There is always a light

There is always a light
Don't be afraid if you are alone or surrounded by darkness. In some part of the world, the day has just begun. There is a always a light waiting for you to find your way to touch its radiance.

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Dum Maro Dum

By Abhishek Chatterjee

Dum Maro Dum' is satisfactory cops and robbers fare, held together largely by Goa's visual charm and Junior Bachchan's smoldering cop act. But its difficult to be completely susegaad  watching a possible cracker of a thriller degenerate into a predictable chor police tamasha. There are multiple story-lines here, one of a gullible teenager being sucked into the drug trade, one of a musician seeking redemption and one of an ambitious career girl choosing the easy way out to success. And then there is the bad ass cop out to bust Goa's big bad drug mafia, in a final attempt at honor. 

The film relies on snazzy editing, edgy music and fast paced set pieces and it starts having an effect in the second half of the film, but the climax drags on for longer than necessary (Sippy should have learned from his previous outing 'Bluffmaster'). Also, the fact that the film is denied a strong antagonist is a constant niggle. Aditya Pancholi's drug baron turn is just not effective enough (did Nana Patekar say no?) to make the bad versus badder battle engaging enough. The enterprise gets most other things right though, in terms of music (the potty lyrics notwithstanding), casting (with the possible exception of Telugu star Rana Daggubati) and setting. 

Prateik Babbar displays his acting chops yet again in the limited scope he gets, though his role is certainly no special appearance as it is credited. Bipasha Basu is passable and Rana Daggubati brings presence but little else. The support cast does a fine job as does Abhishek Bachchan, who should clearly be playing more cops to resurrect his flagging career. Vidya Balan's fleeting cameo as Abhishek's wife is unnecessary, but they do make a fine couple. As mentioned, the bad guy is the biggest let down. Aditya Pancholi tries hard but fails to pass muster as our very own desi Alejandro Sosa. 

The film is high on style and attitude, and low on depth. But I suppose it didn't intend to be so in the first place. So if you're stone dead bored with the constant drone of the IPL on the telly, give this a go and I'm certain it will make a worthy distraction. 

Thursday, April 21, 2011


By Prodipto Roy
Kolkata, India


By Anindita Baidya
Anand, India

Apne jazbaat mein nagmaat rachaane ke liye
Maine dhadkan kee tarah dil mein basaayaa hai tujhe
Main tasavoor bhi judaai ka bhala kaise karoo
Maine kismat kee lakiron se churaayaa hai tujhe

How could he let Nausheen go! Fighting a terminal illness, Afroz would have already been a dead man, had it not been for Nausheen! Nausheen kept him smiling, Nausheen showed him the blossom of spring, Nausheen saw to it that he never failed to pray. Nausheen fed him, cleaned him and Nausheen nursed him.

Saint Anne’s Nursing Home, Gul Marg. Anybody, in the small town, knew, what it meant being admitted to this hospital. It had two implications, one, that the patient had to be a very rich person and two, the patient would not live for long to return home. The Hospital was specialised for treatment and care for most of the dreaded terminal illnesses.

Afroz was not the only patient in the department. He was not the only one Nausheen nursed, either. But Nausheen was the only one Afroz laid his hope on.

Nausheen, a very able and skilled nurse, worked through the hours, tireless and never missing a smile and never missing a schedule. In the chart she held in her hand, she had all the information about all the patients she attended to. She cared for all of them equally, in a very affectionate and a very professional manner, at that.

But Afroz was no professional! He was a poet, a SHAYAR with a melting heart. And confined to the campus of the Nursing Home since six long months, Afroz took comfort in weaving little and big dreams and painting them with imagination and putting them in words.

Nausheen entered his life when the rest of the world walked away. Nausheen received him when others gave him away. It was Nausheen who held his hand tight when the Doctor announced the seriousness of his illness. The time had stopped for Afroz. In utter depression, he confined himself inside his room, leading himself to darkness.

One sunny morning, Nausheen, brought in the light! To the dying Afroz, she said, “You are fortunate enough to know how your life will end. Do you know, each one of us, including that doctor, those attendants, often wonder, how our life will end. We do not know what we have for store, but you know. End will come to all of us, that is the reality but today, God has let you wake up; today you are alive, as I am, and as those little flowers and the bees are. Come, we will go out and have a stroll and thank God for the wonderful life and pray for the ones who did not see the light today’.

From the little life he was left with, Afroz continued stealing the moments with Nausheen and arranging them neatly in his memory.

But Nausheen had to go. She had to lead a team to the tremor struck towns far away. Hundreds of suffering people needed Nausheen. Afroz had never, in the worst of nightmares, imagined a life without Nausheen. He was so used to her that he had almost missed the passing time.

“Go after I die, Nausheen” Afroz pleaded. Nausheen had no answer for that. Her duty was beckoning her.

And so one day Nausheen left. Afroz’s life was not enough for all the love he had for Nausheen, so he bid her goodbye, with a smile and stole another moment for his treasure. “God bless and goodbye, dear”, that is all he said and the poet rested quietly in his heart.

Tu mila hai toh yeh ehsaas hua hai mujhko
Yeh meri zindagi mohabbat ke liye thodi hai
Ek zara sa gham-e-dauraan ka bhi haq hai jis par
Maine woh saaans bhi tere liye rakh chhori hai

Nausheen’s departure got delayed by a day. From mid-way, she returned, to offer her flowers, prayers and tears on Afroz’s still body. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Fluid vision

By Sudeshna Dasgupta

Monday, April 4, 2011

The Bong Connection

By Ananya Mukherjee

Correct me if I am wrong, but the world to me is primarily divided into two categories of homosapiens—the Bongs (Amra Bangali) and the non-Bongs (Obangali). Ask a Bengali who wasn’t raised in Bengal and he’ll almost immediately give you innumerous accounts of how even he has often been singled out in his own clan, tagged with a probashi status in his own league and reminded that his culture is perhaps “slightly different” from those raised on the soils of Bengal. 

To the Amra Bangali confederation, much as you may beg to differ, the line of demarcation is pretty straightforward and brutally honest: you are either a Bong or an alien (oh yes, you may not have a fluorescent green glowing face and two little antenna and be your friendly neighbour’s object of envy, but then who cares?). Marxist or Martian….the choice is clear!

That leaves us all with the question—who is a True Blue Bong? The wise men would claim, “One who thinks before the world does.” To which, I would love to humbly add, “…and reacts after everyone else does”. Jokes apart, given the benefit of our intellectual progression, the quintessential Bong is always ahead of his times; he rightfully deserves every bit of the quiet and respite (lyaadh in the campus lingo) that follows once the issue has moved from the mind to execution. He’s an intellectual, you see. His job is to perceive before anyone else. The lesser mortals can then follow up and do the rest. His philosophy takes the cake, implementation is your job. You can go struggle for the Victoria Cross and be absolutely sure no Bong will ever compete or protest. The Bong with a capital B (and I mean underlined and in shining neons!) is happy to keep his Nobel and Oscar, thank you! You don’t believe me? Find me a taxi driver who earns less than $20 a day and spends a portion of it watching a Ray film (whilst Mrs Taxi Driver wears a special red and yellow batik print saree and pats her face with Lakme moisturizer because someone just said Soumitro Chatterjee might be there at Nandan this afternoon) or reads the newspaper in any other race, and discusses Soniaji and Obama with equal ease and I’ll give you my right arm (Well….that I may have the latent potentials to be ambidextrous is another story we can discuss some other time!).

Undoubtedly, the nectar of our intellectualism seeps deep into our bone marrows and we find its manifestations at rather odd places. Ask a typically probashi and he’ll agree. “What do you mean by pujo pujo feel, neel akashe shona shona roddur? It’s just a bright September morning and it’s not raining!” You don’t agree to such nirosh weather updates, do you? I certainly do not. However, talk to him about brishtir bheja dupure bhuno khichuri…and ah, you have touched an aesthetic nodule….the taste bud! The one thing that seldom changes style is the Bong mom’s recipe book! Irrespective of geographies, the kitchen homogenously smells the same.    

By now, you probably know what I am rambling about and perhaps can identify with a chunk of it too. Simply put, we find great meanings in little things in life and the NASDAQ or gung-ho about an economic downturn doesn’t quite bother us as long as we have one good book to read, one cup of Darjeeling tea every morning, the refrigerator stacked with cleaned and salted maach and mishti, one “must see/must hear” theatre, concert or movie ticket in our pockets and an eight-hour sleep on our own beds with a special two hour Sunday afternoon post lunch siesta on the cards. Trust me, ladies and gentleman, no one else in the world happily chooses jhaal muuri and phuchka over any other delectable snack, no one else plans a lavish vacation every year no matter how crunchy the pockets are (we call it deshe phera or bari jawa), nowhere else in the world do people have a hint of what a nirbhejal adda with a slice of gaan, khawadawa, alochona on politics, films, literature, art and topped with harmless PNPCs could mean.

Talk about high altitude, and you'll see a Bong draped in mufflers and monkey cap drinking tea from his flask on the Alps; take a dive deep into the underwaters of Malaysia and you can't miss the shankha pola on your scuba diving partner's thin arms; up in the air on a parachute in Bali...and be sure you can hear someone parasailing by crooning Emni korei jaaye jodi din jaakna... the over enthusiastic Bong is everywhere, at least in his dreams. (I even stumble upon a few in my own!)

We select dokra and dosta over gold and diamonds; we think glittering sequins are passé, dig into our grandmother’s closets and create a rage in design with the simplest of embroidery and call it kantha, between the stilettos and sports shoes we have a kolhapuri sandal tucked somewhere in the shoes cabinet, we prefer ilish to caviar, our homes have at least one terracotta piece, few hardbound collections of Sarat Chandra, Bankim and Tagore and Purano shei diner kotha is our national anthem, whether we are in Singapore, Chicago or Timbuktu. No matter what the color of our passport is, we are… always and everywhere Bongs first!

To that Bong cement that binds us (spirally sometimes) with Krishnakoli, Kaash Phool and Kolkata beyond time, geographies, and societies…..

With love, laughter and sunshine for a wonderful Nabo Borsho 1418.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Earth Hour, My Hour..

By Atashee Sinha
Frankfurt, Germany

It was dark… I was alone… I had one long hour for me only. Enough time to think about important things, about “life, love and other drugs”, to paraphrase a movie I’ve seen a while ago...
When we are young, we think that our life will last forever. We think we are invincible and we can do whatever we want. But somewhere, in the hidden corner of our subconscious, there is the thought that, someday, all these will end… but, again, we believe there is enough time to worry about that… for now, we just want to live, to love, to experience, to create, to live our life. But what happens when someone is alone, like I am… What happens with me? And here starts the “selfish”behavior: I need, I want, I wish, I love, I hate, the big I enters in picture and makes everything so personal… look at me: “Earth hour, my hour”! The world, my world, is different and, of course, I think it is the best from all possible worlds. Not because it really is the best, but because I think so. Same thing applies to people. If I love someone, I believe he is the best man in the world, the most handsome one, the most talented, the cutest and sweetest person… but in reality he is not like that. He is just a man, with good qualities and bad behavior. A simple man. Because I love him, I see him different. I want him to be different, but he is not.
Family, friends, lovers… people around us are different. There are so many things that separate us, so many “castes of mind” that stay between us. But in the end, all of us are equal. And alone. And if the man I love hurts me or makes me happy… in the end it doesn’t really matter… nobody will ever know the truth … and, probably, nobody cares.
Life is good when people you love are good. Simple. Everything happens as it should. Karma? I don’t know about that… but I am looking forward for the next meeting…

Friday, April 1, 2011

Between the Lines....

By Debasmita Dasgupta

During the early days of my career as a social development practitioner, I used to travel across different rural, urban and semi‐urban communities. Each time these visits used to create a realm of realization for me that became the alpha and omega of my existence. My visit to the Dhobiatala slums in Calcutta was no different.

About nine years back when I first entered these slums, the sky was still soaked with the afternoon sun. It was a congested, filthy and damp locale. The rutted street was lined with a row of low roof houses and an open sewerage system. The snarling of feral dogs was all over the place. Human and animal turds littered the entire neighborhood. Clanking of cooking pots and children’s shrieks filled the air. Most of the people in these slums used to earn their living from carbon extraction and rubber‐straps making. The people in this locality eat drink and sleep carbon day and night.

The purpose of my visit was to attend a workshop to discuss reproductive and sexual health related issues with adolescent girls from Dhobiatala. When I stooped inside one of the houses in the shanties, there were about 10‐12 young Muslim girls in the age group of 10‐16 years. Their shining eyes and innocent smiles were full of curiosity. Most of them were school drop‐outs and victims of child marriage. Those of us who still believed that child marriages are only common in villages, their myth came face to face with a stark reality ‐ the slums of Dhobiatala were situated at the heart of the city of joy.

I remembered my adolescence when I was glued to the glistening facets of life. A time when my parents were my biggest supporters; books and school were my best friends. But it was a different teenage for these girls. Going to school was never so fascinating for them. Heavy household chores and looking after their younger siblings had made them matured than their real age.

As the workshop took off, I expected the girls to throw a lot of questions to the trainers. However I was wrong again. At this tender age these girls were well aware of birth control measures, contraceptives and their side effects. Albeit they also knew that they hardly had any right to exercise this knowledge without the consent of their husbands.

During the talk, Shaheen (original name withheld), one of the youngest in the group, was sitting beside me holding my hands. Shaheen was 11 and was getting married in next three months. She had a bright little face covered with a red dupatta (scarf). After an hour of discussion when I was about to leave with the trainers, she pressed my hand and asked, “Didi, will you come again?" I looked into her eyes that had a sparkle in the corner. I said, “I will try.”

With the sinking sun I silently departed from Dhobiatala. My mind was racing faster than the traffic on the main road. As I approached the bus stop I could hear the rumbling of the cloud and it started to rain.

(This article is a sharing of a personal experience. Being a student of “Development Communications”, I had an opportunity to visit the ‘Dhobiatala’ slums in Calcutta. An eye opening experience that made me think ‐‐‐ our knowing is so incomplete. The rail of life is rattling on the lines yet; too many remain unleashed between the lines…)