Sunday, September 17, 2006


When you watch a movie that was made some 25 years back, you cannot possibly come out and talk about it, can you? I've been catching up on old Hindi movies over the last couple of weeks and somehow feel I should be writing about them now. It's all about falling in love with Sabana Azmi and Hema Malini and Mousumi Chatterjee all over again. How could I miss them when I was young? Was it because we Bengalis did not like anything from Bollywood? Like we liked everything French as opposed to anything from Hollywood. Hollywood, after the stiff guys like Anthony Quinn and Gregory Peck, was unacceptable to Bengalis. They looked for Eisenstein and Kurosawa and Ray. And in that process, the younger generation missed out on a wealth of beautiful Bollywood movies that dwelt on another unreal plane. A plane of black and white characters, of evil versus good, of unnatural strength, and love everlasting. And the towering Amitabh Bachhan. If he is on screen, you will willingly gloss over the technical flaws and bad scripting without blinking an eyelid. You will happily allow yourself to be transported to this world of the absurd, which you so wished were true.

And then came Naseeruddin Shah. Despite being kinda nondescript to look at, he equalled or perhaps surpassed Tom Hanks in diversity of roles. So real, you could almost feel him breathe in the theater. I watched Masoom yesterday. Yes, almost 25 years late, you can say, although I had heard the soulful songs.

And when I watched Being Cyrus last night, which too has a middle-aged Naseer and happens to be a very contemporary movie, I found a new hero: Saif Ali Khan.

I hope the Bengalis are watching Hindi movies too these days and are not as stuck up as I can remember them from the late eighties. I am watching and am enjoying every moment.

seeking adventure

when you are in formals on a Monday morning, the last thing you expect is some adventure to come hit you. i was feeling awkward in the ironed clothes and wanted to check myself out in the mirror. the elevator has a huge mirror, so i stepped into no. 4. everything was okay, except for my hair, but who cares any longer? i'm 35, married, down with a kid, and cannot expect to look 25 any more. was possible even a couple of years back, but my skin has aged almost suddenly. i checked out the crow's feet. hmmm...
the elevator wasn't moving. by now it should have reached the third floor. i checked and realized i was stuck. the door wouldn't open. the alarm wouldn't work, and i was filled with this sudden sense of adventure. wow, man, finally i got something to tell my friends about. the pleasure in my mind was almost thick, aah, now am gonna gloat around about the adventure i had. i imagined i was on the 89th floor of a building, stuck in an elevator and still didn't lose my cool. aah, the man...always in control. and then there were these beautiful ladies who absolutely lost theirs. and how i comforted them with my deep, baritone voice. Don't you worry, dears, everything's gonna be all right. I'm James Bond. Or Keanu Reaves, or whatever. And they clung on to me, as if the floor's gonna give away any moment.

i was almost enjoying it alone in the elevator, stuck on the ground floor, when some idiot came and "rescued" me. i could sense my face screwing itself up to form this look of utter disdain for that man as i walked out. what gall! rescuing me, of all people, the James Bond!

am wondering what story to tell the others now...can you think of something?

Sunday, September 03, 2006

It's Over


It's over between us. I do not need your unconditional love. Want some freedom of choice instead. I want to have the right to smoke some hash or go out with my friends. I don't want your love. It stifles me. I want to meet her too. Not because I love her any more than I love you. But because you forbade me to. We will just down a couple of drinks maybe. Or maybe walk up to her apartment. You hated her from college, didn't you?

And marriage? I am not marrying you. So what if you were by me when I had nothing to hold on to. I am not getting married at all.

Lemme keep it short and simple: don't try to get in touch with me.

I read the letter once again and tried to make out if it were too harsh. But when you sever ties, you have to use a knife. This was the only way I could say goodbye. And I wasn't even saying goodbye. After reading it a couple of times I decided to sit on it for a while and went out for a smoke.

I don't usually smoke, you see, it's only when I'm alone or don't have anything better to do. After smoking half of the Wills Flake cigarette (this is the cheapest and surprisingly the smoothest brand) I threw it into a bin. When I have a child, if I ever have one, I will teach her to be a responsible citizen, I thought. I was trying to push away questions posed at my own sense of responsibility. Did I do the right thing? Am I doing the right thing by calling it quits? But I want to. I don't want to be with a woman who'd forbid me to drink at a party, for god's sake.

I walked towards the lake. In Calcutta one would usually say, "I walked towards Lake." meaning the only lake in Ballygunge, with a capital L. I don't know, just assuming. At the corner of Menoka theater I looked up at Raja and Parna's apartment. Didn't they get married very young, I was thinking when I bumped into someone. The girl cursed and bent down to pick up her purse. It was Parna!

"Hey, I was just thinking about you guys! How strange!"

"Kunal!!" Parna shrieked, "what the fuck are you doing here? Come up, come up" she almost pulled me into the stairs leading to their apartment on the first floor. The stairs were dark but clean. "Edike ki? Haven't seen you in ages, man."

I was a little shy with Parna. When we all went to Digha in 2004, Parna walked into our bathroom with a camera and clicked Raja (her hubby now), Supriyo, and me in the nude. I was never comfortable being nude in front of girls, although that was perhaps the only time. Maybe we didn't make too much of it because she was more of a tomboy. Is that a non-pc term these days? What do they call tomboys now? Maybe she still has the picture!

Parna was her usual self like I knew her a couple of years back. How's Raja? He is settling down in his business. His parents have accepted their marriage. They are not planning to have a child in the near future...I was filled in with their details. And then it was her turn to ask.

"How's Ananya? Are you guys still together? I heard you got a job with The Telegraph? Congrats."


She didn't get an answer to her first question and guessed what might have happened. Although nothing had happened till then. Ananya probably didn't even know that I was gonna dump her any of these days. When I got up to leave, Parna gave me a long hug and asked me to take care.
For a change she didn't offer any advice. Maybe she has changed too, who knows.

I ran down the stairs and suddenly didn't remember where I was headed. Wanted to be with mom. Maybe I should speak to her tonight.


Dad and Mom were away that night. They went for Uncle Mukherjee's birthday party at the Taj. Have they ever thought of gifting a book instead of a bottle?

(may be continued, dunno really...this is a new attempt at ladlit at somebody's request)