Your personal timeline, a place to aggregate photos, blog posts, tweets and key events in your life.
Created by umennet on 10/06/2008
Last updated: 14/10/11 at 15:41
Langkawi, Malaysia April 17, 2010 Sat 10 : 05 PM
The impatience to get to the blog. The discomfort in being involved in anything that keeps me away from it, and the desire to be with loved ones again, bends my body forward to request my hosts to relieve me, so I can be in the alienated quiet of my room and environs. Be with the familiar face page, rue the expressions with the tiger in the background, quickly scroll down to the number of responses written, to judge the mood of the FmXt, to be in their territory and domain and finally then to push fingers.
Its peaceful now. Alone and with myself and the silence of solitude.
The event for Dainik Jagran - its annual conference - has just ended at the picturesque location in exquisite Langkawi, a resort some 45 mins away from KL, as Kuala Lumpur is often referred to in international speech, by aerial route. ‘Aerial’ ? … yes .. the influence of the T20 IPL Cricket and its commentators is and has affected the writing. Every time a sixer is pounded by the bat of a stalwart of the batting team, the most revered description of the moment is .. ” and Dhoni has had enough of it, he has decided it is time to take the aerial route !”. So aerial !
The Jagran Publication, many may not know, is the largest read publication in the world. At the after event dinner on the main table of the Chairman, the Chief Executive of the organization asked me a pertinent question. What does he need to do to increase the awareness of his publication in the rest of India. The importance, he felt, was more with the English medium, despite their numbers not matching.
I am unable to give a suitable response. But my very weak attempt at a possibility, went on to say that, once say, the film fraternity begins to believe that their paper is a major force or weapon of influence, in the commerce of their products, all attention shall converge to them. He makes an important point. When the films are made in Hindi, why so much reliance on English. Should it not logically then be the form, that the language of the medium should be the language of importance. But it does not happen that way. Why ?
I believe it is partly the legacy of our colonial past and partly the universal importance and acceptability of the language. English is the most widely spoken and understood language of the world and because of its this strong feature, to not be acquainted with it, has introduced a kind of social barrier. Suddenly, un knowingly the language has manifested itself into being and belonging to an inferior class. The attempts then in India, with its vast and very complicated culture, language and ethics, regionalized into hundreds of different parts, all bearing their immense importance within the conclave of their existence, to perpetuate a particular language, even if it has been given the stature of a national language, is repulsed and objected to when it is imposed with any kind of deliberation or force. And rightly so. Each region has a wealth of history in its presence and its culture, depicted through the strength of its own, very worthy speech. Imposition of any kind in usurping its importance threatens its very existence. No region would want to accept that, and doesn’t. So the next best solution to a much discussed and debated issue has been the acceptance of an alien structure, but one that no one else has any objection to. Yes there are areas of discontent even in this, but perhaps not as acute as they are for the other or others.
The event is pieced together with utmost care and efficiency. Uniformity in form, makes an impressive and perhaps deliberate presence. We are all asked to adhere to a particular dress code. The green collared T-shirt, packed and deposited in our respective rooms, black pants, black belt. I am an exception, sadly, in this exercise. My body does not do justice to the apparel I have been given and I forego it for a formal suit. I now stand out as a misfit among a sea of green collar shirts. This is almost in defiance as it were, to the much honored and revered ‘white collar’ distinction, often the measure of corporate dignity and grace. I think of this in this manner now as I write. Of course it does not, by any means, challenge the call of the management. No .. this is me just trying to be smart !
At the evening, there are some elegant and meaningful deliberations from people all over the globe of repute and eminence. They all give their own appreciation of the topic of ‘Determination’. They all accept the presence and largeness of the institution that hosts us today and they all lament the absence of the many others due to attend, but have been unable to, due to the volcanic disruptions, that through its eruptions, has caused most of Europe and the adjoining parts to be disconnected with the rest of the world - flights having been declared as hazardous to operate due to the dust that has now occupied the skies.
My own deliberation shall find suitable space later. My own shyness and diffidence preventing me from exposing it to general readership. But when I do overcome it, I shall be the happiest when it goes down to all of you. In better times or climes of course. So for now, its a reference only.
I speak …
“I look further: determination comes from determining. To determine, its meaning… one must return to its source…”
To decide or settle, in a dispute, for example, conclusively and authoritatively.
To end or decide, as by judicial action.
To establish or ascertain definitely, as after consideration, investigation, or calculation.
To cause to come to a conclusion or resolution; to reach decision; resolve.
To be the cause of; regulate.
To limit in scope or extent.
To put an end to; terminate.
To come to an end.
The Latin root of the word: ‘de –‘ from; ‘terminus’, meaning boundary.
Determination is to determine with the persistence of will.
What is the course of one’s will that leads to such persistence?
Determination, it is when a process comes to a finish and closes down. Why would one want to start first with determination when it is the last in a process?
An end to an intellectual and moral narrative?
The process itself prior to determination is the matter of interest and value.
One must believe in something prior to determination, be convinced of a course.”
The flight in was reasonably smooth. Over the Bay of Bengal and over the islands that bore the cursed pseudonym, ‘kala pani’ - black waters, during the time of the Raj when ‘unwanted criminals’ - another pseudonym for the more genuine freedom fighters, the weather has traditionally been rough. The dark clouds’ permanence over the region reflecting darkly over the sea and thus giving it its dreaded name, remained with me throughout my window. In the dark of a moonless night, the sparks of lightening all around as the Captain weaved and bobbed his 777-200, give the insomniac a fearful visual. But as dawn breaks through the skies on approaching land, and as you are exposed to greater visibility, you delight at the wonder of the green beneath, the bunched up colony of lights of the cities and then eventually, the mountains and mountains of palm cultivation, the oil of which the staple export of the region below, as you touch down in KLI - KL International.
Immigration dismisses your passport and visa in record speed as the officer graciously welcomes you with ” Wonderful to have you here. Big fan Mr Bachchan ! “. And then as you move towards the train transfer, a mobbing from locals, to visitors from India and yes even the security behind the x-ray machine develops a desire to commemorate the occasion with a keepsake. The Jagran family and all its delegates now converge from all parts of India and suddenly an entire Boeing 737 to Langkawi, looks like a privately chartered aircraft - we are all entirely the only occupants.
The Hotel is exquisite. It is by the sea and soulfully constructed. In the distance as you look out, various islands stand out and then it suddenly all becomes dark and gloomy. Lightening strikes that we may have encountered in the air a few minutes ago, now play in all their fury, above us. Sprinkling rain wets the surroundings and brings in a cool breeze. The dinner after, has been shifted for inside. And it was there that I had started today’s conversation.
The circle is complete and so is my moment for posterity !!
Love to all … and all ..
Prateeksha, Mumbai April 16, 2010 Fri 1 : 43 PM
I have come in early and by desire. I felt that most of what I write in a state when I do not wish to disclose too many details, causes confusion and discontentment in the minds of the extended family. There is always a happy complaint of putting things out to you in a more readable easy manner. Fine. It has been noted and shall be complied with.
My reason for those ‘confused’ thoughts were not meant to confuse you. Instead I was under the impression that they were making much sense in the way the mind was working. Fact is when you are flooded with too many aspects of your creative work and burdened with the desire to come to a quick firm and just, decision, the brain, particularly at my age begins to overlap ! What came through to you then, was the overlap, which had very cleverly camouflaged the real content. Happens.
I prepare to leave tonight for Kuala Lumpur and on to Langkawi, a resort further up in Malaysia Truly Asia, for a conference hosted by a prominent media house, Dainik Jagran.
They hold their annual conferences every year, or so they told me, in different parts of the world, where they call all their representatives and spend a week end of debate and talks on various topics for review. They wish that I address them on the topic of ‘Determination’.
This shall be a day trip and I shall of course return soon after to travel to Poland and Krakow Film Festival for the showing of ‘Paa’, volcanic ash over Europe because of the eruption over Iceland, permitting. I believe this ash cloud has caused all flights over and around Northern Europe and UK to be cancelled and there is no indication when the air shall be clean and clear to fly. So.. one shall have to wait and watch.
Poland grieves its recent tragedy. The unfortunate plane crash that caused the death of its President and several other important dignitaries. They have however indicated that the Festival shall continue and that there is no change in its plans.
I wish to thank all members for expressing their grief and sending their condolences closer home at the passing away of Jaya’s Uncle. Your messages have been passed on to her.
So yes, a number of assignments are being finalized now and I believe that when they shall hit the studios and the floors, I shall be in a position to talk about them. Its always better to do that. But yes MohanLal, that great exponent of his art and craft, one of the finest actors of the country, from Kerala and Malayalam cinema had come over to finalize dates and schedules for the film he is making directed by Capt Ravi. If you remember he had met me during my short visit to Kerala, when I had gone there to attend the honor ceremony for Resul Pukutty, on winning an Oscar. Its all in order now. Its a small guest appearance and I had agreed. They had come over to officially sign me on and make payments etc.. Ha..!! Payments ? Fees ? Remuneration ? For a guest appearance of 3 days ? With MohanLal who has always had my greatest admiration ? No way !! I don’t charge money for such acts. And told them so. I shall just gloat in the honor that I shall derive by working in a Malayalam film and that too with the exceptional MohanLal !! Respectfully declined their offer, gave them some home made tea, shook hands, embraced and saw them off. It will probably be shot in Ooty, the picturesque and quaint hill station in the beautiful Nilgiri Range of mountains down south. Such wonderful memories of several other films that I shot there. But of that later. Shall be visiting Ooty after ages. Hmmm ..
Rushing off to lunch. The ‘bahu rani’ beckons ..!!
Blue Diamond Hotel, Pune March 28, 2010 Sun 11 : 47
Mumbai at 5:30 in the morning looks and feels like a giant metropolis coming out of slumber and into another day and challenge. Early morning acts are a delight to watch as I drive by without any traffic hindrances to Pune.
The three wheeler rickshaw driver, who I often wonder is homeless because he is perpetually driving and seeking customers, will shake his weary body from the back of the passenger seat, which has become his abode for the night. The pavement a little further on a market strip, will be covered by 200 different papers and periodicals and dailies, lying along without any candor, for them to be picked up in bulk and then to be distributed to homes. In the mist and the dark of the morning, the hot steaming tea being worked up in the corner stall will be attracting its regular morning guests. An odd early bus shall lazily thunder by and people loitering about mumbling to each other on the prospects of the day will be observed. Worksites on various development projects shall be starting up the engines and the beyond in the sky still low after take-off shall be the blinkering lights of a domestic carrier.
It is a dream run to the high way for Pune and we have only just started the journey. But a few hours later than usual we are in the cultural and literary capital of the state, which competes with its elder sister Mumbai in glass lined high rises, completely against the character of the city.
Blue Diamond … many an interesting stay has been solemnized in these parts and old memories of visits for shoots and functions come streaming back. Not much has changed in and around the Hotel from the day it was constructed, except for a few cosmetic alterations, which is nice. And after a quick settle in we are back on the road to make an appearance in a Pune theatre screening ‘Vihir’ our Marathi film, just released.
The full house has just had the interval and I am surprised to see its conditioned occupancy, considering its a regional film. But we accept and delight over the response and after a few minutes with the audience still in awe and gratitude, leave for a rest before the Literary Festival.
The Festival is large … around 50,000 people all seated under a decorative canopy waiting for the procedures to begin. It is phenomenal to watch this large crowd of people showing respect and honor for the languages and for its literary heritage. Pune is and has been the cultural capital of this State and its literature and language a major player in forming its status.
Distinguished scholars and men of letters seat themselves within our formatted evening and after some welcome addresses push the mike on to me for the rest of the celebration.
There is huge appreciation for the rendition of a limited number of poems and soon it is over and we are back to our respective rooms. There is recitation of few Marathi poems or rather stanzas of them by me, and before long it is over. The crowds managed with discipline and culture as I prepare for another recital at a housing colony tomorrow and then on to Symbiosis, the institution that manages students desirous of making it big in the field of entertainment or any where. And then home !!
And as I sit in my room after the days acts, I study the media coverage on the electronic and am alarmed at how they cut paste my Father’s recitation to suit the drift of a story they may be designing.
Scant respect for the decorated and most invaluable works of literature, only because there is no knowledge of what my Father’s works mean or a deep anguish against them as they begin to exploit the moment for their commercial gain. The culture respect and order that literature so deserves, gone ‘to fetch oil’.
It is my opinion that there should be a law to protect literary content and not allow its exploitation or corruption. But who would listen or even consider its excessively important message.
The beginnings of the ‘doze’ creep in. I find myself punching names and words which have no connect or meaning whatsoever with what I am writing. It is time to close the ’shut down’ button and allow this screen to turn blue and disappear.
Good night my lovelies and my lovelaas …
OBLIVIOUS TO THE WORLD, OBLIVIOUS TO LIFE, OBLIVIOUS TO THE SELF - AN UNCERTAIN NON EXISTENT UNIVERSE
It is March in the 10th day, of a year that bears the digits of 2010 in a time of uncertainty between 8 of the PM and 9:25 of the PM too..
Silence and its ubiquitous influence, often envelops beings with nothingness, solitude and the fear of being singled out for an often misjudged and unguided persecution.
Silence has often been described by those with wisdom to be ephemeral, possessing a life cycle that is short, though their prescriptions do educate quite the other. Its golden qualities exhibiting a strange possessiveness.
Silence admits guilt and several unexplained dividends, which at times chase past you in restrained maturity.
Silence builds character in proportions many seem unnecessary.
Silence is devoid of argument and response and is therefore unique in its one sided overbearing presence.
Silence is the impregnable fortress that defends and protects the purity of innocence, the moat, whose waters, purified by the inhabitants of truthful on one, deflate the unjustified attacks of the untruthful adversary on the other.
Silence is the glass contained vacuum that provides visibility of the perpetrator, but diminishes his presence and act, in gravity free weightless, random, unconnected movement.
Silence is the voice of illiteracy ; when you possess no knowledge or language or voice, when you possess no mind or thought or opinion. When you quite simply, just do not know. And are not educated nor qualified with the guiles of response.
Silence speaks within ; all else without.
Silence could well be provocative. At times disarming the provocateur - an agent provocateur !
Silence endorses conservation - it clamps the doors that would open to the release of human energy.
Eleven is in order. Eleven is auspicious. Eleven references. Eleven aspects.
Eleven silences above. I counted them after I had stopped .. and they were eleven ! Strange that I should say this, but I did. Strange that I should write about it or think or contemplate, but I did. Strange that I should construct eleven of them, but I did. Strange that I should share them with you, but I do.
I was born in 1942. A time in the life of my country that was in the throes of a struggle that would write history. A history of defiance and right, of freedom and independence, of democratic norms and equality, of getting rid of dependence of foreign rule, of being liberal and self expressive and having the authority to be able to express it. I wish at times to have been born earlier. To have been matured in the time of our struggle, to have had the honor and the pride in being a part of this fight. Somewhere also has been the hidden desire to have been born at the time of the world war II, to have partaken in the resolute fight against the fascist terror, to have seen first hand its defeat and the ultimate victory against it.
Many thinkers and analysts, people with the ability to see and foresee have often decried the state of the nation. Of all that has been wrong, of all that needs to be done, of expectation and dreams, of a democracy that was built to be an example for the world, of our failures and obstacles that keep recurring again and again. And many that come out with solutions or semblances for solutions lament the fact that the nation has lost the one factor so prominent at the time of its search for independence - a goal to fight for.
They say in many different ways, the need for us to have a goal to aspire for. The predominant spirit of leveraging our struggle to reach a destination has now vanished. There is nothing they say that can be even remotely construed as an effort to be somewhere. And so in this condition the ‘fight’ and ’spirit’ is missing. What is it really that we must do to get that fight back. To build that spirit back.
And the silence that prevails after this is questioned is deafening.
For there is no one to take the initiative. No one to spell out the plan. No one to motivate us into action. No one to look upon collective gain.
There is desire. There is motivation. There is a plan. But all of it is directed towards the individual. What is in it for me. Where do I come in. When do I get it.
Its never us or we or ours. Its always I me myself and mine.
Yet the irony or shall we say the sad dichotomy of all such philosophy gets defeated, when we go down in history and assemble case studies of some of the most historic events that changed geography and times.
And you shall find that the initiator of all such moments was …
…an individual !!
Whether a Gandhi or a Hitler !!
Many observations were made by some enlightened respondents on the blog on the issue of ‘removing the demons within’. Good and evil coexist within us. You needn’t go out searching for them. Look within and we shall find them. Deal with them first before delivering that first sermon. Overcome that before you get overcome d.
This state of being oblivious to the world, to life, to all around us may seem a most selfish desire. But do we not conduct ourselves often with similar trait.
What’s in it for me ?? Yaa … what’s in it for me as write this DAY … a record breaking 900 responses ??
Keep dreaming brother B … remain within yourself … and within your own estimation …
My love … without any estimation whatsoever
OUT OF LONDON, IN THE WILDS OF OPULENCE AND UNCERTAINTY, THE UNIVERSE Tue/ Wed 9, 2010 1 : 35 AM in the wilds
I have not read a book as consistently as I have ‘The Proudest Day’, India’s long road to Independence by Anthony Read and David Fisher, in recent years. There was of course “Gone with the Wind” and Ali’s biography which were equally involving as was Nixon’s. But this one has had me engrossed somewhat frighteningly. A history of times gone by, detailed by some authentic deliberations on fact, gets you thinking on many aspects of what we observe and perceive now. Gets you thinking on several facets of our existence and the issues that we face as a nation as a community as a society. I see many incidents that became turning points in our lives connected to what history had to to say about it. No. History does not have anything to say about it, but what transpired then does reflect at times on what transpires now. And what transpires now is at times baffling to the newcomer because he has no knowledge of the past. And this I would like to believe is the problem of every problem - lack of knowledge and circumstance.
Ideally I would have liked to have marked a few instances from the book and reproduced them, but I am still only at the beginning and do wish that when I complete it there shall be ample occasion to quote and expand on many issues.
Palatial spaces, affluent design, magnanimous structure can become an overwhelming experience for any mortal. But when you think back on history and the effort and time spent in constructing what would have been overwhelming and extensively large and ominous, you wonder whether all the largeness had motive behind it. And I feel yes, yes it did. Just as any excess overwhelms one, so also the excess of the forts and palaces of the past were designed to overwhelm the oppressor or the visitor. How else would the feeling of respect and awe be built for the ruler or the conquerer. The idea I would like to believe was not merely a living space that had the capacity to initiate a French or Russian Revolution, but a space to overwhelm the visitor, to make him gasp in amazement, to make him feel small, infinite, in the presence of a company that languished in this show of grandeur.
And the more you visit such destinations the more one marvels at the extent of the imagination of those that expressed desire to build what they did build. In our profession when at times a bizarre film is made, we often joke with the maker as to what it was that he had been drinking. But here in these extraordinary visuals and immensely ornate environs what can we ask ? It is beyond any drinking that may have been consumed !!!
May God bless those that had the madness to think of such construct and may the Lord bless those that had the patience and time to see it fructify. It is there in every corner of the globe. The magnificence of creativity, the beauty of imagination and the perseverance of execution. Nothing quite like those days ever came back and shall never will, but we must dwell and appreciate the existence of the times and the contributions made for us to admire and live by.
In a few days it will be Muscat in the Sultanate of Oman and the International Film Festival, where there shall be decoration for a Lifetime of Achievement. And as I busy myself in counting how many such achievements I may have received, there is consternation on my continuing to work. Leave they say, while the going is good before you ruin it all by working in insipid films. Make your decision and retire and live life in rest and fulfillment. Damn if I shall rest. My rest shall be dependent on the desire of my body to continue or not, and not from some self indulgent sms from devoted fans. Dear lady of the sms, did you ever play an advisor when I struggled alone for work. Did you have any word of advice then. And why didn’t you. What circumstances do you find yourself in today, to suddenly become ‘this keeper of my brother’. I did not start because you told me to. I will not stop for the same reasons.
Hot chocolate and cookies at 41,ooo feet !! And sincere flight stewards from BA, never even wanting to drift by ‘jobsworth’. No sleep again in this long and arduous journey, but many healthy thoughts on what the book I was reading said and did. It is disturbing to read reports that belittle country and name. What is it about country and soil that evokes the highest emotion. Why and how does one get so protective of one’s own land and property. Nation and national first. All else after …
Even my good night to the EF … love as ever .. and ever
Prateeksha, Mumbai March 4, 2010 Thu 11 : 12 PM
These above are NOT pictures, they are pictures of paintings. Paintings done by Dr T Anil Kumar of World Art Works India Pvt Ltd, who has visited me this morning with this incredible piece of artwork. Quite quite overwhelming !! 68 characters over a period of 41 years and their distinct looks being put up asa a school classroom concept or on mugs. Absolutely amazing !! They shall be autographed by me and auctioned and the funds collected will be given in charity to the Siddhivinayak Temple at Prabha Devi in Mumbai.
In a short while from now I shall be on my way to London, where BAFTA shall be recognizing Jaya through a Lifetime Achievement Award and Abhishek will have his retrospective of films accompanied by a Master Class. This is great honor for the family and as its head a moment of great pride for me.
The Readers Digest conducts a poll on who the nation trusts the most and of the 100 that have been voted for, yours truly finds a place at 14, below some rather prominent luminaries. This is quite surprising too, especially since there are no other film stars ahead of me and the closest below is Aamir at 18. I am delighted not so much at finding a place in this honor list, but at the fact of the importance given to people of the film industry. 50 - 60 years ago we were looked upon as someone children from good homes were asked to avoid. It was infra dig to be connected with films. But look where we are now. Culturally now an important part of the diaspora and perhaps an entity that commands an important place in the identity of a nation. May our Industry prosper and thrive and achieve even greater heights and respect.
Finally, I have accepted Raj Kumar Santoshi’s new project called ‘The Outsider’ to be produced under the banner of Feroze Nadiadwala. After shaking hands he excitedly connected me to Gaffar Bhai his illustrious Father, a great name in film production and with whom I was coming together after a huge gap. I think we did something in 1973, perhaps ‘Adalat’ and then nothing. He was nostalgic and happy as was I.
‘Finally we come together again’ , I respectfully speak in.
‘We were always together’ he graciously responds, ‘ but we were just not moving’ !
Pertinent words. Not moving. Yes, I think we need to keep moving. If we do not, how on earth do we explore, experience, discover. It is imperative that we do so, particularly in a profession such as ours. To meet new challenges, new ideas, new people. To be tested and to test. To labor and endeavor for the best that we can accomplish. Sit down and idle … naahh !! That would kill us. Stagnation is a curse. It only helps breed infection, pollution and inevitably despondency.
When you move the world moves along. When you stop and idle, the world moves past you. At times difficult to catch up later. Good to remain in the pack. We may not be up there, but at least we are there.
I am there and looking forward to moving long … with your blessings and love as ever ..
Prateeksha, Mumbai March 3, 2010 Wed 11 : 33 PM
Someone once gave me a piece of advice - when in despair and sadness, wear something new, buy a gift for yourself and see the change. I saw it today. I wore something that I had not worn for a while. It had been so long, I had forgotten I owned it. So, on it came and I cannot tell you how rejuvenated a person I have been the entire day. Fresh and excited, lithe and optimistic. I should wear myself on my sleeve. Would go a long way in keeping my countenance in shape.
My appearance may be in keeping with the temperament that a new object infuses in me, but what does it do for those that fail to accept it and have succumbed. There are many that have given up, resigned from life, abstract, still and allowing it to take over. I would imagine they too live a life. A life which they have chosen according to their standards. But everyone need not follow that. Life does allow one to take off on a tangent. Sometimes it brings a tangential difference !!
At the Filmfare Awards, when Mumbai Mirror had not appeared, the affable editor Jitesh Pillai had asked me if I would give the Lifetime achievement Award to Shashi Kapoor and I had agreed. With great pleasure. I missed that more than the the expectation of winning the best actor award. Seeing him confined to a wheel chair, was something I could never associate with Shashi ji.
Shashi Kapoor, that handsome gentle man. A smile on his face forever. A considerate calling on each meeting, now in this condition ? Never !!
He had pulled me out of a scene in his film where I, because I was hungry and did not have the money to feed myself, had taken the job of an ‘extra’ a junior artist, in the film where he played the hero. It was a James Ivory - Ismail Merchant film, ‘Shakespearewala’. A funeral scene was being picturised at the sea rocks off Bandra Band Stand. I took up an offer to be part of the crowd that had come to mourn the death of the ‘Hero’ Shashi Kapoor ; part of the funeral party. He was not supposed to be there at the shoot - the scene was his funeral !! But he was there and he spotted me. Came up, pushed me out of the crowd, chided me with “Are you mad ! You have bigger things in store for you, don’t do this ” and walked away. Later I believe he had that entire scene edited from the film. Professionally then, we came face to face much later in ‘Deewar’. He had always been an endearing friend before, primarily because of the relations our respective parents had, but now he had become a benefactor. At social get togethers he was always that considerate polite and effervescent host. When I was living with Mehmood Bhai much later, his brother and my dear friend Anwar, my colleague in my first film Saat Hindustani, used to pinch Mehmood Bhai’s car and go off for drives. He had a blood red colored Jaguar sports, the classic, and Annu and I would pretend to be these stars out on a limb, purely because of what we were driving. Many would gather around us when we hit the road in this convertible with the roof off, only to be disappointed by its inmates on closer examination - ” Arre ye toh hero nahin hai yaar, koi zero hai !! “. This is no hero, its some zero !
We would enjoy those rants as much as we did the fresh breeze that swished passed us on Marine Drive, as we rambled along in the late evenings. One such evening, we had a visitor. Well not exactly a visitor, a passing visitor. It was Shashi ji in his newly bought Mercedes and he had crept up on us from behind at great speed and in trying to back wheel us had accidentally moved in too close and … bang ! Off came his bumper, clanging along as a separate piece on the road. We had helped him pick it up and he drove off without a complaint. I believe he had walked in to his house with the bumper in his hand and proclaimed to his astonished wife Jennifer - ” A gift darling, from Amitabh and Annu ” .
Film after film we did together, Shashi ji and I, and shared some of my most memorable times together in the Industry. He is now my relative. His elder brother, the great Raj Kapoor’s daughter Ritu’s son Nikhil is married to Shweta. I spoke to him on his birthday some days ago and then again when I wanted to invite him to the premier of Paa. He had sounded weak in voice and expressed his inability to come. ‘I am not well’ , he had whispered faintly and I told him I would arrange a special screening for him. But I had never expected him to be the way I saw him at the Award function in the pictures a few days back.
Deewar, Trishul, Namakhalal, Shaan, Suhaag, Kala Patthar, Do aur Do Panch, Kabhi Kabhie, … just an endless list of such wonderful films … never to come back again !
The American Counsel General paid a visit to my humble abode this morning to talk about Haiti and the devastation there, and how we could come together to help and assist the citizens of Haiti in coping with this disaster. Approximately 300,000 dead ! As humans we must all be concerned when fellow humans are in distress and whatever can be done in this direction would be helpful. Government of India backing and media support would be most appropriate to urge us on and one hopes that that is possible.
Abhishek and Shweta meanwhile have had a most awesome and wonderful ‘darshan’ at the Golden Temple in Amritsar. They were allowed to spend almost an hour inside the complex and Abhishek even did some ‘kar seva’, by cleaning up the premise, and washing the dishes at the ‘langar’. There were two other prominent gurudwaras that they visited and were ecstatic about their visit. It is always such a joy to see children putting their minds to faith and devotion. Nothing would give me greater joy and nothing I believe could be better than their achievement in belief and prayer.
God’s blessings to all … in love and in more …
London, UK February 22, 2010 Tue 9:40 PM GMT
There are moments in life when time place and circumstance bring you back nostalgically to reminisce, to look back, to remember moments spent, reliving events of a bygone time, with a gentle smile on your face.
I look into the mirror this evening and notice a similar smile. A smile without reason or cause. It is a smile not pleasant with body or mind, but one that harbors a tinge of melancholy… no that would be too dramatic … not exactly melancholic, but somewhat unexplainable. I feel and sense goodness. I brim over with a peculiar confidence, yet feel labored in admitting it. There is the joy of achievement, accomplishment, but the harshness of irreverence to it by the world and society. Yet when it does get acknowledged the awkward embarrassment of it, leaves you with a wish it almost should not have been there.
A very strange state to be in, if it can be called one.
I have just returned from the Silver Star charity event, for the Mobile Diabetic Unit being presented to me by the Prime Minister of Great Britain, Gordon Brown for my city Mumbai at a rather well attended sit down dinner evening at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London Central. The Prime Minister speaks gloriously of me in his speech and my contribution towards such noble causes. He jokes about how his television audiences at a recent event went out to 4 million people and how the release of my latest film in a few days would reach out to 500 million ! His generous praise makes me wonder what it is that I may have done to receive such accolade from one of the most powerful and important people in today’s world. During the photo opportunity with those that have contributed towards the event he has a kind word for everyone. He talks of the diverse cultures that exist in his country and how the Indian community has made such valuable and vast contributions. He acknowledges the rapid manner in which India progresses and looks upon it as a marvel and finally how working together towards a common cause can bring about results that would be the envy of many.
There are diplomatic representatives from several countries, there is distinguished presence of those entrepreneurs that started off small as immigrants to England and through hard work and labor established themselves now as large corporates and vibrant businessmen. There are the affluent in British society that modestly contribute to the evenings proceedings and there are some interesting entertainers that bring a mood change to the evening. And there is Shilpa Shetty and Sanjay Dutt.
Keith Vaz the MP from Leicester is the major domo of the evening. It has been his initiative and drive that runs the charity so efficiently and who has been a true friend over many years.
The Prime Minister comes in and leaves without too much fuss on security and protocol, much like any other visitor for the evening. It is his birthday and a cake and a single candle is brought along. As a group of entertainers breaks out into the ‘birthday’ ditty, he covers a self conscience smile with words on his sons. They would have been happy to have been here he remarks and obligingly cuts the cake bearing the front door and address of the official residence 10, Downing Street among the icing on top.
The Royal Lancaster Hotel, venue for the event. Royal Lancaster Hotel, our accommodation during the shooting of the climax of ‘Dostana’, Zeenat Aman, Shatrughan Sinha, Salim-Javed, Dharma productions, Yash Johar, all come alive suddenly. And my parents, both here with me for a holiday that I have brought them along for. Their room down the corridor on the far end from mine. All their friends and relatives coming by during the day to meet them. Students from his time of teaching in the Allahabad University now settled here in lucrative jobs. Milap Mausi ji, my Mother’s elder sister from Jullunder, now living here with her sons and my cousins, the Sikh side of my blood. The shootings every day at a remote airfield. Stunts on helicopters and cars, a huge novelty then. Make up trailer vans on location, a luxury then now a common necessity and visits in the night after pack up to the newest disco place on a roof top surrounded by green planters and owned jointly by an Indian gentleman who had spent most of his life in Europe, having left his home in either Bihar or UP. I had met him in Calcutta, now Kolkata when he had walked into the office I worked in, Blacker & Co on some work. I remembered him because of the peculiar way he spoke Hindi. The tone Bihari but with large dosages of French and German accents. Unique.
The drives around London in common friend Khalid’s Rolls Royce - such a kick, picking up many young lot studying in London ; Tony Jethmalani son of the eminent lawyer and legal luminary Ram Jethmalani, being one of them. Hanging from helicopters in the day, hanging at disco at night. It was the late 70’s. Life was still carefree and without stress. And when the shoot was over, accompanying Prakash Mehra from London to USA for the very first time. Canada, New York, Los Angeles .. heady days !! NRI’s in masses at cinema theatre’s where I was taken to show my face, by distributors of our film. Marketing at its initial stages !! Now a very refined art. System is the same, its presentation different. The hordes at a down town cinema hall in LA and my first meeting with the effervescent Kirit Trivedi who rescued me from the clothes tearing, hair snatching ladies pouring all over as I am pushed out from the aisles by security, in some haste - Kirit screaming expletives and guiding me in hectic pace to a white Rolls, dumping me in and taking off at the speed of knots virtually on two wheels, up the wrong side of the road !!! From that day on Kirit became a part of us and still is. Concert concepts, events, unique ideas all came from him. My very first stage concert, the world tour in 1981 and 1983 all his baby and all forming the origins of events for stars on a global level now.
Ahhh… !! Those were the days !! The energy and the excitement and the thrills of those unimaginable moments. Never to be seen again and never ever recreated till today. The frenzy and madness and the constant inventiveness of each day as we went along from city to city. Never before, never again !!
Ironically one of our tours was called ‘Now or Never’ !!
So much to say and so little the time !! Time now to say good night and with wishes for the Big B Group and the FmXt that trooped in to the Hotel this afternoon to devour some quality moments … thank you for spending time with me … love you …
And before we go -
Mumbai Mirror Apologize !!!
Mumbai Mirror Apologise !!!
London, UK February 21, 2010 Sun 1 : 45 PM GMT
Mumbai Mirror Apologize !!!
Ms Menal Baghel you are the Editor of the Mumbai Mirror ..
Ms Menal Baghel you are a woman ..
Ms Menal Baghel your paper has maliciously slandered the modesty of another woman ..
Ms Menal Baghel your paper must apologize !!
Outrage and support builds up every minute for this unethical behavior and I am just so overwhelmed. Yes there are the regulars that show solidarity and concern, but there are some that are alien to the blog, alien to me as an actor, alien to me as a human being, but yet when it comes to the issue at hand, they join hands !
A gentleman writes that he has never liked me as an actor or as a human being, but says in this matter he is together with me. I am deeply touched. Thank you sir !
A respondent from the blog sums it all up. This is Dr Sara from Pakistan -
February 21, 2010 at 1:10 am
me my family n All Pakistani Nation is with U And ur Family Mr. Bachchan.
Pakistan and Pakistanis are supposed to be enemies of Indians. Here a Pakistani is vouching her support on behalf of entire Pakistan.
Jis Ghav par Dushman bhi marham laga dey
Woh ghaav kitna jalim hoga?
In Hindi devnagri the words written are -
जिस घाव पर दुश्मन भी मरहम लगा दे ,
वो घाव कितना ज़ालिम होगा ?
You can imagine how treacherous the wound must be, when even the enemy dresses it !!
Came in to London as you can all see, after a horrendous flight - heavy turbulence throughout - just could not rest at all. I was to be here for two events. The premier of Teen Patti and a charity event. The premier has been cancelled, the producers tell me, due to internal management issues and the charity event remains. It is the launching of a Mobile Diabetic Unit by Silver Star an organization under the patronage of Rt Hon Keith Vaz, MP from Leicester, the longest sitting MP of Indian origin in the British Parliament. I had inaugurated this very worthy and noble cause here in Leicester some time ago and some months back if you remember I had gone to Goa in India to launch the MDU there. This launch tomorrow shall be done by Mr Gordon Brown, the Prime Minister of UK and shall be done for Mumbai. The van is being called ‘Amitabh’, which is a little embarrassing, because of my support for this very noble cause and because I had become its chief patron when this exercise was initiated. Other MDU’s shall be launched in time to come, for Delhi and Kerala as well. This unit works as a service for the detection of diabetes, an ailment which many a time goes unnoticed until its too late. There are over 50 million cases of diabetes in India, the Indians being prone to this ailment in large numbers as you can see.
Meanwhile activities for the ‘vog’ continue. I keep recording my voice messages on a fairly regular basis and the operators seem to express happiness. They tell me that soon they shall be able to facilitate a response voice medium too for the clients to talk back and leave voice messages for me as a response to mine. The world of technology becommeth smaller and more intricate.
It is zero degrees here in London and it is raining as well … but the warmth of your love and care keeps me protected .. thank you ..
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 20/21, 2010 Sat/Sun 12 : 12 AM
A public insult, a public humiliation, a public lie…
Needs a public apology..
Mumbai Mirror, you have erred. If you profess to be the keepers of justice and fair play. If you profess to be bound by the ethics of your code of conduct. If you have any respect for your profession …
I thank all those that have come out in support and understood the seriousness of the horrific reportage in the Mumbai Mirror …
Endless friends and those that we do not know have sent in hundreds of sms’s expressing their disgust for the Mumbai Mirror and its callous behavior…
This morning as I got off the plane from Delhi I had a call from the Deputy Commissioner of Police, asking me to call him back. When I did he said -
” Mr Bachchan, I have called to congratulate you on your stand against the Mumbai Mirror. We are Government servants and even though there are many occasions when we wish to express our anguish and ire, we have to restrain ourselves because of the job we hold and respect, but I am so glad that you have said what you did in your blog. This is unpardonable what the paper has done. I just want you to know that I am with you. If there is anything that I can do, let me know.”
Abhishek and Aishwarya attended a wedding of a friend last night and the moment they walked in, there was a spontaneous applause from the guests. Then something strange happened. All the guests at the wedding huddled around Abhishek and Aishwarya and started shouting in one voice -
“We are with you !!!”
This has never been seen before and I am thankful to the public and the people for expressing their solidarity to us as a family and to the cause per se.
For all those that do not have access to the Indian press, let me tell you that each one of them, barring of course the Times Group carried contents of the blog and narrated the injustice meted out to us. I thank the saner media for this.
The Hindu for example carried Letters to the Editor and there is a bunch of letters that do not talk about the incident we are involved in but, do express the general feeling for the media in not so generous a manner . Here it is -
Judge for yourself, dearest FmXt. I shall pursue until my due is obtained !!
In all the effort to get what I needed to say about the press article I completely overlooked the event that took place last evening in Delhi.
Your dear friend and fellow member, the writer and originator of this blog, yours truly, was awarded the ParHassi Raja Award by the President of India at a formal ceremony in Rastrapati Bhavan last evening. ‘Abhnay Samrat’ or its equivalent was presented to me. This award is run by a charitable trust in the name of the first freedom fighter of India against the British from the Malabar, Kerala region. I am deeply honoured and humbled.
My love to you in excess of what you may ever decide to confer on me …
February 18, 2010 Thu 9 ; 01 PM
My dearest and most respected members of my Extended Family,
I write to you today in deep anguish, pain and disgust. I am printing below an article that has been published today in the Mumbai Mirror, a sister tabloid of the ‘prestigious’ Times of India. This article is completely false, completely fabricated, unsubstantiated, insensitive and of the lowest quality of journalism there ever was. My comments shall follow below -
I am too incensed and angered by the contents above !! Not a single portion of the article is true !! I have much to comment upon on this, but shall hold on till another day. For the moment I have only this to say.
I am the head of my family. Aishwarya is not my daughter - in - law, she is my daughter, a woman, a lady in my house and home. If anyone will speak derogatorily about her, I shall fight for her till my last breath. If you have something to say to the men in the house, Abhishek or me, I shall bear it. BUT .. if you shall make injudicious remarks on the women in my home, I shall not tolerate it !!!
February 17 , 2010 Wed 6 : 53 PM
Getting in the sun, allowing it to play with your senses and taking in the warmth of its affectionate glaze, is a blissful moment that many in the urban metropolises tend to overlook. Or perhaps they never are able to find that open space, that little patch of grass that remains exposed to the elements, begs attention and in a sense, occupation. Our air conditioned and weather protected environs of the home and hearth are insidious. They climatize us for comfort, but destroy us for all else. TB or tuberculosis a once dreaded disease would origin from lack of good care and food and contact from those inflicted with it. It is still a dread in many parts of the world, even in the developed world where substance abuse can be one of the causes of it. But there are moments when even though the affluent world lives in protection and isolation from such bacteria, it has been seen to afflict them as well and is, peculiarly, known as ‘the rich mans TB’. Living in enclosed environments and in conditions where there is lack of the fresh air and the exposure to elements, can bring about an infection too.
So, time spent in the sun hopefully will take care of it. Along with of course the vit D that is such a necessity for us all. The skin bears a lovely tanned hue for some and a flush of health on the cheeks is always a welcome. The pleasure of a book that narrates my Father’s childhood through his auto biography, his philosophies and beliefs is an added joy. His reference to his early years attraction to the arts - singing, painting and other forms that he appreciated, were sadly, as he puts it, never allowed to fructify due to paucity of funds, in learning them. But he quotes the great writer and thinker Emerson and his written piece on the ‘Philosophy of Compensation’ where the writer analyzes that the human through nature, has always been compensated in some form or the other, when deprived of some form not accessible to him or her. He could not learn to play an instrument, or learn to paint, but was compensated by the natural gift of being able to write. Compensation enough, for him, he concludes.
It worked for my Father. But does it really work for all of us ? Do we get compensated in life ? Ever ? We live in the world of poetic justice do we not. We, meaning those connected with cinema. For, cinema in any form must necessarily have closure in poetic justice, else it would be such a waste of film, time and effort. The bad will be overcome by the good. Evil shall never prevail. Goodness shall be lauded and acknowledged. But in life are there occasions when this would reveal itself in its true form ? Would we call it compensation if it were to happen ? Intriguing. How does the common man get compensated. Or the poor for that matter.
Would it be fair to say that even though he is deprived of the most common elements of survival, he is fortified by all the other embodiments that the not so poor encounter ? And if he were to accept that would he ever not wish, that his poverty be traded for the ‘embodiments ‘ that he may have to face ? Hmm … thought provoking !!
Rain today at Kolkata has perhaps robbed India of winning the test match against the South Africans and reestablishing their No 1 slot in World Cricket. If this were to, hopefully not, happen. How would we seek compensation for our team ? Ha .. the debate continues and the wildest of examples keep falling on to my plate. Better not get there, or I would be wallowing in self pity, or in acknowledgement of self praise. I am in no condition for either. Some one from the FmXt sent me a YouTube link to an old FilmFare Award ceremony, where I have received a best actor in 1991 and I mention in my speech of having received a achievement Award the previous year for my contribution to cinema and whether that was given to me because it was felt that I had done enough and must stop. An abusive comment from a gentleman a few days ago on the blog, admonished me for continuing to work even though I was a ‘budhha’ and that I was becoming a pain in his ‘you know what’ with the kind of work I was doing, which was nothing short of being useless ! In March the Muscat International Film Festival and the Hong Kong International Asian Film Festival honor me with LifeTime Achievement Awards. Are these then portents indicative of a termination of my profession and work ? The compensation here would be, what - ” You’ve been at it for so long, be happy with what you have and stop ” ..
It has been a long wait. There has been no work that I have accepted since mid of last year, other than a short stint for TV. I must get back to the studios and mingle with creativity, expose my inner feelings through fantasized characters, rub the paint of make belief on to others. My greatest tests for performances have been restricted to defensive TV interviews, or exclamatory glorifications of forthcoming productions. If I do not, I shall be buried under the debris of unmitigated self pity, or worse, its opposite !
‘Enough no more , ’tis not so sweet as it was before …’
FmXt member said I write too much, too long, keep it short …
Amitabh Bachchan, in love for all
February 16, 2010 Tue 7 : 53 PM
In the wilds of my beautiful country
The sound of silence is the loudest when you are not sure it exists. It pierces through the ears like a sharp arrow, numbing your thoughts into a forgetful journey that takes you no where. Its a state one has often wanted to be in and when it comes along suddenly, it surprises you completely, consuming you of all energy and action. Converting one into an idle mind.
One has desired this for long. For long have I said to myself that invigoration to the mind can only come when we are kept distant from sundry and everyday thought. I find myself in such a state. Oblivious of surroundings and location, away from civilization, away from mobile phones and any connection other than what reprints here within the post.
Last night’s function at CNN-IBN haunts me still. The conviction and strength of those that have dared to fight for their right, for justice, for level playing ground. These men and women who have dared to expose not only those that sit in power or position, but themselves as well. They who have dared to fight, winning some losing some but never giving up. They who have all risen from meagre means and become the voice of an entire nation. They need to be saluted.
A man who has lost his legs in a train accident and has taken it upon himself to demonstrate not just the courage of survival, but finding artificial limbs now working on telling the system what they need to do for such accidents to be avoided and such victims to be given better treatment and assistance. A wheel chaired man, who dares to walk on his haunches because he is now crippled thus, convinced that he will write the best poetry ever and challenges that he will win. The lady sold to pimps in prostitution, who dares to escape and not just live but finds an opportunity to catch the individual that put her in that degrading and despicable world and hand them over to the police. A Father that still fights the system in finding out and punishing those that took his son away and killed him, but still not succeeding. A bureaucrat though maligned by the common man for corruption, that continues to execute his duty towards society by caring for those that are of lesser means and building accommodation for them. A young school girl of 13 that questions the fee asked from her school for those that are supposed to get free education, and that has through her own initiative pulled away children her age and lesser from child labor and put them into institutions to educate them. A journalist that is determined to expose an entire clan of people that threaten him with violence. That 90 year old freedom fighter, an old lady that has been fighting now for years to receive her due pension and not giving up …
The tales carry on ..
I am moved by their plight. Particularly that of the 90 year old lady and have announced that I shall take care of her pension for the next 5 years. She blesses me. She has only that element of humanity left in her. She can barely walk. And she is old. And all she wants is her due - her pension - Rs 3,500 /- per month from the Government !!
You feel so small in front of such examples of exceptional quality. And you wonder sometimes at how blessed we ought to feel for all the care and goodness bestowed upon us by the Almighty. When I compare myself with these exceptional men and women, their conditions and their grit, I feel ashamed at myself and embarrassed. I am also hugely impressed at the intent and value of these countrymen, their determination and will to fight against all odds with little care for its consequences on them personally. This is the true Indian. They are the pride of our nation. We are nothing compared to them. It is they that make this nation what it is.
I must end with my observations on our blog. I notice now how deeply interested the media is becoming of our little inconsequential world. The media that meets me for promotional activity of the upcoming films barely asks anything about the film or its promotions. They ask about current situations, they dissect the writings on the blog, study each word and expression, derive their own assumptions and convert them into stories of immense proportions. I feel honored that they do this. I never realized that our little world of the FmXt would become so important to those that rule the world of communication, that it would reduce them to giving us so much importance. Its another matter that they bark up the wrong tree and build bridges over rivers where rivers never existed. But we need to be in celebration of this attention. We are now important bloggers and respondents. I am proud of our extended family. We are being noticed and discussed. Well done !!
The silence pierces again … it is time to give it its due ..
And time to give due as well .. my love
Sopaan, New Delhi February 15, 2010 Mon 11 : 52 PM
It is the 80 th birthday of my Mother in law, Jaya’s Mother. She is in Bhopal and the entire family is with her to wish her health and prosperity and happiness for this auspicious day.
It is the15th of February and 41 years ago on this day a young man called Amitabh Bachchan walked into the office of Khwaja Ahmad Abbas, to sign his very first film, Saat Hindustani. The year was 1969.
It is the day in New Delhi for the CNN-IBN Citizen Journalist Awards, where citizens have through their own guts and strengths and beliefs, taken on a system, a governance or a moral and social ailment and stood out strong in what they felt was unjust.
It has been an evening of sensitive emotion, one that has made us all look small and insignificant. For, in the presence of the winners and in the company of their stories of valor, I have looked like a small minuscule drop in the vast ocean.
They are people that are commonly known as the common man, but their achievements have been far from common. They are the people from the small towns and villages. They are simple and vulnerable, naive and unaffected by urban deficiencies, but their spirit has been remarkable to watch and hear about.
I would do injustice to them and to their achievements, were I to spend time in describing them and their brave lives, in this short and limited space called the blog. So I would ideally like to be left at least for the night to ponder and think what best it would be to describe the moment and more, to write about them. I constructed a speech though, but in the face of all that transpired it is a poor representation of what I would have wanted to say. Let me then keep all of that for another day and leave you with a insipid reproduction of my speech -
CNN-IBN Citizen Journalism Awards February 2010
With due respect to Mark Antony and the speech he made at the senate in Shakespeare’s Julius Ceasar, I implore -
Friends, Indians, countrymen and women; a good evening to all of you.
To merit the honour bestowed upon me here tonight, I come to praise.
To merit the honour bestowed upon others here tonight, I come to praise.
I praise the valour and intelligence of our citizen journalists of India; I praise the virtue of our professional news media, here epitomised by CNN-IBN, who have demonstrated the imaginative foresight to embrace change, to cultivate the nascent seed of citizen journalism so that it may flourish, bloom and bear its fruit of civic culture.
I praise the opportunity provided by this awards ceremony here tonight to so commend, honour, celebrate.
I praise all gathered here on this occasion, and the greater public beyond, who have put aside their individual busy cares to attend upon our collective.
And may we not, in such multitude of praise, dissimulate its generosity. May we forget our often resentful habit to deny ourselves the public acknowledgement of individual merit. May we restrain that familiar suspicion of temperament wherein one praised, one singled out above another, intuitively offends a debased equality of sameness. Conversely, may we not begin to differ in an instant who should deserve more or less; who has been excluded; who has been slighted; how we might jostle ourselves forward for better individual preference.
May we look beyond, for the most worthy praise is due to the merit of our very collective, our union in a civic culture, our vow of mutual cultivation that we pledge to each other in this greatest gathering of democracy on Earth.
It is through us all that our liberty, equality and fraternity are perpetually re-born.
For each iota of our body politic is one citizen. Each citizen is at once its heart, its head, its muscle, its stomach of courage.
To be a citizen is to possess the rights enshrined in our constitution, and equally, the obligation of duty. When one citizen upholds an individual right for another, they enact their duty to themselves. When one citizen fulfills their duty to others, that citizen upholds their own rights again. One citizen’s duty is another’s right; another citizen’s right is the other’s duty.
This is the essence of our collective necessity for vigilance. To be eternally vigilant, that is liberty’s strenuous price.
Here today as we celebrate the citizen journalist, so we enjoy the embodiment of such civic virtue.
These individuals amongst us possess the native intelligence to think for themselves, the will to inform themselves accordingly, a higher justice beyond immediate self-interest, the heroic valour to act, and a belief in the possibility of change.
Friends, Indians, countrymen and women, lend me your ears.
Let us not praise those we honour here tonight with mere words.
Let us praise better with more than a word: true praise is to be inspired to emulate them.
To be a citizen journalist is to be the spirit, letter and action of a citizen in a democracy. True citizenship is truly at once a ‘state of mind’ and a ‘way of life’. Let us not squander the heroism of those honoured here tonight. Let their example not merely shame us when we retract separate into divisive weakness, but fortify and quicken us all to our duty.
If we do love our country, if we are proud of our new strength, if we wish to strive for better for our children and future generations, and fulfill the destiny of our great civilisation, so we must all become citizen journalists. Each and every one of us.
We have now reached a threshold in our history where we may pause, reflect, and feel the exhilaration of great achievement, a mass participation in great achievement. Our country flourishes. We should feel good about ourselves. At last, we are strong, confident, vibrant of energy, with our own voice. We stand on the threshold of taking our place amongst the most mighty of players on the world stage and no longer shall we feel inferiority shrink our stature, but with strength and pride level our gaze to theirs.
This new-found strength, this brave new world of ours, is reflected in the global information revolution brought about by a deluge of technological invention. The consequent explosion of access to a dizzying array of media in our country is seismic in its historical moment.
But may we yet remember in the face of such technological marvel, that as human beings, our greatness lies not so much in being able to remake the world. Our true greatness lies in our ability to remake ourselves.
Through the information revolution, individual citizens are empowered; the news media become more inclusive of audiences. This increasing interaction enriches both parties.
Indeed, it is an unmitigated delight that the balance of power between the individual and the media corporation can be redressed.
After all, authority must be perpetually contested and negotiated if it is to remain uncorrupted, and for that matter, authoritative.
However, how far do we want to take this?
If one looks at the cost-benefit analysis of blogs versus newspapers, prospects for the professional news media look grim.
With the future withering of traditional news institutions, who could be trusted, who would be held accountable, to gather accurate information?
With infinite access to infinite information, how will we search out voices that will inform us amidst the cacophony?
With this same embarrassment of riches, how can we discriminate between one opinion and another?
If we don’t have the information, how are we to know how to be a good citizen? For instance, how could we tell in good conscience for whom we might want to vote?
If we don’t have the information, isn’t this a serious threat to our representative democracy?
Or have I spoken too late? Have we reached that future already? Is there anyone out there whom I trust enough to tell me?
That is the point. The point is the failure of trust.
The point is that there must be a point to having a profession.
The idea of having a profession is that one specialises in it, investing years of one’s life and copious energies pursuing its specific knowledge and discipline.
The reason for specialisation is because individually, separately, we all cannot do everything.
We need our professionals. We need our professional journalists.
Professional journalism is a moral calling and a moral good in a society.
For a democracy, the practice of professional journalism is not merely a good, but a crucial necessity.
For a democracy is only as good as its public: a well-educated and informed public will elect good government, obey just laws, create a strong economy and enjoy better health and happiness.
Thus, the central, most basic and critical role of the professional journalist and news corporation in a democracy is to inform. To educate.
It is to give us news. News is neither mere information, nor mere opinion. It is information with responsible and knowledgeable critical analysis.
This is their first duty.
Thus they have a duty to follow a professional code of ethics.
Thus they have a duty to provide the public with reliable and accurate information.
Thus they have a duty to double-source facts; to thoroughly investigate material for the possibility of error, bias, prejudice, slander and its various vicious mischiefs.
Thus they have a duty of responsible, reasoned, transparent judgement, not mere opinion.
They have a duty of a balanced negotiation of differing viewpoints, of offering their audience more than pauperised substitutions: infotainment; hyped-up dumbed down scooped out frivolous conjecture; cheap hackneyed language and the promotion of proud ignorance; saccharine emotionalism; hysterical rumour-mongering; cynical misrepresentation; blind partisanship; shallow punditry; gimmick posturing; obssessive self-referentiality; media personality; and the promotion of garbage celebrity.
The media corporation as a whole is equally duty-bound by an ethical code, a code intolerant to those amongst its ranks who engage in the cynical practice of profit masqueraded as news outfits.
Responsible journalism is accountable journalism; responsible news corporations are accountable corporations: they must be held accountable to the public. Like other professionals and their corporate bodies, if they transgress their own code of ethics, then their professional distinction is forfeit.
I believe in the professional journalists and professional news corporations of India. These standards of which I speak are no distant ideal, even when a certain minority of the profession no longer pay even the most casual lip-service to any ethical code whatsoever. For there are many out there, devoted and courageous, who do practice their profession faithfully, strenuously, courageously, imbued with its noble calling. These individuals deserve the greatest respect and honour amongst us.
But what of the public?
It is a misconception to think that the public, up until now, have been passive recipients of the Media. They have simply not had a voice to respond, or it has been too muted to hear.
It is time that the professional journalist, and the news corporation as a whole, re-examined its attitude towards the public. The public of our nation deserve to be treated as intelligent and enquiring agents, an experienced audience, who will not forever suffer us fools gladly.
They too deserve to be trusted.
But acknowledging the crucial significance of citizen journalism is at best a modest redress. It is just a beginning. It is not enough. After all, it could be argued that the rise of citizen journalism is precisely because of the public’s perception that its professional news media fail them. It could also be argued that some within the professional news media cynically acknowledge citizen journalism in order to undermine its power; disingenuously embrace citizen journalism in order to dissimulate its threat; lavish such praise and award upon citizen journalism as to kill it smilingly.
However remarkable a phenomenon the rise of citizen journalism is, it must not to be exploited to disguise the central problem that faces us.
That problem is the general failure of public trust in the mainstream Media. It is one of the greatest threats to our representative democracy.
If this trust further fails, then our professional news corporations will wither; the public will look elsewhere.
We will be faced, individually and separately, with the task of sifting through undifferentiated noise to search out reliable information.
No longer exposed to a multiplicity of viewpoints within one media entity, we will become narrow of mind, lazy of opinion, fearful of others.
Is that what we all want?
Trust, by its very nature, is informal.
‘Liberté; Egalité; Fraternité’: this was the clarion call of the French Revolution, the birth of representative democracy in the modern world.
You can legislate liberty. You can legislate equality. But you cannot legislate fraternity.
It is fraternity that bonds us with that informal tie of trust.
Fraternity. Comraderie. Fellowship. Brotherhood. Or, in preferable gender-neutral words, a collective sense of friendship.
Friendship exists between free and equal parties. Friendship commands the mutual respect for the other, a tolerance of and generosity towards difference, including that of opinion. It embodies balance and compromise. Its means: patience, and calm rational persuasion. That is fraternity. This is civilisation. It is strenuous and most deadly serious in nature. It deserves more weight in our civic culture, and in our culture as a whole.
So I urge fraternity and its compassions. I urge us all to reinvigorate our trust in each other.
In the spirit of this evening’s awards, we must seize the moment.
Here we may pause, but may that pause be brief, for
‘There is a tide in the affairs of men
Which taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;
Omitted, all the voyage of their life
Is bound in shallows and in miseries.
On such a full sea are we now afloat
And we must take the current when it serves,
Or lose our ventures.’
Friends, Indians, countrymen and women, citizen journalists all, lend me your ears.
Citizenship, being a citizen of India, is not a mere political utility or rational foil. It is our true vow.
This vow is wherein our very liberty and equality resides.
This vow is our fraternity, our most basic trust, our friendship with one another.
This vow brings our hearts to oneness as a nation in hope.
This vow is our greatest future.
United in this vow, we will prosper and flourish.
But if we choose to betray our oath, divided and mistrustful, we will squander the vast wealth of human knowledge in our new technological age, sinking in its turbulent chaos. We will squander one of the greatest cultural legacies the world has ever known and fall to our individual and lonely miseries of poverty and ignorance.
Or we can harness it potential, to truly empower our body politic and remake ourselves anew.
As we stand on this threshold of change, we have a seeming infinity of channels before us. With this privilege of multiplicity of choice, with whatever individual preference we hold, may we choose hopefully. And may the institutions that provide this wealth of choice give us dignity, and honour the greatest gift of humanity, our spirit of intelligent enquiry.
Don’t switch off the TV controls, not just yet. Keep watching.
Friends, Indians, countrymen and women
Steel your own hearts to your vow.
Jai Hind; jai Bharat.
With love from a cloud laden city, with the occasional drops of rain, only to signify that despite the fogged atmosphere and the tears of rain .. there can never be any weather condition that would deter me or my thoughts to come across to you through the bright morning sun in the new day …
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 14, 2010 Sun 11 : 45 PM
Lakshmi and Neel, two avid fans of mine and perhaps the longest standing, sent me a story which I thought needed to be shared with all -
The Mayonnaise Jar
When things in your life seem, almost too much to handle,
When 24 Hours in a day is not enough,
Remember the mayonnaise jar and 2 cups of coffee.
A professor stood before his philosophy class
and had some items in front of him.
When the class began, wordlessly,
He picked up a very large and empty mayonnaise jar
And proceeded to fill it with golf balls.
He then asked the students, if the jar was full.
They agreed that it was.
The professor then picked up a box of pebbles and poured
them into the jar. He shook the jar lightly.
The pebbles rolled into the open Areas between the golf balls.
He then asked the students again if the jar was full. They agreed it was.
The professor next picked up a box of sand and poured it into the jar.
Of course, the sand filled up everything else.
He asked once more if the jar was full. The students responded with a unanimous ‘yes.’
The professor then produced two cups of coffee from under the table and poured the entire contents into the jar, effectively
filling the empty space between the sand. The students laughed.
‘Now,’ said the professor, as the laughter subsided,
‘I want you to recognize that this jar represents your life.
The golf balls are the important things - family,
children, health, Friends, and Favorite passions
Things that if everything else was lost and only they remained, Your life would still be full.
The pebbles are the other things that matter like your job, house, and car.
The sand is everything else –The small stuff.
‘If you put the sand into the jar first,’ He continued,
there is no room for the pebbles or the golf balls.
The same goes for life.
If you spend all your time and energy on the small stuff,
You will never have room for the things that are important to you.
Pay attention to the things that are critical to your happiness.
Play With your children.
Take time to get medical checkups.
Take your partner out to dinner.
There will always be time to clean the house and fix the disposal.
‘Take care of the golf balls first –
The things that really matter.
Set your priorities. The rest is just sand.’
One of the students raised her hand and inquired what the coffee represented.
The professor smiled.
‘I’m glad you asked’.
It just goes to show you that no matter how full your life may seem,
there’s always room for a couple of cups of coffee with a friend.’
Please share this with other “Golf Balls”
I just did……
Sharing ! That oft repeated term in our existence, seldom put out to practice. Sharing ! The joy of giving to another without question and cause. Sharing ! That elusive act that demarcates the ultimate sacrifice for the other. When you share the ‘other’ ceases to be the ‘other’, it becomes your own. It becomes my possession and pride. When you give me something of yours, the ‘y’ disappears ; it becomes ours. From singular to plural. We multiply when we give - happiness, joy, achievement, good will. We decimate and diminish when we share sorrow. We still share. Only our mode and cause changes. I want to share my happiness with you, my ‘golf balls’. But I hesitate to share my sorrows and pain. I find it selfish and opportunity ridden. I would include you in joy, but my pain must remain mine, even though I propagate that it would diminish if shared.
On occasion when I have demonstrated anguish and anger and discomfort, the immediate concern from the FmXt has been most reassuring and welcome. It felt as though my pain was being felt by others. That, I abhor and dislike. I cannot and should not become the reason for another’s discomfort. And if I do and have, then it is time for redressal and retribution.
May there never be a situation where I could have given reason for such behavior.
Many have inquired after Aishwarya’s health. Thank you. She repairs well and even though there are some remnants of the ailment persisting, she has decidedly improved in her condition. We have all been with her and by her side. Abhishek has come away from his shootings and I have come away from my incessant TV interviews on Teen Patti. It has been restful and relaxing catching up on news and films and serials not seen.
Feb 15, 2010 Mon 4 : 51 AM
So relaxing that in my enthusiasm i have completely forgotten to post the post from private to public.
And i have no idea how in the middle of the night I have discovered in my dream that I have not done so and am up to do just that ..
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 13, 2010 Sat 10 : 23 PM
Vishnu Sharma from News 24 informs me early in the morning just now Feb 14, through sms that it was on March 23, 1931 that the three freedom fighters were hanged in Lahore, and not as mentioned below.
My apologies therefore in this wrong information and thank you Vishnu Sharma for this correction. The one below was sent to me by an enthusiastic fan. Guess he was wrong . Though I must be with him in the sentiment he expresses - our diminishing respect for our real heroes !!
And just as I make this correction another terrorist attack in Pune ! Several dead and more injured. When will all this mindless violence end. Will we ever resolve this ? Our hearts and prayers for those who suffer !!
On this day 13th of February 1931 in the early hours of the morning, three legendary Freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Rajguru and Sukhdev were hung to death by the British.
No one remembers this day, for the heroic sacrifices that these brave and committed sons of the soil made for the independence of their Motherland.
All we read is about Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day …
Every day is for love and respect for your Father and your Mother …
But what of the respect and love for those that gave up their lives so we could breathe the air of freedom …
“ Not all fingers are the same in length. But when they are bent they all stand equal. Life becomes easy when we bend and adjust to situations. “
“ The ultimate truth of life is that – success always kisses you in private, but failure always kicks you in public. “
“ Stone breaks the head, but water breaks the stone. Anger suppresses your enemy, but forgiveness destroys the enmity. “
R Balki, my director for ‘Cheeni Kum’ and ‘Paa’ sends me an sms this afternoon -
‘You are sounding v v angry in ur blog. And acknowledging irrelevant people Amitji. Your soul writing deserves better subjects.’
My soul writing deserves better subjects ! Acknowledging irrelevant people ! Aaahhh ! My writings have never been writings in the first place. They are musings, uninteresting mumblings that take over a certain space in my daily routine. Balki gives me far too much credit for them. And I have never considered anyone to be irrelevant. For me they are all equal and relevant. Anger I do not contribute to and is a factor that has remained alien to me. What is irrelevant is the error in assuming that what is seen and heard and enacted on screen, should also be practiced in real as well. What is assumed is that if celebrity and status has been thrust upon you it must be emulated as well according to the somewhat misplaced illusions of those that merge the two. No we are incapable of doing that. We are not activists, we are actors. We will not be able to demolish a band of 12 single handedly and neither shall we be in position to win over a satin clad miss stumbling over snow capped mountains fortified with a song on our lips. Reel and real shall remain apart for me at least, for most parts. What may seem as anger is my desire to explain this important factor. Is my desire to explain that at 68, with loads of years of experience in matters that concern many in todays climes, it is important to understand a bit of history. It is important to understand a bit of the past. And most importantly to visualize a bit of the future. Circumstances may seem universal for all at a moment of intense reaction. But they never are equal for all. Emotions run high, agreed. But who abetted and provoked them. Who used them for personal gain and benefit. Were they at all involved parties. Analyze this dispassionately, and more with restrain and able judgement before reaching conclusion. Understand the reason and motive of this game. Those that play it do so after great study and preparation. We are gullible and innocent victims of a plot that many will never be able to see in the rush of immediate blood.
Today is not the end that you may consider to be over and won. It is the beginning of much deeper and dangerous portents. Bravado is a good attribute to possess, misguided bravado is not.
Unless of course one wishes to play this game. Then all is valid. Then my stand is wrong. Then I am to blame. Then must I take back my words and submit to error. No harm in that. We all make mistakes and submitting to it does not make one any smaller. But entering this arena is not my cup of warm water, since I do not drink tea ! I have my reasons and stay away. But does anyone wonder why and how there is an incessant drive for an inclusion by others towards me, despite repeated denials. Has anyone ever wondered why the butt of every accusation eventually comes and rests on my back. Think about it, for there is cause. My ethics may never ever allow me to indulge them, but suffice to say that all that is seen and heard and spoken of, has a flip side to it too. In life it is wise to be aware of both. The perspective changes, or at least allows one to consider the change.
I can well understand that without sufficient elaboration the above may seem an illusion, a lot of defensive balderdash. No it is not. On the contrary it is really quite revealing. The point is, does one want to indulge in this pettiness or ride above it. Bear the cross of indignation and abuse and move on. The idealist in me would want to opt for the latter, but I must admit that the ‘player to the gallery’ in me wishes the other ; because it is more dramatic.
Ha ! I am reminded of a sequence in my film Shahenshah - the last court room scene. I had wished to do it differently. I wanted to argue my matter with a certain gentle yet punctuated finesse, and I did so. After the take was over, Tinnu Anand my director felt it lacked something. I said fine I shall do another one. This time I was loud and over the top and overtly dramatic. When I concluded the entire unit and the junior artists all clapped. Tinnu said this is what he wanted to keep and did so. To be subtle you need to understand subtlety. Maybe not everyone has that quality. A famous writer once told me, when in a courtroom drama, it does not matter what you say, so long as you say it loud enough. Study any film and you shall find, it hardly matters what is being said in the court. It is how dramatically you say it that has always mattered.
I believe in life too similar sentiments exist. The soft spoken gentle voice of reason invariably gets submerged in the loud and meaningless drone of volume. The pity is that decibels find support and attention, the other, not. Eventually reason will prevail, but most of the time it is far too late. So what does one do ?
I believe that considered balance is what we all need. A balance that has a healthy mix of both reason and volume. Difficult to achieve, but not unsurmountable. Reason shall always wear that ugly wrapping of defensiveness. Initially. A sign of shame and weakness. But, as you pursue the path of determined alternative, all else settles down.
One must possess that dignified quality of patience. Haste has never had support and is one that is difficult to achieve.
I am trying too … and trying hard …
In my love for you, however, I shall always stick to the exact opposite … no holding back here .. there is always haste in expressing it …
Love you love you love you ….
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 11/12, 2010 Thu/Fri 12 : 35 AM
More media today for the promotion of Teen Patti, more questions of the same consequence. Story, why role, lady director, Sir Ben Kingsley, gambling, where do you get energy from, why do you not retire, what do you think of Abhishek and his Tv debut and finally … can we have a picture with you !!
Some are honored, some ecstatic, some have older folks at home that talk of old times and require autographs, some complain of insufficient time, some on the malfunction of their recording machine but all end up very softly for that ID byte for their station or channel … that is the moment of greatest excitement for them and the broadest smiles. And I always oblige. Never refuse a journalist, so says another journalist, always respond even it is to say no. How immensely prosaic the unity and trust among the fraternity of the fourth estate. Scratch a journalist in Manali and the one in Timbucktoo shall wallop you. Envious, this trait. But what deep study in professional trust and demeanor. Impregnable, and impossible to destroy. Strong and faithful to the code and conduct. Glorious.
By the evening of course events change. Aishwarya has come back from the shoot in pain and distress. Doctors called, investigation done and medication registered to settle issues down, but it persists. There is high fever and an infection in the throat, cannot talk, cannot swallow. Sad and so concerned to see her in such a condition. Abhishek has been summoned from his shoot as Jaya and I attend to her.
Out of sheer concern for her commitments she wishes me to inform Kaveree Bamzai of India Today that she shall be unable to attend their function here in Mumbai, where she was to be awarded and asked to make a speech. I do.
Oh! God, Mr Bachchan what is going to happen to my show tomorrow. I will be finished.
Sorry Maam, she is in bad shape I am with the doctors, and I need to be with them, just thought it right to let you know well in advance that there is a situation. Thank you.
Moments later an sms - Could she not make it for just some time, please.
No ! I am sorry she is bed ridden.
After a while, another sms - Can you not come instead of her, to save face.
No, Maam I have other function commitments, it will not be possible.
A few minutes later - Can you not get either Mrs Bachchan or Abhishek to come and attend.
Kaveree …!! I find it extremely insensitive on your part that you pursue putting up requests for participation in your program knowing that there is a medical emergency in the house.. I am sorry I expected better from you !!
Not a word from the concerned lady on what the condition of Aishwarya is, or what ails her or how she is doing, nothing ! Its all about what is going to happen to her and her program, her problem, her panic situation, her face, her event. And Aishwarya be damned.
Guaranteed now, that there shall be negative stories in her magazine in her reviews, in her channel Headlines Today, to show her anger at the insolence of this old man of 68 who dares to express himself in this, his blog, in writing on this topic and her name. So .. sensitive to your own name fine ; insensitive to the others name and condition .. their prerogative !!
Our right and our name, our will and our desire, our preferences and modes of conduct, our actions and our acts, our deliberations, our needs, our sentiments, our likes and dislikes …
Not ours !!
They belong to others. We have no right. And don’t you dare ask for it. Just shut up Mr B and enjoy the profiling that we give you through our services. Be content that even that is forth coming. Follow our code or perish. We made you, we will destroy you.
There is no voice. There is no stand. Our voice must be the voice dictated to us, our stand a infirm crutch, ready to be snatched away at the whim and fancy of the enlightened. We shall be singular. We shall be alone. We shall suffer and learn to smile through it. Abuse and indignation shall be warmly welcomed through folded hands and if possible , feet. Express to yourself in the silence of your own private solitude. Dare you speak out your mind !! Dare !!
The only purity … Shanouk, my pet, my Pirana Dane, oblivious to all around him, sniffing his affection inches away from your face, snuggling his uncontrollably large frame along yours, alert at the whiff of any strange sound or intrusion, up and about to investigate personally where and how the danger lurks, a few warning barks, a few grunts of dissatisfaction and back to secure pastures at the feet of the master. Truer friend and companion there never was. Thank you Shanouk, for being there in the strength of your immense body and the sincerity of your drooping eyes, the rolls of pristine and soft skin and at times the affectionate saliva that drools all over our freshly washed clothing. It is a wonder that you do not talk, yet how well you understand. It is a wonder that you show concern and guard, without being asked to. It is a wonder that you obey and follow and perform on instruction.
Nobody does this Shanouk .. no one !! What you do no one else does that ! Are you aware of this ?You should be .. but you never express that you do. How does one describe you. You must be exceptional to all. Such a blessing that you are who you are … AND NOT A HUMAN !!
It is the love that a pet expresses that brings us emotion .. and all for what .. that we are able to give him his meal on time ???
Thats it ??
Lovely Shanouk … lovely FmXt … your emotions can never be challenged !!
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 10, 2010 Wed/ Thu 12 : 41 AM
Sometimes an irrelevant talk or thought sparks memories that influence an enormous amount of nostalgia. And it does not take long to reminisce all that had transpired during the times and days of yore. They were little things, things that would never have any relevance in todays world. In fact they would be ridiculed and laughed at. But when you live those years again in today’s times they bring back such vivid and exciting memories.
The talk of home and its surroundings, of the people that came, of the activities we were all involved in. Of habits and customs, of the food and the culture. Of times of strife and struggle and the simple manner in which we dealt with them. So fresh in our minds.
The excessive summer months of Allahabad and the manner in which we spent them tending to so many things. Unlike most children of today’s world we never had opportunity to be taken for vacations. Some others did. Those who came from affluent family could afford it. Our home and our disposition was never ever in a state where we could indulge in such luxury. Our luxury was the efforts made in keeping our homes cool. The continuous sprinkling of water on the floor of the house and a slab of ice floated over it to give the cool that it would elaborate. Other than the ordinary ceiling fan there was nothing else. How that slab of ice would keep all of us happy and content with the temperatures was a miracle I think. We never questioned or demanded any better. This was it. As the day would warm up the parda’s over our verandah would come down and if there was the luxury of the khus on some occasions it was most welcome ; its smell bringing in the feel for summer.
We had no car, so the bicycle was our biggest luxury and our greatest joy. The hours and hours spent in cleaning up the bike and making sure nothing was amiss, was a major exercise. When the rains broke, all that came on as festive eating would be brought out. The special mango called chusni , would be bought by the buckets and a lot of us sitting in the front of the stairway and legs crossed, would challenge each other on how much we ate. When the seed of the mango or the guthli would pile up to our chin, then was it believed that we have eaten enough ! Ah !! …. Those days …
As the festival of Holi approaches all the thoughts go back to the days in Allahabad and how preparations would start a month in advance. Getting the pichkari cleaned and pumped up for instant operation. The collecting of the taysu phool and pulling out huge cylinders to fill with water and then to push the flowers into it to ferment over night for the color to form. The basanti orange color, thus obtained, would be the first colors that would be used the following morning when guests and family set out to enjoy the festival of color. The kitchen filled with delicious special treats for the festive air. Gujjia’s filled with great delicacies, mango shaped and with corrugated edges, would be circulated among the children and elders busy and involved with the splashing of color all over would stop by to grab a few of them and then continue with the revelry. The evening would be calmer and refined. After the scrubbing and cleaning to remove all the different hues all over our bodies, fresh traditional clothes, the smell of summer in them, would be worn and we would sit and wait for the visitors to drop by, put the gentle tika on the forehead, wish each other a prosperous year ahead and move on to the next.
Most of the fruits that we so assiduously clamor and painstakingly order from markets today, were all part of our vegetation in the house, growing wild. We never realized their importance when we were there. Today we do, as we spend immense amount of energy to get them across and worse, to preserve them.
We had little then, but we felt large. Today we feel large, but we get little. Little in quality, little in response, little in the way we conduct ourselves, little in thought and word … just little .. in everything we do and believe in. The large heart, the large feel and the largeness of being small has all disappeared. Today our perspectives have changed. Time and tide have brought in the changes we so fiercely protected when younger. And I wonder …
When will it be that we all sit around informally without the TV and listen to an elder share poetry, literature, life with us.
When will it be that the ride to the nearest grocery store on your bike with a basket attached to the handle bars, shall ever be repeated.
When will it be that we would dress up and take a rickshaw, human drawn, unlike todays motorized versions, to a friends birthday party, play a lot of physical games and be back in the house before the street lamps came on.
When would it be that a bunch of us kids would sneak in to the neighbors house and swipe all his mango and guava and other delicious fruits from his private garden.
When would it be to feel the rush and joy of your parents having acquired a car. Not a new car, a car ! The very first in the house, a small Ford Prefect, navy blue in color, and the rides with friends and family with Mother driving us all over the city in great pride.
When would it be that we picked up our beds and rolled them out in the open air on the lawn outside or spread it out on the roof top to get the fresh and cool air of a summer evening and night.
And when would it be that when the first drizzle would sprinkle our face, we would instead of running in, remain outside and hope that one day there will be an opportunity to build that automatic machine which would at a press of a button, either cover us from the rain or through some mechanical genius, transport us inside safe from the rain - not wanting under any circumstance to be disturbed in our sleep !!
The list would go on and nostalgia mixed with emotion would roll out incessantly. Alas !! these are but thoughts now. And as one respondent on the FmXt had said, “wish we could have the capacity to draw back in time and get you back to doing films like Sharabi, which I now see and enthrall “
Time shall wait for no one. Give us then O ! Lord ! the capacity to acknowledge for what we have received, may the Lord make us truly thankful for Christ’s sake .. Amen !!
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 9, 2010 Tue 10 : 19 PM
Before I say more .. some sad news .. one of our dear FmXt from Perm, Siberia in Russia, Zhenya, lost her Father yesterday. Zhenya has been a regular even before the blog started and has always addressed me as Pitaji .. a father. She is a spunky little girl and has loved India and Indian culture. From whenever I could remember, she celebrates all the festivals and never forgets to send me greetings on those days. Some early year photographs of my visit to Russia have been courtesy her. I want Zhenya to know that we are with her in her sorrow and grief and our prayers are with her..
You are a brave girl Zhenya .. and God will remain with you ..
I could not resist doing this. It was troubling me and so I came back from a very early bed time to an early enough bed time to express our solidarity with a member of our fraternity.
And below now some visuals of the afternoon function -
Peace and harmony are more important than confrontation and controversy. The elements that guard the former are stronger and of greater value than the latter. Most of the time those involved in the 2 C’s have nothing whatsoever to do with the issue or the individual. They are guilty of fanning hatred and are therefore in my eyes worse off than those actually involved. If one can broker peace to end either C, that step needs to be taken immediately and will as will be seen bring result.
Many a time, those that prod and push and deliberately indulge themselves in an issue are themselves guilty of the accusation. Unable to act what they preach themselves, they look for scapegoats. Someone to hang the blame on. Not realizing of course that in doing so they prepare their own noose. Hang well dear friends !! And hang long !! Sometimes the rope round the neck takes a bit longer than usual to stifle the air that we breathe. But, do not also ever imagine that the rope shall get loose enough to escape. Once the noose is in, it remains in !!
A bit morbid for this time of the night and certainly not welcome on this blog. But in life there will be times when you need to spell it out !!
Love and love without the hangman …
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 9, 2010 Tue 7 : 04 PM
Taken off the formals. Wrapped up in the ‘mundu’, ‘munda’ ‘dhoti’. And in a desire to finish the post so I can follow the advice of many who show concern and care. It is early I know, but the need to get to bed is worth a try.
Formals ? Yes .. the formal launch for the mobile service where you could hear my voice is officially on today. At a short and sweet ceremony with the media at the newly opened Trident Hotel at Bandra Kurla Complex, where all the award events take place, modern almost boutique like and under the efficient management of an ex Sherwoodian. School ties never fade away.
The ‘name of the game’.. ha … no .. the name of the program is called BACHCHAN BOL, a number is being advertised, you call and you get to hear me greet you, talk to you, on daily events, thoughts … just about anything that comes to the mind. At the moment it is in Hindi and restricted to India, but shortly it shall be world wide. It is one way .. that is you get to hear me and will not be able to respond back … but OnMobile the outfit that conducts the technology will be working on getting this facility operational too. InsideIndia, a London based Company shall be the Company managing this and I hope that soon we shall be able to develop a voice blog within our FmXt … so … Happy VOGGING … as this is being touted to be described as .. !!!
And so to ‘Aman ki Asha ‘ above and the settings and the moods of poetry and the people and their reactions … and the last .. the sore point, the electronic media journalist from Zee asking me what was all about Madhushala !! Hah ! Young man, if you have not done your home work and research, if you have no interest in the event, why have you taken the trouble to come. And worse to ask a question that insults my Father’s great legacy and our literary heritage … !!
Anyway … the evening was most satisfying. I loved the ambience. That informal sit around, much like the days when my Father used to recite. People just gathered around, sat on the floor, palti maar ke, and the evening went on for hours and no one knew how time would pass. The applause and the wah wah’s and the end of each verse, the desire to repeat a line a verse, the insistence on a poem of particular interest. Much like the encore call last night after it was all over, as you can see below and then an impromtu break from the routine and some enterprising youth joining me on stage in dance, hurried off by security to restore some order.
Lovely days those, with my Father. Sharing space with the other greats of poetry and literature. Spending time just listening to them and imbibing. Will those days ever return ? Time moves on and this generation I am not certain is as interested in such activity as we were.
But I think word spreads as you indulge. Just this morning a group from Pune comes over to invite me to such an evening for the inauguration of an amphitheater in an environment friendly locale. Maharashtra and Pune in particular has always had a keen interest towards culture and the classics. Dance forms, classical singing have been an essential ingredient, almost compulsory, in most homes. And when you therefore visit any Maharashtrian home you will always find the presence of that ethos and ethic. True too for some of our Southern states .. Tamilnadu, Andhra, Karnataka and Kerala. And of course Bengal. Especially among the girls in the home. There is indeed a prevalence of some classic art form in every corner of the country. And I am amazed at the vastness of the creativity and the beauty of its presence. I must know my country better. I must travel and read and imbibe them. I must gain undisclosed knowledge. For it must take a lifetime, perhaps more, to experience and know what India is all about. Such a shame that a large portion of my life is over and I never had the time to know … know about my own people and their culture. But I will. I shall pursue, even if time is not on my side, I shall pursue !!
To those of my extended family then .. a cultured good night .. and with the love of more to come..
The Meridien, Cochin, Kerala February 7, 2010 Sun 10 : 27 PM
Valorie … a belated birthday wish to you .. may you remain healthy and wise and poetic as ever !
As I watch the ‘mohiniattam’ being performed on stage by a large group of dancers performing in honour of the evening to felicitate Resul Pookutty, Oscar Award winner for his sound design in Slumdog Millionaire, I cannot but be mesmerized by the kathakali dance form from these regions. The eyes and their expressive movement, the hands moving in lyrical grace, enveloping inviting and so utterly spell binding. The use of the most minimal body movement, yet enough to express what needs to be expressed. It is this brevity of movement that is so attractive. It is the brevity of expression that has sunk into the psyche of the inhabitants of this region. Their reserve and restraint is well known in their culture and language. Their literacy quotient being the highest in the country, could be another.
Kerala, God’s own country, has not earned this name without meaning. There is an air about it that justifies its warm and affectionate existence. But as always, just when you begin to enjoy and sink into the land, a departure takes place and we are soon away from it all. Perhaps a little too soon.
Resul, not gloating in the air of importance and recognition, has decided to give back to society, to his people and has started a Foundation for the needy. A medical care center with an established hospital, for those among us that are under privileged and poor. Noble and kind of heart. I contribute to it too, in kind, in a small ceremony that takes place a little earlier in the afternoon on arrival.
Keeping in tune with the phrase ‘do in Rome as the Romans do’, I order some extraordinary crafted dhoti and sari to be worn at the evening formal function. The sari of course for the ladies in the house. Typical Kerala designed motifs on them through gold and silver threads. Such richness of craft in every part of our beautiful country and such a shame that we are so unaware of it and its existence. Well I certainly. How wonderful it would be if I could drop everything around me and just visit every corner of India to imbibe, learn and experience my own land and people. How wonderful to learn and be acquainted with their customs and culture and language. To live with them, be one with them, breathe the same air, discover our countrymen in different hues and in turn hope that we can discover ourselves too !!
So, I wear the dhoti or munda as it is more colloquially known for the evening and I think there is an appreciation of it. The ceremony is short and sweet and over in an hour. Which is in sharp contrast to the pomp and grandeur and expanse of last night’s in Chennai. I meet up with the two greats of Malayalam cinema - Mohanlal and Mamooty. Their work is testimony to their greatness. Effortless, easy and so completely natural that it belies all that you may have conceived about how acting needs to be done. Mohanlal comes up to the room later and narrates a script for which he wishes me to do a days’ guest appearance. I am inclined on principle but will read the script and revert.
There was a post before the one that was there before that .. I think … which had ended with ‘to those that understand and those that do not understand’. Whereas there were many that did understand, there were some that did not. Were I to explain to them, it would rob me the reason for writing it the way I did. Explaining it would in a way diminish the effect of the content. So I would rather not. But if there are some enterprising young men or women that would wish to elaborate to those that desired elaboration, I would not stop them from doing so. In fact it would be a wonderful exercise in assuaging from them whether they were close to the thought or not.
The ‘dhoti’ in all its pristine glamour, tied up around the waist by shear will power and some dextrous use of the stomach muscle, else it slips down and opens up !! It is just a piece of cloth, no buttons, no belts, no clips nothing. Simple elegant convenient and with its own characteristic charm and above all - air conditioned at all times !! The fall of the main design as a strip down the front to be positioned on the right hip and just around the right knee. Rules of culture.
During my several interviews that went down today with Manorama News, the TV channel that is number 1 in the region, I was asked for a few minutes to talk to their radio station Radio Mango, and the lady that pushed the radio mike across my nose made an observation. She said my sign off ‘love line’ on the blog is always different. Different ways of saying ‘i love you’ every day !!
Strange I had never noticed that, and now that she has told me I am more conscious of it. Wonder if I shall sign off with a difference today. Lets see -
Love you … ‘munda’ and all …
Taj Coromandel, Chennai February 6/7, 2010 Sat/Sun 1 : 30 AM
8 hours in the presence of the Chief Minister of Tamilnadu here in Chennai to felicitate him and his generosity to the workers of the Tamil Film Industry. He has allocated 100 acres of land for building houses for the workers and several other benefits announced. The variety show put up by the entire Industry brought nostalgia and history and emotion all into one. To see the first ever films of the greats MGR and Shivaji Ganesan, to see and hear them recite the great writing of the Chief Minister, then a writer in his early years and not in politics. He is 86 now and still is writing for 2 films apart from governing the State. To spend time with Rajni and Kamal who translate for me all the proceedings as we go along this rather long evening cum night.
Karunanidhi remembers the telegram he sent me during my accident in 1982. I remind him of the first National Award that I received for ‘Saat Hindustani’ from him, when the awards were given out in Madras. He smiles pleasantly.
When i do good, i feel good.
When i do bad, i feel bad.
That is my Religion.
Jaya sends me that as I land in Chennai and feels that it needs reference for the blog. I obey.
It is late and it is an early flight tomorrow morning to Cochin in Kerala on the other side of the peninsula. There to felicitate Resul Pookutty for his Oscar and more recently for his Padma Award.
‘When I do good i feel good’ ….
I will leave now .. i need to prepare too for the event on Monday at the Bandra Fort and my recitation…
Love you my dearest ones … you are the reason I exist ..
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 5/6, 2010 Fri/Sat 2 : 13 AM
A birthday of the son Abhishek. A day of rejoicing and fun and light heartedness. A day full of love and affection for all those that send in feeling and wishes and warmth. Of family and friends calling in. But … the young man chooses to work. And so after the early morning greetings he has left for his ‘Crooked ‘ shoot.
The four of us had quietly brought in his 34th over dinner last night. A card, a gift, a reading of Shweta’s piece to him and many hugs and cakes later departing to the duvet.
But as life would have it and dictate, there were moments of sadness too. Sujit Kumar passed away early this morning. A colleague in several films, a considerate neighbor, husband to a wife that remained an exceptional friend and fan till her tragic end some years ago. When life ends it takes along so many moments of the past in quick succession. All those memories of time spent together, the films, the locations on out doors, the camaraderie, all gone in one swift cruel move.
Condolences and prayers for his children and family.
There were condolences too for Aamir this evening. He lost his Father, Tahir Hussain, some days back. An effervescent gentleman, producer and director. Jaya worked with him in ‘Anamika’ with Sanjeev Kumar. We went across to Aamir’s place and spent time with him and his family. Tried to keep the atmosphere light and cheerful. It was pleasant.
Back in Jalsa a few friends over for dinner and company to be with Abhishek for a birthday. Nothing extravagant or loud, a mere warm collection of friends, light banter and now back to bed.
Tomorrow looms large and near enough - most of the night is already through !! Tomorrow another day in the Southern part of the country. Tomorrow another day when I shall attempt some yellow lines. Tomorrow when I shall hopefully catch up on sleep and contemplation. Scripts and papers for future production. It is always so difficult to decide what to take on and what to leave behind. Which scripts would make good cinema, which roles would provide challenge.
As Aamir came down to see us off when we left his house, he expressed - ” We must work together sir .. “. I told him to direct a film. He has such talent for it. He nodded approval.
But we all know that nods of approval and desire to work together, make good conversation ready to picked up as a headline tomorrow, and nothing more.
There is a sense of excitement as I close for the day. Its not the end of Fri 5th. Its the end of an obsolete mobile phone and the arrival of a new modern machine, updated in design and function. The joy of opening the complicated packing of the box, picking out piece by piece of the machine and its varied contraptions one by one, fitting them in loading it on and charging it to its fullest.
And then …. the mystery of finding out how it works !! Ha ha ..
Modern invention is too rapid for most of us and in order that we may avail the best and the latest, we often give way to quality and reliability, giving greater attention to design. Essential, but perhaps too liberal.
I would agree … You ??
Love you and more …
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 4, 2010 Thu 7 : 40 PM
On the eve of Abhishek’s birthday as we prepare to welcome the 5th I can only share the joy with my extended family by putting out what Shweta wrote for a magazine on her brother. This is an edit note to be published in the Box Office India Weekly film trade magazine for the issue dated February 6th. The editor is an old friend and journalist Vinod Mirani, who has been there in the trade ever since I can remember.
My Brother, Abhishek
As my mother explains it, she chose the name Abhishek, for her second born, and only son, because it means the anointing of a king or God- in her context it was Amitabh Abhishek- the crowning glory of her husband. At the hospital that day, there was an atmosphere of celebration- my father opened bottles of champagne, though it was strictly forbidden, and everyone, including the reluctant nurses imbibed and partook in the revelry. So, Abhishek brought with him euphoria and merriment; the air was thick with bubbles and the pop of corks and before the new born could even utter his first independent cry, his destiny was thrust on him – he was to the manor born… and Abhishek would not disappoint.
I admire his ability to carry such an awesome mantle with such grace, yet never losing his innate affability. Seldom, in these many years have I come across anyone who is impervious to his charm and effervescence. Yet very few could grasp what it would feel like to be in his shoes, while he himself has much bigger shoes to fill. He makes it look effortless.
Ever since he was a boy, he wanted to act. He enjoyed going on the sets and struck up friendships with the entire unit, they indulged him and I remember him making a boy’s game out of serious props like swords and hand pistols. The sets were truly his playground. At home he enacted action sequences with all his vigour, me and my hapless dolls and teddy bears bearing the brunt of his melodramatic fury. I correct myself, he didn’t want to grow up to be an actor- he wanted to grow up and be Amitabh Bachchan! Today when I see him on screen, larger than life, it feels surreal, glimmers of his make believe world of dangerous villains and man eating monster’s flash through my mind.
Many a time people get taken in by the boyish pranks and fail to see the man inside- who has tremendous grit, it may take him time to get to where he wants but get there he will…have no doubt about it. He is capable of such maturity and intensity in his performances it belies his years. I have to admit I have watched all his movies behind a veil of tears, tears of joy and pride that he is realizing his dream and my mother’s – Amitabh Abhishek- Amitabh’s crowning glory!
You do appreciate of course that this comes out here even before it gets published and I wish to thank the editor for agreeing to allow me to do this.
Most of today has been spent initiating a new concept, a new facility, a new endeavor, for greater connectivity. The expanse of mediums has made our lives so much more transparent and available. At a media event recently a senior journalist questioned me on my desire to write, to express on blog and in them to open as it were information and thoughts that I lived with in an entire day. The premise being that for someone who had kept away from the media, ban and all, for most parts of his career, it was unusual for him now to be so available and in a sense pandering to the fourth estate as it were. I had wondered over the question. When I was not speaking, the allegation was ‘ why was I not speaking ‘. And when you do, its ‘ why are you speaking so much to the media ‘. To me it seemed odd that the medium would want to regulate the opening and closing of my voice box ! It strengthened my argument that the medium would ideally want you to speak when they felt they needed you to speak and conversely to shut up when they did not desire it. What could possibly be their reason to behave thus ? Simple. The copy and thereby the commerce of the day did not suit them or the agenda set up at their editorial early morning meet.
Would you therefore wish to address this as a selfish act ? On ground level perhaps yes. But look around. How many other professions negate the respect that is required towards commerce. Lets not go too far. Look at our own profession. In film, are we prone to follow principles that do away with commerce ? Do we ever make a product, investing time, energy, creativity and money with the intent of a free box office ? No. Then why question the media. Media is a business too and shall perforce have to follow basics of business, or perish.
The lady journalist that asked me this question defended her argument by stating that by my excessive exposure, the ‘mystique’ that surrounded me would disappear. A mystique that had for many stars across the globe, become an endearing quality in building and maintaining a greater life span.
I told the affable lady - ” Ma’am ! I am 68 years old. Not much longer to go. What good is it going to do to hold on to mystique when you are on the other end of the hill and sliding down rapidly to the bottom ? “
She was honest in her response - ” I have no answer to that. You have me there ! “
So to return to the regulation of voice boxes for their own end, it would be difficult to understand whether de regulation by the media, would fall into a similar abyss. Could it not be then, that a regulated comment or byte by desired individual, keeping in mind its potentially large commercial prospects, be deliberately de regulated to extend commercial prospect !
And in doing so, does the medium not become guilty of looking merely at their own selfish end, without any concern for two of the most important ingredients in the matter - the issue and the individual !??!
And I ask the medium. Does it ever bother you whether this, seemingly innocuous aberration in your act ; and in what you believe to be of no consequence, could bring an ocean of turmoil to the party concerned. Does it ever occur to you that the strength and force and believability of the medium, has the absolute power to change, pollute and corrupt a regulated voice to be made to sound deregulatory ? Does it ever occur to you the consequences such deregulation creates ? Would you not agree, that in succumbing to such act, you offer reason and opportunity to those that would choose to interpret it in their own way and interest ? And would you not agree that in the final outcome, it is not the individual or the specific issue that gets affected, but the neighbor or the common man that unknowingly and most unfortunately, becomes an innocent victim ?
Has the medium ever had the courage and the guts to pronounce boldly what is right and what is wrong and has it then made any concrete efforts to banish or disassociate those, through their power of projection, that have not necessarily through their own desire, taken umbrage and now turning the moment to represent a cause that is not acceptable to them ??
In any part of the world at any given time and place there shall always be issues, sensitive enough to provoke revolt, repulsion and disagreement. Prodding them into activation could be looked upon by the medium as ‘investigative’ and the ‘need for the populace to be informed’. Agree. But it could also be looked upon as deliberate instigation for, if I may be allowed to be candid, good copy and commercial enhancement.
Issues and individuals be damned. Job done. Shut the shop. Get to bed for peaceful slumber. And why bother about the pain and anguish and personal harm that you may have set about, by letting the cat out into the pigeons !!
Think about it ! Zara sooach ke dekhiye !!
My love as always - to those that understand and to those that may never understand !
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 3/4, 2010 Wed/Thu 1 : 20 AM
Jallianwala Bagh commentary and the final assault on General Dyer and Odwire in London as a revenge killing by Udham Singh came through by the early hours of the morning. Had turned in by 3 am and was at the studio by 6. Morning times are always good for voice quality. It is fresh and clear and has a unique resonance about it. The makers were happy, the job was done and now we all look forward to seeing it all put together for the son et lumiere !
Chennai beckons for a felicitation to the Chief Minister Mr Karunanidhi - he having designated land for the film industry of the South. He has been a stalwart for cinema much before he went into politics. A great writer and lyricist, his dialogues in the films are most memorable and have been quite unique. His felicitation by me shall be a bit of a reversal in nostalgia. My first National Award for the promising newcomer for ‘Saat Hindustani’ , my very first film, was presented by him at a glittering ceremony, well not exactly glittering, ceremony in Chennai, then known as Madras. It was an awkward moment for me. I had been shooting for a film there ‘Pyaar ki Kahani’ a film that came to me by default. It was to have been done, by then the very popular and most successful star from the Hindi firmament in the South, Jitendra. Because of the number of films that had been taken by stars, all of them were unable to give proper dates to producers. The producers went to certain associations that enveloped the industry and a dictat was passed. No star would be allowed to sign more than 9 films at a time, I think. Jitendra had crossed the limit and so this project was put up to me, because he would not be allowed by associations to partake in them.
It was a lovely experience doing this film in Madras, a first for me. The magnificence of the studio system was efficiently prevalent. Large systematic studios, clean, well organized and the nature of work, methodical. There was Anil Dhawan, elder brother to David Dhawan, or was it the other way round. Farida Jalal the effervescent actress and a fond friend of Jaya and the dynamic Tanuja.
It was a remake of the very successful Tamil film ‘Kai kudrtha Deivam’ starring two of my favorites from the Southern film world - Shivaji Ganesan and Savitri. He a master in his craft and one whom I began to admire after seeing this film. And then the lovely and the most beautiful face of the Industry, Savitri, a most consummate natural, the likes of which I was never able to see anywhere.
Madras was where my brother Ajitabh was posted in a shipping firm those days. The city was sparse. There was but just 2 hotels that spoke of any urban existence. Otherwise it was a calm quiet and very energized place. It was the first film premiere of my film on this in Bombay then, now Mumbai. It was funny and odd to be at the show that night. I felt awkward and self conscious. But the only one that threw caution to the winds in my praise was Mehmood Bhai, the great comedian, whose brother Anwar Ali and I had worked in ‘Saat Hindustani ‘ and in who’s house I was staying.
Madras was pristine and steeped in culture. Ethics and ethos prevailed in all homes. And in this very orthodox environment, there was a Thunderbird, the most coveted sports car of the era with a friend of ours. At nights after pack up we would go off for drives, listening in those days to music in the car through that old time cartridge cassette. It was the American system device. A square - oblong cased container the size of 2 cigarette packets put together was our source. It had pre recorded music on it, generally from the USA. You could not record fresh on it and there were many a time when we would have listened to the tape so often that eventually we would destroy it.
There were no large buildings. Simple practical homes, great places to eat idli and the exquisite sari store Nalli’s. We would carry much from this store for the ladies at home and for the men there was this great fad of wearing lungi’s from the same store. So much to reveal and talk about the south and its most organized working and of course whenever they had spare time, to watch our films. And in reverse make them again. Wonderful days !! Some other day there shall be greater description of them.
From Chennai there shall be Cochin in Kerala and another felicitation. This time for our very own Resul Kutty, the Oscar winner for his work on Slumdog.
4th shall be eve of Abhishek’s birthday, he being born on the 5th and there shall be some people over to the house. It has been a while since ….. ……
The pressures of time still keep me away from them yellow lines. But rest assured one day I shall surprise them …
My love floweth over …
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 2, 2010 Tue 11 : 47 PM
At 6 in the morning at BR Dubbing a reliving of the history of tormented times in the Punjab before the Jalianwala Bagh massacre at the hands of the British. Revealing, riveting and full of strong stories of valor and determination. Of revolt against suppression. Of challenge against those that oppressed and tried to sublimate us. As you go through the rituals of the reading, the visuals of the times, the emotions all creep inside you and overwhelm you. Those were the days my friend. How one would have loved to have lived in those times. To have felt the passion of independence. To have been a part of revolution that changed the future of an entire nation. Those were the days … yes … those were the days !!
By the middle of the afternoon Baz Luhrmann climbs up to the office third floor for a meeting. Some exquisite paintings presented, some talk on motor bike accidents and swollen hands of infection, endless musings on cinema and philosophy and intent, personal close photographs and then good bye. With the hope to meet again.
And after a short recess a mammoth enterprise … and again ! The media build up to COLORS as a channel coming to the UK and USA. Connecting to London and Birmingham and Leicester and New York. COLORS in the UK, APNA COLORS in the United States. Radio, print whatever … promoting projects and detail on the content and reasons for the association. Fun !! Not the promotions … just the variety of questions and the manner in which they construct the interviews. Fascinating !!
And then after a long time … the family … all four of us together and by ourself .. just sitting and chatting and passing opinion and judgement and argument on topics prevalent. It is a fascinating world.
I see that there is an impatience for the yellow. It is long overdue, but so is time. Time has been itself overdue and extracting one out from there has always been difficult. But suddenly someday, one day, it will occur. The responses … And then perhaps there shall be happiness and joy.
Google from San Francisco has come over for a meeting. They wish to put my Father’s works on it. Access it for all lovers of poetry. Connect it through limited exposure on the net, but giving links where they could be bought and hence enhance sales where they do not exist. What do you think ? Oh… ok … shall put it up as a question on the column by the side. Property, copyrights, piracy, costs all go in making the right decision and I do hope that it shall prevail in a mutually agreeable program.
They talk of putting up my own YouTube recordings and assure me that they can be done without going anywhere. Sitting here in front of the computer and after a short introduction to the mechanics we should be able to conduct the activity ourselves, without any further ado !!
In closing then .. a confession ..
My daughter writes beautifully … hang on for her introduction on the blog soon and her piece that she has written.
With my love to all .. in whatever state you are in .. in whatever …
Prateeksha, Mumbai February 1, 2010 Mon 11 : 48 PM
Authority … !!!
Authority of position and place. Authority in domesticity. Authority through the medium of media. Authority in relations. Authority among equals and friends. Authority …
By what authority do we function in all spheres of life. By what authority does position and place become overbearing. Why does authority in domesticity become conducive with all that denotes order and harmony. How does the media or any medium function with authority and right. Is it of value to be in authority amongst ourselves - we are all equals and friends …
It is of immense interest to me how authority exists and why. Has it been devised by nature to accommodate submission. Or has it been devised to accentuate defensiveness. We are weak and vulnerable when we are defensive. We are strong and impressive when aggressive. Why ??
Knowing these traits do we not ever use them to our advantage ; to get out of situations that will not go our way. Can we really become aggressive despite our inborn weakness. Do we surrender to such acts deliberately or do we act out them.
I am in dilemma and distress on appropriate answers. They come to me but in fits and starts. More fits, than starts. Are those that practice or induce these traits aware of its repercussions. Will there be any repercussions ?
Submitting to them is more from respect of position. Once position achieves a stand dictated by what we have agreed in principle, we seldom question it. Its the way the ethics of a nation a culture exists.
I am this morning subjected to authority. I wrote last night of pending argument and debate and discussion. Of belief and disbelief and what it would entail once a final judgement is arrived at. But the belief really is that authority prevails. You may have fact and truth in place. You may have evidence in place. But in the end authority reveals an unbiased face. Truth will have its place and meaning but it will carry the onus of being harassed. Truth will be harassed, but truth will never be defeated. This is strong. Evidence must be clinching and pure, it cannot be circumstantial. Assumptions cannot have meaning to an accusation. And even if they do, conviction will never find space on mere ‘accu-sumtion’.
In a civilized society, conduct and constitution, law and judiciary could be blindfolded, but in the inevitable end, truth will prevail - satyameva jayate !!
Someday there shall be a revelation of what this leads to or does not. Webs of deceit may be deployed to surround and strangle fact, but even though they are long and endless in wait … the end result would and shall and will be positive. So help me God !!
Uddhav Thakeray calls. he has just come out of the theatre after ‘Rann’ and is not able to find appropriate words to describe his appreciation for the film and the performance. Minutes later Bala Saheb calls. ‘I want to see this film. Come and show it to me !’ ‘You have not been to see me for a long time !’
I assure him I shall arrange a projection in his house. I ask after his health. He is fine he says.
He cannot travel out due to his frail condition, but the fire in him still burns. He is resolute and firm as ever and in that resoluteness you discover an endearing, that sudden soft moment, which has always made his presence so strong and affectionate. His sense of humor is in tact as he punches in some wise ones !!
Abhishek had been to Delhi for the press for Colors and Bingo. After a rollicking start of the highest TRP the press needs to meet him. He returns to Mumbai with his Mother, who had been there in Delhi and in Varanasi for an International conference. He has trudged off to Film City for ‘Crooked’ his new film, his wife has swiftly followed him there too for Vipul’s film. They shall be late in returning and the husband and wife at home decide to call it a day. It has been a long and argumentative Indian day. The system prevails and rules, try disturbing it and you could end up starting a revolution or quietly to it, succumb.
I would rather succumb than be a part of the revolution. The answerability and accountability be the facets that shall sit on judgement when the results are announced.
Nothing has been heard yet. But it will soon. Will they draw me or shall I be drawn into it. Difficult to state or even apprehend. Nurturing the craft of human emotions is an exercise that we must all learn. For it is the humans that shall encounter us and become its counter too !!
Love to you …
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 31, 2010 Sun 11 : 49 PM
A Sunday ! An involved Sunday ! A Sunday of opportunity ! Reassuring Sunday ! Sunday of crowds at the gate ! A lonely Sunday, devoid of company ! A company that normally Sundays bring !
A Sunday that initiates the son e lumiere for Jallianwala Bagh. Just a few pages of it and then retire ; the voice is lethargic and strained says the recordist politely. Back in the chair of vibration and its sonorous drone putting many chores at a distance. Slumber without context and aim.
A rude awakening, to the meet with Jeanine from Paris and the absolute possibility of having spelt her name wrong. Of the Champs-Elysees Ballet theatre and the confirmation of performing there with a poetry recitation of my Father’s works. Details and creatives later the next genius, Sanjay Leela Bhansali and of talk taking Chenab Gandhi forward. His absolute faith in the script and its importance in today’s times. His mellifluous praise for Paa and the performance. He having issues with the film though.
The phone call again from Jalsa. It is Sunday sir, the crowds have become very large, awaiting your presence. Traffic is being held up, the police van has been summoned and the pilot jeep to bring some order. Returning from Janak back to Jalsa and moving cautiously through a sea of humanity. Secure behind the wooden gate an about turn and ‘khul ja sim sim’.
They are a little loud and vociferous than usual. Its a fantastic yardstick to judge the outcome of a release - a new release ! Loud and cheerful, successful film. Cheerful, ok. Silent, why the heck did you have to do this kind of crap film, sirrrrr …!!
Many namaskars and waves later, the parted sea of Moses in the Ten Commandments and back to Janak with Vishal Bharadwaj. What a range of subjects he puts forth with innocent ease of reference. His exuberance for Paa and the desire on both our parts to work together in the not too distant future, vibes well.
Contemplation. Blank thoughts of nothingness, voluntary transplants to Marriott, Enigma, AjayAtul the music duo having won the National Award for music in a Marathi film, a celebration by Mahesh Manjrekar, a button push to launch website, speeches, music eminence in the shape of Pyarelal ji from the master duo of Laxmikant-Pyarelal and away. Ajay Atul. They the ones who gave music to’ Viruddh’. May the lord bess them with greater success.
With moments to spare a quick briefing for the event taking place. It’s a strange instrument. The West will never understand it, and the east would never agree ! Got to put my view point though !
Passion and release of expressions in soft warm feathers of skin and dimly lit surroundings. Of news to follow and not to follow. Of merit in messages and some demerits.
Life puts so many questions. And we do not have answers to them.
Question then - why put your life in the first place against wolves that shall devour you.
Tomorrow a day of expectation. Of argument and belief. Of playing hard and soft simultaneously, with a combined force that allows little space for those that demand space.
This is the writing of the absurd !! But absurd is, that absurd does !! Hah… han… haaaa .. why not put the dicussion till later when in person we meet.. Better no ???
Love you my lovelies
PS … forgot … call from His Excellency for a visit to his land…
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 30, 2010 Sat/ Sun 12 : 48 AM
Radio Mirchi 98.3 FM, first sound in the morning as you drive into Parel to their studios for the music release of upcoming film ‘Teen Patti’. The reception is subdued. Far far more subdued than the visit to the same location for the promotion of ‘PAA’. There were greater crowds on the street and on the way up to the station. Once there, the screams and shouts that greeted us for Paa were absent this morning. People were more involved in their work. The attention drawn during the previous visit was overwhelming. This time around … ‘whelming’ … no more !
Two conclusions. Either they did not enjoy the film or their enthusiasm for a visiting celebrity has waned. Do these factors indicate ratings on the status of a celebrity ? I would imagine they do.
In the recording studio the affable JituRaaj with his great language acumen, conducting what seemed like a most intricate game of Chinese Chequers. A button here a lever push there, a computer click and commentary on mike, all being conducted simultaneously with deft movements of the body and hand and mind. Sensational !!
For the first time in the music history a new album being released at an FM Radio station ! A few yelps and shouts and screams later, photographs, interviews, a press meet for all in the foyer and over ! Rush rush off to be home and see the kids … adult kids …. catch up on activity, lunch and then back to the office.
The Hockey National Team is on its way back from training camp at Pune and have a desire to meet me. But before that a story session with Raj Kumar Santoshi, fresh from the success of APKGK is conducted. A different and sincere take on a subject that perhaps has not been in the realm of discussion. More of that later as the screen play and dialogue get into place.
The Hockey team has been struggling with their association and handlers for their pay to be settled. It has not happened they say till time and are anxious that I spearhead a concert to be held in Chandigarh to collect funds for them and their welfare. I have asked for details and shall see what can be done for a cause as noble as this.
Zoom off to the Auros restaurant and ‘Teen Patti’ photo shoot with varied costumes. A most interesting interview with Siddharth Bhatia, the eminent columnist from DNA, now on his own as he has withdrawn from the paper. Questions so valid and worthy of response, analysis so deep and of keen interest ; probing, incisive and intelligent. Such a joy when the interviewer is of apt and capable intellect. Wants to spend days along with me to write a book on moments of cinema and life when I started off. Is doing so with Dev Anand. His argument being that in typical fashion the aversion of the Indian Film Industry to archival activity will ensure that there is nothing of reference to the good old days, when our great grand children shall seek information. Such a pity and such a shame that all our archival material shall perforce now be restricted to either Google or the Wikipedia. Restricted yes, but I think the better word would be limited. Limited to what these two information giants will have in their memory as a store for us !!
A barrage of radio FM bites follow. I never realized the number of stations that we have in our country. All seeking importance since they believe it will be their station that shall do justice to our film and its customers and its music. A quick change and in different suit for ‘Rann’ post release interviews. At the Marriott, they ask all the same questions on the film and the media and the angnst among them. And then the real reason they are their -
‘What sir are your takes on this IPL and Pakistan and Bala Saheb and ShahRukh events.”
These are sensitive issues and I must remain out of it. Who and which channel shall distort, amend, cut paste, slow motion, back ground music my comment, one does not know. And also one does not know what stance the channel shall take on it. So, it is best to not comment at all.
The purpose of every channel is to capture the attention of a prospective consumer. To prevent him using his remote, an instrument of mass destruction … er … channel destruction really, the effort of every programmer shall be to keep the interest alive in his client. What really then is the time taken by a viewer to shift from one channel to another. I would believe 2 to 3 seconds.
It is this period of 2 -3 seconds where a channel owner has to instruct his team to put on something ; that prevents his competitor to function. Let us for one hypothetical argument based moment think and believe that the channel was able to put out something.
My argument is as follows. Does any channel have the acumen to create or put out news or content within 3 seconds, which is fresh and attractive enough to stop the viewer from pressing that dreaded remote ! One. The other is. When the time span required to put out fresh news is a mere 3 seconds, then is their sufficient time taken to research, authenticate, design the material before it starts influencing and committing itself to the masses at large ??
My answer would be, no.
Given this condition then, would it not coerce the other channels to corrupt themselves in order to be in the lead ? A tough question and one I hope shall be able to be looked at more sensibly .
When posed to young stringer on duty with the maker and the designer of the property. Let us see where this goes.
An interesting thought -
The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise, than saved by constructive criticisms .. !!!!
The night beckons … the hour strikes past 2 AM and the brain, tired as it is refuses to function ..
good night then and god bless ..
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 29, 2010 Fri 11 : 47 PM
How embarrassing to have written an incomplete post and that too with sleep overtones. Worse still to not have completed it the following morning. But .. travel back to Mumbai kept changed times as a hindrance. Weather conditions in the Northern regions of the country with heavy fog kept flights delayed and on occasion cancelled.
Yesterday was as packed as one would have imagined. The morning spent on a delayed flight out of Mumbai and a delayed drive to Sopaan due to traffic ; Commonwealth Games around the corner and all the constructions and roads and fly overs being built.
It was an immediate turn around back to Noida and the TV 18 set up with Rajdeep Sardesai and IBN 7 and CNN IBN. TV operations are massive and an administrative night mare, not to mention all the journalist woes of speed and collection of news and facts to put it out as soon as possible before the competition takes over. Editorial meets for both English and Hindi were conducted in the editorial room and what to project and which to give preference was decided in a most serious and meaningful manner. All final decisions resting with the man of the moment .. yours truly … a negotiated moment for the promotion activity of RANN.
Getting on to the same platform from where all the broadcasts take place and interviewing Rajdeep was an interesting act, albeit a bit rushed I thought. So many questions that came to mind, came to mind after I had left the studios. Ha ! But a huge amount of respect for the medium and its working and of course the fact that there are so many young and bright individuals working round the clock so that all the material gathered from various corners of the world gets to the viewer in time, in tact and in a form never seen by any other channel. And just as it had all started it all came to an end amidst heavy crowds belonging to the respective departments of the facility clamoring for a piece of the face or the hand or the written hand. Very impressive and invigorating. An entire education on the TV medium.
And then the premier for RANN, dinner with the daughter and back in bed … well almost ..
There were some interesting questions and topics that came up for discussion during the editorial meet. The IPL and Pakistan players, the Padma Awards and its controversy, the Rathore molestation and suicide case, the Mumbai taxi drivers and language issue and of course RANN as a film.
The Home Minister Mr Chidambaran had expressed his displeasure at the Pakistan players not being brought up for sale during the auction for the season, and the channel would obviously want to know my reaction to it. I am not a team owner, nor in any way involved with the circumstances that were prevailing. The situation between the two countries being sensitive, and the IPL being a private body I would imagine this should have been something that should have remained in the private realm. But controversies get stoked when media goes after it and when it provokes statements from others - a slight play of words and the most insignificant little comment can have the capacity to be played around to build a serious enough situation.
For me, involved in the ‘Aman ki Asha’ initiative by the two leading papers of the two countries - The Times of India and the Jung, where every effort is being made to bring about friendship and understanding through talk, exchange and effort of travel for either side, it becomes a difficult proposition to say anything. A pro statement provokes the wrath of certain political parties, and a nay does not provoke anything or anyone. Safety is the advised feeling. But I wonder why so much is being made of the issue. Moscow Olympics during the year 1980 was boycotted by the Western powers protesting against the occupation of the Soviet forces into Afghanistan. Apartheid prevented our cricket or any sporting team to visit South Africa and at the Beijing Olympics, Tibet had become an issue.
How does one resolve or even begin to think of a solution. There is none. But till it is resolved a sense of incompleteness persists. For some it is fear of repercussions. Others feel that since the matter is in the realm of a private party and private enterprise, they should be the ones to address it. Private matters normally remain private.
I see with great surprise and pain too, how matters such as this get politicized or electronic channelized, when the actual initiator of the issue simply cannot be found. What India says cannot be understood by the Pakistani’s and what Pakistan says cannot be understood by India. So what do we do. Who is to take initiative and more importantly who is to face the blame ? Where does one go from here ? Back to the duvet I guess !!
The Australian issue gathers some steam as well. Indian students are being attacked in Australia in what is alleged to be race related incidents. When it had first occurred I had been invited to Brisbane to receive a Doctorate ; and I had refused to go. Political outfits have banned Australian players from coming in to this country for the IPL and I wonder what would be the fate of the Australian technical team that has been deployed by West Bengal Government for the exploration of coal in their region. Shah Rukh Khan and his film ‘My name is Khan’ has been attacked today for his statements towards this issue. I see a program on the TV where the anchor demonstrates the dilemma facing various people, the object of his report being that Indians and more people should stand up and defend.
‘Are there no Indians there to come up and fight for this pertinent cause’
‘Why is not any one from the Industry making any comment’
My question then - Mr TV Chanel anchor, you vociferously proclaim that where are the people to stand up against this seemingly condemned act. You are so concerned in your presentation and whether the tone of the program is correct or not, or whether TRP’s shall rise because of the nature of the issue you have initiated, that I wish to ask you -
” Why have you eliminated yourself from this entire imbroglio. Why do not you take a stand and issue firm directives to the nation what you believe to be the step to take. Very judiciously you keep out of this and continue to provoke others to react. You are such a strong force, a force that has the capacity to change opinions and judgements. Surely as a service to the Nation you should take a stand, a stand which you should be brave enough to say it is your own. Why use another’s voice to say what you want to say.”
The Padma Awards and the controversies they are creating are discussed too. I respond by saying that a committee I believe set up by the Government evaluates merit. They should be the ones to be questioned if at all there is discontent. There should be transparency on the matter if there are doubts. What should be the criteria for the reward should be made transparent for all to see, are some of the suggestions that come in. Check the credentials of those that decide reward. Why pick on those that have been nominated. It is no fault of theirs ? Unless it is being suggested that they too are responsible for lobbying in such matters for themselves ; a fact that has been brought up by eminent columnist Deepa Gehlot in the Afternoon. The bitter fact though in matters such as this is that there is yet to be an Award that has not run into some controversy or the other. End of chapter.
There is the issue of the Mumbai taxi drivers and the dictat to learn Marathi within 40 days. The editorial team asks me my opinion and I desist. I desist because I have been an accused party in some way. I have been attacked on this issue in the past. Commenting on it as editor of the day would involve getting into a position that could be biased and journalist and journalistic ethics would be destroyed or challenged, so I must keep away. The team understands.
The Rathore matter comes up where a police officer has been accused of molestation of a young girl and then threatened to remain quiet for fear of severe repercussions against her. She out of embarrassment and fear commits suicide and for several years the matter is buried until the media brings it up again and there is possibility of some punishment for the officer. Well done media !! Questions arise is trial by media the right thing to do. Well it worked in this case and a few others too, that is laudable. But does it all the time ? Are there incidents when media has gone hammer and tongs against an individual or against an occurrence and it has not brought forth, desired results ? Sure ! There have been incidents ! So final opinion - trial by media a 50-50 situation.
There was so much more I had wished I could bring up, but time was not with me or them. I do hope that someday we can all sit in a quiet and peaceful manner and just discuss these matters at length.
Back home in Mumbai from the airport straight to Mehboob Studios for a photo shoot for the cover of ‘Mans World’ and then to office for meets with clients. Binani cement wishes to extend my contract by 2 more years. The association has profited them they tell me. Oh ! Thank you. The Business and Economic print media had concluded that I was a loser in endorsements since none of my contracts were being extended, most of them being dropped. Guess Binani must be an exception then !!
And yes !! In all the excitement of the film Rann, we forgot to congratulate ‘Junior’. Bingo opened to the highest TRP’s ( 5.1 ) for non fiction shows since 2008 and Colors as a channel has climbed even further in the ratings for GEC, general entertainment channel. Some 365. The next being substantially behind. Beat Dad too for Bigg Boss and all the others ! Bravo !!
ok !! this is it .. love you and love you and lllloooooooooooooooooooooooove you !!!
Sopaan, New Delhi January 28/29, 2010 Thu/Fri 2 : 02 AM
I cannot remember it happening to me in recent times, nor in times past - an audience applause in the middle of my film, at the end of a scene or dialogue. But it happened tonight at the premier of RANN. A thunderous and prolonged applause at the end of a scene that I perform towards the end of the film, moved me to tears. And then when the lights came on the excited acknowledgement from an entire multiplex ( not like the one in the Mall at Bangalore ), the emotions kept becoming deeper and stronger…
The varied and different kind of cinema that we are all used to may perhaps never give occasion to a moment of genuine applause at the end of a given performance, but when it happens we accept it and allow the world to pass by. Perhaps it is not our culture or our ethics.
My head slouches down over the computer and sleep is taking such a vast toll on my being that I shall have to come back to you in some hours ..
love and more..
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 18, 2010 Mon 10 : 32 PM
I lost my Father on this day around the same time as I write to you. Today … his death anniversary ! Relatives send in their prayers and remembrances and I send in a prayer as I sit in his room, quiet and in contemplation. There is no one today around me and there is a sense of being alone and isolated, a rejection almost from society. But, no, it is good at times to be yourself and be by ourself. In the hustle and bustle of life there is very little left to sit and absorb. Moments that are spent in thought are indeed the the ones that shall remain closest to you. They must be admired and respected.
I move about today in a delirium almost. Not knowing what to do, where to go and what to say. And an unused body demands that I be involved in something … anything !! I think an active body will initiate an active mind. I must therefore work, be occupied. Many things get a life when we get a life. It would be a sacrilege to ignore them. Strong thoughts that must be put to use.
As I sit and contemplate this morning of days gone by, of issues and moments gone astray, one feels a sense of ‘not wanting to do anything’. This is not a healthy state. If we do not move others will move us.
My decisions on forthcoming projects shall have to be pushed back. Indecision rules and contemplates what must be done. Heh !! How about acting, and Hamlet comes to mind. A fair and soft tale from any quarter shall always be the yardstick. So welcome it, even though the eyes shut.
Its Delhi tomorrow for the press meets on RANN - a million interviews and discussions. A slightly severe winter condition prevails up north and there are several who wish to be happy in such climes, particularly those that live in the northern parts of our hemisphere. So a quick in and out and back in Mumbai by evening.
I sit at the key board piano by the evening. I do not know how it is supposed to play, but something emanates. It is melancholic and sad. Interruptions for meets destroy the beauty of the right chord in the right place, but I persist. Ironically they are there to discuss how they could ideate on my `father’s’ works. I shall revert. Do I exceed my limits on the continuous ‘i shall revert’ matter. Bear with me. I do not remain in a stable condition. The mind wanders and about.
Perhaps tomorrow will be another day full of happiness and joy with a tinge of sadness, for, at the house in Delhi I shall reenter his room and spend a few odd moments with his picture and his books and glory.
My father - strong and malleable, wise and understanding. I will keep him thus, but the rest of us will want the full McCoy ; and try to discourage a possibility where a change would work wonders. But no, it cannot happen.
In public life, there are no free lunches to survive on.
My love to all …
ps// does any of this really make any sense. I think not.
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 17/18, 2010 Sun/Mon 1 : 21 AM
A nippy Kolkata morning, fog and low visibility but a flight to catch back to Mumbai. The early morning routine is the same. Put an alarm for 6 and a minute or two before that you are awake to check if the alarm is working and it springs to life as you examine it. There is time still to leave. It is a half hour drive to the airport but they suggest I leave when there is 10 mins to go. With the police escort and the sirens going, they predict I would be there in a shorter period of time. The screaming crowds at that hour of the morning is unchanged. A few acquaintances and friends in the waiting lounge - Aveek Sarkar, the owner of Telegraph’s, wife and daughter, Aman and Ayaan, the two talented sons of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan the sarod maestro. Aveek Babu’s wife Rekha Sarkar a warm affectionate lady and a great hostess, lover of the arts, a most enchanting home with some very rare art work that I had seen during a meal at their aesthetically designed home. Many years ago a visit to the Telegraph office had been some visit. The streets had been choked with humanity. Vir Sanghvi, renowned columnist then with Telegraph and now with Hindustan Times, and a friend had been with me. It could well have been the time when the Telegraph debate had taken place, one that I wrote of earlier. And you know what, when I reached Kolkata yesterday the Telegraph carried the entire blog piece on that bit along with a photograph of the moment. Sweet of them. Shall try and put it up for all to see.
So, yes on the plane and an attempt to catch a few winks. Then up again and completing an interview long pending on the email from the Economic Times. An invitation by the Captain to visit the cockpit. They being fans. The Captain’s wife a pilot too and flying for the same airline, the copilot a young officer whose surname Atre being the same as Abhishek’s in Paa. His classmate wrote Paa and when he was structuring the names of the characters in the film, thought of his friend now a pilot, and put it down. So there was a connect.
Touchdown … and putting on the mobile … ‘Jyoti Basu has just passed away’ !!
Deeply grieved and send our prayers and condolences. A huge pillar in the Indian political firmament has fallen. The nation is in grief.
8.30 PM at the Stardust Awards … 2 more for Paa !! Abhishek for best supporting, Auro for best actor. Yes !!! Meeting up lots of colleagues, Ajay and Akshay who come up and show warmth, Farah who still has not seen Paa and threatens to see it soon, and so many others, Karan by my side commenting on the line up and keeping me in splits, Nari Hira owner of Stardust and a dear friend by the other side giving me his woes with the electricity at the venue. Twice the generators have failed he comments with surprise and shock. I tell him its sabotage and leave him with a thought or so.
The turn around is quick and we depart even as the fire crackers invade the skies. Back home and chilling with the children. Aishwarya has come in too from an extended shoot for Guzarish, Jaya has taken my place in Kolkata by the evening flight to finish her dub for a Bengali film shot in Dhaka and my family friend and younger brother Amar Singh sit and chat about the chaos around in general.
The Sunday crowds outside the gates the acknowledgement from me and their love and attention seeking more. Back to the original days … and in the middle of all this … a silence of sorts !!
Why is there a need for this silence. In the hectic high of the entire day, why this. Is it a regret for the course of the day. A balancing between happy times and not so happy times. I never asked for it , just happened. And now silence. Maybe I should think about this. It will be taxing.. but ..
Love to all … in particular to Jasmine, who laments its absence with some consternation ..
The Sonar Bangla Hotel, Kolkata January 16, 2010 Sat 8 : 40 PM
Kolkata … lived up to all that I had written about and all that one has always expected from it … passion and love and excitement .. driven to a level where it is difficult to assess how year after year, this attitude never wanes. From the roar at the airport to the roar at the Hotel to the roar at the function, Kolkata just refuses to change. God bless all that constitute this warmth !!
The event at the Netaji Stadium was stunning. Over 1050 children in drill, in march past, in formation, in motion and song, in dance and design.. all done with perfect coordination and effort. It must have taken them hours and hours and days and days of effort and training and rehearsal to come up with what the final presentation was. But there it was. A perfect symbol of what discipline can achieve. I am a stickler for that - discipline, order, follow the rule temperament. I believe that where there is discipline there is order, and where there is order there is respect for the rule. We march in unison when we march. To many it may look a routine that signifies regimentation, that identifies all that could be associated with an army. But unified marching has deeper psychological connotations according to me. To me it signifies togetherness, moving in the same direction and following an order. Society would be so out of order if it were not to be regimented in some manner. Your behaviour, your attitude, the way you behaved in public, how you respected the rules of traffic, or the larger rules of a country, all account in driving a systematic existence. There is freedom in a free and democratic society to say or express what one may desire, but not without adhering to an order stipulated by the system. That order needed to be respected.That is all that I say. And a fine executed discipline works in that direction.
Not all in the country will be fortunate to have the benefit of the kind of education in the kind of schools we talk of. Equality in education should be worked on with greater effort. When we educate evenly we build a community that is even and sincere and one that follows an order. My sensibilities towards a particular action may look different today to one that has been taught his discipline differently. Uniformity therefore would help. So when I see effort in that direction it excites me and so today to see uniformity filled me with pride and huge expectation.
I spoke to the children and cautioned them that the years in school were the happiest days of their lives and that they should recognize it and value it. For what we learn and experience in school remains with us till eternity. We make use of it in everyday life. We should cherish them and keep them secure, for, once we enter the big bad world we shall be exposed to much that would be so different and almost opposite to what we learn, that it can be a disturbing thought.
Lesson, crowds and excitement over I travel to the AMRI Hospital to visit an ailing Jyoti Basu ex Chief Minister of Bengal and one that remained in that position for a record 27 years !! An amazing achievement, Jyoti Basu, a Communist and leader of the CPM, the Communist Part of India, has been a towering personality in Indian politics. Today he lies critically ill in an ICU battling against several ailments that put him on life support systems. At 96 he has lived a strong and firm life. Firm in his commitment to his ideals and beliefs.
Large crowds and media keep a constant vigil on the Hospital premises and I spend time with immediate family and other important personalities of the region. Members from the polit bureau, members of parliament, ex speaker of the Parliament, Somnath Chatterjee, ex Chief Minister of Bengal and brilliant legal luminary and diplomat Siddharth Shankar Ray, Prakash Karat leading party member and his charming wife Brinda Karat !!
I am delighted to meet Brinda because she is part of the nostalgia of Kolkata and indeed of Delhi University during the years I studied there. Brinda Das she was, Miss Miranda House, the prominent ladies college in the campus. Her elder sister Juni Das also from Miranda and a colleague in the Miranda House annual play ‘The Rape of the Belt’ which I enacted way back in 1961-62, much to the envy of other class and university mates because the girls college was a major attraction for the boys, and we Kenneth Maharaj Singh, Anwar Abbas and yours truly were the only ones allowed to actually enter the hallowed portals of Miranda !! Kenneth and Anwar were the other two men roles in the play.
Juni Das, from Kolkata then met up with us when we did theater under the Amateurs here in this city and played many an important role in several plays we did together. Later in a couple of years, we were joined by Brinda who also was a most accomplished artist and performer on stage. After Kolkata I think she went for further studies to England, met her husband and joined the Communist Party of India and is now in Parliament. Juni, we sadly lost some years ago in a hospital in Mumbai, very suddenly. I had been to visit her as she lay in the ICU. Her vibrant and joyful demeanor now almost lost and still. It was a sad sight to see someone go away so young.
As we sat in the hospital room in Kolkata tonight, Brinda talked of those days we had all spent, of her great companion ship in Parliament with Jaya and the excitement they both shared in the various debates they took part in. Time passes and leaves behind words thoughts acts and memories, never to be lived again. The location is the same, the situations become different. The people are the same, but their vocations change. The vibrations are similar, but they touch different chords.
Life - you beauty !!!
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 14, 2010 Fri 11 : 50 PM
I try desperately to put up some more of the written word from my Father, but the expanse and the variety of his offerings are so immense that it would be doing him and his works grave injustice if I were to pick one over the other. This however is no excuse to not put them up. They will be there perhaps at a time when I can spend quality time in picking the right words and verses for the extended family.
‘Teen Patti’ was unveiled to the press today at a ceremony in a multiplex, followed by the traditional press conference and a barrage of questions for the cast and crew. I have wished for the promotions to be put up on the blog and perhaps as soon as I can be delivered them, they shall be put up for your perusal.
This over, there was a dash to the Lions Golden Awards, where there was recognition for Paa, well, more recognition would be appropriate. Best actor for Vidya and me and most importantly best film for Paa as well and an award for R Balki as director. This was greatly satisfying, since I do believe that the goodness in an actor for a film would never be possible without the tacit help and motivation of the director. We are what we are made to be by the director. If we are recognized then the credit and entire praise should be the directors, for, it was his dream and vision. A vision that many of us conceptualize but are unable to execute. It has therefore been a most intriguing factor in my mind and I am certain in the minds of many, what it is that builds that first vision of a story and a film in the directors mindset. And then more intriguing, how does he get the ability and capacity to make it materialize.
I am often asked when I would direct a film and my standard answer to that has always been that I can barely act, where am I going to get the acumen to direct. To me it has been an enormous task that can only be fulfilled by those that have passion and desire to want to tell a story. I guess sometime or the other we have all wanted to do that - to narrate a credible story. But to convert it into film is indeed another matter. I am most happy when I do not have to worry about the aspects of film making than with those connected to a performance. Prepare, perform, and push off ! It may sound too selfish a thought, but really what else could I ever contribute to it.
Those that contribute to the politics of the nation or follow it, will always wish to know from another mouth, the value and worth of a parallel effort. It would be in keeping with political philosophy or the way politics should function, that other avenues exist. I am not so sure it would replicate itself in other formats too.
Directing a film is an enormous task. Every aspect of it has to be understood and envisioned before any serious claim can be made on this. Which is why I think the respect and admiration and acclaim that should have rightfully been the Director’s is sometimes destroyed by a complete misunderstanding of what his or her contribution, in the field of direction, is.
There is travel again. To Kolkata to attend a function for the school run by Basant Kumar Birla’s daughter at the prestigious Netaji Subhash Indoor Stadium. The very same, where on my insistence, my Producer and dear friend Habib Nadiadwala shot those exciting song sequences in the film ‘Yaarana’. What a moment it was and what a trip to our favorite city, Kolkata.
My years of service as an executive in the city notwithstanding, Kokata has always been a passionate and overwhelming experience. The people there can and have the ability to pick you up and throw you up in the middle of the atmosphere without as much as touching you. Lovers of art and music, lovers of great sports, lovers of their politics and most importantly their ability and their incredible spirit in functioning under any circumstance, makes them for me, the most enthusiastic and lovable city to be in. There are many other regions in the country and many other cities that could claim this attitude and temperament, and I adore them for it, but Kolkata is Kolkata. There is something about this first Capital of India under British rule that still bristles and evokes.
There are of course any number of incidents that bring back nostalgia, but since we are on the topic of ‘Yaarana’ and the Stadium shoot, I shall never forget a moment that still remains as an unforgettable experience in my system.
The capacity of the Stadium is about 15,000 seated. It is, as is the norm in indoor Stadiums shaped like a scooped out bowl. The arena in the center being unoccupied for the games and facilities to be executed. We were shooting inside the arena, surrounded by a capacity crowd around us since the Producers in order to get a full house for the shoot had advertised in the press about our presence. There were on the day about 25, 000 inside and more than another 50,000 outside the Stadium since they were unable to get seats, it being a free entry.
When you try to seat 25, 000 people into a 15,000 seater there are bound to be problems. When there are problems, the security in the shape of the police moves in for control. When the police, a most hated entity on occasions such as this moves in, there are disgruntled elements. When there are disgruntled elements there is discord and high voltage reactions. To control high voltage reactions, a member of the audience got inadvertently hit by a cop on duty. Hmmm …
Not a very good idea in this city … !!
All hell broke loose. The Kolkatan passion is not just reserved for enthusiastic morale boosting ego. It has extra reserves of energy for moments that had just been instigated. Amidst uncontrollable mayhem, seats cemented to the floor were getting ripped up and thrown into the arena and a general state of uncontrolled mob hysteria followed. Surrounded on all sides by this angry and furious crowd, the police formed a protective screen around all the crew, now whimpering inside this bowl of trouble, mush like accused offenders in the Roman Coliseum thrown open to the lions !!
The police in very hushed but conspiratorial tones, if they could be heard thus in all the wild screaming, directed us to leave or else they would not guarantee us our safety. Amidst all the commotion a contingent of the security assigned to us by the State led us out from one of the many openings to the facility, into our cars and asked us to drive like hell out to the Hotel - the Grand, not too far away on Chowringhee.
But escaping film artist from facility is a misnomer. The 25, 000 inside and the waiting 50,000 outside ran into each other and now became a fan frenzy mob eager to see their favorite star. The driver of said vehicle seeing this mass of humanity converge on this rather timid looking Ambassador car, left the wheel and fled, prompting enterprising Producer to take the controls. But enterprising Producer is from Mumbai. He is now in Kolkata, driving a car not his own, containing vulnerable stars and some very scared ladies, completely ignorant of where he has to go to reach Hotel Grand. There is now no visibility. We are surrounded by this mass of humanity, whose anger from inside the Stadium has remarkably switched to adoration and love. But adoration and love too has its moments of excess. This is Kolkata remember !
Amidst all the banging and thumping of the car by the enthusiasts and futile lathi charging by the cops we begin to move in inches. Where, no one knew. It was just a movement into a mass of people, clambering on the car with screams of adulation and seeking attention from each one of us. I think we had moved a couple of feet in about an hour when the unthinkable happened !
Yes ! You got it ! The car stalled and refused to start !
No police around to explain the situation. No mobile phones then - we are talking late 70’s early 80’s. Now way to inform of our predicament and no sign of the police because they have been completely blocked out by the crowds around us.
And then the moment happened. I call it the spirit of Kolkata. After waiting for a while and sensing that in the noise and mayhem the car was not moving, they understood that the engine had failed. Around 25 - 50,000 people full of passion and excitement virtually lifted and pushed and carried this car of ours more than a mile all the way to the door of the Hotel, pulled us out and saw us safely inside !! Incredible !!! And only in Kolkata !!
I am the ‘jamai babu’ of Bengal ! I married a Bengali. The respect they have for the jamai, perhaps bode well with them and saved me !!
I am back in that Stadium for the school function. I have visited it again on two other occasions since - a concert and a debate conducted by the leading newspaper there, The Telegraph. But that was in the 80’s. I return there after about 20 years. The Stadium, not the city. Now with age and passage of time the enthusiasm will have eased and ebbed towards me. It happens. Celebrity invites these repercussions and changes. But Kolkata will always remain dear to me. The 7 exciting years of my life as an executive, working in a company and then the visits after joining films shall never leave me. They are imprinted within, along with the love and affection that came my way from the city and its people.
Lord !! Its 2 : 41 AM !! I never realized !! See, thats what Kolkata does to you !!
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 13, 2010 Wed 11 : 42 PM
A very happy Lodi to all those that live in the northern regions of our country, and to those in the southern regions, happy Pongal !!
Both festivals celebrating that time of the year when the harvesting is done and over and there is a time for special food to be cooked and a general feeling of well being and prosperity and happiness is expressed.
For me the entire day has been a rigorous routine at Film City, recording numerous promotional’s for the launch of the Hindi Channel, COLORS in the UK and USA markets. Fun !!
This morning thank you for informing me Jasmine that there had been no post. I had written it the previous night and had assumed that it had been posted. But no it had not. I had perhaps due to sleep deprivation, forgotten to activate it for the public. On switching on the computer I discovered to my embarrassment that indeed that was true. The post was in private mode and if it remains thus it does not go out to you. Hastily did I switch it to public and quite obviously the low responses for today speak for the disinterest in the blog if the new DAY is not up !
My apologies !!
Ok .. time to blow my trumpet and put you through an article that came out today by a most respected columnist that writes for the Asian Age -
Generous and kind of Shiv Vishvanathan. He has been a constant compassionate writer as far as I have been concerned and so giving him due prominence is an honor for me.
I was happy to learn of the amount of interest that my Father’s words had on many and seeing the response I shall make it an endeavor to bring more of my Father to you. In his philosophy, in his thinking, in his absolute ability to express the most complex situations in life in such an easy manner, he has been quite quite remarkable.
There are some among you that have been anxious on the state of my mind and what it is that has been disturbing me since a few days. Nothing really, absolutely nothing. But it is rather strangely coincidental that there were two issues that had been challenging the senses of my mind and both of them were addressed in a tabloid today that emerges every middle of the day !!
Did someone read this overworked one third dysfunctional brain of mine, or did the facts of the moment convince the press on the deed. Or should I say deeds of the day ? Who knows, and who would tell. But in all honesty, this was exactly what had bothered me. And it bothered me because I find it most difficult to believe that such practices exist, and if at all they do, that they are attributed to members of my fraternity, whatever the circumstances may have been !!
What of our ethics in matters such as this ? How could it be possible that someone would have the courage and gall to even think in such manner, leave alone actually go out and practice it. Just so difficult to comprehend.
But .. enough no more, ’tis not so sweet as it was before !
India lost to Sri Lanka in the tri nation at Dhaka, Bangladesh. And to think that the producers of RANN were going to fly me there to present the player of the tournament award !! I think they have taken Ritesh, but I never saw the end so I would not know whether he actually did perform the rites he was taken for.
Abhishek returned from Udaipur where he had gone to record a schedule for Colors and Bingo, the show he now does for them, but straight into a studio for trials for his forthcoming shoot, CROOKED that starts work in a couple of days. Up and down, up and down is the travel for these young men and women. Tomorrow early morning they leave for Chennai to meet Mani Ratnam and back by the evening to Goa for the last few bits of KHJJS and then into Mumbai and the long schedule for Crooked, that goes on the floors tomorrow.
This constant travel keeps us apart for rather long spells of time and is something that we cannot help at all. But my friend that came to see me last night from ‘Dainik Jagran’ and whos’s house in Delhi we had been to ; where I had greatly appreciated the existing joint family system, proudly invited me to their abode in Kanpur, merely to witness the number of family members that stayed together under one roof in harmony and peace and togetherness. 42 members of the family all together as one big organization, living in happiness and joy. What an achievement in today’s times where we, or at least some of us, influenced deeply by the western world, are fast forgetting our old values and customs - respect and care for the elders in the family and to live as one cohesive bunch or block, without malice and discord. 42 members under the same roof, happy and content.
In a sense I do too feel a sense of great pride in our little FmXt. This dedicated family that lives and exists together under one roof. The roof of the BigAdda blog, in peace and harmony and with love ..
May our tribe grow even further and may we continue to acknowledge each other in much the same way that most other joint families live and exist. Inshallah !!
Keep well my dears … keep warm in freezing climes .. may the warmth of your love spread to each one of us in equal abandon … and may it blossom like the prettiest flower ever ..
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 12, 2010 Tue 11 : 44 PM
One of the respondents corrected my blog by pointing out that I had mistakenly put the time as AM, when it could have been PM. I have of course changed it. The continued habit of writing the post way after the midnight hour has accustomed the brain to put AM.
As one grows older one notices many such incidents creeping in. The need to go into another room to fetch an object required for work or for use, will indeed take you to the other room, but as you get there you discover that the reason to be there has disappeared from your mind. You may be wearing your spectacles on top of your head for easy access later on, but when the time comes to use it you look for it through hill and dale, until someone pulls it off your head and thrusts it in front of you !!
In the privacy of your room or home this would not be given much attention, but when it appears in public, the repercussions could be quite severe. Many attribute this to the coming on of an illness, one that robs one of memory. But the brain uses just a third of its capacity during a lifetime. Why then would it destroy that one third of what is left of it. Or simply put if it uses only a third of its capacity and that is what is getting destroyed, why doesn’t the balance two third lying waste take over and protect a portion of its ailing portion.
Think about it .
An ailing injured well wisher and fan has a day fulfilled when he comes up to meet me and reminisces an old old meeting, years ago. There is this issue of the personal visit to their city New York and the desire to spend time with them. There is Shiamak Davar and his idea of doing dance to poetry, my Father’s poetry. We shall consider pretty shortly. It is in line with what many others have wanted to do but not had access to the decision making bodies. I believe they are better off now ; they have a sympathetic countenance and good suggestions. I remind him of the cultural nature of our meetings and the essence of ethos and aesthetics in what we do. He is excited and so indeed must we be. I tell him it is not something unique. There have been attempts in the past by several cultural groups to do similar. They were good. But Shiamak desires that once done it can then be encapsulated and deported anywhere any time. Interesting.
I had mentioned some time back of the interest shown by the theatre of ballet near the Champs-Elysees of Paris and the possibility of me reciting my Father’s works through sub titled theatre. Well, that seems to be fructifying now. The lady organizing the event flies down in a few days to meet and discuss creatives. This must be considered as an important agenda on my programme. The glory of my Father through his words, through my presence, through to Paris !! Exquisite !!
And then within a short while later the creative discussion for a son et lumiere at Jalianwala Bagh in Punjab. Jalianwala, that historic moment in the history of Punjab nay the entire country during the freedom struggle. That enclosed garden where hundreds of innocents were gunned down brutally by the British in one of the most dastardly acts of inhumanness. Innocents that had gathered with family and young children to celebrate the festival of ‘Baisaki’ - a prominent day in the calendar of sacred events. Mercilessly killed and shot by General Dyer and his troops that deliberately blocked all exits so no one would escape this massacre !
So a commemoration to that fateful day in the Holy city of Amritsar. Amritsar the city of the Golden Temple, the most sacred and prominent place of worship for the Sikhs.
We study the creatives and decide to do it in and before February 15, 2010 in order that there is sufficient time to prepare for its release on the anniversary of that day, the day of Baisakhi, April 13th.
Many are perhaps unaware that I have given voice in Hindi and in English to several such enterprises - the Gwalior Fort, Golconda, Tirupati, Khajuraho, Amer Fort, Jaipur and now this. There is a son et lumiere at each of these locations and I feel proud that I was able to contribute some part of myself for the good of the nation, for its prestige !
The evening was set for the press release of the promo of Rann and a conference to follow. It was interesting and quite voluble. Since the film was about the media and electronic to be precise, there was a great amount of apprehension on how the media would take to it. But even though 90% of the questions were related to what the film was ‘actually’ about I thought the press was unbiased, strong and not willing to give up so easily. They took all that was needed to be said firmly on the chin and asked some really interesting questions. I would like to believe that all was well with the evening.
Back soon after the PC to the office to conduct creatives for the shoot tomorrow for Colors. I now play their Brand Ambassador for their release in UK and USA. A coming of a complete circle. Not so very long ago we were all there to launch another TV channel, TV Asia, a first. And now a brand ambassador for Colors -
“अनवरत समय की चक्की चलती जाती है …”
The wheel of time keeps moving on. Another moment from another classic from my Father.
Sailesh Gupta, scion of the family that owns the ‘Dainik Jagran’, the largest portal paper ’Jagran Yahoo’ in the world, about 5.5 crore world wide in Hindi, is there in all his finery. A conference of their staff to be addressed by the scion of another prominent family, moi. It is in Lankawi in Malaysia. The debate or let me say the lecture is on ‘Determination’, an attribute they feel secure in describing me with and hence my required presence there. Glory be !!
Glory be ! Glory be ! O Lord above me … may this be !!
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 11, 2010 Mon 10 : 27 AM
मैंने शांति नहीं जानी है !
त्रुटि कुछ है मेरे अन्दर भी ,
त्रुटि कुछ है मेरे बाहर भी ,
दोनों को त्रुटि हीन बनाने की मैंने मन में ठानी है !
मैंने शांति नहीं मानी है !
आयु बिता दी यत्नों में लग ,
उसी जगह मैं , उसी जगह जग ,
कभी - कभी सोचा करता अब , क्या मैंने की नादानी है !
मैंने शांति नहीं जानी है !
पर निराश होऊं किस कारण ,
क्या पर्याप्त नहीं आशवासन ?
दुनिया से मानी , अपने से मैंने हार नहीं मानी है !
मैंने शांति नहीं जानी है
- हरिवंश राय बच्चन
I have not known peace and quiet and solace. There are some shortcomings inside of me. There are some short comings outside of me. But I have resolved that I shall condition both my inside and outside to be devoid of any fault or mistakes. For, I have not known peace and quiet and solace.
A lifetime have I spent in putting effort. I am but at the same spot and so is the world. And I do sometimes think, has there been in me a childish juvenile behaviour. For, I have not known peace and quiet and solace.
But why must I be disappointed with this. Is not my confident promise and assurance enough ? I may have accepted defeat from the world, but I have not accepted defeat with myself ! I have not known peace and quiet and solace.
This from my Father’s work ‘Ekant Sangeet’ - the music of solitude ! This from my Father’s works written during that phase of his life when he suffered great sadness, pain and disappointment. Pain from circumstances, from society and from life itself. They were depressing days. There was death of near ones in rapid succession. There was rejection from attachments. There was poverty and want within. When you have to travel miles on foot to earn Rs 25/- from a tuition it is harsh. Rs 25/- which, in western equivalence is half a dollar at todays prevalent rates, is half a dollar for an entire month !!
Did my Father ever ever realize that the pain of those days, transcribed into his creativity, would find a secure position in the hearts and minds of millions of readers of Hindi. And did he ever realize that one day his son, then unborn, would be printing his thoughts through an internet facility for millions more to read and savor his emotions ?? I sincerely think not ! But that is the strength of the written word. The strength of creation ; never ever given its due value when it deserved it. It is a lamentable fact of life and nature. Genius has never throughout history, ever been given due recognition. When genius has left us and gone for good, then does he invite due consideration and justice.
And I sit and sift through the stored messages from my mobile. They are over 1500 of them in praise and compliment for Paa. Their words and thoughts reflect an emotion that is blinding. But what of them ? They shall evaporate as swiftly as they were manufactured into the realm of anonymity - a temporal phase having no lasting quality. Our contribution, if at all it can be called that, shall be limited, concise, of stifled presence.
Relate this to the written word of a poet and philosopher and you shall realize with immense exuberance - the poet shall live for generations, the other a couple of years ! Which is why I shall never be able to express that I have not known peace, quiet and solace !!
The Producers both prospective and present now barge in with strong compulsions to perform and initiate plans for future projects. They are all convincing scripts and tales. They are impassioned makers waiting to be unleashed. It is just that mentally I may not be ready yet. A dangerous situation to be in. The last time I was in such state, I was wiped out. One must never allow anyone to wipe you out completely. There must always be sufficient fight left in one to face that inevitable situation.
” Go back there ! And don’t you dare come back till you have beaten back your friends that beat you”, my Mother had dinned into our heads. And fight we did and win.
Struggles continue and shall for the rest of your life. Struggle will not remain. What will remain is how you dealt with struggle !!
This is my love … my joy of affection … and of sincerity
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 9/10, 2010 Sat/Sun 2 : 24 AM
It has happened !! PAA has won 5 awards at the Screen Awards, the first off the season.
Best child actor, Pratik aka Vishnu
Best supporting actor female, Arundhati aka Bum
Best actor female, Vidya Balan aka Mom
Best Jodi no 1, Abhishek and Amitabh
Best actor male, Amitabh Bachchan aka, Auro
Having just returned from the euphoria of the event and the evening, one cannot but hasten to inform the FmXt of the fact that all your prayers worked, all your wishes for this recognition and all the affection and love that you gave all came pouring in and the result is there for all to see.
Just simply amazing. No one throughout the course of the year ever gave any mention to this film. Never put it in contention or worthy of finding any place in the firmament. But cinema is a heart to heart connection. And this film connected with the heart and with the soul and changed the pattern of how films need to be watched and appreciated. That no amount of publicity and analysis will ever affect a public that has resolved and decided to patronise a film. That word of mouth is the most clean and effective manner in which one can get a film to be successful. That there is no substitute for excellence, will and hard work. It all paid back for the film and we are all ecstatic about it.
I am short of words at the moment and wish to simply say a very big thank you to all that showed their love for PAA..
I shall rest now and dream ..
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 8/9 2010 Fri/ Sat 1 : 44 AM
It is not always the best of times to write when the brain is sluggish. When it takes time to think, to compose, to interpret and relate. It is also not the best of times to pass opinion and thought, to comment. For, it is then that words though meant in earnest find themselves in a web that interprets quite the opposite in the minds of others ….
The ‘bachchas’ left early in the morning and it is always a sad sight to see them get their blessings after the customary ‘tika’ before travel, and leave. A part of you leaves along with them, or a part of you leaves you so desolate and alone that it becomes difficult to cope. And until they are safely home a deep concern lingers for them. Once in life begins ot alter according to what is left behind.
One lot goes and another comes in. Abhishek landed back from Goa after his schedule with Ashutosh and once again the house seems full and amiable. The four of us are together after a long gap and there is much to talk and catch up on. Schedules change. The seating on the dining table changes. Shanook is out among us more - he being a dread for the kids had been kept away during the time they were here, from his favorite couch. The squeals of happy and mischievous banter dies down to a sombre feel. The staff becomes a little complacent and moves at 16 frames/sec. That is the tech for slow - motion !! The TV is back to news and the chocolate cookies and other immediate delicacies find another home.
Kids - they are a boon to any situation. We all miss them severely !!
Most of the day is spent with TV. Promotions for ‘Teen Patti’ for TV. Still photographs for a prospective business proposal which could eventually find themselves on TV. Modules for promotion of the ‘Colors’ channel, now opening up in the UK and USA and then finally by the evening, an Awards ceremony - Apsara Awards by the Guild of the professional world. Many old industry friends meet up. Akshay Kumar elaborates his association with me over the years. The films and other associations yes, but also a gentle tale on his first meeting with me as a six year old prodded by his father to get my autograph, as we sit in the cold and pleasant environs of Srinagar in Kashmir. Of the grapes that lay beside me on the table and his interest more in the grapes than the actual illness. He announces this as I get up to receive my Life Time Achievement award, embarrassed and humbled by the description of my qualities as a professional and more as a human, as a friend. It is a large gathering at the venue tonight and an immensely well represented fraternity turns up. After the reward, interviews for the media back stage and then before leaving we gather together in Shahrukh’s van-home, Jaya Abhishek Aishwarya and I to hang out, chat as the event comes to an end. The three then leave for home and I leave for the Screen Awards venue to rehearse again for the Teen Patti promotion at the awards - a performance as part of the event tomorrow evening.
As I wait for my turn to come for rehearsal I catch up on conversation with Saif as Kareena does her number on stage. He had been out of the country for the premiere of Paa, for which I had invited both of them and he regrets not being there and I wish for him to see the film sometime. He talks of his very keen interest in his next project ‘Agent Vinod’ and I take him back to New Delhi and his grandmother and her sports convertible E - Type white Jaguar, which she drove herself into the Teen Murti House, the official residence of the first Prime Minister of India, Pt Jawaharlal Nehru . We being jaw dropping spectators inside the House on many occasions as she regally drove in. Begum Pataudi, mother to Tiger Pataudi, father to Saif, strong and graceful in demeanor. Can never forget that image.
And then just as it had started it ends. I drive home to a full dining table - Amaan and Ayaan Ali sons of Ustad Amjad Ali Khan that sarod maestro, and friends of the family from when they were 4-5 years of age, and the ever effervescent Preity Zinta over for dinner. And PeeZee, the non stop talking machine, having us all in splits on her narration of various events in her recent life. She and Jaya shared a most maternal instinct relationship during the making of ‘Kal Ho Na Ho’ and have maintained it since. Its almost a Mother daughter thing.
I shall be needing to, as always, seeking information and advice from my dearest FmXt and so soon I shall be putting across a few queries for your consideration. Ya.. ?
Of this later …
First …. good night, shubratri, shabbakhair …
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 7, 2009 Thu 11 : 49 PM
We now have tax exemption on PAA from several States - West Bengal, Gujarat through confirmed letters and Delhi and Maharashtra on the anvil with applications made and awaiting results. Karnataka too has been applied for. The appreciation for the film still keeps pouring in and many that have only just seen it send in complimentary messages and of how they were able to just sneak in to the theatre after getting the last 3 tickets available for the show !! I saw it for the 5th time last night at Ahmedabad and still even though it is my film, could not help but marvel how the film still endears itself to the viewer. Heart and soul have no substitute. It is either there or not. Paa has that unique quality of both heart and soul and its credit must must go to Balki, for the intelligence with which he put the whole film together.
Tomorrow the Apsara awards and day after the Screen. Teen Patti designs a stage show at one of them as a promotion activity. I go down to the venue to rehearse. I do my bit and move away and sit and ponder what this whole new world of events has become. Hundreds of people now make a very comfortable livelihood from this act that had looked singular and most ineffective in the years that have gone by. Now there are companies handling set designs, choreographers that lighten up the moves for the performances that take place, lighting, sound, camera and TV producers, assistants that shall run and manage the show, security personnel in their impressive uniforms and walkie talkies and electronic communication devices … it is an institution by itself. And all of it to reward excellence in such a manner that it makes a good and profitable TV show. Whether it be the Oscars or any other ‘cars, it is a given that TV shall be the guiding force that shall dictate its presence. Television has become bigger than film and all other form of entertainment. Every aspect of it is there in our faces 24/7. Satellite and terrestrial connection has become now the connector of life virtually. Information and entertainment are but the two most important aspects of our modern existence. remove them and life would come to an uncomfortable standstill. And they are every where now. In your home, on the streets, in your car, at the airports, in the plane, on your mobile …
Where next ??
Sanjay Bangar, Indian cricket cap, prominent representative of the national team, walking past Jalsa with his family incognito sends in a message to take some keep sake photographs. I go out and meet him and oblige. I am surprised at the fact that he moves around without notice. He played for India, he contributed in our victories in the game and today .. not there. I ask him the score on the tri series being played in Bangladesh and on the India- Bangladesh match on right now in a day night schedule, where we were fairing not too well and he replies that he is not aware of anything .. who where why how .. nothing.
Lives of sportsmen are limited and sad. They contribute and then when they are no longer productive, discarded and forgotten. Vinod Kambli during Bigg Boss and during private discussions had similar emotions. An injury, an unfortunate bad day on the field and you are out. Left to the wolves virtually. There is no support from any quarter. I read many dismayed comments from columnists that review our cricket team and read their anguish at the poor performances of the players being affected by the finances that seem to have overtaken all else in their lives. And I wonder. Their lives are so limited. Age and health take over and suddenly you are not in contention. Peak periods never last for some years in a life that has many decades to cross. So if they do make hay while the sun shines is it a crime ?? Would we not all want to secure our futures if and when we have an opportunity. A debate would give excellent views. Anyone …??
The children return tomorrow and that innocent laughter and inquisitive questioning shall have to wait till their next arrival. And my arrival next shall be in the morrow too ..
Sleep well my dears ..
Prateeksha, Mumbai January 3, 2010 Sun 11 : 10 PM
Lonely hours are the best hours of life
Its the only time
We share our deepest
Secrets with the most
Trusted person in the world
The completeness of family is the most joyous moment in any life. Today I enjoy that as I step back from the arid but comfortable winds of Dubai into Mumbai and home. Navya - Naveli and Agastya and Shweta at the airport to welcome us in, grown in height and stature and speech and maturity. Abhishek and Aishwarya at work in the studio, but just the thought of us all being together fills the sounds in the house with lively chatter and unadulterated laughter.
The youngsters are computer attached. They function as though that flat slab of machine was a part of their being. Punching, accessing, searching and connecting with the entire world with the knowledge and speed of high end professionals. The Kindle here, the PSP there. A Mac here and the Wi games there. Every corner of the house is just an activity centre of modern gadgetry. Each on his or her machine, each involved with the intensity of sitting on an end of term examination, each happy in their own internet world and each of us in the same room. Together but in our own world of the waves. Igniting all the possible variations that require attention, yet communicating in as normal a manner as possible. The iphone swishing past at the touch of a finger an entire book ordered and delivered electronically through the net, tunes downloaded by the hundreds on to this pocket sized screen in your palm. The Apple TV giving out the latest there is in shows, serials, movies at the punch of a small remote …
Where the hell are we … and what has this world become …
Every bit of information ever created in any part of the world now in super computers and kept in storage never to be deleted or erased. What we write, convey on mobile or net. What we speak and converse in the open air and within our homes, all now by law and by security recorded and kept in storage for ever. Any thing that is in the waves is now never lost or forgotten. Great for posterity, perhaps not so great for secrecy and confidentiality. We may delete a message, we may erase a conversation or detail and it may seem to us that it is gone … but no my dearies .. nothing is lost or removed. It is there in perpetuity. There with the authorities. There in the system. And can be used at any given moment and time, irrespective or who or what position you may be holding.
Enlightening, but frightening too … we shall never be alone .. our words and feelings expressed in voice or its substitute shall be with us in perpetuity ..
I have been attempting to respond back to responses as may have been noticed. The speed of submit if slow, robs the effort of wanting to cover a bigger ground. It is frustrating when that happens for there is a desire to respond and reach out to every one that comes on. But …
And then it just lingers and gets overlooked and many in the EF complain and show despair when they have been close enough to the yellow line and missed it by inches virtually. It is not deliberate you must know, but one of sheer coincidence and circumstance. I try to cover as much but fail. I do the beginning, then the middle and then the end to exhibit a sense of fairness in it all. Take that not as deliberate leaving out for certain individuals. No that would be most wrong and hurtful to think thus. For me all are equal and loved. I cannot divide affection. It shall always remain the same for all.
We meet up now for some work that is being done on animation. A film will be made, the story of which has been finalized and the character that portrays me shall be given my voice. Another avenue, another expansion to the varied tributaries that now stretch and find their place in this competitive world of entertainment. Priyan or Priyadarshan shall be doing the creatives and it will be executed by a company from the South. Times they are a changing. There are more inventive ideas that float along and soon you should be hearing about them. They are all innovative, all exceedingly exciting and more than fruitful for the audience.
So we wait for it to be launched .. and till then .. we wait ..
Be and remain with my love …
The Address, Dubai January 2, 2010 Sat 11 : 59 PM
It is the time of year when predictions come a dime a dozen !
Beginnings have a habit of inviting such desires. A desire to know, to predict what the future holds for us. It has been human tendency from time immemorial to discover the truths behind what is unknown. We get anxious and apprehensive, inquisitive and fearful of and about what lies ahead.
Some of us need it to prepare and safeguard if there are fears. Others to anticipate the goodness when it comes our way. But there are those that wish they never did find out what lay in store for them. Sometimes it is a preferred thought. Why get burdened by anti thoughts, or lose the joy of surprise at the possibility of something good. Nature should not be disturbed. Allow it to function the way it was meant to. Force it or fight it and there will be consequences.
A gentle drive around in the pleasant climes of desert winter in this metropolis has been a joy to feasting eyes. Variety and distinction of merit comes up creeping from every corner and one cannot but marvel at the visionaries of the state who thought a dream and now move in concerted manner to accomplish it.
Much of the vision is possible because there are followers. Much of the incomplete visions of many other states is the lack of those that wish to follow. When everyone becomes a leader, there aren’t many left to follow. There is a certain pride and duty in following too. They too contribute that follow. They too benefit that follow. And they too must know that there can be few leaders. Accept that, rather than try to prove the contrary. Success comes to those that know this art. It may not be possible to succeed all the time, but if you hover in close proximity to those that do, there may come a time when you can take over and lead and rule.
Easier said than done.
When you rest and do nothing more, there is a tendency to keep resting. Lethargy sets in and can prove disastrous. One needs to be wary of this. I feel it here, and therefore must get away from it all. I leave tomorrow for the hustle and bustle of Mumbai and work and promotion and the everyday responsibilities that come with it. Many among you worry about my health. But working keeps me occupied and mobile and fresh with thought. If work were to be reduced, it would reduce my mind and body. So let me work.
Many talks have been heard of the economic slow down in Dubai and the consequences of it. Some horrific stories have been splashed all over the media world wide. But being here in the midst of it all, one can hardly feel any presence of the slowdown. Life moves at a hectic pace. People move about with smiling faces. Business happens as normal. Even the rain, a rarity in these parts of the world shatters all other belief and pours down with equal force and velocity of a monsoon in Mumbai. It is short lived. But lived.
The moon, full in its glory, shines across a few gaps within the skyline. A palm tree protrudes across the horizon delicately decorated with starry bulbs that illuminate the outline of its form. The crisp breeze that softly flows by, compels you to cover up in extra clothing. Excited tourists and visitors move around in sunbathed tans. And the clientiele of fans ranges from Egypt and Morrocco to Portugal and Beirut, with a Bahrain and Kuwait thrown in between. Many of them come across Persia, Iran now based out of the USA and from the interiors of Russia. It is heartening to know them and to stand beside them for a keepsake photo. Their smiles and their happiness is what we live for and work. God bless Indian cinema and those that contribute in making it a world phenomenon. It is an honor to be within this fraternity to bear the fruits of its presence in far away places and destinations.
And it is an honor that many like you, contribute in love and affection to it, for it to exist.
Thank you !!
The Address, Dubai January 2, 2010 Sat 2 : 45 PM
मेरे बहुत ही प्रिय और दिल के करीब परिवार के सदस्य ,
नव वर्ष की शुभ कामनाएं और आने वाला हर दिन आप सब के लिए मंगलमय हो यही इस्वर से मेरी इच्छा है .
यहाँ दुबई मे कुछ दिन आ गया था. कुछ परिवार सम्बंधित कार्य थे , और कुछ आराम के लिए समय निकाल लिया . अच्चा लगा. आप सब लोगों से आराम से बातें भी कर सका .
कल वापस चला जाऊंगा , और फिर काम में व्यस्थ हो जाऊंगा .
एकांत में रहना अच्चा लगता है. यहाँ थोड़ा बहुत सकून है. शरीर और दिमाग के लिए कभी कभी ऐसा करते रहना चाहिए .
आप से तो प्रति दिन मिलाप हो ही जाता है , आशा करता हूँ की आप भी इस्सी तरह मुझसे मिलते रहेंगे .
सस्नेह , सद्भावना और ढेर सारा प्यार ….
The Address, Dubai January 1, 2010 Fri 2 : 25 AM DST
To those that remained with me in happiness and in joy. To those that shared the grief of separation and loss. To those who joined in my exuberance through achievement. To those that silently bore with me my failures and disappointments. To those that wished me success and accomplishment. To those that bore abuse and the wrath of misunderstanding against me. To those that advised and assured me with genuine sincerity. To those who remained with me despite my ignorance of their existence. To those that expressed their love and never got reciprocation from me. To those who expressed hate and disgust against me. To those that left this extended family and to those who joined us.
To them all, do I wish for this year that begins its journey today, 365 days of only joy and fulfillment. To them do I say, if I have erred to forgive. If I have not responded affection, my apologies. And if I have wronged to give me the space and time to repair.
If I have for some reason not heard your lone voice. If I have for some reason transgressed limits of tolerance. If my incoherence at times has been not understood or that it has sounded too lofty. If I have personally not been able to respond to your responses. If you have loved me and not been loved in return. If you have remained constant in my inconstancy. Sincere in my assumed insincerity.
Here I am to confess my wrongs and seek forgiveness.
But, if not, then here I am seeking your affection and continuance. Here I am to continue where we left off. To rise to travel to acquire to build and to reinforce a family that has through sheer strength of belief today grown into an enviable force. A force that is feared and respected, loved and admired, seen yet unseen. One that only accepts and imparts goodness of character, stillness of mind and the genuineness of faith.
To those below my age I give my love with respect of blessing, to those above, I seek the same.
It is 2010 today. May it embellish us with wisdom and happy thought. May it strengthen our association even further and may it provide us the opportunity to come closer in reality.
A happy new year to my extended family. You have been nearer to me than most I profess to know.
The family evening for Krishna ji was warm affectionate and birthday like. Much like the person she has always been - one of grace and deep consideration for all. And no amount of New Year eve cheer at the facility we were at, could match the feeling of warmth and togetherness that this wonderful lady and elder in the family brought along with her presence.
It was almost 13 years ago, at a similar New Year eve get together in Delhi, that Shweta and Nikhil had decided to promise each other in matrimony and sought our blessings. It was a moment which happened as suddenly as the hour struck midnight and a year passed by. Time has passed rapidly and much has transpired since. The additional joys in Navya- Naveli and Agastya has enlightened our respective homes. God has been kind to us.
At the midnight hour when it struck 12 in Bangkok and it was still around 9 PM here, the voices through modern communication, of these two precious gems wishing us for 2010, as they celebrated their holiday in Thailand with friends and their parents, seemed almost improbable. But .. was it not just the other new year that their parents had decided to get married !!
And now they move and act like two adults, joining us in mature conversation, teaching us a thing or two on the latest gizmo they acquire, and taking our breath away by the speed with which they function and conduct themselves. What a fantastic generation we live with in today’s times. And where this generation is headed is anyone’s guess. I feel privileged in their company, dwarfed by their intelligence and understanding and stumped by their ability to giggle at our naivety.
Long may they live and in peace and wellness !!
The Screen Awards are the first upon us as the season for Awards starts up. 9th of January 2010 is the date and the editorial calls to inform me that I am up for nomination for the Best Actor jury and also feature in the popular category Best Actor male, which gets decided by online voting. R Balki calls me to inform that Paa is up for 10 nominations and 3 Idiots sizably greater. Balki hates awards he tells me and asks whether we should be going. I tell him we must. I tell him the reason too why we must, but hesitate to share it with the FmXt. Perhaps when it is all over and time has passed sufficiently, then …
Not a very good start to the year many would say - keeping information away from the EF ? Agree ! But circumstances are such that it is at times wiser to be silent than to be with sound !!
Love you in abundance ..
The Address, Dubai December 30/31, 2009 Wed/Thu 1 : 14 AM
Its back to the Burj Dubai, the dancing fountain, the enormity of the ‘needle in the sky’ and the peace of silence and nothingness. The mind functions in lethargy - slower, resolved but with sensible balance. Right now the balance is tilted heavily towards sleep. Not too bad a tilt, except that the lack of it is so severe that most of the time is now spent between sheets and pillows. One visited them once in an entire day. Now, its more frequent and if I may say, more welcome.
Its Shweta’s Mother in laws Mother’s 80th birthday ! Krishna ji Raj Kapoor, wife of late Raj Kapoor, Mother to Dabboo Kapoor father to Karishma and Kareena Kapoor. Mother to Rishi Kapoor husband to Neetu Kapoor, parents to Ranbir Kapoor. Mother to Chimpu and Rima and Ritu Nanda wife to Rajan Nanda, father to Nikhil Nanda Shweta’s husband, father to Navya -Naveli and Agastya. Krishna ji Raj Kapoor sister in law to Shashi Kapoor and Shammi Kapoor father to Kanchan Kapoor married to Ketan Desai, son of Manmohan Desai. Shashi Kapoor father to Kunal Kapoor married to Ramesh Sippy’s daughter. Krishna ji Raj Kapoor sister to Premnath husband of Bina Rai who sadly recently passed away. Krishna ji Raj Kapoor daughter in law to the doyen Prithvi Raj Kapoor !!
All … all .. a prominent part of this wonderful film industry of India. All that have made invaluable contribution as artists, producers, directors to the fraternity. This large yet such a close knit family.
Krishna ji Raj Kapoor, now perhaps the oldest and the eldest member of this illustrious family, celebrates her 80th birthday and so we all decided to get together to bring it in on … yes … the 1st of January 2010 … her birthday !!
Abhishek and Aishwarya are stuck in Mumbai - they having shooting commitments which does not allow them to travel out. Aishwarya still with ‘Guzarish’ and Sanjay Leela Bhansali and ‘Robot’ with RajniKant and Shankar director and Abhishek having done almost with Ashutosh Gowarikar in Goa starts his new film with Rohan Sippy and then to TV and BINGO, the game show with Colors.
But enough of family and back to this ‘family’. Sachin Tendulkar called to personally compliment me on Paa. I was wanting for him to finish his cricket matches with Sri Lanka and then invite him over to see the film at a private screening, but he beat me to it and went across to a theatre and saw the film. Arghhh !! wanted to invite him as settled with him earlier, but …
Paa, now eventually being accepted as a hit by the trade, which is heartening to know and being touted as one of the most impactful and loved in the year !! Money made by Reliance, money made by AB Corp, appreciation for film and content and performance and another combination for Abhishek and me working successful. So now its Kabhi Alvida Na Kehna, Bunty aur Babli, Sarkaar 1 and 2 and Paa … not a bad record at all !!
Read an interesting piece written by friend Rajdeep Sardesai editor in chief for IBN/CNN and am putting it up for comments -
It talks most candidly about the media selling out to paid representations from politicians, from political parties, from business houses and defending at times the sales and marketing teams that assiduously pursue these activities, to being cynical and dismissive to the practice that now pervades the system. So .. hey ..!! is the media admitting that such practices are above board. And if they are, then do you think us lesser mortals in the firmament of films have liberty to follow suit .. and that it would be ..like OKAAAY !! Okay to buy a review for our films ? Or … hummmm .. buy a bad review for a rival film ?? And whether this practice is yet to start or is already prevalent ?? Becaaaauuuseee !! How does one explain 99% glowing reviews to that one or two really bad ones. I mean bad like, completely in the opposite direction. Like 4 stars in one to half a star in another !! Or like … the best film of the year in one to the ‘worst film’ in the other.
Rajdeep !! My friend !! We need to meet and talk on this. Is this for real ???
Maybe the FmXt can give in their opinion on this !!
Meanwhile did some interviews with the trade and the film press -
This from Ashwin Varde on Star Week, the new and most successful venture every week from the Magna stable, the one which brings out the Stardust -
Your new film, Paa, has surpassed all expectations. It’s standing firm at the box-office even in its second week. Is this the kind of reaction you expected?
Thank you for your observation on the success of PAA. As makers and those that participated in this film, there is always a sense of apprehension and anxiety before the release of your product. We went through this phase as no other. But receiving accolades of praise and excellence from one and all has been a most rewarding moment. We want our creativity to be recognised ; it is most natural. But I must be honest in admitting that I never expected it to reach the extent that it has. What has been most intriguing for me has been the voice of appreciation and its transfer almost magically to the rest of our cinema going audience. No amount of marketing and promotional strategy will ever be able to replace the will of the masses. The masses have willed this film to succeed and for some peculiar reason had willed it even before it was put up in the public domain. How else can one explain the destruction of every conceivable norm of assessment, practiced by the trade and information pundits of the Industry.
It’s perhaps the only film this year that has received so much critical as well as commercial acclaim. How do you feel about that?
When your enemy and your detractor showers praise, that is the moment of ultimate confirmation of success. It has the elements of what poetic justice is made of and believed. It is rare for critical and commercial acclaim to occur. Especially in the field of arts and entertainment. I humbly sublimate myself before those that gave us this final reckoning. But I shall have to first go down on bended knees before the people of my country for their affection and patronage. They have been and shall always be the richest award for me. Through my entire history of 40 years in this glorious profession, it is the people that have urged me on, provoked, prayed and patiently been by my side, holding my hand in supportive gesture and at times raising it along with mine in adulation. I have in my career always valued criticism above all else. It has been this aspect that has led me to repair the wrong and correct the faults and mistakes. I believe those that suggest and comment do so out of care and affection. I value that, and they shall perennially be respected. I am happy that today I have given them that decide my fate, reason to be happy on all counts. Their happiness is mine a hundred fold !!
Paa also marks the return of AB Corp – and with a bang. Was it a conscious decision to choose a subject that was out of the ordinary?
No. Abhishek and I just felt that if we were to be creatively a part of the product, then we should have a part of the rights as well. We both liked the subject and Balki’s take on its execution and decided to hold hands with Reliance on its production.
The character of Auro has been a huge hit with the adults and kids alike. For you, was it one of the most difficult characters to portray?
It is indeed quite wonderful to see Auro so closely being liked by, as you say, adults and kids alike. This is another unique quality of the film. As far as the character is concerned, I do think it was difficult in its physicality more than in its performing. The make up routine of prosthetics took 4 – 5 hours to put on with very strict discipline to be followed. No movement, no eating drinking or speaking. It also took a couple of hours to take it off. But at the end of the day the final result was astonishing and I must admit that 90% of the credit of the performance must go to those wonderful ladies and gents in the make up team, that worked tirelessly to make sure that the results were of the finest quality. The rest of the mannerisms were dictated by Balki. I merely followed what he demanded and designed. The portrayal was deliberately designed to keep me away from any recognised quality of mine that may have been seen before, so yes it was extremely challenging.
We’ve read that there was a huge amount of research involved before finalizing the look of Auro. Was it because you didn’t want to lose the authenticity? How much were you personally involved in the process?
I was always very anxious about how Balki would convert me into an progeria affected child of 13. He showed me various manuals and dvd’s of patients and children that unfortunately were suffering from this malaise. We selected a real life case and after its approval gave it to the make up team for replication. We took liberty with the height and the eyes to some extent. The eyes become larger than normal too in these patients and protrude outwards. To get that effect I would have had to undergo delicate conversions over my eyes which would have meant anaesthising it every 2 hours through painful injections. We decided against it because it was considered too risky. The height we did not dabble with because my own height was well known. It would have been too much of a pretence to reduce that. Balki did not want to make any conscious efforts to show the efforts made in the make over. That was not the story. It was not an issue based film on progeria. It was just another ordinary Hindi film story where, yes, one of the characters suffered from this ailment.
The look of Auro was unveiled only a month before the film’s release. Did you, at any time, feel that this was a huge risk? Especially since the making of the film was rather low-key…
It was a conscious decision to keep Auro’s look secret. Which is why we shot at studios with great amount of confidentiality and security. We also deliberately went to shoot in Malaysia and in the UK, in remote areas, to keep away from any kind of exposure to the media or the paparazzi. I do not know much about marketing and publicity so I cannot say whether keeping Auro away from the public for so long was risky or not. But in hindsight I think it was a wise decision to have done that.
Was this also one of your most physically demanding characters? How did you cope with it?
The make up routine was tedious ; it tested one’s patience and tolerance. But when you came to realize what the end result was going to do to your performance, you bore it with a smile … Er … Not when it was being put on !!
The kind of reaction you’ve got for Paa reminds us of Black. How would you compare the two experiences?
‘Black’ and ‘Paa’can only be compared by that extra ‘a’ in one. Nothing more. They are two different films entirely. Yes we dealt with a physically challenged kid in one and then the protagonist’s own suffering with Alzheimer’s. In the other I was the one afflicted, but the nature and story was dissimilar. But yes they both required a working which was out of the ordinary.
Do you feel the commercial success of Auro will inspire even the younger actors to experiment with characters that may not be glamorous but strong in substance?
I couldn’t possibly be suggesting to the younger actors what they should be doing with their creative choices. That would be too audacious.
Tell us about your most memorable moments during the shooting of Paa – things that will remain with you forever…
The entire experience from the first narration of the script to the final mix and release, has been full of memorable moments. The exhilaration when the make up was first put on right to the recording of the back ground score by the genius of llaiyaraja, has been momentous. The expressions of my in film school team kids when they first saw me to the utter surprise of Aamir and Sunjay Dutt when they visited me on set have all been etched in my thoughts. But the shoot of the climax as Auro prepares to bind his parents would remain close to me.
In Paa, Abhishek has come up with one of his finest performances to date. And so has Vidya. But do you feel everything else in the film has taken a backseat because Auro’s success has been so overwhelming?
I am delighted that you compliment Abhishek and Vidya, for they have truly given off their best. Restraint in front of the camera is a quality that I would put extremely high in value when assessing a performance. Abhishek’s natural restraint as Amol in the film is marvellous, but to say that it was overlooked or back seated would be an unfair comment. No artist shall be able to rise or establish himself in any situation in film if his counterparts are not of equal calibre. If Auro is being noticed it is because Amol and Vidya were efficient and capable counter parts. Without them Auro would have been a failure. As he would have without the support of Paresh and Arundhati. And let us not also fail to mention the contribution of music and background scores that enhance our performances and how beautifully Ilaiyaraja designed it for the film. Another aspect that often gets overlooked is the job of the editor. One false cut or an enhanced stay could mutilate your work for time immemorial. What of the DOP, PC Sreeram and the visual beauty that he paints through his lenses and the final audio mix of Tapas in putting all the necessary ingredients together for that one final copy. All of them collectively go to make a successful film.
There were reports that R. Balki was so passionate about this film that he even refused to make any monetary remuneration as his directorial fees. Is that true?
For Balki remuneration was never an issue and he never asked for it during the making of the film. But we have paid him after the release.
Paa also started on a successful note with one of the grandest premieres the industry has witnessed in the longest time. Were you expecting this kind of a turnout?
I am honoured to have had members of my fraternity present in such large numbers at the Premier. We are and have always been a close knit family. On events such as these the presence of the family is most heartening. Not expecting family to be there would have been unjust on my part. I am touched and obliged by their gesture. And I have missed those that could not make it due to other previous commitments.
Tell us about the most interesting response you got from someone from the film fraternity…
O ! Dear !! That would require a lot more space than this interview can accommodate. But they have all been so gracious and kind. I would not be able to justify their individual response, if I did not put out the responses of the others as well. Maybe at a later date I may think it prudent to put all of it on my Blog.
We had heard that even Aishwarya played a crucial role when it came to the marketing and promotional strategies of the film. Is that correct?
Aishwarya is family and family matters involve all of us. PAA is family and her inputs along with all the others are routine activity. To say that she conducted a designated role as a marketing and promotional expert would be incorrect. In matters such as this the entire family pools in their resources and inputs and yes some of her suggestions were adhered to.
The only criticism Paa received was with regard to the way the media was portrayed in the film. Do you agree with the views that the track was out of place?
…… and the only questions that have been raised on this criticism have come from the media … Ha ha ! Which really is the greatest irony, because that is exactly what the sequence in the film was all about – that the media thinks themselves to be above any and every criticism ; that they have every right to question, but deny the right from others to ask them for answers !! No the track was not out of place. It was the one justifiable moment in the track of Amol Arte to show his righteous quality, in the face of the impression that he was a weak and inconsiderate partner to Vidya. He demonstrated his political skill, in achieving what he did, not just to impress his Father who felt his son was incompetent, but also judiciously used the same elements in changing the course of his own seemingly questionable act. It was perfect screenplay.
Auro’s monkey dance has become a rage. It’s also become one of your signature moves now. Did you anticipate this?
No never. It was just an innocuous little thing designed by the choreographer Bosco-Caesar on set. I made my own thing of it and shared it with the kids in the film and now it has become somewhat of a signature move.
For AB Corp, this is a new beginning. What’s your vision for the company in times to come?
A new beginning for AB Corp happened when we paid off all our debts and came out of the red many years ago. We decided then that we shall remain a small lean operation. We shall continue with the same philosophy. There are many aspects of the business that we are not qualified for and so in such cases we shall hold hands with other partners and share equity.
And another one with the trade - Kumar Mohan and Complete Cinema -
Questions for Mr. Amitabh Bachhan
1. Do you think Paa is the best work of your long and remarkable acting career since you have assumed an altogether different persona for this film?
It will always be difficult for me to admit what has been my best. It would force me to rate myself – an act I find quite unnecessary in the life of an actor, well at least mine anyway. I would rather be a part of the creativity that my profession demands and then leave it to the audience to judge it. They shall always be the best at this. The different persona was challenging and one that I am certain every actor would want to be a part of. I found it exciting for me to be put in the situation that Balki put me in. He did not give me my face or my voice or my normal habits and he made it work. I would give Balki the credit for this.
2. What really prompted you to do this film?
The story, the idea of playing someone that was 53 years younger than my own real age, Abhishek as a colleague and Abhishek’s decision to not just produce the film, but to make it in a very controlled budget of 15 cr !
3. At your age people tend to take it easy and prefer not to take up physically challenging and difficult assignments. What keeps you going?
I think the idea of taking it easy and bringing preferences in the way we want to lead our lives, will depend on individual thinking. I feel I wish to continue working. So if my body is responding well, my face is acceptable to the stories that producers bring for me, and there are a few people that wish to see me act, I do not see reason to stop. When all the above fail, I guess I shall be forced to do so. But till it does not happen I would wish to carry on.
4. Some people feel that instead of you, Balki should have casted a kid in this role. Why do you think he chose you for this film?
Ask him !
5. Prior to Paa, films from AB Corp have not been commercially very successful. Yet you decided to go for an experimental subject like this. This is rare. Generally producers are cautious after the commercial debacle of their films and play it safe. What made you take up another risky subject?
It was never a risky subject and no director or producer thinks the subject he or she has chosen is ever going to be risky. There are certain convictions in the pursuit of creativity. Balki and I were certain of what we were making. Balki was certain of its success, I was not ; but then I am temperamentally ever the pessimist. I am happy that what Balki thought proved correct.
6. Recently a Hollywood film titled Avatar has been released that has been highly appreciated by the film community for its technical excellence. It is expected to do well in India as well. Another film 2012 has already grossed more than 80 crores in India, which is even better than the collection of some of the recently released big banner multi-star-cast Indian films. What do you say to these developments?
In 1995 when I formed the first corporate entity, ABCL we were made the butt of all the possible jokes that the industry could level at us. I had also said a year before ABCL was formed that the United States of America had started addressing our film industry as ‘India - the New Frontier’. I had predicted that within the next 5 years after 1995 the Americans would walk in to India and start swamping our business with their expensive content and that with the large funds at their command would be in a position to overtake if not attempt to diminish our product. The idea of starting corporatization was to get all of us to ‘put our house in order’, before the Americans came in. I had given the example of how they had successfully managed to do just that in almost eliminating the individual industries of the UK, France, Germany and other important film making nations of the world. No one listened and no one bothered to care. Today you are alarmed by their successes and wonder what I wish to say on these developments. What can I say to what I have already said 15 years ago ? We will not be able to compete with them as far as resources are concerned. Culturally we are different from them and so their social content films will not bear much, but with the kind of mix that they are producing they have made heavy in roads . They are still about 3% of the market, but they will grow with each year. They conduct themselves with massive research and planning. Unless we bring in better administration, accountability, controls both creative and governmental, marketing and publicity skills we shall soon be losing a very vibrant and unique market to the outsider. A most lamentable occurance.
7. Why is that we have not been able to make films like Avatar?
Give me 1500 cr rupees and I will also make a film like that !
8. Paa has the entire Bachhan family’s representation in the film except Aishwarya Bachhan. Should we take it that all A.B. Corp films would have someone or the other from your family in them?
No not necessarily. But if there is talent within the family that can fill up a space in the product why not. Did not Guru Dutt work in his own productions, Raj Kapoor and many members of his family in RKFilms, Dev Anand in Navketan, Dharmendra in his own, Jeetendra in his, Anil Kapoor in Boney’s production company, Hrithik in his father’s company, Shahrukh in Red Chillies, Uday Chopra in YRF , Aamir in his own production.. the examples are endless and there for all to see.
9. Recently, there was news that Abhishek and you insist on your dialogues being written in Devnagari instead of the Roman script, which has become the trend these days thanks to growing Anglicisation of the film industry. Your comments, please.
I know how to read and write Hindi in the way it has been taught to me and the way it is meant to be written. And why just Hindi, every language in our vast and diverse country should be written and read in the form it was created and given birth to.
10. Though we incessantly talk about double-digit growth of the Indian film industry in business seminars and conclaves, the fact remains that the entire annual box office collection of our films is far less than that of the worldwide collection of a single Hollywood blockbuster like Avatar, or a Harry Potter film. We have a really tiny share of the world market. Your comments, please.
We have constraints of language. English is the most widely and most prominent spoken language in the world. Then comes Spainish and other languages. Our films will always have to live within this handicap. But I believe the gap is narrowing. Today there is a huge market world wide on our films. Mid East, UK, USA, Europe, South America, Canada, African nations, Russia, Far East almost the entire universe is getting acquainted with our cinema. We are making progress gradually but surely. But what seems to be the greatest problem is that the accountability on the revenues of our films is abysmal. I believe that in today’s conditions the one that is responsible for creating the content is getting the least earning. This defies all laws of business. If piracy, proper and honest accountability were to take place, our films have the capacity of giving returns that would much higher than what is projected today.
11. You have been close to Shri Anil Ambani. His group company Reliance Big Pictures also distributed Paa worldwide. They have also invested big in Spielberg’s DreamWorks and have put in money in the development funds of well-known Hollywood stars. We don’t see such initiative coming from India’s corporate producers domestically. What stops them from investing in Indian talent and develop world-class film scripts and projects here in India?
Mr Ambani and his companies have the resources to be able to do what they are doing. In a way it is creditable that there will be some American companies at least that shall be dependent on Indian companies. Other corporates not doing that is a matter of who has the resources to indulge. But I think with gre
Prateeksha, Mumbai December 29/30, 2009 Tue/Wed 12 : 30 AM
The media mogul of RANN, Vijay Harshvardhan Malik owner and Editor - in - chief of the TV Channel India 24/7 played out his role to the hilt the entire day today … and there is still more to go. It began as an inconsequential little interview among ourselves as Ram Gopal Varma questioned me in a one on one and thereafter went straight into discussion panels at Zoom TV. Roles were reversed. For once the questions were not being asked of me, but by me. And for once the ones being interviewed were the media themselves. An interesting concept, falling absolutely in line with the promotional activity spelt out by the company made in charge of the publicity for the film due next for release - RANN, THE NEW BATTLE or if you wish THE NEW(S) BATTLE !!
Many questions were asked and many were responded to with some alacrity and honesty. It is difficult at times to be entirely candid in a situation like this. Being too critical of the media would invite their wrath and too soft would not be promotional. A general mean had to be drawn and I think that looking at the expressions and responses of the staff at the Zoom Studio complex, all seemed to have gone off rather well. Daisy M was so right in her observation of the Hollywood actor that felt he was paid for promoting not acting in the film he had worked on.
And it is now to bed after spending some time with ‘bahu rani’ who has returned from Khandala after her stint at ‘Robot’. Abhishek was due in today from Goa where he shoots for Ashutosh Gowarikar, but I guess he shall now come only tomorrow morning.
‘Filmy’ the channel had ‘Guru’ up for its evening film and we both Aishwarya and I sat up and watched this fascinating tale of love and passion and endeavor in the life of an exceptional individual, Guru Bhai. It is magnificent cinema and handled so beautifully that watching it after many days did not rob me of its spontaneity. And of course the great performance by Abhishek, which I rate extremely highly.
The New Year draws near and thoughts wander towards the year gone by. Of triumphs and disappointments, of successes and failures, of happy days and sad days. Of long months spent away from home and those spent within. But in all, much like other years, a year of satisfied caution - never too exuberant with events that happened, nor ever, disappointed that they did not !!
The pundits would love this ! Never take sides. One is neither here nor there. Play safe and middle of the path. If this is correct, adhere to all. The rest follows suit and perhaps wisely so.
In a busy complicated life, a life that if full of material that brings with it burden and pressure, it is remarkable how even the slightest gesture can rebuild and strengthen it. Simple things like opening a packet of fresh soap for the morning bath. A bottle of unused perfume that had lain waiting to express itself, waiting to be opened or positioned in a space which required for it to be seen without any malice or demand.
A tired and exhausted mind is an unfair mind for what I pursue today, and so I have extended my apologies for whatever it is worth. It could have the required effect, or it could destroy whatever is left over within the next few months almost.
I must today leave it at that. There shall obviously be a legitimate explanation for the attitude and behavior within some days or hours that went by, but for the moment it has been sensational.
May this air of valuable expectancy, survive and exist. And may those that feel left out and ignored, let them be then assured by me that they shall be the ones to bring the audio the visual and the presentation. For this I believe I may have to wait. But whatever the consequence over meeting the concerned party, it is best to expect than be sure.
Allow me the liberty to depart at a somewhat difficult note .. and profess sincere effort the next time round. And till then …
Namaskar … tussi great ho !!
Prateeksha, Mumbai December 28, 2009 Mon 11 : 29 PM
Its refreshing to punch in a PM instead of an AM as you start up the blog. Time has been kind to me over the past few days. Kind not in terms of work and involvement and pressure. Kind in terms of giving me an opportunity to utilize it not the way I had been in the last month, but in keeping me busy with work that has been essential but enjoyable. Time to sit out in the sun again, to gym, to repair mobile, to read and respond to correspondence, to read the articles of value in the print media, to follow debate on the channels - on the terrible conditions that stopped play in the ODI with Sri Lanka at the Kotla grounds in Delhi, debates on Minister of State for External Affairs and his twitter and so on.
Kotla - Freozshah Kotla grounds, the cricket venue of several international adventures. Those early years in the city and the complete inability to even wander about this venue when a match was on. The College and University days when watching a cricket match by bunking classes was a recognized pastime. The paucity of funds to buy a ticket. The ingenious methods deployed to somehow smuggle our way into the grounds free of cost. The thrill of being inside this hallowed arena where the greats of the International world of cricket enthralled us with their skill. On one particular occasion to witness that great West Indian team simply destroy us with their immense power and talent. Wesley Hall, the pace bowler counting his steps to the run up and the entire stadium counting with him, and in amazement of the distance he would cover to bring in that awesome speed. Gary Sobers and Rohan Kanhai and the likes of them delighting us with their exquisite skill. And then on one occasion during the visit of the Pakistani Team to be seated through some great string pulling, just below the dressing rooms in vantage positioning, to see that incredibly handsome Fazal Mahmood, the Captain and opening bowler of their team, lustrous hair swirling about as he ran up, his green colored eyes focussed determinedly at the batsman facing him. Hanif Mohammad, that batting sensation and his younger brother Mushtaq starting up their international debut at the young age of 17 and 18 years. And our own Ramakant Desai, that thin and fragile looking pace sensation whipping up speed that would never ever be associated with his size, being brought on by Polly Umrigar standing in as Captain to bowl to Hanif, knowing that he would always have a problem with him and then sure enough to see the wicket flying away as he got bowled by a beauty. And Bapu Nadkarni who I think had the distinction of batting for the entire 5 days of a test match unbeaten. He was the ‘blocker’. The one that never hit the ball, merely kept blocking it to kill time and frustrate the opposition.
Such vivid winter memories of that ground, woolies, fog and all !!
Sorry ! Drifted a bit to times gone by. Times that one always remembers with such detail and nostalgia. They seem so close to me. Like it all happened yesterday.
The promotion for ‘Rann’ has started in real earnest. An entire day was spent at the Filmistan Studio in some very innovative marketing ideas. Who was it that just commented on the blog about some great Hollywood actor that stated, that actors were not paid to act. They got paid for the promotion of the film that they did ! Ha ! At the rate promotional activities are being conducted in the Industry, his words may well be true.
Later as we reach some semblance of rest, the next team of promoters for the film TEEN PATTI drive in and with two films coming close to each other without sufficient gap, this predicament shall need to be resolved, else one shall start eating into the other, or worse, both eat each other out.
I must admit I feel a bit strange getting into another film so soon after the one that has just been released. The thoughts and effects of the recent one still invite excess reactions. The recent one has been chugging along without any formal support or marketing. It has now been recognized as a hit, but analysts say if it continues in this manner for another week it could be declared a super hit. In any case it is being looked at with great reverence, simply because its return in investment has been quite phenomenal. Mission more than accomplished !!
This little unobtrusive film, with lesser known actors and crew has become the talk of the town. No one paid any attention to its existence. But with great success it has managed to turn tables and how !! And all credit goes to the people of the nation, who have through a unique delivery system word mouthed our offering to a grand success.
More intimate promotions on RANN tomorrow. But before that, recordings for a new idea, that has yet again gained the distinction of being pioneered by ‘moi’. Of this there shall be more. In love and in affection and in trust.
Prateeksha, Mumbai December 27/28, 2009 Sun/Mon 12 : 20 AM
The exuberance of release unmatched by the extreme sensory of a feeling is unmatched by any other in the universe. Nature made it so, but do we not rely far too much on it. Factually though there is no other explanation and so we build our beliefs on this one factor. The universe has many beings that defy existence and when we do not find an answer for it we put it to nature, conveniently. But convenience is too harsh a term for it. Logic and science has always found resistance simply because it calculates and springs reality in our face. When then there is the absence of calculation it is convenient to accept the lesser, for explaining the science behind every belief would be too time consuming and at the end it may not necessarily convince.
What does convince me though is the drive to effort. An effort may not quite be equated with nature and science and logic and therefore because it is individual or even collective it will always be appreciated. The Times of India group attempts what it calls an effort to harbor peace and well being with our neighbor Pakistan. Their media and our media will through the medium initiate cross over efforts to hold hands, to exchange views and ideas of how to extend our understanding with each other, to build bridges when all else is falling apart.
In this regard then, the TOI group wished that I do an audio visual of some poignant lines written by Gulzar and render it on camera much like the Lead India campaign that I did for the same group some years ago. It was a casual atmosphere of a wayside tea stall any where in India and the thoughts were simple and folk related and common to all our early lives lived in smaller towns. The idea of lets get together, unfold a ‘duree‘ bring on the ‘dholak’ and sing the songs of community singing. Of flying kites from the roof tops of our homes and inviting ech other fro a game of ‘kabbaddi’. The essence being that if they crossed over to our side during the game we would not want them to leave us. Not a gesture of hostility or capture as the world would interpret but the affection of inviting the guest and then, being so fond of him to not want him to leave.
It did not take much to get it right immediately and after a few takes and a few interview bites for press and tv, we finished the deed and wait now for the campaign to start by the 1st of January 2010.
We are now two different countries, India and Pakistan, but our cultures match, as do our food and living habits and our speech. We have been in dispute and rancor on many an occasion and continue to be so, but how wonderful for the media of both the nations to want to start this unique move in building each others confidence and faith in the other.
My nobility for the day over, it was back to Jalsa and for once finding myself with free time to indulge in matters that had been on hold for some time now. Acknowledgements to those that wrote in, that expressed through flowers and kind their appreciation for PAA. The news and the interviews due to come up for the new release around the corner, RANN and planning what we would do for New Year and the bringing in of 2010. For some odd reason 2010 seems like a likable expression - twenty ten ! Nice ! May it bring niceness in all our lives.
The telephone calls keep coming in about PAA - Mrs Ansari, the wife of the Vice President of India, Waheeda ji and old friends from Delhi and around the country, people who have never ever interacted with me on my films or my profession. I have to show the film to Dilip saheb and shall be seeking time from him soon, as I would from Sachin Tendulkar who I wait to finish his series with Sri Lanka. All quite overwhelming and satisfying.
Surprisingly though the reactions to the Finale last night of Bigg Boss have been huge also. The grandeur of the ceremony and the interesting manner in which the show was presented, all being very generously commented upon. It is happy to see all that effort not go away in vain, instead it is wonderful to be receiving accolades when initially there was some reservation to my doing the show.
It is back to promotions now for the next and most of the few days left in this year will be devoted to just this. Marketing and promotions are now akin to making another movie almost ; with the time and energy required for its production its presentation and its delivery.
So till then to RANN .. till then to more PAA … and for the coming to TEEN PATTI ..
My love .. and you better believe it …
Prateeksha, Mumbai December 26/27, 2009 Sat/ Sun 3 : 05 AM
Bigg Boss Triteeya Season Finale came to a most glorious and extravagant end this evening at the Lonavala location of the Bigg Boss house. The color, the excitement, the intricate and exciting camera work and lighting, the crowds and finally the thrill of victory !
Vindu Dara Singh came out victorious amidst great fanfare and emotion in a most glittering presentation by the entire Colors Team. A motivated and excellent crew of hundreds came out with flying colors to make this 3 month reality an exercise in meticulous planning and faultless execution.
It was only in the closing days of the operation that I was exposed to the actual working of this massively managed show - one that had the fancy eyeballs and attention of millions all over the world. And I must admit that I had perhaps in my utter ignorance overlooked the amount of labor and thinking that went into a show of this magnitude. I think I was happy enough to drive down every Friday and conduct my contribution within the demarcations set about by the team of writers and managers, and return home. But, in order for that to happen in the most efficient manner as possible, it has been a nightmare I am certain. The speed of thought, the alacrity of mind, the quickness of distribution, the creative contribution even as we roll, the management and trust on the efficiency of the other, all has been gone into with such professionalism that it has been a marvel, seen to be believed.
But on the final curtain on the event as the wood work tore apart and the teams of personnel came through for their remembrance of the 3 months, it suddenly dawned on me what a large and massive concentration of committed work this has been. The gadgetry, the electronics, the timings, their maintenance and working, the creative teams keeping a watchful eye on every story that developed inside and every move that had the potential of becoming an interesting story for broadcast by the evening, all initiated by the head of operations and brought to fruition.
Well done Colors ! It has been a great pleasure being associated with you ! And thank you for your care and consideration.
The morning began late. Obviously. But had a surprise visitor in RajniKant in my room at the Fariyas. He is shooting for ‘Robot’ with Aishwarya in and around Lonavala and dropped in for a chat. He still remains that most unassuming down to earth basic human, that I had the great pleasure of meeting at the AVM Studios in Chennai many many years ago. It has been a long association of friendship and professional camaraderie. Many films have we worked together in and been rewarded with success and many an evening has been spent together, talking about our craft and about life !
Today was no different. He had seen ‘Paa’. I had organized it for him to see it at a private theatre in Chennai and he was meeting me for the first time after that. He had wanted to speak immediately after the film got over, but somehow we were missing each other. His charming wife Lathaji had called and had profusely spoken about the film and how amazing the experience had been. Rajni was exuberant this morning. And we spoke for more than an hour on ‘Paa’. He said we are all upset after seeing the film, not so much because of the content and its emotional quotient, but because now that ‘you have done this, what are we going to do’.
It is such a joy to spend time with a member of your own fraternity and speak of nothing else but creative inputs, life and the world around us. And this morning was no different.
What an incredible life Rajni has had. From a struggling bus conductor checking tickets on public transports to this God-Like figure of immense fan following and mass strength. Absolutely amazing !!
The BB3 followed immediately afterwards and there were absolutely no stoppages or malfunctions and we were able to finish well ahead of time and after a brief media reaction, drove back to Mumbai, Jalsa and Prateeksha.
Tomorrow early morning another campaign with Times of India - a short audio visual extolling the virtues of building bridges with our neighbors, in extending to them a hand of friendship and reconciliation, of trying to involve them in sharing common platforms and to basically explain that we have no desire of occupying or destroying territory, but instead to respect each others’ sovereignty and dignity with peace and studied wisdom.
It is late again I know, but what can one do ? I must communicate to the `FmXt’.
No amount of convincing that this act could be done later is really very absurd and unhealthy ..
So in that health concerned excessive talk, I make my absence felt…….
Love you, with great passion and peace !!