Section 375: Law Vs Justice: An Engaging Court Room Battle

A middle-class woman, a junior costume designer goes to the house of a rich director, with whom she works to show him some designs. He asks her to sit next to him.  She complies. He asks the maid to leave.  Next thing we know, the woman files rape charges against him.

His wife, approaches a competent lawyer, played by Akshay Khanna to defend him. The prosecutor is played by Richha Chaddha. What follows is a courtroom battle on the law of rape in India.

Important issues the movie raises:

  • Law does not equal to justice

 

  • As per the section, if it is established that a man has sexual intercourse with a woman with whom he is in a position of power, and the woman alleges that the intercourse is not consensual, then the onus is on the man to prove himself innocent. In other words, guilty until proven innocent. Lawyer friends, please discuss this aspect. I am aware of the law of POSH but not too sure of the sections of IPC

 

  • Social media is a double-edged sword. It is a privilege that today we have the voice to raise concern against anyone and within seconds the world gets to know.  Only two people know what happened between them.   But with social media, the public gives a verdict without knowing the facts.  It is also relevant for the Metoo movement.

 

  • Women who misuse the law are the biggest disgrace to the women who actually need the law

Rahul Bhatt plays the role of the accused rapist.  I remember him from a television show, Heena. In that serial also he played a spineless character. He  does such roles very well.  Meera Chopra plays the woman accusing him of rape. I have never seen her before. It was a delight to watch Sandhya Mridul as Akshay Khanna’s wife. Shriswara as the wife of the accused rapist is very convincing.  Kishore Kadam as one of the judges is a natural actor and his annoyance at the whole situation has a good comic timing. This would not be Richa Chadhha’s best performance, I would say.  Akshay Khanna is brilliant.  It is again a reminder what an underrated actor he is. And how Bollywood has not done justice to him.

The movie is very engaging and crisp.  I would not like to give away more as the movie has just released. Most feminists have written against the movie that it dismisses Metoo.  I do not think so. Let us be objective. There are all kinds of cases. Filmmakers have the creative liberty to tell any story they wish to tell. Watch it and decide for yourself what is your takeaway.

Mission Mangal: Entertaining, Inspiring and Feel Good

This review has spoilers.  So, if you have not watched yet, please come back.  Not that it is a murder mystery and I will reveal anything suspenseful. Just a warning for  people who do not like to know much about the movie before watching it.

Mission Mangal is a complete entertainer.  It has emotion, comedy, patriotism, and knowledge!  The film works because it is about achieving a dream by overcoming struggles, with limited resources, and limited money. Something all of us can relate to.

Simplification of facts.

India’s Mars mission is something too technical for a lay man / woman to understand. In the movie, they have given simple examples to explain the concept.  I found it nice because otherwise I would not have understood anything.  Don’t know how scientists would feel about it.  I guess those who wanted a more scientific, technical understanding should watch a documentary.

Portrayal of women

The movie shows us the personal lives of the women and how they are managing their home and work.  The characters are shown a little unsure of themselves in the beginning, and even disinterested but later they become dedicated and smart.

I read a book about women in workforce. It was written that women hesitate to take up new responsibilities for which they may not have the skill-set experience. For the same kind of an opportunity, a man who has 30 percent skill-set will project himself to have 70 % skill-set, appear confident and take it up.  The woman may have 50 percent skill-set but she will say she has limited experience and may turn it down.  So I am not surprised that the women (exept Vidya Balan) were shown to have self-doubt in the beginning. It is not unheard of.

The movie starts with Vidya Balan doing household work and managing her kids.  Her maid has not showed up.  She is doing everything.

What is wrong in showing reality?

For most of us women, the day starts with household work. Then we get ready and go to work. Is she saying ‘Wow! Chulha Chauka yay! I am a superwoman’!  No she is not glorifying it. But she is still doing it.  Because she has no choice.

Vidya Balan gets the idea of saving fuel while her cook is frying pooris. She talks about using resources allocated from another project to which Akshay Kumar says that women do not waste anything – “Raat ka khana breakfast mein doosre form mein”.  I did not find  the remark sexist. Rather it made me smile. I had just reused leftover steamed rice to make schezwan fried rice that day!

At some point Vidya decided to resign from her job,  feeling guilty for her past failure and doubtful about future capabilities.  At another point, she tells her husband that she loves her job and he better not try to make her feel guilty about neglecting home and kids.

She is not confused. She is real. Sometimes she is confident. Sometimes assertive. And sometimes, sad and ready to give up.  These little things made the character human.

Sanjay Kapoor’ character is permanently cribbing. He is always making his wife feel guilty for neglecting her house and kids and giving importance to the job. But the husbands of other two women have been shown as supportive.

The way they are dressed

I have seen women from ISRO in saris. I have seen lawyers wear saris in courts.  I have seen doctors wear saris in hospitals.  I have seen women wear saris in MNCs.  We live in India. What is the surprise about!

A lot of us wear bindi and salwar kamiz / sari to office.  With pride.  Doesn’t make us anything less. We are proud of the sari.

Why Akshay Kumar is there in the movie

Writers have objected as to why Akshay Kumar was necessary in the movie. Why not just a female team.  I did not like this objection. There were men in the original team. Obviously. His character does not take any credit from the women characters. In fact, he does not have any ideas at all!! It is the women who give the ideas. For a commercial movie, stardom matters and his fan following has definitely helped.

Acting

Vidya Balan was brilliant. I liked Dilip Tahil too as the NRI NASA snob. and Nithya Menon.  Kirti Kulhari seemed to be carrying on her role from Pink. No novelty. But the last time I saw her was in Four more shots so this was still way better! Sharman Joshi’s character was too stupid to be believable. Sonakshi Sharma got an opportunity to be the ‘modern’ one here, a change from her other movies.  I felt like Tapsee towards the second half of the movie had forgotten that she is supposed to be a timid, traditional, fragile little thing and was acting completely ‘normal’.

In her opening scene, Tapsee accidentally grabs the crotch of the male driver teaching her how to drive. This scene was supposed to be funny. It was gross and I wish they realized this.

Portrayal of religion

I had read posts about how the movie mocks Hindu rituals and astrology. I did not feel so.  The ‘Mangal bhari hai’ angle of Sharman Joshi was just a pun. They were trying to be clever and funny.  I was not offended.  It had context. What did not have any context was the sub-plot of Vidya Balan’s son trying to convert’ something  her husband objects to strongly. How was this relevant to the story? Also, Neha Siddiqui not being able to get a house on rent?  Why bring unnecessary angles of discrimination which add no value to the plot!

Patriotism

The photos of Late Shri Abdul Kalam in the movie and his story, the photos of the real Manalyaan team at the end of the movie,  Modi ji’s speech and the clapping in the theatre made me feel joy. The last time I felt so was after watching Uri. Before that Airlift.

For this reason,  I would give rate this movie really high rating.  Watch it to know what India is capable of. Limited budget. Limited time.  But we did it!  We made it!

Judgemental Hai Kya – Enjoyable and Fun Watch

The name of the movie originally was ‘Mental hai kya’ until the  Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC) made them change it, since they received complaints that it was too harsh.

The term ‘mental’ was used to describe people who were believed to have some mental issues.  When I was growing up, we heard it and used it too.  I did too, because there was no awareness back then. We did not know that using such terms was insensitive, and wrong.

People had objected to the title of the movie – writers, psychologists.  Without watching the movie. Without knowing anything about the intent of the makers of the movie.  Having a title that is a stereotype,  and contradicting it with the plot to reach a conclusion is a common technique used in movies, stories and even articles.

‘Judgmental hai kya’ sounded stupid in the context.  The original title would have been good.

Moving on,  Kangana plays Bobby, a woman who has been through traumatic events in her childhood, so much that it has affected her. Understandably. We are given enough reasons to empathize with her. So we are not judging her anyway.

As per the published Global Study on Homicide: Gender-related Killing of Women and Girls released by The U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) a total of 87,000 women were intentionally killed in 2017. More than half of them (58 per cent) ̶ 50,000 ̶ were killed by intimate partners or family members.

The idea of a husband murdering his wife is beyond horrifying. But it happens. A lot. Is it funny when a paranoid person keeps accusing an innocent man of being interested in killing his wife. But who is innocent? Who is paranoid? We know that one of the two, Keshav (Rajkumar Rao) or Bobby (Kangana) is the “psycho” one. But who is it?

This is a cleverly made movie, with elements of humour, especially with Bobby’s wannabe boyfriend  who never gets laid and her Photoshop obsessions.  I loved how they used Bobby’s job of a dubbing artist to move the story forward.

Rajkumar Rao is very good, as usual. Amyra Dastur (Reema) did not have much to do, except look pretty.  Amrita Puri as Megha needs to improve on her dialogue delivery. It is annoying to hear her speak. She brought a certain gullibility and lack of intelligence to her character, as someone who could be easily fooled, giving away the suspense! Jimmy Shergil, one of the most underrated actors has a small role, but nonetheless it is nice to see him.

Kangana Ranaut has unconventional looks. She refuses to straighten her wild curls. She talks differently.  She is original! Unlike the other actresses who just look like a clone of each other! This distinct style of hers make it easy for her to slip into the ‘Bollywood mad’ character as a lot of people find her ‘crazy’. Remember Tanu Weds Manu part 2 –  hospital / asylum scene in the beginning(Again not me. I love her!).  All of this works well for her in the movie. The casting is therefor apt.   She is brilliant as Bobby! I cannot think of any other actress who can pull this off.

Kangana haters have been active lately.  She is a good example of how you should be honest to yourself and do what you believe in. Haters keep hating. But if you are good at what you do,  people know that you matter.

It is definitely not a boring movie. It will hold your attention. Kangana haters better to avoid or wait till it is on AltBalaji!

Author’s Note: The words ‘crazy’, ‘mad’ ‘psycho’ and ‘mental’ used in the article are not meant to offend anybody but to make a point.  These are not nice words and let us not use them for anyone.

When They See Us: The Latest Show On Netflix Will Break Your Heart

After a long time,  I felt so angry watching something on TV.   The new series on Netflix, ‘When They See Us’ is a true story of five boys who got wrongly convicted for a brutal crime they did not commit.

Some things are painful to watch because we do not want to accept that something like this could happen.  We would like to believe in justice. We would like to believe that the legal system works. That there should be evidence to prove a crime.   That if you are innocent, you cannot be put in jail for years. But anything can happen… as we see.  Do search for the true story, after watching the show.

This show is very sensitively made.   It is a mini series – four episodes.  The five kids have done a brilliant job. Your heart will break for them.  And for the helplessness of their parents who watched their kids lose their respect, freedom, youth, dreams and life.  The grown up actors have also done a great job.   A side plot of a transgender character is also very touching.

Some characters I recognized from other shows:

Felicity Huffman

She is Lynette from Desperate Housewives .  She plays the head of the sex crime unit. This character is so convinced of her wrongdoing.   No sign of regret. No empathy. No conscience whatsoever.  It is said that if you say a lie often enough it become the truth. I read the person on whom this character is based has written crime novels that became bestsellers. Such is the unfairness of life.

At one point the character says:

“It is no longer about justice but politics. Politics is about survival. And there is nothing fair about survival.” 

Powerful. Sums is up

Vera Farmiga

She plays the Assistant DA.  This is the first time that my husband recognized someone and I did not! She portrayed Lorraine Warren in the Conjuring series. It seems this character is aware that the charges are false, but she goes ahead with it anyway.

The actual person is this case is now a law lecturer. It seems she would not seek reappointment in her position, owing to her portrayal in the whose and the consequent outrage.

These characters are not said to be ‘racist’  on the show explicitly.  There are mentions of Donald Trump though who had spent on advertisements demanding the death penalty following the boys’ arrest.

Dascha Polanco

It is interesting that she played Dayanara in the famous prison series ‘Orange is The New Black’. Here, she is very mean to one of the boys  to whom she plays a step mom.  She is so spontaneous with her dialogues, hurling one insult after another another to him for being an ex-convict!  It made me smile because I remember her as Daya in jail!

At the end of the show, they tell us where Kevin, Antron, Yusef, Raymond and Korey are now, and what they did once they got out of prison.  The episode of Korey is the most heart-wrenching to watch. How these men managed to keep their sanity intact and build up their lives is commendable.

‘You are not who they said you are! Do not become that.’  says Raymond’s father.  To be a good person despite hating the world for what they did to you is not easy.

Another dialogue that touched me was when a girl said to one of the guys that if she got out of prison, she would want to go out and do things. He tells her ‘You would not know what you would want’.

So true.  We always like to put ourselves in other people shoes and decide what we would do in their place. But we are not in their shoes. We would not know…

There is so much more I want to write but since this show is a week old, I do not want to spoil it for others.

Watch it and let me know your views.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Free Metro Rides For Women! What Do You Think

Shri Arvind Kejriwal proposed free metro rides for women in Delhi.

A lot of women have raised a concern that this was not required.  Gender should not have been the determining factor.  It could have been income but not gender.  We are fighting for equality. This is unfair.  I agree completely. We have worked hard to come so far. I feel this is a regressive move.

I fail to understand how this would help in security. More women, so more security?

Some women are saying that the ones who have money could always pay.  At least the ones who don’t could benefit from this.   I do not think it will happen practically. Once the benefit is given, everybody (all women) will take it. But fine.

Some other women have written posts accusing fellow women of being too ‘elite’ and ‘privileged’ to not support this proposal, without understanding the plight of poor women.

This seems to be the latest trend on social media.  Women putting down other women on how their ‘feminism’ in superior. Instead of discussing an issue, women are making personal attacks on other women on how they are not good to their maids, how their maids should just walk instead of taking the metro.

If you care about low income group women, please go ahead and be kind to your maid, other underprivileged woman you know.   Nobody is stopping you.   Please contribute and make the difference in the way you can.  When we are talking about policies concerning the nation, people will have different views.  There are many factors – politics, economy, gender.   Not everybody will agree with you.

Please do not DECIDE what other PRIVILEGED, ELITE, FEMINIST women should THINK and EXPRESS.  It is great that you are sharing your opinion. Respect others’ too.

If you are spending your energy in putting down other women’s views, good luck with another 500 years of patriarchy.   It does not make you a superior, intellectual feminist. It makes you narrow-minded.

Who Killed Shastri? The Tashkent Files Raises The Question Yet Again

‘If your family member goes to a foreign country, and dies there, and you receive his  lifeless body, swollen, with blue and white spots, with marks and cuts, do you not even deserve a post mortem?

This ‘family member’ referred to in the movie was the second Prime Minister of India, Lal Bahadur Shastri.  It is unthinkable that a post mortem would not be conducted after the death of a Prime Minister, that too when he dies few hours after signing such an important agreement deciding the fate of two countries.

The movie is like a real life Twitter or Facebook or Whatsapp debate.  We don’t even have to go as far as social media, we have these discussions in our living room.  Both parties feel the other party is completely blinded.  Is it just a matter or perception or more?  Is lack of evidence an evidence of hidden evidence?

The movie cites enough reasons for us to believe that Shastri ji’s death was a murder.  Even if we google on the subject, we will find conspiracy theories. There are books which make compelling references to the alleged murder and cover-up. The movie has collated it all together, and presented in along with the counter arguments. Without giving any spoilers, let me make some quick points.

  • 2nd October  – Selective History?

A character in the movie says that her child does not even know that Lal Bahadur Shastri Ji was born on 2nd October.   The day is known as Gandhi Jayanti.  I am sure kids today have no idea that Shastri ji even existed.  Our text books growing up were all about Mahatma Gandhi, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, Indira Gandhi. There are so many other great people who deserve to be known and applauded.

  • International political dynamics

Watch it to know what was happening at that time in the world. Where did India stand in all of this? What if Lal Bahadur Shastri ji was still alive?  How corrupt were certain leaders? What if certain people had not been in power? Could things have been different today?

  • Performances

Shweta Basu was very good as the lead journalist. This is her best performance till date. I liked her voice, and found her very pretty also.  As soon as I saw her, I told my husband:

Yeh to Parwati ki beti hai!

Who? What!

Parvati! Kahaani Ghar Ghar ki!

Interestingly,  I have seen Shweta Basu in other movies as an adult.  But the first thing that came to my mind when I saw her was the child artist Shruti from the TV serial.  Some things never change! Embedded in our memory!

Honestly, I felt other actors, Naseeruddin Shah, Pallavi Joshi, Mandira Bedi, Pankaj Tripathi, Vinay Pathak were just about okay.  I also felt that Mithun Chakraborty was a let down.  He gave a comic, insincere, shady, uneasy kind of feel to the character. For me, he took away from the credibility of the character.  I would have been happy to see Paresh Rawal in this role.  The speech he gave on ‘social terrorist’, ‘racist’ was a low point of the movie and lost the intended impact. Achint Kaur had no role.

Overall, despite the flaws, this movie deserves to be watched for the question it raises.  Think of it as a research paper that will open a floodgate.  People from my parents’ generation may have already known a lot if it.  But for those who don’t, it is rather unsettling.

Image source

 

 

 

 

 

 

Recent Shows About Women

This is going to be a long post! Without wasting any time, and words, here it goes:

Delhi Crime – Netflix

This is one of the most brilliant shows I have ever seen.  I remember watching Dil Dhadakne Do and thinking that Shefali Shah is such a competent actress.  I wish she had  mainstream roles. Bollywood has never valued female actors above a certain age. Thankfully, Netflix knows better. Other than Shefali, Adil Hussain who played the Commissioner was too good. Special mention for Rajesh Tailang as Bhupendra Singh. Shefalis Shah’s expression every time someone mentioned the rod was so effective – her eyes get filled with tears, but she does not actually cry. She tries to keep herself composed to do her job.

Now, since this is a show based on Nirbhaya, it is impossible to ignore that happened to her, and treat this as just a show.

  • People are complaining that police has been showed in good light. What about the times they have completely sabotaged the investigation (Arushi’ Talwar’s case for example). I would like to say that amidst all that is wrong, at least let us give them credit for what they are doing right. They did catch the killers soon.
  • One of the most controversial parts of the show is the portrayal of Nirbhaya’s male companion. Akash is supposed to come from a shady background, allegedly has another girlfriend, fooled around in the bus with the girl, did not do enough to protect her, and gave an interview to media despite being told not to. Out of all of this, the only thing I (or anyone else) would know is that he did actually give an interview few days after the attack because we watched it.In the show, Bhupendra Singh who mistrusts Akash the most, says that he would have done anything to protect his girl, had he been in the same situation. I have over the years heard some other men say the same thing.

The thought that a man must / can protect a woman from attackers is very disturbing.

How would a man protect a woman from six men with a rod? Are we living in a Bollywood movie ? Girl gets attacked, screams bachao , cross arms her bosom.. The hero jumps and flies over buildings beating up every man. Hero and heroine sing and dance happily ever after!

Few years back I had attended a safety training for women. The instructor made a reference to Nirbhaya’s case and said that women are cautious when they are alone. However, with a male companion they are less guarded and they do things which they would not have done had they been alone. Would Nirbhaya have boarded that bus late at night had she been alone?  Probably not. Contrary to the popular belief, that women are safer with male companions,  women actually do get attacked even when they are with men. Women have been kidnapped, with the male companions beaten up.  Women have been raped in front of their husbands and fathers.  A friend of mine, and her husband got beaten up by some goons, when they were walking their friends home after dinner, who lived nearby.

It is a no brainer that an attacker with or without weapons is better prepared than an unsuspecting person (male). So as a thumb rule, the trainer told us that we should follow the same caution with a man, as we would when we are alone.

When a woman expresses to her husband / boyfriend / friend / brother that she does not feel safe getting into an auto at such a time, or taking a particularly isolated route, or walking on a certain road, the response she usually gets is:

Don’t think too much..

Don’t be paranoid.

Nothing will happen, I am there.

 Since we always expect men to protect women, men may take it as a direct blow to their ego. This woman does not trust me. She does not have confidence in me.

I remember an incident where in a discussion among a group of friends, one guy (who secretly liked a girl) asked her why she was such a big fan of a certain actor.  She replied that the main thing a girl looks for in a guy is how well he can protect her!  And this actor was so tall and well-built that he would be able to!  The guy who asked her this question was very lean, and shorter than average. Needless to say, his self esteem was shattered by her response!

This kind of mentality is unhealthy for girls and boys. Yes, we should look out for our friends and loved ones.  Girls look out for girls too – sharing Uber details, tracking the ride, etc. And certainly, we should never leave our friends alone in danger.

But the expectation that the guy should be able to protect the woman with him, and should have died doing that is unreasonable. It is also extremely unfair that a ‘hatta katta’ looking guy is better suited to meet this expectation. 

Recently, a woman in the United States got into the wrong car, mistaking it for an Uber. Hours later, they found her body. People were saying she should have checked the licence, driver details before entering blah blah!  It was ridiculous!

Let us stop scrutinizing the choices made by victims. We like to believe that we are so perfect that nothing like this could ever happen to us!  The thought that something so horrific could happen to anyone so randomly is hard for people to accept. Even if the guy was touching the girl in he bus (I don’t support it, but it happens), had another girlfriend (also happens), so what!!  What does not happen is inserting a rod inside a woman’s rectum and vagina and pulling out her intestines.  

Made in Heaven – Amazon Prime

This is a very entertaining show, following the lives of Tara and Karan, who are wedding planners. Each episode tackles one marriage, one social evil at a time while Tara and Karan’s personal stories run in parallel. The problems are nothing new – dowry, being Manglik as a hindrance in marriage , inter-religion love story etc. But these have been shown in a very clever way, making it refreshing to watch. The show is very good at contrasting the economic inequality and socio-economic transition in India. Rituals are customized.  The ‘modern outlook with traditional values’ is basically about retaining the (bad) parts of our culture as long as it is convenient, and copying from the West, to suit ourselves. Hypocrisy as best!

Arjun Mathur as Karan was brilliant.  Sobhita Dhulipala’s acting was average but she had a sense of charm and restraint that suited her character. Kalki was brilliant.

In one of the episodes, the parents of a groom (who pretends to be a very scrupulous IAS officer) demand dowry right before the baraat arrives. The bride and the family want to know if the groom is aware of this.

For the benefit of unmarried women:

The groom is aware of what his parents demand. Always.

Four More Shots Please – Amazon Prime

My apologies for putting this show in the same page with two good shows.   I have watched four episodes I think.  So again, my apologies if it gets better. I did not feel like watching any further.

Storyline? Four women in this show drink, have sex, and abuse.  And then they drink some more, have sex and abuse a little more!  Don’t get me wrong.  I am all for women’s rights to do whatsoever they choose.  Tara smokes in Made in Heaven.  Vartika abuses in Delhi Crime. I have no problem with that. We are all humans and flawed.  I have a problem when a show makes it a statement to do this and markets it as a ‘feminist’ show.

Let’s not get into the whole logic of why we don’t object to movies like Masti and target women centric shows. I hated Masti too!   

The characters are stupid and annoying. It is tough to choose the most annoying one, but Bani wins.  The dialogues are disgusting such as ‘Mere vagina ki jai’. In another scene, Bani hurls horrible abuses to Lisa Ray to motivate her to work out!!  Siddhi refers to her mother by her first name. These women walk up to men in bars and say things like ‘How do you do it?’  ‘No anal! ’

I don’t know any people who behave this way!  Talking about size of male genitals is not empowering. If the lead protagonists of this show were male and said the same things about / to women, there would have been an outrage by now to boycott this objectification of women!

Also, what is with the obsession in Bollywood and Indian television with divorced couples trying to get back together? A divorce involves a lot of money, pain, time and litigation. In real life, when people get divorced, they are done. In stupid shows like this, it is so reversible that they may get back together any moment!

The show seems to be inspired by ‘Sex and the City’ one of my all time favourites. SATC was entertaining, fun and emotional in parts.  The difference between such shows and shows like Four more shots, or the Veere di wedding types is that while in the former, the characters  are just being themselves, in the latter they are desperately trying to impose their definition of ‘modern’ in our face!

PS. If anyone knows of any arrests made under section 377, please drop me a note.

Drug Inspector Murdered In Her Office

Neha Shoree was shot dead by an armed man in her office on Friday. Neha was a an officer of the Punjab government’s Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) wing. She was posted with the Drug and Food Chemical Laboratory in Kharar and dealt with licensing in Mohali and Ropar districts of Punjab.

Preliminary investigations revealed that the accused was running a chemist shop in Morinda. In 2009, Shoree, who was then posted as District Drugs Inspector in Ropar, had raided his store and had reportedly recovered intoxicant drugs from there, following which she had cancelled his drugs licence.  – The Quint

The assailant was holding a grudge against her. He allegedly took revenge. He  killed himself once he realized that he would get caught.

Nishant Shoree, Neha’s elder brother, told The Sunday Express, “The drug mafia active in Punjab is behind the murder of my sister who was an honest officer and never gave in to pressure while discharging her official duties. Balwinder Singh’s drugs license was cancelled because he was selling unauthorized drugs at his chemist shop. This means he was linked with the drug mafia. The circumstances in which my sister was murdered suggest a deep-rooted conspiracy, beginning with the way in which Balwinder managed to procure an arms license and purchased a revolver — all this when the Model Code of Conduct was in place.”Indian Express

“Why was my daughter shot dead? It proves she was performing her duty with utmost honesty and did not succumb to any pressure. I participated in the Indo-Pakistan War in 1971 for my country. And today, the drug mafia of this country snatched my daughter from me.” Said Neha’s father Captain Shoree who served in the Indian Army. – Indian Express

Neha is survived by her husband and her two-year-old daughter.   What is even more disturbing is that Neha’s niece (six-year-old child) had gone with to her office that day, as she had vacation. The child witnessed the murder.  The assailant killed Neha in cold blood, in her office, in front of her niece. According to some reports, he screamed “Happy Holi” after shooting her.

Here is a woman who was honest and hard-working. She got shot at work! Imagine the nerve of this beast. It is unbelievable a man would have the guts to walk into a government office with a weapon and shoot a woman at 11: 45 am in the morning.

This is horrific. I cannot begin to imagine what her family is going through. What is even more shocking is that I have not seen the necessary outrage in media that a gruesome murder such as this should trigger.

I will not say may her soul rest in peace because I don’t think a woman who went to work as a regular day, and got shot, leaving behind a family will get “peace”. I can’t say hang the murderer because he is already dead.  According to her family, there was a bigger conspiracy and it could not be just the one person involved in it.

Read another interview of Neha’s aunt where she said that what is the point of educating a daughter, and her getting a job when her life will be snatched away for doing the same work honestly.  We see these things on television. Honest officers getting killed for doing their job. Well meaning family and friends reminding these officers to think of themselves first and not mess with the bad guys.  The price is paid.  A heart-wrenching reminder of the world we are living in, and that some people are pure evil.

Neha Shoree.. Warrior.  Role model. Brave woman. Scrupulous woman.  You are loved and missed.  We are ashamed that you had to go this way.

Prayers and strength to the family.

 

Gully Boy: Intelligent, Fun And Endearing

There is the regular life. Where we study. We work. We take exams. We prepare for a livelihood.  We then earn from that livelihood. And then there is another life that we dream of. Where we don’t just earn. We live. Something nice. Something which makes us feel, Hum bhi kuchh hain..

Gully Boy is a movie in which a boy from a humble background, is told to dream, keeping in mind his ‘reality’. He however, brings his reality close to the dream. (This is a dialogue in the movie in Hindi, and I just realized I ruined it by trying to translate).

I know the movie released yesterday, so without giving too many spoilers, here is what worked for me:

1. As a writer, I could relate to how Murad (Ranveer Singh) found poetry in every day things. My friends often tease me how I find the potential for an article in everything. Little moments and observations create the best work. It reminded me of my story, Must You Finish Your Rotten Tea which I thought of  when I accidently put green tea leaves when trying to make regular tea.

2. Safeena (Alia) tells her mother that all she does is go to college, and study to become a doctor. Her mother asks what else could she possibly  want.

I want to go out, party, meet friends, talk to boys, put on lipstick, and do all of this, without having to hide it from you.

Story of every girl. We do not just want to study and be financially independent. We want fun and romance too. Without apologies.

3. Murad’s parents want him to study and do a day job. They do not want him to get distracted by passions that may not sustain him. This is what most parents would say right?  Makes sense. The hungry artists on the other hand would like to believe that Passion follow karo. Paisa ayega! But is this necessarily true? Does everybody become successful following their passion? But if no one follows their passion early on in life, how will there be a Sachin Tendulkar or Lata Mangeshkar?

4. “I got so many likes on my song. So many people watched it. And liked it”

 “So?”

“An artist creates something that makes someone feel good. Even after the artist dies, the work lives. It means something”.

I loved this dialogue.

5. I liked the ending. I hate the elaborate 45 minute  musical competitions in Bollywood movies which I do not have patience for. It was a bit abrupt but I liked it that way.  It was better than overdoing it.

6. The acting is brilliant. The last time I saw Ranveer Singh was in Simmba, a complete waste of his potential. More than Ranveer, I liked Siddhant Chaturvedi as MC Sher. Did a little research and found on that he was pursuing chartered accountancy!! Amruta Subhash as Ranveer’s mother is perfect for the character. Loved her expressions. Kalki seems to be playing the same type of roles again and again. Nevertheless, I like her a lot.

Now coming to Alia. She is a very good actress but I did not like the character of Safeena.  I feel a jealous, possessive, manipulative girlfriend should not be someone the hero should end up with.  Somehow, I felt that had it been a male character,  it would not have been portrayed as cool. Rather, a villain who the heroine would have rejected by the end.   The audience seemed to have loved her though.

Why did I think this way?

On my recent articles I have been receiving comments on how there are double standards in the way we perceive behavior of men and women.

If Priyanka Chopra says she needs a man only for children she is applauded, but imagine if a man said the same thing.

I guess the trolls have affected the way I see things now.   If anybody else feels this way, after watching the movie, do leave me a note.

Overall, go for it. It is fun for a one-time watch.

P.S.

Special thanks to my sister-in-law who gifted us the tickets for our first Valentine’s day after marriage. Hubby and I have been rapping ‘Apna time ayega… Kya Ghanta le ke jayega’.. since yesterday.

 

 

Manikarnika: When The Best Portrays The Best

The earliest memory I have of watching a  war in Indian history would probably have to be Mahabharata. Invariably, there would be what seemed like a sea of people for as far as I could look – on horses with a sword and shield. It looked too scary to be real. I would convince myself that it must be made up.

I have grown up. I have a better knowledge of history now. Still I cannot  imagine what it would be  like to get on a horse, with a sword and shield, out there for an attack, and get cut!  Then there was a lady who fought with a child tied to her back!

Sometimes, I try to place myself in that era. Would I have been brave enough? Would I have thought,

‘Sar kata sakte hain lekin sar jhuka sakte nahi’?

I don’t have an answer.  I am a very darpok person.  But I am also someone who values freedom more than anything else. Would I have given up my life for the sake of freedom of myself and my people? I guess I will never find out…

Rani Lakshmibai was a peace-loving woman.  She had principles. She did not believe in harming the innocent. But she had the responsibility of protecting her land, her home, and people.

‘Meri Jhansi nahi doongi!’

She fought bravely. She was fearless. She was a woman who stood by her principles, and fought for it, literally.

Khoob ladi mardaani, wot to Jhaansi wali Rani thi..

I was mesmerized by the movie. I love watching period films in theatre. It takes us to a different era altogether. The sets, the screenplay was very impactful. I certainly liked it better than Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s movies which get so silly, tampering with history and making unnecessary love angles, two women in love with the same man, dancing together! Manikarnika has stayed quite honest to the plot. The costumes worn by Kangana were also very beautiful.  She looked absolutely majestic. In the first half though, the songs could have been reduced.

In more than one scene, the mother-in-law of Manikarnika warns her that she is too free-spirited. She must remember her ‘maryada’. She recommends her to confine herself to cooking and household.  Thankfully, Manikarnika did what she liked anyway. It made me smile.

Women who remember the maryada – Well,  they are not liked anyway no matter how much they try!

Women who violate the maryaada – have the potential of becoming great!!

Veteran actor Manoj Kumar has said after watching the movie that ‘Kangana was born to play Rani Lakshmibai’.  I could not agree more.  It is evident, she has lived and breathed every ounce of the character, since the making of the film.

Kangana has  been involved in the direction of the movie, in addition to playing the lead role.

Here is the problem:

Kangana is immensely talented. She can put most actresses of her generation to shame.  She is also very beautiful. Her skin, her features, her figure everything is perfect. Now, add to that she does not follow the rules of the industry. She does not care about being in the good books of the biggies. She speaks up against nepotism. She acts in videos mocking the industry. She says industry parties are as boring as her Dilli wali bua’s talks. She is her own person. Unapologetic.  She also is vocal about her political views.

Most countries take pride in patriotism. But our country doesn’t. Anything patriotic, is considered too ‘nationalist’ for people to support.  A brilliant movie, about a brilliant person, played by a brilliant actor should have been appreciated to say the least.

But as I read the reviews, I realized that people’s personal dislike for Kangana, and their political views have made them reach unprecedented levels of ignorance.

Quoting some lines for famous publications:

  1. “The full name of the Queen of Jhansi was Manikarnika Tambe, but the film informs us she was nicknamed Manu, like the hero of the Tanu Weds Manu movies where Ranaut found such success as Tanu”

Seriously? The movie made up the name Manu because Tanu weds Manu was successful? I have read that Manikarnika was called Manu, and no she lived long before Tanu weds Manu was released!! At least come up with better criticism!!

  1. “A little later, she saves a calf from ending up as lunch for British officers. Can a film about nationalism be complete today without an act of gauraksha?”

The liberals love animals. All animals except cows!! Of all the things in the movie, this is what they choose to comment on!

  1. “Kangana Ranaut’s Soulless Film Reduces Laxmi Bai To A Stunt Queen”

Well, sitting in AC offices, people cannot imagine what life was like then.  What did they expect in a movie about war? Yes. There was dramatization. It is cinema. Cinema that offers entertainment, as opposed to a documentary.

I would say for people who do not like Kangana Ranaut, please skip this one. Please watch Simmba. Appreciate Sara Ali Khan – who had a 10 minute role in which she played a Masterchef Bimbo.  Then go on a rant on how ‘talented’ she is, and how there is no such thing as nepotism.

Fellow Kangana fans – This is a treat to watch!

For the people who are proud of Indian history, go for it. Not for Kangana, but to watch the story of this great warrior. The woman who was fierce and fearless. We have read about her in school. But her story deserves to be seen on the big screen.

Har Har Mahadev!!

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