Of Godwomen and Short Pink Dresses.

Last night I ended up catching 15-20 mins of India Today where the hot topic was the leaked pics of Radhey Maa wearing a short pink dress and boots. If you have ever travelled on a the Mumbai Western Express Highway you would be familiar with Radhey Maa, her large hoardings splattered across the highway showcase a young girl, with a beaming smile, too much make-up, and a red chunni wrapped around her. She looks very unlike the regular godmen we are so used to seeing and I hesitate to say, brings a certain glamor to the ‘godmen business’.

Now the debate itself was pretty bad with one sadhu and a women screaming at a poor Rahul Kanwal, who failed to make any point apart from “what to say of these baba’s” repeatedly, but the debate got me thinking about perceived images of public figures.

Now a disclaimer before I proceed, I’m just a step away from being an atheist and have no dog in this fight between a self-styled ‘godwomen’ and her critics.

My first reaction to the story being played out was – So what if she is wearing a short dress? She is perfectly entitled to do it, wear anything she wants, go out wherever she wants as long as she’s not doing anything illegal (it turns out she might have been involved in a case of dowry harassment but that wasn’t a point made on the show, and hence not the point of the post). My second reaction was that this is extremely sexist, and she’s being singled out because she is a young good looking woman in a business straddled mostly by old men. I mean, would there have been such a debate if say, an Asaram (who is currently imprisoned on charges of rape) would be pictured wearing a three-piece suit or a jeans and a tee? Probably not. Criticize these self-styled godmen for all the wealth they loot, all the superstition they propagate, and in general promoting all-round dumb assery in the society, but you can’t be picking on them for wearing what they are wearing. That’s just a cheap shot.

This is exactly the same argument we apply to movie stars and cricketers – what they do in their personal life has no relation with their professional commitments. A movie star may twerk on stage on the demands of the director, but in real life she could be a publicity-shy simple person. A cricketer can be race car driving, foul-mouthed adrenalin junkie, but as long as he’s doing his job, scoring runs and taking wickets, no one should care. But here is where the catch lies- there is a clear demarcation of an actor’s and a cricketer’s personal and professional lives, which is a luxury that not all professions offer, namely, the godman/woman business and the business of politics.

If you spend your entire day preaching to your followers on the best way to live and they look up to you for inspiration, you cannot then turn around and start living differently from what you preach. If your manifesto talks about women safety, then you cannot have dowry and domestic abuse cases registered against you. Occupational hazard, baby! Even if you do not actively preach against short dresses, the fact that you appear in front of your ‘devotees’ fully covered up (however glamorous), and privately appear in a short number is a double standard some professions will not allow.

Now allow me to contradict myself- I think the profession allows that double standard, as long as it’s not hidden. Now if the Godwomen were to appear publically wearing dresses all the time, embracing that part of her personality while still doing what she does, i.e. preach in the name of god, would there have been a backlash? If a politician were to accept domestic problems with his wife publically, then the cases would have seen that much outrage?

Possibly, but then the fingers would have turned to the outrager- can’t you accept that a normal person who like to wear good clothes and jewelry and make-up be spiritually inclined? Can’t you accept that a well-meaning person can have problems in his household? Now doing that may not get them more followers but at least they would have a defensible position.

So here’s my lesson from all of this – if you are in a profession where your public persona is indistinguishable from your private persona then either embrace it openly or make sure no one leaks your pictures!

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The Present

“Time of death, 10:39 pm, Thursday, 25th June 2015”, Dr. Sagar looked on passively, “cause of death: Multiple organ failure”, Sister Nalini continued, “Sir, sign”..”here”, Sagar signed the papers and turned his back towards the dead body of Cariappa and walked out of the ICU. This was the third death in his department today, “This is terrible, I can’t continue like this anymore” Sagar thought as he paced through the corridor with his head bowed down, making sure he avoided eye contact with everyone. “Sir”, Shit, not him again, “Sir, I just heard about Mr. Cariappa”, Rudra was Sagar’s deputy and second in command at his department and someone whose over enthusiasm Sagar hated the most.

“Yes, he passed away a few minutes ago, very unfortunate”, “That’s the third case today sir, seventh this week already”, “I know my numbers Rudra, do you have anything material to say, I have some urgent work in my office”. “Sorry sir, but I really need to talk to you”, “I got five minutes, be quick”, Sagar was getting impatient and irritated, “Sir, do you think we should order an autopsy? He was doing fine till afternoon, when I last saw him, I need to know what caused sepsis again…”Rudra”, Sagar firmly interrupted him, “he came to us with a kidney the size of a football, we tried our best to recover him, but once sepsis sets, you can’t do anything”, “Sir, this is the third sepsis related death and we..”, “so let me get this right” Sagar said firmly, “you want our already overburdened and understaffed autopsy department to conduct autopsy on a clear cut kidney failure case, and you want the family of Cariappa to receive his body mutiliated and violated, and you want to answer the board when they ask you about the reasons for autopsy”, “Sir, that’s not what I meant, I just…”, “Listen, you are very young, you will get many such days where you just sit by seeing a seemingly healthy person walk in the jaws of death and you wouldn’t be able to do a thing” She must be waiting for me, “Calm down, and ask Nalini to clean-up the ward thoroughly, have the support staff checked for any contagious diseases. Even common cold can develop into pneumonia in their already fragile bodies and cause sepsis”. “I already did that sir” Of course, you did you overzealous sonofabitch, “alright then, I will be in my office till late, goodnight” It’s already late, hope she hasn’t left, Sagar thought as he walked away from Rudra and entered the lift that will take him to his floor.

Fuck, if she’s not there now, Im gonna kill Rudra, Sagar thought as he broke into a run towards his office. It was a good thing the corridor was deserted at this time otherwise it would have been a very unusual sight for the consultant doctors to see an otherwise cool and calm Sagar to break into a mad run. As he reached his office at the end of the corridor, he pulled the curtains over the door that he had placed only a few days back and switched off the lights, “are you there?” he said looking at his empty office which was now engulfed in darkness, “Please, don’t go, I’m sorry, it was that stupid Rudra that held me up” he was now shivering, “Please, oh please be here” there was just silence in reply.

Sagar slumped in his chair in front of his desk with his head hanging behind, what have I done, what am I doing, this is crazy, I shouldn’t….but where is she…she promised me everytime I…but I shouldn’t..must not..must never..”So you were missing me, eh” he felt the touch of her hands around his neck as she whispered in his ear, her lips brushing on his earlobes and her breath falling on his cheeks. Sagar felt a sudden relief as his breathing calmed down, “I thought you left…”, “You have been a good and faithful servant. You make me happy” she cut him and came in front of him. Sagar could see her pale white face quite clearly even in the darkness. She lifted her hands and stroked his face with her long fingers, her deep blue eyes looking at him directly and her thin black lips curved in what seemed to be a smile. Sagar could not hold her gaze and looked down, she took his face in his palms raised his head so that he is looking into her eyes again. “You knew the price, and now that you have paid it, time to enjoy your reward” and as she said this the black robe covering her slipped off her body smoothly. Her pale white lean body was glistening in the darkness of the room without any source of light. She’s so beautiful and she’s mine, she’s my reward, Sagar thought as she pressed her tongue inside his mouth and slipped her hands in his trousers. Never knew death would be so beautiful, so intoxicating, so stimulating. Death. Death, Oh Death! Sagar thought as he felt his head filled with warm spirit and passed away.

Ohhh that was good, so good, Sagar was lying naked on the floor of his office breathing heavily and covered entirely in sweat. His first instinct was to look at the door, still closed, still covered, good, he got up and looked around his empty office, never see her go away. He picked up his phone which was buzzing, “Hello..”, “Sagar, what is this, at least mesaage to kar dia karo if its getting late” Chitra was angry and annoyed, “I will take another hour” he looked at his watch which was now showing 00:30, shit, ofcourse she is angry, “Kam se kam 30 missed calls kare hongey”, “yeah, I was busy in the ICU, bad day today” Sagar said putting on his trousers, “will be home in an hour”, “Ok, Im waiting” Chitra slammed the phone shut. What a bitch, shouldn’t have listened to my parents and married, Sagar thought as he slumped back on his chair. But even a call from Chitra was not enough to keep his mind away from her, death…what a wonderful mistress.

He had first seen her a month back, hovering around the ICU, disappearing behind the bed curtains, and then again appearing on some other side. Initially he thought it was just his long working hours playing tricks with his brain, till he saw her that same day in his office. “I know you can see me” she said even before he could react to her presence, “very few can, you are very lucky”, “What are you”, Sagar demanded, “I’m death…. actually, Im not..I’m just one of death’s servants, taking souls for him as a present, just like you”. “What do you mean” Sagar was taken aback by the accusations, “did you not give morphine to Sukhi”, “How do you….”, “answer”, Sagar had slumped on the sofa completely befuddled by the events and mesmerized by the pale white women standing in front of him. She moved effortlessly behind his chair to besides him and stroked his shoulder with her long white fingers and said “you did a good thing, painless death is a blessing”, “well…she was dying, she was suffering, and she was only 8”, “yes, I know” she said as she got closer to him, “you have offered me a present today, death was very happy to receive her soul”. Her hands were now cupping his face, her deep blue eyes, “how come I never saw you before”, he asked, “because you never looked for death” she replied still looking deep in his eyes, “are you here to take me”, “hahaha, take you? To the master? No. Your time is not yet come” , “what do you want then”, Sagar was still a little scared but was also aroused by her closeness to him, “I want to give you a present for what you gave me today” and she pressed her lips against his and Sagar felt his head fuzzy and warm.

He had woken up that day in the same way as he did today, naked, covered in sweat and breathing heavily. He hadn’t felt this good since ages, the pressures of working long hours in a hospital, seeing people die around him, a hypercompetitive junior and a cold heartless wife at home had taken whatever joy was left in his life.

I want to see her again, be with her every day, all the time. He saw her again in the ICU the next day, sitting near the head of a 50 year old patient, “he will not survive” she said as he was giving instructions to Rudra, “Rudra, why don’t you go and check on Cariappa, I will fill the daily chart here”, as Rudra walked away, he went near her and asked her “when can we meet again”, “we are meeting again, are we not”? She replied, once again her deep blue eyes boring into him. “Like yesterday, I mean, that was, that was…”, “really good, I know” she continued, “but death demands presents from his servants”, she got up and whispered in her ears, “so when is my next present”.

Two weeks later was Sagar’s first real kill – a patient he knew he had a realistic chance of saving, morphine overdose, no one suspects anything, easy and painless, he thought as he plunged the syringe directly to the patient’s heart. As he lay naked in his office that night after yet another encounter he had broken down for the first time in years. This is not me, Im not a killer, what am I doing this for? For yourself, he himself answered, all these patients- failed kidneys, swollen livers, they are not going to live for long even if I save them now. They are all presents to death, Im making it painless and easier for them…and for her…yes…making it easier for her….won’t let her go now whatever it takes.

Knock Knock, the sound on the door startled him, “who’s there”, “Rudra, sir” That sonofabitch. He opened the door and let him in “I didn’t knew you were staying late, saw your lights open”, “Naah, I just wanted to be alone, pretty rough day, eh”, “Yes, I myself was thinking about all these cases”, “What is there to think?” Sagar suddenly got defensive, “these people drink and smoke and come to us when their livers and kidneys are a waste”. Rudra now leaned forward on the desk and said in a hushed tone “you know Dr. Sagar, the common symptom across all these deaths in the last week have been irregular breathing, pinpoint pupils, seizures..”, “what do you mean” Sagar interrupted him, “..intestinal spasms, bluish fingernails, bleeding from the throat”, “what are you coming at, Rudra”, Sagar was now shaking. “Morphine poisoning, Dr. Sagar”, “What sort of nonsense is this? Do you think you can upstage me and impress the board with all your bullshit, Im going to have you..” Before Sagar could complete, he felt a sharp needle hit his heart, he looked up as Rudra pushed the syringe in, “that will be the end of it, Dr. Sagar”.

Sagar felt his entire body on fire as he woke up, where am I? what is this? What is happening? He struggled to get up. He felt as if his body was on fire from the inside stop. Stop. Please stop this. There was pitch darkness and he could not see anything in front of him and all of a sudden light started streaming in front of him what is this? Am I behind a veil? Sagar looked outside and saw a familiar sight, this is Rudra’s office? What? And then he saw her, leaning onto Rudra, her robe slipping out of her body as she cupped his face in her hands and said ““you have offered me a present today, death was very happy to receive his soul”.

“Im sorry, Chitra”, Dr. Goyal sat her down on the sofa and continued, “but we need to know, did you had any idea your husband was consuming any sort of narcotics? Morphine, cocaine, anything”, “No, not at all” Chitra was still sobbing. “We found stashes of morphine hidden in his office”, Dr. Goyal continued, “his consumption was very high, his heart was of a person who has been taking heavy dosages of narcotics. Last night he took an injection straight to the heart, died in under 15 minutes”. “Rudra was able to break the door open and get him out, we tried our best, but it was too late”, he added.

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The Job.

“Kaunsa flight hai sir”, the driver’s query jolted Vinay out of his sleep, “Air India, boss”, he replied. It had already been a very tiring day, and it wasn’t ending soon. He had to take a two hour flight to Delhi, report to South Block, handover the documents, give a briefing….ahhh…the briefings, Vinay hated those timeless meeting where your seniors ask the most irrelevant details while ignoring the larger issue over milky tea and soggy samosas….. ahhh those bloody oil-soaked, tasteless monstrosities…..“Sir, your bag”, his samosa revelry was interrupted by the security at the gate as they rushed to his car, “No, its fine, I will take care of it. Thank you”. Vinay was still getting used to the attention and falling over that comes with a “lal-batti” and an IAS tag.

“Sir, laayie aapka bag”, another guard rushed, “arrey yaar, no need, I only have one bag, I can carry it”, Now Vinay was getting irritated, he hated the ‘throwing around’ that his bosses indulged in, “bloody fatasses, can’t even carry their lunch boxes to their cars, stupid entitled babu-log’ , he hated that term and there was no way he was going to follow the same path. Buzzzzzzz..Buzzzzz….. “Yes, sir….the flight seems to be on time, I will reach Delhi at 10 and should reach office for a briefing by around mid-night”….”yes, I have those with me”..”Thank you, sir, bye”, as he kept the phone down and joined the queue at the Air India counter he noticed a familiar face in the queue to the right of him, “is that HER…,No, can’t be her…don’t keep staring Moron!…looks like her….maybe….let me steal another glance…ok, keep it cool..take your phone in one hand and pretend to look..shit, she looked at me looking…..fuck….look below….look on the left..LEFT idiot…” “Hey, Vinay” she recognized him,”THAT ‘S HER, I told you, yousonofabitch!”.

“Hi, ummm, Jhanavi, right”, “ahh..pretending you couldn’t recall her name to sound cool and busy, well done, stud”, “Yes, so good to see you Vinay, how are you”, “Im good, how about you? What are you doing here”, “Idiot, airport pe kya sabun bechegi”, “ahh” she paused and smiled that beautiful smile that Vinay hadn’t seen for nearly 10 years, but was permanently etched in his brain, “Im going to Delhi, where are you headed?”, “Delhi as well, which flight?” he replied within a heartbeat.

“AI-543”, “Oh, great, I’m on the same one”, even before he could finish the sentence, the queue on his right moved and Jhanavi proceeded to the counter….so 15 minutes here before we board, maybe 10 minutes from the tarmac to the airport gate, that’s 25, not enough to get her number, but enough to know if she’s single and add on Facebook… she looks single, definitely not married…is that a necklace or mangalsutra….stop craning your neck like a creep..OK. “Vinay, hey Vinay, lost?”, “what, No no, I’m here”, she turned to the lady at the counter and said “can we get seats together please?, WOAHMYGAWDGANESHA ……cool..cool…play it cool, don’t get excited…. “fine with you right, right Vinay? lost again?” she asked, “O yeah, sure” he replied with what he was pretty sure a very dumb face.

As Vinay gave the attendant his print out and his ID he turned to Jhanavi again, she had taken her phone and was messaging someone. This was the first time he was looking at her directly since he first spotted her in the queue – it’s ridiculous the things you notice when you are strongly attracted to someone see them after a long time – every tiny detail about them gets magnified – how her eyes were reflecting the lights of a thousand airport lamps, how her delicate fingers moved across her phone in a fast, practiced but never in a hurried manner , the silly butterfly clip on her hair, the pout she made while typing something on her phone. Ok, I need to say something before this becomes really awkward.

“Any check-in luggage, sir?”, before he could say anything the attendant broke the silence, “No, just a one hand-bag”. “Ohh, so you were in Mumbai only for a day-trip”, Jhanavi looked up from her phone and asked him. “Well no, actually I’m going to Delhi for a day-trip. I stay in Mumbai now. Have some office work, will be back in Mumbai tomorrow morning”, “Nice yaar, I to am still in Delhi, atak gai hun wahin par”, “Still staying at Shalimar Bagh?”, “Yeah, was in Mumbai for a friend’s wedding, nice city, Dalhi se to batter hi hai” she still says better with a Punjabi twang..sigh..”and what about you, kab se ho Mumbai mein?” she asked, “Hardly one year, this is my first posting..”, “posting..?”, “yeah, I got through IAS last year…”, “Nyyceee”, ohhh she still stretches the sound of nice, “so in touch with anyone from coaching”, she continued. “Naah, not really, you?”

“Ok, I will see you on the other side”, before she could respond they had already reached the security check. Vinay saw her join the ladies queue as he slowly ambled to join the much longer men’s queue, Its ridiculous, all the times I waited for her at the bus stop, stayed back at the coaching class, stood outside her college, I never saw her, and now after almost ten years, when she was barely a memory, I bump into her, ha. Vinay had known her from his IIT coaching class’s days and had what he later used to describe to his friends as his first “puppy love”. They were far from being even good friends, and Vinay never considered himself cool enough to be a part of her friends group- all flashy, lound, blingy dilliwalas, girls with flared trousers, chunky accessories, curated anglo-punjabi accent, boys with rippling muscles, t-shirts two sizes tighter and pulsar bikes. Those goddamned pulsars, even if I was to wear tighter t-shirts, my old chetak would have never stood a chance! Vinay smiled at the thought. Well, boss, you have more than 2 hours with her now, abhi agar number nai liya na…ha!

By the time he emerged on the other side of the security check Jhanavi was on phone, standing at a distance from him, she wasn’t speaking anything but clearly what she was hearing from the other side did not seem good, Either a fight with boyfriend or a scolding from home…please scolding from home please scolding from home. She saw him and gave him a weak smile, hurriedly spoke something on the phone and came towards him, “hmphh..Chalein…”, “yeah, but are you fine?” Vinay asked, “yes absolutely fine, Im..Im okay” Jhanavi stuttered, “You seem very stressed, everything fine?”, “Yeah, Vinay, Im fine, lets go”, “You sure you allright, want some water”, “I said, IM FINE, now let it go” she snapped at him.

Vinay was taken aback by the sudden coldness and her rude response. “Hey, I’m sorry Vinay, just very tensed up, right now”, “No its ok, but what happened”, “I will tell you, let’s just sit somewhere for now”, “well, our flight will be boarding soon, let’s go upto the gate”, “No, not gate, let’s sit here only”, “But..”, “NO, we will sit here, please”. Vinay was now getting irritated, “what’s wrong, Jhanavi?”. “Ohh god, Im so sorry again, but Im such a mess right now. Let’s just sit at the lounge please”. Vinay looked at his watch, there was still some time to board, this is not a flight I want to be late for, the sooner I get rid of these documents the better. He looked at Jhanavi again who by now had gone completely pale, documents and flight are going nowhere, let’s just get her to sit somewhere and calm down.

“Here..” she motioned to a series of chairs in the lounge. Vinay quietly followed her and settled next to her, “sorry, so sorry, I shouldn’t have snapped at you”, Jhanavi said looking at him, “just that things are not very good with me right now. I hope you understand”. How would I understand, I just met you 10 minutes back after a decade, “I understand”, Vinay replied. “Hey, can you get me something to drink”, “sure, what do you want, coffee, coke?”, “Just a bottle of water please”, when I asked you nicely you snapped at me!, “sure, will get it”, Vinay got up with his bag still slung over the shoulder. “Give me your bag, kabse tanga hua hai”, “No, its fine” Vinay said gingerly, “arrey baba, I won’t steal anything” she smiled, “Of course you better not steal from a government officer, I will have you arrested ma’am”, “hahaha, nahi kar paoge, defence mein ho, IPS mein nahin..”, she smiled and lugged at his shoulder taking the bag off, “Ok, you need anything else?”, “No, just water”, she held his bag close to her chest and looked at him with her big twinkling eyes. Vinay stood there looking at her for a second longer, “what? Go na, Im thirsty”, she said with some irritation now.

What a women – from smiley to frowny, to snappy, to smiley to snappy again in 10 minutes, ha, will be a fun flight, Vinay thought rubbing his right shoulder where he was holding his bag as he stood in the line to get water, ahh the damn shoulder, must be from holding the bag for so long. He turned around to look at Jhanavi again, but his view to her seat was hidden by the pillar in front of the counter. “Next”, the guy manning the counter said, “Boss, 1 bisleri..” as he gave his order the pain in his shoulder suddenly shot through, it was as if some hot liquid was moving through his veins, moving up from his shoulder to his neck, from his neck to his jaw, jaw to his chest. He stumbled forward and went down on his knees…. Did I tell her I work with the ministry of defense? No, I did not, I DID NOT….FUCK! Vinay wanted to shout but no words came from his mouth, now the pain had spread through his chest and a group of people had collected around him – NOO NOOO get out of the way you idiots… Vinay’s body was thrashing on the ground, he was trying with all his might to get a view of where Jhanavi was sitting but his legs had given way, his eyes were dilating and he could feel his heart going leaden. With one last push he dragged his body on the ground. The last thing he saw was the empty chair where Jhanavi was sitting.

“The job is done, I have the documents, see you in Delhi” Jhanavi spoke in the phone as the airhostess came close to her seat “Maam, you need to switch off your phone, we will take off in some time”, “sure, no problems”, “thank you ma’am”, “also, can you get me some water, Im thirsty” Jhanavi said to the airhostess with the bag still clutched to her chest.

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Top 10 cringe-worthy songs from the 90s

For my generation born in the mid-80, 90’s were the true 80’s of Hindi music- loud kitsch music (with Jhankaar beats!!),  made-up lyrics (tururu, tururu, tururu turu kahan se karun main pyar shuru!!), some mad dance moves, of which some still survive in the southern movies, and really bad fashion sense.  And now that I’m thinking about it, not much seems to have changed in the last 2 decades- we still have kitschy music (thankfully without Jhankaar beats), made up lyrics (Haila Haila, Hua Hua!!), and mad dance moves (without shirts).

But the 90s were a totally different league altogether, the music induced cringe as it has never been induced before. I know that many of the 80’ers would argue that nothing beats Mithun shaking his biscuit on Bappi-Da in the cringe fight, and probably yes. But what the 80’ers didn’t to deal with was satellite television and Superhit Muqabla (peace be upon him), which would transmit these blaring cringe inducing sounds every day, every week to our home, and we would sit wide (glazed?) eyed, hum them, sing them, and even shake our biscuits (let’s admit it- who hasn’t danced or wanted to dance to “meri pant bhi sexy”…okay, me neither).

So here goes my list for the 10 most cringe inducing songs from the 90’s, that are still stored up in our head, creep up every now and then, and halfway through the song in your head you go “WTF!! Where did that come from!!”.

With so many to choose from I applied a few rules : a) apart from the cringe quotient, the song must have the great ability to get stuck in your head playing itself in a loop no matter how hard you try to get rid of it, b) one song per movie, otherwise the list has a danger of being overrun by tracks from epics like Mohra, and Gopi Kishan. Now Enjoy!!

10. A aa ee, U uu OO (Raja Babu)

No, I’m not constipated. This is just the phamous alphabet song from Raja Babu. I know it has another cringer called “sarkailo khatiya”, but it failed on rule one. No matter how much Karisma Kapoor or Govinda (yes, him too) lifted their kurtas, the song never got stuck in my head like this alphabet song did. With awesome lyrics written by Sameer (who else), sung by Abhijeet, a cringer-singer in his own right, it also features

–          the backdrop dancers doing a pelvic thrust wearing a saree

–          Govinda’s style, which still inspires doodhwallas, and politicians alike. Now that’s something for national integration

–          Shakti Kapoor- enough said

9. Hai Hukku Hai Hukku (Gopi Kishan)

“Hai hukku Hai hukku Hai Hai!! Hai hukku Hai hukku Hai Hai”..FTW, enough said.

P.S: If Kumar Sanu is sent to hell, it will be because of this song.

8.  Bol Bolle Bol Tujhko Kya Chahiye (Trimurti)

I’m absolutely sure that if the Joker was to be given an item number in the Dark Knight this would be it, with him singing “Bol tujhko kya chahiye” to Harvey Dent.  Mohan Agashe seems to be channeling the spirit of the Joker in his dancing (yes, he is shaking his biscuit too!!).

The song starts with Ila Arun blaring “aiiiyayayaaa aiiyaayaaaa” like a banshee. It gets better though with Mohan Agashe entering the fray and making a complete ass of himself, along with backup dancers, dressed as African tribals, who also are his henchman in the movie. I guess his recruitment ad must have gone like “the ability to shake your booty in sync with the boss is considered an important asset”.  Although even without the Mohan Agashe show, the song would have made it to the cringe list just because of its lyrics (Anand Bakshi), which apart from the irritating “Bol Bole Bol”, include “hero hai to joker hu main” (see the Joker effect here again), and SRKs tie. Also did I mention that they are doing it for an assembled crowd that includes Tinu Anand?

Confession. I loved this song when it came out. Confession over.

Mmmmm….I still love this song. Ok now confession over.

7. Aaye ho meri zindagi (Raja Hindustani)

This is the ultimate, sweet, mishti doi of a song, and for precisely this reason it is cringy (and yes, I love it too). Composed by the 90s cringe factory Nadeem Shravan, and written by the baap of all cringe factories, Sameer, this Raja Hindustani number is one song that I’m really apologetic about (what if my really cool friends find out?). I peep over my shoulder, make sure no one is in earshot, and then turn down the volume real low. Guilty Pleasure, “udta badal behta paani, bole rut mastani”..ssshhhh koi sun na le…

6. Sawarne Lage (Raaz)

I know Im cheating a bit, the movie came out in 2002. But the music had all the 90’s ingredient, by which I mean music by Nadeem Sharavan, lyrics by Sameer, and singer line up- Udit Narayan, Alka Yagnik, Abhijeet, hell even, Jolly Mujherjee, and Bali Brahmbhatt. Now if that aint 90’s, nothing is.

It’s a good, melodious song, and very well sung. So what’s cringy about this? You might be the biggest Nadeem fan, and you might even be born with iron balls, but would you like your girlfriend/boyfriend to see this on your playlist? #iWin

5. In the night no control (Khiladiyon ka Khiladi)

Okay, enough of the sweet stuff, time to get the big boys out, or in this case the old aunties out. So Rekha and Akshay Kumar making out in the slime, in the washroom, in the car, okay making out everywhere. With poor Akshay looking stoned (he probably was), and having no clue what to do, and Rekha climbing all over him, ready to split the poor guys guts open. Add to this the amazing lyrics that go “In the night no control, kya karun kuch to bol”, and the epic “even naughty girls need love”, and we have a cringer on our hands!!

P.S: This is Anu Malik’s first entry on the list. Yay!!!? Ok no Yay,

4. Subah se le kar Shaam tak (Mohra)

If our nos. 5 and nos. 6 ever mated they would have produced an offspring like our nos. 4, who faces an identity crisis- whether to be a sweet song which is turning dirty, or to be a nymphomaniac in love. Well, it straddles both extremes, and ends up being cringy and on our list.

Make no mistakes guys; this song has really earned its place. It had to fight a really tough battle with “Tu cheez….”, and “tip tip barsa paani” from the same movie. I must admit that I cringe (and love) both these songs equally, AKs black bandana, and sunglasses in “Tu cheez..” (in a nightclub mind you!!) are matched at each step by Raveena’s wet yellow saree (in close up from all possible angles), and AKs crooning of “DDDDDDDdooba dariya mein….”. What finally tilted the cringe-balance in favor of “Subah se….” were the epic lines – “aise kaise ho sakta hai poora, poora pyaar, kuch shadi se pehle, aur kuch shaadi ek baad”. Well, in a single stroke, Mr. Sameer (yet again) has echoed the sentiments of a zillion boyfriends in India. We have a winner ladies and gentlemen.

3. Tu Mile- Criminal

This is one song that features on the list *ONLY* because of its video. The *ONLY* song that made me cringe even in the 90’s (I was happily indulgent of the others). Now it’s a good song, very good lyrics, and beautifully sung, but try watching Nagarjuna and Manisha trying to eat each other in front of your parents when you are barely 10. Especially, when it appears every week at nos. 2 (why the heck wasn’t it nos 1 beats me) on Superhit Muqabla (peace be upon him), and they insist on showing the entire video, where for other songs they were cut after 2 minutes. WHY!WHY!WHY!

So I used to look on the right, on the left, scratch my head, my toe, my hands (it’s not funny how much you itch when you are in an embarrassing situation), Im sure my parents did the same, poor souls they couldn’t even change channels (there was no option!! DD days)

2. Jumma Chumma- Hum

This was the song that defined manliness in the 90’s. The Big B, wearing an open chested shirt, black jacket, in a bucket, calling out his girlfriend Kimi Katkar (cringe 1) called Juma (cringe 2), for a Chumma (cringe 3), on a Jumma (cringe 4), and then just stopped short of molesting her (cringe 5,6,7,8…) but it seemed epic. Well, to be honest, even if AB was brushing his teeth in slow motion on that background score (remember that one!!!) that would have been epic too. In short, Epic Cringiness.

P.S: I always wanted to smash jugs containing soap foam (inna saara) like in the song.

1. Akhha India Jaanta Hai (Jaan Tere Naam)

All you mid-80ers, haven’t you ever wished you could grow balls enough to walk into your girlfriend’s wedding (against her wishes of course), dressed in the cool white bandwala’s dress, and sing in front of her parents “First time dekha tumhein hum kho gaya, Second time mein love ho gaya, Yeh Akhaa India jaanta hai hum tumpe marta hai”.

If Jumma was the manliness of the 90s, this song was probably the cool of the 90’s, and the cringe of today. Ronit Roy will not be featured in most of the lists, but for this 1991 (or was it 92) flick he would make it to the cringe inducing songs every time.

True story: One of my colleagues actually danced to this song on his sister’s sangeet ceremony. It was his childhood dream to do some kickassery like this. Hats off buddy!!

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ICC World Cup 2011- Team preview

Back to the blog after a long time, and with my pending marriage (22nd Feb, eat your heart out Girls!!!), occupying most of my mindspace, there really isn’t much time to watch some good ol’ movies.  But like a good patriotic India, there’s always time, mind and heart for cricket.  So unless you went on  a 10 year trip to Pluto  and have returned yesterday, or were struck in Guantanamo Bay, where I’m told are no Indians, and no TV, or are just dead, you would know that India is hosting the biggest marquee sporting event in the World!!!!  What do I hear now? FIFA? Olympics? Wimbledon?  Ohh come on….as an Indian you are not supposed to know or recognize that any other sport apart from Cricket exists, and Commonwealth game were simply a dress rehearsal for the greatest ever sporting event, so period.

Now, since THE IPL will be beginning only in April, and we have a long way to go there, so let’s just pretend that this is the pre-Lalit Modi era, and the shorter version of the game refers to the 50-over format.  This makes our lives much, much easier, because before the marquee event begins we will have 45 days of warm ups called the ICC Cricket World Cup starting in February.  So to make our dull lives, and more importantly office talks, much more exciting let’s just pretend that this is the 90’s when the World Cup actually mattered, which was the time when Australia had to do much more than just turn up to win.  Now, that’s another reason to pretend that it’s the 90’s- the Aussies are down, and this is probably the first World Cup after 1996 that any other team actually stands a chance.

Seven of the eight test playing nations can actually think about lifting the trophy (in case of Bangladesh and West Indies, only think).  I’m excluding New Zealand, who are playing so bad that they would rather fancy their chances reaching South Pole without a compass than lifting the cup.  So here are my thoughts on the 7 teams and their chances:

India: In spite of the fact that the best they have done in the home WCs is the semi-final spot (’87 & ’96), recent injuries to the top 3 batsman, injury to their first choice bowler Praveen Kumar, and a fragile spearhead Zaheer Khan, India starts as firm favorites, not only mine, but almost everyone’s.  The reason of course has been their performances over the last two years.  With seniors like Ganguly, Kumble, and Dravid retiring and Sachin picking and choosing his ODIs, the young guns have stood up in the shorter format.  Virat Kohli has matured into a stable middle order batsman,  Raina might be a joke on bouncy tracks, but will be dangerous on flat Indian pitches, Yusuf Pathan and Yuvraj are playing the crucial 5th bowler role to perfection, and Zaheer Khan, fitness permitting is one of the more dangerous bowlers in world cricket at present.  With the trinity of Sachin, Sehwag, and Gambhir ensuring a decent start almost always, Kohli at number four to stem any collapse, and Yuvraj, Dhoni, Pathan and increasingly Harbhajan providing the power at the end, India will be difficult to beat.  But difficult selection choices, possible injuries, poor record in ICC tournies off late, and enormous home pressure might just bust their party.

What’s right- Good team combination.

What’s wrong- Home pressure would be enormous

X-factor- Sachin’s last World Cup.  He wants to win it badly, and the team wants to gift him a farewell worth remembering.

Sri Lanka: Sri Lanka for me is India without the hype.  They have a terrific combination at the top of the order- Tharanga, and Dilshan in the sub-continental conditions are as good as Sachin and Sehwag, a beefy middle order with Jayawardene,  and the dangerous Sangakkara,  followed by an extremely useful  Angelo Matthews.  Sling’a   Mailinga provides fire at the top, and the wily Murli will look to repeat the exploits of ’96. The problem with Sri Lanka though is their back up bowlers; Kulasekera, and Fernando, are not match winners, and their key role is to support Malinga; batsmen all over the world have decoded both Mendis, and Herath, and they should pose little problem.  Even then Sri Lanka has the kind of slow spinners in their side that can choke the opposition in friendly conditions, and my bet is that they will play a crucial role in Lanka’s journey.

What’s right: Same as India, but will lesser hype and pressure.

What’s wrong: If Murli and Malinga do not start well, they will be chasing big totals.

X-factor:  Angelo Mathews- he is one of the more highly under-rated cricketers.  A dangerous batsman, and adds variety to Lanka bowling.

Australia: For the last 12 years, the key World cup question was never who was going to win it, but rather who would play Australia in the finals.  But this is the Aussie bashing season folks, the last time they had it this bad was when their leading fast bowler, and leading spinner had a combined age of 5. But then they had Allan Border, today they have Ricky Ponting, who in spite of all his bravado is struggling to manage a team that has lost all its key players in the last 4 years.  Add to this, the team selection has been puzzling- they have gone for Tait and Lee as premier fast bowlers, and there is a big question mark over both their fitness, and economy rates.  The selection of Jason Kreza as spinner was equally puzzling,  he is averaging more than 70 runs/wicket in India. However, I won’t write off Australia completely- their top order is set, with Shane Watson in blazing form, and I have a feeling that he will finally learn to convert his 50’s into 100’s in this tournament, Ricky Ponting, and Clark are proven performers, although their recent form is a major cause of concern.  With Hussey out, their failure will put massive pressure on players like White and Voge, who will be expected to do both damage control, and provide fire power at the end.  My bet- even with the key players down, Australia has enough fire power to reach the semi’s, but they will find it difficult to make it 4 in a row.

What’s right: As the recent England ODIs prove, even with limited resources, they can fight and win.

What’s wrong:  Indifferent form of key middle order, and a fragile bowling attack.  Especially with no decent spinners in their attacks they might become cannon fodder for the batsmen.

X-factor: Ricky Ponting- The man has seen it all over his 17 years in international cricket, and though is leading this Aussie side in their darkest times but he still has enough fight in him to turn things over, and most importantly has the respect of the team.  This would be his last world cup as well as his last assignment as Aussie captain and player; he would like to make a fist of it.

England: One month back I would have said that they are the strongest contender for the cup, but the recent 6-1 spanking that Australia gave them showed who’s still the Daddy.  Don’t get me wrong, England is an excellent Test side, and I have been cheering for them in the Ashes, but they have been absolutely mediocre when it comes to the ODIs.  Add to this the subcontinent factor, and the English jelly bellies, and the trophy seems further away.  However, this present team is the best that England have fielded since 1992; their batting lineup is heavy with traditional ‘see the ball’ players like Collingwood, Trott, and even Strauss, and the success will depend heavily on how KP shapes up, especially with Eoin Morgan out with injury.  The bowling enjoyed plenty of success in the Aussie conditions, but has been smacked in the ODIs; Graeme Swann has done a great job with lesser expectations on his back, but will be interesting to see how he takes the responsibility of a strike bowler in helpful conditions.  The fast bowling arsenal, although looks great on paper, but will be found wanting in conditions that favor batsman, this will be a long tour for Broad, Anderson, and Bresnan, especially if they don’t master the slower deliveries.

What’s right: This is the strongest English team to go for a World Cup since 1992, and apart from the Aussie ODI series, have tasted some big success in the last 2 years.

What’s wrong: Their bowlers have a terrible record in India.

X-Factor: Andrew Strauss.  Strauss, along with Dhoni has the ability to get his troops do something extraordinary for him.

South Africa: Keep the pretzels away, the chokers are here!!!  The Protean’s had spent the last 4 years, trying to keep away this tag, and just when it looked like the world has forgotten the nightmares of rain in’92, Lara in ’96, Donald in ’99, Sehwag’s bowling  in ’02, Boucher, Duckworth, and poor mathematics in ’03, Mcgrath, and ‘my mum could have done better’ batting in ’07, (gosh!! It’s a long list) they lost 2 straight matches to India, which should have been a cakewalk.  South Africa is probably the only team that has been favorites to win every world cup since 1992, and the closest they have come is choking in the semis, twice.  The present team is not very different than any other South African team to play in the World Cup, in fact all the South African teams across decades have looked the same with different names at the back of the jersey- they have attacking batsman at the top of the order, flanked by 2 (not more, not less) traditionalists to hold the batting in unlikely collapse (until they are playing a big game, when they all collapse), 2 fiery front line fast bowlers (140k+), 2 fiery back up fast bowler (140+), a solid wicket keeping batsman,  astounding fielders,  and one spinner just to make them 11. So nothing different about the Proteans this time, except they are bringing in a debutant spinner as a mystery weapon, and since he is not of South African descent, they are hoping that he could at least turn the ball.  My bet- they will win all the way to Quarter finals, to be beaten by a less fancy team.  Pakistan, anyone?

What’s right- A well oiled machine of a team.  Typical Protea.

What’s wrong- In absence of a good spinner, their bowling attack is predictable.

X-Factor- Dale Steyn.  The best bowler in the world by a long way, he can turn a match in one spell.  At present, perhaps the only fast bowler, who can make the state of the pitch irrelevant. If he’s on fire, South Africa can defend any total.

Pakistan: Pakistan is really a poster child of Murphy’s Law, everything that can go wrong from drug scandals, to infightings, to match fixing, to terrorist attacks on touring teams, to spot fixing has gone wrong with Pakistan.  Now does that make any difference to their world cup chances, I bet it doesn’t.  Consistency has never been Pakistan’s forte, this is a team that thrives on mercurial performances of outstandingly talented cricketers, and they have plenty such cricketers in their bags.  So much so that last week when ICC banned 3 of their best players, a former captain said, ‘this won’t affect Pakistan cricket in any way’, and sure it won’t because soon we will see some 19 year old bowlers bowling toe crushing in-swingers at 150+, and a 20 years old bashing the living daylight of the SG’s and the kookaburra’s.  Another thing that this team thrives on is revenge, and there’s plenty to play for them in 2011- IPL 2010 humiliation, World cup matches taken away, spot fixing, senior players rebelling, a Kookaburra that looked like an apple (which according to them was a RAW conspiracy to make their skipper look like an idiot!!!).  They also seem to have assembled a team that looks very dangerous, if it plays together- Misbah, Younis Khan, Umar Akmal, will form the batting core, and if Shahid Afridi doesn’t self destruct, his shots are sure to kill a few spectators, and kiss a few airhostesses.  Bowling is where Pakistan has been traditionally very strong- Umar Gul, and the wrong-footed Sohail Tanveer (hours after i wrote this, he was out with injury) know the sub continent conditions and could be more dangerous than someone more fancy like Morne Morkel, or James Anderson. Abdul Razaak is back with a bang, and will be the key player in close matches, both with bat and ball.

What’s right- WTF!!! This is Pakistan we are talking about.

What’s wrong-  Everything that can go wrong has already gone wrong.  Just, if they don’t kill their coach again….

X-Factor- The Pakistani’s love a  fight, they will come back hard. I wouldn’t want to be their opposition in a QF or a SF game.

West Indies and Bangladesh: They will be the giant killers, and are going to spoil the party for at least one of the above 5 teams.  Both these teams are good enough to reach QFs, but since both are in the tough group B, only 1 would go through the QFs (although it would be much fun if they both pass through, means one of India, SA, and England is out).  Whichever of these minnows make it to the knock outs, I’m pretty sure that they will be itching to play Pakistan, which gives them the best chance to reach the semis. Both these teams have pretty similar combinations, with Bangladesh a little ahead both in terms of home advantage, and recent form.

What’s right- Both the teams have game breakers in their side.

What’s wrong- Inconsistency

X-Factor- If the opposition takes them lightly, they will pounce and tear them limb by limb.


QFS Group A:  Pakistan, Australia, Sri Lanka, New Zealand

QFS Group B: India, South Africa, England, Bangladesh

QF 1: Australia vs Bangladesh

QF 2: Sri Lanka vs England

QF 3: India vs Pakistan

QF 4: New Zealand vs South Africa

SF 1: Australia vs India

SF 2: Sri Lanka vs South Africa

Finals: India vs Sri Lanka

P.S 1:  My prediction of QF 3 victory for India is solely based on my patriotism. Given that Pakistanis will be baying for Indian blood, and this match will be played in Bangladesh,  I fear the worst.

P.S 2: I hope India beats S Africa, and avoids a QF clash with Pakistan.

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Tehelka (1992)- Why Dharam is garam

I know it’s been a long long time since I updated this blog, and since the reasons demand a completely new post I won’t dwell on them. And yaa…I know the 10 comic Hindi movie list is still not complete, but I had to absolutely write about this movie after I read Memsaab’s review of Ajooba.

Now you might think there is no connection between a children’s fantasy tale with a masked hero, shaitan vazir, and a 50 feet stone monster, and a ‘garam spewing dharam’ starrer, blood bathed orgy of bad acting made by Anil Sharma, the then reigning badshah of bad ass ‘dishum dishum’ kicking movies (Elaan e Jung, Hukumat, Farishte, all starring our Dharam-man). But as you might have guessed by now- there is.

The first being that I had the privilege of watching both of them on video in a full family gathering!!  I always wondered why my dad allowed me to watch a blood splattered movie like Tehelka, but I guess he had no choice once my uncle got the cassette.  And remember those were the days when Madhuri was doing the “Choli” and the “Dhak dhak”, Karan Johar was in his nappies, Yash Chopra had made a yawner called ‘Lamhe’, and god knows what was Sooraj Barjatya doing after ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’.  Okay, I can see that you have got the point…there were no options!!!

The second, and the actual reason for the Ajooba connection, is that we kids (like all kids) used to play quite silly games, and one of the favorite was playing Ajooba.  After watching Tehelka that game was modified, so we had  Ajooba, and the Tehelka vigilante team fighting Vazir, and the Dong (who btw is never wrong).  And since it was the time before Harry came and taught everyone the actual use of a broom (to FLY!!!!) we simply used them as guns, and swords, and guns which Ajooba’s magic would turn into swords.  It not only was fun, but also convenient because that meant that more people can play the “heroes”, so it meant lesser fights among cousins.  Although I’m not sure if our parents ever appreciated our ingenuity, they thought we were not fighting because we are “all grown up”.

Tehelka starts off with an introduction to ‘Dong’, dictator of ‘Dongri-la’, a typical bollywood-ean ‘padosi mulk, jiski buri nazar Bharat pe hai’.  Dong, played maliciously by Amrish Puri (who else) is a blood-thirsty despot, who is given little touches to show that he is not Indian (hakka noodle, nudge nudge, wink wink). He kills his own men if they are two minutes late, smuggles drugs, arms, wants to destroy India, and basically is typical Amrish.  The only additional evil is smuggling Indian women, making the good looking ones prostitutes, and brainwashing the mediocre looking ones into becoming suicide bombers (inspired by Rajiv Gandhi’s assassination).

To make it more contemporary, ‘Gadar’ Sharma provides Dong with numerous look-alikes (ala Saddam Hussein), using whom he enters India, sits inside an Indian-army tank, enters the Army parade, and blows up India’s Army Chief (poor Parikshit Sahani), ala Anwar Saddat (nudge nudge, wink wink)

But why would he play the veena (or Sitar?), holds feasts for brahmins, keeps fasts, and above all speak fluent hindi, and sing “Shom shom shom shamo sha sha”? Ahhh…who cares as long as there’s Dharam to kick ass.

Now, coming to Dharam he plays a disgraced Army major Dharam Singh, who got suspended from the army after he killed a thousand (yups, 1000!!)  of Dong’s soldiers against the orders of his superior (and you thought his Sonny boy taking out a handpump was friggin’ awesome).  He is majorly pissed off,  which explains why he wants to put “ghunghroo on my feet”.

He is met by another pissed off major, Krishna Kant (hereafter KK), played by Mukesh Khanna.  Now Krishna Kant is pissed off at both the Dong (for first kicking his ass, and then taking away his daughter), and his boss Brigadier Kapoor (Shammi Kapoor, wasted) for not allowing him to attack Dong.  He persuades Kapoor to send a crack team of elite commandos that are best in India, and they include: Javed Jafrey, Naseeruddin Shah, Aditya Pancholi (seriously, commandos, India’s best!!!! I think Anil’s budget was exhausted on Dong and his Dongri-la), and Ekta (the mandatory siren, I had no idea who she was until I googled her).  Now, since apart from KK the team has no real men (the 3 idiots dress up in a drag), and he needs to increase the maa-cho quotient he hires the Dharam-man, who has one condition- he won’t take orders from anyone (WTF!).

Now allow me to do my arbit, and talk about Mukesh Khanna for a while.  The man was ruling Indian tele in those days as the grand ol’ daddy of all (Bhishm in Mahabharata), and possesses an amazing baritone perfect for maa-cho dialogues like “Badalnewali hum cheez nahin, arrey hum mard hain kameez nahin” (translated: Im not a thing to be changed, Im a maa-cho man not a shirt). His only fault was that his most popular role was a thousand years older than him, and he got typecast as daddy/grand daddy macho, so much so that in another 90’s kickasser “Yalgaar” he actually played Feroze Khan’s father (maa-cho father that is).  I wonder how many deaths he was dying when he called Feroze, who probably was older than his father “pyaare bête” (lovely sonny boy).  But Mukesh had his revenge, when at a ripe age he played a superhero in a televised serial “Shaktiman” that became all the craze.  (he produced it is a different matter altogether!)

So, here he was doing his Gandalf bit to lead his fellowship to Sauron’s den.  As usual, with such trips there are steep mountains to be climbed (during which KK is revealed to have a fake leg), thin ice to be walked on (during which the siren would fall down, and Aditya Pancholi would save her, but not before killing a green python, and then getting ‘some’ ), a hole up in a hospital, where the ‘ladies’ try to operate KKs legs (at least they were making themselves useful), an addition to the gang, a traitor in the gang, a traitor outside the gang, cute kids, cute kids dying, urine passed off as water, and drunk (by Dong’s men obviously), and all culminating in a grand finale where the team of Indian “crack” commandos kill and finish the entire Dongri-la army (and you thought you have seen it all in Gadar).

Dharam is in full blast, and he is the reason this movie was made- to show that Dharam can kick ass, and beat the crap out of anyone. In one of the scenes, when the traitor is holding them at gun point, and trash talking, Dharam shoots him and says “when you wanna shoot, shoot, don’t talk” (in Dharam-inglish) , Mukesh Khanna is awesome, but only if you can withstand the trite dialogues (and the movie is full of them).  Amrish as usual is all evil (so whats new?), it was cartoonish to have him play the veena (or Sitar? I can’t tell the difference), but he does that with such evil perfection, that you want Dharam and gang to kick his ass, and this is where Amrish was so good.

The movie was made at a time, when the producer’s were vary of naming Pakistan (i still don’t understand why), and almost all the spy movies either referred to ‘padosi mulk’, or simply made Chinese sounding noises like bum chiki chiki bum.

Its edge of the seat, extremely cheesy, extremely jingoistic with bombastic dialogues (KK, Dharam, and Dong are in full form), poor special effects (and they were ‘special’), and some great dhishum dhishum. In short full 90s kickassery!!


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Anita 1967- Mystery woman

Work and other stuff (mostly other stuff) has kept me away from blogging for about 2 weeks now. But for this week Arbitenthu is back with Anita. Ya, I know I promised to write about Angoor last time but my Arbit struck me again.

As I have aged to the ripe ol’ age of 24, I have realized that a lot of my old DD favorites have come from a man known as Raj Khosla.  He was single handedly responsible for delivering many lazy weekend afternoons, where me and my brother used to be glued to the idiot box watching movies like Mera Saya, Mera Gaon Mera Desh, CID, Solva Saal (the title may raise eyebrows today, but it’s a charming movie starring Dev Anand and Waheeda Rehman, remember “Hai apna dil to awara”). Anita (1967) is the third part of what is now called the “Sadhana Trilogy” by Raj Khosla, with Wo Kaun Thee (1964), and Mera Saya (1966) making up the other two.

With counter parts as illustrious as these two, it was surprising that Anita never caught on my radar. I chanced upon this relatively lesser known piece (atleast to me) at my local DVD store, and vaguely recalled reading about it somewhere at Memsaab’s, and then in a classic case of enthu getting the better of me, got the disc.

Anita stars the beautiful and mysterious Sadhana in the title role, with Manoj Kumar playing Neeraj, her love interest. The mysterious tone of the movie is set in the first scene itself with Anita’s father Seth Biharilal (Sajjan) visiting an astrologer with his daughter’s janamkundli (birth chart), and the astrologer making dire but vague (as usual!!) predictions about her. We then cut to her house where Neeraj is wooing her with a Mukesh classic “Gore Gore chand se”.

We learn that Neeraj is eager to marry Anita, although she is a bit vague about it and her father completely against it (as usual!!). After a tiff with her father she asks Neeraj to marry her the same day. While they are getting married at the registrar her father arrives and following a quite word she goes with her father leaving Neeraj high and dry.

Neeraj is obviously shattered, and when he goes to her house, he meets Anil (no idea who he is, not even on imdb but has a sight resemblance to Dharamender), who is all set to marry Anita. Even more bewildered Neeraj talks to her and she tells him to forget her. Neeraj, now completely depressed resigns from his job, but instead his manager transfers him to Delhi. There he receives a telegram from Anita saying her life and izzat are in danger. He rushes back to Bombay just to hear that she has committed suicide. Not only that but she was pregnant when her body was found. Whew!!!! and all that in less than 20 minutes……

Neeraj being the pious hindi movie hero could not have done this (obviously!!) so he starts the search for the person who did IT, and his search begins with Anil. Anil himself is in agony as he was about to get married to Anita, but tells Neeraj about her “other side”.

Anita was diagnosed with a “split personality disorder” while in Shimla a few years back. She was found dancing with nomads to a naughty number “Pichhware budhha khansta”.  When Neeraj refuses to believe this Anil shows him a portrait of Anita, and what a portrait it is!!! Sadhana is shown in orgasmic ecstasy, chewing her necklace, and almost topless, in what could be one of the most sensual portrays of a contemporary hindi movie heroine.

Neeraj, now shocked at how little he has known of Anita, meets the painter (IS Johar), whose favorite pastime is to kill flies (makhii maarna). He tells him of a story when he met Anita on board a ship, and she seduces him with the song “Kareeb aa”. Sadhana is looking smoking hot!!!

Neeraj is losing himself and is starting to see Anita everywhere, but on one such sighting he is convinced that he has seen Anita indeed. He follows her to a mansion (haunted obviously!!), and assigns the investigation to a private detective (Dhumal and Birbal). What follows is a compulsory and unnecessary side plot with Tuntun and Mukri also joining in the fray. I’m all for comic side plots, but the movie was running so tightly that the sight of Dhumal & Co is frustrating.

The story moves with Neeraj going to his brother’s house in Nainital, and no prizes for guessing that he will see Anita there again. This time he actually gets to talk to her, but she is not Anita but Jogan Maya, an ascetic. Neeraj wants to be with her, she agrees to meet him everyday but on the condition that he does not follow her (she even marks a tree as his boundary..phew!!!). One day she doesn’t appear, and Neeraj with his bro and sis-in-law crosses the boundary, and voila!!! we find that Jogan Maya had died 25 years ago.

By this time I’m completely zapped, Raj Khosla has done a wonderful job in catching your attention till this point, but then everything comes apart. Starting with Neeraj meeting Anita again, this time clad in a burqa in the train back to Bombay from Nainital. The revelations that follow are well, to say the least disappointing. It leaves more questions than answers, and everything seems made up just for the sake of creating suspense.

The direction is typical Raj Khosla, with lots of mirrors, and window shots. He has shot Sadhana in the most exquisite possible manner, and has bought out all shades of sensuality, vulnerability, and helplessness in her character. She fits the bill of a mystery woman to the core. Manoj Kumar is just about OK, although his character had to look confused and hurt all the time. I felt music was a major let down, which probably was the reason I hadn’t heard of Anita. Although “Gore gore chand se” is a must listen for Mukesh fans (been playing continuously on my playlist).

The movie grabs your attention from the first scene, and moves at a breath neck pace (the side plot is irritating though). What let the movie down is the climax, which was sudden, and hard to believe, and contradicted many of the previous events.

In spite of all the flaws Anita is a fine movie, but falls way short of classic thrillers like Mera Saaya, Ittefaq or Humraaz.

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