Sunday, October 30, 2011

Star Struck!


Today was unusual. 

We were shooting with a certain celebrity and were penalized with curtness, non-cooperation, non-punctuality and accused of being unprofessional and impolite when our only crime, I think was not being celebrities ourselves. Who would have thought that such a demure, dainty, pretty, child-like, innocent, pleasant, etc. etc. heroine, usually the lady in distress would in reality turn out to be more like the vamp who is desperate for the hero or envious of the heroine, (though these days the vamp is the sexy one) whose mind is actively plotting against the good in the world, who drinks, smokes etc. etc?

I have grown up loving, admiring and wanting to be like them. Thanks to my profession, I now see a celebrity as a mere mortal, in some cases, even a weaker person than I am. Being a journalist, I judge them differently than the regular audience. And since I see them and interact with them closely, I know the inside story more than the usual audience does. It is nothing I am proud of. It is only a reality broken open to me the first time I interviewed a celebrity. I no longer have the eye, heart, mind or whatever it takes, to blindly love a celebrity for their beauty, charm, stardom or whatever it is that we love them for.

Why are celebrities arrogant? By celebrity, I strictly am referring to movie stars only. They are rich, popular, pampered on the sets, in demand…ok, I get the reason why.  But we (media and audience) are the ones who make them that big. It is funny how they think (or don’t even think) it is ok to treat us like nobodies when they are solely dependent on us for being somebodies. Is it possible they behave so because they are insecure? I think it is. I think they are as insecure as rude and pricey they get.

Well, the question is—would I have been the same had I been as popular? Would I have been friendly and accommodative or arrogant, though the only thought that always passes my mind while conveniently judging them is ‘had I been in their position, I would have never done that. I would have been on time. If not, I would have informed. I would have treated everyone with respect’? But would I have? Is it not possible that I was too harsh and too quick on judging them? A good learnt lesson of mine is that you never really know what a person is going through. But is that always an excuse good enough to not treat others and their time and effort with respect?

As viewers, we waste no time in instantly believing a positive character portrayed to be the true nature of the actors. And as viewers, who spend hard-earned or hard-begged or easily borrowed money to watch a movie once, twice or even thrice if we like it, we also wait for the moment of truth—that they are HUMANS. We want to know how they screw up their love lives or how they get into extra-marital affairs or pre-marital pregnancies, or how they need drugs or even how they actually do have a digestive system and can eat and very well defecate too. As far as I know, no human is fully good or bad. We all have all the positive and negative qualities. Circumstantially, they come out in form of feelings without our help. It is our choice to transform these feelings into actions. Going by this philosophy, when a celebrity is not the little happy princess or the macho prince charming we took for granted they were, we take it as the ultimate truth about their nature. Instead of understanding, we declare our hatred towards them since they failed to meet our expectations. Why do we look up to pretty people as the be-it-all and the know-it-all?

I would like to take a moment and wonder “what if I had become a celebrity and behaved so? Why would I have behaved so?” Or “what was it something that we did as journalists that caused the celebrity to behave so?”

What is to be made out of this? Are we small-minded people with sky-high expectations? Either the celebrities know how to sell themselves, or their flawlessness in those high-resolution pictures in the perfect dresses on the perfect figures on glossy papers and big movie screens is such that we can’t get ourselves to expect anything less than that. Who is the cruel one here—the hungry-for-glamour audience or the hungry-for-fame celebrity? 

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Crazy. work. month. phew!. at. sigh. !.


From not wanting a career and wanting to be a wanderer, I have come to want a career. I always wanted to be a writer, a journalist, but a young resident of a non- pragmatic world that I was, my chosen route was adventurous, yes, but unfruitful. This time I have chosen the conventional path and I approve of it.

More than a year after graduating, I finally have a job which I know I will hold for at least a year unless I get fired or a calamity occurs and I die.  After a year of jumping from one publication to another, a year of living on minimum bank balance, almost a year of leaning on dad for financial support, I now know when I will receive my next pay cheque.

I am not a freelance writer anymore. I am a feature writer in a very well-known magazine in Hyderabad, a magazine which in itself is a brand. I have many apprehensions and little confidence on my writing now, what with the many unasked for harsh criticisms drilled into me. I can’t help being an optimistic. I just cannot. Hence, I can’t help but refuse to give up on myself.

From the first month itself, I have been given responsibilities in this organization which go further than writing and the publishing of the magazine depends on these tasks. It has been a crazy month. Yes, that’s the word. Crazy.  Also, hectic. Stressful can fit in too. Also, excitement.  A strange kind of pleasure that comes while working under pressure. I have hardly had time to stand still and stare or to sit and let my ass grow fat. I have not eaten very well or on time. I have been woken up not very early in the mornings by my editor’s and colleague’s calls. I have worked hours after waking up without brushing my teeth or thinking of my breakfast, even. I have made mistakes. Silly mistakes and blunders. I have made efforts to do better. I have been yelled at. I have been and put others under pressure. I have cursed and probably been cursed too. I have been confused, and confused others and been asked “why are you so confused?” I have dreaded notifications of new mails in my inbox, which has been flooded with mails. Oh, it really is a famine in there!  I have been apologetic, and been mad at my friends for not letting me work, whereas they do nothing but loyally stand by me. I have complained and been complained about.  I have screamed at my boyfriend and been understood by him. I have been chased by time and been chasing time. Deadlines, sigh, these deadlines. Under all this chaos, I have worked and worked and worked.

I feel wholesome now that the crazy month is resting until tomorrow when it will commence its giant motor that runs on time management and probably my life and blood too. Amidst the pile of work, my not very little part of brain that is responsible for all my fantasies put me in the center of the movie in my head, as it reminded me that I was almost in a situation like Anne Hathway in Devil Wears Prada. May be it is because of this similarity that I think it would be cool to write about my experience. May be. The brain has so much going on. I can’t trace back the reason to every action of mine, not past midnight at least.

Every time I made a mistake, I feared I would be fired soon or I would be paid less than promised. In spite of this chaos, each night I have slept with the overflowing joy of dreaming. Each night, I have slept knowing tomorrow will be a better day, knowing I will work harder, work better, earn better. Each night I have slept dreaming that someday I will be what I want to be-a good writer, a good journalist.

Here I am, waiting for tomorrow, for I have learnt better. 

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

We need Cinema.

Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gham. Tees Maar Khan. Ajab Prem Ki Gajab Kahani. Amar Akbar Anthony. Khoon Bhari Maang. Karan Arjun. Etc. Etc. I hope you get it—these are all formula-driven, emotion-stirring, attention-holding Indian movies that I know of being criticized by many who enjoy sensible movies.

Look. I love sensible movies, period movies, artistic cinema. I can give you names—Valkyrie, Dhobi Ghat, Delhi Belly (the screenplay is lovely). But I also love Bollywood. I must confess I am a  Bollywood queen who quite enjoys being melodramatic and dancing with thumkas for fun! What? Don’t judge me. I am serious.

That’s not the point anyway. It’s not about me.

You see, I have heard and I still hear many a joke with a discriminating tone about the first list of movies I gave you. Let’s put them together in a box and call it ‘Entertainment for the Needy’.

Call me naïve and ignorant about movies and the industry but believe me these movies are a great pain-reliever for the poor who spend the entire day as labourers without the luxuries of hospitality at restaurants, or sunscreens, or tea and coffee at regular intervals. They do the dirty jobs. They hardly have any fixed timings. They do more work than in their job roles. They hardly can save any money. They are worried about the marriages of their sisters and daughters and if they will make enough money for rent that month and if they will get water in the next two days and if they will have food next month. There is hardly any electricity or privacy in their houses. Life is not pretty for them. They struggle every day. Toiling hard each day only to make through it and live the next one. Always at the edge. Always at the mercy of their employers. They cannot afford tantrums. They hardly can demand. These are the people we never bother to look at the faces of or even smile and thank after they have done their job. (More about what social hypocrites we are but later)

The point is why they should want to watch movies about how many difficulties life gives and how sad people are and how bad the world is—they deserve entertainment. I agree these film makers do not think this when they are making films, they only are interested in what will sell. These sell because we need them. Sorry. Because a large chunk of our population needs these movies. They deserve all this entertainment.

“So why are you telling this to us? Let them watch if they want to. Who is stopping them?” you may ask. Well, it is a matter of respect. We discriminate. It might seem a small thing but when you think about it carefully, it is not—we are firstly not respecting the hard work and struggle of 70% of our population and based on the fact that their favourite movies (formula-driven, melodramatic, filled with silly jokes, senseless etc.) are not artistically sound, and are called mass movies, we discriminate these movies as meant for the lower castes whose problems, by doing so, we thus refuse to even imagine of.   For us, poor are dirty since what they like, as it seems from how we comment what we comment, is dirty. See. We do discriminate in more ways than we realize or like to admit.

Well, just that.

And that more and more mass movies should be made and released. Entertainment is a need. It is. 

Love, Sex Aur Dhoka!

A very close friend of mine recently got caught cheating in a relationship of almost 2 years; this happened when they moved on to a long-distance relationship status.

Another friend of mine got cheated just when he thought everything was great and had more or less surrendered himself to her.

It so happens that I am surrounded by live examples of relationships with promises, dreams, love, laughter and a subtext of adultery. I must tell you we are all in the age group of 19-21, which is why I wonder if we are getting carried away only because we are still young and not matured enough to either understand or handle such commitments, or is there a bigger picture?

Why did these accidents take place in spite of adequate freedom and absolute trust?

Was it loneliness? Confusion? A problem roots of which can be traced back to parenting in childhood? Scarring incidents while they were growing up which has led them to not know what they were doing, or to think it was okay, or that they did not care?

The cheats have now been termed as ‘bad people’, abandoned by their friends though some of them have been successful in keeping their friends. In such cases, knowing the cheated, we imagine a great deal of manipulative narration to friends is the cause.

What’s the point in terming anyone ‘bad’, I ask? I think the approach has to be understanding the ‘why’—from personal experience, I can assure you this leads to forgiveness and peace for the wronged. That’s a story I will get into later.

I wonder if our parents’ generations had these issues, that too, in such an astonishing number? I wonder if our grandparents’ generations cheated so often.

Is it because the technology has made communication so easy—as easy as it is to stay in touch with your loved ones, it is to do so to make new friends.

I am a great fan of values rather than morals but I do understand that morals can keep from disasters to materialize. I mean the conditioning of ‘should do’ and ‘should not’ is more or less a constant hounding in our heads.
The fact that, my friends of both genders go ahead and cheat again and again makes me wonder if we have actually lost respect for relationships? Please note that I am not saying you must not in any part of the world, in any given circumstance sleep with another man or woman when you have one already to call your girlfriend/boyfriend/spouse—the point is are you keeping the bond of commitment made between you two? If it does not fit your relationship, it is wrong for you.

Is it because my generation fails to understand the pact of faithfulness involved in their commitment and confuses it with what it hears and sees about what I hear they call it ‘an open relationship’? That concept is tempting to many, I understand, especially at this age but are we to worry about our coming generations which will have better technology and faster paces of living and less time and more work and no play?

It seems a highly complicated web—this love, sex and dhoka! I hope I do find some answers soon.

Friday, July 15, 2011

What are the Rules of Being on a Break?

Two people I know quite well, or so I think—a girl and a boy—are deeply, madly and not blindly in love with each other.

They are young and cannot credit a large number of years of having been together as a “couple”. We think they are very cute, and it seems they have some great level of understanding between them.
News is they are on a break! Question is how does that work?

Before that, to give you better context, I can tell you in as short as possible, why they are on such a status of relationship—some silly mistakes, not too big, committed by one of them and unexpected by the other. This has led to certain trust issues, questions like “what were your intentions?” “Have I made the right choice?”, “can I spend my life with this person?”, “am I giving unnecessary high hopes with no potential?” etc. etc. where the quest is for the truth.

Now, I must also tell you that theirs is a relationship that one can admire. It has one element which I think is crucial to any relationship—friendship. Which is why, as I observe them as they are ‘on a break’, I wonder what the rules are of being on a break?

They are still in constant touch, texting and calling, of course now they need excuses to do so. They still say ‘I love you’, of course, sometimes hesitantly. I have heard them flirt; of course the words are manipulated. I have not heard of them meeting yet. Their relationship status on Facebook is ‘In a relationship.’ They are not just polite but quite like friends talking about life, making jokes, and digging the past and then reality hits—‘we are on a break…we might break up…we might not grow old together…’

As you might have figured out, there is love but there is also ‘holding back.’

So back to my question—what are the rules of being on a break? Are you to not talk or are you to not talk with affection and commitment? Are you allowed to see other people or not? Is it okay to flirt? Is it okay to show you still care?

Etc.

The social set up never fails to amaze me—names to relationships can change the nature of relationships—two people can call each other friends and behave differently, and when promoted to being committed, they behave differently. When there is a break or a break up, the equation changes. But the thing to observe is—love remains all through the journey. It has, at least in this case.

Anyway, the latest news is the accused has asked the wronged to let affection be for it is difficult with it but the wronged has smilingly rejected the request.

Let’s just say my questions will be answered as they keep moving and doing and not doing things. I hope they keep me updated and that they do grow old together, and as a couple.  

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

It's over. What's the point now?

I took light-his incessant calls and messages. I had moved onto college, to new friends, to a loving boyfriend, to a comfortable life. There was nothing to talk about. Somehow, it was hard to find the love of long-gone friendship, which was, I must tell you, very innocent, honest, unselfish, not as thick, but great! He was a fan, and now when I think of him so fondly, he was so child-like.

He still would have been had been alive, and was so in the last few months when I took him light. I am a terrible friend. Well, I was being one.

The news was a shock. I had not bothered to call him back and two days later, the news. He was no more now. Well, he was never going to call me, ever again.

All the love for him that was hiding somewhere came back, so did the memories. It was painful.

There was no way I was not going to visit him. I am a terrible friend - I do not visit when you need me, I visit when I have to find my peace.

He was the tallest boy in our school, and will remain so, I think for years to come. That was his identification mark - tallest boy in school. They had to bend his knees so that the big glass box to store dead bodies until they are taken to burn, could accommodate him. He had grown fat. And there was blood around his mouth; and body hair. He was sleeping. We nonadjustable humans refusing to go with nature expect dead bodies to wake up. He did not wake up, not for a second or fraction of a second. Not to the wails and questions of his mother, aunts, grandmothers. We were in the background. Grieving. Apologizing. Watching. Agonizing. Regretting. Apologizing.

A number of thoughts suddenly spur at such moments, empathetic thoughts and you begin to value life more. I thought of the pain he had to go through, of how he considered me a great friend and how I never bothered to be with him in his days of pain. I could only imagine his parents' loss; of the dreams he had that he can never fulfill; of the experiences he never will go through. He had recently turned 20. So young, such a wonderful person - all to an end. Why? Why him?

He was brought out of the box, to the cellar of their building. We all gathered. The priest instructed and rituals were carried on. His father broke down and cried aloud. There is no end to the mourning for those we love, those we have nurtured, and seen grow. There are also no words, I imagine, to define such feelings.

They took him to give him what Hindus call 'aatma ki shanti'. I left.

I cried another day. Then decided to not think of him. I am good at avoiding, evidently, be it thoughts or people. I avoided.

Two weeks later, his father called. He said "I and aunty want to talk to you here at our house. Please come." We fixed the day and time. I was more than ready to oblige now, since everything was over. I was wondering if aunty would question me why I had been such a disgraceful friend. May be they would tell me how he complained about me claiming I was busy. With what? I have not even had a job for months.

Well, they did not. In turn, they were nicest to me. Courteous in spite of the gloom of the mishap. Offered me drinks and snacks. Smiling, being polite. Everything that parents of friends do for their children to their friends.

A Power Point presentation made by his best friend and closest cousin was shown to me. It had pictures of his joyful days at school including a picture with me. He used to speak a lot about me. His friends must hate me now. There were pictures of him when he was sick - I was not there then. He had beckoned so many times. I never paid heed. Some suppressed tears and a conversation with many long pauses about him, about his nature and likes and dislikes and dreams and complaints.

It was not as difficult as I was scared it would be. Not that it matters what I feel. He was and his parents are suffering far more than any of us.

His is not just a death. It is a great loss. Of the kind of human being who kept the child in him alive - loving easy, hurting easy, forgiving easy.

I and many others lost a friend - the only kind who would, with guarantee, come to your rescue at any given time of the day or year. We lost a great deal of kindness, honesty, love, compassion, passion, team spirit, love for fun, devotion, hard work and everything nice that can possible exist in this world.

I write this now when he cannot read it. He died thinking I was mad at him and did not love him anymore. I was never mad at him. Neither did I stop loving you. Life changed but that is not an excuse. I am sorry. Do forgive me. You were and are unforgettable.

He loved movies. Wanted to be a film maker. We probably also lost a great deal of wonderful movies!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Why?


Why do we like to get attention? Why is it our need? Why do we judge those who seek attention? Why do we snatch it from others? Why do we think unpleasant of others? Why do we take revenge? Why do we like to possess? Why do we think we can possess people? Why are we so enthralled with things? Aren’t they just things? Why do we hate? Why do we run after the unattainable? Why do we want to be liked? Nothing is real. All this attention, it is not real. All this fitting-in. it’s not real. Or is it real?  What is real?  Why do we judge others? Why can’t we just accept? Why do we reject? Why do we forget about ourselves? Why do we forget how to improve? Why do we say this is good and that is bad? How can anything be good or bad? Nothing is good and nothing is bad. Why do we like to rule over someone else? Why do we enjoy that kind of power? Why do we like to be ruled sometimes? Why do we have an ego? Who are we? Why do we run after perfection? What is perfection? Why is imperfect not perfect? Why do we think we know everything? Why do we think we are the best? Why do we think we are not good enough? It is a world that does not exist. It is a world that is not here. Or maybe it is but it is going to perish. What is happiness? How do we know we are living life? Who is deciding it for us? Are we? Are we deciding it right? Is there anything right or wrong? Who has the answers? How do we know those answers are correct? Are there any correct or wrong answers? Where are we going? Why do we live? Are we living? Do what we want is important? Do we want what we want? Do we want what others want? Why do we need what we need? Do we chase what we need? Can we do without what we need? What if we don’t get what we need? How much do we need really? What do we need really? Do we need other people? Why do we fight others of our species? We kill. We are murderers. We are. Why do we think we are nice? Why do we like ourselves? Why do we hate ourselves? Are there any answers? Is this how we are? This is our nature, is it? Why is it our nature? So what if it is our nature? What if our nature would have been otherwise? Who decided that our nature would be like this? Did someone decide it so? How come we all have the same fundamental nature? We do, don’t we? Do we? Why do we order someone else? Who gave us the right to? How do we let others dominate us? How do we dominate others? Now, there is so much. Now, there is nothing. Will everything perish in the end? Is there an end? Was there any beginning? Why is it hard to imagine a no-beginning? Do we do everything we can? Do we do everything we want to? Either we do, or we don’t. Why is it important to be happy? So what if someone is not happy?
  

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Sameday everyday?


Every day I think of myself, my life, my past, my present, my future. I think of how everything will change in a few years. I probably will be married, living somewhere else, may be some other city, may be another country. I wonder about my sister having children and my brother getting married. I wonder about my dad and I wonder what he will do without me. May be my brother and his wife will live with him by then.

I sometimes cry, because I love him so much, thinking of the inevitable—no one lives forever. He will go, and I will go too.

I wonder if I go before him to an accident or a disease, because he loves me so much, he will be very sad and it will be the worst that could have ever happened to him because has protected me for 21 years. I can’t imagine the things he will think or feel but I know he won’t be happy. Everything will change.

But that happens all the time—if not to us, then to someone else. Ten years back, there were some people in our lives that are not there anymore and there are some people now that were not there then.  

We all wonder, worry and are afraid of going on past that change. But we do. Gradually, we get used to living without people or things the way we got used to living with them.

If a day is given to spend with those we loved as children and are no more now, we will then know what home is like (because as we grow, we do try to search bits and pieces of our childhood everywhere). Or maybe not(maybe childhood was not that great!) . May be what we get used to, and is our present, is our home. What is gone may have been gone but it was still home. Either ways, we have found ways to be comfortable. Not necessarily happy but comfortable.

We are just afraid of that phase before we get used to their absence. And because we are afraid, we don’t accept the change. The day we accept, it all settles down—the pain, the higher pain, the letting go…

No matter what—we will get used to anything. Gradually.

To think of it, it kind of makes me feel powerless and defeated because I will have to accept what I don’t want to. Why do I accept and get used to what I don’t want to? Why must I go according to the system of the universe? Why is it in our nature to get used to things?

To think of it again, it is good in a way because otherwise there would be no changes and no growth in our lives. It would be like watching the first half of a movie throughout your life that will never end. All through, we will have learnt nothing but only known what is known without knowing there could be larger possibilities.

I think it is these changes that make us value our lives and our relationships.

Without these changes, there would be no give and take and everything would come to a halt, to a stagnance.  And I think there would be no meaning left. At all.