Sunday, December 19, 2010

Guilt Pangs

I'm feeling immensely guilty that I'm ignoring this space. When I started blogging, I meant it to be a social diary but just two years down the line, the numbers of posts have trickled down from 4-5 in a month to a hasty one or two every month. I guess that's inevitable and my reason (that I'm writing so much at work these days, that I have zero creativity to do it here) holds no water but such is life, things begin with a whimper and fizzle out soon enough but I'm determined not to do that here of all places!

Work has been hectic and what with Hyderabad being its coldest in 40 years (was 10 degrees yesterday, I know its not much for outsiders but its usually a lot warmer here), I'm enjoying a real winter for the first time ever. It's gorgeous though, the long nights....and what with the cultural scene hotting up, saw some amazing plays (Natyamandal, an adaptation of Satyajit Ray's touching Patol Babu and another hilarious one called One on One) meeting friends and eating out.
Band Baaja Baarat was total paisa vasool, welcome Ranvir Singh.

The Great exodus begins..Kk starts it.

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

A Story from hell

That was what kept me busy 22 days of this month. A cover story which showed that without contacts, it's impossible to survive the fourth estate, without pressing the right buttons you cannot reach the right people and without tantrums no film-star (in whichever wood they might be)ever functions! I was supposed to do the cover story for the December issue (Annual issue, double work,same pay) which required me to interview 12 of the hottest young Tollywood (Telugu movie Industry) stars. It was supposed to be 12, brought down to 8 and finally finished at 11! The problem with doing a celebrity interview is that you have to move that through their PR's or secretaries which is as amusing as spending a week in any ghetto. Calls, circuitous routes, excuses and tantrums are simply a given, and for some one like me who has always shied away from the very thing, it was a drastic learning experience. Everybody wants to be on the cover and I gatecrashed a party and turned up at another's house to get my work done. Some of them were very sweet- Genelia was extremely professional, friendly and much like her onscreen persona, bubbly. Siddarth (of Rang De Basanti fame)was rude, obnoxious and nasty. Ileana (making her Hindi debut shortly with Ranbir) was tantrum Queen personified and I sincerely hope that her new movie tanks! The others were a mixed bunch, one of them actually offered his Porsche for a drive when I gazed at it in obvious admiration, such is the filmi world- sometimes reel, sometimes real but all the time a trifle removed from reality.

Watched Guzaarish and loved loved the movie, the music and pretty much else but Ash (thank God, there was no Rani Mukherjee). The ending was so touching and believable. Yes, Bhansali is loud but brother we knew it a decade back with Khamoshi itself!

November was a horrid horrible month, thank God it's done with.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Fairytale called Falaknuma

This is my labor of love, it's terribly long (a 4 page feature) and I'm enormously vain!

Agar firdaus bar roo-e-zameen ast,
Hameen ast-o hameen ast-o, hameen ast

If there is a paradise on Earth,
It is this, it is this, it is this.

This famous farsi couplet by Amir Khusro which was used by Emperor Jahangir to describe the beauty of Kashmir might have well been used in another generation and time to describe the magnificence of Falaknuma Palace, the crown jewel amongst the 32 palaces in the city.

Rows of Ashoka trees herald you as you gently trudge up the 200 ft hillock, as you make your way through the crest embossed iron gates. What you see is impressive- an elegant structure not imposing but welcoming, done in monochromes and on a cloudy day the visage of the building merges with the sky above. Falaknuma is no ordinary residence/palace, a symbol of royal splendor and Nizamian grandeur, a byword for the imperial legacy of our city, a personification of the lifestyle of some of the richest people in the world and most importantly the grande dame of the lap of luxury.

As the palace makes the journey from being a royal residence to a heritage hotel it is clear that almost 120 years after it was first used, the glory of the place remains undiminished and intriguingly unparalleled. Yes, the changes are many and varied for example the erstwhile bedroom of the Nizam is the concierge now and the luxurious breakfast room is a conference hall with latest AV equipment and inbuilt wi-fi technology. The change to modernity not withstanding, the palace remains true to the premise it was laid on, that of being the epitome of opulence away from the often crackled cacophony of the city.

The most enchanting fact however, is that the significant splendor does not diminish the visitor, in fact the visitor is blended into the regality and becomes a part of it all, be it while taking a stroll in the 32 acre gardens where tiger cubs were once kept as pets, visiting the gracious grounds where every important visiting dignitary including the Queen of England and the last Tsar of Russia held court or sitting in the magnificent mahogany walled Imperial library modeled on the lines of the Windsor library with a ceiling of ornate teak and which has 5900 books preserved in neem leaves including the first edition of encyclopedia.

Every part of the latticed windows, carpeted floors or the gazebo which overlooks the city and has a ‘window to the sky’ made of stained glass transports you into a sepia tinted era of splendor of the Palace whose fortune was so legendary that the world famous Jacob Diamond was used as a paper weight and where the three dimensional eagle painting in the lobby still intrigues experts. Falaknuma is work of art and a labor of love which still stands tall as a symbol of grace, regality and charm of a bygone era.

The Past:

Falaknuma, literally means a reflection of the sky or the heavenly abode whereas the English preferred to call it a mirror of the sky. Interesting, this stately palace built by Vikar- ul- Umra- Bahadur in 1882 was painted in whites and light blue so that it merges with the sky. Built at a then staggering cost of 40 lakhs, it was originally a hunting lodge. The antecedents of the property are various but the reliable version states that the sixth Nizam, Mahboob Ali Khan was so overwhelmed by the tales of hospitality and munificence that he got himself invited and did not want to leave even after extending his visit by initially a week and later on a fortnight. Keeping with the governing tradition of the time which simply stated that the Nizam gets gifted anything he liked, Vikar- ul- Umra gifted the palace to him. Contrary to sources which say that the Nizam bought the palace, the Nizam merely gave a certain sum of money to Vikar- ul-Umra because the latter had exhausted his resources by building some of the grandest palaces in Hyderabad.

Falaknuma was the penultimate fairyland where 400 odd servants worked choc a bloc and dinner was served on gold plates. The Jade Room with hand painted ceilings, Belgian chandeliers and breath taking views was where an invitation to afternoon tea was as sought after as an audience to the Nizam himself. The state reception room and the staircase are unique to the palace with the former having a ceiling carved with frescoes.

What Falaknuma did in that time was to introduce a lifestyle of luxury unheard of and simply put, the best in the world. Built on the lines of some of Europe’s best palaces and in the shape of a scorpion this heaven on earth had crockery from Dalton, eleven kinds of wood, rarest of rare paintings from France and master craftsmanship from Italy where even the doors of wardrobes were made of pure crystal. Another interesting fact was that Falaknuma was a place of firsts- having the first generators from England, the first petrol bunk, first refrigerators from GE or the first telephone line in town. The opulence was such that even Queen Victoria’s celebrations of being the longest serving monarch of England were celebrated here.

The Present:

Transformed into a heritage property by the Taj after almost 10 years of exhausting restoration efforts at an approximate cost of 100 crores where at one point 800 workers were involved, the new Falaknuma remains a symbol of the pride of Hyderabad. As the city makes the transformation from the being the Nizam’s state to a burgeoning IT hub, it is only seeming that this symbol of stature is again the crown jewel. Consisting of 60 rooms including 15 suites and priced from 33k-5 lakhs, each room recalls the way of life of yore- replete with a personal wing man or butlers and service which allures you with a tinge of the royal ways of past.

The guests are welcomed with a shower of rose petals, and the world famous staircase is lined with photographs of Governor Generals of British India, most of who were guests at the palace. The changes are made painstakingly with the minutiae of details being given grave attention like the new quarters do not use cement but lime and mortar like the rest of the Palace, the bath robes are made of ikkat and the lining of wardrobes with our very own Pochampally silks. The original study of the Nizam remains intact and most of the furniture are period pieces, be it the Chinese tree of life closet in the Kids bedroom which has an inlaid mother of pearl or the erstwhile gossip room which has antique chairs in new upholstery. The gracious grounds, charming courtyards, the intricate tapestry of the zenana quarters all of them succeed in lacing a visitors stay with a regal touch.

The Nizam suite at 5 lakhs per night is one of the costliest in India and comes with a duplex bungalow within the palace and has a private garden, swimming pool, spa and kitchen.

The two restaurants Adaa and Celeste signify the two pillars of the palace, Indian and foreign. While the former serves authentic Hyderabadi food, the latter serves Italian and Mediterranean cuisines. Celeste, a 30 seater restaurant is done in pastels and the menu, music and food change according to the time of the day. The crockery is imported from nine countries and promises to serve a heavenly eating experience. Adaa, with traditional chowkees as chairs has recipes handed down from the oldest families of Hyderabad. A meal for two at either of the restaurants would cost you around 4500 rupees.

The elegance of Falaknuma is timeless and its seamless splendor such that generations have been entranced by it, no wonder that a century on it manages to remain as spellbinding as it was intended to be. What Falaknuma Palace was, is and will remain is a pearl drop forever etched on the cheek of time.

I hit a century of posts..yay!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Much Ado about Nothing

Is what describes the Obama visit aptly. I will never fail to understand why we go gaga over anything remotely foreign. What has Obama done except to pile up a promise after another and speaking in rhetoric about anything remote? All of his campaign speeches for the President as well as his tenure has only spoken about one premise- promise, when is the time to deliver? Take for instance his repeal of healthcare, America has THE worst health care systems in the world, worse than Bangladesh and what has Mr O done other than speaking about healthcare and its mother? Any thing which comes with a bang, sizzles out in a whimper and Mr Obama is no exception to the rule. With the chinese whispers of Hillary for 2012 already gaining momentum, we might be in all probablity be looking at what they harsly describe in America as a one timer. Give me good old Bill anyday, atleast he's fun!

Was at the relaunch of Falaknuma Palace, built by the Prime Minister of the Nizam of Hyderabad in 1893 and turned into a palace hotel by the Taj. To say I was awed by its splendor is an understatement. Check out the Nizam Suite, 5 lakhs per night plus taxes...jaw dropping.

In a professional vortex, my story is following the Murphy's Law and everything is going wrong. Sleepless nights, restless days and 100 calls a day are the order of the day and nothing seems right as of now. It's supposed to be my big break and hope it does not break my career to pieces!

Friday, October 29, 2010

Arts and Crafts

The end of October and most of November and December brings with it not only the delicious winter but also many cultural soirees, this year seems especially promising. Nothing really beats the thrill of snuggling into your jacket or shawl while watching an engrossing play or performance. This year I’m all the more excited because I’m meeting most of them for an interview and it’s a great learning experience. I would normally have scoffed at anybody who said this, but honestly I interviewed Trilok Gurtu the other day and learnt a hundred things I didn’t know…gossip about musicians, what goes into the making of a good biryani and more importantly how to approach classical musicians when you are about to interview them…intriguing and interesting!

Interviewed Shobhaa De and had such a great time. Been following her work for more than a decade and built up huge hype, the gratifying part was that she lived up to it and I had a fun forty minutes even when she cleverly ended the interview (which was supposed to be for 15 minutes and went on for forty) by saying smartly, the other lady from another magazine seems pissed darling! Smart, logical and witty she seemed real, much like her blog!

Dying to watch Raktha Charitra and Robo, the flip side of being choosy…you have few friends left in the same city after a while!!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Home alone

I’ve never stayed really alone, barring one month in Chennai (which was more traumatic and less therapeutic) and am technically not alone even now but there is a feeling in the past two months that is hard to forget. With my mom and life line exploring foreign shores and me off to fend for myself for the first time, it’s an allegory of first time experiences and a few nasty shocks. A new wave of something which smells like independence not overtly so but coveted enough for me to take in the change and make something out of it. Never having to make as much as tea myself, this new found status, has enabled me to both experiment and appreciate the things so oft taken for granted. Badly turned out meals and maid troubles though leaving me handicapped have had their own effect of making me wonder at the importance of invisible things. I know its coming a decade too late, but hey it’s finally here!

Interviewed Priyanka Chopra and she looks amazingly good plus talks well but the best thing about her was those luscious lips! Couldn’t even get near Ranbir Kapoor with screaming girls giving those bouncers hard time. On the other hand, two great things happened yesterday
- Watched Eat Pray love and really enjoyed it especially the Italian bit, the Indian part was overdone with everything from Elephants and arranged marriages thrown in but Julia Roberts still looks great and it was a fun watch.
- An amazing jugalbandi of Rahul Sharma and Richard Clayderman kept me and Pt spellbound for almost three hours. The enchanting quality of music and the sheer brilliance of it all was worth the distance I had to drive.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Do we all...

...turn into our parents? This was what me and my sister were discussing over lunch the other day and that reiterated one belief- run as much as you can you cannot run away from your genes! Of late, ever since we hit mid twenties my sister and I have noticed a lot of similar characteristics of our parents in us, some small and some big- the same impatience,the omnipresent nagging or even the way we behave under certain cirumstances- the recklessness and the squeamishness, everything had a mirror effect, a sense of deva-vu and I was thinking- is it really so bad that it becomes a cause of concern? I have noticed how my Father has imbibed traits of his father, and the resemblance at times is uncanny and very funny. Most of us are so touchy about our parents in so many different ways that we dont even ponder to treat them as real people, they remain only as parents. When you are in your teens, that's the last thing you want to be because in a haste to magnify everything around us we dont realise the value of things but as you grow older you realise and appreciate how difficult their job is- the trials and tribulations,the thanklessness of it all and that's why so many people get along better with their parents when they start earning or living alone because the true worth of anything is known only after you no longer have it. I can see myself in daddy's shoes in say 25 years, only hope that my hair is intact!

Interviewed the amazing Sanjna Kapoor and had a great time. She was simply stunning, not beautiful but enigmatic in the true sense of the word. She was intelligent and can give any of the Bollywood bimbos a run for their money with her logical and calm replies. The only funny part was when I asked her about Kareena and Ranbir, she replied gamely "Oh, let's not talk about that".

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Book Reviews

Really wanted to write something concrete but am too busy these days doing nothing! However, really liked these two Book Reviews I did for the magazine I work for and they had to be here....

Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna

This eagerly anticipated debut brings with it a whiff of fresh writing and an elegiac descriptive prowess which catches your eye right from the first page. In the news for the record advance paid, Sarita Mandanna justifies every penny paid because of her lucid style and a plot which gets its fundamentals right. Set in British ruled 1878 Coorg and traversing till Indian Independence the story is told through the fiery Devi, the love of her life- Tiger killer Machu and her ardent admirer Devanna. Warm, ferocious and unabashed, the crux of the book is her love for Machu and the blows which are dealt adroitly by fate. The remarkable style of narration, the lilting description of Coorg and the overwhelming intensity of passion Devi feels, first for a man and then for Nara Malai or Tiger Hills, the Coffee Plantation to which she transfers her love, fervor and intensity are documented with a verbosity that is frighteningly real and touchingly tender.

While the pace does slacken in the last part especially while dealing with the second generation, the powerful characters and vivid imagery come to the rescue. Set against the back drop of two World Wars, it is an engrossing tale of lost love and misjudged affections. Some parts of the book which detail the hurt accumulated by the lead characters or those which say that grudges are simply a waste of time bring to forte the judicious flair for writing the author has and make us eager to sample her next work.

The Pleasure Seekers by Tishani Doshi

Right from the intriguing name to the intricately carved ending, there is something about this book which makes it endearing. At one level it a love story, at another it’s a genuflection of a “hybrid” family trying hard for that elusive quality- a happy ending and as you begin to unravel the plot you realize that it’s a story about love, the difference being sublimely and so delicately interwoven that you wonder that a distinction so small can create a story so warm! Babo, a member of a strictly vegetarian Jain family spreads his wings and finds himself in London where he meets Sian, Welsh (Not English!), beautiful and besotted by the aspect of finding true love settles down in rusty old Madras with daughters Bean and Mayuri proving that theirs is a union which will last come what may. While it starts off on a low note, you are completely absorbed by the brilliant characterization, heartfelt compassion and gritty humor be it the wry snow haired Ba with her warm heart and penchant to smell people who are hundreds of kilometers away or Ignatius, the courageous hermaphrodite who weaves magic with fingers, every incident and every character brings an innate subtlety which is a delight to read. Original, bold, uplifting and clever it is an accomplished debut, something even adept hands at writing would be proud to produce.

I really do hope someone reads the reviews and picks up the books!

Saturday, September 4, 2010


I love the fact that after having a dinner for two and half hours with Sa, I sill feel that there is so much more to talk about! Went to review a new restaurant in town (Circle) and made the most of it. The great food, great conversation really made wonder about the importance of having a good talk with some one who understands what you are saying. I have always loved yapping away, but there are just so many people with whom I can really be myself and talk of absolutely inane things like saying the day after my birthday that my reflexes are getting slower and getting a grin in return. Understanding is so difficult to find in this blasted world that some times it becomes a small mercy which needs to be thanked for. There is no exchange like ones with people who know you in and out. Another facet is that there is really nothing like having a really good talk to get things out of your system. Inane, trivial, trite or simply ridiculous it’s so much more fun when you know that you have some one to share all of it with! To- conversations, unhindered, cozy and all powerful!

Was at two weddings last week, same muhurtam and two very good friends. How I managed (with the bumper traffic) don’t ask, but had fun…great fun though was a little wistful that the life I have known is changing before my very own eyes. Goodbye long meaningless Sunday brunches, endless wandering on the roads and midnight conversations teetering on the edge of lunacy.

Loved Tiger Hills by Sarita Mandanna- warm, ferocious and frighteningly real, raw even!

Sunday, August 22, 2010

I hate bad endings!

Let me be clear, I dont hate sad endings (Like in the wonder called Atonement), I hate BAD ones. When I read a book or watch a movie all I expect is that it doesnt end in a disappointing manner but no -some things just refuse to toe the line! Was reading the colossal "Gone with the Wind" (birthday gift from Na) and it really blew my breath away, I've said it for Shantaram and I'll say that again, for a book over 1000 pages to be interesting is amazing (trust me, to make one entire blog post interesting is difficult enough) and this book does it with such charming ease. The amazing characterization and brilliant plot- the last 200 pages are so difficult to read, they simply pulverize you...not wanting to read ahead and knowing that you cant stop. The only problem I had was with the way it ended, no it's not appropriate and the could-have-been's will always haunt me but for the two amazing days, I will be thankful to this magnum opus for dominating my life entirely and also for showing that such love and passion is possible. The greatest victory of this book lies in making its lead characters believable- not good or bad but as good or bad as the circumstances allow them to be. Another brilliant book "Toss of a Lemon" by Padma Vishwanathan, also has the same grouse from me. A lackadaisical ending for an otherwise brilliant book.

It's raining Cats and Dogs here in Hyderabad and though I enjoy them, I certainly dont enjoy the severely bumpy roads and huuuuge traffic snarls. A government in slumber I'll say and also that the Common Wealth has really shown that Politics in India is the most lucrative profession- you dont have to study, behave as you like and earn millions. Let's start a party, Paisa Vasool Party (PVP) and start earning enough to buy Audi's and Swiss Chalets.

Sincerely hoping that the membership crosses three people.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Love is in the air

It most definitely is all around me! Eversince that amazingly serious conversation with Na about love, finding it, believing in it and finally how does one know that this certain thing/feeling is love -every book, movie or conversation of mine has been around the dreaded L word (Come to think of it, whenever was it not!!) From Atonement to Aisha, every single piece of art or literature has been stuffed full of love- overbearing at time, plausible at the other times.

- Was watching Ang Lee's amazing "Sense and Sensibilty" some time back. In one touching scene when Emma Thompson pours out her anguish to Kate Winslet, I felt now this seems like loorve!

- Reading Atonement and the passion between the leads is so real and so intense that it blows you apart. The power of their overwhelming intensity is such that you cannot think of anything else and then I thought now, this might be love.

- Was reading Eric Seghal's "Prizes",which I wanted to read for quite some time and was a birthday present from Pt. In a wonderful scene when body love and mind love was clearly set apart and reasons (believable ones) were given out. I thought this is it!

I've never been a sucker for love, like is more my line. But, call it love, lust or like...all of it begins to make sense only when you choose it. More clearly when you are ready for it. When you are ready, a remote gesture seems like an undying declaration and when you are not its vice versa. In a lifetime everything matters at times and the next instant nothing I guess only helps you remain sane amidst all the uncertainity.

Saturday, August 7, 2010

Growing older

Is it fun? Yes, immensely from the next day after you get a hang of it! I celebrated Silver and am a wise old man now!! But the day was a mixed one, it was my best birthday in years, all thanks to some amazing friends and family but personally I really dont know how to quantify it, it still surprises me at times that at 25, I havent really changed one bit from when I was 18 (I have proof...and my thoughts, writings and myself are the same) it really a good thing?

When you think of the past, it always looks glorious, I have no intention to look back. I want to look forward to life and am glad that there is so much to, but a tiny qualm tells me about so much I still want to do, so much more to explore and so much to live for, a life-time at once seems so short and shorn of all adorments and the convex angle tells you the absolute opposite, so much still remaining. I know I'm rambling on but I really want to.

Life at times is so much in firsts and starts that you never really know how much headalong you are, some reflective times are all that remind you that this is where you are now, like a sign board and there is so much more distance to cover in spurts and chasms. Gibbersh, look at it topsy turvy and you might just see what I can!!

Aisha..August 6th...Sonam Kapoor...I kept my date and really enjoyed it!

Friday, July 30, 2010


This didnt make the August Issue because the Editor thought it was just a filler, so it goes to the next best place!!

There are movies which inspire, and movies which motivate, ....... gives you one such collection which have in the relative past made the audience feel fervently patriotic without being patronizing!

Roja (1992): Mani Ratnam’s first national super hit, Roja had everything going for it- the lilting music, the necessary background of Kashmir to give it substance and some heavy duty patriotic scenes – like the one in which a fervent Arvind Swamy leaps on a tricolor set on fire by the terrorists and douses the flames in the process igniting the imagination of countless movie goers.

Swades (2004): Arguably SRK’s best performance till date, it moves the audience with its muted, understated and almost nonchalant charm. A prodigal son returns and learns to love his motherland. The scene when an Americanized SRK chucks his mineral water bottle to drink water from a mud kulhad for 25 paisa says it all.

Rang De Basanti (2006): Rakeysh Mehra’s throbbing drama about a bunch of disillusioned Delhi kids learning to respect their nation and taking on corruption was a huge hit with a young nation and made nationalism popular as well as awoke an entire generation. Check out the touching climax when the motley group confess on Radio about the murder they have committed and you gasp at the cinematic intensity of it all.

Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006): The film which has single-handedly salvaged Sanjay Dutt’s sinking career also revived one of our forgotten legacies- gandhism. It made fashionable- sending flowers and smiling in return for abuse. The scene which stands out is the one when a calm Gandhi asks Munna to apologize to his loyal friend and commander Circuit, watch Sanju Baba return from the ashes replete with Gandhian grace.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

The rains are here

It's my favorite time of the year and I had to honour it by the only way I know- by writing about it! There's nothing quite like the rains, it's accompained smells and the glorious greens, never mind the power cuts, traffic jams and pot holes...each time it rains, some innane part of me sings. Nothing quite beats the joy of enjoying the rains- be it from a distance (maybe with steaming chai) or getting drenched completely allowing the tugging water to feel you, really really feel what you actually are and allow the fiesty drops to wrench out your innermost turmoil or satiate your inherent pleasure!

Two memories spring instantly whenever I say rains- One immensely rainy day in my childhood when my cousins, my sister and I got thoroughly wet and relished the feeling like nothing else. We talk about it still, it seemed like we were giant specks of rain drops..all in one, one in all. United never to be parted again. That was one of the few times that I felt that under such tremendous ferocity there is immense joy. Another experience was quite recent, three years back in my college where when it rains it looks like paradise. Everything so greeen and so beautiful, so calm that it rustles your feelings and they take flight. That particular day was so breathtaking that I chucked my bike and took a walk, I still take in that heavenly smell of dew and mud when I think of it strongly. I didnt even need anybody to soak in and embrace the moment, the rain was my company and dissolved any furtive/farcical desire for sharing it with anyone....Rain, I am looking forward to the monsoons, hope it keeps its date.

Aisha...August 6th...Sonam Kapoor...I'm in love!!!

Monday, July 5, 2010

Small things

add up to so much!! I've never been a believer in the fact that small things matter much in the long course called life, but like most things the change has been swift and extreme. They are like punctuation marks, you dont realise once they are in their place but if they aren't you know that something is amiss. Like that flower once in a while or the relief a smile serves you when you are down or a hug that's unexpected...little things always matter. A relationship is always made or unmade by those little gestures which will not make you sit up and notice immediately, but will serve as gentle reminders when you sit back and think if the ride is worth it. Life is balanced by such severe checks and balances that you need all you have to stay afloat.

I realised this much to my peril when the latest issue of the mag I work for came out last week. I previewed a couple of books and actually typed the name of Jeffrey Archer's book as "Hereby Hands a tale", instead of "Hereby hangs a tale". A photograph which accompanied the write up only made my error more glaring. No use crying over split milk but I could only kick myself for not checking it. Shows simply, one letter wrong and the whole page goes kaput!!

The rains are here and I hope the gentle pitter patter tugs away the gloom that threatens to envelop this heart of mine.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

On the trail of my Editor

Yes, like most of them - my Editor is "one of a kind", dont get me wrong, this is only a fun post, partly because I'm in a benevolent mood. My Editor at the first place I freelanced with was someone I could streamroll, butress and get my way. My current Editor (at the new place I'm working) does the same- to me!! I have to, have to relive this conversation the other day

8am morning,
She: Mk, where are the pictures for the book previews??
Me (groan, is it time already?): Hmmm, I will give them in today

She: a really looong Mk, You are taking your own sweet time...this wont do
Me (in my head) : Is she talking to me or is she actually saying...Did I carry you around for 9 months for this day?
The irony being it is actually nine months that I've started working here

She: Mk, are you there
Me: Yea, you'll have the pictures by 12

She (as if I didnt speak): The photograher will be in your place in half-hour!!!

8.15, after sending me two messages, she calls again!!

Do you really wonder why I've not been blogging of late??
My work has been really strenous what with writing re-writing, drafting and re-drafting though I must give it to Su(My editor), she runs around for entire days, thinking about design and stories. It's actually fun and I get a kick out of it especially because of late they want me for full time and I've declined it twice (that would mean better money but seriously can we ever really have enough of money??) but I'm simply glad that people read what I write and there is no greater glory I seek!!

PS: I hope my only loyal reader is happy that I've finally written a blog!!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Summer memories

the summer is at it's peak (Hyderabad's sweating it out at 44.!), blistering it's path unheeded and a remarkable wry thought occured to me the other day while eating cut chilled mango (the ONLY pleasure of this dreaded heat) Summer was a time of leisure, of fooling around and of holidays...where has all of it gone? In ten years, a young generation has grown and how!! It holds true for most of us, the past decade is a completely new entity to us now, what we have grown up with is no longer existent and its new because you can rightly claim so only after much later in life... cricket is not played in the grounds but online and friends are not made in the neighborhood park but on social networking sites!!I yearn for that time when summer meant

- a proper vacation at grandma's place with cousins,endless and mindless movies, ice-cream, scrambles, chess, great food and minor tiffs.

- a pair of strong and comforting arms, I still rue the memory of

- a time when as children we ambled with no summer camps or restrictions and more importantly behaved like children. My cousins, a decade younger feel immensely grown up to me!!

- Reading the Enid Blytons and Agatha Christies over and over again and still feeling smugly satisfied each time

- listening to that one cassette of Lata Mangeshkar Live at Calcutta and a Kishore kumar wonder that I still remember the lyrics of each of them!!

All of this and more seem so alien now, vacation is a weekend and fun means multiplex. The joy of a thing, I believe is less in the thing itself and more in the process of the entire experience. With that amiss, it's like chemically enhanced Alphonso, looks the same but leaves you strangely unsatisfied even after eating a bushel!!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Mix n Match

I have not written anything for three weeks now, and for a change it feels wonderfully refreshing! Been writing non stop for the past two years and it is a welcome change. After I joined my new workplace last year, it's been enormously hectic..but am taking a month long break again come next week so the few days are going to be crammed with writing and excrutiating editing!!

Am extremely glad that the ridiculous cases against Khusboo has been squashed though five years is a tad too long, but she must be relieved. All because she was tipped to be a AIADMK candidate...the weird ways of Tam-politics!! Now with the talk of her joining Congress, wonder what will happen!!

Was in Tirupati last month and there was a wonderful (though a trifle gaudy) statue of MS Subbulakshmi at the entrance. I was really happy simply because no one deserves it more than MS. In the carnatic world, there is only one Annamacharya and one MS, unrivalled. Just try and listen to her Samarpanam albums in Raaga and you'll understand her voice if not her tongue!!

In an interview with Headlines Today, Hrithik (intelligent) Roshan used the words "you know" 29 times in 2 minutes. I told you that he was the male Ash and yeah I'm completely jobless.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Eleven years

that's what it took Manu Sharma, the accused in Jessica Lal's case to be sentenced by the Supreme Court...eleven years in which her parents and sister waged a lonely battle and eleven years which her parents did not see to live the day, the killer who destroyed a family was finally put at bay. This story makes remarkable judgements on our Justice system, on one hand you feel that for once some one gets justice while on the other hand you feel that it's too little too late. I have followed Jessica's case closely, as closely as someone in Hyderabad can follow a case in Mumbai/Delhi, it first broke out when I was in school and when NDTV was actually a respected entity, I can almost visualise the first TV debate I saw on this case, Sabrina Lal, her father, Bina Ramani and a counsel for the killer Sharma and thinking that nothing's going to happen here, it finally has and is a victory of the tenacity of one brave brave lady, Sabrina Lal. What she must have endured I really do not dare know, but I'll say this, this has surely come at a very high cost- of personal space, individual freedom and of immense unyielding struggle!!For those who think that ends justifies means, it isnt always so.

This is for her and another remarkable lady, Neelam Katara. These are the stuff heroes are made of, our REAL icons.

Monday, April 5, 2010

The one which could'nt be

This article, I wanted to write for the mag I'm freelancing for, but my Editor brusqely said no, and for whatever it's it is

Ever got sick of seeing the same old faces romancing like robots, here's a choice of some eclectic and madly different actors who's pairing would surely burn that silver screen!!

SRK and Tabu: The mighty Khan and the magnificient begum came together for a minute in Saathiya and sizzled the screen. Just imagine them in an intense love story, the passion which SRK brings to romance and the devastating presence of Tabu...they'd teach people a thing or two about chemistry!!

Chitrangada and Aamir Khan: Yes, the stunningly beautiful Sen and the perfectionist Khan. Cast them in a rom-com and see what they do with it. Her elegaic pathos gives way to fun and perfection meets personality!! Chitrangada's electrifying presence and Aamir's sheer intensity and what they can do to the box office!!

Abhay Deol and Kareena Kapoor: This vivacious punjabi jodi can spring many a suprise. Imagine them in an absolute art movie, Kareena can emote through her eyes and Abhay Deol can smolder the screen with his craft. The kind which will have all the grace of love, lust and longing. Strong, gripping and passionate their pairing could be a revelation.

Nandita Das and Salman Khan: Salman khan with his unbridled energy, Nandita Das with her solemnity can be the stuff movie legends are made of. Imagine them in a coming of age story about lovers who lost and found love. A tamed Khan and a smiling, stunning Nandita. Simple grace meets raw energy and many a myth is shattered.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


I cannot for the life of mine think of a name for this post, but here it goes!! Been rushing around like mad of late. The work has been hectic and the bloody blazing heat (at 41 degrees!!) has made life miserable, throw in traffic and you have a completely chaotic cocktail!! Been writing so much of late that I'm still in a daze.

Wanted to write about
- a meeting with an old old friend (Wy) which was memorable and the phone call which triggered it all. Old friends are so comforting- they know what is a taboo for you and what you dont like in your dosa(onions!!) A wave of nostalgia swept across me which included sunday evenings at second hand book shops and shopping for vegetables. The everydayness of life which was exciting then and now has become mundane. The small joys in big things which was a big deal and are currently taken for granted and that heady feeling that relationships might be hidden under a mass of feelings but cannot become extinct just like that!!

- meeting Boman Irani/Minnisha Lamba. The latter was all charm and the former surprisingly grounded. Boman Irani is amazingly patient and affable, and really really sharp which made it all the more fun!

- the grief of a dearly beloved cousin mourning an irreparable loss which has shaken all of us. Life can be so cruel at times that it can take your breath away and it did. That relationships are merely a part of life and not life itself, that a cliche like life carries on come whatever can actually be true and tear you apart.

- LSD and how path breaking it really is!!

- friends who are so wonderful that you thank god that you get to choose them!!


Saturday, March 13, 2010

No reservations

This entire hullabaloo on the Women's reservations bill is so amusing! Leave the fact that it is a shameless diversion from the glaring issue of price rise, but the sheer posturing of people is so hilarious. What's the guarantee that our desperate politico's wont do a Laloo and put a Rabri who is no more than a Rubber stamp. I'm personally against reservations of any kind, I do agree that the weaker sections need more personal care but am dead against caste/gender reservations. It is really important to know that all SC/ST's are not backward, most are but putting all of them under one category means that a well off SC is scoring over a poor OC!! If they need to be reservations let them be for the actual weaker section- they may be of any creed/caste/sex. Similarly, it should be noted that women in our Country are not powerless and this is a sop, a mere political soap opera out of which nothing substantial will ever reach that wretched women worker in Kanjeevaram or a fisherwoman in the suburbs of Bombay. The need of the hour is more representation not mere symbolism!

Interviewed the amazing Nasreen Kabir, last week and had such a ball. She documented the lives of Lata Mangeshkar, Guru Dutt and SRK and the stories she told! We were supposed to meet for 10 min and ended up chatting for two hours! No airs, no hang ups (Hear hear- konkona/ Mughda Godse) inspite of the enormous clout she has in Bollywood- that of being an expert on it!!

Rahul Mahajan marries- I give it six months tops!!

Saturday, February 27, 2010

I'm in love

with some fabulous advertisements on air these days. My favorite is the Dairy Milk Silk ad with a classical dancer. It is what advertising should actually be- no big star and no fuss, it tells you simply and succintly why you should buy a product- merely for your pleasure!! (Though Na later tells me that this product is not all that great) I love Dairy Milk ads, they are classy to the core.(Some!!) Another one is the Cola Ad with Kalki/ Imran Khan. what I am amazed at is the amazing chemistry they share, like SRK and Tabu!! They dont utter one single word but sizzle the ad with their presence. Just like Katrina who looks absolutely alluring in the new Slice advert, in a boat. She simply looks sexy, much like the aamsutra she is promoting! Slick and Sensational, they are simple reminders that all you need is a little presence of mind in marketing yourself, not oodles of cash!

I interviewed Konkona Sen today and all I'll say is that it was disappointing! I really like her work so will not criticise her but it was not what I expected! One good thing was that I got to interview the wonderful Vinay Pathak(who for me will always be Winnie Sir in Hip Hip Hurray)who was really entertaining. Articulate and witty, he even conveyed regards to my sister because I said that we were great fans of his!

I really am clueless as to why Colors and Max want to kill Hindi speaking people by subjecting them to a torture of dubbed Telugu movies!!

Sunday, February 7, 2010

The best thing

about being a presswallah is the food you can sample for free! I just returned from a meal at a ferociously fabulous place called Excess and my dining experience there has soothed a horrid week where everything went beyond wrong! Now, I'm a very conventional eater, but at this place I actually had broccoli with stuffed cheese and guess...gulab jamuns in dal makhni with a papad stew! was amazing...for dessert I had an ice cream sandwich with biscotti and raspberry sauce, it was actually an ice cream slab in the midst of a specially made bread and it singlehandedly made the 30kms drive worthwhile!! The ambience, the live music and the gorgeous PR who was asking me eat, eat and eat...sigh!! For once I was glad to do a food review!!This place will cost you the Earth, but boy it will definitely be worthy of it!

The save the Tiger campaign is really great but I wonder if it isnt misplaced. The people who need to be educated are the idiots in Government and forest officials who turn a blind eye to poaching and pass ludicrous rules like building a highway in Panna Reserve or Nilgiris (the former is the last remaining habitat of the big cat)They are your target audience, but still a campaign has been launched and something is being done but I think it's too little, hope it's not too late. The saddest part is that we never value ourselves, let alone our National Animal. Look at the way China protects its Panda's or Australia its Koala's but we couldnt give a damn!

Watch Ishqiya, for once it dosent disappoint!!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

mile sur....mismatch!

I was eagerly awaiting the release of Mile sur mera turned out to a colossal disappointment! The Bollywoodisation of something equivalent to the National Song was shoddy and plain stupid. Also, WHERE the hell was our biggest sporting Icon, Sachin? Or Saurav or Vishwanathan Anand or Karnam Malleshwari??
Shahid Kapoor over Somdev Devvarman, seriously? And the cursory appearance by sporting heroes at the fag end was pitiful. And what about our Software Sector which single handedly increased our GDP. They couldnt find one representative? Atleast Karambir Kang.... Yet there were some sparks of brilliance. Salman Khan with his sign language and Shobhana/Shaimak surely did light up the screen but such sheer waste!! I would dearly like to know how Rohit Bal and Karan Johar made it!!

I was estatic though, that the Padma Awards were atleast better (barring Saif)and was glad that the inimitable Illayaraja won (who strictly is the best South Indian musician since the 60's, Rehman his former pupil will always remain a distant second!) But I hope the Bharat Ratna will be awarded this time around.

Rahul Mahajan's Swayamwar starts and am swearing off tv!!

Monday, January 18, 2010

Joie de vivre!

This was supposed to be my BIG break, sort of my career-changing thing but like all things promising it crashed because my Editor thrilled as she was with my work (her very words I swear) couldnt carry it this month. I took great pains in writing this and was seriously pertubed when I was not disappointed enough! I really dont know if you can make head or tail of it (it's long, was supposed to be a two page feature!!) but I had to put it up to honour my vanity!!

Dominique La Pierre in his masterpiece “The City of Joy” remarked wryly that the French don’t party they celebrate! If the festivities of Bon Jour India were anything to go by, his assessment was most accurate! Known as much for their love of art as for their wines and sense of style, the Festival of France was nothing short of spectacular. In collaboration with the Krishnakriti Foundation, the Alliance Francaise brought to Hyderabad the pomp and grandeur of any Parisian art festival.

The Penn Masala concert at the Lumbini Park was a show stopper in the true sense. With the laser show as the perfect backdrop, they wowed one and all. The group’s repertoire of fusion music was synonymous to the event’s theme which was a perfect confluence of the East and West. No wonder that the applause reverberated long after the group performed their last song!

China Moses, the very embodiment of an all round entertainer and an MTV host performed alongside the reputed French pianist Raphael Lemonnier to bring to Hyderabad the finer nuances of Jazz. With this artistic pair at the helm, the evening was a memorable one.

Thoranayudhum, the Kudiyattam performance by Margi Madhu and troupe showcased the rich heritage of India. This ancient theatrical form depicts scenes from the rich mythological history of India using dance as a medium. Immensely enjoyable, the performance can be rightly called as “a divine display of dance”.

Other noteworthy performances included that of Dobet Gnahore, the famous percussionist of the “Bete tradition”. Discussions were held, opinions were heard and workshops conducted. The “Mayakkam-Oxymore”, a dance, music and light show was a collaboration of three different disciplines and appealed to the spectators because of their unique combination of sensibilities and aesthetics. The French film festival at Prasad’s introduced the classics of French cinema to the movie lovers of Hyderabad. Mention also must be made of “Les giraffes”, the animal operetta at Necklace Road. It was a whirlwind of images, sounds of emotions! All the shows had a unifying thread of uniqueness and passionate performers.

Each performance had a story to share. As different as chalk and cheese, the plethora of stunning shows could easily rival that of Broadway’s! With elements of Indian culture, the French ethnicity beautifully interwoven, the festival was on par with any on the world stage. No stone was left unturned to ensure that the events were a resounding success. The diverse range and the sheer assortment meant that Hyderabad has finally arrived as one of the premier art destinations of the country!

Hyderabad had a taste of its erstwhile Nizami splendor, with the interesting blend of performers and quality music. Be it an old couple (wrapped up in woolens because of the cold), youngsters tapping their foot to the energy of the music or connoisseurs who are particular about what they listen to, the festival was a celebration of the coming together of some of the oldest civilizations bound together by their passion towards art and commitment towards providing quality entertainment. By the time the festival was over, everyone had only one word on their lips. Enchante!

Tuesday, January 12, 2010


This week I two things happenned that made me go that!
- Saw the absolutely brilliant, Sherlock Holmes and loved it to bits. From Robert Downey Jr's class act to the razor sharp wit, I loved every bit of it. The amazing photography, Jude Law as the sidekick and the actress who plays Holmes love interest. Everything was just right.

-Attented the Penn Masaala concert with Pt which was simply mind blowing! It is the Worlds' first acapella music group and they performed at the White House recently.The band(12 of them) actually is formed by students of University of Pennsylvania and what's special about them is that they use no instruments but make all the sounds(including drum beats and bass) themselves. They brought the house down when they sang "Mere Mehboob mere sanam" from Duplicate and fused it with the Notting Hill OST. I interviewed them as well and it was great fun!

I am absolutely in love with the music of Ishqiya, there are only four songs but each one is a masterpiece in itself. The promos themselves look so promising! Hope it does not do a Delhi-6!!

I am turning matchmaker and have found the perfect bride for Rahul Mahajan. No its not Rakhi Sawant but the amazingly chirpy anchor of Headlines Today's show "Grand Stand"...what say?

PS(added two hours later), Wanted to rave about Meryl Streep's wonderful movee Julia and Juliet but dont wanna overdo it!!

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Mirror Mirror

who's the most idiotic of them all- it replies, it's a photo finish with each one tripping over the other!!

The above surmise is apt for the unnecessary controversy over the script of 3 Idiots. Anyone who calls that script "original" needs to be taken to the nearest copyright court and sued their pants off! Honestly, I aint no fan of anyone involved here. Chetan Bhagat, a C- grade writer who always pisses me off because in a country like us which produces an Anita Desai, Amitav Ghosh and Rohinton Mistry he is best selling English author (granted he made reading possible for the masses but it's a heavy price). Aamir Khan is one of India's biggest hypocrites who for all his perfection, cheated on his childhood sweetheart and for all his brouhaha over the multiplex fiasco supported the doubling of price of the tickets of 3 Idiots. Vidhu Vinod Chopra is a luckier version of Vindoo Dara Singh, with absolutely nil grace or sophistication. So, I was really amused over this "free for all fight" when it broke out yesterday. Firstly the movie was an absolutely copy of the book. anyone who has read half a book will notice it unless you are a thick headed Troll like Vidhu Chopra. Secondly, Chetan Bhagat was paid the sum he was promised so it's just a matter of credit. Why they chose to fight in such an undignified manner beats me, the movie needs no publicity it's already a huge success! The childish squabbling on television with some very bad grammar was hilarious. I only hope that no more of this fellow's horrendous books are adapted!

New Year is upon us and there is so much my heart yearns for. I only pray that atleast a part of it stays true to the promises made.