The guide.

“The Guide” is a story of survival. It describes a scene in which a specialised search dog, trained to sniff out ammunitions and explosives, guides a patrol of soldiers through an infested area, to safety.

http://www.sparkthemagazine.com/?p=10114

Thank you to the team of Spark Magazine for publishing my story.

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A new beginning…

wedding

The nuptial night.

The erring rains.

His broken ankles made it a slow journey. Body cramps and abdominal pain made it lethargic for him to walk the two kilometres he initially traversed with his tractor. The scorching heat made the sweat ooze out of his frail body frame. He tried to soothe his parched throat by reaching out his tongue to the sweat that streamed through small trajectories on his wrinkled face.

The scavengers flew over his head, squawked and feasted on the carcases of his buffaloes. The smell of dead meat and old cow dung reflected in the air by the sun rays. What appeared to be his flourishing field was now a dead and barren desolated area. He had nurtured the piece of land that he had inherited as ancestral property as his child. He had seen it like his child growing from an infant to a toddler to an adolescent to a young man to an old swag.

Until four years ago, the rains sung melodies in his village. The showers bestowed prosperity on his fields and household. The showers sounded like the clinking of bangles and clanking of anklets making his and other children dance in the muddy puddles. He thought he had the riches for his generations. He flamboyantly celebrated festivals in the village. Every day was Baisakhi and every night was Diwali. His harvest of crops resembled an ever-blooming garden.

However, the happy days were short-lived. Last few years, the rains had been erratic. The rainwater harvesting project was yet to receive funding approvals. Until that time, his field was at the mercy of the rain gods.  He wished he could recite raag malhaar  like Tansen to ring in in the rains at his command. The village was scorched. His crops only needed a minuscule of rain for him and his family to survive and manage his loan repayments. Alas, for the second consecutive year, the rains played a truant.

Three years ago, unseasonal rain and hailstorm caused a significant loss of harvest.  The rain swamped away everyone’s home to make it’s own. The rain sang melancholy and screamed as it outflowed gulping down the villages in its path. His savings dwindled, and debts were ever increasing. Even the money spent on Godmen to bring in rains turned to be a vain attempt.

Only if the rains were seasonal and regular.

Global warming, increasing summer heat dried up the dams. Coupled with drought, his farm was converted into a worthless wasteland. The banks refused to give further loans. Cunning bank officers asked the Panchayat  (aka village council) to intervene. The head of the Panchayat colluded with the banks to ensure that bribes were paid to get loans, sometimes the bank officers asked for bribes on their own.Moneylenders charged extremely high rates of interest. Moreover, the conditionalities attached to loans were such that it proved impossible to avail loans once repayments on the previous loan defaulted.

He was blinded by the devilish force of prosperity and wealth so much that he never planned for any such adversities. Like an invisible dragon with dreaded teeth of terror and poison of hate, the rain had started to engulf him and his family.

Only if the rains were seasonal and regular.

Bottles of pesticide were beginning to gather mould. What was their use when there were no crops to protect? That morning, he shared a bottle with his family and chose to walk to his field. He couldn’t see his wife and kids suffer.

The thoughts of happy days reverberated in his mind as he reached his field, which now resembled a graveyard. He slumped to the ground. His brittle knees couldn’t bear his weight anymore. He landed on the field with the support of one hand. His palm scratched against the rocks to peel off his white kurta and brown skin.

The pain in his abdomen grew stronger and vacillated in his body. The blood that he vomited mixed with the dust. Finally, convulsions took over, and he transformed into the next feast for the vultures. Meanwhile, the anticoagulants had made his wife and kids lay in his home asphyxiated with a mouthful of froth.

Hopefully, the compensation guaranteed on his death will pay off the loans to banks and money lenders.

Only if the rains were seasonal and regular.

The Anti-Saviour.

It was awkward to work in a place where all you could see was people screaming and dying. One such person I was confronted with was Anita, a teenager, who suffered third-degree burns. The left side of her neck, face and hair were burnt to the bones. A spurned lover splashed a glass full of concentrated sulphuric acid on her. What remained was dripping flesh and charred bones. A beautiful girl, who was crowned Miss Photogenic in her college was permanently disfigured. She had become half blind, her hearing was impaired, throat toasted, and tongue burnt. Her soundless cries vented out as tears. A month and seventeen surgeries later, her senses didn’t improve. The pain was still a conscious throb. She could communicate only by writing. That’s how she gave all her statements to the law. Her family started living in penury. More surgeries were required. Her continuing misery and two-face visage made me thank God for the life he gave me. Her struggle was getting tougher. She was a courageous fighter, but she couldn’t let her family die with her.

During my routine visit one night, she gestured to communicate. I held a notepad as she wrote in broken letters ‘e u t h a n a s i a’. The ground shook below my feet. My hands trembled as I tore and trashed the paper.

“There is nothing I can do, Anita. The law doesn’t allow. They want you to live.”, I said with a thick throat holding her hand and slowly stroking it.  Her quiet cries filled the long silence that ensued.

Anita’s hollow eyes posed the same question every night. I knew how her intense pain crippled her bit by bit and I couldn’t see her suffer. One night, a sudden rush of emotions overpowered me. Fear and disgust tripped. Kindness and pity arrived. I injected a 10 ml air bubble into her drip and left.  Her perpetrator gave her a life sentence. I just ended it.

Since then, my conscience worked overtime giving me sleepless nights. Pangs of guilt left me cold making it difficult to move on.  One night at the hospital, I wrote my confession in an email to the Dean. Before I could click ‘Send’, I was startled by cries of Sonia. Her diagnosis reported cancerous growth of cells on the surface of her cervix. The tumour had grown, she bled abnormally and her pelvis throttled with pain. The virus caused heavy vaginal discharge, urinating issues, bowel problems, and a swollen left leg.

I took this as an escape route. Maybe Satan wanted me to save Sonia too. All she expected was an intravenous to melt in her blood and end her ordeal in a quick, painless and distinguished fashion. Again the law thought otherwise.  They wanted Sonia to die in agony. Continuous chemotherapy had made her fragile. Like Sophia, her struggle was getting tougher every day, but she wasn’t ready to give up. On one occasion, she finally whispered to me through her oxygen mask. “I don’t want to live.”  A deluge of tears spilled from her beautiful eyes. I knew how much distress she had bore. With weight on my chest and shivering hands, I removed her oxygen mask, sat back for a few minutes, placed it back and left.

By then, I had buried my conscience in its grave and wore a smile to work every day. For years, how many I don’t know, I continued to kill. It was agonising to see a four-year-old girl wailing because her innocence was assaulted, a recently married lady torched with blazes of greed, a would-be mother giving birth to a stillborn baby, and a 7-year-old bravely fighting leukaemia.

People know me as a doctor, a saviour, a guy in white coat, but in reality, I am a cold blooded murderer. Call it luck or the Devil’s favour, the law never got to me. But in my own court of justice, I can never acquit myself. I had a responsibility bestowed upon me, but I used my power against the law to sin instead of save.

We have a moral responsibility of keeping our patients alive as reflected by the Hippocratic or rather a hypocrite-ic oath. Are we supposed to relieve people from pain or let them die in agony? They are ready to see beautiful souls transform into dead bodies, but they are not willing to kill them with mercy. Do the lawmakers know how it feels when sulphuric acid is thrown on their face? What if their mother or daughter had genital warts that stung like thousand bees? Have they seen patients jerking with convulsions of oscillating tingles in their body? Have they seen them waking up at midnight, stuff a pillow inside their mouth to restrain their howls and avoid breaking other’s sleep?

Every night, fangs of agony inject poison of remorse inside me. My dead conscience nurtures nightmares of every killing. My hands shudder as I write this confession. No one, except you the reader, will know my ’sins’.

Okay, so where do I post this? I am here in some anonymous ward. It looks familiar. Seems as if I have been here for weeks or months. The door’s locked from outside. Why am I dressed in white pyjamas? Where is my coat?. My mind feels frozen. May be I have a condition. Oh, my eyes hurt. Maybe I haven’t been sleeping. There appears to be freedom outside this window. One big leap and I will join all those whom I killed and ask – Are you feeling any better? 

Homequake.

‘Homequake’ is to home as an earthquake is to earth. ‘Homequake’ is a story of two individuals, who try to make a home out of an apartment. However, life has some shocks and some surprises in store for them.

 


 

 Today.

Neil’s head was reeling from a tiring work day. His hands ached and legs cramped from the long drive, amplifying the stress. The fragrance of lavender filled his senses as soon as he opened the door.  That was the one of her remembrances that somehow refused to leave the apartment.  Over the last month or so, he had become workaholic, an attempt to stay away from the recent memories. However hard he tried to forget, incidents of the last few months failed to evacuate his mind. His tears had dried up. Though it never showed on his face, inside him the skies were falling.

“This was once used to be our home”, he thought in distress and slumped on the couch.

Six months ago.

Neil and Sara had atypical arranged Indian wedding and a quick one as well. The families believed that there was no auspicious occasion for the next two years. Neil purchased an expensive city apartment for them to stay. He let go of his choice of a modest suburban apartment when he saw how awed Sara was by the joie de vivre of the city. He put in all his savings and stretched the limits of his home loan. The apartment was closer to Sara’s workplace and where her parents lived. He didn’t care if it took him two hours to drive to work. This little trouble was nothing for him compared to the magnanimity of love that he showered on her.

Together, they custom-made the sophisticated furniture, handpicked the elegant paintings, carefully chose the regal wall paint, selected upholstery that breathed fresh air, and thematically designed each of the three bedrooms to convert the apartment into a perfect love nest. Neil was submissive to every choice Sara made to make her feel contended. He found sublime happiness in giving in to her demands. Each room of their apartment was enveloped with their memories of togetherness. Her shapely figure, his brawn appeal. Her giggles, his smiles. Her coy glances, his flirtatious talks.

Four months ago.

Slowly, they fell into their daily routines. Both resumed their work after the honeymoon. Somewhere amidst the wheel of monotony, her love for him faded away and restrained emotions took its place.

One Sunday, while Sara was sleeping, her phone buzzed and Neil’s eyes latched onto a text message from her friend unknown to him, Riya.

“Are we on for today?”

The language of the message sparked his curiosity and made him unwillingly snoop on her phone. There were many sleazy messages and emails from Riya. Minutes passed by as he gathered his wits. He quickly marked the messages unread and shared Riya’s contact with himself. But Neil couldn’t muster up the courage to confront Sara on this. What if he was mistaken? It was out of his scope to believe that Sara would be bi-curious.

Next day, when he called on Riya’s number, a man answered. The ground beneath him shook. The messages and emails explained how deeply she was in love with another man, cleverly disguised as Riya.

From that day onwards, Neil began to lose trust in Sara. He discerned that they were growing apart in different directions. He used to look into her eyes, she used to look into his and quickly lower her gaze and start fidgeting with her phone. They smiled. They used to talk about the weather, places, people, things, just like strangers would do.  When he tried to come close to her, she either faded into a deep slumber or complained of a headache. He could sense a self-protective wall around her.

Today.

Neil lived a solitary life, for a purpose, unknown to him. He followed a routine like a robot. Wake up, go to work, return from work, eat dinner, drink, sleep. Their love nest had become a desolated apartment.

Another lonely night awaited him.  When he closed his eyes, he could still feel her lips on his. Then, the picture of her in their bed, with a stranger. Then, she laying dead in the same bed.

Two months ago.

Neil had come home to grab his id card he had forgotten to take to work, but what saw was his worst nightmare. His wife was with another man, under the sheets, in their bed, naked. He wanted to scream and shriek, but his voice was buried under his shattered heart.

‘How could things turn so drastically worse? Did she never love me? Was she two-timing me all the time? Was he same guy disguised as Riya on her phone?’, he wondered in broken thoughts.

As Neil introspected more, he was able to join the dots. Sara took advantage of his simplicity, honesty, unconditional love and belief. Perhaps she knew this man before their marriage and her parents never approved of him. There used to be occasions, before their wedding, where Sara wouldn’t answer Neil’s calls or suddenly cancel their dates. Many times, Sara’s phone would be busy, but Neil never questioned. His love was blind.

Neil was possessive about Sara. He never imagined her to be someone else’s. After that fateful day, Neil maintained the distance and never spoke a word to Sara. His wounds ran deep.

Sara asked for a divorce, in remorse, as if she knew somewhere in her heart that she cheated him. Their love nest had fallen.

One month ago.

Neil informed Sara via a post-it note that he will be away on a business trip for a two days. When he returned, he saw her dead, asphyxiated. The apartment had been ransacked. The cash and jewellery were missing. Neighbours and relatives were shocked to see such an end to what they thought was a fairy tale marriage.

Forensics were not surprised to find Neil’s hair in her nails and Sara’s bites on his hand. They just dismissed it for the quirkiness of a newly wed couple. Neighbours also gave an impression that all was well between the two.

The police ruled robbery as the motive and carried out investigations but came out, clueless about the thief and killer. Neil was stoic through all the inquiries and didn’t mention anything about Riya. He didn’t want to tarnish Sara’s image even in her death.

The love nest was irreparably crushed. What remained was a miserable apartment. The sophisticated furniture rotted, the handpicked elegant paintings were stained with cobwebs, the regal wall paint withered and upholstery gathered mould.

Today.

Another sleepless night tortured by her thoughts awaited him. His memories of the day when he last saw her flashed before him. He started the car and pretended to drive towards the railway station. Longing lust, lasting hate and persisted anger weaved a sinister plot in his mind. He parked the car at some distance. Leaving his mobile phone in the car, he walked back towards home. He knew the CCTV was under repair. He used his keys to enter. He made love to her one last time and strangulated her with her scarf. He rummaged the apartment and took the cash and jewellery, walked back to his car, drove back to the train station, and boarded his train. He disposed of the scarf somewhere along the journey. When he returned two days later, he raised an alarm.

Every day, the agony and guilt made him feel like a thousand snakes biting from within. That night he relieved himself of the despair with an overdose of sleeping medication. At least his soul could now wander peacefully.

Could the wounds have healed? Would anger have ceased to exist? Could the hearts be repaired?

The apartment was never destined to become a home. Instead, it shook and trembled under a quake of betrayal, deceit, and wrath, to finally become a grave.


Write Tonight.

The warmth in the lounge normalised my bones stiffened from the sudden chill outside. The event space in the hotel was populated with accomplished and budding writers, publishers, editors, script writers, and historians. The ambience of the literature festival, aroma of various cuisines and the soft music transported me into liberal fantasy. My reincarnated feelings and her curiosity enveloped the atmosphere. I was meeting her after a long time. As we sat together, amber lights shone onto her and reflected far and wide magnifying her presence. She hadn’t changed one bit.

‘You are my first love. The one I ever yearned for desperately, from the bottom of my soul.’ I said to her, regret in my stomach.

‘That’s quite an expression.’, she giggled.

‘This is where we first met. It was my Uni’s art festival. It was love at first sight for me.’

‘Or rather an impulsive consent?’

‘Whatever you may call it. It felt like a thousand lamps lit inside. There was something very intoxicating about you. You possessed me from all directions. It showed in the poetry and essays I wrote for the University magazine. I didn’t care about my grades nor what the world had to say. I dedicated my days and nights to you. I loved every moment I sang and danced with you. Under the tree, near the sea. We weaved magic together.’

‘I too found a home in a corner of your heart. I thought I would stay there forever.’

‘Sigh! Those were memorable days.’

‘Memorable, but momentary.’

 

‘I agree. The adventure called life took over. After my graduation, I was overwhelmed by the paycheck and international placement my first job offered. The peer and family pressure, my selfish need to resurrect my family’s dwindling financial condition made me succumb. My greed didn’t stop there. The rat race made me scramble devilishly for all the worldly possessions, only to realise that I was running alone. I made you leave me.’

‘Could I have done anything to change that perception?’

‘No. It was my mistake. My folly made me believe the ridicules that I couldn’t achieve the same heights of prosperity along with you. I lacked the courage of conviction to rebel against convention.  Every day of these twenty years, I convinced myself that I am on the wrong side of things. Something was always amiss. But I never lost the hope of meeting you once again, being engrossed within you.’

‘So what made you come back?’

‘Money doesn’t attract me anymore. Purpose does. When I am old, lying on a hospital bed, I don’t want to die in remorse.  I pressed for a job transfer back to the city six months ago. Since then, I round the corner of this place every day en route home.’

‘I know that first love sticks till the very end. What took you six months to approach me?’ , she chuckled.

‘I wasn’t confident I could match up myself with the same old me.’

‘You make me feel like your ex. What is different about today?’

‘Well, it’s the literature festival with a difference. They have called upon all lost writers to reignite their passion. This is my chance to blend us both into a dimension called forever.’

‘You have a demanding job and a happy family. Do you really see me in the equation?’

A wave of motivation surged inside me and inspired the birth of gentle emotions. I cradled them to form words and they reverberated through my veins. I raised the lid of my laptop, logged in and began typing:

‘True love is uninhibited. Let us make this newfound union a memorable one.’

The words transformed into pearls knotted beautifully to form a garland around her imaginary self.

 

“Don’t give up your writing. Ever.”

 

“Thank you! You made me feel so satisfied.”, I smiled.

“It’s all right. After all, I am your writing addiction.”, she smiled, winked and vanished into the literary atmosphere.


The title is a tribute to O.Henry

Portrait Perfect.

Her mystical face embodied joie de vivre.  Her silken hair slumped over the swan-like mane and venus red lips resembled folded rose petals. Draped in white, she was nothing short of a celestial beauty. The jewel-like eyes, megawatt smile and pearly white teeth, this mesmerising beauty made her second to only one – the one whose portrait she was.

Her beauty dazzled as the fading evening rays shone on her.  He bent side ways and looked at portrait at an angle. He picked up his palette and brush to give her a few finishing touches along her light brown hair.

The wind gushed in, blowing the curtains, as if to sing her arrival. The aroma of her scent mixed with the petrichor created by the drizzle.  The fading light was subdued by the brilliance of her presence. Fiction had met reality.

“I knew what to expect when you called me to your studio.”

“Isn’t she better than the ones I have carved out before.” His eyebrows jumped in anticipation.

“Mm..Hmm.”, she frowned to give an incomplete confirmation.

“You know me very well, but you still don’t understand me.”

“Well, you are the first woman I ever knew after my mother.  We’ve been best of buddies through school, college and graduation. We pursued the same hobbies, played the same games, watched the same movies.”

“Yes. We are the best of buddies. So?”, she grinned and gazed inquisitively in his eyes.

“I can capture your spirit on the canvas even in your absence. Howz that for the understanding bit?”

A pause followed. The rain became incessant, splashing in from the windows.

She moved closer to scrutinise the portrait. The depiction so perfect, it had mirror-like precision.

“The hair are a bit too long. eyes too brown. The skin tone is a bit lighter.”, she smiled. Her comment echoed a critical judge in a reality show, who couldn’t find another reason to evict a contestant.

He turned the canvas, took a few steps back,  allowing the raindrops to dash on the portrait and dissolve the masterpiece into mush.

A long silence ensued.

He began thinking pensively of his next attempt.

“Ouch.”, she thought, “The portrait was perfect, my friend, but I want our relationship to stay in the realm of friendship. I don’t want the complexity of a marriage ruin everything. Things are rosy to start with. Lovers soon become strangers. Pain and agony follows. I would never risk our beautiful relationship to dissolve into nothingness like this portrait has.What if my beauty fades away and you stop loving me? Stay my friend, my friend.”

“Forget about it. We are late for the movie.”, she announced before tears could flow and dragged him towards her car.

A fitting finish.

This is a climactic scene continuing from previous posts ‘Under Lock and Key’ and ‘Stalemate

<warning: contains expletives>


 

The decayed wooden furniture, cobweb stained walls, and mould covered curtains gave the head office of WDS Ltd an abandoned look. Akash pushed his elbow to break the glass and open the latch from inside. As he walked past the floor layered with paint flakes, his focus was to wipe the dust from his name.

“Welcome home”, said a husky voice. A tall figure emanated, pulling a gun from this pocket.

“Neil Singh!”, Akash exclaimed in disbelief.

“Yes, In flesh and blood. Hands up, please. You see, It wasn’t difficult to fake my death.”

“But, they recovered your body.”

“I offered a tramp 1000 rupees, dinner and sleepover in the comfort of my house. Then ‘BOOM’”

“But why did you do all this?”

“I fell in the love the first time I saw her with you. When they imprisoned you, I proposed to her, but that bitch Riya couldn’t forget you.”

“You bastard.”, Akash dashed towards Neil, pressed his neck and pinned him against the wall. The gun fell few feet away.

“Did Zoya frame me on your behest?”

“She was my muse and agreed to stage a play for me. That was enough to incarcerate you.”

“Then you killed her?”

“The slimy slut blackmailed me – not for money, but for sex. Her old and cold husband couldn’t keep the nymphomaniac happy. I did away with my turban and hair to avoid detection. You were out on bail; it was easy for the blame to be on you.”

Akash pressed hard. Neil gasped for breath, but he managed to pull out a knife, swing it across to cut through Affy’s stomach. He then rammed a blow in Affy’s torso crashing him down.

“By the way, this is the same knife I used to slit your dad’s throat.” He squatted and stuck the knife point in Affy’s neck.

“You freaking scoundrel. Why?”, he said as pain oscillated in his body.

“The old sack saw me burying Sheila in your backyard. She honey trapped me, taped all our conversations, and blackmailed me. When I killed her, I couldn’t recover the recordings from her mobile phone.”

If ACP Khan found the body in your backyard, you would indeed go to the gallows and Riya would be mine.”

“You are deranged. Better handover yourself and confess.”

Neil grabbed his gun and stuck it in Affy’s mouth “You are the last straw. The world will know that you committed suicide to repent for your sins. It will be quick, I guarantee.”

Affy closed his eyes and tasted iron. “It’s all over now.”, he thought as Riva’s face flashed before him.

A loud shot rang out. Blood splashed over Affy’s face as Neil dropped with a shuddering thud.

Riva’s face was for real. The bullet came from Khan’s Glock-17.

“Riva, I thought you stopped caring for me”, he said with a sore throat.

“Shut up. How do you think you got bail?”, and they hugged each other.

 
Additional Information:
  • Neil Singh is CEO of WDS Ltd. The company was defunct.
  • Jagadish Khattar (JK) is chairman of WDS . Zoya is his wife. She killed her husband for Neil.
  • Akash was in jail for Zoya’s molestation (See Under lock and key)
  • Akash and Riya’s relationship was at a low. (See Stalemate)
  • ACP Khan is the investigating officer. He was suspicious of Neil’s death due to DNA mis-match of the body recovered from his burnt house.
  • Sheila is a journalist friend of Riya. She gives a pen to Riva for safekeeping.
  • Akash receives an anonymous letter (sent by Neil) to come to WDS office for evidence that would vindicate him.
  • Riya realises that the pen has a recorder in it. She listens to the taped conversations between Sheila and Neil and takes it to ACP Khan, who tracks Affy by his cell phone location to WDS head office.

A Story of Survival.

Ravi Jadhav’s directorial debut Natrang takes us into the yesteryear of Marathi cinema in which no superhit movie was complete without a ‘tamasha’ (i.e. folk dance-play) and a ‘laavni’ (sensuous song).

Gunavantrao Kagalkar (aka Guna, played fabulously by Atul Kulkarni) is a labourer with a chiseled physique in a remote village. He has a penchant for a ‘tamasha’ and imagines himself as a king in the ‘tamasha’ whenever he spends half of his income watching and squandering on one. His wife and father are upset over this habit and keep on pestering him to change himself.

With the onslaught of machinery, the villagers are wary of losing their job. In an attempt to survive, Guna floats the idea of starting a tamasha troupe. Touted as immoral by the villagers, the money attracts his team into it. They go to various lengths of stealing to get the equipment for the troupe. Each one finds a unique talent within oneself that would aid in forming the troupe. Pandoba (Kishore Kadam in a shrewd role) and Guna are successful in forming the whole team, and they are ready for their first gig. They also team up with mother-daughter duo of Yamunabai (Priya Berde), Pandoba’s ex-flame and Naina (Sonalee Kulkarni). However, their tamasha is incomplete without a pansy character ‘nachya’. People familiar with the ‘tamasha’ in remote Maharashtrian villages would know the importance of a ‘nachya’ – it is like what water is to a school of fish. Often, the pansy character is misunderstood as a homosexual personality and also subjected to humiliation, insults and abuse.

Here comes the dilemma for Guna at the mid-point of the story. Guna has to choose between his promise and passion of his ‘tamasha’ and the ostracism that he would face by becoming a ‘nachya’. Fully aware of the repercussions, Guna takes the extreme step of filling in for the ‘nachya’. He undergoes training under Naina to gain the mannerisms of a woman. He loses his physique and muscles, loses weight to, applies make-up to embrace Feminism with a capital F.

The plays written by Guna in the tamasha’ strikes the right chord among people, and the troupe becomes famous. They get various contracts, and they go for a village tour of around 3-4 months. Guna faces ridicule from his father and wife for continuing with this kind of work.

Their ‘tamasha’ becomes so famous that even rival political parties want to have them in their territory. During one such incident, Guna weighs promise more than pressure and refuses to bow and even faces molestation. Being away from home also causes one of his colleague to attempt to molest him.

Meanwhile, Guna’s father passes away. Pandoba does not inform Guna of his father’s death as he feels that the ‘tamasha’ would be in trouble.

Guna and Naina fall in love. Naina rejects the marriage proposal as she knows the humiliation carried from Guna being a pansy character would be daunting for their future life.

To resurrect his image and that of a ‘nachya’ in general, Guna tries to write a play that will make people accept him as a character rather than just a pansy character, but he is unsuccessful. People are unable to imagine Guna as a king or any other character for that matter.

The political clashes lead to a revolt and destruction of the troupe. Guna comes back to his village, only to be boycotted by his community and his family.

Unaccepted by society, Guna believes in himself and vows to continue doing what he does best – ‘tamasha.’ He is so deep into the art that he is standing at a point of no return. With Naina by his side, there is only one way for him to survive. They resume from where they left. Guna performs various character roles through out his lifetime to achieve huge success. He is conferred the life time achievement award.

Your heart goes out to Guna. Atul Kulkarni showed the kind of work he is capable of. His hard work is eminent. The rural Marathi accent has been beautifully adapted by all characters. The writing by Abhay Yadav (his novel) and the screenplay by Ravi Jadhav are top-notch. The dialogue, songs, and music are a renaissance of the past. At 127 minutes, the film feels to be a bit short. The transition of Guna from a well-bodied labourer to a pansy character and Guna’s relationship with his wife and son warranted more footage.

All in all, Natrang is a landmark film that was an inflection point for
Marathi cinema. 

The review is also published on IMDb

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1590129/reviews-8

Rating: 8.5/10

Sneak peek:

The Winner’s Edge.

Some people have a strong sense of self-worth and their own set of values, which help them stand out in a crowd. While winds of conflicting ideas blow some people away, tides of various fads wash others away they stand firm leaving behind footprints on the sands of time, and that is a big part of being an ultimate achiever the world would always cherish.

How do these people manage to outclass themselves? There is a thin line between them and the rest of the pack. It is called ‘The Winner’s Edge.’ This edge is not the result of a privileged environment,  a high IQ, a superior education or unusual talent. The key to the ‘Winner’s Edge’ is the attitude, and a burning desire to get your dreams off the launching pad.

The turning point in the lives of those who succeed usually comes at the moment of some crisis, often a heartbreaking struggle. The tragedy of his love life penetrated the depths of his soul and converted Charles Dickens into one of the world’s truly great authors. That tragedy produced ‘David Copperfield’ and a succession of other works that made this a better world for all of us to live in.

Helen Keller became deaf, dumb and blind shortly after her birth. Despite great misfortune, she has written her name indelibly in pages of history. Beethoven became deaf; Milton went blind, but their names will last till time endures. The entire lives of all these people have served as evidence that no one is ever defeated until the defect has been accepted as a reality.

Honesty is an indispensable ingredient in developing a winning attitude. Being true to oneself and assuming the responsibility for your actions will help to find one’s goals. Daring to be different while respecting the rights of others and at the same time harbouring a strong courage of conviction will always endorse a silver lining.

Nothing is permanent but change. Adapting to changing situations brings grist to one’s own mill thus making oneself commendable of encomium. Let the three D’s of Discipline, Determination and Dedication underline the philosophy of your life. Let that be your soliloquy.

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Winners take the talent or potential they were born with and utilize it fully, towards the purpose that makes them feel worthwhile. In short, losers let life happen to them; winners make it happen!