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Photo taken at Plitvice National Park, Croatia by Vibhor Dhote Oh! What are these days I have found myself in! The bagpacks I carry n...

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag - A Review

Bhaag Milkha Bhaag is more than just a tribute to the legendary Milkha Singh. It is not simply a story of how he achieved stardom but it also teaches the viewers how one can overcome his fears and leave behind a macabre past. It also proves those axioms that say hard work pays off and that determination and focus are keys to achieving success.

The movie commenced with the epic scene of 1960 Olympics at Rome where Milkha failed to win the race for some reason that appears to the other characters in the movie as a “silly mistake”.  We, the audience, are shown the emotional turmoil our protagonist is going through and the first impression built in my mind was “hats off to the cinematographer”. The director of photography, Binod Pradhan has indeed done justice to the movie.

The three hours long movie didn’t seem as tedious as it sounded at first (Of course company matters, but the movie wasn’t a bad company after all). For those who watch movies not only for entertainment but also to return home with a larger view of life and/or enlightenment, BMB is highly recommended. Of course, not everyone will be able to bear through a movie with some minor so-obvious incidents without much suspense, but overlooking the minor flaws this movie is one that will remain in the viewer’s head even long after the movie is over.

The story of ambitions, love and reasons was well directed by Rakeysh Omprakash Mehra, exploiting Farhan Akhtar’s versatility and skill. Sonam Kapoor and Rebecca Breeds play characters who have affected Milkha Singh’s life; while one was his reason to leave his petty way of living and joining the Indian Army, the other one was his reason for losing concentration and focus in his career.

Other impressive performances were by Prakash Raj, Pavan Malhotra and Yograj Singh playing influential characters that have made Milkha the man he is now. Divya Dutta plays the athletes elder sister who lovingly becomes like a mother to the latter when they leave their village during Indo-Pak partition. A scene where she is sexually assaulted by her husband invigorates terror and disgust in the young Milkha, as well as the audience, and becomes a small turning point in building Milkha’s character as a rebel. Young Milkha is well played by Master Jabtej Singh, winning the hearts of the audience with his innocence and charm.

Dalip Tahil, however, plays the role of Pt. Jawaharlal Nehru and unintentionally makes the audience laugh and giggle – something that could have been avoided to make the dialogues more effective.

Prasoon Joshi does a commendable job with the script that portrays the emotions well and makes you enjoy the show.

In a nutshell, the movie is a must-watch for those who are willing to sit for three hours experiencing a saga of perseverance, aspiration, love and terror.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

BOOK REVIEW : Kaleidoscope - Different Strokes for Different Folks


Title: Kaleidoscope- Different Strokes for Different Folks
Published by: Parlance Publishers Pvt. Ltd.
Genre: Various
Price: 150 INR
No. of Pages: 250
Launched in: 25 May 2013
Rate: 3.5/5

Springtide, an online English youth magazine in association with Parlance Publishers, organized a contest inviting Indian writers to submit their short stories on any specific genre. The contest went on for the entire month of April’13 and more than 1150 entries were received to be judged by Ashwin Sanghi, one of the country’s bestselling conspiracy fiction writers. The results were announced by the second week of May declaring the top 25 writers whose stories were later published in the anthology “Kaleidoscope: Different Strokes for Different Folks”.

The anthology begins with ‘The Hunter’, a short-story written by Dr. Vivek Banerjee, the winner of the contest mentioned above. The writing is flawless and the story is cleverly written, first indicating a different end for the characters while giving the story a contrary end, an unexpected twist. Other factors that make the story the best are the well-justified conversation between the central characters of the story, the thoughts of the protagonist, i.e., the hunter arising in apt situations, the flow of the story and the good narration that keeps the reader glued to the pages.

Next, in the anthology, comes Deboshree Bhattacharjee’s ‘The House’. Although the beginning of the story is appealing, a raring reader might lose his reasons of reading the story in the middle, but only to get to the beautiful yet tragic ending which makes the read worthwhile. The story somehow reminded me of the short stories our English textbooks contained delivering a message in the end.

Tale of the Knitting Yarn is a sad story written by Nabanita Dhar about an optimist and perseverant Shreya who waits patiently for her husband Ashish to return from the war he had been fighting for the country. No, he doesn’t die fighting the war as a reader might expect in such scenarios. But the ironic end to the story surely makes the reader sigh at the way fate acts.

Renuka Vishwanathan’s ‘Voice Male’ is a “love” (notice the quotes) story totally out of the box with an end that one might not expect even in his wildest of dreams. It indeed leaves the reader uttering “gee” for the protagonist.

‘The Domino Effect’ by Deepa Duraisamy is a story involving various characters and incidences weaved by the fact that one action leads to another and that the consequences of a impish school-going girl not helping a blind woman on the road might be as huge as averting a major catastrophe in just four hours.

Then there comes the spooky story, ‘The Hike to the Temple’ by Prasanna Rao where a small group of archaeologists visit a haunted temple as part of their research. The factor that made this story be in the top 25 is the way the story unfurls and the reader’s lips form a giant ‘O’ as the ending is revealed. One might even read the story twice just to confirm the fact that he couldn’t guess the ending in spite of reading each sentence minutely.

Vaibhav Mukim’s ‘Food’ is a science fiction divided into seven scenes and while all readers may not comprehend it clearly, the writer deserves a pat on the back for presenting the story in a unique manner and for his capability of imagination and the different outlook given to death and immortality.

‘Happy Puppet’ is a story very beautifully written by Bhavya Kaushik. With a nice flow, the story manages to make drops of tear trickle down from the eyes of the reader. Unlike the name, it begins on a sad note and ends with a sadder one.

Garima Nowal’s ‘The White Dress’ is a wonderful story of a girl who considered herself unlucky for various reasons. The story seems to be a simple fairy-tale at the beginning but the way the entire story takes a different turn just by adding that last one sentence in the end is where all the beauty writing lies.

Rafaa Dalvi’s ‘Karma is a bitch’ may not be his best of works but the story surely is different, erotic at times. Although the title reveals the message of the story, the story manages to leave a chill through your spine as it reveals its supernatural tinge.

‘Redemption’ by Harihar Adarsh is an amazing story that takes you to the ancient times where kings ruled and magic existed. A story well-weaved, it leaves the message that it isn’t any king or immortality or power, but love which conquers all.

‘The Last Date’ by Sarvana Kumar Murugan revolves around a couple who faces the anger of a person whose love was unrequited, in the worst form humanely possible. The theme and concept of the story is commendable but a more fluent narration would have made the story much better altogether.

Khushi Gupta, a minor, writes ‘I Love You Too’ in a much more sensible way than expected from writers of her age. A feel-good story leaving a message to all those who fear to speak up their heart, it also leaves a smile on the reader’s face.

Nehali Lalwani’s ‘Alive Inside’ gives that eerie feeling while reading the story that you know something isn’t right but you don’t know what. Nevertheless, it ends on a good note no matter how scary.

‘Theory of Evolution’ by Balaganesh Pitchai, an intelligently devised and well written story, gives a whole new point of view to look at the planet Earth and its dwellers.

‘’I’ Operated’ is the description of an operation keeping the patient, a sixteen-year old girl as the narrator, composed poignantly by Smriti Mahale.

Parul Tyagi’s ‘The Star that Shines on me’ is a mind-blowing story of a Muslim woman abandoned by her husband to live with her four children. Sometimes there is more than what meets the eye. In the same way, the protagonist has more courage and secrets than what we expect from a poverty-stricken burqa-clad conservative woman.

Anurag Bhatt’s ‘The boy who sold books’ is an inspirational story and reminds us of the importance of education and how few children do not get the privilege of going to school.

‘Chaos’ by Rahul Biswas is again another gem in this collection. A wonderful story about terrorism, bomb blasts and a police inspector, it will remind you of all those Bollywood movies about patriotism (or rather the opposite) that contain a lot of action and twists. The climax surely makes you say “wow” as you flip through the pages.

‘Secret of the Murderous Woods’ by Sanhita Baruah (that’s me) is a story involving two friends, a murder and a secret. You can send your feedbacks at sanhitabaruah@gmail.com

Aman Mathur writes ‘First Contact’ based on a futuristic view of the Universe in the year 2213. It is a brilliantly excogitated story involving a whole new idea of extraterrestrials and an ending with the human protagonist quoting an ironic phrase.

Shishir Dhingra’s ‘The Journey of my Life’ is a simple love story written in a beautiful way, not the author’s best work though. Yet, the impact of this piece of work remains as the conversation and the way the boy proposes his feelings is fascinating.

‘The Unknown Destination’ by Aniruddh Naik takes you from an e-mail at the present age to the medieval ages when Chandragupta Maurya had ruled and then leaves you pondering about curses, prophecies, secret societies and tantra.

‘Crazy Scarf’ is a sweet story written by ‘Prabhat Singh’ about love at first sight but from a different perspective and the protagonist here is a little one (literally) and one has to read it to find out more.

This diverse collection of 25 stories ends with Ayush Agarwal’s story of love that can drive you mad titled ‘When Love Oozed Out Blood’ with three main characters in a love-triangle but not necessarily the way one expects. The vicious scene in the beginning of this story is the show-stealer. The ending is sad and it leaves a message for our society indicating that a change is required in our thinking.

As a whole, this anthology of 250 pages proves to be a nice read for those who love to read stories of various genres. All the stories are good, albeit some are better than the others but none leaves you uninterested.








Monday, July 8, 2013

My Three Concubines

(This post is up on write-up cafe on behalf of my team Coup d'East. The 3 ingredients used in this story are - Dead Tiger, Wine Bottle, Superhero. You can also find the story here)



I am called a disbeliever of love; they don’t know I am not. They don’t understand why I prefer to live alone, nevertheless I do. They say it’s ludicrous that I stay away from love; I am not away from love. They say I need a woman, a lover; they don’t know I am in love.

To be honest, I was never loveless in my life. Love came at various times, well of course to me, and not to the other side. After the death of my mother, I was probably never loved back in return. But love would never leave my side. Like a little plant coming out from a planted seed, love would always arise in some corner of my heart and in no time, it would fill my entire heart. But unrequited love is difficult, to say the least, if not homicidal. And all my life, I have craved for love only to be turned down by my fate.

The only love I ever experienced was from my mother.
My father was a good man, socially. I wanted to study and grow up to be like him. But I knew I couldn’t, for I wasn’t half as bright as he was, or as any of my classmates.

“But, you will have a brighter future” my mother would tell me when I used to cry for being dull in studies. It’s needless to say that my father didn’t think so. But my mother, she would always protect me whenever my drunken father would try to raise a hand on me. “Brainsick” he called me when I repeatedly failed to pass my exams for the third standard. Tireless efforts of my sick mother made me pass in the exams of the second standard. And when the results were declared and I returned home to tell my mother that I am eligible to sit in class III now, I found my mother lying dead on her bed. She had finally succumbed to the lung cancer she had been fighting for years.

“Mother, open your eyes, I am finally in class three.” These were the last words I spoke to my loving mother’s cadaver.

Ever since that day, ever since I reached class three, I was never loved again.

Class Three.

The word three holds a deeper meaning for me. For today I divide my heart and the love in it, into three. Yes, I had two concubines in my life. Tonight, I will have my third as I sit on the chair looking at her conveying my love for her and telling about the love we will make tonight.

I will be a man tonight, an adult, eighteen year old and I celebrate my birthday reminiscing my last two loves and I promise to love my third as long as I live.

I was an eight-year old when I fell in love with my first. Like I said before, I am not a disbeliever of love. I believe in all forms of love. I believe in the love of a mother for a child, I believe in the love of a child for a toy, I believe in love at first sight, I believe in love well-thought-of, in manipulated love, in material love, in unconditional love, in bounded love, in well-reasoned love, and in mindless love.

I saw him on the TV. Helping people, loving people, He was the proof that good wins over evil. He was the proof that if you believe in something it will come to you. He was the unsaid promise that if something bad happens to you; he will come to help you. And if for any reason, little children of my age or older take the wrong path, he will, without fail, come to stop them. He would teach lessons of morality. He would teach that we should always love the poor, the needy, and the weaker ones. He would say that treachery, theft etc is bad and you should never choose such a path. He would always say to love animals, for they will never harm you if you don’t harm them. They will always help.

He was the superhero of our country christened “Shaktiman” by the people, meaning a man of power.
It took me four long years to realize that he was just another fictitious character of the Television, a fake, a lesser mortal like all of us. He didn’t come when I had called for him innumerous times to bring my mother back or to come and love me and stay with me. Nor did he come when I had expected him to; to save my second beloved at her moment of dying.

It was love at first sight, my second love which somehow crept into the house of my heart, pushed the images of the Superhero aside and found its place to sit forever. Alas, the love was ephemeral. I didn’t even get an opportunity to know if she loved me back; I just imagine now that may be she did.

I was fifteen then and she was beautiful. The first thing I noticed about her was her pair of divine green eyes. Next her hair, brown hair yet black in some parts. With great serenity she looked at me back and walked towards me. I stood there dumbfounded by her beauty, by her presence. I knew I was in love with her. She walked towards me and I fell in love with each step of hers. She was only a few inches away when I heard the loud sound of a gunshot. It was our guide, Tiwari ji, who had fired the gun to kill the tigress in front of me, the tigress I fell in love with, and probably the only tigress we saw in our whole trip to Corbett National Park.

I had cried that day, I had cried for a month; and I had argued with our guide, with the teacher who was with us as an escort and with father.

“He went to jail for killing that tigress. He went to jail to save you. You are to be blamed. Don’t you get it?” My father had scolded. But I didn’t understand. I thought the tigress loved me. I thought she wanted to be loved in return, for a change, just like me. I thought we were supposed to love animals, like my fraudulent superhero had preached. I thought they don’t harm you if you don’t harm them. Either by my former love or by my father, I was lied to.

It took me a year or two to forget her, my second love. It took me another year to hate my first love. My heart till now was divided into two – the fake superhero whom now I hated, and the tigress for whose death I was to be blamed. It’s pity that I never got to know if she loved me back like I loved her, if she too fell in love at first sight.

Sometimes people fall in the wrong company, sometimes in the wrong love. May be the choices I made were faulty. May be I fell in love with the wrong ones. But God knows that I never could love anyone else. I was made to love them; and I was made not to be loved in return. I was made to live a melancholic life. I was made to beat myself up for somehow killing a poor tiger. I was destined to hate the Superhero I so believed in. And above all, I was destined to hate myself.

But, I am in love again, and I will make love tonight. I have parted my heart into three for her. And she sits tonight in front of me, flaunting proudly herself to me, telling me that I can’t help but fall in love with her. I am now looking at her entire body; I am planning to make love tonight. I am planning to make love with the beauty in front of me. I am planning to make love with the color red that she contains within her. I am planning to be in love with her forever. I am planning to love her - the bottle of wine, red wine, forever.