Wednesday, August 03, 2016

The Story of a Suicide, by Sriram Ayer: my thoughts

I am generally an upbeat person... Sometimes almost to the point of annoyance. I love talking. I love cracking jokes and I believe in people. But life is not all black and white. It’s not all that easy to stay upbeat all the time and I have struggled with clinical depression and multiple suicide attempts.

So it is not always comfortable to read something that echoes the feelings of the past. Sometimes present. But it is the truth. You cannot run away from it. Every time I hear of a suicide, whether it is on television or a work of friction – something moves deep inside. An immense weight pushes against my chest.

The Story Of A Suicide By Sriram Ayer is one such story that mirrors the hurt of so many youngsters today. In the day of social media where are lives are public without us realising it, the youth have much more to lay bare to the world.

A character very poignantly puts it “Morality is a moving target. What’s theirs needn’t be yours. As much as you have a point of view, they have one too. The drama between people on different points of the pendulum makes one compelling story.”

Image Courtesy: The Story Of A Suicide, Illustration by Ghana
But throughout the book, this thought is challenged. The anxiety and the transition of being an adult aren’t easy and the story easily portrays that through its numerous chapters. The voyeurism that technology easily offers the world makes it all the more worse. While all of us have to face betrayal at some point in our lives, there are some that are deep rooted.

Ayer attempts to touch various subjects of the childhood and growing up through his characters. Sexuality, harassment, morality, our attempts to be recognised and accepted in the society, passionate love and the cruelty of human nature – his novel has all rolled into one. Amongst all this is the sensitive subject of child abuse.

The narrative speaks of several issues through the eyes of multiple protagonists and the story moves from one visual to another seamlessly. The watercolour illustrations by Ghana are equally tantalizing and echo the mood of the story. The one that I felt most strongly for was the way he describes modern depression and how it takes root. The lack of understanding that people around have for this ‘deadly’ disease is affecting many and it would continue to do so unless we start addressing it properly.

There is such a severe lack of help and understanding when a person goes through this trauma that more often than not we end up blaming the victim. But it is hard to imagine that thought process... Ayer is adept that making you go through the pain through his characters. The issue is that it is not just the society that refuses to understand you. Amongst other betrayals – the lack of understanding from your parents probably ends up hurting you the most.

Image Courtesy: The Story Of A Suicide, Illustration by Ghana
Image Courtesy: The Story Of A Suicide, Illustration by Ghana

As studies have shown over 40% of children face abuse. Many of them are abused by their family members. Instead of turning a blind eye towards the child, we as adults need to listen.

And as the child approaches the confusing times of being young adults, our outlook has to change. We have to remember how difficult it was for us. As parents and as a society in general we need to set better examples for the young. The constant support is more than necessary. We need to check out for the signs of depression, of anguish – and these need to be addressed in the proper way. Families need to seek professional help. Read up for the sake of their loved ones. We can't be dismissive and say "get up and stay positive". For people who are giving up on life it is not easy to just "stay positive". We truly need the support of friends and family.

There need to be proper channels and support groups who talk about depression and provide counselling. Education systems need to adopt ways to deal with harassment and speak to distressed people. Homophobia is a society issue - we have to stop feeding hatred, we need to accept people as they are. There sexuality and preferences are secondary. First of all, we all are human beings who need to be treated with respect and dignity.

A story full of sensitive issues, this book needs to be read for the sake of the youth.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

Top 5 destinations to go to this winter

The cold chilly but clear bright nights, pristine white snow, cosy sun lit mornings – what more could a traveller want? Winter holidays is a great time to pack your backpacks and go travelling in the world. The festive cheer already envelops you making it a great time to enjoy the beautiful weather and foggy mornings with a hot cup of chocolate.

But for people who want to explore – winter is a great time to see the world (and India) at its best.

Have a look at the best of the places to visit this winter

New York
The temperatures in New York quite near freezing, but the lights and the snow will make your heart melt. Christmas and New Year is the best time to go to the beautiful city of New York. With the mixed culture and urbanisation – New York City makes for a fantastically stylish holiday. It lights up into a winter wonderland each year with Christmas trees, holiday window displays and lights adorning every window in sight.

For the party hoppers the city offers you a plethora of places where you can dance away your night. The New Year will have the entire city flocking the Times Square to see the 'Ball Drop'. There are various concerts happening all over the city and great places to dine in. The only thing to keep in mind – make sure to make your reservations before hand.

Oh! “The City of Love!” By far the most romantic city in the world, Paris is the perfect couple getaway in winters. The snowy city will have you enchanted as the glowing cultural scene and the historical nuances will keep you entranced.

As everyone knows Paris is known for housing the best of the art world, apart from the Louvre, there is also the Musée Picasso, which has some of the best art exhibitions from around the world.

Paris is much quieter in the winters and it has some great cathedrals and chapels that look mystical in the winter.

You could also go out for the best of Parisian cuisine as it will be much easier to get reservations with the absence of the tourist crowd.

Coming back to our own country, winters are the best time to travel in the tropical weather of India. Rajasthan looks spectacular in winters with temperatures barely touching the high 20s. The desert is freezing early morning, but once the sun is out, you can walk around all day in the colourful lanes and bylanes of Jaisalmer or Bikaner.

Jaipur and Jodhpur too are pleasant and the festivals/fairs held in the state like the camel festival and the desert festivals will take your breath away. These festivals bring the nomadic desert life of Rajasthanis to life with cultural events, camel races, folk music, dance shows and turban tying competitions.

The open skies in the desert at night, with stars scattered across the sky like diamonds is a sight that you will never forget in your life. The best way to travel in Rajasthan is by roads, and adding to the adventure, camp out in the desert if you are brave enough. Rajasthan will truly dazzle you.

There is a reason why Kerala is called 'God's own Country'. With serene surroundings, and its calm backgrounds, this southern state offers you a retreat from the hullabaloo of modern life.

It is pleasantly cool, without being too cold, and the lovely seafood will only add to the experience. Visit the backwaters of Kerala through lush green palm-fringed landscape, diverse wildlife, and houses and villages that line it making it one of the most tranquil things you can do.

You can also take some time and get an Ayurvedic treatment for one of the many benefits including rejuvenation of the mind and body. Kerala is a place where time stands still and maybe you can catch up with your inner self in that time.


Like the sunny weather and all the fun people in one place? Go to Goa! It is the most popular tourist destination in India for a reason. Not only are the beaches picturesque but added to that is the local flavour of the beautiful folk culture of Goa. Goanese cuisine and people make for a heady mix of celebration – especially in the christmas season. The entire state seems to be partying, with the touch of the warm sun bathing down your body, Goa is a place to visit for every sea loving person.

Se Cathedral, Basilica of Bom Jesus and Dona Paula Beach make for the perfect heritage sites that you can visit. There is also the option of going snorkeling, parasailing and water skiing in the beautiful blue Arabian sea.

Whether you like the sunny sea beaches or a cosy snowed in afternoon, winter is a pretty good time to travel. Make sure to pack clothes according to the weather of your destination – and more importantly pack in your sense of adventure!

Sunday, November 15, 2015

5 things men do to annoy women

Men are from Mars and women are from Venus goes the popular adage. And if relationship problems are to go by there are some things that women absolutely hate about men which eventually leads to the tiffs and fights. Here is a list of some of the habits that irks the ladies... Men should probably take a note and do something about these for their lady love. 1.Leaving towels on the floor – this one is a universal complaint. Men tend to have a bath and then leave their towels on the floor, instead of a perfectly good hook available to let the towel dry out, they wait for the women to pick it up and hang it for them. AND it is not only the floor; they leave wet towels on the bed, on the sofa, and on the nearest chair. 2.Saying inappropriate stuff at the wrong time - every time they do something wrong, like leaving the towels lying around, and you get angry – they say stuff like “Are you PMSing?” or “Is it your time of the month?”. It is almost as if you cannot get angry at anything they do. And if you actually do get pissed at something they have done, it is because you have a mood swing. 3.The party cook - men have this tendency to boast about how good they are in the kitchen because occasionally they make the chicken for a party or dinner at home. They use excessive ghee, cream, and masalas to add the extra zing, while leaving the woman to make the pastes, the sauces, the accompaniments, as well as clean and wash after him. And, of course, not realising once that the days she cooks, she is also taking care of nutrition and health and tries to use everything in moderation – plus cleans up after herself. They obviously don’t realise that making an occasional chicken is very different from cooking every day. 4.The technology superiority complex - every time a woman buys a new phone or a laptop; the men pretend to have an inbuilt manual for the product. Sometimes they are as clueless as the women, but nevertheless they don’t like to show that. Instead they hold on to the device for dear life and keep throwing random facts about it, from a website they have read in. They don’t realise that we women may already know how to use it, but men seem to completely ignore it. 5.Eyeing other women in your presence – it was annoying enough that men watch other women. But many men don’t stop even while their girlfriends are right next to them. It is insulting. Many even start complimenting the others about how they wear their clothes, notice their earrings and their make-up; while completely ignoring how much effort you put in to dress up yourself. And if the women don’t play along, they just say “You are jealous.” Jealousy be damned, it is a fact that you are with the person you love, so you men need to mind yourselves and keep your eyes on only your beloved – always.

Thursday, October 29, 2015

Five things to do and see in Khajuraho

The temples of Khajuraho are world famous. Not only is the architecture spectacular but the erotic sculptures are intricate and it is a must visit place for anyone who loves art.

The name Khajuraho (Kharjuravahaka), is derived from ancient Sanskrit and according to legends the temples used to have two golden date-palm trees as their gate.

The Hindu temples and their art
Khandarya Mahadeva (Shiva temple) and Chaturbhuja and Ramachandra temples (Vaishnav temples) are not only beautiful but are also architectural wonders as no mortar was used to join the sandstones. Among the artwork, some are erotic and experts suggest that the reason for erotic art in temples are depictions of Tantric sexual practices. Others suggest that this was the king's way of inspiring people to be involved in family life. They are the main attraction of the temple cluster.

Jain Temples
The Jain temples which are located on southeast region of the Khajuraho monuments were made for the flourishing Jain communities, during the Chandela rule. The temples have sprawling architecture mimicking the main temple structures. But the subject of the sculptures are adapted to the Jain sensibilities.

Sound and Light
The main temple complex offers a sound and light show every evening in both English and Hindi. Held in the open lawns the show is informative as well as entertaining. The history of Khajuraho is briefly told in the show and it is voiced by none other than Amitabh Bachchan.

Dance festival
Every February The Khajuraho Dance Festival is held in the town featuring various Indian classical dance forms. Imagine dancers performing their art against the backdrop of the Chitragupta or Vishwanath Temples, almost as if the Apsaras of heaven have descended on earth to enchant the mortals.

The food in Khajuraho will surprise many. Most hotels offer and Bed & Breakfast and most of it will have an American or European cuisine on their menus. There are beautiful roof top restaurants that offer pastas and pizzas that can give any big hotel in metropolitans a run for their money. There are bakeries and sandwich shops scattered all around. But all this does not mean that Khajuraho does not have Indian cuisine on its platter. Many a restaurants will offer delectable Indian cuisine as well.

Pic Duladeo Temple
Pic Courtesy - Wikipedia 
(This article first appeared on )

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Durga Puja special: Nine forms of Shakti

Maha Navratri or the Sharad Navratri is celebrated during the advent of winters in India.During this time, the nine forms of Durga or the nine forms of Shakti – energy - are prayed to by different communities.

Manifestations of the ever powerful goddess are three - Mahasaraswati, Mahalakshmi and Mahakal. They are the Shaktis of Brahma, Vishnu and Rudra respectively without whom the trinity is incomplete.


Goddess Durga means ‘The inaccessible’ or ‘the invincible’. She is the most popular incarnation and is one of the main forms of Shakti. Durga was manifested to destroy Mahishasur, who had the boon that no man could destroy him. Gifted by the gods, with different powers and weapons, Durga is a form of Adi Shakti.

Mantra - Om Aim Hreem Kleem Durga Devyai Namah


Bhadrakali means Mahamaya Kali. She is worshipped in Kerala and she is associated with the Keralian Martial Arts - Kalarippayattu. She is supposed to be born to Shiva to destroy ‘Daruka’.
Lokanarkavu Temple is dedicated to Bhadrakali. She is the main centre of the ‘Shakt’ sect of hindu Goddess worship in the southern India.

Mantra - Om Glaum Bhadrakalyai Namah


The famous Mookambika Temple on the banks of the never drying river Sauparnika in Karnataka, is the home to the goddess Mookambika. The goddess is called Mookambika as she is said to have slain the demon Mookasura. The idol of Chandramaulishvara is said to have been installed by Shri Adi Shankara. The idol is the Jyotirlinga Signifying both Shiva and Ambika Devi.

Mantra - Om Sarvashaktyaika Roopashree Mookaambikaayai Namo Namah


Amba Ma or Divine Mother represents the power of the Supreme Being that preserves moral order and righteousness in the creation. She is a composite goddess who includes different elements of many Gods and Goddesses. She stands for motherhood and all the positive energy in the universe.

Mantra - ‘Om Ambe Ambike Ambaalike Na Manayati Kashchana,
Saa Satyaashwakaah Subhadrikaam Kampilyavaasinim’


Annapurna is the Hindu goddess of nourishment. ‘Anna’ means grains and ‘Purna’ means ‘Complete’ or ‘whole’. It is said that she does not eat a morsel unless all her devotees have been fed in her temple. She is the residing deity at Kashi, Banaras.

Mantra was composed by Adi Shankaracharya called the Sri Annapurna.

Mantra - Kasi Puraadheeshvari, Bhikshaam Dehi,
Kripa-Valambana-Karee, Mata Annapurnesvari


Bhairavi is the fierce facet of the Divine Goddess, indistinguishable from Kali, except as the companion of the Bhairava – Form of Shiva. She is also called Shubhamkari, good mother to good people and terrible to bad ones. She is especially important in Occult practices and is a powerful goddess of Tantra vidya.

Mantra - Om Bhairavi Saham


Chandi or Chandika’s reference originates in Bengal which is the prime seat of the ‘Shakt’ sect. To defeat Mahisasur, all the energies of the Gods came together, throwing out blaze in all directions. The unique light, permeated the three universes with its shine, combined into one, and became a female form. Her actual name is believed to be Chandraghanta

Mantra - Om Aim Hreem Kleem Chaamundaayai Vicche


Tripurasundari is known by many names such as Lalita, Sodasi, Rajarajeshwari and others. Tripurasundari is the primary goddess associated with the ‘Shakta’ Tantric tradition‘ - Sri Vidya. Her name means ‘Beautiful in all the Three Worlds’, and the Indian state of Tripura derives its name from the goddess. She is also worshipped as the Sri Yantra.

Mantra – Om Mahaa Tripurasundaryai Namah


Bhavani or ‘giver of life", is the power of nature or the source of creative energy. She is also known as Karunaswaroopini meaning - one who is merciful. Ma Bhavani was the tutelary deity of the Maratha leader Shivaji. She is a Kul Devi for many Maharashtrians surpassing castes of the state.

According to mythology, a demon by name Matanga caused destruction upon the gods and humans who approached Bramha for help and upon his advice turned to the Mother Goddess Shakti, who took up the form of the destroyer,

Mantra – Bhavaani Bhavaani Bhavaani Trivaaram Udaaram Mudaa Sarvadaa Ye Japanti,
Na Shokam Na Moham Na Paapam Na Bheetih Kadaachit Kathanchit Kutashchijjanaanaam

Saturday, October 17, 2015

Durga Puja: Significance of each day of the festival

Durga Pratima at Milani (MC&WA) Puja in Delhi
Durga Puja and Navratra are simultaneously celebrated all over India, just before the advent of winters and is therefore known as Sharad Navratra. It is the time of the year when the mood of festivities catches on like wild fire and everybody regardless of who they are and where they are in India join the celebration. Durga Puja is the celebration of the Goddess in all her different forms. Whether it is called Navratra or Durga Puja, the ten days are days of reverence to the woman who is pure energy – without whom even the gods cannot sustain.

The festivities Durga Puja last for ten days, however the main rituals are conducted only for the last four days. Each day of Durga Puja has a special significance and the preparation for the festivals begin months before the festival.

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

The story of Lord Ganesh

Ganesh — Vighna vinayak — the destroyer of obstacles.

There are many legends surrounding the Elephant God scattered around Vedic verses and the Puranas. Different versions of tales make sure that the fascination about Ganpati doesn’t dwindle. Some of the stories are as significant today as they were in the old times.

The Birth of Ganesh and the elephant head

Goddess Parvati, once alone at home, created Ganesh out of her cleansing paste, and told him to stand guard while she took a bath. Ganesh being devoted stood guard, refusing to even let Shiva inside who was unaware of Ganesh’s motive.

Soon heavy battle ensued as both Gods refused to relent. Shiva in his anger threw his Trishul (trident) at the young boy, and his head was immediately cut off/severed and flung afar.

Parvati was aghast and bereaved when she saw her son lying dead at the hands of her husband. To console her Shiva sent out his army in search of the first head that can restore their son. They found the head of a dying elephant and the head was attached. He blew life into the young elephant headed god and blessed him with wisdom and strength.

Shani and the birth of Ganesh

Another story about the birth of Ganesh is that Parvati prayed to Vishnu for one year for a child. Lord Vishnu bestowed the goddess with a son, and all the Gods and Goddesses came together to celebrate the birth of the child.

Shani, the son of Surya (Sun God) was reluctant as he was cursed with a destroying glance. But at insistence of other Gods, he looked and immediately the child lost his head.

To save the child Shiva went looking for another head. He found a dying elephant who offered his head to the lord. Shiva immediately joined the headless body of the child with that of the elephant’s and Gajanan (One with the face of an elephant, another name for Ganesh) was brought back to life.

The Story of Vakratunda

Matsaryasur, a demon once meditated and chanted to Shiva to grant him immortality. Pleased with his devotion Shiva blessed Matsaryasur that he shall not be destroyed by any human, God or demon. Drunk with power and fearless of death, the asur soon conquered the three worlds — heaven, earth, and paataal.

He started to create problems for Srishti (creation) altogether. The gods prayed for mercy so they could be saved from the atrocities of the demon. Finally Ganesh, the remover of obstacles, took the form of Vakratunda and captured Matsaryasur.

In fear of Ganesh’s immense strength, Matsara begged for forgiveness. The Vakratunda form forgave him and set him free on the condition that he will not trouble the Gods again. Peace was restored once again in the three lokas.

Ganesh and the Cursed Moon

Ganapati was once offered a lot of laddus (modaks) and was unable to walk after eating all of them. He started to ride his Vaahan the Mooshak (mouse). Suddenly a snake appeared on the way. The mouse, frightened by the snake, started running away and Ganesh fell off.

Amused by all this the Moon mocked the young God. In anger Ganesh broke away one of his tusks and threw it at the moon, breaking it off, and cursed him that within 15 days the moon will fade away. He also said that whoever saw the moon on Ganesh Chathurthi would be mocked and falsely accused.

Terrified the Moon prayed to Shiva, who made the curse lighter and said that with the beginning of every month the curse will work and the moon will fade, and in the next 15 days the moon will get back its brightness.

The Pride of Kuber

Kuber, the lord of wealth, was proud and disdainful of Shiva due to his poverty and simple life. To mock him further, he invited Shiva to eat at his palace at a feast with other Gods and Goddesses.

Shiva declined but offered that Ganesh (his son) go instead. Kuber was happy to accept, and invited the young Ganesh for the feast.

Ganesh asked for food as soon as he reached the feast. Kuber gave him tasty servings of dishes. Ganesh finished his food and asked for more. Kuber gave him a second helping and then a third. Soon all the food prepared for all the guests was over, and Ganesh still asked for more. Soon Ganesh had devoured all the food in Kuber’s kitchen and went for the food in the city. Kuber was aghast, and frightened that if Ganesh was not appeased soon, he will destroy the entire city. He ran to Kailash and begged Shiva for a solution.

Shiva told him to give a handful of roasted rice to Ganesh, but with humility and love. Kuber fell at Ganesh’s feet and gave him the offering, thus also burying his pride.

The Story of Kaveri

South India was stricken with drought and Agastya Muni started praying at Kailash to Shiva for relief. Shiva gave some of the holy Ganga water flowing from his hair to the sage to help south India. Agastya held the water in a pot and carried on his journey to the south.

The sage reached south India after a strenuous journey and stopped to rest. Unknown to him, the young Ganesh had followed him. Curious he took the form of a crow and tipped the pot. The water touched the land and blossomed into a river. And lord Ganesh blessed the land that the water will not dry again, hence saving the land and the people.

The place of origin of Kavery is called Taalkaveri. Kaveri is also called ‘Ganga of the south’ for the same reason.

Ganesh and his universe

Once the gods gave Parvati a Modak of wisdom and knowledge to give to her son, on the condition that it cannot be split. Parvati was in a fix and asked Shiva for help. The God and Goddess decided to test their children so they could be fair.

They asked both their sons, Kartik (also called Skanda or Murugan) and Ganapati to encircle the universe three times and whoever wins shall win the Modak.

Kartik immediately rode out on his peacock to encircle the universe. Ganesh simply rode on his mouse and took three rounds of his parents knowing that the two constitute the entire cosmology.

Happy with his love and devotion Shiva and Parvati gave the Laddu to the young Ganesh, who is known as the god of knowledge and wisdom.

Ganesh and Mahabharat

The great sage Vyaas wanted to tell the tale of Mahabharat and wanted someone to write it down as he dictates. He prayed to Ganesh and pleaded him to write it as he dictates.

Ganesh agreed but on one condition. He said that he will write it only if the sage does not stop composing it. Vyaas was in a dilemma, nevertheless he asked the Lord that he agreed but on the condition that Ganesh promised to understand every verse before he wrote it down.

Rishi Vyaas made some complex compositions for Ganesh to write down, and as the God took is time to understand those verses before writing, the sage composed the next few lines.

Thus the epic was written.

Friday, September 04, 2015

Bollywood movies on politics

Political drama and satire has always been a great topic for making feature films. It is interesting to note that many of them are based on the ills of politics, corruption and scams. Here are some of the best of the lot made on politicians and politics in india.

Highly controversial and probably the best known movie on politics, `Aandhi` was rumoured to be based on indira gandhi`s life. It boasts of some spectacular performances by Sanjeev Kumar and Suchitra Sen. The movie was even banned during the emergency period in 1975. 2 years later it was cleared and aired on national television. Originally the role of the lead protagonist, Aarti devi, was offered to vyjayanthimala and she refused it as she got `cold feet` because of the semblance to Indira Gandhi. This movie also has some of gulzar and rd burman`s best compositions. The movie received 7 Filmfare awards including best film, best actor and best actress.

Directed By: Gulzar
Actors: Sanjeev Kumar, Suchitra Sen

Hu tu tu
Gulzar`s take on modern indian politics, this movie was his last as a director. `Hu Tu Tu` showed the angst of the youth and their frustration with corruption. The violent repurcussion that extreme exploitation can cause was a strong theme in the film starring Tabu and Sunil shetty.

Directed By: Gulzar

Actors: Tabu, Nana Patekar, Sunil Shetty, Suhasini Mulay, Shivaji Satham, Mohan Agashe, Kulbhushan Kharbanda


Made both in hindi and tamil, `Yuva` was a great boys-to-men story with a unique story telling style. It showed the need for revolutionising indian politics and the involvement of youth. It was a story of positive impact of student politics and how the influence can trigger a much needed change in the system.

Directed By: Mani Ratnam

Actors: Ajay Devgn, Rani Mukerji, Abhishek Bachchan, Vivek Oberoi, Kareena Kapoor, Esha Deol, Sonu Sood 

Anil Kapoor stars in this commercial take on changing the system. Even though it had some far fetched ideas as to how to remove corruption from politics, it was a feel good movie and got a great reception from the audience. Amrish Puri was his villainous best as the corrupt chief minister of the state who Anil Kapoor, a zealous journalist throws off using radical thinking and a straight way of handling things.

Directed By: S. Shankar

Actors: Anil Kapoor, Rani Mukerji, Amrish Puri, Paresh Rawal

`Satta` is the portrait of the nexus between the underworld, businessmen, corrupt policemen and politicians. Starring Raveena Tandon, the movie also showed the bigotry of the Indian mindset and how women were used according to the whims of the men who are looking for their share of power.

Directed By: Madhur Bhandarkar
Actors: Raveena Tandon, Atul Kulkarni, Govind Namdeo 

One of Anuraag Kashyap`s best, `Gulaal` was delayed by over 3 years due to various reasons. It had some fantastic performances and established Kashyap as one of the finest film makers of the decade. It was a story of the struggle for power, it showed a gritty underbelly of student politics and secessionist politics in the state of Rajasthan. The film featured Kay Kay Menon in one of his most powerful roles.

Directed By: Anurag Kashyap
Actors: Raj Singh Chaudhary, Kay Kay Menon, Deepak Dobriyal, Mahi Gill, Jesse Randhawa, Aditya Srivastava, Piyush Mishra, Abhimanyu Singh 

Mere Apne
The story about a old widow, played by Meena Kumari who becomes `nani ma` of a poor neighbourhood. The place is also ridden with gang wars led by rivals Shyam and Chheno (Vinod Khanna and Shatrughna Sinha). The youth are utilised by local politicians to their own end. The movie was very well appreciated for its great portrayal of the political scenario of the era at the ground level. Educated unemployment was rife at the time and the feature film had the tone and nerve of the youth just right.

Directed By: Gulzar

Actors: Vinod Khanna, Shatrughan Sinha, Meena Kumari

This 2010 political drama was inspired from `mahabharata` and `the godfather` with movie characters drawing from these stories. Critically the movie was well received, and earned about 143 crores at the box office. It had portrayed the murkiness and the tricks of politicians and the struggle very well.

Directed By: Prakash Jha

Actors: Ranbir Kapoor, Katrina Kaif, Arjun Rampal, Ajay Devgan, Nana Patekar, Manoj Bajpayee, Naseeruddin Shah

Kissa kursi ka
Starring Shabana Azmi, Utpal Dutt and Raj Babbar, this movie was a satirical take on Indira Gandhi and Sanjay Gandhi. It was surrounded by controversy and the prints were confiscated during the emergency, and was banned in the country.

Directed By: Amrit Nahata

Actors: Shabana Azmi, Raj Babbar, Utpal Dutt, Rehana Sultan, Manohar Singh  Main Azad Hoon

One of Amitabh Bachchan`s lesser known movies, `Main Azaad Hoon` is a story of a layman who needs money and agrees to impersonate a non-existent person who said he`d be committing suicide as a protest to corruption , and a political movement begins. The movie was based on a 1941 American drama – `Meet John Doe`. The movie catches the nerve of the ills of the society and the plight of the common man in the face of rising looting in the name of leadership.

Directed by: Tinnu anand
actors: Amitabh Bachchan, Shabana azmi, Anupam kher  

Monday, August 31, 2015

Cricketers who worked in Bollywood

As Sachin Tendulkar makes his bollywood debut with MS Dhoni's biopic, it is only going to have more and more people flock to the theatres to see their beloved cricketing legend hold the willow again.

But there are others who have tried to make it to the big screen. Some succeeded, most failed – here is a look at which of the famous cricketers were keen to get on the silver screen.

Ajay Jadeja

After the controversy of match fixing – jadeja tried his had on the 70 mm. He plays a pivotal role in the movie 'khel' which also starred celina jaitley, sunil shetty and sunny deol. The movie bombed. He had also done another movie called 'pal pal dil ke ssaat' with mahi gill and vinod kambli.

Yograj Singh
Yograj Singh the all-rounder who played one test and a few ODIs for team india, is quite a big name in the Punjabi film industry. After his career ended because of an injury, he entered punjwood. He has over 40 movies in his kitty, including 'bhaag milkha bhaag' in 2013.  

Yuvraj Singh
The young Padma Shri winner has had a stint in moviedom as well. In fact he has done quite a few roles as a child actor in Punjabi movies. Well, he sure is a hunk – maybe it will be his alternate career once he retires.

Vinod Kambli
The cricketing prodigy starred in Sunil Shetty, Sanjay Dutt starrer 'annarth'. The movie tanked miserably. Since then the actor decided to stay away – probably a very good decision.  

Salil Ankola
After a rather abysmal cricketing career ankola made a foray into acting. Turns out he got quite popular as a television star. He also did the movies 'chura liya hai tumne', 'kurukshetra' and 'pitaah'.

Sunil Gavaskar

Before there was Tendulkar, the little master was gavaskar and he tried his hand on the celluloid too. He appeared in a Marathi film way back in 1980 - 'Savli Premachi'. He has also played himself in the 1988 comedy 'Maalamaal'.

Kapil Dev, Salim Durrani, Sandeep Patil, Syed Kirmani
Kapil dev has appeared in the critically acclaimed movie 'Iqbal' as well as the comedy 'Mujhse Shaadi Karogi'. Salim Durrani was seen in BR Ishara`s 'Charitra' in 1973 opposite Parveen Babi. Sandeep Patil played the lead hero while Syed Kirmani was the lead villain in 'Kabhie Ajnabi The' in 1985.

Guest appearance
In the 2008 Harman Baweja film 'Victory' Indian players like harbhajan singh, dinesh karthik, r.p.singh and international players like brett lee, mutthiah muralidharan, chaminda vaas, simon katich, greame smith and a.b.devilliers were in the movie. The movie failed to make any ripples on the box office.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The various avatars of Hrithik Roshan

The heartthrob of Bollywood, Hrithik Roshan has donned many caps in his journey in the film industry. From acting like a child to being a royal, Hrithik has done it all. The handsome hunk is a multi-talented actor who made his start with 'Kaho na pyar hai' under the tutelage of his father Rakesh Roshan.

Let's have a trip back in time to see the many faces of the actor.

Jodha Akbar
In this biopic directed by Ashutosh Gowariker, Hrithik played the role of great king Akbar who reigned supreme in India in the Mughal era. Hrithik not only looked every bit regal and strong, but also carried of the character with great elan.

Koi Mil Gaya
Roshan junior charmed all his fans with his childish demeanour in this movie. Hrithik plays the role of Rohit who is a spirited mentally disabled young man who befriends an alien. Hrithik's performance was commended by everybody and the movie became a phenomenal success.

A sequel to 'Koi Mil Gaya', 'Krrish' was an instant hit with kids as well as adults. It was a superhero movie, where Hrithik plays Rohit's son Krishna who is born with supernatural talents. Priyanka Chopra played the female lead and the next movie 'Krrish 3', released in 2013 also achieved great success.

Farhan Akhtar directed this fictionalised coming-of-age story set against the 1999 kargil war. Hrithik portrays a young Delhiite Karan Shergill who transforms himself from a directionless young man to a man with a mission to defend his country. Hrithik made the character come to life.

The bad boy who looked dashing as a high profile thief. He looked every bit dashing in the movie and was overpowering with his performance as a con artist. The dances that he did in this with Aishwarya were also to die for.  

Rustic and muscular, Roshan was fantastic in this remake of the 1990 Amitabh Bachchan starrer. Not only was Hrithik looking fit as a fiddle, he also played the role of Vijay Dinanath Chauhan as powerfully as big b had done in the original.

A magician, that's what Hrithik played in this movie. He received great acclaim as an actor who played a paraplegic in this film directed by Sanjay Leela Bhansali. Although the movie was not a commercial success, Hrithik was highly appreciated for his dedication to the role.

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Top 5 train journeys in India

Travelling by Indian Railways is as fascinating as it can get. Whether you want to backpack through the country or be treated like royalty Indian railways has it all. The meandering tracks take you through all terrains.

Toy Train
The Darjeeling toy train is perhaps the most romantic of them all. Feel the little toy train chug along the narrow gauge while billowing steam. The Neelgiri train that goes from Mettupalayam to Ooty is another beautiful ride through the tunnels around the hills. And who can forget the beautiful Kalka Shimla line which has the numerous tunnels and the snow peaked views.

Travelling like Royalty
Palace on Wheels, The Indian Maharaja and The Golden Chariot will make you feel like the kings and queens of the bygone era. A massage on the train - personal butlers, salons, a bar, these trains boast of it all. Expensive but worth a ride at least once in your lifetime

The Konkan railway

The western ghats and the greenery makes for one of the most breathtaking journeys you will take in your lifetime. The train meanders through tunnels, hills, green forests and waterfalls.

Nature's trail

Island Express and the New Jalpaiguri Alipurduar Passenger will take you through contrasting terrains but it would be a nature's ride to remember. The Island express takes you through Kerala while the passenger will take you through the forests of Northern Bengal. Take your pick.

Kashmir Railway

Kashmir Railway is the reason why Indian railways are so awesome. The train route crosses earthquake zones and is also subjected to extreme hot and cold temperatures and inhospitable terrain, making it an extremely challenging engineering feat. In winters the temperatures fall well below zero and is subject to snowfall. But the views are exhilarating.

Wednesday, August 05, 2015

Best waterfall destinations in India

Waterfalls have always been a place for romance. Many a passionate scene has been shot under the waterfalls and they look exquisite.

Not only are they majestic, but also nature at its best. India has some picturesque waterfalls all around the country. Here is a list of five of the most beautiful falls in the country.

Chitrakote Waterfalls
Located in Jagdalpur, Chhattisgarh, it is the widest fall in India, about 300 metres (980 ft). Because of its shape, it has been named the ‘the Small Niagara Falls’. It looks the most beautiful during the rainy season when the mist of the waterfall reflects the sunlight and it looks as if thousands of rainbows have formed over the waterfall.

Located on the Chandravanka river, a tributary of the River Krishna, this Waterfall is a combination of three streams namely Chandravanka Vagu, Nakkala Vagu and Tummala Vagu. Interestingly, the pond formed by the water fall is a crocodile breeding centre. In the evenings the waterfall literally becomes enchanting with the setting sun playing the cascade. The water changes colour.

Hogenakkal Falls
These falls are situated in the Dharmapuri district of the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu, on the river Kaveri. Most people can experience the scenic boat rides (the little round boats) near the waterfall. Boating is allowed only during the dry time of year during the time the waterfalls are not powerful enough to disturb them.

Jog Falls
Also called Gerosoppa Falls, it is the second-highest plunge waterfall in the country. Surrounded by lush green forests and misty deep valleys, Jog is a tourists' delight. It was declared to be one of the top ten UNESCO ecological hot spots in the world. The best time to visit? Undoubtedly right after the monsoons – July to October, when the falls are at its majestic best.

The Seven Sisters waterfalls
Nohsngithiang Falls or Mawsmai Falls, as it's also known as, is just one of the many beautiful water fronts in the state of Meghalaya. The local folklore of each of these waterfalls is enchanting and adds to the magic of these picturesque locales steeped in nature and culture

Tuesday, August 04, 2015

Five fabulous things to do in Shimla

Shimla is one of the most beautiful destinations of north India. Many people flee from the plains during the torrid summer months to escape the heat to the beautiful town of Shimla.

Here are five things that should be in you must do list when you are visiting this spectacular hill station.

Kalka Shimla Railway: Getting to Shimla is perhaps the most romantic train ride of India. The toy train that starts at the Kalka Station and winds its way to Shimla is dotted with cosy hill stations all along. You will find young couples and backpackers in the same train trying to get to one of the most beautiful hill

Heritage walk: The Victorian architecture is mesmerising. If you are here in the winters the misty cold mornings are going to entice you to walk in the quiet and the beauty of the town will truly dazzle you. Must visit - Christ Church at the Ridge.

The Mall: Walk up and down the mall in Shimla and tire yourself out with the shopping. Buy beautiful Kullu shawls and some warm sweaters and caps to keep away the chill. If you are too exhausted have some apple drinks and cherrys, or go buy an ice cream cone from the numerous stalls.

Temples: On Jakhu Hill which is just two kilometres from Shimla, is a Hanuman Temple. Apart from the holy feeling of this place, it also offers a beautiful view of Shimla and the frozen Himalayas. Taptapani (also known as Tattapani) is another holy place near Shimla that is a must visit. There are other temples in and around Shimla like Sankat Mochan and Tara Devi that people should

In and around: Kufri and Chail are just some of the numerous locations that you can go to from Shimla. If you like some peace and quiet opt for one of the homestays dotted around Shimla.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Best Songs of Mohammed Rafi

With prolific four decade long career, mohd. Rafi is still considered as one of the most beautiful male voices that the subcontinent has seen. He won the best national singer award and six filmfare awards. In 1967, he was honoured with the padma shri award by the government of india. 

There are thousands of rafi songs that are considered as classics, here is a look at only some of his best works - 

Tumne Mujhe Dekha
Shammi Kapoor dazzled in this romantic western bollywood fusion number.
Song - Tumne Mujhe Dekha
​Film - Teesri Manzil
Music Director- R. D. Burman
Yeh Duniya Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai
Guru Dutt featured in this thought provoking song From 'Pyaasa' 

Song - Yeh Duniya Mil Bhi Jaye To Kya Hai
Film - Pyaasa
​Music Director - SD Burman

Pukarta Chala Hoon Main
The ever charming Biswajit trying his hand at romance with this beautiful number. 
Song - Pukarta Chala Hoon Main
Film - Mere Sanam
Music Director - Op Nayyar

Hum Bekhudi Mein...
This one is one of his best known sad songs. Picturised on Dev Anand, this beautiful rendition was composed by SD Burman.
Song - Hum Bekhudi Mein...​
​Movie - Kala Pani
Music Director - Sd Burman
Man Re Tu Kahe Na Dheer Dhare
Song - Man Re Tu Kahe Na Dheer Dhare
Film - Chitralekha
Music Director - Roshan

Radhike Tune Bansuri Churai
One of Rafi Sahab's lesser known devotional songs featuring Sunil Dutt.
Song- Radhike Tune Bansuri Churai
​Film - Beti Bete
​Music Director - Shankar Jaikishan

Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re
A beautiful hindustani classical based song filmed on none other than Dilip Kumar.
Song - Madhuban Mein Radhika Nache Re
Film - Kohinoor
Music Director - Naushad

Khoya Khoya Chand
'Khoya Khoya Chand' is perhaps one of the most romantic songs from the era
Song - Khoya Khoya Chand
​Film - Kala Bazaar
Music Director - S.D.Burman

Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya
One of the most memorable songs of Rafi Sahab picturised on Dev Anand 
Song - Main Zindagi Ka Saath Nibhata Chala Gaya
​Movie - Hum Dono
Music Director - Jaidev

One of Rafi Sahab's last numbers - this song went on to become an iconic youth romance in the 1980s
Song - Dard-E-Dil
​Film - Karz
Music Director - Laxmikant Pyarelal