May 31, 2011

Salman Khan: A Star Away from Galaxy

While I was coming back from my office to home in the yellow-green Delhi Auto (I love this color combination!), my gaze fell on a small sticker pasted above the rear view mirror. I had seen posters of this man on almost all the autos, taxis, buses, small shops, in short in every nook and corner where India resides. The autowalah saw me looking at the sticker and put across a query " Bhaiya, Are you going for 'Ready' this Friday?". The exemplary glee and pride in his voice was evident.

That's the unique charm, charisma and mass appeal of this extremely good looking and 'somewhat' talented superstar of Hindi Cinema- Salman Khan. With uncountable flops to his credit and a not so sober image, Salman still manages to catch the imagination of the great Indian Aam Aadmi. But what exactly makes this Super-brat click? Where does he stand in front of the other two Khans..? Well, lets diagnose..

Salman Khan is not an actor, let's face it. He is a mere performer, a terrific one. His strength lies in being himself, not pretending (even remotely) to be someone else. Salman connects with the audience because, he does things that an ordinary young man fantasizes to do. So he rips apart his shirt and flaunts his muscular body, cracks jokes on farting, laughs very naturally, plays guitar on the seaside, dances with firangi girls on the beach, crushes the enemy with utmost ease and flamboyance. And ofcourse, woos women by singing romantic songs, dressing up in designer tees et al.

The audience also sees the 'rebel' in him. A guy who has broken law on many occassions, but is good at heart nevertheless. A friend of friends and a bitter enemy (Ask King Khan for both the aspects). The world also has a soft corner for him as he is perceived to be a man who has been betrayed in love time and again. So, the common perception implies that Aishwarya left her after climbing the success ladder, so did Katrina (if at all).

While SRK and Aamir are more like Businessmen, Salman is the people's man. The two of more illustrious Khans are shrewd intellectuals, very conscious of their image, the films that they do and how they behave in public. Off late they have presented themselves more like producers than Stars. They mean business, they deal in huge numbers.

Salman is a touch different, he walks in a friend's film just like that and research & preparation are two terms alien to him. Directors who know to tap Salman's " being self" talent, have succeeded in dishing out hits. Rest of them have just used him for no use effectively.

The original macho man of Indian Cinema, Salman Khan's career is very interestingly poised. His raw appeal seems to be working with masses but the urban audience might have developed a disconnect.His way forward heavily depends on films that he does post Dabangg, because there can't be many Wanteds and Dabanggs. He has already cashed upon trash masala stuff , the challenge is to go a step beyond and walk in a new lane. The question is what exactly can he offer us through 'Ready'?

Just for thought.- Have you seen anyone dance better than Salman Khan in 'Munni Badnam' ? Thats DANCE for you, rest of them I call as CHOREOGRAPHY.


Don't miss Review of Ready on June3-4.

May 29, 2011

Cosmic Romance

I don’t know what it is
But there is a shadow behind me
Every time I fly into dazzling blue light
That gaze is uplifting, what if it’s slight

No name can justify
The bond we shared and smiles we had
Saccharine murmurs are still fresh very much
I miss your bioscopic eyes and feathery touch

Those lunar walks amid the setting sun
We chased stars, wiped out the rainbow
But one avian stunt you failed to notice
As I took Cloud Cover after planting that kiss

Love is about taking that extra mile
And we had a sky to cover
Carefree Hover, Buoyant Us
Blue was Sky, Free of Worldly Cuss

One fine day, We got a new life, supposedly a better one
But Being Human was a web of complexities
Burdened flights forced emotions to soften
We experienced Jet lag so more than often

And Then Love was interrupted
As reason controlled nonsensical heart
Soon we headed to that dreaded state of Separation
Amalgamation Aplenty Led to Sublimation

Now, Up in the heaven, I wish to call you back
But I wonder whether you would like an Afterlife
Love should give us that second chance
It's time, we rekindled our Cosmic Romance

May 20, 2011

To Rahul, With Rancor

Dear Rahul,

You troubled me a lot last week by shamelessly occupying news space, my staple diet, for a reason, which I found hard to comprehend. You must understand that you are to politics what Ranbir Kapoor is to Hindi Film Industry. You are media’s favorite pin-up boy, single and available for marriage and also prime ministership, (in your case). But that does not give you the liberty to poke your nose in each and every affair of this country. Ranbir can get away with fooling around every now and then, but sorry you are not so lucky. The same people who hail you as the Next King of India would banish you to death if a single step goes wrong.

Firstly, who are you? What is your qualification and distinction? Why shall I trust you when you say that women have been raped and there is a mass grave in Bhatta Parsaul? Do you have any substantial evidence to back your serious charges? The answer is in negative and your flip-flop post that overzealous statement is a testimony to this fact. I will not, and no Indian should, trust you blindly just because you carry that illustrious surname. You have achieved little in your life other than that scion tag and your theatrics seem to be mere eyewash.

You have a fetish for rural India and poor milieu. When you get bored, swimming in the political waters of Delhi, you swiftly retreat to a untouchable’s house in some non-descript hamlet, shake hands with villagers, carry mud on your head and spend a night there. What difference does this trip of yours make in the lives of those poor villagers? They only find themselves in the news headlines along with you.

Why is it that you take up farmers’ issues only in the states that are not ruled by your party? Is the UP land agitation the only of its kind in India? Where were you when farmers were shot at in Jaitapur, Maharashtra and in Andhra Pradesh? You don’t bother to go there just because these are congress-ruled states. You have one-point agenda in your mind: To strengthen Congress’ base in states where its clout has eroded. Nothing wrong with that, its your duty as the party’s youth leader and General secretary. But why do you 'fake' issues? Why are you hell bent on playing politics over dead farmers in UP? Why have you exaggerated the issue and made Mayawati look like Muammar Gadaffi? Rahul, you have misled the already 'lost Prime Minister' of this country, and the ignorant Indians at large.

I applauded when you took that Bombay local to defy goon politics of Shiv Sena. I liked the way you raised the issue of Kalavati in the Parliament. But you seem to have lost plot here. You are behaving like an  ill-informed kid who is dying to get his share of lolly. Truth and honesty, which made you distinct in initial stages of your political career, have deserted you. But let me remind you, Uttar Pradesh wont be reclaimed by these 'one-day retreat' dramas of yours. Mayawati is no saint. But you are no God either.

With Rancor,

A Non-Congressman

May 15, 2011

Where the Mind 'Was' Without Fear...

As a school kid, I often wondered why West Bengal was called 'West' Bengal when it was located on the Eastern side of India. A concrete answer was elusive until a subject called history made a quiet entry in my academic life, perhaps in class VI.

With time I came to know about Bengal's glorious past and how it played a pivotal role in shaping India's history. Other than the fact that Calcutta served as the capital of British Raj for several years, Bengal was intertwined in almost every significant historical landmark that India crossed. Right from the first war of Independence in 1857 to the tragic partition in 1947. From Bose to Rajaram Mohun Roy, Bengalis contributed immensely to the cause of One India and 'Indian-ness'.

Gradually as my knowledge and understanding of the world started to take some vague shape, I started to appreciate the likes of Rabindranath Tagore and Bankimchandra. They were not only great artists and carriers of the lantern of knowledge in the dark days of British Rule, but were in fact somewhat ahead of their times. Somehow, I always put Tagore and Socrates in the same league, they shaped conscience, philosophy and outlook of their respective countries.

And like any other common Indian, Films caught my imagination once I was an adolescent. Here also Bengal was ruling the roost with likes of Kishore Kumar, Ashok Kumar, Mithun, the list is almost endless. As a student of Film Making in my graduation days, a man called Satyajeet Ray was definitely the most talked about, may be along with a certain Alfred Hitchcock. Art, music, literature (Devdas!), colors (Durga Puja), life, happiness Bengal was simmering with every divine aspect of human existence. (Also, somewhere around 1999, Sourav Ganguly bewitched me).

But every shadow of white is accompanied by a tinge of red. Nothing in this world is spotless. Bengal learned this fact quite literally by getting itself embroiled in the Red Cauldron for 34 long years. Freedom of expression was brutally suppressed in a regime that thrived on an obsolete ideology. Wheels of development came to a screeching halt in the state, which was once the fountainhead of India's growth and industrialization. Lathi & cadre Raj took center stage in lives of modest and soft spoken Bengalis who relished ink, brush-strokes and strings.

Nadir is an understatement for what Bengal achieved in 34 years of Left Rule. Cultural decimation, intellectual erosion and mental repression were the gifts presented by a ruthless communist regime in the garb of socialism and poor-protectionism.

Mamata Banerjee might not be the best orator, she might lack the quintessential charm and polish of a politician, but she surely is a fighter. A street fighter who has risen above all odds, taking blows after blows, to fulfill a dream that looked impossible to be realized. The lady who wears simple cotton Saris, bathroom slippers and carries a small little world in her Jhola has definitely created history by toppling the longest ruling, democratically elected (sadly) Left regime. 

Its time for her to celebrate, relax and unwind. She deserved every bit of it after fighting relentlessly for all these years. History awaits her transition from a dogged fighter to an able administrator.

May 12, 2011

Why Ganguly is the eighth wonder of Indian cricket: Avijit Ghosh

Sometimes fairytales come true. In the case of Sourav Ganguly, it almost always does. Playing for Pune Warriors India in his debut IPL 4 game on Tuesday, the former India captain showed once again why he would always be the prince of hearts for his fans.

On the face of it, an unbeaten innings of 32 runs off 32 balls can be dismissed as anything but special. Ten out of those 32 runs happened due to errors -- a miscued pull that fell in no man's land and went for two, a Dale Steyn fielding mistake that got him a boundary and a French cut off the South African paceman that fetched him four.

Only two shots -- the smashing drive over extra-cover off a 143.2 km fast delivery against Ishant Sharma and a six over mid-wicket off leg-spinner Amit Mishra - were of any substance.

But that's entirely missing the human drama that this innings was all about. When PWI announced that they had signed Ganguly to play for the remainder of the IPL, even his most ardent fans had mixed feelings. They wanted him to succeed but they were not sure if he could.

After all, the 38-year-old cricketer had not picked up a bat in the past five months, as he himself revealed after the match.

Many others would have refused the offer. Ganguly didn't. He had always maintained he wanted to play in the IPL. Of course, the money was a factor. But it was also evident that he enjoyed playing the game. Perhaps he also accepted the offer even at this late stage because he wanted to show that the fat cats had made a mistake in not selecting him at the auction.

On Tuesday against Deccan Chargers, the left-hander once again showed that it is possible to put mind over matter. You can, if you think you can.

The crowd understood this frisson between the heart and the body that happened in Hyderabad as Ganguly guided his team to a victory. They applauded him as much for his courage -– he prefers batting to pontificating from the commentators' box or passing judgments like Javagal Srinath in his column -- as for his shots.

No single has been more cheered and clapped in IPL history than the first run he scored. And he was not even the home boy.

Sportsmen generally generate only two emotions: euphoria and despair. But like a rock star, Ganguly can make you run through the entire gamut of emotions.

Being a Ganguly fan means being part of an unpredictable emotional journey. You never know what will come your way on a particular day. Nobody else has the power to enthrall and exasperate like him.

His fans understand the wonder of Sourav Ganguly.

Source: The Times of India

May 7, 2011

Boria Majumdar: IPL's showcase face-off

An impending battle between KKR owner Shahrukh Khan and his former skipper Saurav Ganguly will be a treat for sore eyes in the IPL.

By Boria Majumdar
I have been grumbling for a while that the IPL isn’t just taking off. No major controversy yet, the usual suspects performing, no major organizational lapse, expected drop in television ratings given the cricket calendar and also the killing of Osama Bin Laden, which had taken over the world of news across the globe the past week.

Amidst all of this there was one piece of news that helped light up the IPL horizon—Saurav Ganguly making yet another comeback as a Warrior and will be padding up against the Kolkata Knight Riders in Mumbai on 19 May. Yes the Warriors are languishing at the bottom of the IPL table given their inability to close out matches from winning positions but that doesn’t take anything away from this very special contest, one between Bengal and Kolkata perhaps.

Ganguly is still the single biggest icon in my part of the world in the East and it is an ethnography worth doing to check how many in Bengal supports Pune on the 19th with their favorite son playing for the Pune outfit against KKR. It will be a different version of the Tebbit Test, city loyalty versus individual charisma, support for the city team versus love for an individual. Signs are it will be a very close contest with Kolkata and Bengal deeply divided on the issue.

Knowing Saurav Ganguly well it is only foolish to write him off. Having said that, it is a fight that is going to be the most difficult of his career, a reality he knows only too well. When he made his fairytale comeback in 2006, he was an international cricketer and was in constant touch with the game. Even when he answered the Buchanan snub in 2010, he had played a lot of domestic cricket leading up to the IPL and coupled with his incredible mental resolve was favorite once again do it at IPL stage.

2011, however, is different. Saurav hasn’t played much domestic cricket at all in the lead up to the competition. The call up, to quote one of his closest aides, was “totally unexpected.” In fact, when Warriors team Director Abhijit Sarkar, the brain behind this move, called him on the Sunday night, he was almost in bed! That he got his kit out after the hour long conversation with Sarkar only proves how much he was craving for this opportunity, the most important factoid that makes the contest on the 19th a really special one. Saurav sweated it out at the Eden for more than three hours on Monday morning and has been practicing twice a day for hours since he joined the team on Wednesday, 4th May.

For him it is not about money. As he has himself said on many occasions, it doesn’t matter whether he gets his 400,000 USD or not. What does matter is can he redeem himself? Can he avenge the ill treatment meted out to him at the IPL auction and can he demonstrate for one final time that there’s some cricket left in him?
Can he still face up to Brett Lee on a bouncy DY Patil track and prove his critics wrong? It is all about reputation and that’s what has made the contest the real big face off between the country’s two leading icons, Shahrukh Khan and Saurav Ganguly. Pune Warriors and KKR have suddenly turned incidental to the whole script with these two leading entertainers taking center stage.

For Khan and his men Ganguly will provide that extra incentive to perform, not to mention the opportunity to make the play offs. If they are able to get Ganguly cheaply, their owner, more than anyone else, will breathe a sigh of relief for anything to the contrary and he will have to answer a million questions when he makes it to Kolkata before the match against the Mumbai Indians on the 22nd.

The stakes, one must admit, are high making it the IPL’s showcase face off, something that the tournament was badly in need of. Let’s hope the days leading up to this contest will spice it up further. It might well be that the match turns a must win for Kolkata to make the next stage while a loss against Pune might yet again shatter Shahrukh Khan’s dream of winning the coveted IPL trophy. Neither Khan nor Ganguly will want to lose this one. Yes, this is what sport is all about. A captivating tale of high intense drama with more than credibility is at stake. I, as a fan, can’t wait for this one to unfold.
Courtesy: Boria Majumdar/

May 5, 2011

Mr. Mirror

We often look into each other, our eyes meet
I glare and you pass that friendly glance
We neither converge nor tread the similar path
Why are our perspectives different?

I experience guilt and you have no remorse to show
My tears fail to make headway too
Jubilation is your muse while I sulk
Like a frowning old lady

Virtual is you they say
Your reflections are funny I feel
Sometimes I wonder
Do you know what apathy is, what’s zeal

The world outside staggers
Brilliant red blood oozes its way out
And you flatter to deceive
Showing the red rosy picture

Light is your best friend
But I want to look at you when its dark
Queries are aplenty, some lush more stark
Mr Mirror, Give me the Answer. (I am told, you don't lie too often)

May 2, 2011

1 Dead Man, 10 Uncomfortable Questions

So the United States has finally hunted down world’s most dreaded terrorist. In a swift operation that lasted merely 40 minutes, US forces killed Osama bin-Laden in Abbottabad area of Pakistan. Contrary to earlier reports which suggested that Osama might be hiding in some inaccessible hilly area near Pak-Afghan border, the Al-Qaeda leader was found hidden in a posh mansion merely 90 kilometers away from Pakistani capital. As reports filter from Pakistan about what led to eventual fall of the man who shook the world nearly 10 years ago, several questions pop up in mind.

Disturbing Picture

  • How on earth the world’s most wanted terrorist stayed in a residential area near Pakistani capital and nobody had a clue? Were the inhabitants of Abbotabad aware of Laden’s stay in the area? Was there a moral support given to Laden, if not logistical, by the people of Abottabad?
  • Abbottabad is the hub of the Pakistani Military. There is a Military Training Academy at a stone’s throw from where Osama lived. Regular security drill and stringent checks are common near a military base. How come Pakistani Army missed out on the biggest mansion in the area that stood like an invincible fortress? It is next to impossible to imagine that an army as shrewd as Pakistan’s would not have the knowledge of such a great phenomenon. Did the Pakistani Military provide safe haven to Osama? Was he hiding there under the aegis of Pak Army?
  • It’s a known fact that Pakistan is a divided state. Almost like various slices of bread in a packet. Was Pakistan’s civilian government totally unaware of Osama’s whereabouts? Is the Pakistani army so independent and powerful that it can hide world’s most wanted terrorist, without letting the government know?
  • What was the role of Pakistan’s Intelligence agency (ISI) in the entire setup? Did they mastermind Osama’s stay inside Pakistan? Were they involved, in any capacity, with the US operation that led to Osama’s downfall?
  • Who provided Osama with financial and logistical help in all these years of his stay at Abbottabad? If there was no internet and telephone in the mansion, how did he communicate with rest of his mujaheedins? Did Pakistan Army act as a carrier and courier?
  • If the US treats Pakistan as its ally in the War against Terror, why it did not share information with them? Is there any lack of trust between US and Pakistan? If yes, Why is US still hanging on with a bunch of liars?
  • If the US authorities were sure about Osama’s location 10 months ago, what made them wait for so long? Was President Obama seeking a ‘right time’ to launch the operation? Has this entire thing  some connection with Obama’s re-election bid?
  • Why did not US come out publicly with Osama’s identity? Was he given a chance to surrender inside the mansion? Was not he shot in his eyes at point-blank range? Where is the justice? What is the difference between Obama and Osama? Why everything was such a hush-hush affair? Why bury Osama in the Sea?
  • What is the US stand on Pakistan now? Has not India’s claim that, all terror groups find shelter in Pakistan, been proven correct? Pakistan lied for years. What action can US take against Pakistan’s double game?
  • What next? Where does US’ war on terror go from here on? Is the job done? What are US’ future plans in Afghanistan?
Osama is dead. But his fear psychosis lives on. He promised to produce a million Osamas before he died. Time will tell how successful has he been. Some hail him as the champion of oppressed Muslims across the world, most loathe him as a cynic Jihadist who brought disgrace to his religion and was responsible for killing of thousands of innocent civilians. I remember him for the way he screwed a US president, who was equally villainous, if not more.

P.S.: The Writer welcomes death of Osama Bin-Laden. He is not a conspiracy theorist. He just seeks a bit of clarity..and justice (President Obama's favorite word).