Showing posts from 2010

Bade Bhaiyyaji ki vani, badi suhaani

My column in Sunday Mid-day about Amitabh Bacchan's desire to copyright/patent his voice. There's no point asking how much money is enough - none of us know the answer to this question. But have we got the pitsiest public figures in the world or what?

television purgatory

My column on watching Bigg Boss - or rather not watching it.. with a mistake, poor Deepak Parasher got called Pankaj Parashar (although the latter may also feel he is a poor thing) Of course now there is a stay order, so I am still not saved but hanging somewhere in between

the problems of plenty

Today's Sunday Mid-day column, about t he pleasures of libraries , maybe the necessity. What I couldn't expand on in the column but which people can check out from here are two excellent online library ventures - they will send and pick books up! And this one just for comic books

Labbu's birthday

Today is my father's birthday and I am continuing my effort to write something about him as I decided to in 2008 and then managed to in 2009 and here I am now, writing in 2010, but at the 11th hour as he would have said :). When my father was small he had very fat cheeks. His cheeks were so fat that if you slapped one cheek the other used to wobble. So his two older sisters loved to call him over and then slap him, and laugh to see the other cheek wobble. This exemplifies the love of Punjabi women, as many will know. They really did love him, as I saw over the years - he was the apple of their eye - and accordingly they had their own petname for him: Labbu - from Laabh, a blessing luckily gotten. In all my years with him I never heard anyone actually call him that, although my aunt in Bombay would sometimes lovingly say: he is my favourite, I used to call him Labbu. My father always laughed and loved to tell this story of cheek slapping. He loved telling stories of his childh
Last to last week's Mid-day column - we had Divali holiday in between. A couple of my friend's fought with me about it because they felt I did not take a clear stand on what I felt about what Arundhati Roy said about Kashmir - and I felt a bit frustrated by that. I somehow think there are many types of solidarity - I suppose one is definitely for many to say the same thing at the same time. On the other hand I guess I am a bit more invested in trying to reach out to a more "regular" audience and also in the idea of debate which eventually is not about rights and wrongs but about the ability to listen. And I don't feel very interested in making declarations about matters of national importance (which is not to say that I don't think those declarations should be made) but interested in a rather more local voice and way. Still, it's an uncertain thought, only half formed in my head and I'm still wondering.

Don't look left, Don't look right - just head to the cinema

My friend Bela Negi's film is releasing this October 29th in Bombay, Delhi and Bangalore. Please do go see it and please spread the word around! Here's my column about it from last Sunday's Mid-day

The Young and the Restless

My column from last Sunday: Such a short journey for Aditya Thackeray and hopefully Meter Jammers now know that politics is a long haul


...not badnaam enough for me... Last Sunday's Mid-day column

vamps, victims and videotape

Have been shooting so not updating but pasted below a longer version of my Sunday Mid-day column from last week , which appears today in The Delhi Guardian which is apparently Delhi version of The Independent of London (go figure). They don't have a website yet. You can watch online the VAMP video as well as the documentary it responds to - Prostitutes of God VAMPS, VICTIMS AND VIDEOTAPE Recently a YouTube video called “VAMP Protests ‘Prostitutes of God” went viral. Produced by Vaishya Anyaya Mukti Parishad (VAMP) a sex worker rights organization in Sangli, it was a series of testimonies by people who had featured in the VBS documentary by Sarah Harris - “Prostitutes of God” - which explored sex work around the cult of Goddess Yellamma and linked to the Devdasi tradition. One after another, these people asked the filmmaker why she betrayed their trust by insulting their gods, misinterpreting their culture and portraying them as craven victims. VAMPs video is lo-fi a

let them eat cake

My column in Sunday mid-day for September 27, which resulted in some facebook argument between my friend who doesn't like any ambiguity on how we speak of Pakistan and terrorism. I don't like to dismiss these arguments even if I instinctively don't agree because I have a terror of falling into any formulaic secular elite attitude - as if it is self evident what is progressive and what isn't. But I also can't identify with any vehement patriotism. So not fully able to understand the merits of the other side. Anyway, in that vein, Shabana Azmi's slum cake makes an appearance in this column - but personally I have to say I don't feel as hugely outraged by it. I can see the intended joke but I think some of the annoyance is in response to the feeling that we are not exactly sure what the nature of Shabana Azmi's activism is, or what her politics are. I feel the cake joke reminds me certainly of the elites who are very sure they know what's good and

Aristotle for Facebook

Mid-day column for Sept. 19 According to a new Canadian study “most Facebook users have low self-esteem.” You couldn’t tell from the friendship requests. It’s easy to laugh at the breezy: “Amazing pic wanna be a frenz”, “hey aren’t you the one who wrote/made XYZ film?” and “hi send yr nmbr as I need your inputs for my class assgnmnt.” Low self-esteem cannot explain this jaunty entitlement – poor upbringing might. More complicated are silent strangers who know of you and have 10-100 “common friends”- but don’t introduce themselves, leaving you perplexed. Low esteem doesn’t explain this – excessive mother love might. One thing does explain much of it – a crisis of contemporary behaviour. Today, more than ever before, we come in contact with large numbers of people, of different backgrounds and levels of achievement, but have very little idea how to behave with others, because good manners are considered square and courtesy or formality is old fashioned – and no new fashion has ap

The Godard of Small Things

My column, unable to resist all puns on Godard, here - occasional silliness must be forgiven, friends ( I hope) :)

Daayen ya Baayen

I recently watched Bela Negi’s film Daayen ya Baayen (Right or Left), which for all the tedious verbiage that fills our newspapers and magazines about the new space for independently minded (since it's almost all produced out of Bollywood, it's not independently produced often) cinema in India, remains unreleased, and un-promoted on the festival circuit for unclear reasons. Without a doubt this comic drama is a labour of love and free from a lot of the generic quality that make films from India successful. It's a story in the mode of the droll, angular folksy narrative which is a tradition we haven't lately seen a rendition of, but the relief is in watching a film that does not feel puffed up and stiff with the desire to be seen as "world cinema" or "indie cinema" or whatever label is seen as cool. It's simply the film it wants to be. What makes the film work - apart from the fact that its funny - is that through its rich local detailing a

Meet the Parents

Here's a longer version of the column that appeared in Mid-day on Sunday Aug 29th MEET THE PARENTS As a non-parent, it was news to me that the PTA laws had been changed by the government because I did not even know that PTAs were governed by actual state laws. Going through them I’m not sure if I was impressed or alarmed at how much a parent could or should be involved in school activities. Now, parenting – and especially motherhood – are becoming so hallowed all over again, although in new yummy-mummy bottles - that a non-parent probably has no locus standii to be saying anything at all about this stuff. But I’m going to claim my rights as a former child and current sufferer of the results of all this hot-house parenting to wonder a bit about some things. The current noise, to recap, is over the fact that the state’s government has scrapped elections to PTAs and these will now be constituted by appointment. Naturally this leads to all sorts of concerns over whether th

Because Spacebar is Strict

Here is last week's column :) in Mid-day about the price of your soul.

The Modesty of Outrage

My column which appeared in Mid-day today. I'm not linking to the website because they made a mistake and added a line from Devdutt Pattanaik's column to the end of mine, which sort of creates a misreading of the whole piece! THE MODESTY OF OUTRAGE On August 3 Vibhuti Narain Rai resigned from the Jnanpith Selection Committee. Rai, a novelist, former IPS officer and VC of Wardha Hindi University created a brouhaha with his sexist remarks to Naya Gyanodaya magazine, roughly reported in the press as: “women writers in Hindi are in a race to prove who is the greater prostitute” and the entire “feminist discourse has been reduced to one about the body by over-rated, over-promoted women writers.” The permanently hyperventilating press sought and received counter-remarks, petitions were drafted and Rai resigned. The truth triumphed? I wonder. The tone of many reactions was strikingly similar to Rai’s own remarks. How dare he insult women writers by calling them prostitutes!

I'm lame like that

Yeah it's kind of sad, that I have to pretend to update my blog by changing the template - to whom am I pretending? What do you call this sort of lameness? Thanks but that was a rhetorical question... Anyway, all the un-posted Mid day columns. Along with the resolve that one day soon a post will be only for the blog (to whom am I making these promises. sigh...) An ode to mmmm-mithun , which has proved to be a v. popular column which shows how much people love him... and that everything is not about being a rich girl with a 2 crore clothes budget or chiknu boys with waxed chests (SRK not included) And a complaint about said folks who have gone missing And maybe in New York-London-Tokyo they discuss the weather, but in Bombay we kinda talk about the traffic And always, but always, about the movies and of course, men :) Ok that's a month's worth but my excuse must be that I have been working hard and traveling - last to Japan - about which something some day. This wil

How to Be an Action Hero

Mid-day column from last Sunday

and it's still raining, though not stories

Mid-day column for the last two weeks... it comes to an end soon - and the sub-editor is showing this by giving the last one a title they used for an earlier column already! Perhaps I should ask for that job... My friend P called up annoyed one day, scolding me for using a word she did not understand (au courant and pulchritude). I felt this was a good way for her to learn new words - but maybe the sub also does not understand some words and feels fed up and decided - yeh tou generally against normalcy type of character hai, so when in doubt let's just title the column Out of the Box. Anyhoo... Last Sunday's on Not Having The Number And the one before on Stories I'd Rather Not Have (or Longing for the Ones I'd Like To) Meanwhile here in Berlin it is summer. People have put TV sets out on the pavement and were watching the match on the street with beer in hand. I was told that if Germany lost the match yesterday, against Englad, there would be big, grown men walki

Love and Rain

I used to think writing a column is like a little craft exercise - each time I've written one, I set myself a different writing task and try to keep at it. I find I get good at one thing - but often it becomes a kind of vice, a tic if I'm not careful. Here are my last three Mid-day Columns On archiving and film preservation in India On the AOL "assassination attempt" And on Love, when it's not turned out as we wanted Now I realise it is more like being a different part of your personality - as today I went looking for a very old column I wrote for Mumbai Mirror in 2005. One could argue that that's life anyway, trying on a different part of your personality in different phases of your life...anyway the search for the column was prompted by the weather which has been promisingly cloudy but which refuses to rain.. HEAVY CLOUDS BUT NO EGGS After the exalted sweaty suffering, when it rained last weekend, what could be better than to pile into a rickshaw a

Continuing Paro-normalcy

My column today on burqua brouhahahas And last week on discussions about politics They persist in giving the dullest titles to the pieces - I'd like to think of good ones myself but mostly I'm just frantically screeching to a deadline. And anyway I'm sure they'd change it instantly from my frivolous ones to these extremely NCERT type ones. It's a losing game - if you write about political ideas (because it's not about politics as such the column) then people immediately become solemn and stodgy - and here you are trying to mix it up some and hoping to re-invest the discussion with some energy in your modest way. Maybe I'm delusional and the title writer is right. In which case it's a good thing I only have another 7 columns to go before we&

paro-normal Activity - 2

The bad thing about writing a column - you're constantly stressed out about what you'll write about. The good thing - you don' t have to be stressed about updating your blog. You can just link to This week's column Last week's column It's a good thing they rename the columns as the last one (now called Out of the Box) was formerly called Sex Sex Sex. It's my impression that columnists do not have to be like, imaginative. :)

Paro-normal Activity - 1

I've started writing a column in Sunday Mid-day. It's weekly. My flirtation with commitment you could say. It's a general opinion column so can be about anything. Here's the first one, appeared Sunday April 18 and it's sort of about Love and Justice

dil toot gaya deewana - so let's do the twist

My grandparents were both in the movies - but very differently. While my grandfather was very famous and is still remembered as an important part of film history, my grandmother is not someone people know of, nor did she do anything that anyone felt must definitely be noted. To a certain extent not even her own family. She acted in some films until the early 40s and subsequently became a producer, making about 6 films, the last in the 60s. By the time I came on the scene, she was just my somewhat glamorous and unconventional grandmother who had a cupboard full of wonderful saris and a painted tin box full of internationally acquired handkerchiefs - but more on that cupboard some other time. She played cards each afternoon, and the glowing colours of her plastic counters: pomegranate juice red, emerald green, the yellow of dal barfi, numbers written on them like varq on barfi in fact, seemed to be part of her very kaleidoscopic presence. Other ladies would come to play cards too - p


After a saga and a half and rather too much fullness of time, finally, a website is up. I have no idea why it does not show up in Google searches, but it doesn't. Does anyone know why? I mean it's been up for a couple weeks already. Anyway, here it is: Times change alright....