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Not so young Fashion Graduate From National Institute of Fashion Technology (NIFT), Delhi, India. Aspiring journalist. Amongst other eclectic hobbies, she likes writing and has written several poems and articles over her school and college life and now for a living. She would someday like to be be a more popular writer than just on her blogs. 'Tis a lady of grand splendor, who waketh in my bed every morning while the sun beckons her towards night...

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Nirbhaya Rape Case: When a documentary becomes national shame

“A woman is to blame for rape!”

“They provoke men with their short clothes!”

“They wouldn't dress up if they didn't want to be raped!”

“Don't resist rape– it would be simpler for you!”

Is the mentality ever going to change? Every few months we hear these statements from the perpetrators of rape in the country, and then the politicians follow. Even god-men have their opinions about how the woman should have called the rapist her 'brother' to avoid rape.

Two years after the horrific December 16 gangrape, here we are, debating whether a documentary on it should be banned or not, while one of the men who was responsible for the atrocity is still up and about giving us 'gyaan' on film, with not a shred of guilt in him. Apparently imprisonment hasn't changed a thing in him.

I wish I could see the documentary before I outraged over what he said. But snippets of it have already shown me the hopelessness of it all. But why, I ask, is anyone surprised? Isn't this what many of our leaders have said time and time again? Haven't political leaders threatened to rape and murder people in their opposition, as if raping and murdering someone is not a big deal?

'India' is more ashamed of a documentary on the Nirbhaya Rape case than the rape itself. Yet, steps to change laws, make their implementation faster have not been taken. The tragedy is now that the convict has said that she should not have resisted – the men with the sick minds will glorify him and use his statement as an excuse. And no amount of death penalty and stricter punishments will deter these would be criminals unless justice is guaranteed – and fast.

The documentary, from what I perceive, presents the harsh truth that most people in India think like Mukesh ( the convict featured in the documentary). Educated, modern men and women have said that the girls need to understand what they wear makes men 'excited' – rape, it seems, is the obvious next step for these men. Obviously, we human beings have not evolved enough to keep our carnal desires in our pants.

If there is an outrage on social media and in parliament – there should be. Not to ban the Nirbhaya documentary, but to take all steps necessary to stop these crimes. There need to be support groups to help and rehabilitate women who have been victims of these heinous crimes and don't get accepted by their own families. There need to be fast track courts, and not just in name. We need to immediately take action against leaders, men and women who decide to blame the victims instead of taking responsibility.

The film needs to be seen by as many people possible – simply because we need to know what depraved minds such as these think and the people who defend them can be made to shut up once and for all. The glorification of the convict however could be curtailed if the media just uses a little bit of self censorship. A fact that we all know for a very long time, but can't resist sensationalising of a brutal crime.

The focus has shifted again. The film has been banned. The culprit still sitting and smiling inside the safety of his cell. For once, to my mind, public lynching of this sick sick man doesn't seem like a bad idea. Once again, all we are doing in outraging and wondering what happened to all those promises of women safety.

Celebrating Woman's Day this week with all this looming over our heads is a mere farce. It is a lie that we want to weave around ourselves that everything is glorious in this wonderfully beautiful country. The reality is women are not respected here, and a few flowers and making your wife/mother/sister feel special by making her breakfast is not going to change that.

We women are all just subconsciously living a life of fear. Every day when I walk down a dimly lit street, or when I see some guys loitering around and talking, or a guy walking behind me – all I can hope is I wouldn't be next.

This article was first published on Zeenews.com

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Talai, Himachal Pradesh: Travelling into the cloud factory

When the cottony clouds overcast the skies, remember wanting to reach out to them, plucking them out and eating them like cotton candy? Remember lying on the grass and looking up with your friends trying to plant stories, finding bunnies and dragons in the shapes of floating clouds? What if you could touch them in real?

Driving into a village called Talai, near Fagu was like climbing the stairway to heaven, and reaching paradise, sitting on the clouds.

A few miles from Kufri (the famed ski destination in Himachal Pradesh), this little hamlet is straight out of a Ruskin Bond book. A total of five houses strewn around the mountain top, in the middle of an apple orchard, a family with little children who walk down to school every day and a big mountain

Friday, April 17, 2015

Which animal is Frida?

My darling dog is Gemini on the inside. She has multiple personality disorder and can't decide which animal she is on different occasions.

When she is eating, she is a shark.
When she is running, she is a horse
When she decides she wants to come and meet you she becomes a bull charging you and hitting you right in your gut. In case of the target being stupendous man, then it is his balls she decides to punch.
She easily shifts to being a cow around soft juicy grass
And she can laze like a slug ( as she is doing now as I write this)
There are other animals inside her... Will keep writing as they appear.

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

When Frida decides she needs petting

Having a dog is immensely satisfying. After a tiring day, you come back to someone who looks as if you coming is a party.

Apparently not a good thing with dogs. It increases separation anxiety. But once she calms down and I pet her, she licks me all over the face. Delhi traffic craziness forgotten in a second...

She still follows me around till I give her a nice belly rub.... The cute thing is how lately she has realised that lying down as soon as I get in is the easiest way to catch my attention... She is smart...
Already knows the sit, down, and come commands. Trying to reach her rollover... Let's see how long that takes... Rest of them were easyEsteban Guitar

Thursday, April 02, 2015


सदियों से बाँध रखा था,
और इन्ही सदियों में,
सब ही सहा है मैंने। 

भागीरथ ने जब बुलाया था,
तो सिर्फ साठ हज़ार थे। 
आज लाखो को निर्वाण देते देते,
सिर्फ मैल रह गयी हूँ। 
माँ थी,
लेकिन सबने सिर्फ सीचा है। 

जहाँ देखती हूँ सिर्फ जलते शव हैं। 
आज खोली हैं तूने जटाए,
आज आखिर बाँध को उजाड़ कर बह जाऊं मैं। 
बुझा दूं इनके स्वर्ग आने रास्ता,
बहा दूं इनके सारे प्रायश्चित  
धो धो के मेरा उलंघन सदियों से करते आये हैं। 
आज निष्कर्ष निकले इनके पापों का। 

तेरा  यह एक अंधा प्यार, 
आँखें मूंदे कैलाश पे मौज से चीलम में मग्न है। 
'ध्यान' है वो तेरा। 
तू भूलाता रहा इनका हर वो व्यभिचार। 
तू बस पड़ा रहा इन्ही उचाईयों में। 
मैं हमेशा बस एक बंधक ही रही। 
अब खुली हैं जटाएँ...

Had written this when the Uttarakhand floods had taken place in 2013. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Meet Frida Kahlo!

For those who know me in RL, they would know I got a dog recently. She goes by the name Frida Kahlo Kukur (named after the painter and the fact that she is a black dog -Free 'da' Kalo Kukur)

We adopted her from this lovely couple who stay in a farmhouse near chhatarpur. A gaddi pup, she is going to be massive. But a big dog for big people like us is I guess apt.

Beautiful as she is – this one does behave a quite a lot like a cat much to my frustration. But also that gives me the kind of space I could not have hoped for from another dog. Ram milaye jodi for us!

It is fun to see Stupendous man take up responsibility. He tries really hard. Most of the time getting annoyed after she refuses to eat vegetarian rice and pumpkin (partly also because she is teething), or when she munches on his bathroom slippers.

Even more fun when he gets jealous of me, after Frida follows me around the entire house like a tail – no matter what I am doing!

My friends have started coming home to meet me and stupendous man (but actually we are just an excuse to meet madam).

I will have a section called the adventures with Frida soon. Maybe keep updating them as they happen.

Saturday, March 14, 2015

Aamir Khan on AIB: Taking the high-road or hypocrisy?

All India Ba****d roasted actors Arjun Kapoor and Ranveer Singh as they sat and guffawed at all kinds of abuses being hurled at them. An incident that has grabbed the headlines since the last two weeks made everyone have an opinion about it.

Some loved it. Some lodged an FIR saying it hurt Indian sentiments. The end result – the show was taken down from YouTube and later an unconditional apology was issued to (specifically) the Christian community.

While the entire film community has supported Karan, Arjun and Ranveer's stand for the show and said things that amounted to 'don't like, don't watch', Aamir recently said in a press conference that he found it abusive and violent. The result is that now Aamir is being criticised.

Aamir Khan is one Khan in Bollywood, I have always been fond of. As a child I used to like him because he was cute. Now I like him because of the causes he supports and that he has grown a conscience. Perhaps, something that irks me at times that he acts 'holier than thou'. I personally think that his tone at every press conference has been a lot more condescending.

In an episode of 'Satymeva Jayate' focussing on 'When masculinity harms men' they showed a clipping which also featured Aamir himself. He also said that he now understands that the scenes he has acted in were in poor taste and harmed the community. Hmmm...so a man actually accepted that he has done movies in poor taste – he had showed something that was against 'Indian culture' and was willing to take responsibility for it.

In the press conference Khan said 'I WAS deeply affected by that (AIB Show)', 'I didn't find that funny'. 'I PERSONALLY have a problem with what they have done' He said that he felt there was a lot of 'violence' in the event in the form of abuses – and since he is not 14-year-old anymore, he did not find it funny. Notice how in every statement he talks about himself and his opinion and not of his 'community' and 'culture'? Or have we all just learnt to ignore the context? His right to criticise the AIB show is as much a freedom of expression as AIB's right to roast Ranveer-Arjun.

Or can't the 'liberals' who support AIB's 'freedom of speech' take anyone's opinion that differs from theirs? Or have we all just decided that you must support our stance or be called either 'libtards', 'sickular' and 'against Indian culture' or be called 'uncouth', 'right wing extremists' and 'hypocrites'?

What most people seem to be saying now is that since Aamir acted in 'Ghajini' (a very bad violent copy of 'Memento') he has no right to criticise the verbal abuse of AIB. Also, since he backed 'Delhi Belly', an adult comedy featuring the famed 'Bhaag DK Bose' he now has no right to say that he did not like the blatantly racist or sexual jokes.

Incidentally he also said, 'I believe that there must be many youngsters who would have enjoyed the roast and they have a full right to their opinion.'. May be many did not really reach this point of the press conference before outraging and venting on Twitter. Because that seems to the newest thing with all of us. Most people would happily abuse a star because he said something differing from what the herd is saying before even hearing him through because he 'deserved it' and he's shielded by the fact that he is 'rich and famous'.

What he said about AIB – I don't fully agree with that. I, in fact, quite enjoyed the roast. The humour was not in the abuses but the fact that here were a bunch of 'superstars' bearing the brunt of some really clichéd jokes on themselves and joining in the 'roasting'. Sanjay Kapoor stood up and cheered himself when one of the roasters indicated that he was the worst actor in the Kapoor dynasty. Alia Bhatt, Sonakshi and Deepika all joined in with peals of laughter when all kinds of nasty things were being said about them. I loved most of it.

All the classless humour was directed at people willing to take jokes on themselves. If Aamir is not happy with it – it is his opinion.

As far as the teams’ apology is concerned – I wish they hadn't but I am not at the receiving end of the death threats they must have been receiving from religious extremists. I am no one to judge.

The 'lynching' AIB and the stars are receiving is also something that Aamir condemned. He said there was nothing wrong in telling people if you didn't like something they did. But one should limit their interference there. Why is this point being ignored?

One thing must be said– Aamir is being attacked today because there is no other scapegoat for the social media outragers right now. Give me a new star who says that she doesn't want men to say sexist things about her and front pages of leading dailies will again tell you about the last movie she featured in where she played a belly dancer showing off her midriff and say that she is an actress who deserves sexist attacks.

Note to Aamir: Even if you did not want to watch the entire video you should have watched the beginning before saying that they did not give a public warning before airing the roast (like you did “going out of your way” for 'Delhi Belly') – they did. You could have stayed away from this with just scolding Karan and Arjun. Be careful, Shah Rukh and Salman may be offended by that. It is a season of taking offence.

This article was first published in Zeenews.com

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

The fatmospheric existence

Have you ever been approached by a random person in the Metro and told how you are unhappy? Has some child just randomly been rude to you and called you names because you were walking by? Have you by now turned a bully after years of being tormented as the fat one because you figured out that life is a 'jungle raj' – you either bully people yourself or they mock you till you want to curl up and die?

I have.

In the three decades of my existence now, I have come to terms with it. I have also started getting used to the people around who sometimes stare incessantly till you actually raise your eyebrows and ask them whether there is something wrong with them.

It has taken some time – most of it fighting the loopy loop of exercise, diet, failure, misery, self pity and back to exercise.

I like to eat – and I have given in to making it as healthy as I can.

The truth is being fat in this world is worse than being a member of the biggest terrorist organisation.

This is not a rant – it is simply a fact that from the time I gained weight during my puberty I was told how I would never get a good guy. Then I ended up in a bad relationship because of low self esteem where the guy knew how to take advantage of it. In hindsight I wish I had more supportive people around me who did not let my body image decide how I dealt with relationships. Things became so bad that I clamped down and went on a spiral of depression in my college days.

Time and time again many experts reiterate - being fat is different from being unhealthy. Fat and obesity contribute to a lot of diseases, no doubt. But a healthy lifestyle is so much more important than berating a child (or anyone else) for being overweight. Instead, try introducing your children and yourself to a nutritious diet and daily mild physical exercises to keep diseases at bay. It is so important that you let your child know that looks should not be the scale by which your peers treat you – and no amount of bullying should be taken lying down.

My coping mechanism was getting apologetic or joking about it myself before others could. There are many who can't and suffer even more.

It is sad that more and more people now adhere to the western image of beauty, health and beauty magazines all promote the thinnest of people. India, where a woman with girth was always in demand has now become a term of 'abuse'.

Sonakshi Sinha, Parineeti Chopra and Vidya Balan are criticised by the fashion police for looking fat at events. Some of them fight back, some choose silence and then feature in photoshopped covers of popular magazines where they look all skin and bones. The heroines of movies have started looking like clones of each other and more and more people are following that trend.

A movie like 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' featuring the very real and overweight Bhumi Pednekar may just be the refreshing change in that image. But I am not very hopeful. After all Vidya, Sonakshi, Parineeti have been the leads in some really good flicks and I don't see anyone backing down with their insults when their 'fat' shows through their designer clothes in award shows.

Their careers, their work, their talent get overshadowed by the weight. Something that is splashed across page 3 every few days. These talented ladies face the wrath of the very people they are trying to impress.

Bollywood continues to mock overweight characters in their movies, and very few manage to stay away from that stereotype. The fat one in the movie is always alone, stupid and mostly just shown lying around in a sofa unable to do anything other than getting joked about. And in a country that worships their movies – that is indeed a sad image to portray.

People, who otherwise won't move a muscle to save a dying man on the road come looking all concerned trying to sell me the latest weight loss technique their fat cousin used and how has had a makeover a la Hrithik Roshan in 'Kabhie Khushi Kabhie Gam'. Some just openly laugh.

Most are so insensitive that they would stare and point as if I was a caged animal in the zoo. I mostly take it with a pinch of salt and laugh it off. But, I can imagine how it must be for those who can't laugh when they are at the receiving end of constant prodding and interference from people who say they care about them. Things would not change – most of us live with our prejudices and pass it on to our children.

There is no reason why my weight should define who I am. I have a career, I am intelligent (so one hopes), and pleasant – yet the first thing most notice is my weight.

Not caring about what people say is the best way to take them off guard. As long as you are comfortable with who you are – life becomes like sprinkles on a chocolate ice-cream. Which reminds me I am hungry!

Sunday, March 08, 2015

'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' review: The magic of the 90s

A good cast is the best thing that can happen to a movie. It is especially great when all of them not only look perfect for their respective roles but also individually give their best to the film. 'Dum Laga Ke Haisha' is the perfect example of this fact.

The effort that has gone in to making this sweet romantic comedy set in the small backdrop of Rishikesh and Haridwar, is apparent.

The plot is easy to predict but the performances would blow your mind. Whether it is Ayushmann Khurrana as a good-for-nothing dreamer or Bhumi Pedneker playing the strong willed educated girl with a dream of being a school teacher.

Bhumi is perhaps the best debut actress that Bollywood has seen in the past few years. She is genuinely a good actress, has a great screen presence and looks beautiful as Sandhya. Her struggles with being fat does not curb her spirit and that is what the audience will take from this movie.

The straight from the heart storyline will take you back the memory lanes. The director has taken his time to wind you in his 90s memorabilia starting with the charm of listening to cassettes – complete with how we wound them up patiently and how our favourite songs were put together in one cassette with stickers telling us the playlist. There were also the scooters which one had to carefully balance upon to get from one place to another. All in all the nostalgia of the last decade of the 20th century has been beautifully recreated in the film.

The director has kept the characters strong and the story concise. Even with the predictability of the movie the growing chemistry between Ayushmann and Bhumi is worth watching.

Sanjay Mishra, Sheeba Chadda, Alika Amin and Seema Pahwa (one who played Mishra's wife in 2014's critically acclaimed movie 'Aankhon Dekhi') are perfect supporting cast for the love story.

Sharat Kataria who is known for his quirky endeavours 'Bheja Fry' and 'Bheja Fry 2' has proved his genius once more with 'Dum Laga ke...'. While his last ventures focussed on urban characters, his now semi-urban story also is spot on.

The movie steers clear of exaggerated feelings and speaks of some real situations and real disappointments without being didactic. The fat girl, who has to overcome the prejudices her husband has about her, is not however the unimaginative loser that we have seen in Bollywood so far. She is educated and has an ambition – therefore lucrative for her in-laws. But they don't take advantage of her. Even with the usual Indian taunting by the Bua, the family mostly supports her and considers her feelings. The girl herself knows how to stand up to the world.

This modern thinking without the preachiness is refreshing. Kataria has excelled in making you feel for his characters.

The background score by the Italian composer Andrea Guerra is perfect and Anu Mallik's comeback is laudable. While 'Moh Moh Ke Dhage' (both Monali Thakur's and Papon's versions) is perhaps his best composition till date, the quirky 'Sundar Susheel... ' (Malini Awasthi, Rahul Ram) sets the mood of the film pretty nicely. The Kumar Sanu fandom has been revived in this film and he brings back the memories of his heyday..

The shots (Manu Anand) of the Rishikesh and Haridwar too are beautiful and one wonders how they found the two towns empty enough to shoot since they are thronged with tourists throughout the year.

This movie is a feel good package and a must watch for those born in the 80s and the 90s simply to relive the decade. For those who are not, go for the performances. It is rare that a Bollywood movie makes you all warm, fuzzy and gooey from the inside – the experience is a must for those who love cinema.

This review was first posted on zeenews.com

Friday, January 23, 2015

Mardaani review: Watch out for fiery Rani Mukerji

In the world of Bajirao Singham and Chulbul Pandey, Shivani Shivaji Roy has come as a breath of fresh air. ` Mardaani` does not have Rani Mukerji play a tomboy – it is a woman doing her bit to fight in a man`s world.

Rani has been acknowledged as a fantastic actor. In that regard, she has very little competition in the industry. The fact that she is possibly the best has been established well with `Mardaani`. The film deals with the difficult subject of human-trafficking and Director Pradeep Sarkar tackles the issue very carefully.

Rani plays a Mumbai crime branch officer, Shivani who is a hard-bitten cop with a mission to set things right. She is not afraid to bend the rules, to nab criminals and is respected by her fellows. She gets involved in the investigation of busting a sex-trafficking racket when a girl close to her goes missing. She has to follow the trail fast, as anyone involved is getting killed fast. The investigation leads her to Delhi where she goes into the nitty-gritties of the city to nab the elusive `Walt`, played by Tahir Raj Bhasin.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Rang Rasiya review: Painting a not so pretty picture

For artists in India, Raja Ravi Varma is an icon. He brought together the western style and Indian subjects, and made God available to each and every household in the country. He is a symbol who fought the society for the freedom of expression – something that we struggle with even after a century has passed.

He attempts to portray an artist at the pinnacle of his talent and the fight to bring God to each home. He further tries to weave in a love story within this story. That is where the film fails.Filmmaker Ketan Mehta, the genius behind classics such as 'Sardar' and 'Mirch Masala', decided to paint a picture of the man himself (based on Ranjit Desai's novel), his life story and his struggle through the movie 'Rang Rasiya'. The feature was waiting on the shelves for half a decade, to see the light of day only now because of censorship.

Randeep Hooda plays Raja Ravi Varma, who finds his muse in Sugandha (Nandana Sen), and paints her as different Hindu Goddesses in his various paintings. He then finds opposition from Hindu higher caste group which questions his subjects and why he chooses to let 'normal' people have access to Gods, who are supposed to reside only in temples.

The life of the painter is an inspiration even today, and the subject is as relevant today as it was a 100 years back. But, the director has not been able to weave a seamless entity of the persona of Raja Ravi Varma. Somehow, the story has not been told well, despite a short run-time (a little over two hours) it seems to drag on most points. The biggest snag in the movie is the unnecessary sexuality that has been introduced. The chemistry between Nandana and Randeep is forced and at least Hooda looks quite uncomfortable in the scenes. While the actress looks ethereal and a perfect muse for a painter, she is not a great actress and fails to invoke the expressions required of her character.

Randeep is suitable as the lead, but flits between good acting and expressionless performance quite often. After watching him in 'Highway' the expectations from a serious subject like this were high, he fails to meet them. Supporting characters however have done well. Paresh Rawal has as usual perfectly portrayed a greedy businessman who has little interest in artistic temperament.

The biggest problem is the linear characterisation of Raja Ravi Varma, there are parts where it gets promising and you expect more layers of the artist to shine through. But, the spark fails to form anything spectaculor.

Couple of high points of the movie – Niharika Khan, the costume designer has done a beautiful job. Whether it was the sarees of Sugandha or the Royal garb of the stately kings, she has done a nuanced job, paying attention to detail for the major characters of the film. The sets are beautifully done, quite befitting the artistic scale of the project. Some of the scenes of the movie have picturesque cinematography, but it fails to keep up through the length of the movie.

The background score is average but a particular song caught my attention. While the painter is travelling through the country, 'Anhad Naad' performed by Kailash Kher and Anwar Khan keep you in tune. It is a beautiful rendered folk number which combined with visuals of 19th century India has well portrayed the soul of the country.

Despite all its flaws, it is relevant even today. It has a message that humanity struggles to accept a lot of things, and the more open-minded we are – the more towards greatness we move as a race. But the message gets lost in the overly forced romance. Watch it to learn the story of a great artist, who is historically significant to the rise of Indian art. But there is little else to offer.

This article was first published on Zeenews.com

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Happy Ending review: Intelligent but unoriginal

The movie starts with mocking the clichés of Bollywood romance, with the young urban commitment-phobic guy, highly unlikely to fall in love! And yet 'Happy Ending' is what all romantic comedies turn out to be – feel good!

Saif Ali Khan plays Yudi Jaitley, a young writer who has struck a writers block after hitting the jackpot with his first book. He is also caught in a string of unsuccessful relationships with the characters of Kareena, Preity and Kalki, which is a nice enough way to bring in the star power.

Enter Aanchal Reddy, a best-selling romantic author who doesn't believe in the idea of perfect romance she herself writes about! The rest of the story is as predictable as romedies go!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Rahman, Pritam have taken Indian music forward, says Shafqat Amanat Ali

“Music transcends all boundaries”

An adage that defines what singer Shafqat Amanat Ali stands for. Perhaps, one of the most loved artists in the subcontinent, he shot to fame with Fuzon's (his band) first album. Shafqat is the son of Ustad Amanat Ali Khan and belongs to the illustrious Patiala Gharana. Having had a Hindustani classical music training, Shafqat decided to try something different and worked on bringing together sufi, folk and classical music with western rock.

His foray into Bollywood has made him one of the most sought after artists in the subcontinent. Shafqat is known for some fabulous hits like 'Mitwa', 'Dildaara and 'Bin Tere'. Here is the interview with the talented artist

What brings you to India?

This India tour is for a very old commitment to perform in Kolkata. I am also here for some small projects and recording some pieces for a film. I have already recorded the songs and this time it is just for doing some small parts for Arjun Kapoor and Sonakshi Sinha starrer 'Tevar'.

Are you working on any new solo albums?

Yes, I am working on a solo album. Without revealing too many details, I can tell you that it is now in the mixing process. We are working on some last bits, and it is almost ready.

Do you like doing playback singing, live concerts or do you like working on collaborations like 'Dewarist', 'Unplugged' and 'Coke Studio'?
I don't have any particular preference. It all depends on what sort of work I get. If I am doing more satisfactory work on solo albums then that excites me. But if we have a good collaboration and if it is coming out to be a good song and a good composition, then that makes me happy as well. What matters is that it should be something that I can relate to later.

Who would be your dream collaboration with?

I won't like to name someone as I would keep thinking later that I may have missed out on someone important. The only criterion I have is that the person I collaborate with is as interested as I am in the project.

Anybody from the past....

I think I would have loved to work with someone like Madan Mohan ji and Salil Chowdhury ji.

How important do you think classical music training is in playback singing?

It is really important. It is like writing an English book. If you don't even know ABCD, grammar or the basics of the language – you won't be able to write a good piece. If you haven't trained to know the basics of singing then your work will just be a fluke and not proper singing.

Do you think the independent music scene in the subcontinent has become better with the passing years?
Film music has always been very dominating in India. Whereas that is not the case in Pakistan as it does not have a strong film industry. People just create what they want. They don't have to follow a certain situation. They don't need to compose something according to the writer or a set story. People have a free hand and that is a blessing in disguise.

But now, even in India a lot of people have made that change in the industry. Starting from AR Rahman to composers like Pritam, all of them are doing fabulous work. There is a plethora of music directors such as Shankar-Ehsaan-Loy, Vishal-Shekhar, Vishal Bharadwaj, Salim-Suleiman who have taken the music industry to another level. It is very refreshing.

Do you have any message for your fans?

I would definitely like to send out a message to everyone to stop downloading illegally. Piracy is causing great damage to music and music industry per say. It is an advice to all the people who love music to buy music because downloading and piracy is one of the biggest challenges that the industry faces today. All the music that you love is available easily, it is inexpensive and is just a click away.

This article was first published on Zeenews.com

Wednesday, January 07, 2015

Govinda: The return of 'Hero No 1'

Govinda was one of India's favourite 90s hero. No matter how much the snobs ignored him, secretly everyone loved him as he wore his purple and orange pants and made faces that would make soulless zombies guffaw till their sides split. He is the Jim Carrey of India - loved by many. His comic timing is something that younger heroes are trying to emulate and they still have a long way to go.

An actor who shot to fame with 'Love 86', 28 years later is still overshadowing his co-actors in the mere 10 minutes or so that he has appeared in his movies in 2014. His comic timing is impeccable as always. The way he dances will put the trained dancers of today to shame. Riteish Deshmukh, Varun Dhawan and possibly Ranveer Singh are probably one of the few actors of today who can match up to his style and energy.

Monday, January 05, 2015

Driving in Delhi – God save our souls!

Delhi boasts of a well-developed transport system. Unlike a decade ago, most of the commercial areas are now well-connected with the Delhi Metro and hence, the roads have become relatively unclogged. Obviously, in an ever growing city like the Nation's capital, there is no dearth of traffic snarls and yet things have become much better than before.

When you get a new vehicle, all you want to do is, have fun with it. Young guys zip, zap and zoom through narrow streets. They try and emulate bike stunts and test the speed limits of their machines.

Without condoning their stupidity, I still do understand why they do it. It is after all young blood – adrenaline rushes through their veins. Most of them are inspired by numerous advertisements of the latest super-powered bikes by manufacturers.

But what percentage of these 18 to 22 year olds is actually driving daily on the roads?

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