Category Archives: Mumbai

Parental Guide To ‘Freedom’ And ‘Risk’

parental guidance

Post the gang-rape in Mumbai, a friend observed ‘thank God, I don’t have daughters’. But Jaideep Ghosh has, and he wouldn’t have it any way.

The plus of having a teenaged child is that you get tech savvy in double-quick time. But as a parent of a teenager, you also need to be able to gauge between what is too much interference, or not.

So when I got savvy to Whatsapp, I keep tabs on my daughter. But most of the time it’s to check when was the last time she was online. If the time span is anything more than two hours, I send her a message.

I am a father of daughter who commutes in to the North Campus of Delhi University from the NCR, alone. She travels the entire breadth of the city, through some of the not-so-great neighbourhoods, and beyond. I worry. But I will be damned if I tell her not to.

But while there is no question that people’s freedoms and rights are sacrosanct, some of the reactions to the Mumbai gang-rape, or any other offence, leave me a little frustrated and a little angry.

Our politicians have never been paragons of sensitivity, so their reactions are not to be jumped on with any great gusto.

At the same time, the reactions of the so-called ‘liberals’ scares me. You cannot condone, if not downright encourage, putting women in situations where they would be at risk.

I tell my daughter to be careful, not because I am trying to impinge on her liberties. I would equally tell a son to wear a helmet if he was on a bike. And I would tell them both to be back home by a reasonable time (though the interpretation of ‘reasonable’ has always been different for parents and children).

Irrespective of which country you are in, the initiative is always with the criminal. There is no system by which the police can pre-empt a crime, without prior knowledge. That is also what makes terrorist strikes so successful.

This distinction is pretty clear for me – I won’t let anyone compromise my child’s pursuit of success and happiness. At the same time, I would not accept any hysterical banshee proclamations that ‘freedom’ translates into taking unnecessary risks.

That applies particularly given the fact that we live in a society which largely, at best, just tolerates women. Men cannot handle being bettered by women, or even equalled. Take a look at how men drivers react to being passed by women. That is a classic example. So, given half a chance, they will try to force this ‘superiority’. Don’t give them that chance.

I worry. I am always keeping track of where my daughter is. She has been brought up in the rather unforgiving environs of Delhi, but that bravado and attitude can be a double-edged weapon.

But that doesn’t mean she will sit at home. She will do whatever she wants to do, but as a sensible 20-year-old, she knows where she has to draw a line. This ‘drawing a line’ seems to be an issue with many women. To them I say, get real.

That said, I wouldn’t trade having a daughter with anything else. I would wish her a happy life, as to all women. But be a little careful out there.

Once Upon a Time in Mumbai Dobara – Review

By Ankush Kumar

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One of the reasons why the sales of ‘Pass pass’ slumped at its launch was the movie Yaadein. Never in the history of entertainment a movie as lame as that was made, but the makers of painkillers had a smile everytime the movie was screened at any theatre in India. Once upon a time in Mumbai dobara is no different.

Premise: An extremely unique story of two friends falling for the same girl.

Plot: Well! They Lost it!

Acting: Over the top, caricaturish & Lousy.

Citizen Kane moment: A few scenes like Akshay Kumar’s bank sequence or the tayab Ali song and possibly the background music.

Kela moments: Sans the above three the entire movie.

Technical Aspect: As usual brilliant by bollywood standards, gaudy by our western counterparts.

Take home: Acting by Pitobash and Sonali Bendre.

Leave Behind: The dialogues, Rajat Arora tries too hard this time. The plot if there was any, acting a huge let down by the main cast and a disappointing result to a brilliant first part.

Rating: 1 out of 5.

Review Ramaiya Vastavaiya: The Story Brings Back A Real Rom-Com

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So I heard a dime and dozen critical reviews of Ramaiya Vastavaiya. The critics left no stone unturned to tell us that the film is crap. Unfortunately we all know the story behind these reviews. So as a fan of motion cinema I never take these seriously. They are flawed mostly and are myopic. The same critics went gaga over porn and poor taste comedies like Delhi Belly and Masti ( a super semi-porn sequel is about to come). Just goes to show the quality that we have in town.

I went and saw Ramaiya Vastavaiya for myself and though I must admit the film has bits and pieces picked up from Maine Pyaar Kiya and Pyaar Kiya To Darna Kiya, still it kicks of the humour inside you and gives you a great watch of 2 hours and some odd minutes. The performances, especially from Girish Kumar, the male lead was fabulous and Shruti Hassan was as usual refreshing. The other cast that completed the film was ensemble including the likes of Poonam Dhillon, Randhir Kapoor and Sonu Sood and we all know their capabilities as actors. Keeping all this in mind here are two reasons why such films need to be made.

1. We live in an era where comedy is restrained to either semi-porn or poor taste. I gave a couple of examples above and both were monstrous hits. In times like these, a film like Ramaiya Vastavaiya is fabulous to watch with your parents. I know I call upon the wrath of the modern folks here who would call me backward but so be it.

2. Who do we make films for and who do these reviewers talk to while reviewing a film? Big questions these. Frankly, even though a huge chunk of revenues have started to come from multiplexes audiences, we all know films last longer than a week still at single screen theaters in small and medium sized towns. The film completely grasped these audiences mind and hats off to Prabhu Deva for this. He has produced a classic and if you want to test just go and watch the applause in a theater in Tatanagar when Girish wins in the end against his brother-in-law Sonu Sood or when comic scenes happen. Not that these audiences don’t get titilated easily with Masti and Jism but the moment you produce vegetarian comedy like this, you strengthen the life of your film in a theater and increase audience base too.

The review would be incomplete unless we speak of Prabhu Deva. The man chose the script perfectly. Ramaiya Vastavaiya is a remake of his own 2005 Telugu film, Nuvvostanante Nenoddantana, which was a remake of the 1989 Salman Khan starrer, Maine Pyaar Kiya. Then he made sure we all loved the lead actor because if the battering and abuses that were hurled upon him. He completed the film with a lot of finesse and in a film with so much inspiration from everywhere else, a lesser mortal than Prabhu Deva would have surely failed. The way he makes sure everything in the film is made larger and than life is astounding. Colors used are awesome and the village landscape used is also brilliantly shot.

Overall a good watch with the family and I would go in with 3 out of 5 for this one. Frankly one more point for the director Prabhu Deva. 

Being SoBo! South Bombai’ite

south bombay

By Ankush Kumar

It was the monsoons of 2007 when two of my friends arrived in Mumbai for the first time. They checked into a hotel and took a taxi to come and meet me. The first question the driver asked them was ‘Sahab Bombay jaana hai’? It caught my friends a little off guard. Yes dear readers! If you do not live between Cuffe parade and Worli you ain’t a Soboiite. Someone who has lived in South Bombay takes immense pride in boasting its residential status.

If you are a SoBoiite you enjoy certain perks and benefits and are always considered a cut above the rest. Here are a few key ingredients that make you an original inhabitant of the island city.

1) If the citizen addresses the city as Bombay and not Mumbai, chances are you are talking to a SoBoiite. For them Mumbai starts at World Trade Center Cuffe Parade and ends at Worli Seaface. The rest for them is foreign invasion.

2) Majority of the shoppers in the city head to Phoenix arcade or their neighborhood malls for shopping, but unless you aint seen at the Taj or Trident shopping arcade or at the Colaba causeway (depending on budget) you aint a Soboiite.

3) You walk into a pub all decked up for the evening and are looked down upon in disdain for your over the top clothes and make up, lady you have just met the original SoBo gals. They believe more in minimalistic decking up and yet look very appealing.

4) You are discussing which Hindi movies is going to release the coming weekend and how hyped the Khan wars is right now, and someone slips in a comment that ‘the last movie he/she saw way Sholay and that also on Dvd’ understand he is true bloodied SoBoiite.

5) If you are ignored when told that you have studied in a CBSE school you know you have encountered a SoBoiite. For them Campion, Cathedral, JB Petit, St. Mary’s are acceptable schools rest are just big mistakes.

6) A suburban citizen is always excited to go to South Bombay, but tell a SoBoiite to go to the suburbs and they would need atleast a week’s notice and a promise not to get tagged in the Check-ins on Facebook.

7) Last but not the least a true South Bombai’ite will never call himself/herself a SoBoiite, the suburbs gave them this name. They don’t look down at people not from South Bombay, its just that they are not from South Bombay: -P

The Pen Is Mightier Than The Wrath! A Shagufta Rafique Meet-Up

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By Ankush Kumar

I had met her way back in 2008. I did not know much about her except that she was a writer. She had a film to her credit. She also penned lyrics for Vishesh films. On the outset she was very rude to me and she questioned the male society a lot during our entire conversation.

I couldn’t derive much from that meeting, but she did give me a few insights on the filmy career and the uneven path that I was going to encounter in the coming years. The only memory I still have is her face and those eyes that communicated a very different language. Today I read about her in the newspapers and the entire meeting flashed in front of my eyes.

Shagufta Rafique an established screenwriter with several hits like woh lamhe, Aashiqui-2 and murder-2 to her credit is a prolific individual. Someone who has seen so much in such little time, she had every right to question my motive behind meeting her. She was forced into flesh trade at the age of seventeen. She escaped the wrath of vultures and landed up working in dance bars of Mumbai.

On account of the fact that she had a face that even a blind man could not miss she graduated to dancing abroad in the gulf nations. Now I know that those eyes spoke an universal language of struggle and triumph, maybe hence she was harsh at me, she wanted me to fall and rise without any support.

I guess those eyes communicated just one message ‘ If I could do it, so can you. Don’t lose hope’. For every Jiah Khan’s who end their lives in tinsel town we have a Shagufta Rafique who has battled odds of humanity to make a living. She eventually met someone who got her out of the rut and helped her become a writer. And here she is one of the most sought after writers of mainstream Bollywood today. I salute you mam.

P S: This story needs to be told on the silver screen. It will be the best way to celebrate the courage of the lady.

Ghanchakkar Review: Meat Missing From Story

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By Ankush Kumar

The one thing that is common between the intelligent filmmakers of Bollywood, the dumb ones and the pseudos’ is their love for the disease called Amnesia. The pseudos’ mostly get this one right because their audiences are equally mushy and stupid.

The dumb ones have little options but it’s the intelligent ones that goes horribly wrong. When expectations from a cult filmmaker are massive and you are treated to an overdose of amnesia the end result is ‘Ghanchakkar’.

Loosely inspired by the Danny Boyle film trance where a man robs a painting and forgets this one has money as its subject. But as it has happened umpteen times an inspiration with dash of Bollywood clichés and the movie gives its audience a burst of amnesia at the end.

The movie starts perfectly well. Setu has shot the bank heist brilliantly. Quirky humor, stellar performances and bouncy music gives you a hope that delicious biryani is being cooked. But beyond the first hour the movie begins to fizzle out. Repeated gags and the film starts to choke. In the end you feel cheated when you realize that bharta has been served instead of biryani.

On the acting front Emraan Hashmi is honest to his role, Vidya Balan is brilliant playing a boisterous Punjabi housewife whose fashion sense will give complex to the behenjis from Delhi. But it’s the funny don who is a stand out in the entire movie.

Raj Kumar Gupta is better of picking up real life issues than making a mockery of short stories. In the end you can only hope that the intelligence will return in the future. For the moment though the meat is missing.

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The Only Problem With Gangs Of Wasseypur

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Joybrato Dutta writes why the problem with films like Gangs Of Wasseypur isn’t with the script or the language. It’s the same as ‘first impression’. It mostly stays to become the last impression.

Wasseypur, a place unheard of suddenly becomes the most talked about town in the country. A town filled with gangsters and corrupt politicians. Ask the fans and they will vouch for what I just said. But ask the residents and they will deny instantly. It’s the danger with a single story. We believe that’s the only story worth knowing.

American teens do drugs, Chinese teens know martial arts and kids of Uganda become vigilantes. Follow Hollywood movies blindly and you will start believing what I just said.

For a kid who was born and brought up in Bihar I really know what the scenario there is like. No, it’s not what they showed in the movie. I understand if you are disappointed. A few months back during an interview my interviewer was disappointed hearing that I hadn’t used a gun in school. It took me a lot of time to make him believe that every guy in Bihar, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh don’t carry guns. The only time I used a gun was when I had to burst balloons in a stall during the Durga Puja Mela.

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The problem is, India is a vast place and none of us have seen every corner. So we start assuming things. Assumptions that are fuelled by books, news channels and mostly movies. Kashmir is about shikara rides and bomb blasts, Delhi is about brats and rapists, Mumbai is about celebrities and mafia, Goa is about beaches and drugs and so on. That’s not the complete truth. There is more to every city than captured in a movie.

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I am a small town boy and I have seen the fear in my parents’ eyes the moment I told them I wanted to move to a bigger city. Bollywood had instilled fear in their hearts. They thought I would get robbed in Delhi and murdered in Mumbai. But once I moved to a bigger city I understood the dichotomy of the cities. There is no difference. Big town people aren’t richer than the small town people and small town people aren’t more rooted than their big town counterparts. They are all the same.

Filmmakers will create what they feel will entertain us. So you will never see 3 men going for a road trip in Somalia and you won’t find Faisal Khan and Ramadhir Singh fighting for their life in Manali. Good movies are meant to have a long lasting impression but it shouldn’t last long enough to inculcate assumptions.