Ishq nazariya, Ishq Manmarziyaan

Yes, Manmarziyan is a typical love story. Yes it is a lot like Hum dil de chuke sanam set today. But it is so much more than that. This classic love saga is in Anurag Kashyap’s world of cinema set up in 2018 – so its not a surprise that it has a bunch of confused but hopelessly in love people trying to navigate through life.

So like every other film set in Kashyap’s world, this too is a world which is multi-dimensional so everyone has a good and not-so-good side and you see each of them in a different light through the film. I have to mention how fresh the palette of the film looks – this Kashyap film is a lot brighter than his regular gritty dramas and aptly so. You see a crazy loverboy Vicky who becomes vulnerable and lets go of Rumi only to regret it later, Robbie who is extremely aware and believes in fair play when it comes to Rumi despite knowing well about Vicky – before and after the marriage, Rumi who is the soul of this film – a girl caught between getting what she thinks she wants with Vicky and what she needs with Robbie, unable to give up on either.

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Vicky is the quintessential lover who jumps over balconies to meet Rumi. He’s the classic bad boy our mothers warned us about – wears flashy clothes, has tattoos and crazy haircut. He’s a child, not even a man child, just a child who cannot think of anything more than the next few hours. He goes beats up the guy who bought a rishta for Rumi yelling out ‘Aashiqo ki jaan loge kya!’ But he’s also the one who gives up on Rumi only to realize he can’t. He tries all tricks to move on but just can’t – he’s a true blue aashiq. He does the silliest things – stands outside Rumi’s house a day before her wedding, cleans himself up and attempts to confront Robbie.

Rumi puts it really well when she says, ‘Tu banda na bada sahi hai, par zimmedari ke naam pe hag deta hai’. Vicky’s love is all passion, just with no commitments – mostly the kind we’ve been told love is.

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Rumi is a true sherni, fierce, clear and unapologetic about her choices and willing to fight for them all the way. She’s ambitious, aware and absolutely magnetic. She chooses Fyaar over Pyaar, and she doesn’t shy away from it. She’s also consciously manipulating her family talking about her parents’ when she pleases but at the same time holds her grandfather with the utmost respect – she’s not the Sita type, she is a little the dayaan type. She’s confused, and its all complicated but she never masks it – she expresses and owns her confusion. Such is her strength. Rumi was so refreshing to watch – she’s not a typical hindi film heroine, her choice of profession is being a Hockey player, she rides a scooter around the city, her hair is not flying away flawlessly (not to mention the amazing natural curls, sits at the counter of their family shop. Rumi is just a modern Indian girl – she’s a mix of so many people I know and so much of what I want to be myself.

Rumi describes Vicky & her love as the kind which is never enough. But for me Rumi’s love is that, the more you get – the more you want.

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Robbie is the classic arrange marriage guy who’s husband material from the word go. Robbie is the obedient guy, your parents want you to marry. He wears a turban out of respect for his parents, he agrees to meet girls for marriage but clearly states his expectations from a partner. Rumi calls him Ram type because he’s exactly opposite of Vicky, he believes in commitment, old school love but doesn’t force his views on anyone, he loves Rumi for who she is. He gives her time to settle in, move on from Vicky without actually mentioning anything. All the times Rumi would go on her runs during their honeymoon, he said nothing. His silences spoke louder than both Rumi & Vicky’s words and actions. And so when he did burst, he truly had given up. But even then, he wasn’t bitter about Rumi.

Robbie’s love is tolerant, just like him.

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This is a film where you’re rooting for each of the characters, for everyone is correct in their own right. What Kashyap does to this stereotypical romance is magical, he brings the narrative alive by the simplifying the complexity of its characters. This is a film that personifies many a millennial love stories, which are simple yet complex, where nothing is right of wrong, black or white. Love today is grey.

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Another part of this film I absolutely love is its songs. All of them brilliant – fresh, meaningful (that’s difficult to find nowadays) and quite addictive.

For me the essence of this film is perfectly captured by this song:

Kala na safed hai,Kala na safed hai
Ishqe da rang yara, Grey walaa shade… ho…

Don’t think there is a better way to say it than this. Every character in this film is grey, not the evil black who would kill to get their love, not the pure white who will let go. Just many many shades of grey.

Zamana hai badla, Mohabbat bhi badli
Ghise pitey version nu, Maaro update… ho…

Of course aaj ke zamane ka love is about selfies, big gestures, social media PDA. But their love is not just that – its all this and more. Literally an updated version of old school love. So yes sex is normal, Rumi & Robbie share a great conversation over drinks on their own terrace, Vicky & Rumi are making out all over town, quite literally.

Ishq nazariya nazariya, Badle ne romance de tevar
Ishq nazariya nazariya, Kehnde ne ainu mutual favour
Ishq nazariya nazariya, Ishq nazariya

Love is only a change of perspective. How beautiful is this thought! Yes its romance, but is it just not a mutual favour? A favour two people do for each other when in love – like when Rumi attempts cooking Robbie’s favourite pakode, when Robbie attempts to strike a conversation about wild life, to get Rumi’s attention; when Vicky dances around Rumi all through the city to get her to smile

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Ghaltiyan je ho vi jaan kadi, Sorry’aan bolan di lodh nahin
Sohna hove pyaar tabhi, Ubhrengey rang sabhi
Sohna hove pyaar tabhi..

Oh yes. Love is not about not making mistakes. Its about being able to look past them. All three of them give each other more than one chance despite knowing of the terrible things they’ve done to them. That’s love.

Ae Logic Na Samajh Paandi, Tassali Na Aenu Aandi
Tassali Na… Aenu Aandi
Ae Gash Khaandi Ghazab Dhaandi
Seyappe Nitt Nave Paandi
Seyappe Nitt Nave Paandi

Love understands no logic, it doesn’t understand giving up. All it wants is to newer experiences, newer troubles, newer surprises. All three characters never once compromise on what they want – they believe in going all the way for what their heart desires on that particular day.

Khurdra Sa Craze Hai Khurdra Sa Craze Hai
Isaqey Da Mood Yaraa Thodha Angrez Ho

Love is crazy, love is not easy, love is moody. Love makes you do foolish silly things. Love makes Vicky & Rumi elope, Love makes Robbie still have Rumi all over his mind when he’s meeting another prospect for marriage, Love makes Rumi run back home just to catch a glimpse of Robbie

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Kushtiyaan Meethiyaan Ho Jaayen Jabhi
Tasty Sa Flavour Aa Jaaye Jabhi

Love is truly delightful when its not all flossy, all facets and colors truly come alive when there are disagreements. Their love is more salty than sweet.

Tassali Na Aenu Aandi, Ubhrengey Rang Sabhi
Sohna Hovey Pyaar Tabhi, Ubhrengey Rang Sabhi…

Despite love bringing alive all the colors in people, love at the end itself is actually grey. Not a rainbow, not red hot passionate, not a bright happy yellow, not the flashy pink. Its just a mix of all this – just shades of Grey. Just like Rumi, Vicky & Robbie

Grey Walaa Shade, Grey Walaa Shade…

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Our obsession with the idea of love

One thing about our world, for sure is that we are in love with the idea of love. So, a country where love marriages are dejected, we are in love with love stories we see in Bollywood films (read a tweet on this and started this thought thread). The OTT stories of two strangers meeting, hating each other, then falling in love, (insert any dramatic scenario that could add another 20-30 mins to the film) and finally living happily ever after. You’d believe that an industry that thrives on this formula should make the most sense about ‘love’. But that’s precisely whats wrong with our culture and why we abstain from love marriages. Because through generations of Bollywood films we’re told that love happens at first sight, has songs playing in the background, is for the rebellious lot, and majorly means physical intimacy (kissing and sex as words also might get banned in the near future, so just sticking to the basics). Is what we see in films really love?

Love is more a state of mind than just a feeling

There are few people in our lives who make us feel good, motivate us even if they say nothing. These are the people we feel, we love! Some of these are a part of our family; some are friends while some become romantic interests. The trickiest of all the loves’ is the romantic love. From my experiences, the romantic love, is when we find the right balance of comfort, understanding, acceptance, motivation, trust and belief. Those are lot of words to make sense of but that’s what Love is!

And these words are as difficult to get to life. That’s where our Bollywood love stories fall, very few of our films are able to do justice to this idea of love – get all the above emotions to life and yet be a ‘love story’. But, the few films that do it right are an exception to Bollywood’s love formula. These are films that have told us the same story in a different way, in a way that it’s relatable and real. And of course, a story is only as good as its story teller, the director. They’ve told us the stories in such a real way as if it were their own and you’d feel that it’s almost like your own story. They make it so real that it feels unreal 🙂

Ayan Mukherjee – captures our generations’ struggles between non-existence, ambitions and commitment

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Look at Wake up Sid, the way both Sid (Ranbir) and Ayesha (Konkona) despite being so strikingly different from each other in every aspect get the best out of each other and grow individually through the bond they share.

That’s Ayan Mukherji, a story teller who tells us that love is all about motivation, motivating each other to grow and do what you’d do best!

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Looking at Ayan’s other film – Yeh Jawani hai Deewani, Bunny (Ranbir) and Naina (Deepika) are a perfect example of how comfort and understanding can nurture the most beautiful relationship between two polarised individuals. A bond that stays true over years. Only because Naina had long accepted the differences between Bunny and her, she could understand him better.

That’s love, when you look out for each other even if it means letting that person you love, go!

The Akhtar siblings – how acceptance and rejection from anyone can equally change your life, if you give it a chance

While at it, I’d also like to mention a couple of offbeat examples from the Akhtar siblings’ films.

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We might remember Dil Chahta Hai for many things, but for me, of all 3 stories the most powerful was the comfort between Tara (Dimple Kapadia) and Sid (Akshaye Khanna). The film tells us that there’s nothing right or wrong about whom you fall in love with. Their bond is special, though the love might be one-sided but the companionship and care is common and what makes it work.

That’s love. It’s about what both of you get from each other – what you share. And that’s unique only to the two of you.

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Another from Farhan’s film Lakshya is the way Romi (Preity), a career oriented woman is in love with someone who almost aimless in life. Her disbelief is what pushes Karan (Hrithik) a notch further when he gives up on the first and only decision he’s ever made in his life.

That’s love. When the person who really loves you pushes you further to pursue his goal in life and achieve it.

Coming to Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Zoya Akhtar’s portrayal of Laila (Katrina) and Arjun’s (Hrithik) love story is almost surreal. They fall in love because of the intrigue and how she can make him experience something he never thought existed. And how one experience turns his world upside down.

That’s love. When you experience something special that might not mean the world at that moment but would change your world forever.

Imtiaz Ali – you find love when you find yourself truly.

I’m keeping the best for the last. Imtiaz Ali. He, his storytelling coupled with his interpretation of love supersedes everything I’ve seen or even felt till now.

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Look at Jab we Met, Aditya (Shahid) is on a suicidal trip and he finds love in the most unlikely places – a fellow loudmouth passenger who is persistent on helping him, come what may. What follows is a rollercoaster which lead to Adi finding himself – what he really wants to do, who he is and this one experience redefines his ideologies in life – about work, love and people in general. He’s so affected by Geet (Kareena) that he actually starts thinking like her and it helps him solve the worse of his problems. He’s at so much ease with himself that when he finds Geet at her worst, a role reversal of sorts happens and he helps her stand up again, just the way she did for him.

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With Highway, look at Mahabeer (Randeep) and Veera (Alia), a story that doesn’t even qualify as ‘love’ as per normal standards. The comfort that Veera finds in chaos, in Mahabeer’s company is something which not many can understand. The peace Veera attains in Mahabeer’s world which has no restrictions, lets her into a never-seen-before side to herself. She experiences not only the beauty of nature, but also enjoys freedom in bondage. Freedom that was only an illusion until she had met Mahabeer. While for Mahabeer, Veera’s naivety pushes him closer to his own reality, his experiences from childhood come alive and he faces what he was running away from. Both of them together, almost in a way complete the void in each other’s lives, a void that did not exist in their real worlds, but only in their souls.

That’s love. When you just complete the picture for the other person. A picture which might look like a disaster to the naked eye, but is a treasure in reality

The most complex of all these stories – the Tamasha that was Ved and Tara. I remember the early definitions of a word we learnt in science – catalyst. Something that affects the reaction between elements without itself participating. In scientific terms it did help me sail through the next couple of years but Tamasha is when I truly understand the meaning of the word to the fullest.

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Tara comes like that surprise element in Ved’s life who so deeply affects the reaction that’s his life that neither of them realize it. And that’s the whole ‘Tamasha’ – drama. I would’ve loved to decode the whole film frame by frame but I’d just stick to the essence of it.

Let’s look at Ved, he could be any of us. Or rather all of us have a part of him within us. A part who wanted to be something else, but is stuck in the monotony of mediocrity. A part who has a dream plan but the plan looks as dreamy as anything else. A part who wants to be true to the reflection of what people see you as. A part who is longing to live the dream even if it be for just a couple of days.

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The story goes like the same old stories do – Ved takes a tour to Corsica where he meets Tara but they meet as Don and Mona darling, an attempt to live his thoughts, to be someone else – everyday. That’s Ved, he’s so complex that his simplicity and his ‘decency’ becomes a façade to hide those complexities.

Tara on the other hand while enjoys the bit that happens for a week but cannot resist the magnetic charm that Don leaves on her for the following four years. She, being the woman who clearly calls her own shots, is stuck at the mercy of just the thought of meeting Don again and what it could’ve been. Such was the impact of Ved on her life that she could never not think of him. She finally stalks him in Delhi and meets him. There are sparks from both sides again but that’s shortlived because now she meets Ved who’s nothing like the Don she fell for.

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That’s Tara, she knows what she wants and wouldn’t settle for anything less. That said, she isn’t impassionate. She fights for it and tries to help Ved through his turmoil, but doesn’t pile on. She leaves him on his own when it’s needed. She understands the difficult phase Ved’s going through and gives him the space he needs. But never, does she give up on him.

Tara’s honesty not just breaks Ved’s heart – it breaks into what he’s been trying to hide since years, even from himself. It opens up a tsunami of emotional turmoil where Ved ends up losing his job and being looked upon as insane. That state is Ved fighting himself to be what he isn’t. He doesn’t want to believe that Tara who met him only for a week could know him better than anyone else. But that’s what Love can do to you.

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Through a wonderful screenplay with flashbacks from Ved’s childhood dominated with stories from Fakir Baba and his fight with math and grades, Imtiaz brings us a Ved who is actually looking for solution from the Fakir, or being what the world thinks he is. But what the Fakir had been trying to tell him through endless stories is something he doesn’t realize until he hears it from him – Dil Mein Heer liye, or heer khoje virane mein? This one thought makes him comes to terms with himself. And more than that the courage to be himself.

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Goes on to set the record straight for everyone, his dad, himself and Tara. What’s fascinating about Ved is how he meets people on his journey who are going through the same dilemma – the rickshaw driver, and helps him live his dream in whatever little way possible. His theatrics start, like the fakir, below a tree and move on to a full audience in an audi. Once you follow your dream, live up to the fullest.

One might think its Ved story alone and Tara is just a mere catalyst to his story. But I beg to differ, its Tara’s journey as much as Ved’s. The more Tara pushes him, the more she finds what she really is looking for. She’s not really looking for Don. She’s looking for the magic that existed between Don and Mona and get it to work between Ved and Tara. This story could be a happy one only because both Ved and Tara both made efforts from each end to bridge the gap and that’s how Don and Tara and found middle ground at Don Returns and Mata Hari.

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That’s love. When someone who really loves you doesn’t try to change you, but pushes you to be the best you. And that quest makes them also a better person.

With an overdose of Wake up Sid, Yeh Jawani hai Deewani, Dil Chahta Hai, Lakshya, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Jab we Met, Highway and more recently the Tamasha hangover, one thing that stays is:

The best love stories are not about love alone! When you find yourself, love will find you 🙂

 

 

Confessions of an Overthinker

Just recently, I came across a very interesting article about how ‘Overthinkers are actually creative geniuses’! *win*. As lame as it may sound, it gave me enough guts to revisit this long impending article and finally that the creative genius in me (pun intended) will finish it off. (It started off as something else and is now something completely different – such is the power of Overthinking)

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Having entered the not-so-better part of my 20’s, I’ve had a number of revelations about myself – Who I really am, what I’d want to be, who are the people I’d want to be around. To be honest, a lot has been going on in the already overthinking mind. And oh boy, there is so much more to (over) think about! At the onset, let me make the premise clear – I’m just trying to understand why does one overthink? Where does this come from? It essentially comes from a very simple human trait – to make people happy.

This article is one which most definitely needs the typical Bollywood references, I love to write on. This one happens to be one of my favourite ones too. Siddharth Malhotra’s character Nikhil from Hasee toh Phasee demonstrates exactly what goes on in an overthinking brain. In an instant you might ridicule the example but read through this and you’ll know why he almost epitomizes an overthinker (my species of overthinker)

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Nikhil is born in a home where everyone is an over achiever by normal standards, and he sticks out because he’s an under performer. In a family of Retired Officers and Government Officers, he’s an event manager trying to make it big. Just when you begin to imagine the pressures, you figure out he’s survived a 7 year long relationship (a lot of wear & tear) with a television starlet – Adah Sharma’s Karishma. Just when you’re feeling bad for the chap, you realize that they’re set to get married in a week’s time. And there’s only but one condition for the alliance. That Nikhil should have 5 Cr in his account before the wedding. No No. It’s not dowry the other way around. It’s for a ‘secured’ future.

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(A little insight into Karishma’s family, a hardcore gujju ghar with an empire set on a Saree Shop operating in the mecca of shopping in Mumbai – Bhuleshwar. The family has 4 daughters (that’s the count I got on watching the film the 5 times I did) and Karishma happens to be the fourth with a fifth sister (Parineeti’s Meeta) who’s absconding since 7 years with no mention whatsoever. The Gujju family is not keen on the alliance to go through as Karishma’s father is unsure about Nikhil’s future. In one scene, the father taunts him on how his daughter is the one who’s going to be running the house)

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Coming back to Nikhil, he’s constantly being treated as someone who is incapable of handling almost anything. His girlfriend-now-fiancé almost often just ‘uses’ him when she wants to get something done – including trying to hide her own sister without actually telling him who & why. Even when he tries to do his best with organizing a special surprise for her. She flips out on seeing her sister and almost abandons him on coming back late. Like, who gives work to someone and complains about the same being a hindrance?! You’re right. That’s what girlfriends do (including me). Her father almost writes him off comparing him to his other son-in-laws who are good-for-nothing and have been breeding on his money. But Nikhil is calm all this while – handling his family, her sister, her family, her mood everything that has to do with ‘her’ happiness almost forgetting what he wants. And mind you – Karishma is not only a television starlet for namesake, she actually believes in the drama & dhamkibaazi. She constantly keeps telling Nikhil that she’d break-up with him, almost every two months if he doesn’t do something the way she wants. And Nikhil always ends up doing it the way she want it.

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Why would you do this?

Now you’d ask why? Because he doesn’t want to be the one who breaks up with people. He’s someone who wants to be good, one who adjusts. Because he believes that “Break-up karna easy hai, relation maintain karna difficult”. He never wants to be the one who hurts people even if it means being hurt himself. He’s ready to sacrifice his own love only to sustain a relationship which he’s in only because it was 7 years that they’d been in it.

The philosophy with which overthinkers live is that if you work through it, everything is possible. Nothing is impossible. On the surface, they may come across as calm and naïve but there’s a lot more going on in their minds. The inner chaos is what puts them apart from the rest. These are the silent ones who come up with the bizzare-st ideas with an execution & contingency plans in place. That’s the kind of thinking that one entails.

Where does the overthinking picture?

His overthinking stems at every minute he picks a side. He wants to become an IPS officer but is doing Events as there’s immense pressure on him to live up to the high standards set upon him by his family. This is how most overthinkers give up on their dreams thinking of how it may land wrong.

He was going through a wedding he didn’t want to be a part of. Because he didn’t want to hurt anyone but himself, he was ready to let go off his love to stay true his commitment. That’s how overthinkers are – words are more important than feelings, always. Once something has been committed – it has to be done. There’s no other way ever.

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Overthinkers are basically people who think about a situation in 10,000 possible ways and routes of how anything as basic as your morning tea could go wrong. But that also makes them impeccable when it comes to their work. They would never settle for anything substandard – they would always strive & keep striving to make something better than its current form.

Taking from the movie, these species need a wild disruption to listen to their heart. Nikhil needed a Meeta to let hi, hear his own heart and follow it. For me the disruption was a TEDtalk a friend shared which prompted me to share my thoughts. But only if I got enough disruptions in the other walks of my life.

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Obviously, it’s taken me a long time – writing, rewriting – editing, re-editing before I’m publishing this. 😉 And believe me, I still think this could make much more sense than this.

P.S.: I love this movie for a lot of other things but for now, the best is what you read. 🙂

Let’s talk!

Let’s talk – The most difficult 2 words in the world! As a renowned Ad guru put it in one of his interviews, these two words could make the world’s biggest problem seem like nothing. Only if one mustered the courage to say them!

Yes. The key here is courage. Courage to face the problem or actually believe there IS a problem. Be ready for its possible repercussions and fight over its arguments. The key lies in understanding that this could make or break it. And if it could then it better be worth it!

Ever wonder how you make friends?

Ever wonder what gets you cracking at an interview for your desired job?

Ever wonder what you actually fall in love with?

Ever wonder what could actually solve the India-Pakistan issue?

All of these things begin (can begin) with a very simple idea – Let’s talk.

That’s the power of those two words. I recently was a part of a very interesting exercise undertaken by a leading podcast group All India Backchod who actually effectively brought to life what effect these two words could have. They got strangers from Indian and Pakistan to talk to each other – not about Politics, not about Kashmir and not even about Cricket – Just talk about whatever you can. The entire experience was enlightening, to say the least. Never did I imagine that we could actually have a conversation on anything, plus it could be so cordial and pleasant. I felt better the entire week after that, almost feeling as if I contributed to solving it between the two countries. And the reaction from the other end was 10x my own. The point being, apart from stating (for the record) that all of it was real and organic, it was very very simple. Just pick up the phone and talk about whatever you feel right. The conversation just needs to begin, the rest falls in place on its own!

Here’s a link to the video to understand this better:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FwC1cSIsl8A&list=PLF05eR2VJLBk32Us90iz5hdFeEwosUnaj  

Now, you might wonder what’s the point here! Where’s this leading to! You can’t solve national issues right? Precisely! You don’t have to solve a national issue.

This is to actually prevent any issue at all before it really becomes an ISSUE.

For the sake of simplification, taking my all-time favorite references from the bank of unnecessarily complicated life stories of Bollywood characters!

For the lack of a better example (argh) let’s take the movie, Student of the year

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The bonding between Siddharth and Varun’s characters was impeccable irrespective of their backgrounds and interests. But their equations still worsened, due to reasons best known to Karan Johar (read: launching Alia Bhatt!) Siddharth and Varun could have not had the issues they created, if they would have just spoken to each other. All that was needed was egos on the side and just TALK. Like they did eventually in the end – when they had forever ruined the reputation of the school’s only followed tradition and manage to kill the principal out of the guilt, let alone the stupid madness that the rest of the clan followed.

Simple right?

What happens in Wake up Sid between Sid and Rishi who are best friends is just the exact thing – Just talk and in minutes the problem wouldn’t even exist anymore.

It would be unfair if I don’t cite YJHD. All Aditya and Ranbir had to do was talk and get it out. And all the anguish that had built up in years, just vanished.

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You might think but that’s between friends and is understood. But that proves nothing at all.

Let’s see what these words can do between strangers. It could mean a start to a new association, which has the potential to change both the people’s world. Only if you wouldn’t have had those first two conversations with certain people, assuming they are not your type or you wouldn’t click – you wouldn’t even have half the no. of friends you have, you would never find your soul mate because you never really tried!

Let me cite a few examples from my recent favorite movies

In Highway, if Alia didn’t have an open mind to strike a conversation with Randeep, she would have never found her inner self – the journey which eventually became a self-exploration would’ve been a journey of self-pity and destruction with negativity as the only feeling that she would’ve been left with. (There’s tons more I want to write about this film, but for now the focus is here)

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On similar lines, if Rani didn’t have the guts to talk to Lakshmi or Alexander or Vijay himself for the matter, she would’ve been a bechari dukhyari ladki in the Indian vocabulary.

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Most wars in the history were also solved by these words only! Most of us just have to deal with our quarter life crisis more correctly.

 

P.S.: Examples between strangers were about girls because girls are generally open-minded and more forgiving to everything. And examples about friends’ cited were between guys, because they have an uncanny talent of not opening up about things that mean something to them.

And of course, I’ve chosen them for a purpose. So, if you feel this is directed towards you – you’re right! 🙂

Ek ladka aur ek ladki kabhi dost nahi ban sakte

It was just another Saturday, when I was lazing around flipping channels on my TV. And I happened to hear this epic dialogue from the blockbuster ‘Maine Pyar Kiya’. Though I ended up watching something else, Mohnish Bahl kept reciting this line in my head.

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I thought to myself, “Seriously now, that’s not true. This film is more than 2 decades old (in fact precisely as old as me). Maybe it was true back then but now it’s not. Look at me; I have more male friends than females. And we’re only friends!”

Ideally it should have been over at that. But unconsciously it was running in my head. So I decided to sit and crack this! Was it true? Even 25 years later? In the 21st century?  That too in a developing country like ours?

Ohh, yes! India. I got a starting point.

Point 1: We live in India

So we’re a developing country. A near decent no. of women in the urban areas now work neck to neck with the male counterparts. And hence, the interactions are much healthier and so they are bound to become friends. A boy and girl, man and woman become friends like just the rest.

Just when we apply this equation practically it doesn’t seem to work. People approve of a man and woman being together only if the ‘relationship’ is defined as either a brother or a lover. There’s no space for a friend. Never.

This can be tested with your interactions between your parents. For instance, you interact with a particular male colleague/ classmate more than the rest. A volley of questions about the history and geographical roots of the person shall be asked, and verified. You’d be indirectly asked why you’re meeting him more often.

Solution: Tell them he is seeing someone and treats you more like a friend to help him out.

They’d be a lot more relaxed. Because now your ‘friend’ is already see in the ‘bro-zone’ (in their heads, of course). And the faith in you shall be restored.

Which brings me to Point 2: A recently caught up word – friendzone

Your parents’ bro-zone in between friends is called friendzone. This is what happened between Rahul & Anjali in Kuch kuch hota hai. Kajol got friendzoned, because Shahrukh could only get “But she’s your best friend yaar” : )

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Looking back at my experiences, I tried to identify this upcoming phenomenon called “friendzone”. And this is what it felt like in real life.

In most friendships between opposite sexes, over time either of the two develops feelings for the other. These feelings need not be “love” as largely assumed. These are just likings. Liking to spend time with the person; Going that extra mile for that person. Wanting to make sure the person is hale and hearty. These are the feelings. Sometimes though they are not only restricted to these. That’s where the ‘friendzone’ gets into the picture. One of the most influencing factors in this is the extras in your life who push you around into believing that spending time with a friend of the opposite sex is “love”. And that’s where we start to believe its love and complexities start. Because of course, being only friends for the basic reasons is ruled out.

And you get friendzoned. Your chances of a potential next step are ignored and you will be looked through. And of course as the term suggests, you’d be forever be stuck in the ‘friend’ ‘zone’

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Why does it reach this stage? Because we complicate simple things.  Only If Kajol would have mustered the courage to share her feelings, the movie could have been cut short and we would have been spared off many things!

Point 3: Friendship is the base of every other relationship.

Yes. Kuch kuch hota hai did help me through this also. Shahrukh’s “Agar vo meri sabse achi dost nahi ban sakti, toh vo mera pyar nahi ban sakti” did make a lot of sense.

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This is my version of the whole thing. It may or may not be applicable to all. But I’m more than sure it’ll be applicable to most people in their mid-twenties’ who are facing these issues and understand its impacts much better.

Why do we make friends?

I remember the line from my sociology books “Man is a social animal”. And this animal needs animals like himself to survive. And so we make friends so that we belong to a certain ‘group’ and represent a certain set of thoughts endorsed by his/her fellow group mates who are called “Friends”

Basic criteria’s we generally have to make friends

Generally we make friend’s basis the kind of choices they have. Most of your friends will have atleast 3-4 strong common points and hence you guys mingle better.

Friendship is thus most definitely the base of every next step that needs to be taken – You make him a brother, boyfriend or just ignore the person. You need to be friends with him first.

So it’s just that. And most often should be only that. Between all kinds of people – be it any gender.

Point 4: The science behind it

Ah, this is the fun part. Like Rahul & Nisha from Dil toh Pagal hai. Shahrukh & Karishma’s tuning was pitch perfect. But even there poor Nisha got friendzoned.

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Why is it that friendship between a guy and a girl is better? Obviously there’s a lot more to it than only the run of the mill theories like – Its lesser drama, less bitching and of course more fun (all of which is cent percent true). But there’s more to it than what meets the eye.

When it comes to friendship between a guy and a girl, all criteria’s to become friend remain the same. What changes but is the elicit response to the same things. If both of you like Bollywood films, you’ll have extreme set of reasoning to like the same thing. This extremeness is a fundamental difference between the way you are wired and way you think. History says, “Opposites attract” and yes they totally do. That’s why a boy & a girl connect much better on the same topics of liking despite strikingly opposite reasons. That’s where a bond is created and the friendship is set apart from the rest.

Apart from this, the tension of being judged is far less. As both of you know each other well enough and their choices. Unlike between girls, it’s far less complicated. You can call a spade a spade and be sure it wouldn’t be a topic of discussion once you leave. Of course, you’ll become one of them and at a lot of instances, feel the need to remind them about you being a girl.

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Contrary to popular belief, the emotional impact is far greater than between girls. It is very simple, either you connect or you don’t. And if you don’t you don’t have to fake it. And so when you have a guy friend who is close to you, he’ll know exactly what must be disturbing you t what point because he can see what you cannot. He can look at things in ways you cannot. I can vouch for this, if you really need a person to stand by you through thick & thin. Make sure it’s of the opposite sex.

Like Aditi in Yeh Jawani hai Deewani said, “Kuch logo ke saath sirf waqt bitakar hi sab thik ho jata hai”. That’s where they fit in.

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Point 5: So where’s the issue? And what’s the solution?

The solution is in one of my previous mentions. Nisha from Dil toh pagal hai is the solution. She faced the problem with all she had. And not only she saved a friend for life but also helped sort out Rahul’s life.

The issue is when the basic rules of friendship are compromised for. When the very reasons why it was fun to share your real feelings, your real problems becomes the real issue. When you start thinking before sharing, there’s a relationship you’ll compromise. This comes straight from personal experiences. You can save a friendship without being friendzoned or friendzoning somebody by just following one simple funda – Honesty & Transparency. If you trust the other person enough all you need is to be clear about everything you feel & think and life will be simpler. What is meant to be will anyway fall in place irrespective of what you want.

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And one of the reasons is also our films – I do not have any Bollywood example to support my case here. All our films are about Love, none about friendship. The ones that come the closest are about Bro-mance and nothing else. Guess, it’s time we evolve.

Only if it was as simple to follow as it was to arrive at this, I would have far more friends than I currently have! Having made these mistakes over the last 20 odd years, I still have managed to have some friends with whom I can be myself – Needless to say they are mostly guys! And my buddies! And they are not FRIENDZONED. (Most of us are each others’ potential backups 😉 Officially!)

Decoding how to make “Yeh Jawani (hai) Deewani”

Decoding how to make “Yeh Jawani (hai) Deewani”

This article is a weird mix of a wannabe Planners approach to watching movie – be prepared for some clustering of the “TG” basis different elements.

People my age can be easily divided into 2 segments
People who enjoy Bollywood flicks and people who don’t.

I very proudly belong to the former and urge all others who belong to the clan to read this.

Statutory Warning: Since this comes from a highly involved Bollywood buff, certain logical elements have been conveniently ignored (It’s only fair to judge the films basis how they are made). Please go ahead and read keeping the Bollywood lens on!

Let’s start with some hard-hitting facts. From the people who like Bollywood flicks, there are many (MANY) who are obsessively star struck. These people watch films for the stars it has. They more often than not do not even bother about the subject of the film and spend a good fortune on watching films which is a solid explanation for the humungous box office collections the films boasts of.

I like to believe I belong to the opposite of these people, who watch Bollywood films for the more real stuff with a hint of drama, wit, sometimes an interesting subject, the performers. The overarching thought though is definitely to entertain oneself and yes of course to entertain oneself. But not through the stars for sure.

The film I start my experiment with is Ayan Mukherji’s second outing as a director “Yeh Jawani hai Deewani”

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When I watched the trailers of this film, I was sure the star struck fanatics will definitely flock the theatres for the casting coup Ayan Mukherji had managed by getting Ranbir Kapoor & Deepika Padukone to act together, not to forget the trailer ending with Deepika sobbing ‘Mujhe tumse pyar ho jaega, phir se’. The opening weekend figures were already alarming so half the battle was won then and there. I pushed my plan to watch the film to the 3rd week from its release (still contemplating whether should I watch it in the theatre). And even when I did watch it, I wasn’t particularly impressed. Someone who made Wake up Sid, made this! Why? Is the Box Office lure beyond your innate sensibilities? I did like the film in bits and parts but it wasn’t anywhere close to my favourites.

But my perspective began to change when I happened to watch this movie for the 5th time; it was slowly growing on me. This film was not about one particular characters life story, like Wake up Sid was, it was every character’s story. And looking at each one closely (each time I watched the film) made me realize how deep the film really was. Though not at par with Siddy, Bunny did manage to shake our heads.

Here’s my take of each one:

Bunny – Kabir Thapar (Ranbir Kapoor)

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A boy from a modest background with big dreams!
Simple things like working as an Intern to fetch himself money for the trip he’s been longing for – go on to set his seriousness towards his dream. He has a fancy nick name which sets him apart from his middle class name-values. His equation with his dad which is like a friend and step-mom only go on to fuel his desire to follow his heart. He doesn’t want to hurt his dad, even if it means giving up on his dream. Such was the balance he wished to keep between his life and his dad’s expectation.

He lives for his friends – can go to any extent to make sure they do well, his offering monetary assistance to Avi time and again. But has a lot in his mind which he doesn’t express with his close buds also – something most of us go through, like us he also finds that one person with whom he can say all that he has in mind… A friend who pushes the basic rules of friendship, someone who can go that extra mile, hear you out without asking why.

His equation with Avi and Aditi was fun; they are always there for each other and very possessive about each other. As the distance increases, the bond loosens but not the love and care. He is averse of relationships, believes they tie you down. As he puts it, ‘Dal chawal for 50 yrs till u die.’ He’s a loner on the inside who wants no strings attached. And hence is ignorant of the fact the bond he shares with Naina is special and what she feels.  ‘Tu sahi nahi hai, bas mujhse bohot alag hai’ aptly summarizes their equation.

Like most situations in real life too, the realization seeps in when a third person enters and his possessiveness takes over. The fact that he has to choose between his dream job and the girl he loves is a fantastic capture of every relationship’s dilemma. The end couldn’t have been better when he’s not giving up on his dream, but wishes to live his dream with the girl he loves. As cheesy as it may sound, but this is for the Bunny within each of us.
‘Mai bhagna chahta hu, girna bhi chahta hu, bas rukna nahi chahta’

Naina Talwar (Deepika Padukone)

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Naina is a typical first bencher from school for who rules, ideals and therefore studies are the only important things. With not many friends, there’s no excitement in her life and studying medicine only adds to the monotony. But truly she’s someone who is spirited, competitive and adventurous – only that all of this is unexplored and not expected of her.

The fact that she heads to a trip impulsively all on her own just adds quirkiness to her character. She knows she’s a misfit and is very conscious of it; she is carrying her books at the trip. Though she wants to belong, she’s apprehensive of what people think of her and not abiding by her set of ‘life rules’ is a big deal! She finds support from Bunny who makes her comfortable with herself. In fact he reassures her it’s more difficult being the way she is – and the rest are mediocre.

She’s a smart girl who is very observant of everyone around her – be it Bunny, the Chiclets or Aditi’s feelings for Avi. Her love for challenges and the adventurous streak slips in with the fight at the bazar and is even more evident when she sets to trek the topmost point. The monologue there actually adds depth to her character showing how she will explore and be herself if she’s comfortable with you.

Within the course of the trip, she grows as a person and is comfortable in her own skin. The fact that she doesn’t confess her love for Bunny on learning his Chicago plans, gives a feeling that most of us have gone through at some or the other point – the feeling of letting go someone you love without even that person knowing (Oh the teens!). But of course over time you realize that this can be done only if you are strong and really love that person. She let go of Bunny because she knew his dream is important for him!

Naina’s competitiveness comes through every argument she has with Bunny – be it at the trek where she wants to be first, the Sangeet performance or the Jugal bandi while site seeing. She thoroughly believes in the values she has and will not give up or give in to something she doesn’t believe in.

While emotionally she’s vulnerable – spending time with Bunny just proves that her feelings never really died down.

Adi – Aditi (Kalki Koechlin)

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Aditi is that one friend we all have who is a total tomboy so much so that she’s always included with the guys. But deep inside she is a girl, and a very sensitive one at that. Her tomboy, care-a-damn attitude is a camouflage for her feelings which do not suit her image.

She’s possessive about her friends – the fight that she takes up at the bazar and the jealous encounters with Avi and the chicklets are instances.  She believes if they’re together they can fight anything. Her sensitive side is at display with her reaction to Bunny’s Chicago trip. She’s practical but only for the outer world. She’s someone who genuinely gels with people who she likes. From the first meeting with Naina at the super-bazar to the trip and thereon shows how she understands that Naina is a different person but still goes on to become a best friend.

In her mind, she’s in a relationship with her best friend Avi. Things like picking her up for the trip, getting his favourite sandwiches are her expressions of love. But this is only in her world. Avi doesn’t seem to even understand it, forget reciprocating it.

Her maturity is at clear display when she transforms from the boyish Adi to the svelte Aditi with long tresses. From someone who responds with an ‘obvio’ on being asked about love marriage to someone who actually happily settles for an arranged marriage with someone who is exactly opposite of her, this is one transformation which is definite in each of our lifetimes.

You ultimately understand Aditi clearly when she tells Bunny how Taran is perfect for her, how she’s happy with him, herself with him. A first of sorts confrontation about Avi to Bunny, only substantiates their friendship as strong and Aditi as someone who has genuinely grown as a person.

Avi – (Aditya Roy Kapoor)

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He’s a ‘charsi’ as we call them in Bombay. From betting, daaru and girls he can’t get enough of life with only friendship being above and within all these. He’s extremely aware of his habits and ‘khuddaar’ in many ways – he won’t take money from Bunny – because it’s his hard earned money. And he’s a man! There’s a subtle man to man competition that’s between Bunny and him. Both being the leaders of each group for the trek or he wanting to apply for the Chicago scholarship because Bunny had.

He loves his friends – they’re his world. He wants to move in with Bunny once they finish college and live all his fantasies ‘like the TV series FRIENDS’. The trio is quite his lifeline in many ways as he always falls back on them. But in Aditi’s case, he fails to realize her feelings because friendship is all that he can see.

Even 8 years later, his love for alcohol, betting and cards is at clear display with him gulping down alcohol almost in every frame of the wedding sequence, his bill being sky rocket and of course the cards and poker. His addiction leads to his business also not working out well. What also stays is his love for his friends which for Aditi is displayed by constantly warning her that getting married is a wrong decision and with Bunny through the outrage for him not being in touch over the years. He is emotionally challenged with a not-so-good equation with his father also. But he’s a boy at heart who loves bunny. Though on the face of it, he shows disinterest in bunny’s work. He’s closely followed his work and remembers each episode. Avi is like most guys who don’t know how to express.

However broke he might be, his khuddari is evident as he shuns Bunny’s offer for money to run his Bar.

This is what ‘Yeh Jawani hai Deewani’ taught me that you need to make your Jawani a little Deewani to actually live those moments. Bunny lived his dream and gave it up for his love, Naina came out of her shell, Adi transformed herself and learnt to be happy and Avi had the guts to shut his Bar down only for his khuddari, and of course that alchohol is good J

Not to forget the amazing songs which encompass the whole meaning quite truthfully.

Hoping I can apply atleast some of these learnings in my life to enjoy my bachi-kuchi jawani 😉