A woman with the potential to make it big. It is not that she cannot: she simply will not.
The closest anyone has come to being an adopted daughter.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

A journey in photographs — VI

Part 1  |  Part 2  |  Part 3  |  Part 4 |  Part 5

We are back again. The usual collection of 15 photographs, from the lengths and breadths of the country. Some of these have been clicked by me; others have been donated; and I have nicked a few shamelessly.

If you think I had nicked one from you, do not spare me: just drop a comment or email, and you will be duly acknowledged. If you have copyright on something, do not sue me; instead, just let me know, I will take the picture down (and dislike you forever).

Exhibit 1: I saw this on the door of a GoAir coach. I found the warning a legitimate one. Coach doors are obviously not expected to operate — but what if one does? Why take a risk?

Exhibit 2: I do not remember clicking this, so if it someone else, please own up. I have seldom found a notice that does a discrimination strange enough to match this one. Why would someone stop all women and all salesmen from entering? Is this a residence for impoverished gynophobic males?

Exhibit 3: Once again, my memory eludes me — did I click this one? Anyway, this one needs no explanation, barring the MRP bit. I wonder what the MRPs were (do note they offer discounts as well.)

Exhibit 4: At the Indian Coffee House, College Street, no less. This looks ordinary, but I think I should mention here that we were seated on a table next to this sign. Photo courtesy: Prabirendra.

Exhibit 5: This was clicked by me, and if I remember correctly, at Harvey's on Kasba Connector, Kolkata. I asked for tender lion, but all they could offer was tenderloin. Sigh.

Exhibit 6: Courtesy Priyanka. There are two signs here. One of them can give me a theft-proof house; can anyone tell me where to contact these guys?

Exhibit 7: I think this was at one of the Connectors, either Park Circus or Kasba or Jadavpur Thana, in Kolkata. I wonder whether how they test for pre-meal ejaculation.

Exhibition 8: One of my clicks, but I do not remember where I clicked this. While I understand referring to a newly opened establishment as "fresh", the "juicy" bit of it eludes me.

Exhibition 9: Courtesy Sanmarga (-da). The location is on the bill — but what is age biryani supposed to mean? Old animals' meat...?

Exhibition 10: Received this on WhatsApp (from whom?). This can no way be called photography, but I could not resist sharing. Also, in case you are missing the dulcet voice that owned the 1990s, here is a clip, just for you.

Exhibition 11: Opposite Indian Statistical Institute, Delhi. A beauty saloon dedicated to hooligans from Hollywood, I presume.

Exhibition 12: I do not remember anything about this, and neither do I want to. If you remember sending this to me, own up. If you want to know more, they have a number.

Exhibition 13: Clicked at one of the exhibits in South City Mall, Kolkata. I still do not know whether Biba rode her ward or whether it was the other way round.

Exhibit 14: The Calcutta YMCA website is now defunct, so I think I am fortunate in the sense that I had taken a screenshot (you can see the URL). Did this man give the massage?

Exhibition 15: This one was doing rounds on social media during Lok Sabha Elections, 2014. I do not think this needs explanation.

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Surprised by Bradman

I have been criticised heavily by all and sundry for not having read Alban George "Johnny" Moyes' 1948 book on Don Bradman (the book was, perhaps in a dash of imagination, titled Bradman). 

Finally I could not take it anymore. I logged on to and ordered what was supposed to be a masterpiece. It cost me around £5 including shipping, which was certainly a fair deal.

This is what they sent me. This. They had mentioned that the dust-jacket was missing, but I had expected it to be in a better condition than this. But then, a book was a book, which meant I had no right to complain.

I flipped open the book to land on this page, and smiled the moment I saw a familiar face — that of the greatest of them all — smiling back at me.

I moved back to the first page the way I often do for secondhand books. While there was no way I would have found anything on the lines of RAHUL LOVES PRIYA, there is usually some message that tells something about the previous owner.

I did, and saw this.

What was it they say about cricket being a great leveller?


Photo courtesy: Tulika Bhattacharya.

Saturday, January 17, 2015

Of Deepika Padukone and the battle against depression: awe and support


“We talk about all kinds of aliments [sic], but this is probably one of the deadliest mental disorders. Nothing, including life, makes sense to people suffering from it”; thus spake Deepika Padukone, heartthrob of a billion, to Hindustan Times.

Deepika has admitted that she suffered from acute depression (acting in Happy New Year was not the reason).* The lady who had bowled me over in Om Shanti Om with her vivacity, who was so full of life, the woman with one of the most disarming smiles, was actually a victim of depression without the world knowing.

And she has been honest about it. No pretensions. Nothing. Coming out of the closet does not mean admitting an affair. Coming out of the closet is more about winning an affair against demons. Like depression.

But then, so was Robin Williams. The funniest and most cheerful people are often the saddest ones. Throughout his life Robin Williams played the cheery loner on screen; we failed to understand he had been playing himself all along.

It is a fact we will read and choose to ignore till it concerns us some day, simply because we think it is a luxury one can afford if the person
(a) has time and money, or
(b) does not have any responsibility to deal with.

Makes it sound like a trip to Mauritius or Seychelles or wherever Blue was shot, does it not?


This is (copy-pasted) exactly what Deepika had to face herself: “How can you be depressed? You have everything going for you. You are the supposed number one heroine and have a plush home, car, movies. What else do you want?” Does this sound familiar?

I said this immediately after Robin Williams had passed away: depression is an ogre that nobody barring you agrees to acknowledge. The worst bit is, you would want people — someone who loves you and cares for you — to surround you, to talk to you, to listen to you, to hold you, only to realise that they do not have the time; or intent.

It is then that the battle starts — one against the worst conceivable feeling. Consider this: you will not have a wound to show; you will not run a temperature; you will not need to go for scans or blood tests; and yet it will keep eating you from inside.

In other words, you will be withering away without anyone knowing.

Let us see what Deepika's experience (I never imagined I would quote Deepika, but here you go): “Every morning, it was a struggle to wake up...There were days when I would feel okay, but at times, within a day, there was a roller-coaster of feelings.”

She hated waking up in the morning. This is not the usual Monday morning blues — it happens on Saturday mornings as well. That is what depression does to you. Every day starts with a horrible empty feeling that the day ahead of you is going to be a useless one. Even if you wake up, you need to drag yourself out of bed.

Every day. Every day. Even your birthday.

Depression can make you cry, just like that, when you drop a bar of soap in the shower (no, using shower gel will not solve this) or you lose a pencil or whatever.

Depression can make you crave for being understood, to be held, even if for a minute. The longing does not happen all the while, but it does not go away completely either.  

What do you do once you hate waking up every day and do not feel like doing anything?

You feel your existence is futile.

What do you do if you feel your existence is futile?

You get suicidal thoughts.

What do you do if you get suicidal thoughts?

You do not want me to spell that out, do you?

That is what depression can do to you, and it will be too late if that happens.

But, what do you do if you get suicidal thoughts and are too weak to take your life? What if even the suicide seems futile?

That is what depression can also do to you, except that it will not be too late.

So, if you think you suffer from depression, do not hesitate. Go to a doctor before it is too late. Counselling may not help completely, but it will help improve things. At least you will know there is someone who will listen to you patiently, even if for money.

But there will be a stage after which counselling will refuse to work.

It is then that the medicines will come in. You may be scared of being addicted to them, but you will not be addicted. If you do not believe me, read up; look at Deepika, who has been coping brilliantly since she recovered. She had taken a two-month break, but is back in full swing.

Do not give up. On the other hand, do not try to act too strong, for you will never know when you spill over the brink. Remember:
1. Consulting a psychiatrist does not make you a mad person. Go. Do not delay. A day’s delay can be detrimental, and may push recovery by a month.
2. Just because friends do not reach out to you during depression does not mean they are avoiding you. It can have to do with the fact that they do not understand — which is perfectly feasible. Tell people. There is no harm. You never know who the person is.
3. Do not wait for those arms to come to you. Maybe they will not. Keep trying. Reach out for the world.
4. Anti-depressants do not kill people. In fact, a cause for clinical depression is chemical imbalance, and there is no other cure if that is indeed the cause.
5. Do not try to fight depression. Accept it instead, and find a way around it. It is a demon that needs to be killed slowly. You cannot hurry things and cannot be impatient.
6. Most importantly, depression is nothing to be ashamed about. It happens.

Here is what World Health Organisation had to say on the topic as early as in 2001: “If we take the example of depression which is currently ranked fourth among the 10 leading causes of the global burden of disease, it is predicted that by the year 2020, it will have jumped to second place.”

If it is predicted to be at number two in five years’ time, why be ashamed? Why stay in a closet? There are solutions. Come out. Seek them out. Find out others who have been through this. Seek their help. Change your physician, if required. 

But solve it. And once you are done, help others come out. Be the helping hand to them that you never had when you needed. Hold their hands. Hold them tight. Who better than you to cure others?
You have vowed to solve this, Deepika. Whatever your team does to eradicate this, I am with you on this (I am sure you will not be reading this, so it will really not matter to you, but just in case) — simply because there are few things in the world as cool as helping others overcome depression.


* Farah Khan, I am still loyal to you; still; I remember Main Hoon Na and Om Shanti Om and forgive you for Happy New Year. Anyone who has given an Om Shanti Om is a legend despite everything else.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Dear vs Bear: The greatest story ever told

There are good movies. There are outstanding movies. Then, there is Gunda

And then, there is Dear vs Bear.

While Gunda elevates your understanding of cinema, Dear vs Bear takes you down an unforgettable trip that satiates your senses and leave you churned inside out. It is that kind of movie that questions the neo-dynamics of your quasi-existence.

Gunda makes you analytical and erudite. Dear vs Bear makes you a better person. The two are not comparable. 

While Gunda teaches you to be violent, Dear vs Bear ensures you do not kill humans; or bears; or snakes; or even urinate on them; even if they are animated. 

There are many differences between the movies, but that is the fundamental one.

*** Do not read any further if you intend to watch the movie. ***

Let us start with the protagonist, Kapil, played by Uttar Kumar (who has written the story, screenplay, and dialogues for the movie as well). Uttar plays Kapil, a North Indian football player. Do note the subtlety: Uttar, North. Get it?

Two minutes into the movie the team for a club (probably called Hi-Tech Football Club) is chosen with the gorgeous Annie (Lovely Joshi) as captain. On the same evening Annie's and Aryan's parents get together to fix up the engagement between the two. Aryan, after all, is all set to be the captain of the male counterpart.

Overwhelmed by this development, this guy (supposedly a footballer) announces a "small-scale" party.

This is what the "small-scale" party looks like. It is a perfect message for people who constantly complain about space crunch. This is possibly the smallest terrace on which a party this big has been held. 

In case you are wondering why there is no staircase, elevator, or escalator, the director throws more questions at you: where are the light effects coming from?

Obviously, satisfied by this wild party on the most cramped space ever, they promise to host another party two days later on Aryan's appointment as captain.


But the selectors obviously had other ideas. They decided to recall Kapil, a person who had been banned as captain three seasons back, to the helm. They also go to fetch Kapil — in this car.

What is Kapil like? As Ruby, Annie's friend, would say, "aandhi hai woh, toofan hai woh". The moment Ruby utters these words, Annie disowns her.


I thought the fathers would be annoyed and try to bash up Kapil, but to my pleasant surprise, they turned out to be rather sporting. In fact, the following conversation actually happened:
Annie's father: Ek chhoti si ichchha thi, main do captains ki shaadi dekhna chahta tha.
Annie: Papa, aap bilkul chinta mat kijiye. Hum tab tak shaadi nahin karenge, jab tak ye shaadi do captains ke beech mein nahin hoga.


Meanwhile, Kapil arrives with his lucky football (?) and hogs Annie's seat in the Maruti Omni. Annie tries to dislodge him, but cannot. Once again, there is an exchange of lines which may find their names in history:
Annie: Main tumhari jaan le loongi.
Kapil: Pehle mujhe theek tarah se jaan lo, phir mera jaan le lena.

Anyway, the car gets going. There are six people in the car barring the driver: Annie, Kapil, Aryan, Ruby, the "small-scale" party-announcer, and the coach. All six, for whatever reason, wear orange shirts.

This is what they encounter on the road, and choose not to notice. Bhaloo Ghaati aka Bears Valley aka Valley of Death.

Once they enter Bhaloo Ghaati, they roam around with only Kapil in the car, snoozing away to glory. Then this happens.

This is Ruby, being eaten by a bear (erm, literally). As the bear eats her, Aryan and Annie argue on whether to save her or to run away. Exactly what the bear is doing to Ruby is, well, debatable.

While Aryan escapes (though not before Annie tells him "you are kaawaard"), Ruby picks up what she undoubtedly thinks is a lethal weapon to chase the bear off (do note the size of the stone).

No self-respecting bear can be happy with this attack. This is also our first glimpse of the bear.

Meanwhile, Ruby falls off the cliff and dies (and nobody bothers). The bear, apparently, is not keen on eating Annie. Instead, it is interested in her coat, which results in one of the most brilliantly thought-out scenes of Bollywood.

But then, clever Annie gets rid of her coat and runs for the car. The bear is obviously not interested in Annie's coat.

Meanwhile, Annie trips, and this is the position she finds herself in.

Meanwhile, Kapil wakes up from his slumber and utters the word "ffffff; bathroom kar leta hoon". 

Unfortunately, he never gets a chance. Realising exactly what is going on, he pulls Annie inside the car. What follows is this.

We now get to know exactly why this car has the words Hi-Tech printed on it. Do note the background, which looks like a cross between Cassiopeia and an alga. 

Here is more proof regarding the Hi-Tech bit. Also note the startling change in backdrop.

They obviously land on the other side, when Annie slips, and hangs by a vine. 

She Tarzans a bit before she lands on this jutting bit of rock. Do note the dimensions. We will come back to this later.

Kapil, meanwhile, had been looking for a spot to relieve himself. A bear and a breakneck car journey had stopped him, but he was not going to hold back any longer.

He goes for it, and find this.

Obviously, he Tarzans a bit and lands on the same rock that Annie is on. They are stuck on the rock, and extending the vine is the only way out, so Kapil asks for Annie's tie.

Annie, unfortunately, comes under the impression that Kapil is trying to molest her. Under these circumstances. More importantly, on this rock: "Nahin nahin, ye tum kya kar rahe ho? Tum itne bure nahin ho sakte!"

Knowing Annie's penchant for reduced surface area (remember "small-scale" party?), this should not come as a surprise.

Thankfully, Annie sees logic, and both decide to hang by the vine to get as low as possible. Unfortunately, this is when Kapil decides his bladder cannot hold any longer, and comes up with this expression.

Obviously, this calls for a solution, so Annie agrees to unzip him with one hand. Exactly how Kapil manages to urinate is best left to guesswork.

Anyway, they fall down, and Annie manages to injure her knee. In a refreshing reversal of traditional Bollywood cliches, Kapil ties Annie's knees to heal her. 

Just when things were warming up between the two, they reach a fork, where this conversation happened:
Annie: Raasta idhar hai.
Kapil: Tu kuchh zyada samajhdaar hai.
Annie: Yes. Graduation kar rahi hoon. DU se. Samajh mein aaya kuchh? Delhi University.

As expected, Annie is chased by a bear, Kapil returns.

Annie: Mujhe laga maine tumhe kho diya.
Kapil: Main koi saamaan hoon, jo kho diya?

But the bear has its vengeance, and this tug-of-war happens. 

Obviously, since Kapil is a footballer, he kicks the bear away, and they start running again...

... until they fly...

... and land somewhere. Annie cannot walk anymore, so Kapil carries her on his back.

Elsewhere, Annie's father is justifiably anxious. To make things worse, Kapil's mother blames Annie for eloping with her son, which leads to this priceless expression on Annie's father's face.

Meanwhile, Kapil and Annie travel through the forest till night falls. This is where the director cleverly inserts a product placement. Kapil tells Annie, "Maine Discovery Channel mein dekha hai, kabhi bhi jangal mein bhatak jaao, to raat humesha ped pe bitaani chahiye."

Dear Discovery Channel, how much did you pay for this?


Travelling through Bhaloo Ghaati, Kapil and Annie stumble across this place, complete with mountains, waterfall, an island, clear blue water, and still sky. Obviously, Annie starts to dance.

Things were going fine, unless Annie got a carried away. While this was not too bad...

... this, followed by throwing the orange shirt away (why were they wearing identical orange shirts anyway?), was possibly not the wisest thing to do.

Poor Kapil obviously had to part ways with his own coat.

Meanwhile, the investigating officers come across some mysterious clues. The man in the vardi asks, "woh zinda hai, to kaunsi duniya mein hai?"

While the duniya had a surreal look to it, it was not the safest duniya imaginable, because of this...

... and these.

PS: Do note the return of the lucky ball.

Lost cause? Not quite. Trust Kapil to come up with a solution.

Kapil: Tum ek kaam karo.
Annie: Bolo.
Kapil: Neeche baith jaao. 
Annie: Kiyun (had this been me, I would have been suspicious as well)?
Kapil: Main bhi dikha doon ke main football player hoon.
Annie: Ye tum kya keh rahe ho?

Kapil: Dekho Annie, jabtak mere pairon mein football hai, ye mujhe touch nahin kar sakta.

So the greatest show on earth takes off. Kapil keeps kicking the ball from one bear to another...

 ... while Annie, on her knees, sneaks past the bears.

Unfortunately, Kapil's adventures do not last long. A fourth bear arrives; each one grabs a limb of Kapil's and starts pulling him in four directions.

One of the bears actually does this (the screenshot is not capable of showing that it is actually swinging Kapil).

Poor Kapil somehow gets away joins Annie on the tree (Discovery Channel, anyone?), but the bears are in no mood of giving up.

So Kapil comes down and bashes the bears with a branch (why did this not occur to him before?)

They find (and slide down) a mysterious chute, and land up in this position. This is not what it meets the eye. While the side view reveals the slope...

... the top view gives a completely different idea. Do note the bright blue water.

They eventually fall off, and guess what they land next to? The lucky ball!

For a moment I felt very sad for Kapil and Annie: what if clinging on to each other and the lucky ball was the closest they would come to having a family?

It seems they would lose the battle, but what was that lucky ball for? They spotted the helicopter that was looking for them.

There was, however, one question: what happens to the ball as they climb up the rope? This is how they do it (though they drop the ball midway).

Obviously, Annie breaks up with Aryan once she returns, and asks the question her father had been dying to hear: "Papa, aap do captains ki shaadi dekhna chahte the, na?"

This resulted in the happy family "THE END" picture.

Of course, that was not where it ended. It ended with a simple message. 

With a cohort of bears, snakes, cliffs, forests, and an orange shirt-flinging girl around, who else can you believe in (barring, of course, your magic ball and Discovery Channel)?