102 Not Out: Movie review

Cast: Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor, Jimit Trivedi

Direction: Umesh Shukla

Rating: 3.5/5

Ever thought about how far ahead you can go in life if you just let go of some attachments? Umesh Shukla’s latest venture, “102 Not Out” gives you a taste of exactly that.

With two oldies living in the bustling city of Mumbai, one of them would remind you of the cranky and grumpy grandpas you see on your way to the park, who appear to detest everything the youth do. The other however, is a talkative and full-of-life grandpa who is ready to take all challenges thrown at him by life happily. While the former is a 75-year-old retired Mathamatics teacher, the latter is his 102-year-old father, who is mentally aged 26.

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The story starts off with Dattatraya Vakharia (Amitabh Bachchan) trying to send his son Babulaal Dattatraya Vakharia (Rishi Kapoor) to an old age home. Why you ask? Well, because the jolly Dattatraya is determined to break the record of the oldest man on earth who has lived for 118 years. “Only 16 years to go. Yo!” says Dattatraya. And to live for another 16 years, as per his research, he needs to be away from negative and boring people, ie his son! According to Dattatrerya, Babulaal is afraid of both living and dying, so he attempts to teach his son how to enjoy life.

While Babulaal has accepted his age, his father hasn’t, which eventually leads to daily tiffs between the father-son duo. When Babulaal does not want to leave home for an old age shelter, his father gives him a condition: he has to fulfill all the dares that will be given to him in the course of six months. And thus begins a sweet journey of the two.

Rishi Kapoor’s smooth performance might remind you of the character Ove from Friedrick Backman’s “A Man Called Ove”, the ever annoyed old man who just wasnts to be left alone. Jimit Trivedi’s portrayal of Dheeru a simple Gujarati errand boy is like the sidekick to Bachchan’s Dattatraya, but he shines on his own mettle against the veteran actors. Big B is the soul of the film, with the ever smilling white bearded face, and gummy teeth calling out “Eh Baabu” and often finishing his sentences with “Yo!” he will instantly bring a smile on your face.

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The chemistry among the three characters in the film is well woven, and might as well get your eyes welled up at some moments. The special bond of human relationships, the closeness or the distance between a son and his father is what holds ground here with some very powerfull dialogues.

Aulad nalayak ho to usse bhul jana chahiye. Sirf uska bachpan yaad rakhna chahiye.” (A worthless son should be forgotten, only their childhood should be etched in the memory)

On the contrary, Dattatraya’s witty take on the concept of death, “Main to marne k sakht khilaaf hu. Main ek bar bhi mara nei. Jab tak zinda hai marna nei,” (I am strictly against dying. I have never died even once. One should never die while they are living) as an advice to his son will melt your heart.

Umesh Shukla’s direction seems to lose control over the entirity of the film, as it is certain sequences which seem to be well directed and thought out. But on the whole, the director’s job isn’t very appealing, if compared to his 2012 hit film Oh My God! 

102 Not Out could have been a slice of life film, but it’s stuck at being sweet and mushy.

The music and songs fit in well with the story, and Mumbai comes to life in a different way – not as the city witnessing a party animal’s night life, but as a city that witnesses lovable bonds closer to the heart. The use of minimal animation is put to good use by editor Bodhaditya Banerjee during change of sequence. Production designer Mansi Dhruv should also be lauded for making the set feel like a Gujarati home.

There are moments of fun, laughter, sorrow, and tension, all packed justly to create a feel-good family drama you can watch with your family, parents, friends or kids. Even though there are some layers of monotone in between, and a tinge of predictability, the overall presentation is fresh and lovable. The film is a tribute to all the ‘zinda dils’ (lively souls) out there.

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When I said cut, Bachchan saab was still sleeping: Umesh Shukla

Filmmaker Umesh Shukla, who is ready with his film “102 Not Out” shares his story of casting Amitabh Bachchan and Rishi Kapoor for the lead roles, and how the song ‘Badumbaa’ came to be, in an exclusive interview with me.

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“I was producing the Gujarati play ‘102 Not Out’ written and directed by Saumya Joshi, and during the rehearsal I figured out that this is a universal subject just like it was in case of ‘Oh My God!’ where God, the central character is present everywhere in everybody’s home. Similarly, I assumed the story of this father-son duo will appeal to a universal audience. The subject is very funny and entertaining, and comes with a feel good factor. That’s when I decided that this is the kind of film I should make,” said the director talking about how the idea of making ‘102 Not Out’ came to him.

When asked how the thought of casting Big B and Rishi Kapoor come to mind, he said, “I wanted Bachchan sir for the role. I thought of him as the only actor who could do justice to this character of a 102-year-old lively and active man. When I narrated the story to him, he agreed to do the film immediately. The idea of a father trying to send his son to an old age home itself got him interested, and he said, ‘I don’t want to listen to the entire narration, I’m doing it.’ When I suggested him that I would cast Chintu ji (Rishi Kapoor) as the son, he was thrilled. Since they had worked together in the past, he loved the idea, and gave me a go-ahead. Chintuji also agreed immediately, even though he will be performing a very different kind of character, and both were onboard.”

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Many might wonder, having co-written the script for ‘Oh My God!’ why was Umesh Shukla not a part of the scripting process of ‘102 Not Out’? He says, “It’s not that I never suggested the idea… but the play was so brilliantly written, I was sure that Saumya will deliver the script perfectly for the film.

“He took almost a year to develop the script, because it takes quite some time to develop a scrip for a film. In a play you have to finish it within 7-8 scenes, but a film requires a lot of details,” added the director who helmed the critically and commercially acclaimed film ‘Oh My God!’ in 2012.

When asked how much time they took to shoot the film, Shukla’s promptly reply was, “We shot the entire film in 42 days. But before that we had workshops and we and invested a lot of time in detailing. This is the first time the two leads are playing Gujarati characters, so we focused on the costumes, the way Gujaratis wear shirts and t-shirts over pyjamas… Since I’m a Gujarati I know that they don’t wear chappals in the house… Everything was so detailed from the beginning that we managed to finish the shoot in 42 days.”

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A still from the promotional song ‘Badumbaa’

What’s the story behind ‘Badumbaa’? “Once when we were shooting on the terrace, and when it started raining we all rushed into a shade waiting for the rain to subside. That’s when Bachchan saab came up with the idea and mentioned how Chintuji and he had always had songs in their films like ‘Lambuji lambuji’ from ‘Coolie’, and ‘Chal mere bhai’ from ‘Naseeb’. So why not in this film? He questioned, but I said that there is no requirement of it in the movie. But then he said, ‘let me compose it.’ I got thrilled and I said ‘sure why not?’ Once we listened to the song everyone started dancing to the tune.

“He (Big B) is very passionate about music, and he suggested Rishi Kapoor to sing the song as well. Chintuji didn’t agree initially, but one day during our rehearsal he realised that he could sing! And that’s how ‘Badumbaa’ happened.”

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Umesh Shukla also shared an interesting behind-the-scene moment, “We were shooting a scene where Bachchan saab was sleeping on the bed and Chintuji walks into the room and then leaves. When I said cut, Bachchan saab was still sleeping,” laughed the director. “Nobody else had the courage to wake him up, so I went towards him and said, ‘Sir the shot is over’ but he was still not moving! I repeated again a little loudly, and then got up said something very beautiful, ‘After a long time I actually fell asleep, the set of the house made me feel at home.’ It was only our 20th or 22nd day of shoot, and this moment made me very happy. Mansi Dhruv was the art director for the sets,” he added.

The story of ‘102 Not Out’ is about a very elderly man who aims to break the record for the oldest man on earth. The film starring Amitabh Bachchan, Rishi Kapoor and Jimit Trivedi is set to release worldwide on May 4.

Audience is like children, should be given right education: Majid Majidi

Acclaimed Iranian filmmaker Majid Majidi’s Hindi debut ‘Beyond the Clouds’ is about to hit the theatres today. During a press meet in the national capital, the director and lead actor Ishaan Khatter, shared their individual experiences of shooting the film.

Talking about his experience shooting in India, Majidi said, “All of my films are shot in rare locations that has been really a challenge here. I always take stories from people’s lives, the same happened here. I have travelled in India for a long time. Specifically for this film I researched in Mumbai for three months seeing every location in the city.”

“The biggest challenges were the locations, because we shot 80% of the film outdoors, on real locations. It was difficult to take the camera in those crowded places and to be able to capture the proper emotions. One of my locations was Dhobi Ghat, and we needed a lot of local people to be in the shots. Controlling and organising such a huge crowd, making sure that they are not looking at the camera was challenging,” confirmed Majidi.

The director also urged the common public in India, other than critics and film enthusiasts to watch ‘Beyond the Clouds’ in order to outgrow the standard formula of Bollywood films.

 

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Majid Majidi

In a powerful message to the people through the media, he said, “Audience is like children, and they should be given the right education. If you feed a child a particular type of food, he/she will not be ready to try anything else, similarly if the audience is used to a certain kind of cinema they will initially not be open to receiving a different form.

“Having spoken to some of the high profile Bollywood directors I got to know that they are themselves not very happy with the kind of films they are making, but since they know that the audience is used a certain kind of film, they don’t break away from the usual format due to the fear of failure,” said Majidi, discussing the lack of more quality films in Bollywood.

He also shared an anecdote about how some of his friends suggested him a different ending of the film to fit the Indian audience’s taste.

Majidi also pointed out that very few Indian films make it to the international film fests because they have dissociated from their traditional values. “Even the contemporary Indian dance and music in the films are westernised and are much different from the local culture. If the local culture can be projected in the films, can be viewed by the entire world, only then can Indian cinema reach out to everyone,” said the director.

Majidi Talking about his upcoming films, said that if everything goes well then his next film will be in Bengali.

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Ishaan Khatter in a scene from the film

Newbie Ishaan Khatter, portraying the lead character Aamir in the film, talked about his research for the character, “I spent a lot of time in Dharavi, roaming around, exploring the place, talking to the locals. I was fortunate to have some cast members, playing my friends in the film, who were born and brought up in Dharavi. We became good pals. Getting to know about their ways of life and experiences there helped me in understanding my character better.”

‘Beyond the Clouds’ is an extended story of Majidi’s Iranian film ‘Children of Heaven’ (1997). The story set in Mumbai is about a pair of siblings, and celebrates love and family.

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3 important reasons to wear a pollution mask

Has it ever occurred to you how fortunate you might be wearing a mask in public? I’m not talking about the metaphorical mask we all wear daily to hide our actual selves, but rather the pollution mask selling like hot cakes in the market. Yes, those white, black and multicoloured masks which enable you to go unnoticed by your friend even when you are standing right in front of their nose!

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As Delhi is suffering from the inevitably sickening air quality laden with thick smog, Delhiites have been left with no choice but to comply with the norms of society — trying on a mask and carry on surviving. Coming back to the fun of carrying around the masked look, I’d love to share 3 important reasons for you to put on a pollution mask every time you step out.

  1. Well, of course, it protects your lungs from harmful pollutants and the extremely minute 2.5PM
  2. We often engage in conversation with people on the go, and it’s not always a very pleasant experience to listen to their yap-yap, which inadvertently may produce a couple of yawns, but if you do yawn you’d be labelled rude, and if you don’t yawn right on the face of your communicator, you’d struggle to cover up with awkward hand gestures, and flare your nostrils to breath in as much oxygen your lungs require to bear with the boring content. When wearing a mask which takes care of filtering the polluted air and allowing you to breathe freely and without scary thoughts of choking to death, it also helps you in concealing a big yawn!
  3. I have always had a habit of breaking into smiles and little laughs, for no reason at all, and undoubtedly onlookers may consider me crazy. But believe it or not, the pollution mask which covers almost 75% of your face would bury most of your facial expressions including the sudden and uncontrollable laughs in weird situations, saving you from all the awkward looks.

Even though your lip-colour might get smudged when you laugh or yawn like a hippopotamus, remember how friendly it is otherwise to cover up your expressions.

In honour of the torchbearers (Happy Teachers Day!)

‘Your aim in life’ – had been a common topic for essays during school, and how crazy and ambitious our dreams were! With the guidance of our teachers we’d scribble on about how we wanted to be astronauts, scientists, film-stars, engineers, doctors, lawyers… but how many of us did ever want to be a teacher and pass on the bright torch of knowledge? We are made to dream in a certain way, the way sculpted out by our reputed society, which holds high regards to certain professions while looking down upon others. Ironically, the same is taught by our teachers in most cases unknowingly or unwillingly.

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Have you ever heard a teacher talk about how noble the profession is? But you would definitely hear doctors, engineers, scientists and the like, preach about the importance of their respective jobs. And how did they become what they are; was it just by hard work and determination? The answer is quite well known to us.

Chemistry could have never won my love and dedication unless for Mrs Krishna Chakraborty, who ordered me to go home for breakfast post my two-hour session, and come back after 30 minutes to resume class on a Saturday morning! She made sure I understood the concept of periodic tables that day starting from 7 in the morning, and I did and did not forget till I finished school and several years after.

Great teachers like her go out of their way to ensure that their students have actually learned the lesson. It can be stated undeniably that we’ve all, at least for once in our lives, been blessed with some such wonderful teachers. They are the living embodiment of the phrase friend, philosopher, and guide.

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“I learned that a teacher can be your friend from Mrs Satyaboti Nadkar, my Geography teacher. She was very witty; I used to attend her tuition classes along with an all-girls group, and when some other boys would attend the class and check out the girls, she would set me as an example and tell them to be descent like me!” exclaimed an elated Chandramoy Ghosh, advertising professional.

“Her son was a few years younger than me, but she’d scold us the same way. She was very happy with my results, once they were declared, and so was I when I came to know that she topped the SSC exams and joined a different school as the principal. We are still in touch. She had asked me to introduce my girlfriend to her. I’ll do so, once I have a girlfriend!” added a blushing Chandramoy.

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“Gautam Das, my English teacher, was more like a guardian to me. He helped me get over through the toughest times of my life, especially after my mom’s death. He is smart and caring, although sometimes he was pretty strict at times. He is probably the only teacher who ever slapped me!” reminisces Arpan Paul.

It does not matter what subject they teach, or how old they are, the position of a teacher or a guru, one who imparts knowledge, is above all. Every other profession is like a branch of a strong tree, while teaching is the trunk, the foundation of the entire tree, holding everything in place.

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Upon asking around, people had various reasons to love and respect their favourite teachers. While some admired their teachers, some build such strong relations with them that even decades after school they are still etched in the memory fresh. “My favourite teacher? Srabasti Ghosh, our Business communications professor, helped me overcome my fears of public speaking. Once, during a seminar, when I had to speak in front of a lot of our industry important heads, she knew I was very nervous. So she kept eye contact throughout the time and kept giving me encouraging nods, and after a minute or so I gained some confidence. Finally, our team stood second,” said Sampurna Das, Support Associate at MyTasker.

Anya Gupta, PR professional says,”I find my Economics teacher during high school, Mr Sachin the most adorable because he was the most patient teacher I ever had. Everybody used to attend his class and get good marks. The way he used to communicate was amazing as he never gave punishments yet had a push factor to keep everybody on track.”

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With different methods of teaching, our teachers have over the years created gems in different fields of life. While every day we take the privilege of eating away parts of their lives, today, Dr Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan’s birth anniversary had been assigned for our gurus. Brimming over with pride and joy I wish all the teachers in the world a very happy teacher’s day! If not for them, we would not be who we are now.

 

(Had it not been for my mother, the earliest teacher I was entrusted upon by the almighty; my adorable Krishma ma’am; our beloved Art teacher Amit sir; our strict Mathematics teacher Parvez sir; energetic and spontaneous sports teacher Rocky sir; my favourite English teachers IC sir and Prabha ma’am, the evergreen fun loving Mathematics teacher Amitabh sir, my Karate instructor Shihan Mir, my supportive and brilliant professors: Jhuma ma’am, Manali ma’am, Debanjan Sir, Reshmi ma’am, Rakesh sir, Ali sir, Sourav sir, and all the everyday teachers I have come across in my humble years forward, I would have been nothing close to what I am today. Cheers!)

Sarahah Sarahah!

No, I don’t have a Sarahah account, therefore don’t even bother thinking of what message you might send me.

Remember the trend that started years ago, of creating confession pages of various fraternities? Well, there would be a page titled ‘So and so confessions group’ and you would get added to it or merely like it for the sheer adrenaline rush for online adventure. People would share their confessions with the admin, who then without naming the person would post the message publicly. In most cases those were messages from the not-so-bold persons who unfortunately could not express his/her feelings to their crush!

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A similar apparatus — for the sake of expressing views of introverts, losers, and cowards — has surfaced the internet recently: Sarahah.com. Doesn’t it remind you of the song ‘Sharara sharara, sharara sharara, sharara sharara, main hu ek shararaa…’ — you can’t miss that if you are a 90’s kid.

Even though the app was launched a few months ago, it has gone viral among Indian users in the past few weeks. The app is dedicated to those who cannot vent out their anger on the right person in the right time. Sarahah enables you to create an account and share it with your friends in social networking sights informing them how they can now abuse you under the protection of anonymity! Then, once these users get trolled, insulted or struck by Cupid’s arrow there, they share those messages asking about the sender. Isn’t it obvious, that if someone had to say things to you in person they would have done that already? It must also be pointed out, that people are not simply using the platform to vent out rage, but also express love. Potential love stories might blossom through it, since many have confessed to loving and missing the user secretly (sounds so 20th century!).

The idea of anonymity hit the road with initial social networking sites where people used weird and funny names to address themselves (I did that as well in Orkut!). It is believed that anonymity enables one to act and behave in an offensive way without caring for consequences. If you have followed the kind of messages people have been receiving you can very well make out that this app is not for the weak hearted. Witnessing the ‘bold’ and ‘just-following-the-trend’ Sarahah users, I have come to the conclusion that losers are having a gala time here, saying all the things they couldn’t have said to the person on the face. And when the ‘bold’ ones receive hateful messages they just go mad coming up with ‘haters gonna hate’ tags! Why did you create the account in the first place then?? Just to see how many likes you get on Facebook? Or, whether you fall under the ‘cool’ category? Probably yes, therefore stop whining if someone hates you, or is inviting you in bed.

Is it a possible avenue for bullying? I believe a major portion of a pie chart would agree to that. Only time would answer that. Recently Indians experienced what kind of danger a mere app can impose on the youth, thanks to the Blue Whale challenge, with over hundred people losing their lives to a strangely created game. And to think games were for fun!

Were the irrelevant and haunting ‘fransip’ messages in Facebook and Instagram not enough to irritate you that you decided to open doors to more cyber stalkers? When people around the world is having a hard time coping up with depression and anxiety, here is an app provoking one’s issues. Only time will bare evidence, if the app is just another passing fad or something that impacts one intensely.

‘lehra ke balkha ke, balkha ke lehra ke

Aag laga ke, dilon ko jala ke, karoon main ishara

Sharara sharara….’

It’s impossible to stop thinking about the song! Share your views about this trend and enlighten me please.

 

Infant evolution

There was a time when kids were so naive that you could make them believe in almost anything you said – like my cousin (as a toddler) demanded to know why she wasn’t invited to her parents’ marriage, on watching their marriage video and witnessing a little me running about. It struck her, that if I was there during the marriage why wasn’t she? My uncle’s story seemed very convincing to her – ‘you were so little that I had you in my pocket… Or else it would have been difficult to look for you in the crowd’. Nobody was surprised that she bought it back then.

Innocence and the wide-eyed attention to everything were synonymous to children till some years ago. Now, it’s about competition and recognition from the very early years of life.
We as kids would actually think that the government was a person, maybe the prime minister was nicknamed the government, for the way people used to talk about him/it. ‘The government is not doing this or that’, ‘the government has done this’, ‘the government has taken a bold step’ .. etc. Some even used a distorted nickname – gorment – and they still do. Upon somewhat comprehending the relevance of government, I did try for years to correct people’s diction, but they are just too stubborn to learn something new. Furthermore, the moment some of the uber enthusiastic, and pseudo-intellectual beings mispronounce my name, I lose patience and start to imagine great doom coming their way.

Mom had once been to this theatrical show, where a couple of characters representing the underprivileged of our society had a hearty exchange about gorment!
‘Tumi gorment a dekhiso?’ (Have you seen government?)
‘Ha dekhisi! Mota-shota, shosma pora, kalo gaari kori hoosh kori soli gelo.’ (Oh Yes, I have. He’s a fat spectacled man who swooshed by in a black car)
In contrast to the aforementioned details of naiveness and innocence, now we get to see kids talking about politics (something I’m yet to grasp and argue about in my twenties!). And the baby starts walking just minutes after birth in Brazil! It might not be a very distant future that all babies start walking the way the Brazilian did and went viral on the Internet – a celeb is born(literally). But, according to the University of Rochester Medical Center, babies sometimes take steps when they are upright with their feet on a solid surface, and the reflexive urge to do this generally lasts for about the first two months of their lives. (https://www.romper.com/p/baby-appears-to-walk-after-birth-but-theres-a-medical-explanation-for-it-60933)

The transformation isn’t just happening psychologically but physically as well. It doesn’t seem to be far for us to reach the preconceived evolutionary level that the MTS ad had shown a couple of years ago.

Just the other day, at a cafe I noticed a super-excited selfie freak mom trying to make her baby pose for a selfie with her. The child was just too occupied in looking elsewhere admiring some silly majestic looking ice coffee on the opposite table. When the dad comes, he tries to take a pic of the mom and the baby… Now suddenly the baby decides to bite his mom on the chin, interesting pose, huh!? Upon a brief explanation through sign language and eye gesture, the child looks towards the camera, tilting its head and waits for a second. As soon as he assumes the click of the shutter, he starts to nibble on his mom’s chin again! Such smart babies. They know when to pose, how to invent new angles and set a selfie trend!

This takes me back to our childhood when we looked so lost staring at the camera, we did not know what was happening till we were three or four. And now, the strike of fast-paced evolution gives babies as young as a few months the ability to pose for photoshoots! Not only do they come ingrained with the knowledge of selfies and other important things, but also they get to play with these multi-keyed gadgets – a luxury we were not entitled to! I’m a little jealous.

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The key to the heart is through the …?

Being a human with a bird’s appetite, it is quite a tough job to eat everything good and then write about their tastes to make others drool. Not that I have any major objection, but a little cloud of fear hovers over my head when I think back about the delicious items I had consumed which might contribute to a towering development in my body – a potbelly!

But really, it is not so much of a worry as compared to the growing confusion about myself! Just when I thought that I was clear about my choices and self-desires, the skies decided to drop a bomb of confusion and cloud my judgement. Since then, I have decided to not judge or decide anything about life and give in to ever-flowing time.

I grew up with a passion for writing, a curious eye for photography and an eager ear for music. But not until my teens did I venture into adventurous cooking, in fact, the adventures started once I took charge of the house commanding mom not to step into the kitchen while I’m at work. And so it continued gradually, from hot beverages, little unhealthy snacks, to Mughlai or Mexican lunch and Chinese or Italian dinner – I developed a very loving soft corner for cooking.

Chivalry took over when I moved out of home and set up a nest in the Capital. Experiments followed, with thankfully very few disasters (My banana pancakes were yuk! Never tried that again), and I made an eternal friendship with corn. Not only did I invent some new corn dishes, I also taught my mom one of them and guess what – she loved it! Plus it’s healthy. That’s what everyone thinks of now if your food is not healthy nobody would bother sparing a mere look.

In the past few days, I scraped out time from my don’t-know-how-the-day-comes-to-an-end schedule to prepare some ‘delicacies’! With that word in mind, how can one not picture spaghetti with red sauce? Yes, I made spaghetti – loaded with vegetables, and then an experimental broth which turned out to be a good supper-material, I’d like to call it ‘Sweet n sour corn broth.’
I might not honour myself with the title of a foodie, but making new things out of sheer pleasure of creation is definitely my cup of tea. Here are a couple of images of my humble attempts:

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IMG_20170503_221735A recipe for beginners:
The corn broth is very simple. It contains boiled sweet corn, chopped onion, green chillies and tomatoes grinded together. Add salt, sugar and black-pepper according to taste into a boiling mixture of the paste. I have NOT used oil at all. (You might choose to opt for either pepper or chillies, I added both since I like it hot!). Turn off the heat once you get a desired thickness of the broth. It is filling, healthy and tasty.

Apart from boasting about my culinary skills, it is important to give a vote of thanks to the worthy teachers – mother, grandmother, roadside dhaba cooks, luxury hotel culinary sessions, food reviews, and a major contributor – the Internet (All the mouth-watering videos… What would we do without you!?). People who appreciate taste, go ahead and create some, add some spice to the lives around you.

A suggestion for those who are trying to maintain a diet by starving or torturing themselves by not eating what their tummies are craving for… “Seize the moment, Remember all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart” – Erma Bombeck. After all, a happy stomach is a step ahead to achieving eternal peace!

From ‘damsels in distress’ to action divas

“Bachaaaooo; Help; Mujhe chhor do!!!” and such similar helpless screams of the Bollywood heroines have now changed to curses like “Jhand fakir suar ki aulaad mar ja saale kamine, thank you.” From “Ek chutki sindoor ki kimat tum kya jano Ramesh babu” to “Ek ulte haath ki padegi na to tere plastic sergeon ko bhi surgery ki zaroorat padegi” – the Bollywood heroines have evolved to much bolder beings. And that is not just in terms of dialogues, but in action and appearance equally.


Even two decades ago, there were only a handful of female protagonists in Bollywood, but in the last 10 years, the frequency of women-centric films have increased giving humanity a hope of progress. Some of the mention worthy films would be The Hate Story series, Samay, No One Killed Jessica, Gulab gang, Queen, Mardani, Akira, English Vinglish, NH10, Pink, Mary Kom, Parched, Angry Indian Goddesses, Dangal to the very recent Naam Shabana. And they have also been some of the most impactful films over the box office. Even though there have quality films like Mother India (1957), Mirch Masala (1987), Arth (1982), Lajja(2001), Aandhi (1975) and Bandit Queen(1994) but the frequency of such superior matter has been very less as compared to the recent decade.
It’s time that girls start having some fun without men saving them from circumstances. Filmmakers are pushing the limits of the definition of a ‘bhartiya nari’ with her ‘komal surili awaz’ to being an ideal wife. Life is not about being and living as someone’s wife, it’s about creating one’s own identity. Bold women were portrayed differently earlier through characters which were mentally tough. Mental strength and perseverance is not a sole weapon to tackle the cruel world out there, that is where action steps in. Like all emotions, an existence of fear is necessary not just in the minds of women but also in their male counterparts.
Hollywood and the Chinese film industry can be considered inspirational in terms of introducing female actors in action with some outstanding hits like Kill Bill volume I and II, Charlie’s Angels, The girl with The Dragon tattoo, Salt, Lucy, Kick-Ass etc and several Chinese hits like Kung fu Hustle, Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon (internationally co-produced), Chocolate among others. The internet as well has been a major contribution in this progress. Quick and worldwide access to information helped people in gaining inspiration from happenings around the globe.
Film viewing audience in India has a fair access to watching Hollywood and Chinese films other than Bollywood and Regional Cinema in the country. Chinese action heroines like Michelle Yeoh, Yuen Qiu, Connie Chan, Zhang Ziyi, JeeJa Yanin have done awesomely great in their films setting a good example for Southeast Asian countries, which are ‘considered to be’ not-so-favourable for women, where they are submissive, and do not have much participation in decision-making processes, as opposed to the West. Action heroines from Hollywood like Scarlett Johansson, Angelina Jolie, Kate Beckinsale, Uma Thurman, Carrie –Anne Moss, Rooney Mara, Cloe grace Moretz are widely known to us but how many actions heroines do we have in our film industry? Bollywood has released very few female action films and out of the numerous potentials only Tapsee Pannu, Sonakshi Sinha, Rani Mukherjee, and Priyanka Chopra have had opportunities to demonstrate hands-on action on screen.
Thankfully, some storytellers are taking up the responsibility to educate the mass about how a woman can remain a woman by not following the age-old mantras of remaining quiet and enduring violence through the big screens. Being bold is not just kicking asses and punching noses, (that’s a little part of it!) but also about knowing when to step up and say ‘NO’. Let’s hope that similar action films influence women in the country to take up martial arts and send a tough message across to bullies and potential molesters.
Tapsee Pannu’s performance in Baby, Pink and now in Naam Shabana, and Sonakshi Sinha’s Akira shows that there’s always an opportunity for females actors in B’town to try their hand at action and yet look dapper hot. You can ditch the low waist saris, and bikinis to pick up martial arts and make jaws drop and heads turn as you walk away from your injured victim. It is not so much about strength, but a power packed combination of techniques, determination, practice and stamina, can definitely make one win the game – a crucial lesson to learn from the audio-visual media.

My winged neighbours… Who outnumber me by hundreds

Ever since the mercury in the capital has gone up the scale, mosquitoes have begun breeding limitlessly, and as it seems they have all chosen to fly up six stories high just to feast on me. The reason? I’m just too sweet! Nopes, I’m not bragging…
From my very childhood, I’ve been a constant feasting item for mosquitoes, be it alone in a room or even in a room full of people of various sizes and shapes. These horrible blood sucking noisy insects would not feed on others but me, only me! When I complained of mosquitoes, I would be told that nobody else was getting affected as much as me, and that must be because my blood was too sweet! “Hahahahaha,” they’d all laugh. And funnily even if the mosquitoes did bite them, these humans seem to not notice that they were being bitten and that a fat insect was clinging onto their arm. Fat; so fat that they could not even fly away after their meal. I observed them hop away to safety else a slight touch would make their torso burst – literally.
With the summer sun being a killer, mosquitoes do not tour around much in the day, but after sundown, it’s party time for them. It’s like breaking a day long fast, as soon as you see food you just stuff your face like a monster.

As soon as I open the front door in the evening entering my home, along enters a thousand mosquitoes. I guess they shout “Spartaaaaaa!!!!” as they rush in past me and start taking positions in the house preparing for the war to come. Now that I’m writing this, I am under a vicious attack by an army of suicide squad! I’m typing and slapping my limbs and clapping in the air murdering them.

Imagine this: Ready with tiny sharpened knives and forks, and beeps tied around their neck, they wait with starving depression in order to set foot on the hunting area. The huge iron door to foodland opens, there’s light and the aroma of blood so inviting to be feasted upon.
“Friends, Mosquitons and clanwomen, lend me your proboscis,” shouts Antenna, the leader and orator of the team. What follows is an inspirational speech on why they have chosen the location and type of their meal for the day. “Now, even though we know that our host isn’t very friendly or passive and that we might be martyrs, we must still try to achieve the best for us, for our children and their future. Food is more important than life, it’s better to die with your stomach full than to live a life devoid of food that you so deserve. Good nutrition will help us bring betterment to our successors. Hosts are huge and single, and we are small but united. Let our union be the cause of their itching skin. Ladies, are you with me?”
“Yay!!” yells the squad dripping with enthusiasm.
“Then raise your forks and let’s show the hosts what it is like to be slapped!… Oh and yes don’t forget to sing to her ears.”
Ending her memorable speech and leading the attack of the century, Antenna had made her place in the history of the Mosquito civilisation, but sadly it was her last combat and she will be remembered by her clanwomen and men forever for her oratorical skills and leadership.