Thursday, April 21, 2011

An open letter to Sheila Dikshit

Dear Madame Chief Minister,
                                             My sincerest apologies for writing this letter in the first place and taking away a chunk of your valuable time that could've been spent in resolving state matters requiring urgent attention. Let me first express my deepest admiration for your excellent leadership skills. I know it wasn't exactly smooth sailing for you all throughout the Commonwealth Games preparations. But in my humble opinion, one or two major minor gaffes (like a footbridge collapsing and fatally injuring a few ordinary labourers) are quite within the permissible limit of screwing up. And besides, given the administrative capabilities of the majority of our politicians, you are like a ray of shimmering hope amidst blinding darkness. For God's sake you've maintained an iron stranglehold over Delhi since 1998. That speaks volumes about your popularity as a leader.
A humble commoner like me who isn't even a resident of the esteemed political capital of this country does not really have any business writing a letter to its more esteemed Chief Minister.
But then again I do. As is common knowledge, the number of crimes perpetrated against women in your city has been attaining mammoth proportions in recent times. And since I'm also a cursed blessed member of the so-called 'weaker sex', I can't help but express my concerns in the subtlest of manners.

A couple of years ago on an eventful day, when I was not quite aware of the plight of women in your state, I came back home to hear news of a tragedy that had occurred within my own family. I know it must be difficult to remember all the hapless victims of the past, but I'm sure the names Jigisha Ghosh and Saumya Vishwanathan ring a bell somewhere. Both of them were mercilessly murdered by the same gang.
Jigisha was a relative's daughter. An only child at that. I'm sure you can imagine the present state of her parents who are still alive somehow, but resemble the living dead more.

Sometimes we're under the wonderful illusion of being inside a protective cocoon and the things that we get to read in the newspapers, can't possibly happen to us. But then when this bubble bursts, we're forced to grapple with the dreadfully brutal prospect of  'I can be next'. And that isn't one bit nice.

Just recently someone had joked on twitter - 'Sheila ji is busy reminiscing about days of her jawani and hence she has conveniently forgotten to safeguard the jawani of Delhi women' - thanks to that melodious track from Farah Khan's latest masterpiece.
I can't help but express my disapproval over it.
At 73, you're still going great guns with no immediate plans of retiring. You're as good as jawan to me. And if somebody thinks you're old, then they need to be reminded of people like Achuthanandan (As Rahul Gandhi had so kindly done a few days back to be labeled an 'Amul Baby' back in retort) and Karunanidhi. As far as that 'dick shit' comment made by that New Zealand tv host goes....don't let it get to you. That racist dunce was just trying to come up with a proper pronunciation of your surname. He didn't mean any disrespect. I'm quite sure. I think.

When we read about an incident of sexual assault or molestation in the capital, we rarely react anymore. It has become as commonplace as another breaking news of corruption within the scam-tainted UPA. No Delhi girl expects to walk the distance from bus-stand A to bus-stand B, without the lingering doubt of being the victim of another eve-teasing incident.
If this goes on any further, I surmise that day isn't far when the political capital of the country will also be known as its "rape capital". And somehow that seems like a title no city/state would ever want to flaunt.

Will it be too much to ask you to revamp the decaying law-and-order system so that no more Radhika Tanwars are shot by stalkers in broad daylight? Or ensure that no Class X girl is held captive, raped by family and then gang-raped in the car in which she tries to flee? For all I know, prevention is certainly much better than cure.
                                  Yours sincerely,
                                   An ordinary and horrified Indian girl.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Heat and Hatred

This space has been a bit inactive of late. Curse this sudden onset of the dry season which has in all probability depleted me of my enthusiasm to write. Hence I've sought to remedy this predicament by seeking a guest writer's help.  Without further ado, let me introduce you to Pratul Bagri who blogs at Another World and who has come up with this fine humor post at my behest. Thank you Pratul. Over to you.  

Summers are finally here. And you know what that tan! Okay not exactly.

It is that time of the year when tv program breaks would be ruled by fairness cream advertisements. It is that time again when we'll occasionally hear Kailash Kher croon "Aaya mausan thande thande Dermicool ka!" in his now familiar rustic tone.
For the likes of Barney Stinson it is the season of exposed skin. It is the time when females would be sighted during the daytime in trademark spaghetti straps and short skirts, causing a hormone-induced state of unrest in the male species.

As for me I am gearing up for the heavenly experience of  being stuck in a traffic snarl at 2 p.m., when the holy fumes of petrol hinder my otherwise normal breathing processes and the unnecessary honking of horns provide unwelcome music for my ears. Some hot-headed, moronic drivers also present me with a golden opportunity of improvising my slang vocabulary at such a time. The headache from the heat gives me the time to think about the headache from the heat.

It is the time when I discover to my utter dismay that some clothes don't fit me anymore due to the weight I have gained lazing around in the winters. It is the time when I seriously consider the idea of jogging, then think about actually doing it and eventually give up on the ambition.

The thing I hate most about summers is that we have unwanted guests. Like.... Lizards, Cockroaches, Ants. Aunts. Did I mention LIZARDS?

You must be wondering about the deal with lizards and me. Why do I hate 'em? Well the incident dates back to a few months in the past.

On a pleasant afternoon, I entered my room and saw a lizard leaning on my wall. MY WALL!

Me (Like a boss): Hey creep get outta here!

The Lizard looked at me and then at my "Say no to Justin Bieber" posters.

Lizard: These yours?

Me: Yeah, mine. Why am I answering you? Get outta my room.

The lizard kept looking at me. From the evil glint in its eyes I knew it was planning something sinister. I realized immediately that the lizard was a JB fan. Just my luck! There was no escape now.

A couple of unsightly pair of reptilian feet let go of my wall and the thing fell on me. I lost my balance and fell down in turn. The lizard caught hold of my neck and started strangling me, like a madman. (although technically speaking it can't be a man) The torture didn't stop there 'cause it started banging its head against mine as well. The pain was unbearable. My brain tried thinking of every escape route possible and then something clicked.

I spit on the lizard. Disgusted by my action it got off me. I grabbed the opportunity and kicked the damn thing in the shins. *silence*

Revenge will be will be.

Next thing I saw was the lizard on its knees holding its crotch, immobilized by the pain, unable to even scream. I was panting, it was time to finish this off. I turned around to grab a big book to hit the lizard. As soon as I turned my back it was gone. I searched every where but couldn't find it. This incident instilled insecurities in me, sometimes I feel I am being followed, sometimes I feel that my phone has been tapped. Maybe I am being paranoid or turning into a conspiracy theorist.

But I know one thing for sure, the next time we meet only one would survive. And I've been patiently awaiting my chance ever since.

It could also be that my hatred for lizards is a concept that has been incepted into my subconscious by Dom Cobb.
True Story.


Saturday, April 09, 2011

The darkness within

Once in a while comes a movie which not only thrills but terrifies to the core. Leaves the viewer entrapped in a dark and murky world, desperately seeking out an escape into the bright summer day outside the confines of a room or a claustrophobic theater so as to get a re-assurance of the fact that the nightmare is only in reel. Not real.
Black Swan is one such cinematic experience. It's raw, it's life-threatening, it's spell-binding, it's visceral.

Plot: Nina Sayers (Natalie Portman) is a promising young ballet dancer, waiting in the wings for her big break in a prestigious New York City ballet production company. Her life pretty much revolves around ballet, the production company and her overbearing mother, a failed ballerina. She is an obedient daughter and that quintessentially 'clean' girl, obsessed with perfection. So when 'Beth' (Winona Ryder) the age-ing star performer of the company is ditched in favour of Nina as the lead for Tchaikovsky's Swan Lake, it's easy for her to fit into the shoes of the White Swan, a symbol of virginal innocence and beauty. But she falters while trying to portray her darkly sensuous, evil twin the Black Swan. Enter Lily (Mila Kunis), another trainee, who shows promise as a prospective choice for the role of the Black Swan. And Nina's world slowly begins to turn upside down as she starts to harbor insecurities about Lily trying to grab the coveted role.

Being relentlessly criticized by the director Thomas (Vincent Cassel) for her 'frigid' dancing and inability to connect with the Black Swan's persona, Nina gradually begins to shun her acute sense of self-restraint. And as she delves into a darker side of her psyche that she didn't even know existed, things start spiraling out of control. Until she can no longer discern reality from her own delusions.

Black Swan is an eerily surreal experience. In my humble opinion as a lover of quality cinema, this movie deserved an Academy Award for Best Picture as much as The King's Speech or The Social Network did. But given the obsolete ideologies of the Oscar jury and the fact that Black Swan doesn't so much as tread on the delicate ground of subtlety to cloak its very raw emotions, it's not hard to guess why it never had a chance to begin with. (I'm referring to the much-hyped scenes of lesbian sex, yes)

With respect to the main plot and the story, this movie doesn't exactly have something new to offer. It's the execution, the deft camerawork and the haunting background score that set it apart from films of the same genre. It leaves you shaken with a lingering feeling of being stalked by your own shadow. Or even worse....a doppelganger. And craving for an immediate antidote to counter the darkness. Such is the amazing genius with which Darren Aronofsky has crafted this masterpiece. You can love it or hate it. But you just can't deny the effect it has on you.
Coming to the actors, Vincent Cassel, does justice to his small but significant part as the prickly Thomas who pushes Nina to the edge. Mila Kunis plays the role of the feisty Lily with panache, giving fitting support to Portman, who has truly delivered an Oscar-worthy performance. The way her facial muscles contort with fear or anguish or the way her voice quivers with anticipation or inherent shyness does more than enough to convey her vulnerability as Nina. Only she could've made Nina seem so compliant and helpless in the face of madness which threatens to engulf her very existence.
The fact that Portman trained hard in ballet for months is quite obvious from the ballet sequences which have been meticulously shot to make them appear believable.
Although I can't help but make one passing observation about Portman - at 28, she looks like she could pass off for 35.....or maybe it's the make-up or her sickly thin appearance.

To conclude, I'd like to say that if you're an aspiring ballerina or wannabe actor, keep a safe distance from this movie. It's not exactly a good idea to know that a mere role can detach one from reality so completely that it may lead to one's ultimate destruction.
My rating: 5 out of 5 stars. No less.

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