‘Sultan’, ‘Ramayan’ and women !

My conversation with my better half after a long-awaited viewing of Sultan

Me – That seems like a ‘and they lived happily ever after’ kind of movie. I like it

Better Half – Really? I don’t think it was happy every after for ‘Aarfa’

Me – They have tried to do that , haven’t they? She goes back to wrestling and is pregnant at the end of the movie

Better Half – But she did not win the Olympic gold which she always wanted. I am sure it was not a happy ending for her

Me ( trying to defend ) – True, but did you notice her father’s reaction when she tells him about the pregnancy? Her father wanted her to focus on the medal. That shows a different picture doesn’t it?

Better half (begrudgingly) – May be.

Me (sensing a victory) –  If you notice, she was the main character in the movie. The whole story takes place because of her. Just like Ramayan and Mahabharat

Better half (with a great smile) – And you think it was ‘happily ever after for Sita’ ?

Me (not sure what to expect next) – I guess. Wasn’t it? ( trying hard to remember the Ramayan story)

Better half – Ram’s exile ended but Sita’s didn’t . She had to walk through fire to prove her purity. She had to go away in exile again while pregnant and raise 2 kids on her own in difficult conditions and finally she was swallowed by earth. Where is the happy ending in that!

Me (stunned and speechless)

Beginning of end for SRK – Happy new year !!

Few disclosures upfront

  1. I am a (sort of) a SRK fan (or at least was before Ra-One and Jab tak hai Jaan)
  2. I have watched most if not all SRK movies (even Jab tak hai Jaan!!)
  3. I am married to a lady who is a hardcore SRK fan (hence point 2)
  4. I am happy to watch all the SRK movies multiple times (that includes Chennai Express)
  5. I have seen and actually liked Happy New Year

Having said all that, I feel ‘Happy New Year’ might just be where it all starts to go wrong for SRK. Here is why


I love the SRK moments from movies .. Happy New Year has none 

I havn’t come out of a SRK movie ever without few SRK special moments whether KKKKiran (incidentally my wife’s name) or Nam to Suna hi hoga or Fir Milenge Chalte Chalte … I always had my SRK moments from each of the SRK movies that I saw ( except Jab tak hai Jaan). Even Ra One had few. Happy New Year has none

SRK is rarely outshone … In Happy New Year he was ( and by AB Junior !!)

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The line which has stayed with me after the movie as been ‘Nandu Bhide, Dimag main kide’ , which is ironic as I do not particularly like AB Junior (expect Guru, Sarkar). Even Deepika Padukon played a memorable role. Now that rarely happens. Even against biggest super starts SRK always comes through with flying colours. With Happy New Year, he was overshadowed and out performed by others.

SRK was always the star not just a star attraction

Happy New Year was marketed using the SRK brand. Most went to theaters to see SRK and I for one was disappointed to see that SRK was almost the guest appearance. As I said, there were no SRK moments, No SRK dialogues, nothing. You were left wondering if the film’s marketing was misleading !! I actually thought of filing a complaint with the customer grievance cell to register. SRK was almost used as a bait to get people in to watch AB Junior and Deepika. It does make commercial sense but what about alienating SRK fan base?

SRK movies were always about fans not money


Everything I have heard about Happy New Year has been about it’s commercial model and the genius of SRK to recover money before release and so on. Nothing about how SRK is loved by his fans or how his fans are crazy abt the movie. It somehow does not sit right with me. I did pay 280 Rs to watch SRK ( sorry AB Junior) but it was never about that. The day SRK is about money, fans might start thinking about those 280 Rs

What if all future SRK movies are like this? It will not take a lot of time for SRK to go down the route of yesteryear legands who were reduced to guest appearances or as launch pads for new actors.  SRK will still earn the money but what about the fans and their love?

It will be more like Sachin playing for records and forgetting the joy of playing cricket. I was happy that Tendulkar retired before that happened and I will not be sad to see SRK hang his acting shoes before he becomes just another commercial brand !!

Tendulkar, Modi and ‘weight of a nation’

‘He has been carrying the weight of the nation for so long, now it’s our turn to carry him on our shoulders’ – said Yuvraj singh after that wonderful evening at Wankhede in 2011. I totally agreed then and I still agree now. Till around 10 days back, Tendulkar was the only man to ever carry the weight of the nation on his shoulders but then happened Modi and now it seems that he is the next one to carry the weight (and may be the last one) I was a Tendulkar fan for most of my life and all of Tendulkar’s cricketing life. I am however not necessarily a Modi fan… atleast for now. That said I do not have any issue with Modi. Having been a lifetime Tendulkar’s fan, It is little scary to be a Modi fan!!

Image courtesy - sandhira.com

Image courtesy – sandhira.com

Here is why – People like me set Tendulkar up for Failure right from the day we started cheering him. I am sure that Tendulkar never told me that he is going to score 100 100s. He never claimed that he was the best batsman in the wold. He hardly every said or claimed anything. I bet Tendulkar was not even as talented as some of his contemporaries. I am ready to go on record and say that a certain Vinod Kambli was more talented than Tendulkar. I would dare say that VVS was more natural than Tendulkar.. Heck I would say that Dravid has more mental strength than Tendulkar. Tendulkar just had it in him to work harder than any other kid around him to make most of what God gifted him. The whole thing about expectations was created by people like me. Fans like me.. We placed our expectations on his (literally) young shoulders. We wanted him to win for us. We wanted him to achieve what we could not. We wanted him to be superhuman. Thank God that Tendulkar was able to carry weight of those expectations, very few could. Tendulkar did not just carry the weight but excelled while doing so. I am sure it was a big burden and I am sure he felt it every day for past 22 years. If you need a proof then take a look at Tendulkar post his retirement, you can see the relief on his face..

Modi’s story might play out in a similar way. Now I may not have followed Modi’s career but I am sure there are more charismatic leaders around him. I am sure that Advani, Swaraj and others have a bigger stature … I am sure there are others in BJP with more and diverse experience.  While that might be true, I am also sure that Modi worked his socks off to reach where he has.. The problem starts now.. If social media is to be believed, the whole nation thinks that there are going to be miracles. Modi is going to win them every match as Tendulkar did ( or didn’t). Modi is going to be the solution to every problem. Just as there was a whole generation made up of Tendulkar fans, we now have a generation of Modi fans.

As a neutral observer and a Tendulkar Fan, the Modi fan following worries me. Tendulkar’s whole career was a fight against those expectations and for the record a lot of neutrals still view his career as a failure. His only fault was to raise the expectation. He in no ways knowingly contributed to the rise in expectations but it just happened.The ironic thing about Modi is that he has actively raised the expectation and now it is a genie out of the bottle. Neither Modi nor anyone else can put that genie back in.

Just like Tendulkar, Modi will have to carry the weight of a nation on his shoulders.. I am sure all the Modi fans will be more than happy if Modi retires after 22 years with similar successes / failures as Tendulkar…

Dhoni, Modi and ‘Sense of Occasion’

Sense of occasion – I for one definitely don’t have it, if it helps (me) even the great Sachin Tendulkar never had it.. In recent history, there are only 2 people who have really stood out when it comes to having sense of occasion – MS Dhoni and Narendra Modi

It is one thing to promote yourself in the batting order in a world cup final, it is another thing to have the audacity to clinch the win with a six, but it take someone with a great sense of occasion to hold that pose long enough for the cameras to capture the moment in all it’s glory.

The world might forget so many things about that world cup final but the one thing they will never forget is – Dhoni holding his pose after the winning shot. That was drama and triumph at it’s best. He had written his own fairy-tale.

Tendulkar never had that.. He was never one for having a great sense of occasion. His timing was limited to the cricketing sense of the word. Very rarely has Tendulkar been fortunate to do great things on great occasions. In fact some of his key milestones have been cursed by irrelevant matches or inferior opponents. A case in point is his retirement .. I bet Dhoni will retire at the most opportune moment and will do it in the same style as he won the world cup.

Fair enough …  Tendulkar had the talent and a place near to God, Dhoni has sense of occasion ..

That brings me to Mr. Modi. Mr. Modi reminds me a lot of Dhoni.. Beyond all the other similarities, both of them have a great sense of occasion..

Just like Dhoni, Modi has a knack of doing and saying the right things at the right time(at least till now). Case in point is his inaugural address in the Parliament. He has said great things throughout his campaign but today was his ultimate test. Lot of eyes were on him and many were betting on him to slip. He didn’t. He even managed to get emotional at the right time and even shed few tears. Just like Dhoni, he nailed the moment (atleast for now)..

There is however a slight difference between Dhoni’s world cup moment and Modi’s speech today. Dhoni had reached his Mount Everest and Modi is just starting his trek !! I just hope that Modi still has the sense of occasion when and if he reaches his pinnacle



Men celebrating Women’s day !! Ironic

Ok.. Take a look at this video while I am taking a deep breath and looking for words that could convey my anger while maintaining the dignity of my blog.

First of all, my apologies to all the women who felt insulted by this video.I bet this video was produced by a bunch of Men. There are so many things that frustrate me about this video but I am trying to restrict myself to the top 5 list.  Consider this post as my tribute to women for Women’s day.

Women are just Mothers, Sisters, Girlfriends ? – Really? I am sure I remember having women as classmates, colleagues, team members, bosses and friends !! . Why not just mention that in the video?

So women spend their whole life taking care of Men? –  May be I live in the wrong century but I have seen women around me do much more than just look after the Men. I have seen them carve out high-flying careers while they were supposedly busy with all the Men they had to look after.

A tribute patronizing women on Women’s day –   Not a bright idea for sure. I thought this would be the last thing any self-respecting man would like to do. I leave it to the women reading this post to decide but at least the women I have spoken to definitely found the video patronizing

2 insults for the price of one ?? – Hell you insulted all the women but you also found a way to insult the Men. So we cannot do anything on our own? Whole life we have to be looked after by women? We do not have anything to offer to help women than this stupid video? So basically we are good for nothing, parasites who cannot survive on their own or support another human being?

Making people believe that this is a Women’s day tribute – I hate you most for this. You made so many men believe that this was a tribute. I had friends in my network who shared the video as ‘their tribute to women’. As mentioned earlier, that might be the last kind pf tribute any woman wanted, specially from Men !!



Tale of 2 mavericks – Pietersen and Sehwag

Wikipedia defines the word as – ‘an unorthodox or independent-minded person’. Assuming that this is correct, I am sure these two characters are the very definition of the word ‘maverick’.

I am sure there is enough written about Pietersen in past few days but if you need any proof that Sehwag is in the same category then just read this gem of a post by sidvee

Tale of 2 mavericks – Pietersen and Sehwag

Image courtesy – Hindustan Times


Here are few other things which are common about these 2 individuals

  • Both have given cricket fans memories which sometimes defy logic
  • Fans will always pay to watch these 2 gentlemen play
  • Both are match winners on their day
  • Both are capable of the audacious
  • Both ironically would be retired from the game they love prematurely

For all that is similar between these 2, there is 1 big difference that will dictate how history will remember them and the difference is ironically that they are both mavericks..

Let me explain. I believe that each one of us is a maverick in their own way. Some of us eat crazy, some work out crazy , some read crazy and I have seen enough drive crazy.. So being maverick is nothing special or even unique. It’s how and where of it that makes it special. This is exactly where our two leading characters of this post differ..

The funny thing about Sehwag is that he is maverick only on cricket field. As an Indian cricket fan, Sehwag has not caused me any heartache with his off field antiques. He has not texted anything to the opposing team. Has never given any statements against any of his team mates. Has never walked out on his team. Now remove the ‘never’ part and you get Pietersen !!The problem with Pietersen is that he is compulsive about being maverick !! In personal life or professional , he just cannot help it and thank god for Indian cricket team that Sehwag can..

Pietersen’s retirement might be one of the greatest tragedies of modern sport but the real tragedy is that no one is crying !! The real tragedy is that history will remember Pietersen with too many buts and ifs . His genius will always be cursed and his performances will always be scarred. Worse is that history will read as  – ‘English cricket is better without Pietersen’. Whatever your views about Pietersen are, that is just not true !!

It isn’t that Sehwag is the player that he once was or he is not on the brink of retirement; but as and when he retires, it will be for cricketing reasons and not because he cannot be integrated in the team or any other stupidity like that. For the sake of all Indian cricket fans, Sehwag will be remembered without all the ifs/ buts or regrets !!

To think of it, that is the problem with a lot of us … We are compulsive and most of the times we just cannot help it !! Those unlucky among us end up being  Pietersen and for the rest , we can hope of being the maverick that Sehwag was !!

The Branded God !!

English: Lalbaugcha Raja on 7th Day in 2011

English: Lalbaugcha Raja on 7th Day in 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For past few days I have been seeing a new trend – ‘The branded god’. It seems that visiting or praying a normal ganpati is not enough these days. People are more happy / satisfied when they are visiting branded ganpatis. If you are looking for an example then you need not look any further than ‘ Lalbaugcha Raja‘. People seem to be happy/ elated/ feeling blessed cause they waited few hours in queue and got to see the ‘Lalbagcha Raja’. That for me is the concept of ‘ Branded God’.

Let me explain. Like a phone , ganpati seems to be a generic product and nobody seems to be excited for just any ‘ganpati’; whereas ‘Lalbagucha Raja’ seems to be a premium brand like ‘Iphone’ – The only other thing that people are happy to queue !! Fair enough I guess. Branding does that to people. A brand is designed to give people a perception that one product is better than other product. Having said that, When it comes to God I find the concept fundamentally flawed. Let me explain why.

A brand is a name, sign, image or anything else that allows you to differentiate from competitor products. ‘Iphone’  as a brand differentiates the image/ perception of a phone from other phones; so are we saying that we have created these God brands to differentiate from other Gods? seriously? That just doesn’t feel right, atleast not to me !! Are we saying that there is competition between gods? Are we saying we are customers in the ‘God Market’ who are going to be brand conscious

ganpati or god in general is the last place where we should be branding. I am sure that any ganpati however small or big is the same God. I am sure all of us agree but then why are we placing a premium on one particular ganpati? Are we really going there for the right purposes or are we just getting on the brand wagon? It seems just like ‘Iphone 5C’, ‘Lalbagcha Raja’ is the next must have!! The similarities are very very obvious. Everyone wants it, everyone is happy queuing for it, everyone is celebrating because they got it !! You can almost compare the photographs of people with brand new iphones with people who have just visited ‘Lalbagcha Raja’!!

I leave it to all of you to decide but for me this is just not right. Not for the us and definitely not for ‘Ganpati’ !!


Sept 2013


Margaret Thatcher, Democracy and India

English: Margaret Thatcher, former UK PM. Fran...

I admit that I do not know as much as I should about Lady Thatcher. I would also admit that 3 years in UK do not qualify me to have an informed opinion about the politics here. That being said, I have witnessed something remarkable in past few days which has given me a great appreciation of the great democracy that UK is.

After Lady Thatcher passed away, there were 2 diametrically opposite reactions which were expressed publicly with equal intensity. Let me rephrase – both the sets of reactions were allowed to be expressed publicly. There was no censorship of any sorts which was great to see. There were no stones thrown at people who were organizing parties to celebrate Lady Thatcher’s death and people who praised her were subjected to no ridicule. For me this was a great advert for sanctity of freedom of speech and a great example for how democracy should be practiced.

Imagine the same situation happening in India. Would we spare anyone who is having a party to celebrate the death of one of our idols? I bet the answer is no. I am sure that person will be beaten or the least his property would be vandalized. There would be political parties ransacking his/ her house or painting the ‘culprits’ faces in black.

When I compare the Indian scenario with the event in UK for past few days, I almost feel embarrassed. Right from criticizing religion to criticizing politicians, everything is censored – some legally and some not so legally. You are likely to face public wrath (physically), if you so much whisper an idea which is against the majority. This censorship is not just limited to speech but has also affected other areas of our lives. We are now arresting people for expressing opinions on social media!! As a society we have become so intolerant that we cannot exist in a world which is not conforming to our view of it.

We take pride in running the largest democracy in the word but we have almost given up on freedom of expression in almost all it’s forms. What matters is just the majority opinion as that is what wins elections and that for me defeats the very purpose of being a democratic country. To sum it all up, I am going to leave you with few lines from one of my favorite movies – ‘The American President’. As someone who has left the country for more than 3 years, my opinion might not count for much but hope that it is allowed to exist.

‘You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours.’ You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country cannot just be a flag. The symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Now show me that, defend that, and celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the land of the free.’