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The Magnificent Skye

A holiday after 2 years is super special, and a vacation after the Pandemic that consumed the whole world looks apparently like an invitation straight from the doors of Heaven. Well, it turned out exactly the way it was meant to be – elusive, beautiful, picturesque and divine. Rest, the pictures will do the talking.

Happy Easter!

The Kelpies
The Wallace Monument
The Town of Callander
Glencoe
On our way to Glenfinnan from Fort William on Day 2
The Glenfinnan Viaduct – The Jacobite Express
Glenfinnan
In and Around – Glenfinnan
Fort Augustus
Fort Augustus
Fort Augustus
Loch Ness
Loch Ness
Graceful – In and Around Fort Augustus
Eilean Donnan Castle – From the View Point
Eilean Donnan Castle – From the View Point
In and Around Eilean Donnan Castle
Kyle of Localsh
Kyle of Localsh
Kyle of Localsh
On the Isle of Skye – A Stormy Easter Sunday
On the Isle of Skye – A Stormy Easter Sunday
Exploring Skye
Exploring Skye
Exploring Skye
Exploring Skye
Exploring Skye
Exploring Skye
Portree – Isle of Skye
Portree – Isle of Skye
Portree – Isle of Skye
Portree – Isle of Skye
Portree – Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Isle of Skye
Inverness
Inverness
Inverness Cathedral
Inverness Cathedral
Aviemore
River Garry
Descending towards Edinburgh from Skye
The New Bridge – Queensferry Crossing
Towards Edinburgh
The New Bridge – Queensferry Crossing
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Musically, yes.

I have never been a big fan of musicals. In fact, it ranks the lowest in the list of my preferred genre. But, it would be a shame if I didn’t relive the era of the original Broadway musical.

It’s the old wine in a new bottle, if I have to put it down simply. But the way it was presented to the pandemic hit audience was exhilarating. Yes, I have never communicated with people, musically that is. But the very advent of doing so has been nothing short of a youthful roller coaster for a diaspora of emotionally hungry audience.

It does make a difference when it comes from a Master like Spielberg. I have never associated him with musicals in the last 3 decades but this film is testimony to the fact that his legend precedes his reputation as one of the most maverick filmmakers produced in the last 50 years. And, the magical touch has not waned away – though my appetite for his films remains largely fluid and unfulfilled.

Such films will keep Cinema alive – for the sheer capacity to reinvent and remain relevant in terrible times of such abomination for the big screen.

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To beginnings..

If something has begun, it doesn’t mean that something else has ended. Perhaps, this one never started. It was lying unaccomplished somewhere in the realms of time and embracing oblivion. Now, time has unleashed itself.

Strings attached to the past will have a legacy but it cannot become your destiny. The past helps you to improve your present and create your own further. Well, at least try to. I have nothing against destiny but if everything was destined to happen and we are mere spectators, then we have lost the very purpose of life and the reason to live – To evolve. And , to do so is a continuous process. This process has no limits. It is not time bound, but it is bound by your resilience and the attitude to survive in mayhem.

I am celebrating a beginning, not to forget the past but to cherish the future that I am about to create for myself and others. After all, success in your life has invaluable contributors who can shape or un-shape your toying fortunes.

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The Spiritual Residence

I am in no way, a spiritual geek. In fact, quite the opposite. I am the usual, run of the mill, selfish individual who goes running to God for petty petitions and wonders to happen that might change your life. Not that I don’t work hard, but human beings do have this beautiful habit of reaching out to the Almighty in times of distress or an inexplicable tragedy.

But this place, in a remote village, has an appetite for pure devotion. It blows you away with it’s inherent quality to impress you and has a towering presence over mortals like us. Whenever I visit this place, I get this feeling that good things will happen to us. May be, it’s just the beginning before everything starts to make sense and falls in it’s inevitable place.

This time, it was a special reunion after a gap of few years and it was nothing short of being driven on an exquisitely divine highway.

🙏Ayyanar🙏
🙏Venni Karumbeswarar🙏
🙏Veeranar🙏
🙏Pdari Amman🙏
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Dilip Saab – Thespian and Artist

Widely acknowledged as one of the first and the finest method actor ever produced by India, Dilip Saab was more than an actor. An artist whose roles and characters have transcended borders and cultures, he remains an elusive and a celebrated icon of indian Cinema.

I have watched his classics, and no wonder they are timeless. Be it ‘Naya Daur’, ‘Madhumati’, ‘Andaz’ or the masterful ‘Mughal-e-Azam’, Dilip Saab’s versatility and natural abilities took iconic strides. Much after his glorious days, he did ‘Shakti’ in 1982 and he was pitted against the reigning Superstar, Mr Bachchan. As my dad aptly put it, it was a powerhouse performance and in those times, there weren’t many who could overshadow the mighty Bachchan. But then, Dilip Saab was made differently. Well, this is a fairly modern story when compared to his illustrious legacy but is a fair testimony to his greatness.

I will continue to watch your films, Dilip Saab. Artists like you don’t die, you just get transported to a different world and a better stage. Indian Cinema just got poorer and the loss is entirely ours. Adios, and thank you for the everlasting brand of pure cinema.

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Reality

I think this aptly describes the current situation that we all are in.

Past few weeks have been tough and terrible. Death has never looked so ominous before, and every day is a life worth living for.

This Pandemic has to perish before we do. Yes, we are in no position to dictate terms as someone else is clearly in charge. But, hope is an equaliser. If it falters you, it also has the ability to redeem you.

Fight is not the key, resilience and prayers will deliver the impossible.

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The Color Wheel

‘Relationships’ are emphatically ‘curiosity personified’. No wonder, after ages and centuries, the human clan is so obsessively clinging on to the mysteries of relationship blues. Yet, we don’t have answers but we have lots of questions.

Our relationships rely on the dynamics of each individual. There is no absolute mantra for successful relationships, but certain core values do place an emphasis on the development of a healthy relationship. Trust, obviously is the most important one. If I have to open up to an individual, then it is paramount to know if the other person deserves my openness. And, this process is mutual. I have observed that independently built individuals with a mind of their own will have a better relationship story, one who doesn’t get manipulated by intervention and is bold enough to make tough decisions in life. Yes, the struggles of the particular individual will be equally monumental but the results will be resolute and dependable.

If you are fragile, your relationships will also be equally fragile. You can’t expect a strong bond with an individual who is struggling to fight for self. Ego plays a crucial role in framing our relationships. A human being without ego is like an egg without the yolk, but the balance is very subtle and defining. And with our insecurities, ego is a faulty catalyst. When we fall for it, the consequences are usually terrible and disdainful.

Relationships also suffer due to our success and failure stories. Super successful people often have failed relationships because they don’t have time for anything else. Failures are a stepping stone in one’s life but it also means that relationships often take a backseat when conquering the world looks more promising. But the more significant question is – who defines success and failure in our life? And, do you really want to define it at the expense of something which is so priceless and vulnerable like our relationships?

‘The Color Wheel’ is streaming on MUBI and is watchable if you succeed in identifying yourself with those characters.

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The Role of a Woman

The most complete human being in this world is a ‘Woman’. I think it is not a question of ‘why’, the more important question is ‘why not’.

‘Bhumika’ is a dazzling portrayal of a woman who despite all the talent and prowess, struggles in a world which is dominated by man and his patriarchal legacy.

It is a story of a woman who is trying to survive in a society which is so smeared and engulfed in male roots. Despite being a star and a celebrity, life is not a cakewalk for her. In fact, the subjugation and the preconceived notions towards a successful woman is perilous in its own way. In many ways, ‘Bhumika’ is way ahead of its time and feels so painfully relevant in 2021. Yes, the landscape of the world has changed but human mind still lurks behind in darkness and discrimination. In the process, she never finds true love, instead she is clobbering around in the arms of desire, which adds very little meaning to her adrift life.

Shyam Benegal’s mastery and Smita Patil’s audacity is a hallmark of this bio-classic. I can easily paint this as Benegal’s best but am just being careful as his other films tend to compete with each other.

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Signs

You just know when things fall in place.

There are so many inevitable pieces that come together to form a shape of positivity when such indications prevail upon us.

Things start becoming white, the sky weeps with tears of hope and tranquility, and we submit to the rays of rejuvenation. You can say, it’s a human language that talks little and emits plenty.

Yes, I have come to believe that goodness is arriving early with a whiplash of healthy fortunes.

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The Forgettable Year

One hell of a year it was! An agonisingly busy one, to say the least.

An unscrupulous virus ambushed the world, the planet came to a standstill as millions of lives were disrupted and our lives were never the same again.

The Pandemic has changed the dynamics of how this world operated. Today, we call it the post ‘Covid’ era. And, we are still reeling under the fatal consequences of the infamous virus. Human lives were lost, millions lost their jobs, economies faltered and in a way, our lives were tragically transformed in to bubbles, zones and tiers.

Usually, my year end report promises to be an interesting and curious fanfare. But, to my dismay, the virus did dominate the proceedings this year.

Yet, I am hopeful and remain optimistic. We are going to bring this virus down, and emerge stronger than ever before. As we speak, vaccines are getting rolled out and soon, we will see the end of what I would coin as ‘The Catastrophe of Modern Times.’

I am going to sign off with a short review, that looks behind the unfortunate scenes in 2020 and vows to look forward to a more encouraging and redeeming 2021. Reclamation will be the most difficult order of the forthcoming year but we, as human beings, will surpass and survive these painful moments.

In a way, we will never forget 2020!

The Forgettable Year – A Review

2021 – Teaser of Hope

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Tenet – Incredibly Predictable

Sorry, Christopher Nolan! ‘Tenet’ was a visible disappointment. With or without COVID-19, I still think that the film would have bombed.

I am okay with the theme as such – a futuristic thriller that means business when it sets the ball rolling to save this world from a so called ‘Nuclear Holocaust’ with a relentless intelligence agent who despite all the vanity around, still believes that he is the elusive protagonist, and a distraught wife who is willing to go beyond the imaginable.

I am okay with personal vendetta being the object of focus but somewhere, the thin line between reality and excellence of technology gets super exposed. Midway, I started having doubts if I was indeed watching a Nolan film or one of those rehash flicks from a Michael Bay studio.

Still, it is watchable just once for having the tag of Christopher Nolan. But, I am keen to quickly move over and wait for better products to seep in.

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Andha Naal – Classic Corner

A very early adaptation of crime and treason set in the backdrop of Second World War, Andha Naal (அந்த நாள்) was the first film noir in Tamil cinema.

Even though it is heavily inspired from Kurosawa’s acclaimed ‘Rashomon‘, it was a landmark film that has since achieved a cult status. Inspiring performances from the lead actors (Remember, the thespian was a relative newcomer then) sets this thriller apart, and is such a breather in today’s age of irrelevant and dead potboilers.

Must watch – streaming in MUBI, you might still get it on YouTube if you are wiling to compromise on quality. I wouldn’t!

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Voice of God

I grew up listening to his maverick voice in the cassettes that Appa used to play in the vintage tape recorder that used to be our constant companion in those days. He used to hum the songs along with Rafi Saab’s inimitable flair and in turn, I used to hum them, along with Appa and Rafi Saab.

Thus began, a beautiful and a sublime relationship with a voice which was so near to God and yet felt so close to human feelings. In fact, Rafi’s voice has been a household name for 3 decades before my relationship with his voice could even reach a semblance of familiarity.

His influence on me as a vocalist and a musician is something which cannot be described in words. It is not that I don’t appreciate other singers. In fact, from Manna Dey to Arijit Singh, I found all of them special and gifted in their own ways. But, for me, Rafi Saab was always above the mainstream, in a different class, in a different hemisphere. His voice had magic in it and he had this ability to weave it on us with such profound impact that we were left reeling for his exploits as a playback singer.

From Bharat Bhushan to Guru Dutt, Dev Anand to Rajendra Kumar, Dilip Kumar to Shammi Kapoor. He was the quintessential mantra in framing the careers of these superstars.

Rafi’s voice was meant to redeem human emotions, and lend a meaning to every expression. Melancholy or joy, sorrow or happiness, celebration or tribute, anguish or glee, love or deceit – Rafi’s voice could effortlessly oscillate between myriad human tendencies with absolute elan. His, was perhaps, the voice that could get the dead to rise from the ashes and sing before perishing again in to oblivion.

Rafi Saab, Happy Birthday!

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My Santa came in early..

This is happiness.

Watching him grow, watching him smile, watching him enjoy all those super little moments, which when beautifully summed up, is called Life.

We love you for making us smile, every day.

When life smiles at you..
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Paradise is not far away

In these troubled and turbulent times, a tiny shred of hope is the most compelling tonic we could use.

I am always looking around for those sunshine spots, the silver lining in the most vulnerable places.

The days of respite and turn-around are not far away.

Hope is paramount. Trivial and Powerful.

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Maradona – Genius and Rebel

The Football Player

Maradona was not just a football player, he was perhaps the most attractive and magnetic personality the game of football has ever seen.

Way back, for young kids like me, he was Football himself. He was one of the very few and rare players in the history of any sport who has enthralled millions across the world with his talent which was nothing short of absolute, sheer magic.

I would say, with his death, a part of our childhood has died. A generation will mourn as his death is a loss to everyone who has watched this wizard in action.

Yes, his health issues had a profound impact on his otherwise massively celebrated life as a footballer. Drugs, Alcohol and his reputation of being the bad boy of the sport eventually took its toll on his overall reputation. Some players are pure characters, they will just outshine everybody else on the field. Outside, they will be temperamental, abusive, laced with psychological issues. Rebellious, tainted and sunk in his own world, Maradona was never able to come out of his own destructive self, though we always ended up adoring him for what he was to us – A champion football player, a charismatic leader, precariously gifted and an awe inspiring sportsman.

Yes, the game will continue to produce greats but no one will ever come close to what Maradona was.

The game will miss you.

The Champion – World Cup, 1986
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Remembering you..

Your legacy lives on..

Steve – the first iPod launch, the first iPhone launch, the first iPad launch.. I don’t think I can ever forget those iconic product launches. I am a big Apple user, perhaps I have and am using every single product that Apple has launched in the last 13 years. And, I continue to idolise you, appreciate and applaud your massive contribution that has singularly changed the face of technology in this world. You are my hero, and people like you cannot die.

All I can say is, I celebrate you every day, by using those incredible products that came out from your leadership and Apple.

Thank you!

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Do we really celebrate Gandhi?

Many believe that he is not a Mahatma, a honorific bestowed upon him by the inimitable and peerless Rabindranath Tagore. Some, do consider him as an ambassador of peace, non violence and solidarity. World Leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. found an inspiration and a reason to live in Gandhi’s devout and adamant ideologies. Worldwide, he is acknowledged as the man who fought racism and extremism with unparalleled grit and determination. In India, opinions are largely divided and not unanimous, often debated and fused with history and politics.

For me, Gandhi was an epitome of audacity. His was a personality that we will see once in a hundred years. A life laden with challenges and obstacles, it wasn’t easy to be ‘Gandhi’. Yes, I would have loved to see the ‘Mahatma’ devoid of political vendetta (Congress was a monopoly then and hence, politics was ‘Congress’) and just be a man of virtue and equality, the qualities which he so strongly demonstrated in South Africa.

But, again, 1940s was a turbulent decade for India (in particular), largely encompassing the difficult shadows of the gruesome second world war and the subsequent culmination of countries to recollect themselves and develop an organised world. In such times, Gandhi also got embroiled in ugly discussions, nasty decisions and significantly, surrounded by politicians and not patriots. A regret, and perhaps his as well, was that he could stand tall against the mighty British Raj but could not convince his own countrymen to avoid the most inevitable debacle – Partition. Yes, we can sit and argue all day that the world would have been a better place without this divide, but, are we sure? We don’t know that, and again, whose decision finally got the nod, is also a subject of national speculation. Yes, he largely took the brunt for it and his obvious kindness to the minorities did not help his cause. All this and more, led to his assassination. But that was not the solution. Perhaps, it was the beginning.

An individual with a monumental stature as his, is bound to attract controversies and his life was no different. As much as his movements of Civil Disobedience and Non Violence were an example to the whole world, his subdued and cold reactions to the contributions of some of the finest freedom fighters in the country was a huge dampener. His acts of celibacy may have been revolutionary and ahead of its times, but they were torrentially criticised for coming from a man who was largely known to be the face of a country that was desperately trying to force its way out of colonial rule.

I think we are in no position to judge Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi. But I admit that my admiration for him supersedes the apprehensions that do not cease to exist and appear to cloud the great man’s enigma.

Mahatma to the world, a father to a nation. For me, he will always be a phenomenon who surprised the world with his diminutive ways.

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The Eternal Voice

If anyone across the globe has a fondness towards Tamil playback music and music in general, then SPB should be a regular feature in your playlist. Perhaps, the most versatile and mellifluous voice in the modern generation, his flair remains untouched and undisputed. Today, is a sad day. We have lost the voice.

This Pandemic has consumed lives aplenty and the wings of tragedy has swung so wide and so deep, that we are struggling to survive as people continue to die around us. When it’s one of us, it’s painful. When someone who has touched our lives in such a musical way dies, it brings sadness and void in the same space.

SPB’s dominance was phenomenal. With more than 40k+ songs in 16 languages, his indomitable presence in the last 35 years has been nothing but monumental. I cannot single out a soundtrack of his that wasn’t special but the ones that he churned out in the 80s and 90s will always remain in a league of its own.

SPB Sir, voices like your don’t die. They just become dormant and take a backseat to pass the mantle to the future.

You will live in our hearts, and so will your music 🙏🙏.

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Can we ever unmask?

Masks have become the order of the day. Thanks to the impending dangers of the pandemic, the way we indulge in our daily chores and commitments has drastically and phenomenally changed. In fact, the way our mornings begin, the way we dress up to work (again that is hugely subjective since WFH has become the new way of working), meeting people, catching up after work, the usual banters – all the so called mundane, boring, inevitable tasks in our life has suddenly become gorgeously fascinating and transformative which has obviously reshaped the ergonomics of our torrential lives.

We need masks inside a shopping mall, grocery store, schools (my 4 year nephew wears a mask to his school and it looks so painful and discomforting for the little one), every other place which has the prospect of having people around requires a masked appearance.

A new business segment has started evolving for the retail industry. Masks might become the new fashion statement (I guess they already are), with people preferring to wear masks that suit their style and personality.

I, personally, struggle with these masks. Especially for someone like me who has his glasses on 24/7, I see it as another embarrassing component to an already disabled set up. I cannot breathe, and when I do breath, all the air that comes out settles down on my glasses, which makes my vision blurred and vulnerable. I guess we have to live with this agonising way of masked life for sometime in the near future.

The irony is, we all wanted to unmask and unravel many such mysterious and apprehensive tales that remains embedded in our lives for eternity, but never thought that physical masks will become such an integral part of mankind’s survival.

So be it.

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How does this work?

We fight for intangible values in life. The most being, relationships.

We value relationships like gold, and it is also the most vulnerable aspect of the human DNA. Perhaps, the most powerful and fragile concept in human lives is ‘Relationship’.

A very simple term with complex overtures. It is simple because inherently, human beings adore relationships. But when it comes to sustenance, we fail. Well, sometimes we succeed too. But, most of the times, it’s a no go situation and we collapse like a pack of cards.

There is a reason for this collapse. We, human beings, fail to keep up on the most endearing and influential feature in a relationship – Trust.

We have a problem with ‘Trust’. Easy to take away, extremely difficult and almost impossible to reciprocate. We have a problem confiding in people. People who care for us, sometimes go beyond themselves to bail us out of trouble. But, most of it remains unacknowledged. Reason is that we are also poor communicators and reciprocators. An art which the human clan has still not mastered, remains to be seen if this will ever become an accomplishment for our race. Yet, we want others to confide in us, be transparent and become the elusive character that I could never be. Irony!

I admit that believing in relationships, believing that goodness does exist and believing that good, genuine people still live amongst us is a difficult proposition. But, we do exist, we do smile and we are able to cherish moments because we still have beautiful people around us, who give meaning to our lives. Though, quality does matter. 2 good, genuine, authentic human beings as friends are way better than 2345 facebook friends with zero emotional quotient. Virtual disaster!

Our flaw lies in the perennial quest for perfection. We must understand and conceive the concept of imperfect-ness in human beings, and more significantly, in our relationships. Our relationships fail because we either have outlandish expectations or inferior subjugation to the very concept of human bonding. Every relationship has boundaries, and mark my words, it does. You just have to know when and how the bondage of emotions turns in to a fireball of love and fermentation.

We can make our relationships work, but lets be very clear about the caveats here. You can’t be your best for every soul on this planet earth and not everyone around has an obligation towards you. Hence, the thin line of difference between mutual and being distinctive defines the mortal truth.

Realities are very different from what we hear or perceive. Your instincts are the key, and at times, they are the only ones that saves your skin from the peerless wrath of the sun.

Just hold on, and you might have just survived the greatest relationship jolt in your life. Sooner, the better.

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Omnipresence

We don’t go searching for eternal presence. It lives with us, within us. In some form, in some way, in a language that is beyond our comprehension.

At unexpected places, in startling situations, like a ‘bolt out of the blue’.

Watch out for the signs that ooze brightness in the dawn of darkness.

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Soulfully, yours.

A lazy, breezy and soothing soundtrack with a heart of gold. I am sure they will rekindle strings untouched, and will breathe hope in our lives.

The title solo is a typical ARR, loaded with Rahman’s silky voice and peppy beats. Mohit Chauhan sizzles in ‘Taare Ginn’, Arijit Singh swoons with ‘Khulke Jeene Ka’, ‘Maskhari’ is fun all the way and ‘Afreeda’ is a semi-Sufi number with some great vocals. ‘Friendzone’ is more of a prelude to the titular ‘Dil Bechara’.

If something else doesn’t come up, ‘Dil Bechara’ is on it’s way to become the most talked about soundtrack of 2020. And, yes. It talks about life, hope and survival. Musically!

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War and Immortality

If you are in the edge and you run the show using your instincts and an indomitable spirit to protect your country, then the equation becomes binary. ‘Greyhound’ is a war film and precisely shot, a gripping and pulsating event comes live on screen with the enigmatic Tom Hanks. Tom is also credited with the screenplay for the film and he doesn’t disappoint. Lasting for a little over 92 minutes, ‘Greyhound’ is a stealer that doesn’t stop despite withering waters and devouring enemy lines. Without inevitable comparisons to classics, I will round this off as a watchable delight. Streaming on Apple TV+.

If immortality exists and we could live for years or centuries, then this world will become the epitome of a dysfunctional world. ‘The Old Guard’ is a robust take on this perilous concept and what follows is a roller coaster ride, adept with thrills and frills. I don’t miss Charlize Theron, hence this was an obvious selection. Rest, I want to say very little about anything else. Was I guarded..? Yes, I was. Streaming on Netflix.

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Word Play

Words don’t have a pattern, just like life. But as we start building them, they can end up with unique designs. Sometimes, you know what you are building. At times, you don’t. And, that’s where it gets interesting.

I like toying with words, they are full of surprises and intrigue. Ditto, life.

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Word of the World

It is apparently, everything in our lives.

The source of sustenance, the reason to make excuses and live your life for those moments that remain etched forever. Hope..

When we are born, we don’t know it yet. We don’t understand the meaning of birth or life, we don’t even know that we exist. In fact, we co exist. People around us give us the feeling of life around us, to see people talking, breathing, hugging each other, saying that we mean something to each other. Till we understand or rather try to understand that this is life. We never know if we will live enough to see what life is. That, for me, is ‘Hope’.

We grow up, get educated, get civilised, meet people, understand people. Then, we fall in love. Yes, the greatest ally and the most destructive exponent of all times is, ‘Love’. Yet, we dare. We want to explore, we want to experiment, we want to toy with the options in our life, little do we know that it’s vice versa. But, we still end up doing the inevitable. And, we want everything we touch to turn in to gold. We want spectacles in life, we want success stories that laud us in every sphere of our life. And, we want it to continue, forever. Undoubtedly, it is ‘Hope’.

Failures strike like venom, disasters don’t knock before they come in. And we, look like puppets in the swaying storm. Life succumbs to tragedies, ruthlessness and adversity. We end up seeing the worst. But, still, we want to live. We want the good days to come back. We want goodness to shine on us like the eternal rays from Jesus. And, we want time to tell us that this ain’t staying for eternity. This is, ‘Hope’.

There is always ‘Hope’, we just have to see it coming.

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The Auteur – Remembering you..

Your films were not just films, they were emotions transcending borders and cultures. A master in portraying human relationships and political drama, you were adept in bringing the best out of stars and actors to deliver the content in a way that could live and breathe for generations to come. One of the finest story tellers in the world of cinema, your films inspire me, every day.

Sir, you are not dead. You are just silent, not making movies anymore but inspiring others to deliver what you did.

Thank you! And, Happy Birthday.

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Rishi Kapoor – The ‘Charm’ is no more

No, please don’t take me for a blogger who only pens down Obituaries. In fact, I hate them because I hate saying goodbye, I don’t believe in goodbyes. But apparently, these are tough times and every morning, I get this bad feeling that we are going to lose people – people who are admired, people we fall in love with, people we look up to when our personal lives looms large over intangible demons.

I was watching ‘Bobby’ yesterday, and the story of a heartthrob began. From the chubby, golu kid in ‘Mera Naam Joker’ to a young and handsome ‘Raj’ in ‘Bobby’, swaying girls across the country. And, it was just the beginning.

Rishi Kapoor has essayed many roles in the last 4 decades, particularly in the romance playground. Films like ‘Karz’, ‘Hum Kisise Kum Nahin’, ‘Khel Khel Mein’, ‘Kabhie Kabhie’ and ‘Amar Akbar Anthony’ placed his status firmly with the romantic tag around his growing shoulders. Not to forget, big films like ‘Chandni’ and Damini, where he delivered emotionally charged diificult performances. Off late, it was such a delight to watch him in feel good films like ‘Do Dooni Chaar’, ‘Kapoor & Sons’, ‘Raajma Chawal’ and ‘102 Not Out’. A sheer natural, you will see that coming straight to you in his on screen characters. ‘D-Day’ was an exception but he was fun to watch as a bad guy.

A special mention for ‘Rauf Lala’, the epic gangster that Rishi Kapoor played in the modern adapation of the cult ‘Agneepath’. It was never his space or his genre, a kind of role that he has never done in his long running career. And, his performance was a revelation! I didn’t see Rishi Kapoor, I saw ‘Rauf Lala’ on screen and he became the most watchable character in the most talked about remake of the classic. It was truly a testimony to his acting capabilities. I am gonna watch it again, just for him.

Chintu Ji, we will miss you.

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Irrfan Khan – An Actor of Substance

‘When death strikes, it’s not about the darkness. It’s about those indelible marks that are left behind’.

I really believed that he will fight this out and come back to do what he does best, acting. But somewhere, it was written otherwise. It’s a tragic loss to the world of Cinema, and we have lost brilliance and versatility in the same breath.

But, I have some fond memories of Irrfan Khan as an actor, as someone who gave us something new to cherish every time he dazzled on screen.

His ascending fortunes from a television star to the big screen giant was a leap that was inevitable at some point in his career. His nonchalance, his ability to pull off uncanny roles and his penchant for scripts with a soul were so distinctive of his personality and his films were a testimony to his impeccable on screen characters.

If he was gorgeously disturbed and menacing in ‘Maqbool’, he was painfully convincing in ‘Paan Singh Tomar’. His earlier stints in films like ‘Salaam Bombay’ was a teaser for what was coming ahead of us. He proved how equally subtle and submissive he can be in Mira Nair’s ‘Namesake’, and he refused ‘The Reluctant Fundamentalist’ as he felt that the film challenged his ideologies on religion. That, speaks of a man who was so convinced and resolute about what he was doing.

Films like ‘Piku’, ‘Blackmail’, ‘Saheb Biwi Aur Gangster’, ‘Karwaan’ and ‘Qarib Qarib Singlle’ were meant to be his sidekicks, but he created his own territory in these commercial ventures, which is a tribute for someone whose genre is not mainstream. Yet, he was deceptively and unknowingly so mainstream that we never realised his impact on us as an actor. In ‘Haider’, he was hardly around but his scenes are some of the most revered ones in an iconic film. ‘Lunchbox’ was another gem in his fabulous body of work. His roles in Hollywood films were not very substantial but he did make his presence felt in the international arena with films like ‘Life of Pi’, ‘Jurassic World’, ‘The Amazing Spider-Man’ and ‘Slumdog Millionaire’. Not to forget, Asif Kapadia’s ‘The Warrior’, which catapulted him to fame and recognition early in his career.

Irrfan, I am not your greatest advocate. In fact, I don’t exist at all for you, in your life. But, why do I feel that today I have lost someone who, somewhere, at some point of time, in many ways, has touched my life and you belong to those moments in my life.

We have lost a genuine actor today, and I will miss your kind of Cinema. I am sure, I will.

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2019: Introspection, Tears and Future

‘A picture is worth a thousand words’. And, words encapsulate life.

It’s 31 Dec 2019, and my usual ritual of a customary recap of the previous year is now like a Netflix series – a recurring, never ending one, that is.

2019 will go down as one of the most enterprising ones in my life. And, also the most tragic one.

Enterprising, as I went in to a planning and retrospective mode, torrentially at the same time. Not typically me, but I guess I had too many errands running in my mind and was hell bent to rewrite my future with a pen and paper of my own (not really, I used my MacBook 😀). Nothing so far, but I am confident to reshape my future. Shortly.

Watching my son grow is a delight. The charming fella keeps both of us on our toes, and his smile has become the definition of our lives. He will be 4 next month and we have mixed feelings. We don’t want him to grow up at all, with his ever beautiful smile just frozen over the colourful walls of our lives, forever. On the other hand, we are super excited to watch him grow up, watch him talk with those cutely etched words, his naughtiness in everything he does is so adorable and watchable. We are trying to the best for him, the best that we could ever give to anyone else in our lives. Beings parents to such a lovely boy is a blessing, and parenthood has never looked so seamlessly difficult and endearing.

2019 was also one of the most painful for me. I lost my best friend, my brother, someone with whom I have shared a sibling like relationship for years and I can only talk to him in a way that only we knew was ever possible. We will die one day, it’s inevitable and is as much a reality as life is. But, to lose someone so young and in few minutes without offering an opportunity to reach out for help was devastating. I am still grieving, and am moving on. But, what has descended upon his family is nothing short of an enormous tragedy that is unexplainable in words and emotions. His loss reminded me, rather shook me very hard, to say that life’s fleeting nature could be associated with such inexplicable events. I still don’t believe he is not with us, and I believe that he is very near to me, watching me, smiling at me and just almost ready to kick off a conversation, just like we usually do. Friend, Brother – I miss you. Life will never be the same without you.

Resolutions? Nah. I have never been a person of resolutions, really. I have always been an instinctive person and would like to remain that way. But yes, I would want to see that everyone around me remains healthy, and sound. I have been very inconsistent with my writing this year, largely remained distracted with other necessary evils. I would like to change that this year, I have a couple of short stories up my sleeve and would like to complete them before moving on to newer ventures.

I am rounding it off with few pictures of 2019, the ones that inspired and fascinated me to capture them.

Adios, 2019!

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Prevailing Disasters

If we meet someone for the first time and we end up asking, ‘What’s your name’, it’s a sensible question to ask. But what follows next, is a recipe for disaster and that’s exactly how our society is built. What we hear is what we percieve.

Apocalypse is not a situation for the future, it is a venom that lies deep within our present. What kind of a society believes in exploitation, violence and superstitions that lurk beneath roots and a semblance of darkness? Well, a society is built by people. People are made by birth or reproduction. Birth is not a choice, but the way of life is. And, our life is influcnced by plethora of factors – we are surrounded by some, some are imposed, some seep through education and a lot creeps in through the veins of dispute, culture, lineage and religion. Religion is meant to bring people together amidst differences, diversity and turbulence. Yet, what it has done over the centuries is just the opposite – hatred and scant respect for the human clan.

Caste and the caste system have always been 2 different dimensions to a clumsy concept. Caste was classified by humans and caste system was glorified for political reasons. The Gita or Bible does not talk about any such vehement classification or discrimination of human beings based on caste, creed, race or any mention of a reason for dominance that demeans a status of an individual in a prescribed society. The epic scholar and sage, Thiruvalluvar was an epitome of human resilience and his ‘Thirukurral’ is a magnificent tribute to a clan that should have existed without prejudices, exploitation and tyranny. It is an ode to our culture and a devastating reminder to a bunch of shameless ideologies that has done nothing but to bring ignominy and doom to a world that is still reeling from the events that shook the world in the last 120 years.

It is diffcult today to imagine this world without few iconic and dreadful chapters that displaced the dynamics of human existence forever – The Holocaust, The Cuban Revolution, Vietnam War, Partition of India and Pakistan, The Civil War in Sri Lanka… the list is endless and painful. The question is, do we have a world which is better placed today or was all this sacrifice in vain, for nothing? The answer is equally difficult and debatable. Or can I say, to anticipate or retaliate against such mercurial episodes is a task that beholds audacity and uncertainty in the same space.

The vanity of the situation is more precariously placed when we need our Constitution to define and explicitly state that discrimination of human beings of any kind is unacceptable. Worse, even such disclaimers are not good enough, the disdain and the ruthless killings continue. Yet, we still talk about education, civilization and development.

The caste system is alive because we want it to stay. Caste is a tool, like religion. They are not just symbolic to our existence and way of life, they supplement our tragedies amicably. Apparently, by the poeple who we trust.

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Curious Case of History

Stonehenge has remained a mystery and an enigmatic destination for years and centuries now. But it does invoke resonance and awe in the same breath.

Toppled rocks over a precarious design in different sizes placed over a tepid piece of earth – such torrid piece of landmark inviting such crazy anecdotes could only have one staggering reason. The legend of Neolithic remains that is one of it’s kind in the world, with a history of ruthless and undaunted stories can only draw such notes of torment and torrential attention.

Touted as the ‘Temple of Dead’ since it used to be burial ground, Stonehenge has history dating back to 3000 BC. It is widely believed to be a part of an ancient folklore, some beloved historians believe that Stonehenge was built by God, Demons and the Satan himself. Well, arguments are infinite but the science behind the iconic rocks also summon debate and curiosity, as it is believed that the position of the rocks was used to measure the time of sunrise using the size and altitude of the rocks.

Stonehenge was overwhelmingly stunning and epic, it is only a cluster of dead rocks for people who have poor taste, and have little sense of its diminutive incarnations.

If time permits, another visit is quite an interesting prospect.

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Wild and Close

How would you react if a tiger comes and kisses your car before meeting one of many other tigers for an afternoon cuddle?

I remember seeing them, and my 3 year old son’s epic reaction will always remain etched in my memory as the most memorable one. No, he wasn’t scared as he is too young to understand a tiger’s impact on a man’s life. But as the beast was close and missed him by a whisker, his excitement knew no bounds and the roar of his smile was more mercurial than the tiger’s. That for me, sums up the whole situation.

Well, it was a days of close ups and some of them were brilliant and intimidating. We saw monkeys, giraffe, zebra, Bactrian camels, Black Bear, Bongo, Rhino and Elephants, but up and close with the endangered species of this world was one hell of a sight. We saw the King of the Jungle, and truly, he sat like one, posing for us in the most unblemished way with a pinch of arrogance. Typical, I must say.

I had a tough time to take the best shots, and the most iconic ones are certainly hard earned.

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Sea of Water

The coastal path of Wales is one of those places that doesn’t leave you even after you have left Wales, for a very long time.

We put our tents in Cardiff but it was the blue waters that stayed with us through our uninhibited and refreshing stay in the beautiful land of cliffs, wet landscapes and rocky waters. It’s always a delight to watch waters slash against the mighty rocks and yet not mellow down, thanks to its very nature to wade through sublime and regressive waters.

3 days wasn’t enough, two and a half actually. But it was a visit that we will cherish for a very very long time to come.

I shot some pictures, many to be honest and I was tired but my DSLR wasn’t. I am particularly proud of the close up shots, which talks a lot about emotions and aesthetics.

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A dialogue with God

I ain’t a saint, I understand Karma but am equally susceptible to worldly pleasures and I am not ashamed to admit that I am normally sane and quite easily, overtly ambitious by average human standards.

I lost someone very close to my heart earlier this week. He was a more than a friend, a brother who did not require DNA to get us connected the way we did. And so connected we were in a way that I cannot describe in words, however eloquent they might be. It was a relationship where we cared for each other and we were equally critical of our decisions we made in our lives. But what stood out was the chemistry and the understanding we shared, we could just stop and take off again with elan. I am now poorer in this world, for I don’t have another friend like him in my life to have such torrential conversations. My loss stands undisputed, collapsed.

I now feel that someone, somewhere wasn’t very pleased with what we had between us. So disruptive has been this loss, so quantum has been the grief that I am only searching for reasons since Thursday when this colossus tragedy was conveyed to me.

I am searching for reasons, here and there. I try to divert myself to my daily chores but I am struggling to focus on whatever I do. What ridiculous reason can one give to the young wife who has just lost her husband in a matter of few minutes? How do I console parents who has have just lost their son? How can I ever provide an excuse to a father who is disastrously participating in rituals for his deceased son who had come in for a vacation to spend quality time with him?

How should I? How can I? Can you please please explain? I beg you to return him even if you have a reason which is evidently unexplainable beyond my admittedly ignorant stature.

He had dreams, he was excited to find out what life had in store for him, he has never been so happy in his life, we dreamt of a future that could change our lives. All washed away in minutes, a life well fought and well bred has come to a painful, screeching halt.

I might stop with questions, you might still return them with answers, but that is not what I want.

I want him back, please return him. Please.

Will you?

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