A Sunday drenched in heavy rains…

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What do you do when you can’t write? What do you do when you don’t want to write? What do you when this is because you desperately NEED to write?

You write.

Soh much has happened in the 20 days since I wrote last. And every moment since, I’ve felt like writing. I’ve felt pressured into writing something ‘significant’ but never got to start because I knew that wasn’t the time (Do YOU, reader, ever get that feeling? Of wanting to do something well or not do it at all?); I felt like I just didn’t have my thoughts together yet. Talk about perfect being the enemy of good.

Let’s see.

Terrorism seems to be really on over the past two weeks, as with gun violence in the US of A. It’s a world going potty. Ever imagine why it’s always men going loopy and barbaric and violent? Syria, Bangladesh, Germany, France… the list goes on. The religion of peace trying its best to keep it down. Yes, some of you will fine me politically incorrect but ask those who perpetrated these violent acts; they think they are the only true followers of this religion. So, it doesn’t really matter what we guys think about their religiousness. We’re not pointing the guns at others, they are. That they have the raw material to go ahead with this all is appalling, yes.

Qandeel Baloch, the Pakistani model non-confirmist was killed by her brother because he somehow believed (as do most men) that her sort of actions were bringing dishonour to their family name. The father now wants ‘revenge’ and wants his son to be ‘shot’. Uff, men!

And then, gun violence. And Obama’s speeches on gun control. Put that on a loop. But that won’t be enough to drown out Trump’s calls for sheer constitutional anarchy. Of course, Hillary’s speech was something but I wouldn’t bet on her just yet. It’s interesting how people are asking about how DNC mails got leaked instead of investigating possible punitive measures for wrongdoing and thinking how to right those wrongs.

Back home, Barkha Dutt blew the war bugle at Arnab Goswami when the latter shouted into TV screens about journos who are forwarding Pakistani agenda on the Kashmir issue. It was a generic rant specific enough only to lead us to infer that he may have been talking about Barkha and the likes of her. Surprising as it is for the common man, Barkha was paying attention and did manage, over all the noise Arnab creates, to actually hear what he was saying.

She took it that it was she he was talking about. Barkha Dutt is very important, mind you. Especially to herself. So she ranted out tweets twisting Arnab’s words, and because Arnab didn’t care, he didn’t come back at her. As a result, she refused to “give a toss” about the whole thing and conveyed this in the manner of a looooongish FB post. Then a blog followed in order to keep stirring the pot. Oh, in between, did I mention she got an endorsement from Hafiz Saeed?

Hafiz Saeed who? He’s the chief of a terrorist organisation operating out of Pakistan, and regularly hatches plans for terrorist acts in my country, India. I really hope that while Barkha was busy being so prolific on social media, she took out a moment to thank Saeed on his LinkedIn profile. It’s an endorsement that got Barkha noticed and how!

At the time of writing this, the issue festers. Because Barkha won’t let go. Barkha wants to have her cake and eat it too. She wants to speak against ‘violence’ in the Kashmir Valley without calling it ‘terrorism’ sponsored by the Pakistani state.

She wants to cry for a state whose people (only those inspired by Hurriyat Conference and their ilk, let me be fair) push women and children in the frontlines of a mob pelting stones as well as molotov cocktails so that Indian Army using pellets instead of real guns in the face of REAL THREAT would be deterred on humanitarian grounds. She supports their calls for their Azaadi because of what she’s smoking in her leftist-socialist-intellectual utopia that only knows how to piss on the idea of the very statehood that allows her to call out for Azaadi for people threatening that statehood. This is not very intellectual, actually. It’s definitely not Leftist or Socialist. It’s sheer abuse of the freedom that the statehood affords her.

And now let’s touch what the likes of Barkha sympathise with. The killing of Burhan Wani. The bad boy of Kashmir Valley. The Indian Army neutralised him for conducting terrorist activities and using social media to lure people into joining terrorist groups. He was a terror propagandist, something like social media marketing of terror. That makes him a terrorist. This went on on our TV screens while Kashmiris (those who support separatism and also, terrorism) mourned, protested, and indulged in violence against their own Army.

Intellectuals were bothered that a “boy” – 22 years old at the time of his death – was gunned down by the armed forces. They forget that this boy was a ‘commander’ with Hizbul Mujahideen. They wondered if he should have been killed in such a manner! He picked up arms at the age of 15 by the way; in a parallel universe, he could have picked up studies or tennis or knitting. He went pro a few years ago. Yet, he remained a boy. By those standards, don’t all men? (they want their toys, their place in the team, and will go to any length to protect them). Besides, he was of marriageable age, and old enough to vote.

Ironically, women, even when they become CEOs, are derisively referred to as ‘girls’ and 18 year old Miss Universes dying to lift people out of poverty are called young women.

Coming back to Kashmir, you won’t find so much anger against the rape of young Kashmiri girls and women by army men.

Burhan’s killing was a state goal and the Army’s mission and their duty. Somehow, when a terrorist dies, Kashmir mourns and bleeds. When citizens are raped… An armyman committing a crime versus doing his duty. There’s something very wrong and very twisted here.

As with the rest of my country and its people. A gang of robbers today waylaid a car in which a family was travelling, took them aside, and raped the mother and daughter before taking away their belongings. 12 men raped these two women for 3 hours. This happened in Noida. Again men.

What’s wrong with you men, I wonder. Your concept of honour, love, society, relationships seems seriously dented and damaged. Is it you or is it the society? Wait. You make the society because your word rules. So, it is you, after all. And we women get lost in your maze of untruths and half-truths, compete in a game that’s hardly fair, hardly a game anyway.

I’m going to use a picture of Qandeel with this post. This world is cruel but some of us make it beautiful and worth living.

Chutzpah, I lov-ED it!

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Isn’t this an amazing time to be watching Indian movies? I could not help but exult in this feeling when the credits began to roll up the screen and Rekha Bhardwaj’s voice filled up the hall. Yes, Haider it was. Another one of Vishal Bhardwaj’s Shakespearen inspirations it may be, but full credit to the master for a film that not only preserves the integrity of the Bard’s original story – Hamlet, it also exploits the Kashmir conflict to its own advantage.

Don’t be surprised if chutzpah becomes a by-word for that special Indian trait of so disingenuously presenting situations to their own advantage; a trait that Mr. Bhardwaj has so very INgenuously portrayed as to make me wonder at the marvelous way in which the story and the backdrop interact with and fulfill each other.

This is, in fact the peculiar talent and beauty of this man’s works. Take a look at Maqbool, Omkara, and now Haider. The man visualizes his work in its entirety – the backdrop complements the story and serves to take it forward, the story bolsters performances which in turn help actualize it, the score and cinematography doing their own special magic as to enhance all other elements.

The result is that you build multiple perspectives: the protagonist’s as well as the antagonist’s (for stark lines between good and bad, right and wrong cannot be found when talking about real life and Bhardwaj’s films and therefore, villains are reduced to the ridiculous). You see both sides of the story, there’s the protagonist’s heady victory and disheartening denouement, there’s the antagonist’s triumphant justification and pitiful lack of touch. The beauty of the narrative is that at times you don’t know who is right, who might be right, and whom you’d want to be right.

By now Hansal Mehta’s letter to V.B. and Haider Hussain Beg’s piece on the movie have discussed the length and breadth of their experience and I would not like to let drop any of the gems in this movie. You must see it for yourself. The aim here is to express what an experience the movie has been for me.
As for the story, of course you cannot go wrong with Shakespeare, provided you are Vishal Bhardwaj : The man takes a gem of world literature, adapts it and makes it his own with an amazingly real script and treatment. Philosophical anecdotes are delivered with pedantic virtuosity. Fantasy dances around with the morbid. There is a sacrilegious edge to sanctity, there is piety infused with cowardice. The magic begins where the script courts superb cinematography and attention to details.

And this is where the valley of Kashmir comes in, lending an unimaginable depth to the story. On one hand there’s this land with a history of bloody conflict serving as a backdrop to a story and on the other there is this story of a conflict within a family – two brothers, one love, a lot of mistrust, feelings of betrayal, self-righteousness, ideology, and above all, identity. After watching Haider, you are moved to ask, “if not Kashmir, then where?”

And all the same, the story serves to throw a new light on the situation in Kashmir – in a way never before attempted or experienced. It is a beauty only those who have set their foot on this land can appreciate. That such bloody conflict, such an atmosphere of distrust and death, such political profligacy are to be found enveloped in such scenic, historic, natural, and cultural beauty is an ode to absurdity. And then an afterthought – where else but Kashmir! Yet again.

And so it is with the actors. One word for Shahid. Virtuoso. Also the last word. His Lal Chowk performance will have plaudits raining for a long time to come. Shraddha is refreshingly and surprisingly genuine. At the risk of calling Kay Kay Menon and Irrfan Khan (I hope I have deferred to his numerological preferences for checking the spelling I have not the energy for right now) typecasted, they certainly deliver. Tabu is never better than when staring straight into the camera – head covered in the modesty of a pistachio green dupatta, eyes masked by large, dark shades but never more candid than in this character-defining moment – demanding, unapologetic, and yet, pleading. Kulbhushan Kharbanda mouths off some great lines, the two Salmans and the duplicity in their characters is a stroke of genius as are their performances of the same. The accents are spot on. In all, it’s a package deal called perfection.

The background score is fantastic, keeps you on the edge. Songs are great in terms of music and composition; lyrics by Gulzar – enough said. There is the song and dance, it is all about love and death, and they totally belong.