‘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 !!

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.’

You, me and the classmate!

Another attempt at a short story

Title – You, me and the classmate!

‘Who the hell is he and what the hell is he talking about? ’ asked a fellow student sitting next to her
‘No clue!’ She answered… She actually did not have any clue!!
How the hell she was supposed to know? This was just the first day both of them were in that classroom. So she just said ‘No Clue!’

‘How the hell do you tolerate him?’ asked one of her classmates.
‘No Clue!’ she answered. She actually did not have a clue. It was just few days since she started knowing him as a fellow student. He kept reminding her of someone from her past. May be that kept her from giving up on him. But for all said and done, she really did not have any clue. So again she just said – ‘No Clue’

‘Hey, he is actually a nice person once you get to know him…’ someone said after one semester of college.
‘May be…’ She said. That’s all she could say. She herself was not sure if she still knew him well. Everyday there were surprises; some pleasant and some not so pleasant!! So she just said ‘May be…’

‘He is a great friend to have… Guess you were the only one who knew the real him’ said one of their common friends. ‘Initially we were really convinced that you were out of your mind to be friends him’ – That friend continued

She smiled….. She could not say what she really wanted to say but if she had this is what it would be

‘That’s true! Who in their right mind decides to attend college with their husband as their classmate. That too after just 1 and half year of marriage!! I always knew that great friend you talked about and I am just getting to know that classmate of yours!!’

Feb 2013

The Apology

An attempt at short story writing..Title – The Apology

He offered her husband his own milk sachet… He was just trying to make amends for his earlier behaviour… But she was not impressed.

Her husband was smiling… He was surprised at this whole thing. He was not sure if the person offering him the sachet was the same one who accused him of being a thief just few minutes back…

Guess somewhere inside, he was also smiling. He was not able reconcile with his conscience. He had just accused a man of stealing his passport and now he was trying to apologize by offering the man his milk sachet…

She was just furious… Not just with him but also with her husband… For her, he was rude and her husband was just too nice… Life as such had not been fair to her… She had stopped believing in the goodness that life had to offer. She just wanted to set the records straight but somehow the sachet had stopped her from doing that.

Her husband was still smiling. He was somehow able to see the irony of it all. Life has not been very easy on him too. Not just today, when someone accused him of a thief but throughout past few months. Life gave him nothing much to work with and now life was offering him a milk sachet. Somehow the milk sachet meant a lot to him.

‘This milk sachet seems to be life’s way of apologizing to both of us’ he said to his wife. ‘We have to accept the apology and move on’…

Just as they were about to get off the plane, he said to both of them – ‘ I am sorry … really sorry … Life lately has just been crazy for me… Sorry for taking it out on you two’

Both of them just smiled and just said – ‘ Trust us, we understand. Apology accepted!!’

Feb 2013

लहानपणची तहान

4 lines about how we lose the innocence of childhood as we grow old
लहानपणची तहान, मोठेपणी हरपून जाते
आणि महान बनता बनता सारी निरागसता करपून जाते
खळखळती नदी कुठेतरी गोठून जाते
आणि खंत फ़क़्त तेवढी मनात साठून राहते
Surendra Phatak

Why you should not have confessed Lance !!

Why you should not have confessed Lance !!

Lance Armstrong

They say that Life in itself is a spectator sport. Sports are in essence all about spectators and their belief. We cheer losing causes and we celebrate miracles. When nothing is going right in our lives we look to our teams, our stars and our idols. We win when they win! We cry when they lose and most importantly we believe in them. We believe that they are playing for us and fighting for us. You are threatening to take away that belief from us.

belief is the only thing that makes us get up at midnight and switch on TV. belief is the only thing that makes us angry when something is said about our idols and belief is the only thing that makes an otherwise boring life bearable. Trust us, it hurts to know that our idols lied, cheated. It hurts much more than loosing a close match or a disastrous performance.

As a cricket fan, I can tell you that I was deeply hurt and almost gave up on cricket when Cronje confessed and Azar was implicated. I still get worried when I hear rumors about matches being fixed. I feel cheated. You might think that I represent sports fans who are unforgiving, trust me I am not. I can safely say that majority of sports fans are forgiving. We are ok in our idols getting arrested, being politically incorrect, cheating on their wives, showing signs of cannibalism, going bankrupt, changing loyalties for money among many other things. There is one thing we as sports fans cannot tolerate is you as our idol cheating while representing us. You went one step ahead. You cheated and made us believe that you did not. You achieved greatness and became a role model for so many with your inspirational story. You let all that happen while you knew you were cheating.

You should at least have had the decency not to go on world television and confess. I would have been better off not knowing the fact that you were doping. At least I had a reason to believe in something that seemed too good to be true for a long long time and believe me I want to believe in miracles. I want to believe that Bolt, Woods, Thorpe, Phelps, Tendulkar are results of dedication, application and talent. You were one of them and now you just told me that it was not the case. You told me that you could not have done without doping. You are taking my heroes away from me.

If ‘Sachin Tendulkar’ was to come on the Opera show after retiring from ODI cricket and announce that his bat had a gadget fitted that always attracted the ball to the middle of the bat, I would almost consider committing suicide.You are making me replace my belief with doubt. You are taking a part of me away from me and that is just not acceptable. That is the betrayal of the highest order. You cheated is one thing but you had the audacity to keep doing it and then admitting it. For everyone’s sake you could have at least not confessed !!

Surendra Phatak
A stupid sports fan