Saturday, December 19, 2009

Something to 'Paa'nder on

Saw ‘Paa’ yesterday. I confess to being disappointed, not because I was expecting too much out of the film but because I did not expect so little.

Okay, I did not think the film would generate the same kind of interest around Progeria the way ‘Taare Zameen Par’ did around Dyslexia. Audience turnout was enough evidence of that. After watching the film, I understood exactly why ‘Paa’ could not and would not be classed in the same category as ‘Taare Zameen Par’.

‘Paa’ is caught up in its own compulsions. It has a sincere core but its execution is, for want of a better word, childish. Was the script sacrificed for commercial gains? What else would explain the almost tedious first half, which the director uses only to establish Amol Arte, the young Member of Parliament and the father of the unfortunate Auro, in such a manner as to make the audience forget what made them buy the ticket to this film in the first place? Balki uses up all of the first half of the film merely establishing Abhishek Bachchan’s credentials as an actor, doing little else as regards to storytelling, building up other characters and indeed, getting its own act together as regards what the message of the film really is.

Another blunder: too many sub-plots. It is all okay to develop the other side of a politician’s profile – the non-corrupt, sincerely-trying-to-help society one – but not at the expense of storytelling. Balki dwells at length on such issues as poverty, the grimy underbelly of politics, encroachment of government lands by slum dwellers, slum rehab, how the young ‘uns of the country have a lot to teach us all, single motherhood and most of all, how the media influences and shapes opinions without investigating the context of an issue. All of this, in an exercise to build up Amol Arte the Politician. Meanwhile, Auro appears in brief flashes, and so does his long-suffering mum. While I’m okay with the idea of tackling many issues at once, I’m not okay with certain biases that the director (who is also the writer of this story) inadvertently reinforces instead of dispelling through the very issues he tackles from a politician’s perspective.

Two minus points to Balki for the unwarranted media-bashing. I would expect a media personality such as Balki to successfully portray a balanced perspective on the media, and not join the circus where other storytellers (who scarcely know any better) pull out their boxing gloves on journalism in an effort to win wolf-whistles from the (largely uneducated) audience. Nishikant Kamat did it in ‘Mumbai Meri Jaan’ and in such a grossly lying fashion, I wanted to slap him. Balki would have done well to go one up and portray the truth, ie while a lot of media personalities and houses do have very corrupt elements that need to be thrashed publicly, there are a lot more journalists who are truthful, ethical and who are committed to the cause of honest journalism, no matter the cost.

Also, and this is criminal oversight, Balki does not much develop the character of Auro himself, the star of the story. Sure we get glimpses into the child’s personality, but I would credit that to superior acting and not to mature scripting. Amitabh Bachchan’s biggest victory as Auro is in making the audience forget who the actor behind the greasepaint is. Shah Rukh Khan would do well to study this character, and I’m not being sarcastic. For a man who has spent all his life literally towering over everyone else , it is no mean feat to be adorable and sharp simply as a twelve-year-old. Not once does Mr Bachchan come across as a 67-year-old playing a 12-year-old, which would have just been pathetic. I LOVED how Amitabh Bachchan invented a new personality, minus the trademark baritone, the graceful walk, the dignified expression.

Most importantly, and minus five points, the film does nothing to address Progeria. Okay, nobody wants a documentary on the subject, but how about showing us what the disease actually means for the sufferer and his family? It seems that the director forgets what he started out to show after the disclaimer on Progeria was flashed on the screen before the film began. The film only has brief moments where Auro suffers from breathlessness, collapses after exertion and even some dialogues where the child acknowledges the little life he has left. Apart from this, and when viewed in totality, the film could have had a child uniting his estranged parents under completely different circumstances – such as the child could be suffering from another disease – and I would not notice the difference.

Nope, I’m not happy. But oh, Vidya Balan, how beautiful you are! And Arundhati Naag, why do you not do more Hindi films?

Friday, December 18, 2009

Enough, already

For a city bloodied enough already, a year and a few days later, one misguided youth is still bleeding the wound.

Ajmal Amar Kasab stated in court today that he had nothing to do with the 26/11 attacks. That he had been taken into custody days before the strikes. That he had no idea which rubber dinghy or which AK-57 he was supposed to have been associated with. That he had been framed and that he had actually come to India on a visa because he wanted to try his luck in Hindi films. Read the prosecution's take on the issue here.

Which would all have made for a good defence, if it had come at the start of the trial and not before.

Kasab started the year-long trial with arrogance. Then he went from being cocky to subdued, sometimes appearing uncomfortable if a particular witness not just identified him but wished for the harshest punishments possible for him. Is this an attempt to end the saga of the world's longest and most horrific terror strike on a bang of a different kind?

I'm trying to be rational about the fact that this trial, with all its witnesses and a terrorist captured ALIVE, has taken this long even to reach its summation stages. At times I feel pride in our democracy, because it gives each person a chance to have a say in the course of justice. And then a man who came with nine others to my city to kill and kill some more shows me and everyone else just why he should probably not have been tried fairly.

Today, I felt remorse about being rational.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Water trouble

The ongoing water crisis in Mumbai city seems to have shaken the civic administration hard. The husband tells me, being a BMC reporter who's covered Asia's richest civic body for a long time now, that the lack of rains this year shook one big belief prevalent in the BMC's hydraulic department - that the rains shall not ditch us. Not now, not ever.

Of course, the city's water supply and distribution system is remarkable. I would confidently say that no other city in the country has an efficient supply network like ours. And besides, despite the hue and cry over thousands of taps already running dry in the metropolis (and what shall we do in the summer months, gulp!) you can't really blame the BMC for lesser water, can you?

Where the administration does falter is on letting water be provided illegally. On not keeping close tabs on thefts and leakages. On not monitoring the tanker lobby. On allowing restaurants to serve tall glasses of water, most of which is thrown away. On letting swimming pools pump in water when the rest of us are left wondering how to wash our clothes and store enough to drink and cook. And most importantly, the BMC is not penalising misuse.

Lady in the flat opposite mine washes her windows EVERY day using a jet of running water. She does not use a wet wipe, like a decent person with half an obligation to be more careful with her water usage, would. Those complaining about lesser water continue to wash their cars and plants with drinking water. Some bastards are bathing twice, even shaving twice a day. It is a statement on us as a society when we carefully watch our power consumption because we are billed on a pay-per-use mode, but our water usage does not meet the same considerations.

High time the BMC installed water meters for each house. The current rates for consumption are the same irrespective of the numbers of people residing in a house. Hence, a family of three gets billed Rs 130 per month or thereabouts for water usage and the flat above theirs, which has TEN people in it forever bathing, cooking and flushing, also get billed the same amount. I would pay that much whether I had one person in my house or 100, and that's laughable. Water meters would instantly check the gross misuse and the disgusting mentality that water is a rightfully-earned entity to waste and throw about with impunity.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Let us remove your shorts

That was the tagline for a company offering electricians. It may well be the temporary motto for the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), which, if The Times, UK, is to be believed, is set to shed its uniform and its staid image. Read the report by Jeremy Page here.

This comes 84 years after the RSS' inception. It also comes because the organisation (finally and rather belatedly) is seeing the logic behind catching up with changing times, and the fact that the outfit (pun intended) comprises a largely geriatric population. That the young and the upwardly mobile were not racing to sign up with this particular fundamentalist ideology has not escaped its members' notice. The big reason behind this could be the apparel (which does not look good on ANYbody, let's not kid ourselves about that) and more importantly, because its ideas and overall working remain as mysteriously off-limits to the average person looking for inspiration in the social sphere, as ever.

Another big departure in thinking comes also from the RSS' readiness to accept married couples into its fold. I should actually have ended that last sentence with an !, so here it comes: !

The new uniforms' design should be complete by March. Are we looking at trousers now? Will the Indian flag be imprinted on the shirts? We don't know and who can say? And more importantly, will these changes cause a systemic change within the ranks, or is this 'shift' to be reported on and later forgotten?

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

The curious case of Daood Gilani

One year after 26/11, a few weeks into the David Headley investigations, and I frankly still don't know what to make of the man.

David Headley was Daood Gilani before he turned all terroristy in 2006, also in a bid to throw investigators off track (because who would suspect an American, right?) was produced in a Chicago court and has subsequently pleaded 'Not Guilty' to all charges. for some reason, DNA thought it necessary to mention that Headley was dressed in an orange jumpsuit when he made his court appearance. The rest of the story is quite an easy read, though.

Elsewhere, an unknown gym instructor became famous for volunteering information on Headley. Vilas Warak's marriage pictures have made it not just to his family albums but to newspapers. The Bhatts - Rahul, Pooja and dial-a-quote Mahesh - posed with the happy couple wearing boring clothes and big smiles.

I am still not getting a grip, so to speak, on the man Headley. Yes, he's an LeT operative. Yeah, he's a Pakistani-American. Further, the FBI has charged him with a staggering six counts of criminal conspiracy (a seventh one should be for wearing an orange jumpsuit to court). Despite all the press since his arrest, I still don't get a clear picture of his motivations. May be because we're seeing just the one grainy image of a man with a face like an egg, but Headley does not seem very real as of this moment.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Beyond useless

After all the ruckus about the Liberhan Report, just one lone voice in the media made any sense on the subject. That voice was R Jagannathan’s in the column he writes in DNA every week, and it aptly summed up all that most of us were thinking about anyway. Read his piece here.

The great thing about R Jagannathan’s writing is that it does not take a lofty, over-learned view of things. Most editors of most publication houses entrusted with the task of writing edits seem to want to show their readers how much they already know, how much they’ve already observed while you, the callous reader was looking elsewhere, and how much they still have to educate you. Jagannathan does not fall into that trap, and I have never seen his writing talk down on the reader.

Jagannathan’s premise, I am very sure, has already been echoed by a majority of the country that thinks about things seriously. Why a toothless report on an incident that happened 17 years ago with no Action Taken measures and with, frankly, hardly any substance on any matter? What is the average Indian supposed to make of a report that states what the country already knows and has seen so many photographs and video clips of? Surprise! Key figures in the BJP, Bajrang Dal, Shiv Sena, Vishwa Hindu Parishad and others were involved in the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Another big revelation? The demolition was not a spontaneous act but a pre-meditated one.

Well, yawn.

Of course it wasn’t a spontaneous act. You don’t eye the Masjid sourly over your morning glass of cutting chai and say, “It’s ruining the skyline around here. Let’s pull it down.” Of course everyone of the aforementioned parties was involved; didn’t they confess with bluster and bravado after the act?

“Seventeen years of effort have yielded a mouse,” writes Jagannathan. “A close reading of the Report shows that Liberhan wasted everybody’s time and the taxpayer’s money in these 17 years. His disclosures do not add anything significant to our knowledge of what really transpired that day. He did not need 1,029 pages and Rs 8 crore to pronounce judgement on the Sangh Parivar, for the latter has never hidden its agenda from anyone.

After fulminating against all and sundry, Liberhan does not even clearly answer the central question: which specific individuals actually brought the structure down?”

A kick on the seat of the pants to Liberhan. Why I feel particularly cheated is because while this Commission was sitting on its rear end compiling notes and ordering takeaways for lunch, the country was rocked by ghastly terrorist bombings, one in the Bombay of 1993 courtesy Dawood Fucker Ibrahim. Since this demolition, and later, Godhra, the country has known no peace. So were we so far-off in expecting that some ghosts would be buried and some hard answers to an issue that accelerated the phenomenon of serial terror attacks on the country?

One more Commission required, then?

p.s.: On a tangent, but not much considering 26/11 just completed a year, 'Interval by Chacko' in Mumbai Mirror today is quite illuminating. Read here his take on portrayal of terrorists in Hindi films.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Going to seed

It has been about five months since I've been out of the professional race.

My parents are unhappy about it. My husband doesn't know what to make of it. I frankly wouldn't care.

It's not easy living on a single income for two people. I have been working on and off, and am expecting just two cheques not worth anybody's time. If those come on time, and I doubt that they will, some of the rent will have been taken care of.

I've been working since college. I was lucky I chose a profession that gave me a headrush every single day - the urgency of the newsroom, the deadlines that rattled me just once, the continuous learning process. The last two years of active work were rather subdued. I worked for a paper that was based out of Mumbai and I quit under rather controversial circumstances at the peak of the economic recession. Of course, I secured a job that paid much more than the earlier one before I quit, and that was my last professional achievement before I called it a day in May this year.

Now I manage the home. People who know me don't think that's such a good idea. Sometimes I don't think so too. Sometimes I file a story and make myself some chai in leiu of encouragement. Then I go back to doing the dishes and mopping the floors and cooking dinner. I don't think I debase myself by tending to the home.

My only crime, as far as I can see, is to leave the husband to look after the cash inflow. It's a big crime, in this day and age, and I feel like a cow.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Oh, sweet love...

It's not like you have to carry the thought in your head consciously...every time it knocks you over when you're least expecting it, that's what makes it special.

The one thing I excel at is falling asleep. But wait, that's just half the story - I really excel at not just suddenly falling asleep but staying asleep no matter what. I swear I would have slept through all the screaming and woken up only when the tsunami smartly slapped me on the face. Point is, NOTHING wakes me up. So conceive my emotion two nights ago when, after I supposedly stirred in my sleep and bumped into the husband, he sleepily started patting my head. That woke me up promptly.

When I pat his head in similar fashion, he instantly curls up into me and sleeps like a baby.

It's the goofy grin he gives me when he's trying hard to open his eyes every morning (on the rare mornings that I'm up before him). It's the way he'll always be the first to apologise, thus making me feel (and look) like a child. It's the way he'll spring awake, compulsively saying sorry if he kicks me in his sleep. It's...oh, so many having a warm blanket that works best only for you.

So even though he's always late and never around till the rest of the world goes to bed and I'm pottering about heating dinner, he's argumentative and refuses to see reason on certain topics, I still welcome him with a grin when he comes home every night. The boy is mine...

Friday, September 25, 2009

Respond, already

Sending out an email requesting an appointment on Monday and not getting a reply till Friday, is just mad. Like being laid out in the OT for a month and everyone else coming in after you gets their surgeries and leaves.


Tuesday, September 22, 2009

I is writing

The story of Devrat is taking shape, slowly. Wish me luck and don't disturb me.

Also, if anyone is up for making chai for me thrice a day, you're hired.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Why I must blog more often

Because it gets me in the mood for writing something better later on.

Because my blog does not judge or make 'Tsk tsk' sounds on the rare occasions that I confess something staggering.

Because it does not tell me to shut the fuck up after a while, like people do.

Because it does not sulk if I haven't blogged for a while.

Because I only have to remember such basic details as username and password when logging in. No hassles about forgetting birthdays and anniversaries and such.

Because it lets others benefit from my pearls of wisdom.

Because I can change its appearance whenever I want to and it doesn't accuse me of not accepting it the way it is.

Because it is generally accepted that a blog, however public, is actually the blogger's private space.

Because I've been blogging for a while now, and it really, REALLY helps me unwind. Now for some writing.

Saturday, September 19, 2009

HATE how expensive this city is

Yes, nobody asked me to live here and all that, but sometimes the greatest city in the world is just too pricey for its own good.

I mean, come on. At a decent income, all you can hope for if you're looking to buy a house, is to save like magpies for about three years and then take a home loan. The money you save will help cut down on some of the amount you will have to raise through private sources (which your bank needs to know about, to appease their gossipy selves). Once your home loan is cleared, through a uniquely-designed obstacle race involving signatures on character certificates and salary slips from bosses, Form 16 duplicates from the time you were born, letters from the building you wish to purchase a house in, and many other entertaining channels of paperwork, you have to borrow money from friends to tide over the amount that the bank will not loan you, the fucking fucker.

And once you start repaying all the money, you realise that you are tied up for the next twenty years at least, apart from paying off testy friends and relations you borrowed money from. At the end of the first week since you get your salary, you are left with about a fraction of your husband's salary. We are going to stop eating lunch and we shall cadge invitations to dinner from the people we did not borrow money from. My mother can supply the groceries.

And all of this, for a house that is as big as a broom closet or, if you get a roomier accomodation, as big as a fair-sized bathroom with separate shower space. Into this you squeeze your two selves, furniture, bed, cupboard, pots and pans and several other items characterising domesticity.

So you decide to go for a rented place, and though that works out better because it is sort of affordable, you get grey hairs thinking of all the money you're paying via rent and which you will never see again unless you loot a bank. Since I don't know the first thing about looting a bank, I will never see the rent money we've paid this year.

What is all this in aid of? All we wanted was to live decently on a decent income in a house we were prepared to slave for and cherish and leave behind for our kids. Instead, we're running around shouting "Fuck! FUCK!" because the lease on our current house expires in two months and we have no other option but to throw away more money on another rented apartment, in the hope that two years later we will have our own home to leave behind for our kids (which we can have only after we have a house, humph).

Money flows like water in this city. It's not fair, it's not reasonable for a person who only has a legitimate job as his source of income.

Housewife from Hell - Part II

She continues with the chronicle after a gap of two days. Even the story of her own life bores her.

Today her husband has his weekly off from work. So the two of them will laze about and order lunch. They'll go for walks in the evening, or possibly a movie. He's fun when he's relaxed.

She needs his help with some research she's doing. So maybe they could do that after lunch, instead of busting their eyeballs watching silly movies.

If she wants, she can tell him to make her chai, and he'll do it gladly. He makes good tea. Besides, she generally goes for a second cup an hour after the first.

Today she woke up at 11.30 a.m. As always, he didn't wake her up, quietly answering doors and reading the papers till she stumbled out of bed on her own.

There are too many newspapers to read this morning, all of them quite bleeaarrgghh.

Also, she has finished reading 'Rebecca' for the fifth time.

Now, if only she could rewrite some parts of her own story. Too much rest and not much to do are making her weak.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Housewife from Hell - Part I

She wakes up after her husband, makes him his tea and breakfast, waves goodbye when he leaves for work, and makes instant noodles for her lunch.

The moment her tummy's even half full, her eyes begin to close. So it's time for a short nap spanning two hours.

After which she wakes up, makes her second cup of chai for the day, starts writing. There is, as yet, no method to the madness she is writing down, but she persists.

Evening is time for household chores, post seven thirty p.m. Sabzi to be made, rotis to be rolled, sometimes a glass of buttermilk to set aside for him. Then she oils her hair and washes it an hour later.

He never comes home before 11 pm, so she has a lot of time to think and set the house in order. Sometimes she cleans up, other times she thinks.

At times a friend may call, informing her of a job opportunity somewhere. She promises to send her CV and forgets the conversation five seconds later. When she remembers it again, she doesn't send the CV.

All day, she plugs music in her ears to keep out the thoughts. The thoughts don't always go away.

What happens when you have no job, no motivation to look for another one and a bagful of fear of what will be? You get me.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

World of deceit

The introvert can go through an entire day hiding what she's feeling and nobody will ever know.

The woman who miscarried will cry softly into her pillow for two months, and her husband will think she has puffy eyes because of her medication.

The man with the expensive car and the big house in your part of town is facing bankruptcy and has sold everything except the car and the house.

The girl who smiles at everything goes home and cries alone every night.

The bored housewife bores herself further by watching mindless TV programmes and gossiping with the neighbours.

The top scorer in class pulls his shirt carefully over his pants to hide the welts his father gave him in last night's whipping.

The unfriendly grocer who has never smiled in the ten years you've shopped at his store goes home and plays energetically with his mentally-challenged son.

The business tycoon colours his hair to hide the cascade of grey over black.

The old madwoman on the street corner who shakes her fist at every urchin smiles beautifully if you offer her money.

The writer of this blog will promise to start working in the next two minutes and head straight to bed.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

I is back.

You thought you'd keep me away from my blog for long? Huh!

I spent an entire evening wallowing like a buffalo in waves of self pity. Then I made a fabulous dinner and the husband smiled at me and I felt happy again.

The next day I was back at work and telling myself not to waste another evening like that. Because that is just stupid and imagine how much work I would have got done instead of watching television like a retard.

So anyway, I is back. And working again. :P to moping around.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Crash and learn

Cannot describe the pain and the shock of having something you created thrown back in your face because it was no good.

Not going to talk for a while now. Major rethink about life and chosen route coming up.

Thursday, August 13, 2009


These days, I'm counting the days of the week as per the husband's weekly off.

These days I'm beginning to think I've outsmarted my sleep deficit.

These days I'm writing a lot and reading much more. That makes me really happy.

These days I'm nursing a husband who's a bit unwell.

These days I'm not cooking too much. That's not good.

These days I've started checking my e-mail thrice a day. I used to do it once in two days.

These days I'm not going anywhere and there are accusations of me trying to be exclusive and all. Whatever.

These days I try and be patient but man, it's hard.

These days I try to be more useful but that's harder than anything else.

These days I find I've blanked out most of this year from my head. That way, I'm a bit fuzzy on details but at least I'm less grumpy.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Me Ice Maiden. You?

The husband has been bugging the life out of me since Friday. Absolutely. He's been badgering me about how ill he feels (in direct proportion to how ill the rest of the city and Pune are with the swine flu yadda yadda) and how there is a strange pain that seems to be on a stroll on his insides. "First it goes up my right leg," the husband shows, pointing to the offending appendage, as if I confused it with an ear or something. "Then it comes to my tummy. Then it goes down my other leg."

I preserved my calm and ranted only once to nobody in particular. Didn't even lock him in the loo, honest. Am a good girl and a great wife.

Then this morning he wakes up flushed and looking a bit ill and sneezing all over the place like nobody's business. He tells me he was briefly up at 4 am because he couldn't breathe, then quickly said it was probably the mosquito coil on seeing the look on my face. After the sneezes, he said his throat was all tickly (dude, if it tickles, laugh.) and that he felt a fever coming on. And for the first time in my life I stopped being the skeptic and decided to get him some medication.

Mind you, I could have gone "Fuck! FUCK!" with the thought that the swine flu was in my house. But no. I is Ice Maiden.

So we got ayurvedic medicines for both of us, took our doses twice a day as prescribed and he's back to being a bouncing baby. As for me, I cleaned out the house thoroughly and disinfected it and am just resting my butt after an evening of making the home germ-free.

So what did you do all day?

Wednesday, August 5, 2009


I have looked at the e-mail for fifteen whole minutes just to gloat.

Even if nothing transpires, at least I will have the satisfaction of knowing that I sparked off some interest. Now if only I hadn't been so hasty about the other matter.

Hmm. (goes back to gloating over e-mail.)

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Detached at last

Sometimes I come out from writing and am amazed at another world going on out there, without me. Sometimes I catch up, other times I simply let the world go on.

There is nothing more important than losing oneself in work. There is nothing more fulfilling. Nothing more lonely.

And yet, I chose this life. I chose to stay away. And I will. Just until the world starts moving again and I decide to catch up.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

THIS is why I drift

After a long, really long time, I did a story that made me think and learn.

I knew something like sperm banks exist, somewhere in the world and that men go there to give 'samples' in plastic containers that are coded and tagged and the man goes out with money in his pocket. I'd also heard that to aid ejaculation, the clinic in question supplies donors and depositors with dirty magazines or lets them watch porn and hangs pictures of nude women on the walls.

What I didn't know was that beneath the seeming flippancy of it all, sperm collection and preservation is a tricky business. Dilip Patil is doing it well at Mulund, and he says he gets about 8 to 10 donors every day. That's a big number for any city in India, not just Mumbai. And is the remuneration the only reason? Not so, says Patil. "For a collegian, yes, Rs 500 per sample is good enough to watch a movie and have a pizza. But we have the vice president of a shipping company who is an approved donor with us, and surely the money is not an incentive for him."

Patil says that most come with the idea of helping an unknown couple, somewhere in the city or beyond, conceive using their sperms after hopeful trying and medicine fails. "It gives them a real kick to know that their sample will help somebody have a child," says Patil, adding that he discourages those looking only for money. "If you're not dedicated to donating for a good cause regularly, we don't want you on board," is Patil's reasoning.

8 to 10 every day? That's great. That's very good. Know more here.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Left and Right for the Centre

Don't know about you, but it seems to me that the Congress doesn't much fancy its own chances this election.

Either that, or the party is looking to dent the Opposition's morale by dropping hints of getting the BJP-led NDA's allies on board. So Rahul Gandhi says "there is a possibility" of getting the JD(U) on board, though Nitish Kumar has thwarted any such overtures with a curt "No thanks." A third possibility is that the Congress can see a near-rout or a close call happening, so being assured of more people joining the party (I mean that figuratively) will make it easier to calculate post-poll equations.

Political analysts say that low voter turnouts in three phases of voting conducted in the country thus far may actually go against the Congress' wishes. Either that, or the Congress will romp home with a majority vote (which would not be such a bad thing; when was the last time we had a majority government?). In Maharashtra, the Shiv Sena-BJP combine is already telling itself that they're getting more seats than their Opposition, and people in the know tend to agree. Yet, this is Indian politics and though it is a game of numbers, it is not pure math.

Rahul is doing well to announce that his party is keeping its options open. That is actually a way to keep your detractors both wondering and working harder still. It also lets fringe players know they have a space to go to after the polls. What I want to know is how the Congress hopes to quickly sew together new alliances in such a small space of time when its old ones crumbled and crashed without the party having even the slightest hint of the state of affairs to come. For all its Grand Old Party yadda yadda, you'd think the Congress was smarter than that.

Friday, May 1, 2009

My middle finger to your apathy

I would ordinarily be thrilled to be proved right this soon and in such a spectacular manner, but this is the election we're talking about and my being right doesn't change one basic fact - the Indian voter SUCKS.

My earlier post reminded you that for all the online activism, we were about to witness a 'traditional' election - with all its pre-poll bribing, booth capturing, small queues in the affluent areas of Mumbai and long queues in the slums, et al. Unfortunately, and this is new for me, I was bang on target when I said that NO PART of your Jaago Res and Vote Indias would really work.

Testimony to this statement are some headlines from across the nation and the world: DNA says that 57% did not come out to vote in Mumbai, the Khaleej Times tells you that 30 villages in Gujarat gave the polls a mass boycott, and Bloomberg blames the heat wave on low voter turnout.

Would it surprise you to know that Mumbai's slums, which form the bulk of the vote for any election, actually voted lesser this time and that compared to other times, more voters came to polling booths from the city's buildings? This is an interesting phenomenon, considering that the actual picture is always the other way around. Does this mean that our politics has finally disenchanted the enthusiastic slum voter?

That is not to say that the middle classes of the country are enchanted by politics. Anywhere in the country in the first three phases of polling, voter turnouts have not exceeded 47 per cent. Democracy, anyone?

Is it just me or does anybody else realise that as a country, we are disenchanted with our politics because we are disconnected with it? Why does anybody, leave alone a host of civic activism campaigns and multimedia advertisements, need to exhort the average Indian to get out there and vote? Why did some educated people not know when Mumbai went to the polls a full 24 hours before polling began? Of what use was a sustained media effort to cover the elections two months in advance, if post-poll headlines would only talk about mass boycotts and heat waves?

Let's not blame the weather or disillusionment for low turnouts. And let's not get off so easily by using fancy terms like 'voter apathy'. To be apathetic, you must know what you're apathetic about. Not voting because you didn't know who to vote for says not as much about your candidates as it does about your own ignorance. We know everything about the Big B in America and his dog Bo, but we don't even know which party Sanjay Nirupam belongs to and have no compunctions in asking who the heck is Nitin Gadkari.

Your indifference has made this country what it is today. And don't let me hear you complain when you go down with it.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

What are we paying them for?

The Election Commission of India (ECI) has got to be the most useless body functioning this election. It does not verify candidates' affidavits, sits pretty doing nothing when lapses in affidavits are pointed out, gives idiotic responses like "the EC is not empowered to take legal action" (against said wrong affidavits) and is not legally entrusted with a single tool to take action against erring politicians.

In short, all it is empowered to do, is issue notices, thereby adding to the pile of junk paperwork that is churned out in this country daily. Much like a mother 'admonishing' her child with, "Please don't do that again," when said child has murdered a classmate and set fire to his house, thereby slaying the entire family.

What's more, the EC is shameless enough to admit that it has no statutory powers to do anything. What a bunch of self-important jokers these guys must be.

I spoke with R Ramakrishna, the BJP's media contact for their election cell; he has written to the EC asking for action against Lalu Prasad. Even he knows the EC will sit on its ass and do no more than - what else? - pass a stricture. "Any time you write to the EC, it amounts to a mere registering of protest over a matter. You are certain that the EC will do nothing about it and the case will die there. If you want anything to happen, you have to go through your own PR channels and tap the media to highlight the issue.

Useless, that's what the EC is. Oh, but it does remember to take suo moto cognisance of certain people like Varun Gandhi. That is fair, but what after issuing a notice? How shameful that the EC has no right to 'suggest' that a candidate like Varun Gandhi should not be a candidate in the first place. Since it cannot offer suggestions to parties, parties can pretty much do what they want and tell the EC to go to hell. Which they do.

This is why the BJP went to the EC against Lalu. Not that it matters. Because the EC is useless, anyway.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Cease. Desist. We're Indians.

Look, I don't care what anyone thinks but logic and past experience (as also some touch with ground realities) tells me that we're not about to have a tech-elected government by a wide stretch. Not this year, or in 2014 or whenever.

The basic contention backing the use of internet and a bevy of social networking sites was to rope the youth in, right? Okay, that's good thinking, but then what? I can bet you my last 50-paise coin (that I am saving for a year now, don't ask why) that despite getting the youth's attention and all that jazz, your internet blitzkreig STILL will not guarantee youth presence at the polls. Oh, if these elections were conducted online, yeah, you'd have the kind of unprecedented voting percentage that would stagger the economy. A lot of the youth that do go and vote, are the ones whose families have been voting for a long time now.

See, that's where the connect actually lies. If I had the kind of dumbass family (and there are many of those) that never discussed politics and kept any dinner table conversations restricted to who did what in the family and neighbourhood and only spoke to each other when either fighting or asking for money, I wouldn't vote either. If my parents hadn't been voting for ages and drilled it into my stupid head that voting was really an obligation, not a favour you were doing to the country, I wouldn't vote.

A lot of people don't vote. They're watching the Jay Ho vs Bhay Ho charades on TV while they watch their daily soaps, but those ads don't influence them to get our and cast their vote. They're reading the coverage every day, noting what their MP hopeful is promising them. While some of them still have some fundamental queries ("Who is my MP? Which party?"), there are others who seemingly know it all and STILL don't vote.

It's no use drawing parallels between the US Presidential Elections and our general elections. Next thing we'll be comparing Barack Obama and Manmohan Singh. Hoping for an internet revolution for our polls is not just unrealistic, it's stupid. The power of the internet to spur people on to action is either grossly overestimated or largely untapped yet.

And pray, why do you want the internet to make a difference for you? Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer the heat and dust of election rallies, the getting your head blasted apart by blaring loudspeakers, the crowds that gather every time there's a rally, the cheers that a bold statement draws. That is where the real flavour of Indian elections lies - and what are we, if not a colourful, emotional, in-your-face race of people?

Despite unleashing a relentless media campaign on us, the BJP is still doing its rallies and sabhas. What's more, watching a Narendra Modi rally or an L K Advani one on TV is sure to make a bigger difference to your thinking that reading what they said the next day. As humans, we need the visual element for a connection. Sure, the internet is a visual medium. But can we really call it an engaging one in the context of elections?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Revenge of the Surds

You have to have a deep hatred for a person to wish the most painful death on him. Karamjit Singh tried to kill then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in 1986 because, like other Sikhs in the country, he too considered Indira Gandhi, and later her older son, to be responsible for the sectarian violence that tore many Sikh families apart.

When I spoke to him last week, Singh was in the process of filing his nomination papers from Patiala. The man is contesting the seat as an independent and has just one aim in life - to defeat the Congress and the "conniving" Shiromani Akali Dal. He is now a lawyer practising in the district court; he is making every effort to wipe out the 'criminal' tag attached to his name.

When I asked him how he felt when he heard about Rajiv's assassination in 1991 (Singh was still in jail at the time), he promptly replied, "I just felt sorry that I had not been able to kill him." He didn't sound bitter about it, but his matter-of-fact tone chilled me. "Aisa hota hai na, aap jaisa karte ho, waisa bharte ho. These people have the blood of so many of my Sikh brothers and sisters on their hands. Inka anth aisa hi hona tha."

He went on to add that his biggest regret in life was not that he attempted the assassination at Rajghat all those years ago, but that he botched it up. "Never mind that now. What is past is past. But we have not forgotten the atrocities the Congress inflicted on us. We will never forget it, we will never allow our children to forget it. But now bullets will not work. We have to use our democracy in the best way we can," Singh said.

Many constraints prevented us from printing the interview, especially the bits about Rajiv, verbatim. What we did print is here.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Chalo Orissa

The BJP is focussing on Orissa at the moment, and Narendra Modi's life isn't getting any easier with all the air-dashing here, there and all over the place. I mean, five rallies in Orissa in ONE day and the man has to fly back to Hyderabad. From there, he makes a trip to Delhi. From there, to Orissa again. And all the while, talking about how grand the BJP really is and crossing his fingers behind his back.

Sometimes, being a star campaigner for your party has got to suck.

In other news, Arun Gawli has finally dropped out of the race and will now support Milind Deora's candidature. Wonder how much somebody paid him to get out of the way? :-O

Also, the BSP's Vilas Garud says that his party denied Gawli a seat because all other major parties in Maharashtra had done so, and why should the BSP give tickets to criminals? Why, indeed.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Worst birthday so far

Nothing, nothing so far has been good about turning 30.

I mean, come on you lunkheads, I'm 30! It's a great milestone for me, because I have got so far purely on the basis of a bad temper and some smatterings of talent (for not falling down and breaking my neck or getting stuck in a building on fire).

Golu is out of town. Dad and Mum didn't drop by to wish me; they would have but I forbade it on grounds of good manners, then felt that I should have told them to come because this is my first birthday away from them. Sriram chatted with me only to tell me two pathetic sardar jokes.

Precisely 10 people have wished me since this morning. Which is great, because "Hi, Happy Birthday! So,what plans today? What, working even on your birthday?" conversations are okay till like, the second caller is done. The last straw was when Prash invited me out for lunch and the two of us waded through pizzas and garlic bread and spoke about all kinds of junk, but not once did he wish me because HE FORGOT MY BIRTHDAY.

Okay, I didn't ask for a custom-made happy birthday-singing committee because you know I hate having attention drawn to me. But come on, people, blatantly forgetting my birthday is rotten manners. Prash and everyone else who forgot, no birthday present for you this year, whenever your birthdays are. (When is Prash's birthday, I wonder...)

Am now pinning my hopes on the hubby (who did wish me) to come home a bit early so that we can at least make an effort to go out and eat.

Never thought I would have to hope for THIS much when I turned 30.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

We owe you several, Varun

The hate speech notwithstanding, Varun Gandhi sure has given us media guys a full week of stories to do. There's something happening every day, which is good. Much better than running around all over town looking for stories or staring blankly at your computer screen, wondering what to file.

It's hot and as election day approaches, the campaigning and mudslinging will reach fever pitch.Like always, we're going to wonder how to go through it all without fizzling out, then not notice that we worked our asses off and didn't even notice that the craziness was over.

Meanwhile, take a look at this. And this.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Maya Memsaab

However repulsive the idea (and to many, it is), one can't deny that some day, this great country will have a dalit prime minister in Mayawati. That she is unabashed about hoarding her millions while her party workers continue to work penniless but with passion is a story for another day. What needs to be seen, apart from the short hairdo and the gaudy salwar kameez suits that Mayawati sports, is that she has political acumen enough for 10 politicians.

You might argue that she banks on and ruthlessly milks the sizeable dalit vote in her home state and the country and does not hesitate to cut other dalit parties to size if she sees the chance of capturing a brief moment of power. That's a story for another day, too. What does matter, is that since 1991, only Maya behenji has had the balls to lead her party to a majority win anywhere in the country, while the rest of them suckers keep squabbling within their coalitions.

To get the power and to keep it there takes loads of planning and plenty of intelligence, and Maya does both well. That's not to say that her sitting in the PM's chair will benefit the country in any way. But with the Third Front gaining strength slowly, at least to a level where it can influence final decisions once voting is over, Maya is in a position to usurp the chair and like everything else she's done so far, her planning will be bang on target.

This is how she does it.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Band, oh bust!

A friend of ours (ours= Meghana and me) who works in radio in Mumbai is forming a band for some kind of instrumental fusion. They're scouting for names, but they've narrowed it down to two choices, of which I liked precisely none. Megs and I had this conversation while he was polling opinions from both of us at the same time:

vrushali: sriram asking me: filter coffee? or limited edition? which one do u like?
do u think i should suggest 'bugs and roaches'?
Meghana: i already told him we suggest bugs and roaches :P
vrushali: hahahahaa
Meghana: :D
vrushali: if they havent adopted it yet, it means they have no sense of humour
in which case, i refuse to associate myself with this band
why not masala chai?
or limited intelligence?
Meghana: lol
hhahahaha the latter is nice
vrushali: i will
Meghana: lol cool
vrushali: he says: yeah right
i thought it was pretty cool myself
Meghana: :P
yeah i know
vrushali: lebbe...when i form a band, that's what i
will call it
Meghana: ok...
who'll be in the band?
vrushali: u will be there, obviously...ur the star member
that's it
Meghana: lol
we'll sing 'oh sawariya'
vrushali: five ppl enough...or the band will break up citing 'irreconciliable differences'
what is oh sawariya?
Meghana: arre...the kishore kumar song idiot...
aake seedhi lagi
vrushali: that song is called 'aake seedhi lagi'...
dont confuse ur lead singer
Meghana: lol
vrushali: yeah, that would actually be a cool opening number for our concerts
at andheri sports complex
Meghana: yeah i know!
and then i'll do the snort laugh from the that ppl wonder whats happenign
vrushali: ok
whatever u want
just keep the audience entertained
anyway they won't be too of limited intelligence
Meghana: lol
i can't stop intelligence
vrushali: :D
Meghana: it's a nice nick name for you actually
vrushali: yeah, sure. and wht's urs?
sriram will have to do with bugs and roaches
as in, as the name of his band
not saying that that species will be his main audience
Meghana: lol
i'm sure they'll run away
the bugs and roaches i mean
vrushali: yeah
hey, they can call themselves the Exterminators
the E.T.s
how cool is zat?
Meghana: yeah, nice
vrushali: lebbe, he wont see the point of this one either
i think radio makes u dumber
Meghana: we should sound it off
thsi is what i'm telling him
name the band bugs and roaches...
They might not be your target audience...they'll run away maybe..and then you'll can call yourselves the Exterminators :D
vrushali: u can't have two band names...
hw abt bandwidth?
band baaja?
band aid?
Meghana: they'll disband to resurrect themselves as the exterminators..
vrushali: chup re
Meghana: and then probably become like the Undertaker
vrushali: even Undertakers is good
Meghana: lol
vrushali: sheh, with so many good names, they pick out the lousiest ones
Meghana: lol
vrushali: he says band baaja is another could they just plagiarise and not credit me?
Meghana: lol
vrushali: after this, they should call themselves Unethical Fusion Crap
Meghana: lol
vrushali: Plagiarists is also good
Meghana: oh shut up
no, this one i don't agree
vrushali: Oh Shut Up is actually good
"Guess who's in town to entertain you guys?"
audience replies, "Oh Shut UP!"
even DisBand is great
also a hint to themselves
Sent at 2:15 PM on Thursday
Meghana: lol
vrushali: :D

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Wassup, doc?

There are significant aches and pains associated with working on a politics portal every day. I need some comic relief. That's why I actually stuck around at the earlier job for so long - they let me do what I want after I had done the routine stuff.

In other news, yours truly has now started holding forth on Hindutva and poll strategising and other what-have-yous. I swear my mum is going to laugh if she sees my stories. So will most others who know what a dufus I really am. But till such time that I begin to get some investigative leads in politics, the tittle-tattle on who's doing what and (this is our opinion on) why will have to do.

The initial buzz is positive. Get me some traffic, you.

Check out my take on the Congress campaign strategy here. Tell me what you think.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Everyone's talking...

Right now, every politician, wherever he may be, is ready to talk if you call (on) him.

If they don't, it means they're either really snooty or really important. Don't expect Sonia or Rahul Gandhi to grant you an interview right now, unless you're CNN or BBC or somebody equally firang. Even Mayawati and Modi will not take your calls right now. But the ones below them certainly will, and they do.

I went to the BSP office in Mumbai the other day with Mamta, and the guy manning the office was as thrilled as dammit to see any visitors; naturally he was tickled pink to know that both of us were journos looking for information and that we were actually asking him questions. After holding forth on the party and how it does things, he actually invited Mamta and me to join the BSP. "You work as journalists because you want a career, right"? he smirked. "This is also a career. Just stand for the elections, we'll help you win."

I mean, really. Go looking for a snippet and you get the entire story book plus the offer to become a Member of Parliament.

The other day I met a senior BJP leader who reduced the Shiv Sena to worse than dust once he was done criticising them. "Sharad Pawar has, customary to his style, ditched the party that was willing to help him. But these (Sainiks) don't get it. Uddhav is being advised by all the wrong people. Trusting Sharad Pawar would be the last thing Balasaheb would do, but nobody's listening to him, despite whatever the Sena may say."

And then there was the BJP party worker representing the Matang community, whose various causes Gopinath Munde espouses (at least, he started espousing them about two months ago). I was passing Azad Maidan and heard the usual shouts of "Vijay aso! Hum tumhare saath hain!" Walking in, I almost head-butted a guy who came charging at me from the opposite direction. "Media? Media?" he asked. I nodded. He handed me a bunch of papers, saying "Press release. Press release." After I'd given him my visiting card, he launched into a marketer's spiel about how the community was being harassed and how Munde would show them all. For over 10 minutes.

You meet all the different types during election time. All want to be heard. Most have nothing to say.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009


We have gone live, yay! This suddenly feels like it's my own project (which it is), but boss uncle specifically asked me to "own it" so now you guys can watch me go!

In a more sober vein, though, the job ahead is immensely tough because the action hasn't even started yet but we sure are swamped with work. Some little niggles here and there do exist on the site but we are so ready for a formal announcement and launch. But because I can't tell any of you about it yet, I feel like a women who has a pregnancy to announce but can't tell anyone yet because she's been warned to break the news only when the baby goes live.

Anyway, we're getting our stories ready and I'm starting to nag the concerned ones to finish ironing out the problems in the site, for chrissakes. Being in control is scary and weird at the same time; I've never been in charge of a daily product and never at this level or on a permanent basis. At my previous job, I was proxy Chief of Bureau but that was because my senior was a delicate darling with a family of delicate darlings who all fell ill several times a month.

I'm going to make tonnes of mistakes, and the worst part is, I can only blame myself. Sometimes, that's the worst kind of job. But compared to the crap that's happening to so many others in the city, all I can do is be thankful and kiss the ground beneath my feet for sturdily being there even when I was shaky.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

In the jungle...

Since the site is not live yet, my stories are getting dated. And everyone knows that nothing gets your goat more than knowing that your stories are getting dated, through no fault of your own.

I am revising my own stories so that I can salvage some of them. It seems like I've been revising stories since I was a baby. The office is quiet today, which is great. At last count, I have about 15 stories just waiting to be unleashed but the poor things have nowhere to go.

We hopefully go live next week, probably Monday. Let's see how that goes. Hmph.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Nowhere in particular...

- My entire life is upside down right now.
- Some days I'm okay with it, other days, just plain depressed.
- There is some truth to the rumour that God makes you do the things you're least comfortable with. Probably there's a lesson in there somewhere, but the only thing I've learnt so far is that God hates me quite a bit.
- I have HAD it with Indians throwing American accents. HAD IT. It's fake and obnoxious and gosh-darned patronising, so STOPPIT!
- Every person needs a bit of attention. Some recognition for past successes would also be nice.
- There's a learning curve to every job that initially goes around your neck and throttles you.
- Every person is guilty of one or more of the following: a) Smoking. b) Drinking c) Consuming aerated drinks d) Doing drugs e) Doing fake accents.
- Happily, I have done none of the above. I realise this qualifies me as a dork in most people's eyes, but most people are dorks.
- Losing your temper at the right time and in severe doses can scare the pants off people.
- No amount of money is ever enough. Not hankering after it can help a bit, though.
- I have not clicked a single picture in two months. I am a slap on the face of amateur photography.
- I don't even know where my camera charger is.
- I have alternating cycles of feeling really confident and feeling like I'm sitting on the kind of volcano that will go off and kill only me.
- Also it will burn my ass, but let's not get into that.
- I am a decent cook. The husband is still alive and actually looking nice.
- The web is a decent medium if you don't screw it up. So don't. I won't either.
- This post ends here because it was going nowhere in particular in the first place.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Bring on the crazy

I'm going slowly crazy with the amount of work being done and the amount of work still to be done. And we haven't even launched yet.

And hey, I didn't share my first copy on Indipepal with you guys. Check it here.

The timings are going from erratic to bizarre, but I keep telling myself it's only for a few months. Once the general elections are done, there should be some breathing space before the assembly elections come around. And those won't be this hectic.

In other news, I am now a very quick cook. You could actually take some pointers from me on organising and putting together breakfast for the hubby, lunch for me, lunch for hubby, doing the dishes and sometimes even kneading dough for dinner. My home life is completely in a mess, though. Bloody elections!

Wish me luck with the launch and the work.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Boss uncle announced this morning that the portal will probably be launched this week. YIKES!!

I have no dynamic content. I am nowhere close to having dynamic content. I won't have dynamic content this soon. Somebody, help me!

*takes a sedative and crashes*

Friday, February 6, 2009

Two years ago

I just settled the chaiwallah's bill. As usual, I suspect he ripped me off but I said nothing, since this is the last time he will rip me off. In a few hours from now, I'll pick up the bag containing the encyclopaedia I bought last year but hadn't taken home because it is so heavy. I'll cast a last look at my workstation, hand over the locker and cupboard keys to the office boy and head out into the great world to start a career afresh.

It's strange how every time I change a job, it seems like I'm starting all over again. This time I actually am. This morning, Jaan hugged me and said that just like I had a good time at Sakaal and I would have a good time at the new place too. Trust him to always look on the bright side. I hope he's right.

All through this month, my fury at how wrong things were going and why I was made a part of it through no encouragement at my side blinded me to how much I would eventually say goodbye to. My small and inconspicuous work terminal with the nicest keyboard in the office and the one computer that has not yet crashed will probably be topmost on my 'What I will miss the most' list. Add to that the wobbly chair and the fact that one gets as much privacy and peace here to work as a railway station.

I've already emptied my drawer and locker. Nothing here now belongs to Vrushali Lad, and within a few days, someone else may take my place. The uprooting seems sudden and will be mildly traumatic. But one must now outstay one's visit, and in this industry, nothing is really forever, except the associations you make.

See you on the other side.

Thursday, February 5, 2009

New high jump

There's nothing better than a swift kick in the balls to a detractor who fancies himself your equal (or superior) simply because he happens to be a fossil in the industry and you're not.

A few arseholes messed with me and must now be looking like the silliest fools in existence. I have a great new job in an exciting new medium and with no fuss or worries in return. These other idiots, to not put too fine a point on it, may be facing salary cuts, job cuts and goodness knows what else, while I can frankly say I had a lucky escape in time.

I will now be working with a portal called and hope to do okay there, if not spectacularly well. You can't go too wrong if your motto is, "How difficult can it be?" At the most, I'll take a week longer to learn than others do. At this point in time, saturated to the eyeballs with mediocre stories and not wanting to get out of bed to come to this crappy office, I really have a good deal on my hands.

It's going to be a bit like going back to journalism college because I'll have a lot of studying and researching to do, but everyone knows that's the part I love best.

See you'll after I settle into the new place. Wish me luck.

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Like dogs and cats

The thing about Slumdog Millionaire that gripped me the most was that it was a good, long look at life below stairs. I mean, how much does a multiplex-frequenting, popcorn-chewing crowd know about toilet etiquette in the slums, or why slum kids are sharper than their English school-educated counterparts, at any age?

I didn't really agree with some parts, though. Till the end, I was a bit fuzzy about how Jamal does get into the game show, or why the riots needed to be shown in a stereotypical manner, when the rest of the film is anything but stereotypical. Yeah, it's a throwback to the 80's Bollywood with its flashes of idol worship ("Amitabhbachchan!") and you kind of guess what Maman must have done to Latika as she falls behind the moving train and can't get on fast enough. Yet, it's the kind of dizzying look at a world within the urban world of Mumbai city (and elsewhere) and which is, in fact, a bigger world than most of us realise.

How fitting that Sandy and I actually walked a short distance through an actual slum the same evening that we saw the film. It's not like I've never visited a slum before, but every time I do, it's like finding yet another labyrinth and a whole lot of open secrets.

And oh yes, Ayush Khedekar simply stole my heart. He's the kind of kid you want to cuddle because he's so cute and watch intently because he's so expressive. In fact, the littlest Jamal was the most effective.

Good background score, though not very earth-shaking. Makes me wonder again what the Academy is really looking for, but what the heck.