Thursday, July 05, 2018

Kuch Barso ka Gubbaar

Hua Baar baar
Sab Taar Taar

Kuch din ki thakaan
Kuch Barso ka Gubbaar

Saans lene bhar ki fursat nahi kahin
Daaman mein kisike bhi hain koi shaqs beqaraar

hai kismaton ki baazi daftaron mein
aur mehfilon mein dilon ka kaarobar

Hua Baar baar
Sab taar taar

Ummeedon ki chaddar odhe mile aksar
Toote hauslon ko sajaate hasraton ke haar

boli to har shay ki lagti hai is shaher mein
wafaa ke daamon pe hi kaayam hai yahaan rishton ke bazaar

Bas ab main hoon aur kuch qisse
dil mein haqeeqat aur pannon pe riste behte lafz beshumaar

Hua baar baar
Sab Taar taar

Kuch din ki thakaan
Kuch Barso ka Gubbaar

Monday, October 31, 2016

Aye dil hai KJo 2.0

I am writing here after forever thanks to my pensive social media posts that help me rave and rant generally. Unless something rare and obscure happens like ADHM. 

Yes; the supposedly controversial movie that a man walking out of the theatre called bundle- a popular mumbai word for trash and I smiled to myself. The theatre on diwali noon was 70/80% occupied and I hadn't thought of what drew others to the movie while my family followed the diwali ritual I have somehow managed to keep alive I.e. stepping out of home to not keep fighting over the rituals and relatives and all that is truly redundant.  Thanks to this man's vocal expression; I felt maybe I should structure my views and share as well; so here it goes.

Spoilers lie ahead and you are being warned. 

From the word go; this movie for me is evolutionary storyteller's hallmark. Yes; it has flipside and yet the characters stayed with me beyond the cinema hall. that rare feat itself is testimonial to Karan Johan's success. . Anushka is Alizeh; Ranbir is Ayan and Aishwarya is Saba through out the duration of the movie. Camera and lyrics / music are the other silent stars. Niranjan Iyengar's dialogues add to each - the characters; their beauty and the story. MBA being mere baap ki aarzoo; vibes being vaatavaran for Lisa Hayden and aishwarya pining to be somebody's khwahish - these work but the ektarfa mohabbat and I friend you as well as cancer hone ka kuch to faayda ho don't ring a bell with me.Here are few moments in ADHM that stayed with me. 

1) The first hint of romantic interest from Ranbir's side when the man child Ayan is being protective and escorting the escapist by choice Alizeh away from her painful past Ali (Fawad) and she asks him to leave. Nuanced; subtle and effective. The silences spoke here and Karan Johar uses lingering silent shots where moist eyes talk often and glances that develop into meaningful gaze grasping in the truth of the matter.

2) From devdasesque cutiepie; Ayan breaks into another song " Channa mereya " and Alizeh realises how he has been struggling to keep his emotions gathered and takes him aside to speak. He confesses his love and in her own terms shows how difficult it is to live with it being unrequited. This is where both actors and director show exactly why they are the best in the industry. Ranbir is no longer the man child he's played a 100 times here and Anushka isn't the bubbly and worldly wise girl she's played 200 times... They are the friends who have an aching and awkward affection they can't stand. This being the intermission again is a masterstroke.

3) Dinner sequence between the leading ladies and Ranbir: It builds up to be conclusive like life is. It doesnt make sense from the word go but slowly yet sweetly right from overt physicality between Aishwarya and Ranbir to the pauses for Anushka's reactions which never come- this is where Karan Johar  shows his grip. The altercation outside and the breakup post that too are as mature as they get in real life.

Except these; the final 30 mins of Adhm ae insipid And sappy tearjerker bits that are cliche but supposed tribute to being filmi and romantic a la Kjo. It might not be the best of 2016 but sure shows that no one else understands and translates friendship; love and now lust and longing much like the man who has been moblynched by MNS.

I call him Kjo 2.0 because The man describes his coming of age in genre of being filmy and romantic with a mention of a song " mujhse pehli si mohabbat mere mehboob na maang" . Apt for the characters and situations too

Final verdict 3.5 stars.

Wednesday, April 02, 2014

Me - a word

It's what has always been. It's what was always meant to be. No other way my life would make sense. Writing is what completes it. Searching for clever words and phrases, anecdotes or narratives isn't the quest I venture upon. It's a simple expression for me. All the muddled up flavours of life and memories of its sights  sounds, smells, touch and tastes unfurls in a seamless flow whenever I begin. Writer's block for me would be about the subject, quality and fitting it within certain framework. 
Surprisingly very few people look at me now as a writer / creative person. 
I have changed many jobs, been earnest in most and been glaringly mediocre at others. 
I have come far and opportunities have seemingly shrunk for me to write/ express/ be pensive as I like it to be. 15  years into my professional life, I yet wonder when and where will I meet my horizon. I have not lost hope but just misplaced it. I know its around somewhere out of sight but am conscious that my hope lives. Someday I will, I shall pour my being into words and immerse the world in a single tint, a different flavour, a unique fragrance that is me

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Maybe it's funny

It's funny how a hello is always accompanied with a goodbye.
It's funny how good memories can make you cry,It's funny how forever never seems to last,It's funny how much you would lose if you forgot about your past,It's funny how friends can just leave when you're down,It's funny how when you need someone they never are around, It's funny how people change and think they're so much better,It's funny how some many lies are packed into one love letter, It's funny how one night can hold so much regret, It's funny how you can forgive but not forget,It's funny how ironic life turns out to be,but the funniest part of all, Is that none of that is funny to me.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

dar ba dar

dar ba dar, shab ba shab safar raha mera
lab ba lab, harf dar harf hashr raha mera

na chaha tha afsaano mein zikr
na jaani thi koi mustaqbil ki fiqr

behta, kuch kehta guzra aksar main mehfilon se
na ruka na thama ek dhadkan ki awaaz sunaayi dene ko

ruba ru jo hue tum to kya ilm tha ke ishq aise tarer lega
na dekh paaoonga beete raste na sahil hi samet lega

hue daakhil aakhir kyun zehenn mein
ab na raho to sukoon nahi aur na hi jaane pe junoon le jaate ho
bataao maajra kya hai, kyun dil ki baazi pe mera daanv lagaate ho

kehne ki baat hoti to, shabdon mein dhaal ke badh jaate
ahsaason ke kaarwaan mein ab hasratein chal rahi hain khoyi si

khwaabon ke raste rok ke ummeedon ka saath thama
sambhal jaata yun to main gar har qadam sawaalon se jaan dushwaar na hui hoti

ab to meri kashmakash bhi tujhpe aitbaar karti hai
apni hoti to nibhaate har mushqil ab tere intezaar ka dam bharti hai

laut jaate tum bewafa hoke to qarrar aata
is saadgi se kyun tum  meri jaan ko giraftaar kiye baithe ho


Life isn't just about keeping score.
It's not about how many people call you
And it's not about who you've dated or haven't dated at all.
It isn't about who you've kissed,
What sport you play,
Or which guy or girl likes you.
It's not about your shoes or your hair
Or the color of your skin,
Or where you live or go to school.
In fact it's not about grades, money,
Clothes, or colleges that accept you or not.
Life isn't about if you have lots of friends or if you are alone,
And it's not about how accepted or unaccepted you are.
Life isn't about that.
But life is about who you love and who you hurt.
It's about how you feel about yourself.
It's about trust, happiness, and compassion.
It's about avoiding jealousy, overcoming ignorance
And building confidence.
It's about what you say and what you mean.
It's about seeing people for who they are and not for what they have.
Most of all it is choosing to use your life.
In a way that could have never been achieved otherwise.
These choices are what life's about.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Queer Azaadi Mumbai Pride Week 2013 Calendar

It's here finally. The list of events we are doing for Qam Mumbai Pride Week. For all those who believe in equality and would like to understand alternative sexuality - here's a great opportunity to support by attending.  For those who already know all they need to know about LGBTIQ life, select your reasons - music, dance performances, parties, sports, photography, theatre, open mic - whatever be your interest - there's one week of awesomeness coming up - All of it for human rights and a world without discrimination in name of gender  

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

‘Mumbai is my oxygen’ : life as a gay man in the metropolis

This is an article I wrote in DNA  few years back and I quite like it. Thought I should share it on my blog too :) Hope you guys like it

I am a gay man, and my wardrobe has only one pink shirt. I don’t wear flowery patterns or talk home d├ęcor with my female colleagues, or tell them “You should wear red, it looks so darling on you.” I dress in boring browns and blacks, and don’t feel the need to colour my hair blonde and get regular manicures just to conform to what people feel a gay man should look like.
Straight men think gay guys will settle for anything. Big myth. You walk into a room and you can see the straight guy thinking — ‘Uh oh, I’m going to get molested’, as if he’s some sort of irresistible magnet. In fact, I think gay men are more discriminating than women, maybe because being men ourselves, we know what to avoid.
At home, my parents were initially not really aware of my sexuality. I got all my support from my sister. Once I was supposed to be on a chat show on TV, talking about homosexuality. The whole time, my sister and I were fervently hoping that my parents wouldn’t understand what it was about, and how to respond if my family asked questions. In situations where even my friends have gotten scared and backed out, she has stood by me completely. To me, this is a sign of changing times and increasing support.
Mumbai is my oxygen. I cannot fathom and would not prefer my life any other way and any other place. Today in Mumbai’s offices no one really cares what their colleague does in bed as long as he / she is getting their work done. I have gone on overnight picnics and slept in the same bed with my colleagues without any eyebrows being raised. You do have to deal with some pretty nosy questions, though. Like men who want to know “Who is the woman in the relationship.” Actually, there isn’t one. It’s just two men. That’s really hard for them to understand, somehow. There’s this huge curiosity amongst straight men about what gay men actually do. It’s amusing, but I don’t see why I should satisfy it.
Only this city gives you the freedom to pick your sexual position with complete freedom. In other places, you have to be either in or out. Here, you can be curious, experimenting, fence sitting, swinging on one side, or both sides or just pretending. It is a true metropolis, where everyone finds a place. When incidents like the recent police raid [at a private party in Thane] occur, the reaction from part of the community is panic. After the raid, I got dozens of freaked out SMS’s from friends. I finally had to tell them to stop being such chickens. Spreading this kind of fear isn’t really responsible, as it may discourage others from coming out.
For me, the only way to deal with such situations is to arm myself with information. I stay in touch with networks and social forums. I’ve put Article 377 on my Google alerts. I make sure I know my rights and can ask the right questions if I’m ever bothered. I do all this so I don’t have to live in fear.
Right now the city has no special gay joints or spaces, because of the law. Once Article 377 is changed, I am sure the city will boom with gay hang-out clubs and joints, which will be throbbing with people. Advertisers will be chasing this market. There will be coffee shops and non-sleazy bars where we can just chill and be ourselves. Mumbai, will be perfect, then.

Section 377 - the dark law series : Mumbai Pride parade 2008 and Angst of being comfortably numb (part 2)

Pink Floyd might have been happy being comfortably numb. I wasn't. It had been 5 years since Don's death, my shifting out to live alone and being out selectively. A lot had had changed  apart from the sword hanging on heads of all those with alternative sexual preference. Like an orange eater being judged in a world where eating apples was the norm, I saw IPC section 377's implication on two consensual adults having same sex relationship as silly, old school, apalling, insignificant - all by turns in these years.

I was working under industry veterans and learning tricks of the marketing communication & media sales trade oblivious to life apart from my hectic schedule. It was great yet whenever I heard comfortably numb, its lines drilled something deep within. The lack of spark of wishing for more engulfed me

There is no pain you are receding
A distant ship's smoke on the horizon
You are only coming through in waves
Your lips move
But I can't hear what you're saying 

Yes, there was a smoke screen between lives of people like me and the babus sitting in government offices who either thought sexual minorities can be labeled as perversion and criminalized or thought only right way of acknowledging our presence in society is when speaking of HIV / aids.

At nights, I would silently mourn the death of my consciousness.  Some bits of my conscience lived on though. I would get up and attend a chat show to educate people once in a year, be unafraid to talk to journalist, click pictures and give real name with my views but in my eyes, it was never enough. At work and in social circles, I came out to those who matter and made it a point to stand tall annoyingly in the face of those who bullied others for being effeminate or just moving their hands a lot when talking.There was little progress in the way same sex relationships were shown in Indian movies or television. There was a rare joke about a gay person without the stereotype and media had  not yet built up this issue as we struggled to identify couples who are out and parents who would speak under guise of anonymity . At such times, a celeb who would have guts to admit his alternative sexuality was rare to find (not that now there are many)

In 2007 at a famous book awards after party which my firm was managing, I had a chance meeting with Vikram Seth - the acclaimed author who had won that night.  Just a few months back in October 2006, he had signed an open letter in support of human rights in India for Same sex relationships not being subjected to criminal law. It was sheer curiousity of knowing what made a famous person like him come out as bisexual and support our movement while he stayed in United Kingdom comfortable that made me walk upto him and say hello. I had decided that if he didn't wish to speak about the topic, i would let it be. When the throngs of fans of his work had gotten busy into drinking and eating, I walked upto his table and waited for an aspiring author to leave. After basic introduction, I was surprised that Mr. Seth refused to let go of me for more than 30 minutes when I mentioned the letter and that I am in touch with LGBTHIQ rights workers in Mumbai. He generously offered to keep in touch via snail mail as he wasn't in habit of checking emails those days and he wanted this information directly rather than us corresponding via his agent after weeks / months of delay.  Living under shadow of the dark law seemed alright for that one moment of reassurance of humility and earnesty displayed by him. Much to amusement of my colleagues on his way out, Mr. Seth made a point to ask for me and talk before leaving. Something within me changed that day. Call it leap of faith or change of priorities, what you may but my life is divided by that brief encounter

Life moved on but I started paying attention to developments on LGBT rights front.  Rather than just reading emails and attending GB meets, I decided to go one step further. I remember the first time I entered an NGO office in far off suburb - Kurla where my slippers got stolen from outside the door when inside there were 80 people attending the meet  before 2008 pride parade. I was a mute spectator from event management background who found asking permissions to spend meagre 1000 rupees from funds on stationary as funny. I had no clue of fund raising efforts or Mumbai LGBTHIQ scene then.  Rest of the evening is a blur except for  60 feet rainbow flag being ready for Pride and us opening it - playing under it like little kids forgetting who is Hijda and who is a famous women's right lawyer or an expat teaching us the international ways to do waste management and go green while protesting.

The day of pride soon arrived and I volunteered to be media co-ordinator. Right from telling attendees where to stand to checking the megaphone (which never worked) to carrying tables that were tied to make a stage, I remember being quick on my feet.  After initial round of speeches, we unfurled the giant rainbow flag and took positions under various banners of organisations we supported. Those 2 kms we walked were the zenith of happiness I had ever experienced. I loved the riot of colours and rhythm of nashik dhol on which we danced in middle of mumbai roads. I can never forget sashaying under the giant rainbow flag and walking down to chowpatty under police protection that one day while onlookers admired us and wondered what the hell was on.

It was not just a protest against being a statistic who is marginalised, it was a celebration of our own selves without any mask. The only way I would be comfortably numb that evening would be after endless dancing with new friends I had made.  That day i knew it was my choice to break barriers and open up to new experiences. The ones that life would bring and the ones that IPC section 377 would show :) (To be continued)

Friday, February 24, 2012

Section 377 - the law that overshadowed my life (part 1)

It has taken me about a decade to understand it and to learn to live with it. The perennial shadow of being a criminal in my own country for something I might not have acted upon. I am talking about homosexuality or my sexual identity here. Indian Penal Code Section 377 invokes in me a thousand varied emotions and my views may not be significant as I am an average citizen by all norms and not a politician, film star or cricketer (the kinds who matter in our country).

What is important yet is the number of people who are affected by it knowingly or unknowingly. Also the manner in which an issue so intrinsic to human rights in our democratic society is being approached.

The matter being subjudice, it is not for me to share opinion on the proceedings being right or wrong. I wont go there. I would just share my personal experience in what follows

Ignorance, not really a blissful state

I heard of criminalisation and 10 years  imprisonment that Section 377 poses as a threat to each LGBTI (lesbians, gays, bisexual,transgendered and intersexed) individual at the age of 22. I was fresh out of college and just a year before that beginning to acknowledge my attraction towards guys. It is not as though 7 years into puberty I hadnt had those thoughts but I had kept them locked in corners of my head as something I cant understand and dont need to address ever as I had a girl friend who was in love with me and career ahead along with friends and family to fill my mindspace.

At 17, when i started working alongside college, I had my share of chat room explorations where m2m was a term used for male 2 male chat.  These were the emerging virtual meetup places where faceless people with fake names would talk about homosexuality. This was right at the advent of mobile phones and media boom, when i spoke to the first self confessed gay man, someone who wanted to meet me but I could never gather courage to meet. It was only after I came across an American boy online that we shared our hopes, dreams, wishes to share  life together that I even allowed my thoughts to venture into what two men can do in bed together.

He was to visit me in mumbai after 10 months of daily chats, exchange of phone numbers - which was a big deal in 1998  that I progressed to making 1000 plans of me settling with a doctor in some remote country where homosexuality was not a crime. It was a happy time of my life as i wasn't repressing my mind after almost 8 years. I wasn't pleasing friends or family by being with  a girl friend. I was free in my heart of my past and I could finally think of my present or future.

We had plans to travel across India together and i looked forward to the wierd waking hours when he would come online and we could chat or exchange emails. All of it came to a screeching halt when he expired due to wrong treatment of his non malignant tumour which got ruptured. All the hope that had seeped into my life just vanished into a dark pit.

In next month I moved out of home to live on my own, stopped crying, being angry or even looking for  any other men or considering the option of going back to my girl friend.  I had lost the most precious gift - the person who had accepted me without judging. I gathered courage to look up and contact Gay bombay (GB)  -a local support organisation and finally attend one of their meetings.

When i was expecting seedy men from chat room waiting to find new sexual partners, all i found at Gb were educated men, all with respected professions, a comfortable circle of friends and family. No one and nothing abnormal that I could label. Soon with few interactions, my ignorance about  the community was a thing of past. I came to know here of blackmail rings being operated by Police and hustlers to catch gay men, threaten them to be outted to family & friends thanks to Section 377. Illegal it said were my emotions for don, who was no longer around. Illegal it said was my desire to know myself or to express myself sexually. Illegal Identity said 377 to my new found view of myself. Why should i be ashamed of my life? I couldnt understand.

 Ever since, not a day has passed in this city, whether in love or not, whether employed or not, whether awake or asleep that I have been free of this word, this phrase, this curse. Like a Nazi camp prisoner's identity, these 3 digits have been etched on me by those who are mighty, in power and see all of my kinds as. Its been 9 years and the shadow still looms threatening to consume my entity. The shadow called  377

(to be continued)

Saturday, January 08, 2011

Love's many mysteries

Yes, I know I am writing after forever and I confess I have all the intentions to be more regular here but sigh ! facebook is eating into my creative self expression big time. So i reserve this space for something more exclusive and particular like the post that's about to follow

Have you ever had one of those moments of epiphany when you see much more into something others just cannot? I have had those many times and my analysis is flavoured and hued by my Mumbaikar brain more often than not in such times. Here I was sleepless like almost always meaninglessly online and transferring songs to my 2 gb Mobile phone memory card. I decided to hear one of many songs from my 30000 odd mp3 collection.  My next step ahead was much like  any other internet addicted idiot box less person . I searched for the song on youtube. While i was searching for "Yeh dhuan" from Charas with Namrata shirodkar grooving amidst smoky hills of manali, I landed up on Dia Mirza and Emran hashmi crooning "yeh dhuan dhuan sa rehne do" with brilliant piano rendition by Richard Clayderman( an artist who I have worked with in past and goes without saying that I am in awe of).

So I decided to see the song since I like to music despite the fact that the film it belongs to is sheer disaster in second half due to director troubles. I had  conveniently forgotten the genius of Anurag Basu ( director of the flick who discovered his cancer illness during the filming of Tumsa Nahin Dekha  - flick in question) and vulnerability of man who is still a roguish boy really (Emran Hashmi  - the lead actor).

The song struck to me like a tonne of bricks had fallen on my half drunk head - thanks to two pegs on old monk i had gulped on saturday night as compensation of missing Gay bombay parties I frequent. Let me sum things up for you.  What  has always appealed to me about the basic plot of this flick is that - it sets premise of a poor bar dancer girl and richie rich boy in love coming to terms with their reality. The girl lives in hope of finding someone who would love her and also marry her to redeem her from the stigma and embarassment of her vocation.  The boy spoilt by abundance thrives on need to fulfill his whims and fancies including that of having the woman he desires and loves with him as cherry on the cake he hasn't quite enjoyed by himself.

The conflict sets in when his grandmother refuses to offcially grant sanction to this love story and threatens to take away his much seeped habitual riches in case he pursues marriage with the bar girl. This leads to something unheard of in Indian cinema atleast. Our man clearly admits his weakness to the girl he loves that he cannot abandon his luxuries for being with her. He wants both and thus offers her to be his mistress for insane sum of 4 crores, which would solve all her issues. She does not need to be a bar dancer anymore or  be looked down upon by others as money silences all wagging tongues. Now it is upto her to either support him in getting engaged to a girl of his stature just as a social farce or to demand what she longs for - marriage and status as a wife. ( i will come to my connection with this point later)

It is at this juncture that the boy says yes to being engaged to the proxy girl but invites the bar girl to come to his engagement as well. She comes there apprehensive and vulnerable as his love is something she can't do without and here on starts magic of these two people - Anurag Basu and Emran hashmi.

The technical aspects of cinematography and framing compensate for poor production value associated with Vishesh Films ( a  production House i both adore and get irritated with for their matter of fact approach to movies). Lighting is brilliant and our boy  expresses his helplessness and passion first discreetly while playing piano like many other rich brats we see in hollywood . Its the effectiveness of this under rated actor's expressions and the tenderness of music and lyrics that build up the momentum. As we move ahead, full throttle vocals of roop kumar rathod hit you like a sudden gush of cold breeze awakens a person traveling sleepily. I was pleasantly surprised at poise of diya mirza (definitely directos's input) which is complimented by technique to show her silent in the party but singing in her fantasy. To each movement, verse and action,  her bar girl character is responding almost in her mind's eye (vision set in picturesque lonavala valley).  Interesting to say the least how the continuity is blended well and the core of the story and its characters maintained. Surely, a bar dancer would not openly revert to advances of her lover if she is attending his engagement. He continues and she silently partners cos her love is above all.  Her will to be his wife, his actions of hurting her by proposing her to be his mistress - dont exist in the moment where they both ask for the time to just be dewy and hazey just to say what their heart wants to speak to each other. Their expression of love is silent but very visible.

Now i will let  you watch it before explaining my perspective apart from cinematic brilliance of the moment so well built

So now that you have seen the passion and heard the melody, I can share that My ex is married to a girl. Before marrying her, he shared it with me that he needed a family and  was not strong enough to alienate his family by choosing to live with a gay man.  He needed me by his side as he feared rejection from the girl's family and I stood by him till his proposal was accepted. I had an option to have him dependent on me  for lifetime and stay  as third angle but I chose otherwise. I would have had all that I had dreamed of but without the tag of being his life partner, which I didnt agree to.

my questions ensue...

As a urban resident of this big bad metropolis, do you think she should compromise her love for just a title of mistress instead of wife even though she will have the man she loves by her side, looking after her and her woes of being a girl who thrives on skin show coming to an end?

Do you think the man who does not attempt running away with her and then failing,  becomes any less a human?

Do you think it dilutes that spark in eyes when you see that one face in crowd that you long for , if your life is as complex as of these characters?

Do you think in a city like Mumbai, there wont be straight or gay versions of these lovers anywhere?

Do you think any of us have any right to judge any two individual's life and chemistry because of their choices?

Do you think if the character or I had chosen to be with the man who needs his marriage along with love on the side, would we be any less human?

Do you think amongst love's many mysteries - one of them is that denying yourself the proximity of your lover is most difficult no matter how wrong is the choice?

Please think and respond :)

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