Tiny Tragedy.

He stood motionless. His puffed eyes gazed silently at her lifeless body in his hands. She resembled a wax doll, whose nascent goodness filled the emptiness of the cemetery. Her bare innocence hurled a barrage of allegations at him.

Why didn’t you do something? 

“I couldn’t. It wasn’t in my hands.”, he pleaded.

She didn’t respond.

He imagined her to be a naughty but lovable child who would run all over their house and garden, harassing her cousins and escaping in her mother’s saree.  He wished she would grow up to be a smart and intelligent child. It was all irrelevant now. Their worst fear had come true. It didn’t matter how long they struggled to bring a life into the womb. It didn’t matter that she moved when they saw her on the screen. It didn’t matter that she had a heartbeat. The truth is that they failed, and they will light the candle today and not on her first birthday.

As the crowd chatted in sorrow, he continued to stare at her wrapped up body and held her tight to his chest. He breathed in broken gasps. His vision blurred. His legs shook. He lost balance and slumped. The surface pierced his knees through his white clothes  He touched her soft cold skin and caressed his hand over her tiny head for one last time. A thousand swords pierced his soul as he covered her in the shroud. His shivering arms moved unwillingly as he placed her in her final resting place.

“Sara.”, He choked. That was the name they thought for her.

 

He pushed a handful of mud, and others filled in. Her unspoken allegations were brushed away under the ground. He sat beside her, helpless, as mother earth took her in protection. As a father, he could only provide her a  farewell. But she was worthy of much, much more.

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Imitation

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Catch-22

She was blinded by the glitter of the chandeliers in the aisle.  As she walked along the freshly laid carpet, the scent of perfume from the multi-brand outlets seemed to pep up her mood on an otherwise gloomy day. She became oblivious to the surrounding sounds as she passed alongside the jewellery shop. The diamond solitaire ring on display reminded her the promise her husband made five years ago. He would have bought one for her today, on their tenth anniversary.

She couldn’t help but stand motionless and admire the beauty of the ring. Her eyebrows jumped as she gazed at the price tag through the glass window. Since his death two years ago, she had brushed her wish deep under the carpet.  At this juncture, if she had to, it would take her years to save $5k for that ring. Today, she could barely meet her ends with her income from welfare and part-time job as a librarian.

“Why don’t you come in?” asked the saleswoman. The shop was rather sparsely populated for a Saturday evening, and it seemed like they wanted to generate more footfall.

“Can I try this one please?” she asked in anticipation.

The Saleswoman scanned her from tip to toe. She became conscious of her loosely tied hair, he old spectacles, crow feet around her eyes, wrinkled face sans make-up. The tacky tunic and jeans gave an impression that she was wearing it for the third time in the week.

The saleswoman knew that she would never afford it, but still showed a keen interest in attending to her. It will make her supervisors feel that she is doing her job and not idling away.

“Sure.” Maybe the saleswoman was confident that she would be able to buy it one day. ‘ We make a customer not a sale.’ was their tagline which they proudly displayed outside the store.

The saleswoman herself looked like a model, dressed in a perfect figure-hugging clothes made from luxurious materials. She opened the glass cupboard with her key, and carefully took out the diamond solitaire ring with both hands.

“Here you go.”

The saleswoman went on to attend other prospective customers who looked more like buying their stuff. The shining brilliance of the ring intimidated her.  The grandiose beauty of the ring made her feel like a queen.

 

The ring hypnotised her into liberal fantasy. As she stood alone with the ring, the opulence of the ring overpowered her. Greed filled her heart, and she succumbed to her desires. She pulled and threw away the price tag. She slid the ring into her handbag and began walking away. She had done this before in grocery stores, but never for such an expensive article.

 

“BEEP. BEEP. BEEP.”

The gates outside the store blinked red and sounded off the alarm. The security guard was about to frisk her handbag. Sweat began to show on her forehead. Her legs trembled as she pretended to ignore the alarm.

The saleswoman came running from her position.

“No. Wait. I’ll handle.” The saleswoman grabbed her by her elbow and took her aside.

“Look ma’am. I know you’ve pinched it.” She dug into her handbag, located the ring and clenched it in her fists.

“I can call the police and get you arrested. But I have an offer for you. ”

“Anything to avoid a jail term.” She was the only support for her two school going kids. She was okay for a favour if that gave her money unless it was within legal boundaries.

“What is it?” she asked freeing up her elbow from her and adjusting her jacket.

“I have been married for seven years, without a child. I want you to be a surrogate mother for my kid. Let me know in 2 days. Else, we have your CCTV footage.”

“False alarm.” The saleswoman said to the security guard as she went inside to stealthily replace the diamond ring.

 

Magical and Special.

‘Come…relive your adolescence’ should have been the tagline of the film Time Pass (2014) (aka TP). After Jo Jeeta Wohi Sikandar  (1992) and Jaane Tu Ya Jaane Na (2008), Time Pass makes you relive your magical and special first love and is dedicated to everyone who has fallen in love at least once.

TP is a story of a mischievous poor boy Dagdu (Prathamesh Parab) and a middle-class girl Prajakta Lele (Ketki Mategaonkar). Dagdu is a school dropout, who eventually decides to deliver newspapers. One day he is insulted by one of the residents Madhav Lele (Vaibhav Mangle). Dagdu decides to teach him a lesson. He decides to hit on his daughter Prajakta and woo her with the support of his friends.

Prajakta is the quintessential girl next door, bound by the rules set by her father. Dagdu initially thinks of this as a pastime, but eventually is infatuated to her. Prajakta on the other hand initially ignores Dagdu, but she is attracted to his simple nature. She seeks freedom, a break from her father’s militarised home environment. She is more than happy just to be with Dagdu. His innocence and straightforwardness make her fall for him

Slowly, Dagdu becomes Prajakta’s (or Paraju as he calls her) best friend and soulmate. And he slowly captures her heart and mind. It feels funny when Prajakta confesses her love in the most poetic way and Dagdu is unable to comprehend whether it is acceptance or rejection. It is said that when you fall in love, you begin to mirror each other. This is evident when Prajakta also speaks broken Marathi like Dagdu and shocks her parents.

While still trying to understand whether this is a pastime or love, Dagdu and Prajakta fall head over heels for each other. This is highlighted in a scene in a library, where Dagdu and Prajakta try to convey their feelings silently to each other by picking up the right book titles, thus delivering the best scene in the movie. They try to hide their relationship from her dreaded father, but the cat is eventually out of the bag. They are too young to realise that love is just not enough to live life. A poor class Dagdu can never match to the standards of Prajakta’s family which are rich in culture and has a higher degree of education and sophistication. Spruha, Prajakta’s music teacher, convinces Dagdu that education is the only bridge that will make him traverse that gap. Also, the relationship between Spruha and Vallabh, Prajakta’s elder brother is strained due to their father. And that he would never approve of their love relationship.

Set in Thane, western India in the mid-80’s when cultural and class differences were most prominent, and love relationships were still a taboo, Time Pass is a story that is closer to your heart, especially if you have lived your childhood in Mumbai, Thane and surrounding areas. The film also pays tribute to the yesteryear Hindi cinema when Dagdu and his friends refer to Prajakta’s father as ‘Shakaal’ (of Shaan (1980) fame). Vallabh also passes a comment to Dagdu ‘Since Tarzan (aka Adventures of Tarzan,1985) has released, everybody has started to flock the gym.”

Although Dagdu could have convinced Prajakta to run away with him, the motherless child still has in values in place. This is evident when Dagdu rides a bicycle for three days continuously to save his father’s auto rickshaw, which was their only source of income and pawned to pay for Dagdu’s tuition classes.

The scenes where the parents hit their daughter are a bit confronting (again a glimpse of mid-80s), and could have been avoided. The climax comes at a point, on Prajakta’s birthday, where both families are made aware that their children are dating each other. Prajakta’s family calls Dagdu to rebuke him. He leaves promising that he will get out of Prajakta’s life once and for all. The film ends with Dagdu meeting Prajakta for one last time and promising her that will gain his status through the path of education. This sets the premise for another heart warming roller coaster ride of young and innocent emotions – the part 2!.

Prathamesh and Ketki are the most appropriate for their roles in the film. Vaibhav Mangle as Prajakta’s father is convincing and menacing but lovable. Bhalchandra Kadam as Dagdu’s dad gives a very compelling performance. Music by Chinar-Mahesh is fresh, mushy and soft. You want to hear the songs again and again. Screenplay and direction by Ravi Jadhav are top class. He took the risk of working with less known actors like Prathamesh Parab and Ketki Mategaonkar but gained solid multi-fold returns, which goes to show again that content it always king and why you should believe in fresh blood.

Based on Shaiju Mathew’s coming-of-age novel Knocked Up, Time Pass breaks away from the convention of a happy ending – the reason it is now a candidate for remakes. It is optioned to for remake in Telugu.

Many Marathi movies have been remakes of Hindi films. It is now time for Hindi film industry to pick up these gems.

Rating 9/10.

This review is also published on IMDb.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3446426/reviews-6

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Write it Right.

Here is a checklist to write compelling, heart-wrenching fiction or non-fiction.

write

Then, the very obvious – Start Writing!

Build or Break.

Morning

“That’s 50 lakh rupees in our joint account.”, he finished liquidating the fixed deposits.

“Great. I will take it to the property builder today.”, she confirmed.

“Aren’t you going to the office today?”

“No. I thought of completing all these formalities. Today is the last day of the inaugural offer.”

“Ah. I see. Be careful with the cash sweetheart. Just remember 3 BHK on the seventh floor, facing the swimming pool.”

“Don’t worry. I will take the car. It will be safe that way.”

“You should. I will go the bank to complete the loan formalities, then take a cab to the office. They’ve sanctioned 2.5 crores.”

“Fantastic. It’s a matter of few days. We’ll finally have our dream abode. I am tired of staying in this rented place.”

“Me too. See you in the evening.”

Noon

He received a text alert on his mobile phone. “Your account no xxxx283 is debited of Rs. 50 lakhs. Overall balance is Rs 145.87.”

“That’s all our savings and amount received from sale of our parental lands.”, he reminisced.

Evening

There was no answer to the doorbell. He opened the latch with his keys.

“Honey. I am home.”. There was no response. She was nowhere to be seen.

He tried to call her. Her phone was not reachable.

“She must be on her way or in the lift.”, he thought.

He logged into internet banking. He had never made such a huge payment before.

The screen threw up a message “Invalid password. Try logging in again. Your account will be locked after four more attempts.”

“She’s changed it.”

He tried to call her again. This time, her phone was switched off.

“Where could she be? Is she safe? She was carrying too much cash. Did she reach the property builder’s office?”

The property builder’s mobile phone was not reachable. His office confirmed that he was out sick.

When he searched through the house, he found that her clothes and jewellery were missing.

There was a note in her cupboard that said “Goodbye.”

“Believe in Yourself.”

‘Believe in Yourself’ is a postulate which should dictate the philosophy of one’s life. It means keeping surplus faith in one’s deeds, havings hundred percent mind power and developing a strong courage of conviction. Using this faith and desire as catalysts along with the three D’s – dedication, determination and discipline one can make his or her difficulties pale into insignificance, live in affluence and thus bring grist to one’s own mill.

We don’t need to impress all foreigners. We don’t need to think fair skin is beautiful. We don’t need to think local means cheap.

A long while ago a great warrior faced a situation which made it necessary for him to take a decision which insured his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own. He loaded his soldiers into the boats, sailed into enemy country, unloaded the soldiers and their equipment and gave orders to burn the boats that had carried them. Addressing his men before his first battle, he said –

“You can see the boats going up in smoke, that means we cannot leave the shores alive unless we win!. We have no choice – we win, or we perish” They WON.

The warrior had a desire to win, faith in his soldiers and above all he had that absolute belief, he had that coherent feeling in his mind that they could win.

Every human being who reaches a certain state of understanding sets a goal in his life and wishes for it. Plainly wishing for your goal will not strike gold, one needs to:
  • Desire for it
  • Placate yourself to believe that you can achieve it
  • Plan definite ways and means to acquire it
  • Experiment with them with a positive mental attitude and
  • Back the plans with persistence which does not recognize failure

Fate can be surmounted. Henley, the poet, wrote the prophetic lines -‘ I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul’ and left it to the people to derive their philosophies. Of course, disciples of this maxim can make fate their favourite puppet.

Let’s not be easily contented. Let’s not blame our failures on fate.

Self-belief is an urge one meeds to cultivate. Coaxing somebody to do so would be like riding one’s hobby horse to death. Though it is easier to comment than to implement, it is always beneficial to sport a never-say-die attitude. It encloses a universalizing factor by which one could usher oneself a millennium of peace and happiness.

Let’s believe we could do it. Let’s believe in ourselves.

Fortune Teller.

Monday (Over the phone)

“Hey, Akash! Long time.”, said Nitin.

“Yes. Two years at the front and then the training. It felt like Twenty.”

“Why don’t we meet for lunch on Friday?”

“Sure. Friday it is. A new Chinese restaurant has come up around the corner. You still like Chinese food, don’t you?”

“Yes. See you then.”

Friday. At the restaurant table.

Akash: “So, Dipti tells me that you were of a lot of help while I was away.”

Nitin: “Yes. What are friends for?”

Akash: “They can’t stop talking about you. Especially Sania.”

Nitin: “Yeah, she is a cute kid. Quick learner. Err…Why don’t we order? What will you have?”

Akash: “Oh. I have already ordered for us. It should be on its way. By the way, Sania told me how you helped her study for her exams.”

Nitin: “That’s just sweet of them to praise me like that.”

Akash: “Hmm…Dipti even tells me that you dropped and picked her up from office.”

Nitin: “My office is quite close to hers. You know that.”

Akash: “Yeah. You told me your bank transferred you when I called you a year ago.”

Nitin: “So, tell me something. Are you here for long? Or have to go back?”

Akash: “It’s call of duty. They can summon me anytime. But I don’t need to worry now as you are there to take care of my house.”

Nitin: “Don’t be sarcastic Akash. I asked casually.”

Akash: “I know. It’s just that you have been too kind to even run our daily errands. So, how are things between you and Kriti”

Nitin:”The stalemate continues. She stays with her parents. It’s been four years now.”

Akash pulled up his semi-automatic 9 mm and keeps it on the table.

Akash: “Just getting comfortable. Food should be coming anytime now. So, where did you go every evening after dropping Sania to her music classes?”

“Huh…?!” A disillusioned Nitin looked away and started to fiddle with his phone.

A momentary silence followed.

Waiter: “Here are your fortune cookies sir.”

Akash: “Why don’t you start? The main course should be coming over soon.” He racked his gun and gazed into Nitin’s eyes.

Nitin opened his fortune cookie and read the message in it: “Your life is at risk. You should run away immediately. Do not utter a word to anyone and never return. Repeat: Do not utter a word and never return.”

Happy Holi.

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A Unique Story of Change and Revenge.

Badla’ – the word in the Hindi language has two different meanings – ‘Change’ and ‘Revenge.’ Badlapur is also a town in Thane district of Maharashtra, which forms the fulcrum of conflicts and complications in the unique story – Badlapur (2015).

Varun Dhawan (Raghu), gives his best performance yet. Breaking away from the college boy cliche’, he shows us his true capacity. The story starts with the bank robbery by Laik (Nawazuddin, who plays the cunning antagonist in a stalwart performance) and Harman (Vinay Pathak in a convincing performance) that leads to kidnapping and murder of Raghu’s wife and his only son. Harman flees away with the cash while Laik gets caught by the police. This slingshots the movie into a  revenge saga. Raghu is hellbent on avenging the death of his wife and son.

The film does away from the usual and believes in hurting your opponent where it hurts most. Raghu tortures Laik to reveal his partner’s name by approaching Laik’s muse Jhimli (a sensuous Huma Qureshi), a prostitute and exploiting her.  With Laik sentenced to 20 years and firm on not telling his partner’s name, Raghu moves away from his home to run away from old memories and holes himself to a town called Badlapur.

Time flies. Laik develops stomach cancer while he is still in jail. Shobha, the social activist (played by Divya Dutta) asks Raghu to sign his mercy plea so that Laik can live the rest of his life in peace. Raghu meets Laik and asks him his partner’s name. When Laik doesn’t give in, Raghu does not agree to the mercy plea. In distress, Laik’s mother approaches Raghu in Badlapur to reveal the name of Laik’s partner. As promised, Raghu agrees to commute Laik’s sentence.

The story by Massimo Carlotto is based on an old African proverb as the premise – ‘The axe forgets but the tree remembers’. Even after all these years, Raghu has not forgotten the wound inflicted upon him by Laik and Harman.

Raghu reaches Harman and his wife Koko (played credibly by Radhika Apte), befriends them and then kills them. His methods leading up the revenge and the revenge itself are the signature of director Sriram Raghavan.

‘Badlapur’ is a story that weighs the protagonist and antagonist on an equal scale. Laik reaches Badlapur to meet Raghu and ask him about Harman’s whereabouts and the money. When both of them meet at ‘Badlapur’, the story jolts into towards the climax. Raghu describes to Laik how he has killed Harman and lets go of Laik as he is already dying a slow death. He refuses to give Laik the whereabouts of the loot from the bank.

Meanwhile, the police officer investigating the old bank robbery case is at a closure point. He blackmails Raghu to give him the money to let him off. Raghu disagrees. Laik tells his mother to remember him as a kind man, and he reaches the police station. Laik confesses to Harman’s and Koko’s murder and describes every detail of the killing and where he has buried the corpses.

In the end, the antagonist sacrifices himself and gives a new lease of life to Raghu, the protagonist. Their meeting in Badlapur marks the focal point of the movie where both of them have undergone a change.

‘Badlapur’ marks yet another installment of Sriram Raghavan’s cult movies after ‘Ek Hasina Thi’ and ‘Johnny Gaddar’. The screenwriting is full of punching wisecracks – the best one coming from the call girl, whom Liak visits when he is back from serving 15 years. After a passable ‘Agent Vinod’, Raghavan is back with his ‘Tarantino’ style of movie making filled with intense situations where mostly words are louder than actions.

Rating 8/10

This review is also published on IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3678782/reviews-117

Sneak peek: