian celluloid, and does it beautifully. It is a film that holds the mirror that exposes the biases and contradictions of a supposedly evolved culture of today's times. To be true, this film may not be a classic, but this is a film with a young heart and an open mind.

It touches on the issue of acceptance of people from the point of view of Sexuality, very poignantly. The character, Mihir, essayed by Pranay Pachauriis a breath of fresh air. In this biased, hypocritical Bollywood industry, there are many who would tweet about equal rights, there are often just a handful who would really accept a film where they have to live a gay character.Pranay Pachauri despite this being his first film, had no reservations. I have interacted with this boy one on one, and find him to be truly promising, dedicated and extremely hardworking. There are some scenes where he is upset, and he doesnt have to resort to loud histrionics, he has an expressive face, and says a lot with his subtle facial expressions.

source : Dailymotion

However, Pranay is not the hero of the film. The hero of the film, is the guy who plays his younger brother, Gaurav. Gaurav, played by Chirag, in his role of this singer, guitarist, cool dude brother, excels in every aspect. His smile, his expressions of joy, his red eyes of pain and sorrow, his pissed off "kyaa hain yaaaar" all of it is endearing. He doesnt falter even once. He fits in the role, like hand in glove, like ball in socket. He seems every director's dream - who listens to every little instruction, and puts in his 110%

source: dailymotion

The ensemble cast of the film does a good supporting role cementing and holding all of the film together. The music is good, young, energetic (though I dont understand the meanings of some of the words). From an advocacy point of view, I would say, this is a great film to watch. It takes a leaf out of some of our lives, who battle against all odds to stand up for who they really are. This film focuses on growing up school days, and each of you'll fill relate to these years of thumping hormones and pumping emotions.

This. This is the true power of Cinema. It makes you think. It makes you talk about issues you never.

Kudos to team Time Out​ for standing up for the true meaning of cinema - one that stirs conversations. Conversations are the genesis of change. 

On the flipside, Every film would need a certain setting, this film uses an upmarket, upper-class setting. This will be criticized heavily. I see this as a form of bias against the upper-class. It would be not questioned if they were shown as middle class. Or even if they were shown as in a quintessential hindi film family -a family struggling to meet its ends. This is another form of hypocrisy. The fact remains, that the upper-classness, is only a setting that the film takes, it is not the core of the film. The complexities of characters and the storyline, is true to every class. The film is not 'class'ist, but pseudo intellectuals who make this a debate about class - are truly one. 

net net, please hit the theaters and watch this film - a labour of love by Rikhil Bahadur and Shachi Sharma. You will not regret it. And remember this film for long. 

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

The Great Indian Piss Fantasy

what is India's fascination with the piss. 
Morarji Desai, Ex Prime Minister, drank pee to cure himself of all ailments. LINK 

 Previously, Ajit Pawar, from Nationalist Congress Party, the then irrigation minister, responded to a question with an angry "if the dam doesnt have water, should I pee" LINK

Now Nitin Gadkari, proudly proclaims that the plants in his garden are watered by his pee.

While there is nothing wrong I read with Morarji Desai's pee drinking fetish. There are many in our country who like to be peed on, it is a fetish, and it is called "golden showers", well if it works for the couple, good for them.

There is something deeply antisocial about Ajit Pawar and Nitin Gadkari. I have a problem with their Pee comments. The issue with Ajit Pawar's pee is that the dam he was commenting about, was to help the poor with Irrigation, human consumption.. 

The issue with Nitin Gadkari's Pee advice, in which he proudly proclaims that he Leads By Example is that it is not he who waters the plants. He gets his Gardener to carry his pee to the plants. LINK 

Both belong to different parties, but pee binds them together. both dictate what others should do with their pee, while their business is only to pee and offer free pee advice.

Maybe they would be irate after reading this status update of mine. may be their bhakts will be angry too... 

Well, that's alright... it is always better to be pissed off, than to be pissed on!

Saturday, March 14, 2015

India Killed Suzette

I met Suzette Katrina Jordon around a year back at the Think Conference. (Ironically), in a panel on rape. She was scared and petrified, she had spoken on TV, but had never faced such a large and highprofile audience, she said. I went up to her to comfort her. I instantly told her I am gay so she can hug me. She laughed and said she is scared. I replied "kaiko darti hai baba, tu bhi rape victim main bhi rape victim, audience mein bhi rape victims hai.. " She was shocked and she laughed at my ice-breaker. The very day, Suzette Jordan bonded with my friends Anuja, Ranadeep and Yudhajit. We got along like a house on fire. She and I shared our stories of rape. Pain united us, as we laughed over the abuse in our lives, a cruel black humour, it was, when we were narrating the joke in our country - Rape and Child Sexual Abuse.

But we were not defeated by it, we were united by it. We refused to let our past affect us in any way. We didn't turn anti-men. We went on a hunt. She had the resilience no one could match. Later in the day, we made jokes on all the men at the conference like two gossiping college boys. We ogled, not leched, at them together, and had our bets on who was gay and who was bi and who was worth a try.

After we left the conference, we kept in touch over the phone. When the infamous Tehelka rape case happened. We both reached out to the affected person. Suzette called me and told me "this is what is going to happen next with her", "she is going to be shamed"... She had her horrors of rape visiting her with every story of rape. The nirbhaya rape case got her out of the closet - she famously said "I AM NOT THE PARK STREET RAPE VICTIM. I AM SUZETTE JORDAN". She was reminded again at Tehelka, and followed up with me, asking me to follow up with the ex-tehelka complainant, as she was too overwhelmed with emotions every time when she spoke to her.

Suzette loved her daughters. She wanted to get them introduced to me and have a house on fire. When she was here for shooting for the Satyamev Jayate episode, we had a chance to meet. But we couldn't as she was here for a very short while. Satyamev Jayate is hush-hush in its recordings.But i was pre-informed about her visits, because the world knew that we were like love-birds separated by a few seas. I missed a chance to meet her, and she cursed me for that.
In the meantime, we had more tragedies. While she put up a real brave front, I used to tell her that she could let herself loose and cry. I used to call her and joke and laugh. Laugh until she started crying about her psychological unrest. There were secrets that only I knew. I have no qualms in letting them out now. Suzette was really upset about the fact that she was treated like an accused in the rape case. Mamata Banerjee, called her the enemy of the state. She accused her of lying about her rape to tarnish the image of the Trinamool Congress government. She was called a hooker whose client had harsh sex with her. If all of this was not enough, she was treated with absolute contempt inside the court. She told me that the "FEMALE" judge behaved with her very rudely with absolute lack of empathy. Her court case appearances were unending. She was asked to narrate her incidence again and again as the defense looked for discrepancies in her then and now statements. She was determined to fight it out even if it meant that she would be shot dead or raped again. She was a fighter. But people took her strength for granted. People forgot that she was human and she had the right to cry. She didnt want to be brave all the time. She didnt want to be the inspiration all the time. She was a normal person. She wanted to be seen as a normal average joe though she had the worst humiliations to face. One incident that affected her so badly, was when her undergarments that she was wearing when she was raped were paraded openly. The defense lawyer held it with a stick... and asked her if it was her undergarments .. and was she wearing this on that day when she was "allegedly" raped. She told me that she broke down in court and pleaded to the judge asking her to intervene. The judge, one of her own gender, did not.

This one incident was one of the most devastating ones in Suzette's life. She described it as "I WAS GANG RAPED. AGAIN AND AGAIN AND AGAIN IN COURT". She wanted to hold me and cry. I would coyly get her to laugh at her tragedy everytime we spoke. Once when she was too upset with the defense lawyer, i asked her "Was the Lawyer HOT". And she started giving me horrible hindi abuses in jest. We both addressed each other by the tragedy - "Hello Can I Speak To Rape Victim" is how we would begin our conversations and laugh before we cried.

She was not raped by some gang of perverted men. She was raped by the people of this country. She was raped by the law process of our country. She was raped by each one of you who doubted her story. Some time back, she was denied entry into a restaurant called @Ginger, in KOLKATA because *She was a rape victim*. There was an outrage on twitter and FB when she spoke up. But actually, the restaurant staff was only holding a mirror to the attitude of people in our country. For us rape is a cause, and rape victim is a story. Rape is something that happens to the person on TV, or someone you read on the news, Rape doesn't happen in our homes. We live in a world of denial. Suzette died today at 3 AM. Correction : India murdered Suzette with their mindset and attitude towards women and survivors of rape.

She died of meningitis. We all know that once depression bites you, you become a reservoir of diseases. In the end, she listened to me. I used to tell her "it is okay to go weak sometimes. It is okay to give up fighting and love yourself just as yourself. It is okay to just "Be"". She allowed herself to be. She stopped breathing. Her heart stopped beating. She passed away.

if she was really empowered. If people didnt judge her. If the lawyers didnt ill-treat her in court, if the female judge was sensitive to a person similar to her own anatomy, if the restaurant didnt throw her out, if people didnt judge her. She would have survived. or for that matter, died happily.

India Killed Suzette. You killed her.

Things have to change. I demand judicial reforms. No woman should be humiliated like Suzette was in court. NO ONE.


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