Saturday, 13 May 2017

Film Discussion : Meri Pyaari Bindu

There is a song that plays in the backdrop when Abhimanyu (Ayushman Khurana) and Bindu (Parineeti Chopra) first get together. It’s called Afeemi hai yeh pyar, which is a little how I feel at the moment – slightly high on this beautiful little gem I caught today, when I should have been shopping for groceries and other household items (you shall judge me if I tell you when my house was last mopped).

When I say little, I only mean that if I had any semblance of a social life, I would probably have not watched this. Some of it has to do with my general disdain for Hindi romantic comedies, some to do with my suspicion of anything Yashraj. And when the film started, I almost felt that suspicion vindicated when Abhimanyu (henceforth Bubla, his daak naam) first finds a video of Bindu and him. Parineeti looks great in those first visuals, exactly like how Aditya Chopra visualises all women – thin, bronzed make-up, and messy-bed-head-but-carefully-styled hair. In sum, nothing like a young woman in 90s Kolkata. Bubla’s description of her also seemed right out of the Chetan Bhagat  Manual of How to Reduce a Woman to a Few Pithy Stereotypes. So I settled myself in for a regular “modern” romantic comedy where the hero would talk about how a hyper-active talkative girl (ok fine, manic pixie dream girl) came into his life, changed it, but left him because she wanted to be “free” or something. And they would get together in the end (the film starts by telling us that Bubla is currently heartbroken over a girl) when the girl realised that our hero gave her wings all along.

Instead, what followed was a roller-coaster of emotions which is really quite inexplicable given how gently the film is paced. And, there is that word again, how reliant it is, on the “little” moments. The Big Boss watching friend and the running bet. The double ring missed calls on the sturdy landline. The cheating scene. Bindu’s telephone call with her property agent. Bindu and Bubla’s conversations on Marine Drive. The Mere Sapno ki Rani throwback in Goa. When she runs to give him a hug after already having said goodbye. The first time Bubla tells her about his feelings and asks her to respond with the three words every Bengali wants to hear (He means aami tomake bhalobashi, she comes back with korbo, lorbo, jeetbo). Little by little, the movie builds a loving portrayal of its heroine, her strengths and foibles, her dreams and fears, through Bubla’s eyes.

It helps that Bubla is a nice guy (though he treats a token girlfriend quite shoddily), aka not-Ranbir Kapoor from Ae Dil Hai Mushkil. And it helps that both Ayushman and Parineeti are good actors with lots of charm. And this might be me being defensive after all the negative reviews I read, but yes they don’t share a crazy devouring passion. What they do share is a genuine camaraderie in all their interactions that I couldn’t help but smile every time they were on the screen together.

The film also does a spot on job of showing the parents, especially Bubla’s mother. The first laugh out loud moment for me she emotionally manipulates him about, well manipulating him into coming home. Then there was another hilarious scene when the father of a prospective bride reads out a scene from one of Bubla’s books (he is the writer of shady literature about daayans and chudails), with appropriate expressions. The parents (both sets) are also there when he proposes, and then again, sleeping on the floor of the drawing room (as they are likely to, if your son is a 20 something employed in Bombay), when they break up. These are the details that make you feel that the writer is sharing a part of his/ her life with you.

But it was really the climax that nudged me to the realisation that this film would likely be a little part of my life, my heart too. I was suddenly sitting there, seeing these beautiful people realise that though they were happy right then, there was no happily ever after - not professionally, not personally. And I wept copiously, not from sadness, but from joy that that was enough.

Update: it holds up.

Friday, 5 May 2017

Chennai Chronicles Part IV

I learnt how to light the gas. That, as it turns out, does not your culinary skills make. I managed to screw up lauki and whined about it so much that my Tamilian roommate will never forget the Hindi name for the vegetable. Or she might, given my vow to never be stupid enough to voluntarily buy it again.

Podalunga means jhinge (snake gourd) and is a slang term for nonsense.

Manga maria means 'dumb mango' which has to be the cutest pejorative term ever coined.

You would think morning walks would be a universal experience. But a surprisingly large proportion of middle class men here walk in rubber slippers. I can't help think that Delhi uncles would shrivel up in embarrassment if they had to do that.

Men also walk in lungis. If you were not Indian, I would explain it as a wraparound skirt for men whose length can be adjusted according to convenience. And it's often short enough that the same length of skirt on a woman here would inspire scandal.

There is also a gym for adults in my neighbourhood park. To be fair, I have no frame of reference for this in Delhi, not having been to a park in years.

As a child, my mum often took me for a walk to a lane in my neighbourhood which she for some reason called sea beach. I don't know if it was the evening breeze or just whimsy.

My neighbourhood park here is probably equivalent to Central Park in Delhi, going purely by location and its importance on bus routes. Which makes me think wistfully about how lucky Delhiites are because this one is tiny. On the plus side this is not inhabited by loving couples and serial molesters/flashers.

A middle aged man leaned very close to me and wished me a good morning. I'm not sure whether that was an invasion of personal space or just regular politeness.
If he was trying to be creepy though, it was a very poor attempt.

Apparently there is a doggie style asana in yoga. It's where people get on their fours and pant like dogs.

I doubt if it's actually called doggie style.

I may have just enabled a large inflow of traffic to the blog. I would have said inadvertently enabled but then it would be a lie.

I also saw an exercise form where a man was lying on his stomach and another man walked over his back. Right in the middle of the park.

Maybe it was just a bunch of friends doing bakchodi. You know friends, those people you hang out with on weekends and after work.

Yeah I use a lot of words while writing that I wouldn't say out aloud. Bakchodi being one of them.

I figured out a route to the chai shop on my own. Well not my own, I was still aided by Google, but I figured out there was a shorter route. Also I may have pushed myself to walk by promising masala chai.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Chennai Chronicles Part III

The only time I think I have too many clothes is when I pack them.

After an entire morning of telling myself that I would cook for myself, I gave up at the first hint of trouble - when I couldn't get the gas lit.

I now think Wake Up Sid had zero insight on urban living by single people trying to make a career. Friends on the other hand, is fantastic. Especially the bit about traipsing about naked in an empty house.

The main problem about having your own place is the existential crisis that strikes you when you realise you like shopping for bedspreads in vibrant patterns.

There is also the issue of spending half of your time doing the dishes. But then that might be a case of my personal incompetence.

I went to a concert by a fairly popular Bangla band. It was supposed to begin at 6:30 but the Bengali cultural association that was organising the programme wanted to first have a prize distribution programme followed by its office bearers  guilting the people attending about the lack of audience. And how even a national award winner could not ensure a houseful.

A bunch of aunties opened for the band, with a lovely ditty about how we are all Chennai bashi but how are hearts beat for Bangla. Yeah, I snorted through that.

The main band performance was great though. Anupam Roy (said National award winner) sang all the favourites. He also talked about the time he spent working in Bangalore, and sang something he had written when he was missing Kolkata at the time. What struck me was the kind of love and longing that city can evoke. I have lived all my life in Delhi and while I miss home and miss friends and familiar faces, I can hardly profess to missing the city. At least not enough to write songs about it. (Or to turn up for performances by Delhi bands or just network with people from there).

A man in the audience wanted to know if Anupam had sang the Kolkata song in front of Didi. If she listened and ensured enough jobs, no one from Kolkata would have to migrate to Chennai.

I love that Bengalis as a class, maintain a healthy lack of faith in their political leaders.
Yeah OK, I know Swapan Dasgupta is Bengali.

It's a sample size of 2, but corner cigarette shops here tend to have a mixer that they use to churn out very nice nimbu pani. It's also rather clever. I will never be using my arms to stir the sugar in now.
(Before you ask, no, I haven't started smoking).

The watchman in my building is Hindi speaking. But my Delhi Person Paranoia (DPP henceforth) stops me from chatting with him. And even though he helped me carry my luggage to the flat, my general social awkwardness stopped me from tipping him. Now I'm hoping my parents will do the needful when they visit.

PS: the blog completed 5 years recently. 

PPS: Vibrant patterns as below: