India lives in many centuries at a time…

Many years ago, renowned film maker Mr. Shyam Benegal addressed aspiring rural managers in the auditorium of Institute of Rural Management Anand (IRMA) and famously mentioned that our country lives in many centuries at a time… Recently after visiting a tribal village named ‘Sarkui‘, around 70 kms from Surat city, I believe Mr. Benegal’s words stand taller than ever.

The experiences I had there made me realize the privileges I had always taken for granted in life. I am sharing a few below…

The face that says it all

Bhimjibhai, a marginal farmer living in a kuccha house with intermittent access to electricity and water, has a family of five to take care of. With no access to banking facilities, he takes loan from private money lenders and waits patiently for 14 months to get the money for his sugarcane production… When asked if he is facing any huge challenges, he smiles and says ‘Sab thik hi hai’… That’s the face of rural India.

A little kid peeps into the camera

Found him in one of the three Anganwadis in Sarkui. There the young kids are looked after. The kids of the scheduled tribes do not have access to a nutritive diets. They are often anemic and suffer from stunted growth. Their diet in the Anganwadi primarily consists of rice and milk.

The local P.A system of the village

Sarkui mainly consists of people from Scheduled tribes, the Chaudharis, the Vasavas and the Kotwaliyas. These communities have their traditions deeply rooted in their culture. One such tradition is of the Valvai. He is the person who makes announcement for public gatherings in the village. His forefathers have been doing the same since years and he has been continuing the tradition. Here he is informing people to gather in the jungle tomorrow morning for the celebration of Nandarva, the festival after the first monsoon rain in the village.

Pankajbhai, the Sarkui higher secondary school principal

An enthusiastic young man, Pankajbhai has recently been appointed the school principal and he wants to do real service to a village where the education literacy is just over 50%. His major concern is the lack of quality education in the primary school. Kids coming from the 8th grade don’t possess basic skills. He needs to start by teaching them counting and mathematics before going ahead. The challenges at his hand are immense but he is confident in bringing about a change in the village.

As our professors say that Poverty is multi-dimensional. I believe so is rural India as well. It cannot be defined, it can only be sensed and can only be sensitized about. The experience was eye-opening for me and I hope that one day I will be able to make a difference in their lives.


Big shout-out to Rajat and Praveen my Induction Field-work Segment (IFS) partners. The memories we made will always be remembered.


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Super 30 : Hrithik takes a decent movie and makes it special.

Plot : Anand Kumar, a mathematics enthusiast from a very humble background, goes all out of his way to provide free IIT-JEE coaching to 30 under-privileged kids.

I’ve always considered that the hero of a film shouldn’t be invincible. He needs to have his own set of flaws. In some sense, he also needs to be vulnerable. And as the film progresses the hero needs to have an introspection, he needs to know where he went wrong and how he can correct it. Hrithik’s character, Anand Kumar, is flawed and vulnerable which is what makes Super 30 and Anand Kumar’s journey of self-realization thoroughly enjoyable and at times quite touchy.

The beauty of the movie is in its screenplay which keeps you gripped to the drama in the first half and does satisfyingly well in the second half. While I had my apprehensions as to how Hrithik would pull of the bihari accent. But I would say that with the likes of Pankaj Tripathi and Aditya Srivastava alongside, Hrithik did a decent job.

What Hrithik lacked in his accent, he fills it up with the intensity on his face.

There is always that junoon visible on his face. He is determined, confident… and nothing, literally nothing, can stop him from achieving what he wants. He struggles, he loses people close to him, he fights back with expecting nothing in return except the success of the poor kids.

Special credit to Pankaj Tripathi, who is carrying his outstanding form from Mirzapur straight to Super 30. He is unexpectedly funny and wicked throughout the film. Also the 30 kids have actually played their parts very sensibly. Yes, towards the climax the movie becomes a bit too far-fetched but then sometimes they can afford a bit of creative liberty.

Though the film could have been about 20 minutes shorter and should have closed a few open ends, it comes over it with the strong emotional connect Hrithik is able to make.

Watch out for : Hrithik’s no make-up curly hair look, Pankaj Tripathi’s dry humour, the dialogues which seem pretty flat initially but are actually deep, the scene with Hrithik driving his father’s bicycle and his expressions when he wins the scholarship to Cambridge.


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The void when a book comes to an end…

I’ve always felt that reading a book is like having an intimate relationship. It’s concealed, private, honest and genuinely satisfying. It’s a two way exercise. I reward the book with my time and the book gifts me back with its set of words and sentences. It also gives me a chance to get into a new reality and observe it, but it depends on me how deeper can I get lost in it. It’s like stepping out of the train and taking in the breath of your native city after months of longing, it’s like an earthly feeling that gives me immense joy in being a human.

But nothing lasts forever…

One day the book comes to an end, and with it, it takes away my chance to again ever be part of that unreal reality. Oh it’s painful and leaves a void within, which is unknowingly special due to it’s emptiness. The fact that it was never there in the first place but someday it was created when I began reading and then it got filled with absolute happiness… It makes me feel contended that I once experienced something so amazing, even though today it is only emptiness.

I am thankful that there are so many books to read that one lifetime can never be enough.

Today one book ends, tomorrow I begin a new one. The smell of a new book fills me with an intense energy. It excites me about the journey I am going to embark upon. There will be days when initially it will be struggle, where I will keep comparing the new one with the old one, but eventually the new reality will engulf me so deeply that I will fail to remember the older one. The void will get filled with a different but equally satisfying happiness!

I feel this is all so similar to meeting new people and making new friends. Each book has its own personality, that evolves as I go through the pages. The entire journey of the book shapes as I go through. It’s like those multiple interactions I have with people when I come to actually know them and understand that the book is completely different from its cover… Every book, just like every person adds a certain layer to my life, it has a defined purpose in my life. Each one teaches me something I am completely unaware about and helps me understand my own self even more clearly. But then one day the book ends, I have to part ways. I get along just fine with a void within, on a search, for a new book in the journey of my life 🙂


Have you ever felt this way about a certain book you’ve recently read?

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Avengers Endgame is an emotional good-bye! (Spoilers Ahead)

In Infinity War, when Dr. Strange proclaims there was only one way out of fourteen million possibilities and gives away the time stone willingly, that is what sets the tone for that one possible way to defeat Thanos forever. But be like Strange, he didn’t spoil it for anyone.

**Spoilers ahead**

Endgame is a tribute to all the past 21 Marvel movies, it is a culmination of the amount of effort and thinking that has gone behind creating the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Every frame is larger than life, every emotion is deep, every character is real. Not even for a moment does the three hour long movie feels a drag. It just floats through, showing us what choice each Avenger made after Thanos’ snap. Some chose to settle, some felt unsettled, some chose to avenge!!

The real hero of the film was the time-travel part!!

When the Avengers go back to New York, in 2014, Hulk get embarrassed by seeing a wild-version of himself, Captain America fights against his own self, then dupes himself while Iron Man gives himself a cardiac arrest and then calls for help. Also when they go to year 1970, we see Stanley,making his last ever screen presence and the crowd erupts with joy; when Tony meets his father and talks about himself, the crowd understands the gravity of the moment. Scenes like these make Avengers: Endgame more than a film, it becomes a feeling.

Marvel movies have still not lost their dry, tongue in cheek humour. This time it is at another level. Never knew Thor could ever grow a beer belly and still wield his hammer or Banner could transform into a calmer Hulk clicking selfies with fans…

There are so many re-unions. Rocket meeting Groot, Iron Man uniting with Spiderman, Natasha meeting Clint… But then, Captain America steals the show!!


Captain America up against Thanos!

There is one amazing moment, probably my favourite 2 mins of the movie, when Captain America suddenly picks up Thor’s Mjölnir and single-handedly takes on Thanos. For me it will be the most iconic scene in the MCU, yet. No words can describe the feeling when we see each and every Avenger, the ones that were lost and the ones alive, coming out to fight Thanos‘ army and as Cap then exclaims loudly ‘Avengers Assemble!‘. He is the character which has shaped perfectly throughout the movies and now has even aged admirably… I have no regrets anymore of the fact that Chris Evans had such a small role in Infinity War. He makes up big time in Endgame.

But the best is for the last. ‘I am Iron Man’…

It was in Infinity War that Tony Stark says out to ThanosMy only curse is you‘. Thanos was the one who gave him sleepless nights, who left him stranded on Titan, who took away Peter Parker and all the other Avengers. Indeed in Endgame, the mighty Thanos, who couldn’t be controlled by Captain Marvel, loses to Earth’s very own hotshot, the Iron Man but at a very heavy cost. We get to see Tony die on-screen. I was shocked, surprised but also felt proud. It all started in 2008 with Nick Fury telling him about the Avengers initiate, little had we expected that this would be how if would end.

A special mention to the fight between Clint Barton and Natasha about who is to die for the soul stone. I don’t know if I will ever get to see what happened at Budapest, the place both of them keep mentioning whenever they meet…

And at the end, thank you Russo brothers for giving us a once in a lifetime opportunity to witness the end of an epic saga!!

Have you had the Avengers Endgame experience? Do let me know your thoughts 🙂

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Goa was serene (A pint-sized parable)

There was a moment when I stood at a certain beach and could see nothing ahead of me, nothing besides my own self. Only the sparkling water coming and greeting my feet, only the scorching summer sun and raging wind embracing me. A greater sense of calm prevailed, it made me relieve of all my tensions, all my pains, all my sorrows. I felt empty of sadness, yet full with peace.

The place was Arambol, a beach which rewarded me with the solitude that I had seldom found. In moments like these I drifted within myself, contemplating about all that had happened in the recent past, introspecting about what I want to have in the years to follow. It was like an experience rewarded nowhere, only beaches offer me the comfort of looking within myself.

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Arambol beach

As I was visiting a beach after over 2 years (yes, you can feel surprised!), I made sure that I did one really important thing. I decided to take in the essence of where I was, not just the vast expense of water in front, but the rumbling of the waves, the sensation of cool water greeting my feet and warm sunshine everywhere around. I decided to preserve it in my memory so that I can recall it whenever I feel low, so that it becomes the place to look forward to when I would not enjoy being where I would be.

Certainly I never wanted to come back from there.

I wanted to settle near the beach, spend my evenings watching the sunset and at night hear the rumbling until I go to sleep. Life would be so simple, devoid of any hardships. The waves would keep on coming and going back, just like my breath completely involuntary.

But as it turns out I stood there and wondered how do waves get created and why they are unending…

So I researched and found that there are multiple factors causing the ceaseless waves. From the gravitation pull of the sun and the moon, to the winds blowing on the surface of the oceans, all play their part in creating the waves. To know more check it out here.

As much peace I experienced, I felt vulnerable as well. I knew that there can come a moment when a giant wave arises and sweeps me with her unknowingly, making me absolutely unknown and unheard of in the vast blue ocean… But then until that time comes I wanted to stand there, close my eyes and… just breathe…


 

Have you had an introspection of yourself while standing at a beach?

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Mard ko dard nahi hota is a tribute to being cliché and yet unexpectedly amusing!!

There’s a childlike innocence in Surya played by Abhimanyu Dassani. When he says ‘Paap ko jala kar rakh kar dunga’, it certain is gibberish but you will believe that he can. The man who feels no pain indeed had a very tragic past. Having lost his mother to a chain-snatcher and suffering from an incurable syndrome called Congenital Insensitivity to Pain, Surya wants to become a karate master and kill every mugger he finds.

Surya’s monologue to himself throught the movie sets the tone of the film.

It is his story mixed with his filmy fantasies which are very amusing at times. The pace is very quick in the first half but slightly slows down in the second.

Vasan Bala (the director) creates a world filled with innumerable movie references right from the action sequence set on ‘Nakhrewali‘ song to the 90s style flashbacks which Surya often drifts into. It goes from one action set-piece to another, inspired by kung-fu style fights. There’s a cliche drunk karate master and a cliche bollywood psychotic villian who are unbelievably played by the same person, Gulshan Devaiya.

Jimmy the villian and Mani the karate man perfectly contrast each other and Gulshan Devaiya gives a stellar performance as both!

Jimmy’s accent is typical Mumbaikar and some of his cheezy one-liners are absolutely hilarious. When his goons start to scream as he orders them to go ahead and kill Surya, he half-heartedly says ‘Aae itna shor maat karo, residential area hai yeh’. He is staunchly poised in his tight blazer and breathes an uncanny arrogance.

While Mani the fighter who once defeated over 100 fighters simultaneously, inspires Surya to take up martial arts. He’s filled with guilt and perhaps always gives up to Jimmy’s needs and demands. It is Surya who makes him realize that it’s enough and he needs to fight back.

Radhika Madan as Supri is refreshing and is equally flawed just like everyone else.

She is Surya’s partner in crime, ready to fight for the world but gives up when asked to fight for herself… That’s the beauty of the movie, Vasan Bala’s characters wear their flaws on their sleeves. Their mishaps will make you laugh and their wrong decisions will make the adventure more fun.

Special mention to Mahesh Manjrekar as Surya’s grandfather. He has the best dialogues in the movie. He stands at every step with Surya and gives him every life lesson in the form of a story. There’s humour hidden in small details and the movie never tries to explain the gags. Watch Mard ko dard nai hota hai for a different story-telling experience, quirky one-liners, amazing roundhouse kicks by Surya and that well-thought of Enter the dragon type finale tournament!


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Ripples – a poem :)

We all carry burdens, of love, hatred, sadness. It makes us feel heavy… Its time to drop it down and see the ripples it creates 🙂
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Gully Boy : It’s so close to being a masterpiece!

There is a certain charm about Ranveer Singh, the way he absorbs a character, blends in the surrounding, gets the accent right and just never lets his rhythm go… Watching him as Murad aka Gully Boy makes us forget he is Ranveer Singh. Trust me, these days whatever he is touching is indeed turning to gold.

But Gully Boy is more than Murad’s rise from the slums to the big stage. It has many more layers in it.

To begin with, the movie has the perfect backdrop, the slums of Dharavi, the youth over there and their problems which are so varied. Zoya Akhtar has made sure the differences between the rich and the poor is shown not just by the appearance but also by their ideologies which are so deeply rooted in every action they take.

Some moments are absolute gem. One of the scenes where Murad is not allowed to enter a pub just based on the driver’s clothes he’s wearing and then he vents out his anger through his rap in the car; it conveys all the fire that is burning within him, about to be unleashed. Another one when he’s driving one of his clients but just cannot ask her why she is crying, what is that she is upset about. The ‘Doorie‘ poem sits so perfectly in that moment. The movie is filled with so many magical moments that it leaves you with goosebumps…

A musical movie needs some soulful tracks and Gully Boy will probably be grabbing all the music awards this year!!

Azaadi’, ‘Apna Time Aayega’, ‘Doorie’, ‘Train Song’ are so meaningful and touch so deeply. The rap battles are a bit weird but very entertaining. Seeing Murad’s initial struggle in such battles is so natural that you want him to do better and he indeed does!

MC Sher played by Siddhant Chaturvedi is a very refreshing character. His confidence is infectious but we can see the overall focus of the movie never slips from Murad’s story. The story does try to raise a lot of questions and also tries to find answers to it. The situations which affects Murad, how it changes him, his relationships and the people around him, is a treat to watch and is in fact the USP of the film.

Alia Bhatt is on 🔥

She’s the surprise package, a fire ready to spread. Watch out for the amazing chemistry between Ranveer and Alia. Though the love triangle and the ending is quite predictable, the movie still holds strong till the end.

Gully Boy is what happens when a good screenplay matches an equally powerful set of characters!!

A special mention to Vijay Verma, who plays the role of ‘Moeen‘, one of Murad’s sidekick. Every scene he is in, the focus completely shifts onto him, that’s the screen-presence he has. He’s funny and he is serious in the correct proportions. Watch out for one scene towards the end between Moeen and Murad, it will certainly leave you teary eyed.

To end it leaving below an amazing poem which comes towards the second half of the movie signifying that only a few choose to travel the road less taken, the rest only regret…

The ‘Doorie’ poem

This is a movie you shouldn’t miss! And if you’ve seen it already, do let me know in the comment section your opinions!

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When you are cruising at 31000 Feet in the air (A pint-sized parable)

I generally fly at night. Unknown, unaware about what comes in the way. Everything appears dark, pitch black and before the black could bore me, I reach my home, given that Pune to Ahmedabad is just 1 and a half hours of journey. But recently I traveled in the afternoon through the city of clouds at an altitude of 31000 feet…

Through the city of clouds

I could imagine the silence and the absolute nothingness present outside. It seemed like colonies of clouds living, occupied in themselves, stretching as far as my eyes could go. The horizon seemed like a distant amalgamation of blue and white. And only an aircraft cruising through the space, through the plenary silence.

There I could sense an absolute peace, the peace that we all run after but can never outrun…

But then my mind asked me:

Are you really sure why the clouds float so freely in the air?

I found a very surprising answer to it, here. Clouds are actually made up of really tiny droplets of water, they are so tiny that there’s no effect of gravity on it… Strange yet surprising. There’s an amazing element of randomness in each one, they are never of the same shape. They grow obtusely and appear as lost and free in space as are the thoughts in our mind.

One of the clouds bursting like a bubble

Life, even in its most meaningful sense can never feel as calm and as peaceful as this city of clouds felt. But everything comes to an end, so did my journey… Speckles of land began showing as the realms of the fictional city merged into the real city when the plane dropped down and finally landed…


Have you ever felt this way or will you be seeing it this way when you next board a flight?? 🙂

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