Thursday, March 29, 2007

Lemon and Chillies: Bollywood's Obsession with Superstition

By and large, Karan Johar has been forced to bear the cross of having introduced the K-Name syndrome in Hindi cinema though it is only because his films are better publicized than most.

It was actually Rakesh Roshan who developed this fixation because before Kaamchor, each one of his films flopped regally at the box-office. Actually, he still did not learn his lesson and made Bhagwan Dada (Hrithik’s original debut film) - which promptly sank. Post this, he remade Kane & Abel into Khudgarz and never looked back! Of course, when he made bad films (like Koyla), horrendous films (like King Uncle) and too intelligent films (like Khel), no K managed to save him. But he still continues undaunted – and even cracks jokes about it. When asked what he will be working on after Krrish, he answered “Kyun Bataoon?”, which incidentally is a title registered with him!

The guy with the bigger K fixation is a guy called Arjun Hingorani – who made films with three words each starting with K! Because of this, he was known as K3-ji in the industry. Just kidding… but he really made films like Kab? Kyon? Kahaan?, Kaatilon Ka Kaatil, Karishma Kudrat Ka, Khel Khilari Ka, Kahani Kismat Ka and King Kong Ka Karnama. Well, actually – I made up the last one. But he could have made that one also had there not been four words in the title!

One fetish associated with Subhash Ghai is that he insists on his heroines’ names starting with M. Except for Madhuri Dixit, Manish Koirala, Meenakshi Sheshadri and Mahima Chaudhary, there does not seem to be too many heroines in his films with names starting with M. Maybe, he just imposes this rule on heroines he has launched.
But then, Meenakshi’s real name is Shashikala or Madhubala or some such disaster. Considering that such a name could not have clicked anyway and she acted in at least one film before Ghai’s, she couldn’t have been named by him.
Madhuri and Manisha are their real names, so no twists in those tales either.
That leaves only Mahima Chaudhary, whose name was changed from Ritu when she was launched in Pardes.
The poor man got only one actress’ name changed in his entire life and because of that, he has been labeled as a superstitious wimp!

A botanical quirk is Indra Kumar’s fixation with a tree in Ooty. Ever since Aamir Khan and Madhuri Dixit ran around it in Dil and the film became a massive hit, he went back again and again to shoot around the same tree. Beta, Raja and Ishq had the tree in its full leafy glory and they were huge box-office successes, despite their dubious cinematic quality.
However, when he landed up to shoot Mann around the same tree, Indra Kumar found out that some chappie had cut the tree down and only the stump was left. Heartbroken, he shot the stump and came back. Mann was his first flop! But he found his touch of loud humour and louder audio design with his later films (Masti, for example) and he has managed without the famous tree ever since!

Gul Anand (no relation with Vishwanathan or Dev) takes this fixation to a human – and that too the biggest star of the country! Each one of his films has an appearance by the Big B. In Hero Hiralal, Big B plays himself who copies the asli hero Hiralal’s style of tying a red scarf around his neck. In Chashme Buddoor, he appears with Rekha in a lesson on how to patao a girl with the help of a hanky. And in Khatta Meetha, he appears as Preeti Ganguli’s dream lover!

Sanjay Dutt wearing the same blue denim shirt for each one of his TADA hearings. Aishwarya Rai never cutting her nails on the night before she is to start shooting for a new film. Anupam Kher visiting his first ever set every time he is near Mehboob Studios. Half the film industry changing the spelling of their names. The other half changing the name itself!
These are more like mascots than anything else and not too religious in themselves. Of the religious variety, the Big B takes the cake, bakery and everything else when he goes all around the country with his maanglik daughter-in-law and performs pujas with the same dedication he brings to his roles!

Jai Shri Krishna! Or as the Balaji clan would say – Kjay Kshri Kkrishna!!

Sunday, March 25, 2007

Apu and Gogol



I think the biggest compliment I can pay Jhumpa Lahiri and Mira Nair - after seeing The Namesake - is that it reminded me of Aparajito and Apur Sansar. There are similarities that were not very apparent after reading the book but came to me on watching the film. Which is a triumph for the film adaptation that you take on a subtle, intricately woven tapestry of a novel and extract material for a two-hour film that addresses themes of alienation, association and acceptance pretty successfully.

It is quite interesting that books written 75 years apart and films made 50 years apart have such similar central themes and they remain as relevant as ever. Banaras becomes Boston (New York in the film). Graduation in Science from Calcutta University becomes a degree in Architecture from Yale. Ancient Hindu scriptures become Nikolai Gogol's Collected Works. And they reflect the present day reality vividly.

The settling of a family in alien land for the search of livelihood. Their gradual acceptance of the new land. A bemused incomprehension of their extended family to appreciate their better (different?) way of life. Clinging on to certain customs while leaving others. The alienation of the second generation from the first. The second generation's assimilation into a more modern way of life. Halted communication of the first generation to the second. A death bringing on the realisation of love.
And (as the blurb of the film says), a great journey that brings you home.

Thanks to the wonders of modern film marketing, I don't think too many people will miss The Namesake (and it deserves to be seen, too). I think its time for people to go back and revisit the Apu Trilogy as well.

Saturday, March 24, 2007

Guys, we still love you...

Dear Men in Blue -
We have rubbed out the sleep and blinked back the tears from last night. Also, the terrible vodka hangover is now gone. So, we can sit at our computers and type out a coherent mail to you guys.

First things first, we still love you.
Sachin, you are the greatest batsman in the world. Rahul, you are the second best batsman in Tests. Sourav, you are the second best batsman in ODIs. The rest of you are terrific too!
Even you Irfan... before they screwed up your career by trying to make you bat, you could have been our answer to Mcgrath. And may still be.

All the newspapers and TV channels are right now trying to think of different synonyms of the word 'shameful'. Quite disgusting because a couple of days back, they were doing Shift F7 for 'mammoth'. Bloody idiots.
Check out the covers of the same magazine exactly two weeks apart…


Look guys, beyond the media roller-coaster of champagne and chappals, please remember that each one of you is a genius. If there is any one team in the world, where every single player can be a match-winner, its us! Every one in the line-up (Uthappa included) has had a match in which they single-handedly decimated the opponent.
In the sub-continent, we have never really been too much of laptop cricketers and that shows. You guys revel in letting the adrenaline take control of the grey cells. When it comes good, it’s a sight for the Gods. When it doesn’t, well…

Sachin – you have borne the cross of not being a big-match player for the longest. Unfortumately for you, you are God. So when you perform a miracle, we take it as normal. When you come unstuck, we start comparing you (unfavourably) with Gavaskar and Richards. Your back-to-back centuries against Australia in Sharjah to win the Coca Cola Cup in 1998 were something Gavaskar couldn’t even have dreamt of. Your sixer off Shoaib Akhtar in the 2003 World Cup is not something even Sir Vivian has not done in the first over of the day. And there are so many more…

For each one of you guys, there is a match we want to tell our grandchildren about.
Yuvi and Kaif’s chase in the Natwest Final. Rahul and Sourav’s never-ending saga against Sri Lanka (Yeah, them! And guess how much Murali went for in his 10 overs? 60/0!). Kumble’s 6.1-2-12-6 in the Hero Cup at the Edens. All epics with solo heroes. Multi-starrers are just not our scene!
There have also been disasters in which they have wrestled victory to pull out the defeat between his jaws. But then, bad memories are best forgotten.

For such geniuses to get a Board like the one we have is a bit of a tragedy. And a coach like the one we have is a monstrosity of such magnitude that it is unfathomable.
After two years of Vision 2007 and Commitment to Excellence, all we get is our best fielder messing up chances in a crunch match. Our all-rounder of the future is neither the batsman he was supposed to become nor is he the bowler he was. The most impartial captain in our history stands accused of creating divisiveness in the team. Our best Test-batsman is bludgeoned into becoming a puppet-captain.
Pity your geniuses got smothered by the half-baked theories of a despot. But then the next one is just four years away.

It will remain a bit of a tragedy that the some of the greatest ODI players of all time will not have a World Cup victory to their name. But then, these things happen. Imagine, the greatest film of all time – Citizen Kane – did not win even a single Oscar. Back home, Sholay won a single insignificant Filmfare award.
Sachin, please don’t hang around for the 2011 World Cup. Just move on. You might be the coach who will get us the World Cup.

Guys – come back. Take rest. Kill your personal demons. And be the only team in the world even Australia is scared of. We have forgotten the Bangladesh match.

Just one request, don’t bring Mr Chappell back. Buy him a ticket to Australia directly from there. We will mail his cheque to him.

Love -
The Blue Billion

PS: Mahi, sorry about the house. Ask Kaif for his home insurance guy's number. We chadhoed on his house last time :-p

Thursday, March 22, 2007

Music & Lyrics: PJ goes to Bollywood

How many song jokes can you think of? In between a mail used to do the rounds, which had an absolute gem…
Tum aa gaye ho, Noor aa gaya hain
Chalo teeno milkar picture chale!
Gave a complete new dimension to the wonderful words of Gulzar!

Then that graduated to riddles on song lyrics. Simple enough, if you remember lyrics of some of the hit songs or at least, if you can associate the tangential questions to the correct songs? Don’t understand? Okay, example…
- Who is Joe? Don’t know?
- Okay, sing with me… Kambakht ishqqqq hainnnnn Joe…
Simple, no? Okay, so now you should be able to answer the next question.
- What is Woe?
- Yes, right! Saara jahaannnnnn hainnnnn Woe!
Next line of the same song, got it? Okay, enough enough – no more applause!

Fine, we will start the game now – with a simple one. But the fun lies in managing to sing out the answers!
Luv and Kush are walking around in their village and Luv falls into a ditch. Why?
Of course, everybody knows Luv is blind!
But remember, here comes the clincher… Kush jumped right in after him! Why did he do that? He was not blind, was he?
No, he wasn’t. But remember, Luv ke liye saala Kush bhi karega!

So, we will move on the next level – yes?
- There were two boys – Pyaar and Dil. What lovely names, I say! They had a father called Ho.
- Why Ho?
- Abbe, haven’t you heard every third guy in the world is a Chinese? Now listen… Ho, Pyar and Dil stayed near two beautiful places called Kia and Dia. Pyar and Dil wanted to go to these places and asked Dad for permission. But instead of giving permission to them, Ho went there himself. Why?
- Because he was mean?
- Apart from that, you must remember… Pyar Kia nahin jaata, Ho jaata hain / Dil Dia nahin jaata, Ho jaata hain…

The next one has a bit of a personal history associated with it. It was told to me by a batchmate of mine in b-school. He must have made it up because he had a flair for these things from a very early age. But it seems he started blogging even before that so now he is called India’s first business blogger and companies consult him on how to start blogs. Stand up comedy’s loss is corporate India’s gain…
Anyway, he asked me this at the breakfast table.
He got a plateful of toasts and asked if I knew what they were called in Hindi. Of course, I knew – they were called pao.
Right, he said and asked me if the plate (on which the toasts were kept) was called Jannat, then what would be the name of our professor?
Huh? My first reaction.
He said, the professor’s name should be “Ishq ki chhaon”.
Huh huh? My second reaction.
But when you sing Gulzar’s lines from Chhaiyya Chhaiyya, then you realize the elegance of the question.
Jinke ‘sir’ ho ‘ishq ki chhaon’ / ‘Pao’ ke neeche ‘Jannat’ hogi…
Pity he never reveals his true talents on his blog and prefers to dwell on deadly boring stuff like employee retention and HR best practices!

The last one now…
There were twin sisters called June and Julie. (Good pun, no?) They had to go for a picnic so they hired two buses since their families were quite large. On reaching the picnic spot, they got off from the buses and generally walked around a bit. When they came back, they realized that everything in the buses – all their belongings, food, picnic games, even the seats of the buses – had got stolen. The thieves left behind nothing at all. Not a single frigging thing. Imagine!
Can you know imagine what June said to Julie after this tragedy?
Na kuch tere bus mein Julie / Na kuch mere bus mein…
As Gulshan Grover says, “Maaiiind-Blowwwiiinggg”!

Okay, on popular request – the last one. The very last because Mad Momma is already a little more than angry now!
Have you guys seen Guide? Yes?
Have you seen the song from the film – Gaata rahe mere dil? Yes? Very good!
Do you remember what Waheeda Rehman was wearing during the song? No? Well, she was wearing this really beautiful light pink (peach?) saree.
Now, the question – in most movies of the 60’s, the heroines used to change their costumes several times during a song. But in this song, Waheeda carries on wearing the same saree for the entire duration. Why?
Don’t know? No idea?
Well, if you pay attention to the lyrics of the song, then you will hear Dev Anand actually requesting Waheeda not to do so…
O mere humraahi, mere baahein thame chalna / Badle duniya ‘saree’, tum na badalna…

* Takes a deep bow * Swish of cloak * Exit to thunderous applause *

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Big Brother: The Doyens of Bengali Fiction

I have always believed that children's fiction in Bengali is one of the best in the world - English included. However, since I have no knowledge of any other language, this pronouncement seems to be inspired more by parochialism than by any deep understanding of comparative literature. However, if we take the English translations of Indian languages available currently, then we have some basis in saying that at least among the Indian languages, Bengali has the richest selection of children's literature. (It is also the richest literature in general, but I will prove that later.)
Professor Shonku, Feluda and now Ghana-da have found nation-wide readership, thanks to Penguin/Puffin's efforts. Unfortunately a huge majority of the literature - like any other language - get lost in translation and these are no exceptions, despite best efforts from the translators.

I reminisced about my favourites from childhood and like most of my generation, the three most memorable characters - despite being disparate in time, age and occupation - had a lot in common. They were all 'Dadas' - as in elder brother, not the lumpen elements of Mumbai!

Ghana-da a.k.a Ghanashyam Das stayed in a mess, occupying the top floor of a building made familiar through fragmented descriptions in his 100-odd stories. He was a tall, thin gentleman with a thin moustache. He smoked heavily (but only by borrowing) and was a connoisseur of good food. Usually dressed in a vest and lungi, he had no occupation and his hours were whiled away in recounting stories from his earlier days to his 'fans' in the mess.
The stories are great examples of science fiction – though they were set in the present day. However, what was quite amazing was the amount of research that went into them. The basic premise of all the stories was grounded in accurate scientific or historic fact. The solutions or the escapes that the protagonist orchestrated were improbable but technically feasible.
Like most enduring fictional characters, each of Ghana-da’s stories were introduced with an elaborate construction of atmosphere. It is similar to how Arthur Conan Doyle started most of his Holmes tales with an interesting episode of detection, which completely stupefied Watson and there was always a simple enough explanation.
Most of Ghana-da’s stories started with a charade to get Ghana-da to recount one of his ‘experience’ or an attempt to puncture the illusion of reality around the obviously false stories. Ghana-da’s audience consisted of four main characters – Gour, Shishir, Shibu and the narrator (who remains nameless) – and each of them organized grand feasts, wrote letters from imaginary people and even hired actors to serve either of these goals.
The only anachronistic element I find in these stories is the amazing amount of pains they undertook to get Ghana-da to tell a tall tale. From the milieu of the stories, it can probably be deduced that Ghana-da was a retired (early) man of erudition who probably relieved his frustration by making himself the heroes of these stories. His cronies humour him – at considerable loss of time, money and effort – knowing and ignoring this. Probably, this is reminiscent of a time when a grand storyteller was the best source of entertainment on a Sunday afternoon. And as a raconteur, Ghana-da has no parallel.
Incidentally, all these stories had single-word titles! Phuto (Hole), Machh (Fish), Tupi (Cap), Shuto (Thread) etc.

Teni-da a.k.a Bhajahari Mukherjee stayed in Potoldanga (a North Calcutta locality) and is said to be modeled after his creator’s landlord. He eventually became a college student – but not before flunking innumerable attempts to pass the Class XII exams. He has been described to be a strapping fellow with a prominent nose and a thunderous voice (though the film version cast a lanky comedian in his role).
His stories are recounted to a group of youngsters who are his classmates, having caught up with Teni-da after his failing spree. They are Kyabla (a brilliant student, who is also the problem solver), Habul (hailing from East Bengal, his was the voice of sarcasm) and Pyalaram (the narrator, a sickly fellow who was almost as bad as Tenida in academics). All of them were forced to treat Teni-da to the famous Calcutta delicacies like aloo-kabli, roshogollas and fish chops! Teni-da is a bit of a big-hearted bully, who thought nothing of ragging his group but was always there to help them out in times of crises.
Teni-da’s adventures were mostly in the realm of fantasy but were laced with terrific humour and ended with pretty cool twists. They were peppered with the group’s suspicions about the veracity of the stories and but the end usually left them speechless.
Teni-da and his friends went on several adventures in and around Calcutta, where they solved mysteries in a lighter vein.

Felu-da a.k.a Prodosh C. Mitter is the most famous of the trio – and also the most successful professionally. Thanks to the brand name of his creator, Felu-da has reached out to the largest non-Bengali audience and has rightly become the iconic Bengali intellectual to many.
Felu-da differs from other fictional detectives in having plotlines absolutely safe for young audiences, use of word games and general knowledge in solving crimes and a very cinematic approach to the extent of the novels resembling screenplays in their description of characters and locations. There is not too much of a point in describing any other traits since most of his books are already available in English.

With these three iconic characters of Bengali fiction, we see a pattern of the Bengali ethos emerging – some of them positive, some not so.

The love for the underdog is one such enduring trait. Ghana-da and Teni-da are typical of the high potential Bengali intellectuals who wasted their potential and then either justified it through long ethical discourses or glorified it through interesting stories of what-could-have-been. Felu-da – on the other hand – is a bit of a ‘doer’, similar to his creator who was constantly compared with the underdog of Bengali cinema, the hyper-talented but temperamental Ritwik Ghatak.

For their entire list of stories, Ghana-da and Teni-da have never shown to hold any paid job. Whether it was a commentary on the employment scenario of the state or whether it was a romanticized notion of the hero not needing to answer to anybody is not very clear. Felu-da, however, was employed for a brief period of time before moving full-time into private investigation.

One common feature of the trio is the propensity to act the ‘good Samaritan’. Ghana-da’s stories are generally laced with accounts of how he helped good people and though least articulated, Ghana-da looks like the person in real life who would try to help his friends as much as possible. Teni-da is a certified do-gooder in his ‘para’ and stories of his daredevilry and compassion are well documented. Felu-da went one step further as he was known to happily forsake his fees for not-so-affluent clients.

Sarcastic humour has been the trio’s weapon – though less so for Teni-da, whose cronies seem to use it more. Ghana-da in a cynical sort of way and Felu-da in a cryptic sort have both used to poke serious fun at their friends. Lalmohan Ganguly (no relation with Sourav) a.k.a Jatayu’s malapropisms are a recurring cause and fans quote some famous lines even now.

All three of them had a very distinct atmosphere – rooted in their time. Their characters, their traits, their family & friends, their food, their location (down to their addresses), their geography and history have all been documented in such intricate and consistent detail that it is very difficult to believe that they do not actually inhabit the addresses we lovingly remember. Harry Potter – with its masterful creation of a parallel universe of magic – is the only other children’s character I can think of, whose stories are so completely etched.

Probably, the most endearing feature of these three characters has been their ability to preach without being preachy. Good always won over evil. Good food was supplemented by exercise. Sportsmanship was a regular feature. The technicalities were always well researched and correct. In the later days, even smoking was reduced on grounds of health.
All this, in the course of such interesting stories that you never felt any of it. And of course, the parents loved it as well. Not because the stories had the right messages. But they were as much hooked on to the stories as we were!

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Seven Deadly Sins

On the express request of Orange Jammies, here are some more 55-ers. Aarrgghh! Nooo! Nahin! Took some time because I tried to make stories around a favourite theme of mine... the Seven Deadly Sins!
Sixers will take some more time to come. There is only a certain level of brevity a Bong can stoop to!

* * * LUST * * *
He switched off the ignition and stared at her. She turned in her seat and her cleavage stared back. He gazed at her midriff. She pictured his abs in her mind. He thought of reaching out and grabbing her.
The light turned green.
His Merc turned left. She sighed as her husband’s scooter went straight.

* * * GLUTTONY * * *
“Your order – one pepperoni pizza, extra cheese. Large fries. Address please?”
“There’s no address. Your boy has to come to the crossing.”
“But we can deliver it home.”
“I am not at home. A ward boy will wait with the money.”
“Ward boy? You won’t come?”
“Can’t. Just had a bypass. Still in the ICU.”

* * * WRATH * * *
“Can’t save both”, the doctor said. “You have to decide between your wife and baby.”
The woman who changed his life and a lump of flesh he had not even seen? Why was the choice difficult?
Was it because he knew he was not the father?
The doctor asked again. He made up his mind.

* * * SLOTH * * *
Rafique entered Filmistan grimacing. After shooting till four AM, he had no intention of coming back today. But stuntmen could not afford these bouts of laziness. As Amrit Khanna’s duplicate, work was guaranteed whenever the star was shooting.
Rafique reached Mangat-bhai’s room with 45 others.
Shooting cancelled. Amrit Khanna was too tired after last night.

* * * PRIDE * * *
The speedometer touched 200.
He zipped past a gaggle of ordinary bikes which wobbled in his wake. He passed a BMW. The girl in the passenger seat seemed mermerised. He accelerated, approaching the bend.
At 260, he did not even notice the truck. Indians on Hayabusas forget that trucks mostly come from the wrong side.

* * * ENVY * * *
Mummy was always with Chhotu. Daddy played only with Chhotu. Nobody played with me anymore. They are not like this. They love me. Because Chhotu cries, they have to go after him.
Now, Chhotu is gone.
I cut my hand when I threw him out. But I didn’t cry. I must not be like Chhotu.

* * * GREED * * *
He had photocopied the report – like always. But this time, he understood it. Shakti Petrochemicals had struck oil and he needed to put everything on Shakti’s shares.
Since his everything would yield nothing, he had removed 4.5 lakhs from the safe. He felt rich already.
Far away, a worker on the rig lit a match…

Saturday, March 17, 2007

An Attempt at Fiction

A couple of months back, a media group organised a short story contest in which the first paragraph was given and 600 more words had to be written to complete the story.
Though the word limit was 545 more than my current hobby, I sent in an entry - which failed to win any prizes. Sigh!
On hindsight, the story was a bit cynical for their optimistic theme.
So, here is my entry. The paragraph which was provided is in italics.


The alarm crowed. A lusty king of the farmyard cock-a-doodle-do. He shut the mobile up. One hour and five minutes was all he had before his day began. He would steal five minutes from that. Look the other way, he told that frowning creature in his soul. I do it all the time. A little corruption. A little bribery. I negotiate with the world 24/7. So why not an extra 5 minutes of sleep? he told himself and buried his head under the pillow. And so began another day in the life of an Indian cricketer.
He turned to stare at the tanned, smooth body sprawled across the bed and smiled at last night’s exertions. The calendar launch promised to be exciting but he hadn’t bargained for September landing up in his room afterwards! Beats Fletcher’s warm-up routine, he thought.
His first appointment of the day was not before noon. As always, the tequila was taking its revenge now. He needed some sleep to get into shape.

He walked into the State Association’s office. He smiled at the groundsman. Last year, when they were facing relegation in the Ranji, this man had shaved off all the grass overnight. The Karnataka captain screamed blue murder as he pummeled their pace battery for a century and a relegation-avoiding victory.
The President and the Zonal Selector disconnected calls as he walked in. Oily smiles happened. How much time you spend with people you hate, he thought as he smiled back. The meeting went as expected, only faster. The selector had to catch the flight to Calcutta for the West Indies selection meeting. He dispelled their doubts. Every great player has lean patches. The first ever double-centurion of ODIs cannot be dropped just because one team was smart enough to keep a deep third man in the opening overs. He was working on his technique. He will get the ball-bearing contract for the President’s son-in-law. Of course, he could do it. He was employed by the same PSU.

3 unread messages. The physio – “How’s the reflex training going?” Bastard. Delete.
His manager – “Will you do the Eastend Mall inauguration tonight?” Doesn’t the bugger understand that he can’t appear in front of the press? He was supposed to be training 24/7. Delete.
His manager, again – “Dubbing for Coke ad at 6:00 pm.” Egads, that was today... completely forgotten! Damn, he badly needed a free evening. He wanted to work the phone a bit before the selection meeting.
This nautanki happened with every selection committee. Each new lot was hell-bent on proving their manhood by threatening to drop the big guns. This time, the Australia disaster meant he was on the chopping block. Bloody hell. The bike contract could expire if he was dropped. They put really dicey stuff in contracts nowadays. And at time of signing, they only discuss the incentive clauses. Of course, 14 months back, the penalty clause “in the event of missing an overseas tour” looked as unreal as it could get.

The dubbing went fine. Once you got into the habit, these things got real easy. They offered a guest appearance in the next Rahul Desai film. That would impress even Pammi Aunty, he thought!
In the car, he checked the messages. The selector had messaged before the meeting. Is it confirmed? YES, he replied. He could hardly write on SMS about his convincing Reebok to sponsor the jerk’s coaching centre.
As he passed the Kalka mandir, he touched his forehead involuntarily but this time, he added a prayer. Mummy was always keeping mannats. This probably needed one, more than anything. He promised the goddess he would not touch alcohol for a year if he got selected. And added, he would workout regularly. Fletcher needs to be told that.

He snatched at the mobile as the alarm sounded. The first message was from the HT sport correspondent. “The Chief Selector has commented that your inclusion in the team was most debated. Reactions?” He rubbed his eyes to read the “inclusion” word again. He flopped back on to the pillow.
Need to work hard, he thought. Firstly, have to postpone joining the conditioning camp by a few days…

* * *
The story continues to be topical. India has collapsed for 191 against Bangladesh and the Bongs are 38/1 in reply.
Moral of the story: Never mess with Bengalis. What say, Greg?

Friday, March 16, 2007

100*

This is my 100th post.
Don't clap yet. Mad Momma did 100 posts in the first 56 days of 2007! It took me more than 2 years of official and 10 months of active ( by my standards!) blogging.

So, I thought I should give a Hundred theme to this post. And came up with all the Hindi movies with 100 / Sau in their names that I could think of!

100 Days
This was a scientific exploration of extra sensory perception (ESP) and its impact on human behaviour. Madhuri Dixit has ESP as special power, Jackie Shroff as husband and Moonmoon Sen as sister. In fact, the movie opens with Ms Sen drying her hair after a bath in a frilly blue negligee.
Okay, let me carry on for the benefit of the ladies since all the men have left to get the VCD...
Well, the ESP is not enough to stop her sis from getting murdered and entombed in a wall. She was too busy singing nursery songs with Javed Jaffrey to make use of her powers. Imagine, the world is getting destroyed by Lex Luthor and SuperWoman is singing with George Clooney - "Gabbar Singh yeh kehkar gaya, jo dar gaya woh mar gaya..."
But she redeems herself completely in the extended climax by escaping the clutches of a bald-headed villain called Jagmohan, who chewed up lit cigarettes when angry! Jackie Shroff has a suitably non-entity role as Madhuri dances, prances, shrieks, shrills and hogs the limelight.
The film was directed by Partho Ghosh - whose other credits include Agnisakshi (Manisha Koirala and Nana Patekar in a remake of Sleeping with the Enemy), Dalaal (Mithun's stellar role as a pimp singing the lyrical gem "Gutur Gutur"), Teesra Kaun (a murder mystery with Rituparna Sengupta as the victim) and Ghulam-e-Mustafa (in which Nana Patekar - a hitman - falls in love with Raveena Tandon in his usual deadpan ways).
Oh - by the way, the movie gets its title from the fact that the climax happens on the 100th day of Jackie and Madhuri's marriage.

Sau Din Saas Ke
The mother of all monster-in-laws - Lalita Pawar - plays one of her most ball-breaking roles where she is used to riding roughshod over her elder daughter-in-law (a docile Asha Parekh). Then her younger son (Raj Babbar in yet another wimpish role) marries and gets Reena Roy into the household. This babe is not used to one-eyed harridans messing with her life, so she delivers the ultimatum of the title - 100 days to reform or go bust! After that, it is an orgy (not in that sense!) of lashing hunters, clanging utensils, poisoning conspiracies and burgeoning domestic politics.
In their first round of 'It's Different' commercials, Javed Jaffrey and Pankaj Kapoor mention a spoof of the name - Sau Din Sauce Ke! Different? You bet!
While on the theme of MIL-DIL clashes, another film heartily recommended is Salman's first film - Biwi Ho To Aisi - in which Rekha tames her mother-in-law (Bindu) with an entertaining mixture of English, drunken acting and an obedient devar (the aforementioned Salman). Bindu's signature line - "Secretary, follow me!" - remains one of the favourite Hindi movie dialogues in our family!

Sau-ten
Mickey Mouse is to Walt Disney what Sauten (a.k.a. Souten) is to Saawan Kumar Tak.
He started way back in the early 1980's with an ageing Rajesh Khanna (in a bob cut!) romancing Tina Munim. Tina invites him to tea presumably because her mom is thinking of her marriage.
(Hit song: Shaayad meri shaadi ka khayaal dil mein aaya hain / Isi liye mummy ne meri tujhe chai pe bulaya hain...).
Anyway, the film was a hit and Mr Tak became ballistic as he made (or threatened to make) a full Souten series - Souten ki Beti, Souten ki Souten, Souten Comfort and Souten Meets Monty Python. Okay, I made up the last one. And the one before that as well!
Midway through the making of Souten ki Souten is the protagonist herself which was a bit of reductio ad absurdum so he abandoned it then and there.
Souten ki Beti had Rekha and Jeetendra in a bathtub in one scene and serious commentators have speculated that Jeetendra was wearing his trademark white shoes in that scene as well. Less serious viewers just escaped from the ordeal!

Sau Crore
This is one of the long list of films Dev Anand acted/directed/produced/wrote/designed. It was reported that for the first day first show of his latest film - Mr Prime Minister - there was a solitary viewer. Just one. So, maybe Dev Anand is the only who watches his own films as well.
Sau Crore is an allusion to the population of this country, which I remember from an interview of his. The film was meant to awaken the youth of the country to understand the true potential of the country and harness it for growth and prosperity.
The youth, obviously, took his advice for as Dev-saab's audience reduced to one, the growth rate grew to 9%! We have finally moved to productive pursuits.

Sau-dagar
Probably, the last of Subhash Ghai's high-voltage, high-octane, high-glycerine potboilers. He produced bigger hits than this one but this was the last time he just let himself loose for the benefit of the Delhi / UP / Punjab crowds. After this, he paid too much attention to the overseas audience and churned out crap like Kisna and Yaadein.
A sweeping saga of friends turned foes - Dilip Kumar and Raaj Kumar - the film had rocking music, lavish photography, packed star cast and whistling-in-the-seat-dancing-in-the-aisles dialogue! Kamlesh Pandey, an ex-copywriter, came up with lines that rivalled the best of Hindi cinema. For example, when given a gun to kill Dilip Kumar, Raaj Kumar says, "Hum tumhe maarenge. Aur zaroor maarengey. [Pause]. Lekin. [Pause]. Woh bandook hamaari hogi, goli bhi hamaari hogi aur. [Pause]. Waqt bhi hamaara hoga." *Rest of the lines lost in wild whoops*
(Trivia: Kamlesh Pandey's other credits include Tezaab, Aks and Rang De Basanti - no flash in the pan, samjhe?)
Anyways, to get back to Saudagar, it is only fair that such an epic should have an apocryphal story of its making...
Well, there came a rumour during the making of the film that Raaj Kumar has been diagnosed with cancer (which was false, like most Bollywood rumours). But Ghai broke into a cold sweat. Imagine your lead player dying after 75% of the film is shot! So, he mustered enough courage to go and ask the man himself. Knowing Raaj Kumar's fabled temper, this was not an easy task. After a whole of chit-chat, drinking Raaj Kumar's Scotch and squirming, Ghai managed to blurt out, "Sir, sunne mein aaya aapko cancer hain..."
Raaj Kumar fixed him with a glare, took a sip of whiskey and said, "Subhash, Raaj Kumar ko jab hoga, cancer hi hoga. Zukaam thode hi hoga?"
Awesome. And to think, Kamlesh Pandey did not write these lines!

And finally, the last of the Sau-s whose Bollywood connection needs to be explained a bit...

Sau-rav
India's World Cup campaign starts tomorrow.
If I asked you 6 months back, who is the one Indian sure NOT to go to West Indies, his would have been the name. Today, he is tipped to be India's surest match-winner ahead of even Sachin Tendulkar.
If that's not straight out of a Bollywood film, you tell me what is?

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Thinking Blogger - Who, Me?

So, I am a Thinking Blogger, thus spake Orange Jammies. Obviously, this is meant to be a compliment though I am really amazed that people think about my posts after reading them.
But I am a little confused on what people think about. Nilendu obviously thinks I have lost it because of the Kunal Kapoor goof-up! But what about the others?
Do they think which are the best sizzler places in Bombay? Or the best kabab joints in Delhi?
Do they wonder if Tiger (in Calcutta) is a cinema with an attached bar or is it a bar with an attached cinema?
Do they try to remember if there are films that have more than 4 songs that have been seen for movie titles?
What do they think after reading my posts?

Now, I have installed a map on the bottom of the page – and I am quite amazed at the locations of the readers.
There is somebody in South Africa (or maybe Lesotho) who comes (or came once) to this blog.
Three dots on Australia mean that somebody hopped across from Melbourne, Sydney and Perth. And wonder of wonders – somebody in Buenos Aires as well! He must be getting bloody irritated about the Brazil posts! There are three dots in mainland China (the country, not the restaurant) of which I can only guess one to be Beijing! Apart from that, there are a whole lot of dots spread across Europe, one of which looks to be on Greenland! Brrr!
What are they thinking?

The people (bloggers) who make me think are usually the ones who have me cracking up completely as well. Most of them are already on my blogroll so I think I will dispense with the small matter of tagging others. In any case, Udayan will kill me if I tag him one more time!
But I will live up to the reputation of the coveted award and give food for thought to all.

A couple of years back, Go 92.5 FM (the only FM channel worth listening to in Bombay) organized a quiz called Bollywood Ka Badshah. It was supposed to be the ultimate in Bollywood trivia – and it lived up to its name. Their on-air promos quizzed kings like Mozambique Ka Maharaja, Brunei Ka Sultan and when they failed to answer the questions, the punchline came – “Aap Mozambique Ka Maharaja ho sakte hain, lekin Bollywood Ka Badshah nahin…
The questions they used were intriguing enough for me to have written them down in a diary for research and development. So, as a Thinking Blogger, I have decided to put them on and make everyone think about it.

Here they are. Think. Scratch your head (or any other body part of convenience and comfort). You can even put your answers in the comments. Prizes? What do you think this is - KBC?

1. What is the designation on Amitabh Bachchan’s visiting card?
2. In the 1979 film Qurbani, Zeenat Aman had coloured her hair. Name the shade.
3. Who is the father of Anupam Kher in the film Saat Ghulam?
4. Actor Sanjeev Kumar had two cars. One was an Impala and the other Fiat. What was the number of the Impala?
5. In the film Kaho Na Pyaar Hain, how many times does Amisha Patel say “I Love You” to Hrithik Roshan?
6. Which was the first film to show the slow motion of an actress running in snow?
7. In the film Mastana Mausam, who says the dialogue “Boss Boss, police aa gayi”?
8. In the film Kasme Vaade, what was the power of Amitabh Bachchan’s glasses?
9. In which year was the movie Zaleel Rajkumar released?

Friday, March 09, 2007

55-Word Heroines

I read two blogs yesterday.
One was a collection of 55-word stories. For a verbose me, telling a story that short seemed impossible.
The second, an attempt to find heroes. Or heroines? I am slightly confused about the politically correct gender titles.
Anyway, I decided to combine the two and write about three 55-word heroines.

***

He waved the knife.
“Straight to the registrar. Ten minutes there. Then Hotel Dimple.” He sniggered, “The suhaag raat. If you refuse…”
She seemed to adjust her dupatta. Some glass flashed. The liquid hit his left eye. The flesh curdled immediately.
“Women can also carry acid”, she said. “And stop screaming. Nobody can hear you.”

***

“…You have 30 seconds to answer and your time starts now!”
“Poonam? Tandon Uncle here. Who signed the Simla Accord with…”
“I know the answer.”
“You do? Tell me!”
“I won’t.”
“Why?”
“Because you raped me when I was twelve. It took me fifteen years to speak up. Unfortunately for you, on national television.”
Click.

***

“It’s a girl”, the doctor said.
“The ultrasound showed a boy!”, the matriarch spluttered.
“I bribed them to lie”, the mother said.
“We will kick you out, bitch.”
“You can. They are publishing a book I wrote. I can bring up my daughters on that.”
“You wrote a book?”
“On how you treated me, Maaji.”

***

So, those were my first feeble attempts at 55-word fiction.
It was easier than I thought. I think I will do more of this.
And, a 55-word story should always end with a tag. So, I tag the following, to write on the given themes.
Mad Momma – Bollywood.
Dilnavaz – World Cup Cricket.
Udayan – 33rd Birthdays.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Theory of Relativity: Star Children who Flopped

The Kapoors. The Deols. The Bachchans. The Roshans. The Khans. The Bollywood firmament is crowded with stars with the same surname. Apart from perpetuating fan following across generations, they make wonderfully symmetrical photo ops at the Filmfare awards. When Jaya gets a prize, Amitabh gives it – and Rekha looks on. When Ash gets a prize, Abhishek gives it – and Karisma looks on. Complete Kodak moment!
But there have been so many who didn’t make it. So many whose debuts were bankrolled by their fathers and they collapsed. What happens to them?
Remember, if Mani Ratnam had not remade Azuthu Ezuthu in Hindi, today's hottest star son could have joined the tried-and-failed list.

Kumar Gaurav (son of Rajendra Kumar a.k.a Jubilee Hero) tops the list. A decent actor with complete chocolate boy looks, he was the one who was supposed to make a challenge for Bachchan’s throne. Sadly (and inexplicably), Love Story remained his only hit, actually a superhit. He did several very promising movies, all of which flopped. When he did act in (and produce) a hit – Naam – his brother-in-law garnered all the praise. Probably more than a decade after his debut, Rajendra Kumar made a last ditch attempt with a film called Phool with Madhuri Dixit opposite him but that sank as well. Later on, he has acted in Kaante – a pretty decent performance – but that was not enough to resurrect his career either. When last heard, he acted in an English film about Guyana and gathered some praise for it. But he seems to be too old to be the hero’s friend and too young to be the hero’s father.

How many of you think Meenakshi Sheshadri’s first film is Hero? (And truthfully, how many of you care?)
But Minx (who was also nicknamed Panavti in Bollywood, because of her apparent ability to bring bad luck to even top-of-the-line projects) acted in a film called Painter Babu before she got paired opposite the unkempt, unwashed Jackie-dada in Hero.
Her hero in the film was Rajeev Goswami – who was the son of Manoj Kumar (real name: Harekrishna Goswami). The film – needless to say – was produced and directed by his dad. A very convoluted plot about a painter who could not marry his ladylove because he got framed in a murder case. He came out of jail to find that his girlfriend had got married to someone else. So, he commits suicide.
Before you guys shout “Spoiler Alert”, let me hasten to add that the only thing more tragic than the plot was the direction. While not in the league of the Worst Films of All-Time (which Manoj Kumar achieved in his subsequent film – Clerk), his dad’s direction is probably why poor Rajeev sank without a trace. Had it been somebody else, he would have still sunk. But there may have been some traces!
Rajeev had a younger (?) brother called Kunal – who was the hero of Kalakaar (the only claim to fame of which being its ‘Neele neele ambar par’ song). Considering that the film never came close to matching the success of its music, Kunal did not create too many queues outside the box office.

Probably the earliest example of numerology dictating the spelling of a name is Suneil Anand. If his ‘success’ was anything to go by, nobody would have dared to come anywhere close to the Jumaani Brothers today.
Suneil acted in a film, directed by his father Dev. It was called Anand Hi Anand. Going by the climax, it should have been called Anand Hi Hi Anand Ho Ho Ha Ha. It is one of the best examples of unintended hilarity in Hindi cinema – as Suneil is chased by drunken elephants in the climax. I simply do not recall how he escaped the pachyderms. Maybe the film should have been called Sharaabi Meets Haathi Mere Saathi!
Suneil also wrote, directed, produced and acted in a film called Master. I vaguely recall a martial arts theme to the story. But since I am not among the 43 people in the world to have watched this movie, I am unable to enlighten the reader on whether the movie had the hallmark dialogues of martial arts films – “Kiyaah Choo Mash-tah Sinchuang Kung Pao Mash-tah Honourable Mash-tah”!

It has been said about Shashi Kapoor that he ought to carry a license for going out looking that sexy. His progeny – Kunal, Karan and Sanjana – inherited his sharp features and the blond-ness of Jennifer Kendal, providing them with great looks for their film careers. Only catch being that they looked foreign!
Sanjana Kapoor tried her hand out in Hero Hiralal, where she played a film star falling in love with a Hyderabadi auto-driver. But an extremely crappy climax and Sanjana’s obvious inability to look like a plump, made-up matinee idol spelled the doom for this movie. Naseeruddin Shah – as the eponymous cabbie – could not salvage this Gul Anand flick. (Trivia: Amitabh Bachchan does guest appearances in all films produced by Gul Anand.)
Karan Kapoor found stardom as the male face of Bombay Dyeing. As a blonde hunk, he graced the advertisements of hundreds of apparel companies before he was persuaded to make his Bollywood debut in Sultanat. He played Dharmendra’s son in a supporting role (opposite Juhi Chawla, if I remember correctly) and got completely overshadowed in the fisticuffs of Dharam and Sunny (Dharmendra’s son in real life as well as the film!) in the middle of a desert sultanate. He also played a part in a very entertaining film called Loha – which starred Dharmendra again! Karan’s foreign accented Hindi and very furniture-like acting did nothing to earn him other films.
Kunal is married to Sheena Sippy, who is Ramesh Sippy’s daughter. He did not try his hand at films. (Trivia: Ramesh directed his samndhibeyai in Bengali, dunno in English – Shashi in the films Shaan and Akayla, before and after they got related.)

Aamir Khan debuted (as an adult) in a family production. So did his brother Faisal Khan. Except that Aamir was the QS Cutie and Faisal was a sidekick of the villain (played by Makrand Deshpandey) who tries to molest Juhi Chawla.
However, Faisal got a proper debut in Madhosh (produced by dad) – opposite one Ms Anjali Jathar (who went on to act opposite Sunil Shetty in an amazing number of films). Despite heavy promotion by his brother and pretty good music, the film tanked.
His perfectionist brother tried again – this time, getting him a second lead in Mela and a very meaty role for someone with one disastrous flop. Even Aishwarya Rai appeared (in a guest appearance) as his love interest in the last scene. Despite very good action and competent acting, Mela did nothing for Faisal. (Come to think of it, neither did it do anything for Aamir). He may or may not have acted in films after that.

Raaj Kumar (as opposed to Dr Rajukmar) had two children – Vastavikata and Pururaj. The former is been working in her debut film for several years now. Presumably, the shoots are all over and they are trying to find a simple screen name for her.
The latter made his debut in a film called Baal Brahmachari opposite the super-successful Karisma Kapoor, directed by Prakash Mehra and with no apparent help from his dad. Which means, Raaj Kumar cannot be blamed for the devastation of several distributors brought about by the film.
He followed it up with a villainous act in the film called Hamara Dil Aapke Paas Hain, where he raped Aishwarya Rai only to be beaten to a pulp by Anil Kapoor – not for the rape, but for offering to marry Ash to atone for the rape! (Yes, that’s the plot. And Happy Women’s Day.)
This film was a moderate hit and Puru celebrated the success by parking his car on top of three pavement dwellers after getting thoroughly drunk.
He also acted in Umrao Jaan – but seeing the kind of celebrations Puru does after a hit, the public decided to stay away from this film to ensure the safety of the pavement dwellers of Bandra.

Rajkumar Kohli is one of the moderately successful producer-directors of Hindi cinema – with several B-grade successes to his credit, though he does not hold any world records to his credit. His son – Armaan Kohli – though holds the world record for the maximum number of launches (relaunches?) of an actor by a relative.
He debuted in a film called Vidrohi way back in the 1990s and has been seen in his dad’s production almost every year since then. I think this trend ended with a film called Jaani Dushman – Ek Anokhi Kahaani, where he played a snake (ichchhadhari naag) and proceeded to kill the entire star cast, which includes but is not restricted to Sunny Deol, Sonu Nigam, Aditya Panscholi, Sunil Shetty and Aftab Shivdasani.
(Trivia: Rajkumar Kohli directed another film called Jaani Dushman in mid-80s – again a multi-starrer – which was about a psychotic King Kong kind of monster, which went about killing brides to avenge his wife’s infidelity. Rockin’!!).

The actor whom Armaan narrowly beats for his world record is one Mr Sanjay Kapoor.
He is the youngest brother of Boney and Anil – and debuted in the film in production for the longest time, called Prem. He starred opposite Tabu (also in her debut) and lip-synced to what went on to become the National Anthem of Constipation – Aati Nahin, Aati Nahin! (There is another school of thought which feels that Dum Maro Dum is the Constipation Anthem, and Aati Nahin is merely the National Song.)
Anyway, his brother bankrolled Sanjay’s forays in several big-budget movies opposite really big-ticket heroines – including Madhuri Dixit in Raja. (Both the Kapoor brothers have the dubious distinction of acting in films named after them but being more famous for Madhuri. Anil’s effort is Beta.)
His brother’s financial compulsions and enduring clout ensured that Sanjay acted in several films outside the Kapoor banner – Chhupa Rustam (opposite Manisha Koirala and Mamta Kulkarni), Qayamat (as a villain in a copy of The Rock), Sirf Tum (opposite Sushmita Sen) and his crowning glory – Kal Ho Na Ho (as the guy whom Sonali Bendre ditched SRK for)! He threatens to (and does) surface once in a while in reasonably visible movies so it is sometime before we can give him a Lifetime Achievement Award!

Actually, the flop star son with the maximum number of launches is Uday Chopra. He has completely failed to get any film outside the Yashraj banner. But people have suffered him enough already and I do not want to aggravate the pain.
Remember, the only cast & crew member firmed up for Dhoom III is him!

Friday, March 02, 2007

Thrilled? Excited? - Mad Momma's Tag

Oh-kay, so I am nominated for the Mad Momma Award for the Best Blogger Dads in the World. And I am expected to give an acceptance speech for that!
First things first, I am not more articulate than her OA. I am just ruder – so I manage to get in sound bytes while he is saying his “excuse me”-s!
I have – at different points of time – described my adventures during “our” pregnancy but MM obviously has not read this, this, this, this, this and this.
But nevertheless, I will try to construct a sequence of the emotions that I felt during and after the pregnancy.

When my wife told me for the first time that she is pregnant, my first reaction was doubt. It is a very natural reaction of any Sales Manager when he sees a jump or drop in sales. I wanted to ask, “Data correct hain?” I mean, was she sure that the second pink line on the home pregnancy tester was not a misprint or something?
It wasn’t. The good doctor confirmed it. The immediate reaction was one of mild regret – oh damn, that means we can’t go to the Bollywood Night at Zero G this Wednesday!
And a bit of uncertainty… can I handle this? I was reasonably sure that I was okay with the whole idea of having a tadpole in the house. But would I be able to make it into a frog with the same ease as my parents? I was not sure. Actually, I was quite sure that I was not ready for it.
Unfortunately, we had a miscarriage the first time. And it was only then I realized how much I wanted the baby. The overwhelming sense of loss was when I became certain that I wanted a baby. Ready or not, here I come!

Frankly, if it is the first child, then you do not know what to expect and you are too busy hoping all will turn out to be fine – so there is no time to be too ecstatic. And never believe the other cliché of expecting parents – “I don’t care about the gender of the baby as long as it is healthy”. Every body wants a specific gender and since there is no honourable way of finding that out in India, a large amount of gender-specific rejoicing gets curtailed.

I am reasonably methodical and completely tension-free about most things in life. (But that doesn’t mean I will look the other way and whistle if you mess with my Calvin & Hobbes albums. Grrr!)
So, emotions are not part of my life for most of the times and the pregnancy was no different. The same people who tout Valentine’s Day as a Great Festival of Love also propagate questionable theories about parent-child bonding. The missionaries of this gospel include people like Hugh Grant, Ross Geller and other such edible men – who insist that peering into your wife’s private parts when the doctor is trying to conduct a medical examination is conducive to parent-child bonding.
This led to a whole lot of exasperation – as I was required to attend classes on pregnancy and childbirth. I solved this in the same way I did it in engineering college. I bunked the classes and photocopied the notes from someone who didn’t! (I even used the notes to direct my wife’s breathing during the actual labour – but she abused me in vile language at that time! I did attend some classes – of which a description is available here.)

The emotion felt during the medical aspects of the pregnancy was one of relief – as our doctor turned out to be more authoritative than my wife and she overruled all her arbitrary notions with an air of finality (which I can only aspire for)! She did ask me whether I would recommend use of medication during labour to which I asked her back, “What would you do if you were in my place?”
She suppressed a smile and said, “I would recommend an epidural.”
“I will do the same”, I said gleefully!
I think relief and trust go hand-in-hand when you find an expert!

The so-called sense of wonder during the pregnancy is more similar to the reaction somebody has to a snazzy car or a cool gadget. When I first saw the perfectly formed heart about the size of a coffee bean beating in perfect rhythm or the ten glowing dots of the bunched-up fingers, it was less of a sense of achievement that I had something to do with it. It was more of a feeling of amazement that all this was happening automatically without anybody having to control the whole process.

There is also a pretty deep sense of fear – whether I will be able to afford the baby. When the fees of a normal engineering college or business school (or for that matter, bail amounts!) are compounded at the standard rate of inflation, then the realization dawns that my saving will finance roughly 17 minutes of college. So, we tried to act disciplined and did not binge on eating out for one weekend. The Hilsa Festival at Oh Calcutta brought this to a hasty end!
So, if you call taking out an insurance policy and buying diapers preparation, then we were prepared for the baby!

What I was completely unprepared for is the actual process of labour & childbirth – you have your wife screaming at the top of her voice, the gynae trying to out-shout her and assorted people in masks hanging around the room!
Then as suddenly as it begun, a lump of flesh was pulled out and plonked into my arms. A cursory job of cleaning had been attempted so the piece was rather slippery and at 3 minutes of age, it was rather frail. I was completely unsure whether I will grip too strongly and squash the baby or will I be too flimsy and drop it? I guess these first moments of dilemma are an apt representation of the greater drama of parenting that unfolds in the future!
Scared, yes! Tired, very! Thrilled? Excited? Not quite… those are clichés reserved for heroes of Rajshree movies, where the entire family goes around the mulberry bush singing songs to welcome the male progeny.

When I get home from work nowadays, my son turns around and looks at me. He takes a few seconds for the recognition to happen. And then, he gives such a bright, ear-to-ear, toothless grin that it lights up the room.
Excited? Nope, but I do look forward to this every day.