The Eyes

Standard

The Eyes

They had been in love for years. But in the middle, their flame had burned down. They didn’t love each other like they used to. Their talks became bland and boring. They didn’t enjoy going out anymore. Little shows of care, of love were magic; but they too had ceased to have any impact. They were caught in a rut, and they knew it. They were nostalgic, longing for a time gone by, but they were caught in a rut and didn’t know what to do.
Except one day, they started talking, and it was just like before. The magic, the love came back, and the nostalgia cracked off their lives. It was just what they had been searching for. She knew how it came back, but he was happing knowing that it was back; not caring how.
In the middle of their rut, their nostalgic frenzy for how things were, she met someone. She would talk to him, and feel all the things she did before. The excitement, the care, the spontaneity; all the things which disappeared for her and her great love. But with him, they were all there.
He helped her. She tried bringing back what she was with him, but by the time she got back to where she needed, it would all fall off her, as though washed away by the rain of life without him. Slowly, she fell in love with him. Or maybe how she felt with him. But, she felt love in some capacity.
Their time however was, brief. Before long, he died. Hit by an out of control vehicle. She met him one final time when his eyes were about to close. She saw him, looked into his eyes, let out a silent wail and let him go.
After that, she went to the rut with her great love. But somehow, she found how she was with him. The rut started going away, what they needed to find had been successfully, found.
Her great love was happy that incessant repetition of the mundane had got the, back where they were never considering the mechanics of its working. But she knew. She knew their rut always loomed when she didn’t look him straight in the eyes when talking; which he took as a sign of love.
It was those eyes which reminded her, of him. Her great love and him, both had the same eyes. When she looked into those eyes, she was transported into a private dimension where she was with him, not her great love. It was the eyes, she knew, why they were able to find what was needed to be found.

Book Recommendation-Click by Rom and Ori Barfman

Standard

Don’t all of us remember the time when we just Clicked with someone? You were with someone, sitting or standing or walking, and you started talking and it all felt perfect. Like all the stars aligned and the planets too were aligned and it was an event of great cosmic significance. It was all perfect. You could pour out all you wanted to, without being afraid of seeming clingy or emotional or weird, and the other person reciprocates. You both were on some different plane of existence, and you just got each other.
That is a Click. That magical moment, when you and the other person just, get each other. It could be set off with even a small spark, like some words exchanged in an office, or maybe sitting across each other in a table, or just a random conversation about anything, or shared adversity. Anything.
A click seems pretty simple. You talked, and magic happened. And from there on, the magic took over the entire relationship and you knew you would be with the person for at least forever. But we all know that. What we all don’t know, is what goes behind a Click? A Click is such a rare and simple phenomenon, which happens to all of us in our lives, but we never know how or why it happens. We pass it off as serendipity. Click, the book talks about how Clicks take place. What are the factors involved in it, and how small things, which we often think insignificant or uncomfortable lead to people Clicking.
Honestly, this book is fantastic. I’ve read it twice and what it teaches is fantastic. More importantly, easily applicable in everyday life. A major part of what it talks about is how people come together, Click or not. Not every conversation leads to a Click, but that doesn’t mean that conversation can’t take you forward. It tells you various little nuances of the human mind, such as proximity, similarity, the quality of conversation, personality, environment and how these impact human nature and the way we come close to people.
Clicking is not a very well defined research area; hence a lot of what Rom and Ori talk about in the book comes from personal experience rather than being backed up by statistical data or scientific evidence. So, people who like data and proof whether such things work will need to take a leap of faith. I can vouch for the experiences, since I’ve used many of the techniques in my life.
Vulnerability, one of the first concepts, rarely suited me. Because I used to feel fake being vulnerable at will with someone else; and because I don’t bond well over vulnerabilities, usually. Proximity, on the other hand I’ve seen the effects first-hand. Being in the centre of the line and the end have a lot of impact on how many people you can talk to, and hence Click with. Environment, undoubtedly one of the biggest factors for conversation; and we all know its impact and use.
Even for a causal read, Click offers a lot of insight into how we can better ourselves and make better connections. Because all of us, want to feel good, and make the other person feel good as well, till the time it is the person who licks the teacher’s behind (Let’s face it. We all hate these people). Because awkward conversations make us feel weird as well. Because all of us wouldn’t mind being friends with everybody we can be (or be respected by them, if not liked).
There is nothing much more to say about this book, because it really doesn’t talk about much; rather than me writing it in short form, it would be better to read straight from the book itself. It’s a good book, and also substitutes as good advice to better your personality.

Movie Review- Lipstick Under My Burkha

Standard

Lipstick Under My Burkha is an important movie, just like Pink from last year. Just like schools have recommended readings, this is a film which should be a recommended watch for everyone, especially India. It portrays how the peace of most Indian houses is founded upon the burial of desires of Indian women.
Most Indian women have desires which they could not fulfil when they wanted to, or usually before marriage (Because marriage in India has a lot of complications for the women, such as a wife going back to her parent’s house is “Something wrong has happened in the household.”) But then again, desires are never truly finished. They can crop up at any age and stage. Desires aren’t bound.
But above all, women are restrained, physically, emotionally and sexually, and they aren’t allowed to live their life completely. A part of them must always be secretive, scared, afraid, constantly aware and second guessing for wanting to fulfil their desires.
Desires can be simple as well as complex. Hey can be something as simple as living a life wearing jeans and modern clothing rather than a Burkha; or having a sexual relationship at the age of 55. It can be something as forbidden as having a job, or as fundamental as wanting to leave a place behind and go away from it. However, fulfilling these desires is out of bounds, and getting caught has consequences. Not those movie consequences, where everything becomes alright and people make up. There are real world implications; places from where people can never come back from, and decisions which can never be reversed.
What makes Lipstick so important is that it shows four real non-sexualised non-caricatured in the real world without sugar-coating of any sort. It shows how women have desires; how many times these desires are the cause for conflict. How these desires make the remaining qualities of a woman immaterial, and it makes them unbecoming of a woman and shameless (Because women are always supposed to have shame. Men, not so much. They can be, and are usually forgiven on account of it being okay for men to be shameless.) Even the act of buying a condom for safe sex is a shameless act for a woman.
Lipstick follows four different women but closely related women in their lives. Usha Bhuaji (Ratna Pathak Shah), a 55 year old woman who rediscovers her sexuality. Rihana Abidi (Plabita Borthakur), a Muslim college going girl who wants more than the confines of her Burkha and parents. Shireen Aslam (Konkana Sen Sharma), a saleswoman who has troubles at home. Leela (Aahana Kumar), a girl who dreams of getting away from the confines of Bhopal. All of these women live in the Hawai Mahal, of which Bhuaji is the owner and the rest are tenants. (I’m forgetting the correct name. Apologies).
All four women are organic and their stories are relatable. They aren’t the stories of some obscure origin. Most people will be able to relate to them. They are powerful and moving, but most of all, they are true.
There are so many scenes in the film which portray how austere the oppression of women is. In one scene, Rihana dancing with no care in the world is deemed blasphemous enough by her parents to lock her in her room. In her room, Rihanna has a secret life where she idolises Miley Cyrus (Now, where have I ALSO seen a double life, lol).
Lipstick is a film about women, and it shows them as humans, rather than as perfect beings who are always right and without flaws and vices. The women in Lipstick are often on the wrong side of things, do things which are condemnable and vengeful. But we are not here to judge these women. We are here to simply peer into their lives and see the kind of restrictions they fight against on a daily basis. In addition, the prices these women pay for their desires are far greater than those paid by men. So we truly, have no right to judge them. We must simply accept them to be as flawed as men.
Alankrita Shrivastava, writer and director of Lipstick does a magnificent job in capturing the things which signify how women are oppressed. There are things which even I had no idea about. There is also the thing of how women in their quest for desire are also afraid of other women ratting them out.
Lipstick Under My Burkha is one of the most powerful movies of this year. Period. Nothing anyone says or does can take this away from Lipstick. If you haven’t watched this film, do it. If you are planning to, great. If you’re not, change it. If you think this movie is a sex-fest, it’s not. If you think this is a movie about empowering women or feminism, it’s not. If you’ve watched this movie, you’ve already felt its impact. If you’ve watched this movie and think it’s stupid or senseless, change your thinking.


 

Chester, Linkin Park

Standard

IMG_20170725_130615_Bokeh_01.jpg
Chester Bennington. Linkin Park. It is so unreal thinking that Chester Bennington is not with us anymore. It feels so, so weird that I will never be able to hear Chester’s voice in a new way again. Like a pit has formed in my stomach which I cannot fathom. That no song ever now released will have a new style of Chester’s voice.
Chester’s death came as a shock, an insanely massive one. My friend, Simran Bodh called me up a little after midnight. At first, I thought it was a call because she was pissed off because I didn’t tell her I had finished “Kafka on the Shore”. I picked it up nonchalantly and asked, “Sup”. Her only words were, “Did you hear about Chester?” And I went like, “What Chester?” And she went like, “Chester from Linkin Park.” And I was like, “Of course I know Chester from Linkin Park (Come on, I grew up with Linkin Park)”. And then she went, “He died.” And I was incredulous. I was like, “Are you mad?” And then she told me to check google and I did. And all the incredulity in me about what she said was torn away. I thought it would be some fucker spreading misinformation or something, like how we had talks of Linkin Park breaking up and stuff. I checked google, and I wrote Chester Bennington, and the second search result read “Chester Bennington death”.
I went silent. I was like, “What the Actual Fuck are you talking about.” I couldn’t believe what I had just read. I checked Wikipedia, twenty different articles and I just couldn’t believe it. I was on call for two hours, wherein I just spent the first hour repeating, “Na he’s just gonna wake up and be like ‘It’s all fine. I’m alive’. You see.” Some part of me just couldn’t believe he was gone. I kept on reading more and more articles, as though it might actually reverse what had happened or that all of them shared a source which was wrong.
The second hour I spent on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, looking at all the messages people left for Chester. So many people had put up so many beautiful things. One person told how he had loved them and he even introduced them to his children. One person put up a video, showing the first song they ever played on the piano: In The End. So many people saying that Linkin Park song’s got them out of a tough time. One person said My December pulled him out of many a tough times and he was sorry it couldn’t pull Chester out of it too. My brother has Iridescent as his pick me up song. If only Chester could see the impact he and Linkin Park have had on all of us, the impact their voice had on us. Maybe.
It was only after he died that I got to know Chester had depression. I knew he was molested as a child and had drug and alcohol addiction issues, but I never knew about his depression. I saw an interview that day itself in which he said (I’m paraphrasing), “There are days when I feel nothing. I want to feel happy, but I wake up and I can’t.”
There are a lot of people who are going around saying Chester is a coward for committing suicide, and it wasn’t the way. But suicide is never the first option, or the best. It is always the last option. When you think nothing else can pull you through. And frankly, even though I’ve never been through it, I feel it is not easy. Think about Chester’s thought process. When he was thinking of committing suicide, how much strength he would have needed. He was leaving behind six perfect children, a beautiful wife, and an amazing team with whom he had been working for the past 17 years (20 if we also count their Xero years). And he still did it, because he saw no other way.
Linkin Park has been a friend all these years. They are the first band I ever heard, and alongside Fireflies by Owl City and some songs by Maroon 5 and Death Cab for Cutie, have greatly influenced a lot of my works, especially my earlier ones. Every piece I write, I make it a point to reference Linkin Park, because it is because of them that I am able to write about things much more mature than my age. The Parks in my blog name stand for Linkin Park.
All these years, for some reason, no matter how different Linkin Park became from their initial sound, they always pulled me back. I had this cycle for every album they released after Minutes to Midnight. I used to listen to it, I was like, “This music is so different,” then I wouldn’t listen to all the songs as much as other Linkin Park songs and then one day I would listen and realise that it is still Linkin Park, even though their music has changed. And I would be hooked. I eventually realised it. It was their lyrics. Deep, and powerful. Every new album, I would see that their music was vastly changed from their previous album and they still rocked it. Every single time. Their lyrics allowed me a view into worlds and emotions beyond what I knew at that age. They still allow me to view into different worlds, and shake me apart with the strength of their lyrics. All the time leading up to One More Light, everyone went crazy. “What is Linkin Park doing,” “They’ve sold out,” and what not. I heard Heavy and I thought it was good. It wasn’t their best song, but I still liked it and it struck a nerve with me. Despite their change in music, they hadn’t really changed. They still kept their songs emotional and from the heart. Then came Battle Symphony, and I was blown away!!!! I was like, “WOOOOOOOOOOAAAAAAAAAAAAHAHHHHHHHH!” I can’t even put into words how awesome that song is. Like, Damn! Amazing! And then, they followed it up with Invisible and I went like, “DUUUUUUUUUUDDDDDDEEEEEEEEEEEE!!!!!!!!!!!” Linkin Park has always got it. Both of these songs have somehow crept up to positions 5 and 6 respectively in my “All Time Top Linkin Park Songs”. And every song I hear of Linkin Park’s, I go like, Damn! Even after all these years, their songs are still intact with immense power and meaning. Their songs never lose their charm.
So, when I heard Chester died, I just felt sad. It was upsetting. It was like, losing a friend, and knowing that nothing you could do to help him. If only my writing about my love for him and Linkin Park could keep him alive, or bring him back, I would never stop, never finish this article. And there is no need to worry, because even after I’m tired, or gone or unable to continue, someone else will take my spot. And we would have only stopped when Chester would’ve been ready to go.
There are still so many things I haven’t articulated, simply because I don’t know what they are, and the things I do know, how to write them. Linkin Park for Life! I grew up on the Park. We all did. Some of us grew up and went away from the park, some of us are still there, roaming around. But all of us, we Grew up on the Park.
Rest in Peace Chester, keep rocking wherever you are, until we see you again, and hear your voice in new styles. Godspeed my friend, I will always remember you. You will always be in my memory

The London Food Diaries

Standard

So, here I am, in London! It’s been 4 days since my grand arrival to this land of different food and landscapes and buildings. Even before I got here, I knew I would be busy clicking photos of all the food items and shops and notebooks I see and buy here. So, on Sunday night, it struck me. Why not do a whole series of it, on Instagram, Twitter and the blog? I love food, and pictures, and so many people do it, why shouldn’t I also do it in my free time? It will be a great way to spend free time, since it’s tough to write here (I’ve written 2 minutes in the last five days).
So, then I decided I would start the London Food Diaries. Even though it is called Food Diaries, it will include photos of the magnificent buildings, the road side, the Harry Potter WB Tour( Awwwww yessss!! Potter-philes, get excited), the Disney Store and a lot of Star Wars goodies (You didn’t think I would include Harry Potter and leave out Star Wars. Tch Tch Tch.), notebooks which I’ve bought, and of course, food.
I haven’t really thought how I’ll integrate all this into the blog, but I have a clear idea how I’ll do it for Instagram.
Also, I’ll soon be starting a new Instagram account for the blog in some time.
Till then, all the pictures will be on my Instagram profile – shrey_ahuja (hyperlinked with my profile), You can search me on Insta as shrey_ahuja . It’ll be a pseudo-intellectual picture of me trying to appear smart, along with a “Joey doesn’t share food” tagline and a link to the blog.
Right now, I have to go for breakfast, because there is amazing breakfast options here, it’s already 9 AM here and everyone wants to go out. So, I’ll start posting when I come back from hanging around today. Till then, Au revoir.
Happy Reading!

Chats-The One with myself

Standard

She was cosily asleep in her bed, wrapped in her blanket. She had a peaceful look on her face, a sleep uninterrupted by frequent alarm sneezes or the need for water or the washroom.
It was eight forty five, fifteen minutes till her alarm went off and she woke up. Her room was silent, no sound to disturb her. All the lights were switched off, only the ambient light illuminated her room. The room had a picturesque and quaint feel to itself, like out of a movie.
Another ten minute passed before a voice rose in her room. “She should wake up any second now”. There was no reaction or movement by the girl. The voice didn’t even faze her. The next five minutes till nine went the same as all the other minutes. The odd voice either had its watch set to the wrong time, or was in the wrong room.
It turned nine in her phone and it started ringing and woke the girl up. She woke up with a sudden jolt. She picked up her phone and turned it off. Her face betrayed her long, deep sleep. She looked shocked and lost; obviously troubled by the loud screeching noise. She shook her head and then readied herself to let go of the momentary shock and start the day.
“You’re getting sloppy”, the odd voice rose again. “You used to beat your alarm and turn it off before it even had a chance.”
“I know. I’m getting tired,” the girl replied nonchalantly, stretching her legs. A second passed, and all of a sudden she became shocked. “Whose voice is that?” She had gotten to the side of the bed, eyeing her room cautiously.
“Mine,” the voice responded without any sarcasm or comedy. It was straightforward.
“Oh ha ha,” the girl said. Her voice was sarcastic but worried underneath. “How funny. That’s a convenient answer, isn’t it? Isn’t our voice always our own.”
“Yes, yes it is,” the voice responded like before. “Aren’t all our voices our own?”
“Great. Now if you could tell me who you are, in proper terms.” She was eyeing her room for any weapon she could find.
“I am you,” the voice rose again.
“Oh hi me,” the girl answered sweetly. “Could you tell me just one thing,” her voice rose till she thundered. “Why are you troubling me?”
“Because you need to get out of the rut you continuously put yourself into. Where you lose all energy and excitement to beat your alarm clock. Where you wake up happily, not shocked out of your wits,” the voice thundered.
The girl was caught off guard. The outburst was the last thing she expected from the voice. She looked blankly ahead and stopped her search for a weapon.
“I’ve already answered that. “There was silence between the two. The voice was waiting for the girl to speak. The girl searching for the answer.
“Where are you?” The girl eventually broke the silence. She got up.
“Follow my voice. I’ll let out a little hum. Reach there,” the voice responded and then started emitting a light hum. The girl followed the hum to its source and reached it; her standing mirror. “Take a seat,” the voice said.”
“My mirror?” She put her hands on the mirror and moved it along.
“No, you,” the voice spoke again. “Have a seat.”
She turned around and pulled a chair. “Me, as in, my reflection?”
“No, you as in your mirror. What, do you think your reflection is you in a different world?” The mirror chuckled.
She let out a little chuckle. “So, you can also be funny. That’s good to know.” She made herself comfortable in her chair. “But what’s this whole thing, you know. You my mirror being me and all that.”
“I’ve never questioned it. It’s become a long standing tradition of ours; and I’ve become too comfortable to actually put an effort and know about it. I’ve always been looking over you; trying to help you through everything I can. I look at you going to bed and waking up every day five minutes before the alarm. And sometimes going back to sleep after shutting it off in the sanctuary of your bed; away from the world. I’ve seen you excited at wearing new clothes. And all the times when you’ve stood lost, with that look of sadness and despair, staring into the mirror while grooming yourself, before you’re suddenly jolted back into reality by some unseen stimuli. All those hours fretting, not feeling good enough, all the phone calls which make you feel happy, feel good, as well as those which steal away your peace of mind. I’ve been through all of this with you. It’s been my sole love to do, from your birth to your inevitable death. I’m always looking over you.”
“What about after when I die?”
“Like I said, I’m you. When you die, I go along with you.”
There was another long silence between the two. The girl hunched over her chairs, fists forming by her sides. She was breathing hard, straining her mind to move towards something.
“Why are you here all of a sudden? Talking to me like this, when you’ve never done it before. What changed all of a sudden?”
“I think I reached my limit. Looking at you go through all this; again and again, with no end to this loop till you are pulled out of it.”
She closed her eyes and thought. She took in a few deep breaths and sighed. Realising all that the mirror was talking about. Day after day of constant poison, the people whom she was with every day. Who put her down, didn’t appreciate her, made jokes about her, shouted at her; drained her energy.
“Why do you let them do that to you? Why do you let them bring you down, tell you you are a mess-up for the littlest of things? They laugh at you when you tell them about your dreams and aims. They poke fun at you, make jokes about you. Try to pull you down to where they crawl and leech. Them and all their incessant alcohol and smoke vapours, their mind numbing and boring conversation which couldn’t even stimulate a rock. Their pathetic waste of time. All you do is go along with it, hiding behind a fake smile, trying to be fine with all this. Why do you let them do that?” The voice thundered its words, except the last sentence it was about to say, which it said gently. “Most importantly, why do you stay?”
She stayed motionless throughout. She heard every word with her eyes closed, and the words played themselves out in front of her. A few seconds later, she spoke. “Maybe it’s because I feel there is good in them. That this is just a phase and they will snap out of it someday.”
“And for that you let yourself get thrown around like a ragdoll?” The mirror thundered again.
“You could be nicer you know,” the girl thundered back. “Screaming at me isn’t going to help.”
“I know. I’m sorry. I thought maybe the screening would get some sense into you,” the mirror apologized.
“I feel bad too. But it’s the hope that they will see the light. That’s why at times I feel it’s okay to be with them.”
“How’s that worked out for you?”
The girl chuckled. “Not too well.” There was more silence between the two, then the girl spoke again. “But it could have been worse.”
“Yes, surely could have been,” the mirror joked.
The girl laughed. “Imagine me, walking around like a zombie, navigating through bars with more zombies like me.”
“That would surely be horrible,” the mirror said unenthusiastically.
“Yeah. But I won’t let that happen. I won’t become a zombie, or what you fear I’m becoming.”
“I know. But it still worries me.”
“Would the worrying help?”
“In ways. It catalyses me into action for you. But not too much worrying. That leads me to anger and losing control.”
“Everyone keeps on telling me what you’re telling me. It’s not easy.”
“What?”
“Doing what you believe in and standing against the ridicule of others. It’s not easy. It gets too strenuous most of the time if you go at it alone. Talking, like now, helps. Even if it is against what I feel. I let out some things and learn something as well. How to go about it better, or how to improve. And not just here, with my friends, but life as well.”
“Is all this worth it? All the feeling bad, getting up late, being drained of energy?”
“I honestly don’t know. I mean, it’s weird. Do you stay with the friends whom you’ve always been with? Or do you let it all go away? What does one do here?”
“Whatever one’s life has been up to that point.”
“I guess so. Your past dictates a good part of your future.”
“Yes, but there are exceptions. Sometimes you can do things which nobody expects you to do. We all have that in us. That’s why we have reached form sticks and stones to steel and now the internet. Who knows where we’ll go from here? Cosmic beings of pure intelligence? Or maybe beings who only communicate telepathically, or our eyes? Or maybe creatures with no bones, so we won’t have any fractures. And where will we go from there? It’s all endless. And entropic. But fascinating.”
“You watch way too much sci-fi mirror.”
“You’re bad at holding these conversations, especially given how much you loved wondering about all this in your thoughts.”
“I can’t stay the same.”
“But you shouldn’t change to the extent where you start losing all that which made you happy. Are you happy?”
“I don’t know. It’s tough to say. I smile, I laugh here and there. So I know I’m not sad. But happy. Explain happy.”
“Not being sad I guess. We haven’t put much thought into it.”
“Wow. Before you, I never knew I was so smart,” she mocked the mirror.
“Ignorance is a gift cherished only by the complacent.”
“In this case, this line fits. You are what you say,” the girl smirked.
“And I am, in all aspects, you. With my quip, we shall get back to what we were talking about: happiness.”
“You can’t digress, can you?”
“Not by complacent people.”
“I guess I’ll have to get moving then. What do you think happiness is?”
“It’s a state of satisfaction maybe. Not having thoughts plague your mind. Your eyes have a specific shine, glint in them. They aren’t searching constantly for something, or lost deep in thought. It just, feels great.”
“But you can’t be like that all the time. What if you’re deep in thought? Or there is something stressful going on in your life? Or you’re having a particularly deep conversation which doesn’t involve a lot of smiling.”
“Happiness isn’t discrete. It doesn’t come and go from one situation to the other. It’s always there.”
“How certain are you while stating such a thing?”
“I don’t know. Maybe very, maybe not very. All I know is, we used to be happy in the past. We were better than this. Even when we had a bad day, we knew life was still happy. Somehow, I guess that hasn’t stayed.”
“Or maybe we just remember the happy parts of our past and cling onto them? Or we associate happiness with particular qualities. Which, if we stop having, we believe will also take away our happiness. Maybe we’re unhappy because of ourselves. Because we keep on searching and searching for something to make us happy rather than actually setting out sights on what’s there in front of us which we should appreciate.”
“Rightly so.”
“We constantly put so much pressure on ourselves. To be happy, to be who we were. To reach back to where we were, which in actuality moves us further away from it. Happiness is the ease with which life moves. That ease cannot be brought about by pressure. We must struggle in life, but not for happiness. Never for happiness. Happiness brought about by pressure isn’t happiness. It’s something else.”
“What?”
“What what?” the girl chuckled. “I can’t know the answer to everything. Think for yourself.”
The mirror laughed.
“Given your mind, you deserve so much more than you are getting. You need to go out and get it.”
“But what if I fail? And lose what I am even above?”
“We can never let fear guide us. It takes from dimly lit to dimly lit; always in the safe comfort zone between the pitch black and the radiance. It’s a terrible waste to only look at things from one level of brightness. “
“It is. Life needs colour, lots of it. And perspective. It needs to be big, not long.”
“So, what do you make of it?”
The girl did not respond. She sat in silence, thinking about her answer. She had brought her left knee up and put her chin on it, her arms wrapped around her knee.
The air around them started to become wavy, as though fading out.
“I don’t know. I guess I’ll have to make a plan. See how much more I should stay, and where I am headed to. I think I’ll decide the path only before I set on it, not now.”
The waves became fierce, darkness started to seep into the waves, little images of a room, with light like hers an hour ago moving into the present. A noise started beeping, a high screech.
“Wait, what’s that?” The girl’s focus shifted to the beeping noise. “That’s my alarm clock,” she exclaimed.
“Why, yes it is,” the mirror smiled. “Time to wake up and put your thoughts into motion.”
“What?” She was incredulous. “I’m asleep? Is this a dream? Meaning none of this happened?”
The waves became more intense, and the room from the past mixed in with the present and became more prominent.
“Its status of having happened depends on how you felt it. If it felt real, could it not have happened just because it is not how things are not supposed to happen?”
The waves reached their maximum, and the present had all but lost itself in the past. Frantic, the girl said what she knew would likely be her last words. “Who, are you, then?”
“You,” the mirror smiled.
The waves broke upon reaching their maximum. The waves broke into a quaint, picturesque room, like out of a film, the girl wrapped in her sheet, the alarm ringing incessantly.
The girl, in one swift motion, shut off the alarm and got to her feet.
“Five minutes late,” she said, looking at the phone, which said 9:00 AM.

 

Movie Review- A Death in the Gunj

Standard

A Death in the Gunj has created a lot of buzz since its release. To everyone hearing about this film now, it was actually released back in September 2016 for film festivals. It was screened at a film festival in Indian Habitat Centre (IHC) in May this year even before its release. So this film has been around for a long time, and after four months of trying (since February) to get a copy somehow, I finally saw it in the hall. And it was well worth the wait, almost!
A Death in the Gunj is by no stretch of imagination the best film of this year, but it’s still a fantastic one. It is a drama/thriller film, which in my opinion is one of the most mismatched combination of genres, along with Horror/Comedy (I don’t who even does this. I and a few friends of mine stumbled onto this on a night stay.).
A Death in the Gunj is more Drama than thriller. A Death in the Gunj has a huge cast of characters: Shutu (Vikrant Massey) as the sad, troubled (for the lack of a better word) cousin of Bonni (Tillotama Shome), who is the wife of Nandan/Nandu (Gulshan Devaiah), and their child is Tani (Arya Sharma). Then, there are O.P. Bakshi (Om Puri) and Anupama Bakshi (Tanuja) as the parents of Nandu, whose house serves as the location for the film. Then there are friends of Nandu and Bonnie: Mitali (Mimi) (Kalki Koechlin), the weird and sultry friend, VIkram (Ranvir Shorey), the asshole (as in you’ll find him to be an asshole, but most of the characters think he isn’t), and Brian (Jim Sarbh), the friend whom we never get to know. Then there are the comic helpers of the Bakshi’s, Manjiya and I forgot the name of his wife. Apparently no site mentions these characters’ full names or the actors. So they are either not given enough importance, or are not actors. Which feels wrong, because their name should have been mentioned.
The film pays a lot of attention to the characters and the interaction between the characters. It takes its start sloooooooowwwww. I think what Konkana Sensharma did was flesh out the characters by their interactions. For eg- You get to know about one side of Shutu when he is with Tani, and another side when he is with Nandu, and another when he is with Mimi. So, you never truly explicitly get to know the characters well, or what the others feel about everyone, because the relation between Bonni and Shutu isn’t very well fleshed out, and the relation between Nandu and his father only stays at the surface. Or why nobody every questions or says anything about Vikram being an asshole (God he is such an asshole, all throughout. So is Nandu as well, so I guess that’s why they never realise). While I do admire what Konkana Sensharma has done, I couldn’t help but feel that there was a lot missing from the characters. The characters, except Shutu are largely 1D, especially Brian who is 0.5D.
The acting though, by all of them was superb! I came to the acting portion of the movie only two hours after the movie. It felt strange, because I never noticed the acting, even while watching the movie; which isn’t something I do. That’s when it hit me. They were all (the cast) so natural and so lifelike, with their weird mannerisms, stupid antics and their spot on odd 1970’s hairstyles (The movie is set in 1979 BTW), that you never realise any of them is acting.
One thing I did while watching the movie was guess who would die in the film. It says a DEATH, why not have some extra fun? I actually tried to make up reasons why some character or the other would die and how. Also, all of you will get a warning about Paranormal activities at the start of the film. Let me just inform you that there is very minimal paranormal stuff going on. The disclaimer makes it look more serious than it actually is and take it with a pinch of salt. That disclaimer really distracted me, because I kept on thinking that there would be some paranormal element, which there wasn’t. Thank you Pehlaj Nehani.
Konkana Sensharma has overall done an amazing job at direction. I think this is one of the best directorial debuts I’ve seen in my life. I wouldn’t be surprised that she receives tons of nominations for her work here. The pacing of the film is a bit slow however. It takes a lot of time to set the characters up properly, and there are some scenes here and there which could have been trimmed, and shorten the movie up by five minutes or so. It doesn’t seem like much, but those five minutes could make the movie crisper. The cinematography is outstanding as well, to say the least. There were two shots of McCluskieganj which were so beautiful, like right out of a game or a Japanese movie. The trees, the terrain around them, all seen through the mist from an overview. Phenomenal. That is the most beautiful scene I have ever seen in a film.
Even if A Death in the Gunj hadn’t been a debut, it would’ve still been a phenomenal film. There isn’t much to hate on in this film, though a lot to love. It’s a natural film, like the flow of the ocean with some low tides and a high tide.

Rating-3/4