10 Trends we should bid farewell to in 2017

1. Show Middle Finger to Middle Name.

Dear Ladies, I know it’s your choice but I have to say it’s a horrible one. Adding your husband’s name in the middle on Facebook seems to be the new fad in 2016. Every other person I know (friends, relatives) seems to be doing it post marriage. On one hand, we have women keeping their surnames same even after marriage and on the other we have women who go one step ahead and add their husband’s name too. Personally, I find it regressive and patriarchal. Have you asked your husbands to do the same? Or has the thought of adding wife’s name to theirs even come across to husbands? I guess, No and that explains it all. I seriously don’t understand the joy behind doing this exercise. Hope to see the trend fading away in 2017 or at least husband’s catching up with it too.

2. Arvind Kejriwal should stop being a troll

I know it is wishful thinking and may be even God cannot help me in this but can we please have a well behaved Arvind Kejriwal? In other words, can he start behaving as a Chief Minister and stop blaming the Prime Minister for every damn thing in this universe?  From calling the PM a psychopath to supporting a convict like Lalu Prasad Yadav, he has become nauseating now. There have been times when I had to read his tweets twice just to check if it is him or his troll account (which by the way makes more sense).  Arvind, even Najeeb Jung has resigned now, please be a little tolerable!

3. It’s not about loving our Soldiers

I am no ‘liberal’ but the growing use of bringing in the country’s soldier for justifying everything silly done in the country should just stop RIGHT NOW! Lecturing people to boycott or ban films that star Pakistani actors because our soldiers are protecting us at the border or telling people that they should not crib about standing in bank and ATM lines because soldiers stand at the border for days without complaining is plain stupidity. Can we please stop this false equivalence and let the soldiers be out of the politics? We can love our soldiers & at the same time criticize demonetization or enjoy watching Ae Dil Hai Muskhil. May better sense prevail!

4. Muslim kids & Fancy Dress

Even Lord Krishna and Jesus would have been fed up by the ‘secularism’ shown by Indians. This is an annual ritual when pictures of Muslim parents carrying their kids dressed up as Krishna or Jesus start floating on WhatsApp, Facebook and every damn place you can find. In fact it isn’t Janmasthami or Christmas till we have seen the picture. While I appreciate the multi culturalism and pluralism of our country; we need not be reminded of it every year. Let the kids dress up and leave them. Please don’t shove it in our face. Just chill. BTW, idea courtesy @NameFieldmt

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5. Close the Open Letters 

While I have written some of them myself, I think it’s high time we stop this drama of Open Letters. I say that because let’s be frank, no one is reading them; especially, the one to whom we are addressing it. I don’t have a problem with the format but of late there have been a bombardment of open letters (most of which make no sense) for every little thing that happens around us. Also, let’s face it that most of us are not aiming towards staring a dialogue but it’s just a bitch fest to get more hits on our blog and get some publicity. We should rather write a letter to our loved ones which they might actually read & may be make them happy because nothing beats the old world charm that hand written letters carry. BTW, this was suggested by KarnikaKohli

6. Ramzan vs Ramadan

Again, I have been party to the crime but if I reflect back, I feel this is one of the most pointless debates of which I have been a part of. Ramzan is one of the most important festivals of Muslims and it is called ‘Ramadan’ in Arabic. In India, as Urdu & Hindi have been the language of communication, it is called ‘Ramzan’. Most of us grew up learning it. I of course had issues (still have) with the growing Arabization as Indians started using ‘Ramadan’ but many say that I am over reacting & it’s just going back to using the ‘authentic’ name which is in Quran. So, let’s just close this debate and enjoy Haleem & Sheer Korma without getting into the spelling.

7. ‘Recreating’ old songs

As if remaking old Hindi films was not enough, we now have film makers ruining the old classic songs by ‘recreating’ them. Some of them like Kaala Chasma (Baar Baar Dekho) or Ae Zindagi Gale Laga Le (Dear Zindagi) were not that bad but most of them have been a let down. The recent recreation of Rahman’s Humma Humma (OK Janu) was the final nail in the coffin. Can we just compose some original music in 2017? @ThePuccaCritic did a good piece on the same.

8. Who is the best Khan?

Let’s just settle it this year and agree that Shah Rukh Khan is the BEST Khan. We must stop this annual ranting of telling SRK that he should do more films like Kabhi Haan Kabhi Naa, Swades & Chak De India. He is a brilliant actor and he was bloody good even when he did DDLJ, KKHH, Veer Zaara and Fan. No one can do a Raj or Rahul like he does and even now when he opens his arms, he creates magic on screen. Yes, even with that hamming. He has style, class and substance. He is THE KING. PERIOD!

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9. The Coke Studio Debate

With a heavy heart, I have to say that Coke Studio Pakistan is a notch above ours. Let’s just accept it guys that ours is still very commercial, Bollywoodish and to an extent wannabish also and we haven’t come up with something that is even close to the magic of Coke Studio Pakistan. So let’s just enjoy the music and keep the who is better debate aside because I just told you who is better!

10. Year End Posts! 

So tired of these year end posts telling us the top moments, the top films, the best shows, the worst actors and all that. Oh wait! Okay. It is still 2016 and I can write one  🙂

On that note, Happy New Year!

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How I met THE Shabana Azmi

I am an unabashed and insane fan of Shabana Azmi. The first film of hers that I saw was Vishal Bhardwaj’s Makdee and the 14 year old me had loved the film; especially her character of witch. However, it was her movie Arth that made me notice the brilliance of ‘actor’ Shabana Azmi and since then there has been no looking back. I have revisited almost all her films right from her debut film Ankur (which till date remains one of my favorite Shabana Azmi films) and I can safely say that she is one of the finest actors that Indian cinema has seen.

So while I was exploring twitter sometime in 2010, one fine day, I saw Shabana Azmi’s handle (@AzmiShabana) on my timeline. Back then it was not verified and I have had my fair share of instances where I had got myself into some intense discussions with people (Democracy with Arundhati Roy) only to realize later that they were imposters or parody accounts. So, my first tweet to her was actually a question asking ‘Hello, Is that really you?’ I managed to get a reply from her and since quite a few celebrities were following her I was assured about the authenticity part. Icing on the cake was that she started following me (I have no idea even now why she did so because I was just one of the many fans she has). Initially, I used to think she pressed the follow button by mistake and I used to visit her twitter page regularly for months to ‘check’ if she is still following me (Back then there was no ‘Follows You’ feature). And that was the beginning of my beautiful virtual relationship with one of the finest actors of the Indian cinema.

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Pehli Mulaqat:

My first meeting with her was quite filmy actually. In 2011, I got a Direct Message from Shabana Ma’am that she was coming to Bangalore with her play ‘Broken Images’ for Standard Chartered Bank at ITC Gardenia and asked if I would like to come. I nearly jumped out of my bed and I of course said yes. The super excited me was about 1 hour before schedule and I was supposed to meet ‘Richa’ with whom she had left a message. When I enquired, the folks said they don’t know anyone by the name Richa. My heart sank. I ran from pillar to post but nothing came out of it. I did not have the contact details so I was writing tweets continuously in the hope she will read it but I got no reply. I had lost all hopes and I thought may be she forgot to leave a message.  I kept praying to God. Thankfully, she hadn’t forgotten. Richa came just before the show and made sure I got a seat in the front. After the play (which was fantastic), I waited to meet her. I touched her feet and she said ‘Jeete Raho’ and she introduced me as her ‘Twitter Friend’ to the people standing out there. She said I was an ‘Encyclopedia’ and whatever information she needs, I tweet about it immediately. I was literally shivering, when I took out the CD of her film Mandi (My favorite Shabana Azmi film) and asked for her autograph. I was a college student back then and with whatever pocket money I used to get, I managed to get a Photo-frame and few chocolates for her as a gift. Those 5 minutes were one of the most special moments and in all this I forgot to even take a photograph! Sigh!

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Autographed CD of Mandi

Dusri Mulaqat aur Photograph:

I had to wait for 4 years to get that photograph. In 2015, she came to Hyderabad where I was working now for an event organized by COVA. There was a discussion on ‘Role of Women in Films’ and I was seated in the front. After the session, when the Q&A session started, Shabana Ma’am announced that ‘Rahul Sharma will ask the first question’. Everyone in the auditorium turned to me and I quite felt like a celebrity.  After the session, I met her and gifted her two books (One was by Amartya Sen whom she greatly admires). I took a photograph and I was planning to leave but she said ‘Jao, plate le kar aao’ and have dinner with me. I was on cloud nine. I rushed and came back but I was little interested in the food. She introduced me to some of her family members also.  We discussed a lot of things from politics to society. She asked me my views on GST Bill, MNREGA etc. Once we were done, I realized that I don’t really look good in the picture I had taken. I requested Ma’am for another photograph and she happily obliged.

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The books I gifted

Tohfa Tohfa, Aaya Aaya

I have often tweeted about my love for Shah Rukh Khan and except the man, the whole world knows that I am his ‘Jabra’ fan. One fine day, I got a Direct Message from Shabana Ma’am asking me to share my address so that she can send a gift. It took me some time to believe and I read it twice but here it was – A five time National Award winner and a Padma Bhushan asking the address of a fan so that she can send across a gift. I shared the address and what I got touched me. I got a special edition of the book ‘Aditya Chopra relives DDLJ’ which was released when the film had completed 1000 weeks of running. The book was sent by Aditya Chopra to her and knowing that I am a fan of the actor and this film in particular, she sent me the book. The SMS (By now she had shared her number) which she sent made me feel on top of the world.

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Recently, Shabana Ma’am sent me another book on Veer Zaara with a hand written message. I need not mention that this makes me feel very special.

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Agree to Disagree

What’s interesting is that we both don’t really agree on politics and share the same ideology. She is an Amartya Sen fan, I am not. She is not really a Narendra Modi fan, I am. She believes in socialism, I don’t. I am a rightist while she leans towards the left. We often share articles/WhatsApp messages on these. But this has never affected our interactions and we agree to disagree on these.

I have often wondered why anyone of her stature would do all this for someone like me who is just a fan of hers? Why does she take so much efforts to send me gifts? Why did she invite me to have dinner with her when she could have just said a Good Bye post the event in Hyderabad? Why does she make it a point to write a Happy Birthday tweet to me which is just 4 days before hers (though I sometimes remind her a couple of days before)? Why did she share her personal mobile number with a stranger like me? And most importantly, why did she follow me on twitter? Guess, some of us are just born lucky!

And twitter, you beauty! If you were not there, all this wouldn’t have been possible!

1000 Weeks of DDLJ: Come Fall in Love!

I was in Standard Fourth when Aditya Chopra’s ‘Dilwale Dulhaniya Le Jaenge’ had released. Most of my cousins and friends in the school had seen it and they couldn’t stop raving about it. I remember coaxing and nagging my father (who isn’t a movie enthusiast) for the tickets and he obliged after a couple of weeks. Those days we didn’t have any vehicle, so mounting on a cycle-rickshaw with me sitting on my mother’s lap in the chilling winters of Jaipur we went to ‘Rajmandir’ for the night show. I saw the film again in Bombay with my cousins in the 1996 summer vacations. I saw it yet again in 2006 in Noida when the multiplexes re-released it for some reason. And I see it again every time it is aired on the television. Such was the euphoria of the film that more than our school lessons we grew up by hearting the famous dialogues from the film and even today we have this silly competition of ‘Who remembers the exact dialogues before the actors in the film speak’ every time it is played on the cable.

Most love stories made in those times often saw the hero & heroine defying their parents and running away, either to get married or to get killed by the parents. DDLJ came with a breath of fresh air where neither the lovers fought against the entire world nor did they succumb to the bullets in slow motion; here the lovers submitted to the older generations’ authority and made a strong moral case which they eventually won!  DDLJ was also the ‘coolest’ ever film to be made and that too at a time when India was at the cusp of globalization and liberalization. From Shah Rukh’s leather jackets to Kajol’s halter neck gowns; from Tang to Strauh’s beer; from Yamaha bike to bullet trains – everything about the film was trendy and cool.

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The brilliance of DDLJ lies in the fact that it blended tradition with modernity till one could hardly distinguish between the two. Here, we had a wife who fasts for her husband on Karwa Chauth (traditional) but she is also a mother who is strong (modern?) enough to go against her husband’s diktat and ask her daughter to elope. We had a Simran who is engaged but she dares and falls in love with someone on a trip (modern); however, the thought that she had sex with him freaks her out (traditional?). We also had the lover boy Raj who falls in love with Simran but is not game towards the idea of eloping without the blessings of his lover’s parents (traditional). The film depicts this battle between the past and the present, and between individual desire and societal customs. Hence, I respectfully disagree with folks who argue that the film was ‘regressive’.

One of the many reasons I love the film is because of the old world charm it has. Had it been made today, Raj & Simran would have had sex the moment Simran knocked off after sipping Cognac. But, here we had a couple who never even say the ‘3 magical words’ to each other but love each other unabashedly and passionately. In fact, Raj & Simran singing ‘Tujhe Dekha Toh’ in mustard field is greater than an bloody sex scene in movies. Aah! The magic of Shah Rukh and Kajol who became the eternally romantic onscreen couple after this and even today there is no one who can match their chemistry both on screen and off screen.

I wouldn’t be wrong if I say that it taught an entire generation to fall in love. Shah Rukh of course made it difficult for boys like us as every girl expected us to be ‘Raj’. However, it gave us hope.  If a girl in college made an eye-contact with us then we all would turn to God and say ‘Palat’ because if she did then it somewhere meant that she liked us. We all wanted to impress the mothers just like Raj helped Simran’s mother because it clearly meant that half your battle is won. “What if you have fallen in love, with someone like me?” The hypothetical situation was many times enacted whenever we wanted to test our chances with someone. Oh! And how can I forget keeping ‘Karwa Chauth’ fast just like Raj did for Simran?

DDLJ is a film which has heart at the right place. Even after watching the film umpteenth number of times, I still can’t hold my tears when Farida Jalal talks about the sacrifices of women with her daughter and I can’t stop smilling when Simran finally hold Raj’s hand and boards the train.

DDLJ is the bible of onscreen romance in films. It is like an old wine whose taste has only become better with each passing year. 1000 weeks? Give me 1000 more!

My favorite moments from the film: