PiKU – motion se hi emotion

I am very picky about what movies to watch in the theatre. Not all of them qualify to be watched in a cinema hall. I think people confer an honour on a movie when they go all the way to a theatre to watch it rather than download it from the internet and watch it on their laptops.

With uplifting music that makes you want to go on a wind-in-my-hair road trip and you throw together some of the best actors of Bollywood –  Irfan Khan, Amitabh Bachchan and Deepika Padukone (her being the newest addition to this elite club), I knew I absolutely had to watch this movie in the theatre.

Who knew that the events of everyday life set against the background of constipation would turn into a giggly-delight rather than disgusting? Every mention of motions and all its forms and appearances in Piku will have you in fits of laughter! Right from the first scene of the movie, you will relate to it because it has the same simple elements as our lives without the glitzy, material and commercial formula of other movies where everything seems surreal. You will also relate to it because Piku is the perfect representation of the saying, “No family is perfect.”

Bhaskor Bannerjee’s (Amitabh Bachchan) obsession with his chronic constipation borders on the hypochondria and is a fresh kind of humour dose. His views on feminism and marriage have an entirely different perspective which makes you stop and think. It is quite surprising for a man who hails from an era where women were subjugated. That is the reason why you will still love this difficult character. The greatest feat of Amitabh in this movie is that you see no trace of Amitabh Bachchan in Bhaskor Bannerjee.

Irfan is an actor par excellence, there are no doubts about that. He has some great lines and his deadpan delivery of them makes them all the more funny. His character gels with Bhaskor and Piku extremely well.

Deepika has been on a roll since Cocktail and she has made yet another excellent pick by playing Piku. Piku is the frustrated daughter who tolerates her father’s selfishness and whose life revolves around his constipation, which inevitably comes in the way of her having any sort of a love life. She is a smart professional and a control-freak. Most of all, she is a liberated woman, courtesy of her liberal father’s upbringing, and she is unabashed about her sex life existing purely on a need-basis. This is yet another bold theme in this movie. Deepika makes you proud yet again with her excellent portrayal of Piku and continues to hone her skills.

Notable in the movie is Maushumi Chatterjee’s performance as the typical maasi in every family. Her presence in the movie keeps the funny bone tickled. She is the only one who parrys with Bhaskor’s snide remarks successfully.

I rate this movie 4.5 out of 5 for it’s progressive thought, intuitive writing and authentic depiction of a typical Indian family. All in all, the wholesome feel of this Shoojit Sircar movie will warm the cockles of your heart and you will leave the theatre with a homely-smile on your face.

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Left, right; left, right

I have always loved marching. The rhythmic and organized rise and fall of feet and arms in a hypnotizing pattern has a beautiful sense of steady choreography to it.

This love was instilled in me at the young age of 10. I was studying in a small school that had started with my batch. So, effectively, I was the senior-most student in the school at Class 4.

My school operated from an old, two-storeyed British-era house in Belgaum. We were a small knit family, the strength of my class being all of seven members. But for such a compact number of students, we had excellent teachers. They wouldn’t teach us just our subjects. No. Several other important things were incorporated in our curriculum; like dance, arts and crafts, Sanskrit, music, an hour set aside only for story-telling, and ample amount of time to play outside in the backyard of our school/house.

Our school was ambitious, yes sir. The fact that all the students were aged 10 and less did not stop us from hitting all the competitions organized around the town. That was how we gained exposure. Among those contests, there was a local marching competition and all the big and old schools from our town participated in it. Not deterred by the fact that we would be facing full-blown “grown-up” students from class 7 to class 10, our school had also entered itself to compete for the marching trophy.

We had a PT teacher, and like all PT teachers, he had a mean look about his face (mostly because of his substantial mustache) and we were terrified of him. His mustache and those angry eyes scared us to no end! He began training us for our first marching competition. He started by dividing us into groups of five people and asking us to march to his count of “Left, right, left, right…”

When it was my turn, I couldn’t get my arms and feet coordinated. I just couldn’t. While my left foot was going up, so was my left hand, the opposite of what I was supposed to do. My PT teacher was yelling himself hoarse at me. His anger was making it that much harder for me to grasp everything and I was going from bad to worse. His frustration at me peaked and slap, slap, slap! Three smacks right across my face.

I was stunned! Hurt and humiliated, I burst into tears, lost it and ran away into the building. One of my teachers, Mrs. Kamat, was watching the practice. She was a kind old woman who grew strawberries and bananas in her garden and distributed them among students at the school. She had a face that reminded me of my grandmother. She used to wear her saree like my grandmother too. I had always felt warm and safe around her; she was the one who told the stories in the story-telling period.

As I rushed into the inner courtyard, wiping my copious tears, I bumped into her. She clasped my arm and without a word steered me into an empty classroom. I realized it was our story-telling room. There were no desks there; you were required to sit on the floor while listening to a story.

She sat on the chair reserved for teachers and held me at an arm’s distance and peered into my face. She asked me why I was crying. Between ragged sobs, I told her I was a complete failure at marching and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t do something that all my classmates could.

She wiped my tears and in her presence I calmed down. She said she would teach me; marching was really easy to learn. She asked me to walk the length of the room, up and down. Puzzled, I did as she told me. I walked. She asked me to walk again and I did. And again. But this time, she asked me to notice how my arms worked while I walked. I observed that while I was walking naturally, my right arm swung up while my left foot was forward and vice-versa.

It was then that she explained that marching was the same, only it was more rigid and in coordination to the others beside me and to the music. She made me walk a little stiffer and eventually to the chant of “Left, right, left, right.” And what do you think, reader? Lo and behold, I was marching!

She took my hand and led me back to my PT teacher. Shyly, I demonstrated my marching to him. He bestowed a twitch of his mustache upon me, which I took for a smile and his satisfaction that I could march now.

After practicing for a few weeks, we marched in the big competition, where we were admired by many who called us ‘Tiny-tots’. They marveled at the ‘Tiny-tots’ marching excellently, with their little faces scrunched up to look military-haughty. Our team entered many marching competitions later and we made ourselves proud.

Years later in another school, I was to be made the captain of my school house in my class 12. That year, in our yearly marching competition between all the school houses on Sport’s Day, I was the only girl leading a house team, shouting the marching commands and holding my house’s flag straight and high. I hope I have done Mrs. Kamat proud, the lady who taught me how to march.

My two cents for my earth.

So Earth Day came and went and we didn’t celebrate it. I think it is good we didn’t really celebrate it, because, as our usual celebrations go, the waste from them would have gone against the very cause of the celebrations. But since it is an official “Day”, it has to be commemorated somehow, right? How would I do that?

Since I have been an advocate of doing our own bit to save our environment and to spread the awareness that climate change is real, I wondered –  am I doing enough? Immediately came the snide reply from the back of my head, “Of course not!” So, simply put, I am drawing up a list of the easy practices I could do, along with the ones I already follow, to go green in my daily life. Perhaps you could make your own list and by incorporating such small changes in our lives, we can actively take care of our environment.

1) I will plant a tree on my birthday. It is so simple and I love this idea. To picture the years of my happy life in the growing of a tree gives me a sense of calm happiness. I am also going to gift potted plants to those friends who I trust will be able to take care of them.

2) I will use old newspapers to wrap my gifts rather than store-bought gift-wrapping paper. Although I am guilty of loving the happy colours of wrapping papers, I can make do with newspapers. In the end, it is going to be torn and thrown unceremoniously anyway.

3) I will switch to castile soap. Castile soap is a magic cleanser which is made purely from vegetable oils, so it degrades like any natural substance without affecting the environment. And the crazy part is, it can be used to wash everything from your body, clothes and dishes to your pets! Why aren’t all of us using it already??! So yeah, I am going to buy it in bulk and start using it, pronto.

4) I will always carry a cloth bag with me. I say no to plastic bags anyhow but sometimes, when I need to pop into the supermarket on the way back home from work, to buy stuff I need urgently, I am stuck with no bags to carry it. So then I am forced to buy a plastic bag. It guilts me every time. So it is better to have a reusable cloth bag folded up in all my handbags.

5) Store-bought facial scrubs have plastic microbeads that escape the capture by sewage treatment plants and end up in our lakes and oceans, polluting them horribly. Instead, I am switching to using coarse gram flour, mixed with milk and turmeric, as a scrub, which had been an age-old practice among my ancestors and parents, until the new-fangled detergent soaps came along.

So folks, I am not going to holler myself hoarse lecturing you with tips on how you can go green everyday. Change begins at home and I am going to change first. Let us all make our own lists and do as many things as we can and make every day Earth day.

Do you have more ideas which I can follow everyday to reduce, reuse and recycle? Please share with me!

Margarita, with a straw

Margarita, with a straw takes the brazen road to the hitherto unexplored area in Bollywood about the way a young, blossoming girl with cerebral palsy discovers her sexuality and the sexual tension in differently-abled people. This unusual idea itself prodded me to watch the movie.

The actress with gumption, Kalki Koechlin, plays Laila, a 19 year old Delhi University student who is afflicted with cerebral palsy and also an uncanny ability to always have a contagious smile. Kalki’s simple beauty is pretty as a sunflower in a meadow and her smile is like sunshine.

When spurned by a boy on whom she has a crush, she seizes the opportunity to study in New York University. The amazing part here is to watch her mother (Revathy) enthusiastically encouraging her to go to New York and her solid confidence that her daughter will be fine there.

Always audacious and out-spoken while seeking new adventures, Laila meets Khanum (Sayani Gupta), a girl from Pakistan-Bangladesh heritage who delicately helps Laila discover that she is bisexual and eventually becomes her lover. The roles are played beautifully and sensitively by both the charismatic actresses. What is touching is to see that their lesbian relationship isn’t depicted as just a fling and is not to be treated in any way differently than a heterosexual relationship.

Revathy’s portrayal of Laila’s mother will remind everyone of their own mother. The way she has acted will, incredibly, make you superimpose your mother’s image on her and you will want to call your mom immediately after the movie.

All through this, we see the sexual curiosity of any teenager in the world and how Laila struggles to understand her own self and in the end accepts herself and loves herself for who she is.

One of the facets of the movie that deserves a big applaud is the portrayal of real strong, ballsy female characters like Laila herself, her astonishingly strong mother and Laila’s girlfriend, the feisty Khanum. The movie also should be saluted for tastefully showing the female desire, when the society is generally fearful of female sexuality.

Margarita, with a straw is a movie that comes at a perfect cusp that is today’s time when the Indian Society is on a brink of changing its attitude towards sexuality, in that it is broadening its mind towards it. The youth of India is taking a proud path towards realizing that homosexuality is natural and that discussing sex and understanding it is quite all right. In recent years, the attitude towards homosexuality has also changed in many of our elders and this can only be proof that our society is advancing.

The other side of being a Chatterbox.

Far too many times and from far too many people, I have heard this local phrase directed at me: “If you had a wooden mouth, it would have broken a long time ago”. Yes, I am that chatty sometimes. Well all right, most of the times.

I am one of those people who doesn’t let uncomfortable silences exist near them because of the cheery (sometimes, deep and philosophical) talks I fill them with. My ability to incessantly talk about a myriad of topics is congenital; I inherit this seemingly useful skill from my mother, who, believe it or not, talks more than I do. Now, my mother found a very understanding life partner who puts up with her constant jabber. At the same time, he cherishes the fact that age-related hearing loss is hereditary in his family. Hmm… Lucky their marriage is such a win-win for them. I can only cross my fingers and hope I am half as lucky! But I digress.

I have faced many reprimands for my infinite babbling capabilities. That is my one character trait even my distant acquaintances recognise me by. This struck me when I was on a flight to India and a guy from London was my co-passenger sitting beside me. I was travelling alone. So naturally, I struck up a conversation with him. Halfway through the flight though, he was telling me how he always had difficulty in making friends. I said I never seemed to face such a hurdle ever and his response was, “Yeah, you are quite chatty.”

Quite chatty? We were only an hour into the flight and he already deduced that I am quite chatty?! I sank into retrospection then, thinking back on how much I had actually spoken on the flight. By god, it was far less than how much I talk around people I know! And I had already come across as quite chatty to the London School of Economics snob sitting beside me.

I never resolved to change that about me, though. I never do the inane jabber thing; I try not to talk about meaningless topics. It is just that we read and see so many interesting things, it is very satisfactory to share them with someone.

Believe me when I say, this little quirk about me has brought me a long way in life. I have been able to get by quite a few things and then some, because of this ability of mine. Needless to say, it has also been very instrumental in getting me out of sticky situations as well. I have also been able to persuade the occasional shy speaker out of their cocoon and get them to open up. I have my mother to thank for giving me what I consider is a very powerful gift.

There are times, though, when I am quieter than usual. The moment some of my friends discover a marked drop in the number of words I use per minute, they spring on me, saying, “What’s wrong? Is everything all right? Why are you so quiet?” That, with a tone reserved for speaking to someone on their deathbed. My riding buddy to and from my office gets alarmed every time I fall silent while sitting pillion behind him. It is an occupational hazard of talking all the time that people expect you to do exactly that – talk all the time! Well, it is not possible, is it?

I like companionable silence sometimes and hardly anyone gets that. As much as I enjoy having great conversations, I also like sitting or walking with someone without having the urgent need to have words spoken. When I am tuned into some thoughts or tired with the day’s work and not want to talk for some time, I am damned well allowed that!

I do come around after a while though. Quite like how the Dursleys failed to quash the magic out of Harry, nothing can repress the sprightly and chatty side of me. I will always remain sunnyside up and would love to exchange stories. Would like to tell me one of your’s?

The earth says hello!

A shy hello to everyone. I am finally writing a blog that is long overdue. When I first signed up to start my blog, WordPress recommended that I should tell you why I am starting this blog. Well, I am taking the advice.

I am writing this article, my first ever blog, to overcome a fear; an explicable fear I have had all this time about writing blogs. I have been writing since I was fourteen. Yet I could never pluck up the courage to start a blog. I cannot even put my finger on exactly why I have always feared writing a blog. I think the best explanation I have is that I feared a rejection; a rejection from my readers. I feared I would let my readers down by not writing well, but mostly I feared I would let myself down. What if I was a failure at this? What if my articles did not really click with my readers? What would I do if I came face to face with the fact that I cannot really write well at all, the one thing I think I am good at?

Then I realized I was being silly. Of course I should write! Because this is what I love! Words are what I am about! I realized that it is okay to fail at something, but I have to give it a try.

So here I am, with all the moxie I have, writing a confession to you and writing a blog.

As my blog name suggests, I shall be bantering and rambling about a lot of different things. I have not really decided on a specific subject theme for my following articles, but that’s all right. I do not want to be tied down with one genre when there are a myriad things to talk about, wouldn’t you say?

I hope you have enjoyed this little article I have put together. Please feel free to leave your comments because I am new to this. Your opinions would really help.

Until my next banter then, folks!