About that next step

I am starting this post, because I have decided to write. About anything and everything. One Essay per day. That’s the new quota. It’ll help me get a better GRE AWA score, and also prepare me for the novel that I’m one day never gonna write.

So, let’s get started.

Why is my next step GRE/MS/post grad.?

Education is important. I think(hope) we can all agree on that. Education opens up one’s mind to all the possible ways the world can be studied. It opens our eyes to the different ways of thinking about and dissecting the same scenarios and problems. Although it doesn’t itself lead to a higher intellect, it might lead a person on the path to discovery of a higher intellect.

Well, my pursuit of MS is no noble pursuit. I am not chasing higher intellect or another way to dissect my random musings and the meaning of my existence. The simple reason for my decision is that I want a degree from a good university. I want to experience what it’s like to study with some of the better minds of the world and share some mental space with them. And the single reason I want to do this is, that I don’t respect the people around me.

I like people who are around me, don’t get me wrong. The only problem is that I don’t think I have much to learn from them. As in the words of Benjamin Franklin, I want to surround myself with minds of higher thought process than myself. I see people around me stuck, in money mostly, or social life, or the corporate ladder. Or maybe I am ignorant and I don’t understand how they are also looking for a simple life, without much stress, and are in fact much ahead of me when it comes to the matters of the soul.

Either way, I want to grow. And I want the sweet sweet label.

My thirst for growth and learning could also be satiated if I was working in a company I deemed brilliant enough, but guess what? I’m not brilliant enough to work in any of them.

So, I have to study.

There’s also the fact that I want to experience the american life. I’ve been dreaming about it since I was a teenager, so I figure, might as well experience it in this life.

The biggest deterrent to my resolve is my intellect. I can’t justify or find much meaning behind these shallow reasons, which make me lay back in my bed, and not prepare for GRE at all. Well, maybe tomorrowūüėõ

Welcome to the concrete jungle

Welcome to the concrete jungle, surrounded by lush green flora, collections from the most exotic locale, much like its inhabitants. Why is the flora so green and fresh? Why the green outline to the black mirrored boundries? Government regulations? A sense of environmentalisim? Decoration? Who has the time to think.

Welcome to the concrete jungle. Surrounded by steel gates, but afraid of humanity leaking in. If you take a walk around, you’ll see the inhabitants walk about this jungle, careful to watch that they don’t step onto the green sea. Carefull enough not to malign it, not attentive to what they’re so carefull about. It’s beautiful in a way. So many different specimens beautiful in their own way, paid no attention by anyone except people who are paid for them not to die, much like the inhabitants themselves.

Welcome to the concrete jungle, surrounded by behometh gates, but for the fear of humanity leaking in. The culture here is sipping on jugs and sucking on tiny white tubes. Sucking in and sucking up, for the fear of the fear leaking in.

There, standing behind the beautiful red abomination of a thousand species of red flowers, are our protagnists. Say hi. They’re warm. They’ll wave and smile back, even if they don’t remember where they shook hands with you once, or shared an elevator, or stabbed you in the back. Go on.. say hi.

Aashiqui

Iss qadar kyun chahte hain tumhe koi ilm nahi humein

bass chahat ki har hadd kuch iss kadar paar kar jaeyin

dil se nahi rooh se kuch pukaar niklti hai yun

tumhe paakar bass tum mein khud hum simat jaayein

dil cheer kr dekh lo, kuch khabar nhi kyu aisa kuch ho rha hai

bass tumhare ikk chehre ko dekh kar mera yeh dil ro rha hai

kuch yun tumhe apne andar jazb kar paate gar mumkin hota

kuch haalaat alag hote yaa kuch hum insaan alag ho jayein

dil cheer kr dekh lo, tumhara naam likha hai har kone par,

bass ab thake baithe hain har kona iss dhabhe se harra kar jayein

humein kadar nhi unn sab ki jo hum par jaan lutaye baithe hain..

bass tum par aakar aisa kyu lagta hai k sabki jaan luta jayein

tumhari rooh ko chuh lein to shayad jannat ka rasta mile humein

tumhare rooh ko chuh lein to shayad jahanum ko alvida kar jayein..

ikk roz ye soch kr baithe the k aaj bhool jayeinge tumko

ikk roz ye soch kr baithe the k aaj bhool jayeinge tumko

fir socha kya maloom apni pehchaan ka tukda shikast kar jayein..

inn bahon ki bhookh to naa jaane kab se lekar baithe hain

inn bahon ki bhookh to naa jaane kab se lekar baithe hain

iss soch mein ab baithe hain k tere naam ko gumshuda kr jayein

teri jaan.. teri yaad k sadke.. ab iss hasti ko alvida kr jayein

Punjab 1984 – The story of a mother

If I had to encapsulate the theme and emotional power of Punjab 1984 in a few words, I’d never be able to ace these couplets from the movie’s soundtrack :

Haadh Diyaan Paindeyan Ch Vichchdi Hai Chaan Bann Ke Bedard Haakma Tu V Vekh Kade Maa Bann Ke Mudh Aa Ve Laadleya Ghare Ammi Udeekdi

Mere Pind Di Oh Paun Nu Suneha De Dyo Mainu Lorriyan Sunaave Kitte Maa Banke Ni Main Kujhe Wich Aunga ‪‎Swaah‬ Bann Ke Ni Main Kujhe Wich Aunga ‪‎Swaah‬ Bann Ke

That’s all Anurag Singh’s Punjab 1984 is, and all it had to be, a story about a mother looking for her son. The film opens with a brilliant scene during the attack on Golden Temple, a scene so poignant, I’d have to look long and hard to find anything which matches its simplicity and sincerity¬†while depicting such an important and sensitive¬†event for millions of Sikhs around the world.

The movie then movies to a year and a half later, with Kirron Kher as the main character of a mother looking for her son. Like she says, she used to be worried that he returns home in time, and she still is. The opening credits carry a serene sense of  her morose life, her daily routine, as she visits the police station daily, and waits for news about her son. This is of course not a unique or isolated case. It is the story of upheaval in the lives of countless families in Punjab during the period of the Khalistan movement. It is the true story of thousands of mothers, whose sons went out on a day as ordinary as any, never to be seen or heard from again.

The methods used by the police to suppress insurgents during this period, and politics of the situation is well documented and well known(Click¬†here¬†& here to read more). Family feuds, and personal grudges intertwined into the political war that was underway. Many policemen misused the sanctioned power. As the general sentiment goes, who watches the watchmen?. Our protagonist’s story is one such incident, with a land hungry neighbour, and a power hungry policeman.¬†The mother’s powerlessness in¬†the situation is reflective of our own impotency in face of political power even today, especially today.

The backstory moves briskly, with the serviceable blend of a happy go luck protagonist, loving mother, strict father,¬†‘love at first sight’ song and dream sequence before getting to the actual meat of the plot. Of course the mother is portrayed as righteous as any can be found in the breadth of the hindi or punjabi film industry, without any flaws or intricacies of a human. She is perfect, kind to any and all, even to those who have wronger her. The only humanizing characteristic she possesses is her loss, and her resolve to find out what happened to her son. But Kirron Kher’s acting truly liberated¬†the character and saved it from crossing¬†over to the territory of melodrama.

The moments chosen to elucidate the mother’s situation are a step away from the cliche’d moments we’re used to witness in movies. Here, they’ve used small moments, dialogues, to evoke the sense of loss and frustration. A moment that particularly stood out for me was when she has to go through the pictures of boys recently killed in Police encounters and shootings. The camera lingers on her face as she is handed the album, and it is kept steady, as we feel her hesitation. She slowly starts to look at the album. The camera still lingers but zooms in a little, as we feel along with the mother, the fear before the turn of each page, and the small respite before gathering enough courage to turn the page again. The scene transitions to reveal a few¬†glimpse of some of the victims. As the mother reaches the end of the album, she hides a smile of relief behind her chunni. The acting by Kirron Kher is top notch in this scene.¬†The direction and photography¬†is particularly masterful. Frankly, I was surprised with this level of finesse in a punjabi movie.The film is so engaging that when the words ‘intermission’ appear on the screen, I had to check my watch to confirm that 90 minutes had indeed slipped by.

The second half starts strong with an incident inspired from real life, and a terrific scene, where the mother learns that her son might have died. Her son’s friend informs her that her son might not be bound anymore, he¬†is finally free. The agony and restlessness is brilliantly depicted using the mother’s reaction. The director might have overstayed to milk the scene for some extra tears, nevertheless, it’s a very powerful scene. Why couldn’t it have stayed that way? The movie changes gears and the story starts to falter, like the writers were¬†unsure where they should go from here. Then scenes start to fall flat, emotions and melodramatic dialogues start to fly high and it completely¬†derails in the last thirty minutes.

Spoilers

The plot shifts to the going ons of the present day as the drama and body count starts to rise. There’s some unnecessary resolution of the land acquisition plot. Granted, it did set the whole plot in motion, but the follow up and resolution fell flat, and frankly, felt unnecessary. Also, the romantic sub plot overstays its welcome and acts¬†as a distraction sometimes. But it still adds to the realness of the movie, and works to a certain extent. The depiction of the ‘movement’ is cheapened to cheap ploys of a couple of power hungry politicos. But of course, our hero saves the day, and how.

After this point, the movie goes from being a grounded representation of the reality of Punjab to generic masala fare. The last thirty minutes might be inspired by any number of the mainstream ‘100 crore club’ bollywood movies. I literally cringed at the Salman Khanesque moment when the ‘hero’ challenges the arresting officer (the villain in this case) and throws away his gun to have a hand to hand fight.

At first, I balked at the writer’s poor choice to go this route, but then it occurred to me, that perhaps the writer had was so deeply emotionally invested in these stories and so frustrated with the powerlessness of the common man, or even his helplessness as a writer, that it was a chance for him to let off some steam, to exact some revenge. It was a¬†masturbatory exercise by the writer, where he was¬†literally bashing the shit out of such policemen and the system and the movement who were responsible for such mishaps. Whatever the reasons were, in my opinion it nullified all the respects and dedications it wanted to pay off to the victims and their families, a message so explicitly stated at the end. It was almost an insult, that those boys weren’t strong enough to change their fate, or fight to survive… only if they’d been heroes. Anyway.

The film climaxes when our protagonist finally returns home with his head and chest held high, just as he had envisioned it. It should have been a touching and a much needed emotional¬†payoff, but I was still barfing from the last fight scene.¬†The movie ends with such a¬†weak and tailored scene, that it¬†seemed like they cobbled it together at the last minute when the writer finally gave up on the story. The only saving grace of the climax was the acting of Diljit Dosanjh and Kirron Kher, which supplied some much needed emotionality, and grounded it to a certain extent. The haunting¬†lyrics of the song¬†‘Swah bann ke’ also¬†help.

Apart from the acting, the cinematography and editing are considerable well done. The movie has a bleached look with a yellowish tinge used effectively to illustrate¬†this bleak period in Punjab’s history. The frames, shots, and length of scenes are mostly perfect with the camera lingering just long enough to leave an impact. The music of the film is very strong, especially the songs ‘Sawah bann ke’ and ‘Ammi udeek di’. It’s the first time I’ve seen music so well used in a Punjabi movie. Here it’s not a distraction, but helps further the story forward and acts as a beautiful supplement to help effectively portray the emotions of the characters. Overall, I would say that it’s a must watch, even if for the beautiful first half.

P.S. If you want to listen to the songs, click here.

P.P.S. For a political analysis/review of the movie, read this.

Fanaa…

Anjaan hain dil k halaato se hum, ghumon ki surahi se khushi k jaam peete hain

Yu ulajh chuke the zindagi k dhaage, k tod kar hi sukoon sulajhne ki ummed karte hain)

Ikk aakhri dor atk rhi hai saanso ki, tut jaane ki dua kabool ho ye dua krte hain

Gir rhe hain andhere karmo ki gehrai mein, ab bass jahannum k darwaaze ke sahaare liya karte hain

 

Naa jane kab girne lagi fir ankhuli aankho par roshni, Ikk farishte ki tasveer si tatolte hain

Beshaq koi khel khel rhi hain ye ummed ki kirne, inn ankhon par bhale ab tak bharosa kar kiya karte hain

Saari umr lga kar nafrat k khazane kamaaye hain, kayi paak dilo par dhoke k daag lagaaye hain

Iss noor k aakhri deedar ki ijaazat yu farmaan hui, iss kismat par pakiza hone ka ilzaam ab lagate hain

Gar maut ki panah haasil kar chuke hain.. kisi ki dua k sadke hi jannat ki jhalak ka mazaa utha rahe hain

 

Purani yado ka bawandar kuch aisa panapne lga fakat, uska wo aakhri kalma hawayein gungunati hain

K kya fark hai batao meri chahat aur tumhaari mohobbat mein, jo farishte bewafaai ke ilzaam lgate hain

 

Kya kehte hum dil ka haal ye soch kar katrate the, fir bi sadaiyo se chupe raaz kuch yu sunate the

Tum chahat mein apne dil ki zidd ki hifaazat karte ho, hum mohobbat mein teri ruh ki ibaadat karte hain

Tum shayad hume paane ki beparwaa umeed karte ho, hum beparwaa anjaam tumse mohobbat karte hain

Ikk zindagi ka khayal bhar hai kisi benaam shayar ka, ikk zindagi ka sarmaya sa bayaan karti hai

 

Inn yaado ke nashe mein bass zindagi ko alvida kar dein, issi ummeed mein roshni se mu fer lete hain

Qayaamat tak le ske khuda ki har sza hass kar, iss manzar ko hum aankhon mein to ab yu kaid karte hain,

Jisse zindagi bnaya uske haatho maut ka taufa mila, iss tameel ka shukriya ada hum roz karte hain

Therapy

Sometimes, writing is therapeutic, sometimes I write to calm myself, to see the truth, to not be lead astray…

Dil chodd de ye zidd inn dilkash lamho ki,

Inke Haq mukammal ho chuke zamaano ki baat hai

Inn aahton ki dhoop ki chahatein naa kar

Inmein jalke zinda rehna parwaano ki baat hai

 

And then sometimes, it just flows out of me.. like a stream I have no hopes of controlling, I can only wait for it to pass.. and hope that I can hold on, keep my feet on the ground and keep moving

Sab jod k ab chodd de, Iss waqt ka pahiya tod de

Dil dil ka chakkar chod de, Iss mod se ab muh mod le

Kuch dil k tukde baant de, Iss gum ka rasta chodd de

Gumm jaa hadd k galiyaaro se, Ab sharm ka ghunghat oddh le

 

Par maan le kaise baat ye, Iss dil ka dard prakop hai

Lad lein iss duniya se bhi ab, Iss zid ka koi naa tod hai

Ladna mushkil sa hai par ab, Uss nadaani si soch se

Uski baato ki nok se, Usske dil ki uss chot se

 

Anjaan bane baithe hain bass, Ikk  darr se naata jod k

Hain choron ki hum basti mein, aur dil bhi humse chor hai

Lutt kar baithe hain kabse hum, ikk parde ka afsos hai

 

Inn bikhri tooti yaadon ka, kuch mol nhi unn nazro mein

Inn lamho aur tasweero ko anmol banaye baithe hain

Dil se ladne ka zor nhi, Kya haal banaye baithe hain

Random thoughts of a kukoo heart

I had a horrible dream.. it was very sweet and enjoyable actually.. but it left me disturbed when I woke up, at the thought of my inner screwed up sense of love and relationship even if I’m outwardly very enlightened and intelligent about dealing with these matters now.. Anyway, I calmed myself by writing couplets and these are the choice couple out of half a dozen.. halfway decent I’d sayūüėõ

Chahat ke bazaar mein roz ek nayi chahat se dil behlaate hain..

Mohobbat ke deewano ka yaha koi kaam nahi

Perhaps not self explanatory, cuz I had to actually explain it to the couple of people who read it.. here chah carries its literal meaning ‘want’. So what it’s trying to say is that the heart is a jitterbug.. chanchal you know.. it gets attracted to something new everyday.. it gets obsessed with something new everyday.. and it’s very selfish.. the heart wants what the heart wants.. and these wants change everyday as old attractions fade and new ones develop..

Mohobbat here refers to love, which is eternal, not limited to lovers, flowing in all directions, maybe more concentrated towards some people, but it’s not selfish.. it’s a positive feeling.. how can it be negative when there are no expectations.. there are expectations in relationships.. not in love.. it’s boundless..

Anyway.. here’s another one.. self explanatory

Shamaa ke bazaar mein parwaano ka sauda kar aye..

Iss khel ko yaaro hum uski chaukhat par khatm kar aye..

Boht laanat di dil k saudagro ne..

Hum dil k tukdo ka ikk aur taufa kubool kar aye