Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Kick Kick Mein

I have never had the himmat (courage) to see either of the "Himmatwalla"s. The original or the remake. Wild horses couldn't drag me to the theatre to see the remake. Of course, the decision on the original was made by my parents, as I was a tiny little girl then, and of course they, like others born in their decade, had quite a taste for class, not crass.

So, while the first one had weird songs, things got weirder with part two. BPL or "Bum Pe Laat". A kick in the a....., which for the sake of those below 18 reading this post, we shall simply call "the rear". See, still that sounds cheesy 'cause it sounds very much like......errr......the real thing! Now that's a real class of a song! Even third class is, after all, a class!! Lyrics, music, choreography, the whole works. Even Tamanna Bhatia's "the rear", which was intended to have been the prize bull's eye for the "Laat" (kick).

Haah. So you thought this post was about "Himmatwalla"?! No. After beating around several bushes, which may or may not have been as shapely as Tamanna's you-know-what, we come to the heart of this post which is about a movie called Kick. Kick? As in kick-in-the-.....err....."the rear"? Or the ones Messi and his team-mates sure got by the foot-fuls after they fooled with their foots? Sorry, feet. Or the ones that Laloo got when he tried to mess with the feet, sorry feed, of some very angry bovines?

No. Kick is not about that kind of, well, kick. Kick is about kick. Kick, as in what Salman bhai gets from driving dangerously on Mumbai roads and chasing endangered animals with loaded guns. Kick out of life. Kick out of doing really weird stuff, which were understood and appreciated only by his weirder parents (Mithun Chakravarty and Archana Puran Singh). And, of all, people, a psychiatrist (Jaqueline Fernandez, post some kind of cosmetic procedure) falls in love with him. Like a biologist would with a guinea pig. Or probably a physicist with a quark. Quite quarky, no, quirky, isn't it? Throw in a lean and mean kick-a** cop (Randeep Hooda), who has foreign cops and diplomats getting their orders from him. And Ek Villain called Shiv Gajra (Nawazuddin Siddiqui), who gets his kicks from making people kick-the-bucket even before their time for kicking the bucket has come. And also from making a kick, no, tick, no, "tock"-like sound from his mouth, after he's gotten his "kick".

That's all folks. That's all that's there in the movie. Else, the movie is like a kick, and a real and hard one at that, to one's frontal lobe, temporal lobe, parietal lobe, occipital lobe, cortex, even the well-embedded hard-to-get at hypothalamus, and may be even some still undiscovered parts of the human brain. A kick to one's senses and sensibilities. A kick to bucks too, though not the black variety, but the paper ones which reside within the interiors of our wallets. Even a raunchy item number, by a gyrating Nargis Fakhri, failed to give the audience their paisa-wasool (money's worth) kick. The seats in the theatre were probably itching to give our rears a kick, as I found it extremely difficult to sit for the entire length of the movie. Especially after my writer's brain got a penalty kick, when the climax turned out to be, well, not the climax. Chetan Bhagat?

After so many kicks, the audience is left black, blue and bruised. That is not being very human, Salman bhai.
When the credits rolled by, the psychiatrist heroine was also gyrating. If only the director and script-writers had made her talk to the traumatized audience, suffering from PTSD, to explain the kick they got in making Kick and getting us kicked! Probably some counselling would have done the kick, sorry, trick and soothed "the rear" after so many BPLs.

In retrospect, may be my parents weren't very pragmatic in their child "rear"-ing. Had they taken me for "Himmatwalla" in my childhood, I would have withstood the BPLs of Kick, with less trauma in my adulthood. I wonder if I, too, made the same mistake by not taking my kids to Kick. Probably they would have been better prepared for watching a 30-years-later remake of Kick, without getting their rears kicked.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Waves of the Ocean

I have often wondered what is it about the sea or the ocean that makes me feel so calm and collected.

For years together, I've lived in a coastal city. Often, outings meant a visit to the beach. Sometimes, when the sun was really white hot and the only way one could enjoy the beach was by sitting inside a vehicle and watching the waves. Sometimes, just after a thunder shower, when the sky was a brilliant blue with puffs of clouds, black-grey-white, painted on it, like a craft class would paste, wool on blue-painted canvas. Sometimes, when the night sky was lit up silvery by a huge full moon, and there would be a silvery stairway down which the moonbeams descended from the heavens onto the water and danced on the otherwise invisible waves. Sometimes, when the everything was just dark and quiet, and one could feel the bay waters just by meta-cognition. Holidays, too, were mostly along the coast. Sometimes on the East, sometimes on the West.

I have spent hours and hours of just sitting by the beach, and watching the waves come and go. The changing colours of the sea are so captivating. So many shades of blue and green, and everything in between. The waves sometimes come up to my feet, tease me and run away fast, like my kids always do. After a wave recedes, it leaves stuff behind. It is interesting to watch tiny creatures like crabs emerge and scuttle away on their sideways travels.

However more than the scenery on view, I find myself entranced with the movement of the waves. Here comes one, and then it goes. Here comes another. Wait. Is it going to build up or dissipate by the undercurrent? See, this is more frothy! Surf!! Will this one go out further than the last one? So on goes the chatter inside my mind. Here, gone. Here, gone. This is one sureshot way of calming my overshot nerves. The longer I watch the motion of the waves, the calmer I feel. Relaxed. Like this is life. The rest can wait.

Today, I had an enlightening moment. Eureka! Actually wave-watching is mindfulness. It is consciousness. It is being in the moment, living just the moment. Mindfulness uses one's breath to anchor one's mind. Breath in, breath out. "Breath" not "Breathe". When we use the phrase "breathe in, breathe out", we are not being mindful. We are actively doing something. So it is "Doing" not "Being", as one does in living mindfully. "Breath in, breath out" is being. Just being in the present. An automatic process which we passively observe.  The straying mind is anchored by the breath.

Similarly, here the wave comes, here the wave goes. We just passively observe the movement of the waves, like we passively observe our breathing. The wandering mind is stopped from wandering further, slowly roped in and then tied to the movement of the waves. This is mindfulness. Our mind is fully and completely aware of the present, in the present, filled up with the present. The mind and body are both in one state. Being. Just Being. In the Present.

Friday, 1 August 2014

The Sinner Takes It All - III

"Arre Bhaiya, kahey aise baithe huye ho? Ka hua? (Why are you sitting like this? What happened?) SickPick asked in a more relaxed though exaggerated manner.

Gudman started crying. "All my life I've lived virtuously. But look, even at death, I don't get to enter heaven."

SickPick took pity on him and sat next to him.

"See, one has to be smart in life. Virtues get you nowhere. You know, my real name is not SickPick", he said in a conspiratorial tone.

"Oh. Then what is it? Tell me your story? How did you land up here?" Gudman was suddenly curious about SickPick.

"My real name is Chitra Gupt. I used to keep accounts of Yamraaj in Hell. Business in Hell slowly began shutting down as Heaven suddenly started doing very well. It was just after Pearly Gates Inc had taken over its management and sent St. Peter off with a golden handshake. Yamraaj had to resort to cost-cutting and so one day, I found a pink slip over my ledger, weighed down with my inkpot and quill. I was suddenly jobless. So I decided to just stick around Hell and enjoy some days there. I met many famous people. Rockstars, Biker Gangs, Killers, Assassins, Politicians and virtually Who's Who of the world. I became close to the bikers and suddenly realized that Chitra Gupt is not a cool name. So I changed it to Secret Pic (Picture) and I was a loser no more. A few days later, I heard Pearly Gates Inc had outsourced their hiring to some HR consultants in Hell. With my work ex, I was the top pick and soon landed up at the office of the CEO of Pearly Gates Inc., Sin Peter. He thought Secret Picture was a very long and mysterious name. After all, it has a 'Secret' in it," he laughed so much that tears rolled down his eyes. "So he started calling me SickPick, which, he says, sounds more professional, like Money Penny, you know!" SickPick laughed again.

Gudman just kept listening, intrigued.

"Achcha listen, I have another proposal for you. See if you can work on it. If it goes through, I promise I'll persuade Boss to let you in. He owes me many times over."

"Really?" Gudman suddenly had a bright spark in his leaden eyes.

"Hmm." SickPick repeated his Boss's favourite monosyllable. "See, these pearls that you see on the gate are not all real. My cousin, who lives on earth, and I, have managed to quietly pull some out and replace them with plastic coated ones. I used a courier boy from here to take the real pearls there and bring the fake ones here. We quietly did the replacement during Sin Peter's harp concerts. My cousin was making a good amout of money. Then one day the courier boy decided that the 1,000,000,000 steps to heaven were very strenuous and were wearing his muscles out very fast. That was just a pretense. Do spirits have muscles?!!!" He laughed again very loudly. "You see, this courier boy had found some arms dealer on his way to Hell. They struck up a deal and the boy ditched the 1,000,000,000 steps for the 10,000 steps which got him more gain, and cocaine!" Sickpick laughed his sick laugh again.

Gudman listened to the story of the fake pearls with his heart almost in his mouth. No, this cannot be true, This could not be happening in Heaven.

SickPick, unaware of Gudman's pale face and open mouth, continued. "So now we need someone to replace the courier boy. If you agree to do it, I'll convince Boss, through Madalasa, to let you in." SickPick said with a wink. "So, what says you? Agree?" SickPick held out his hand towards Gudman.

Gudman jumped back as if struck by lightening. He stumbled down a step or two.

"No. Never. That people were stealing on the Earth and from the Earth, I knew. But stealing in Heaven? Pearly Gates aren't really pearly? They are made of fake plastic pearls? No. I won't do your bidding. These fake pearls have no meaning for me. I had always thought I'll enter the Pearly Gates of Heaven when I leave my earthly being, and God shall hold me to his bosom, where I would become one with him. But no. I don't want to go to Heaven now." He said with some more tears in his eyes.

"By the way, where is God? What is He doing? Can't He see and stop what's going on?" Gudman demanded of SickPick.

SickPick laughed his grating laugh again. 

"God? What God? Have you ever seen Him? Has He ever spoken to you? Do you have any proof that He actually lives inside those precious Pearly Gates of yours?" He shouted. 

Gudman covered his ears.

"The answer is NO," cried SickPick. "Do you hear me? The answer is no. You will never know if God exists because to know that you need to enter the Pearly Gates of Heaven and Honest N Gudman, who has lived a virtuous life always, has been found unfit for Heaven! Do you hear me? Honest N Gudman is barred from Heaven!!" 

With these words, he gave Gudman a massive kick. Gudman went rolling down the steps, just as Sin Peter had predicted. His fall finally broke at the turnpike from where he had started climbing the steps towards Heaven. Even from that distance of 10,000 steps he could hear the loud noises of Hell. Some of rambunctious fun and some of ghoulish pain.

He couldn't go back to Earth. He neither wanted nor deserved to go Hell. He was barred from entering Heaven and finding his God. 

Honest N Gudman had no place to go.

Honest and Good Men and Women have no place to go. 

It is said that Heaven and Hell are all on this Earth itself. 

Still, Nobody wants them.

 Honest and Good Men and Women have no place to go. 


The Sinner Takes It All - II

"Oh God", Gudman panicked. "What do I do now? How do you I go in?"

Sin Peter seemed to think for a while. "How badly do you want to go inside?" he asked Gudman.

"I really want to go!" Gudman pleaded like a child. "You ask me the questions. Take my interview. Then you'll realise there has been some mistake in the manifest. Please, Sin Peter, Sir, please".

Sin Peter thought some more and finally agreed for an interview.

"Ok. Let me ask some questions and let me see if you pass the test."

Gudman looked quite relieved. "Yes sir. Ask away. I shall not disappoint you." He said confidently.

"Ok. But think carefully before you reply. You'll get only one chance to change your answer", said Sin Peter, "Here's my first question. Have you ever cheated?"

"No." "Are you sure?"

 "Yes" "Computer Ji lock kiya jaye (Please lock the answer on the computer)", Sin Peter said to SickPick.

"Sir, Computer Ji is not working. Should I lock the answer on iPad Mini Ji?" SickPick asked his Boss.

"Ok. Whatever." Sickpick moved his fingers over the iPad Mini.

"Next question. Have you ever lied?"

"No" "Are you sure?" "Yes."

"Have you ever taken a bribe?"

"No" "Are you sure?" "Yes"

"Have you ever killed anyone?"

"Heavens, no" "Are you sure?" "Yes"

"Have you ever cheated on your wife?"

"No" "Are you sure?" "Yes"

"Have you ever ill-treated your parents?"

"No" "Are you sure?" "Yes"

"Have you ever abused your kids?"

"No" "Are you sure?" "Yes"

"Have you ever stolen from your employer?"

"No" "Are you sure?" "Yes"

"Ok, iPad Ji. Pls give the results"

"Sure, Sir Ji", SickPick said enthusiastically. Here are the results as per the iPad"

"  Q.1 Have you ever cheated?                                A. Yes
   Q.2 Have you ever lied?"                                      A. Yes
   Q.3 Have you ever taken a bribe?"                        A. Yes
   Q.4 Have you ever killed anyone?"                        A. Yes
   Q.5 Have you ever cheated on your wife?"            A. Yes
   Q.6 Have you ever ill-treated your parents?"          A. Yes
   Q.7 Have you ever abused your kids?"                  A. Yes
   Q.8 Have you ever stolen from your employer?"     A. Yes "

"Hmm. So you fail the test. I asked you 8 questions about virtues in your life and you admitted to committing 8 sins. So you are disqualified and you are barred from entering Heaven." Sin Peter pronounced.

"Hey wait! There is something wrong with your gadget. This SickPick has done some mischief. I replied No to all questions. So how can you say that I admitted to having committed sins?!!" Gudman was besides himself with indignation.

"You first replied No. Then I asked you if you were sure. You were permitted to change your answer once. So you changed it to Yes. So our gadgets, entries and calculations are all right. Now off you go", Sin Peter waved him away as if shooing a fly.

"But this is cheating!!!"

"No, it's not. And now you are committing another sin by making false allegations against me. Me. Me,Sin Peter, CEO of Pearly Gates Inc."

"Ok. Is there any other way  I could get inside those gates? I'll do anything." Gudman almost had tears in his eyes. "Anything".

"Hmmm." Sin Peter ruminated. "Will you do whatever I say?"

"Yes" "Are you sure?" "Yes yes, please Sin Peter Sir. Just tell me and I'll do it."

"Ok. When you were working for Govt of India, there were certain secret files which were in your custody. I know a few good clients in your neighbourhood who would pay a handsome sum for access to them. They have some liaison spirits here. I could let you in if you allowed me access to those files. They could even oblige you with some honey Apsaras here (fairies)" Sin Peter proposed with a smile.

"Sin Peter, to say that I'm shocked at your proposal is an understatement. No, I will never do any such thing. Heaven or not" Gudman was suddenly ramrod straight as he said this.

"Then go to Hell," Sin Peter said peevishly. "I knew from your name Gudman itself that you were a no-good man. Just wasted my time khaali-peeli (uselessly)." With that Sin Peter rose and began to go inside the gates. "SickPick, just kick this spirit down towards Hell. He'll roll along like a ball," he said laughing a raucous laugh. "Time for my private harp concert. Then dinner with Madalasa," he said with a wink. "So close the gates before you leave. Business over for today. We open again tomorrow at 10." And he sauntered away.

Dejected, sad, and totally clueless about his future, Gudman slumped down on the first step just short of the Pearly Gates.

                                                    (Cont'd)The Sinner Takes It All - III

The Sinner Takes It All - I

The darkness was slowly dissipating, and Mr. Honest N Gudman thought he was waking up from sleep as he did every morning. But something was not right. Instead of feeling refreshed after waking up, he was feeling tired. Like he had travelled miles in his sleep. He slowly opened his eyes and saw.....well.....nothing!. He couldn't see anything other than wisps of silvery clouds. He looked around further and noticed a sign board which said "Heaven 1,000,000,000 steps up; Hell 10,000 steps down". Reality began to dawn on Gudman. He was dead. Dead as in earthly, bodily dead. And his spirit had managed to wander away to this turning pike in the universe, where he had to decide where to go.

He weighed his options. 1,000,000,000 steps up sounded like climbing Mt Everest and 10,000 steps down seemed like going down to the basement. But then Gudman was a good man. He couldn't ever imagine any abode for his spirit other a fluffly cloud. So, with grit and determination, he started his journey up. After what seemed like eons even for a spirit, Gudman finally reached a place where he saw the clouds clearing a bit. Almost like an entrance to a grand place. Gudman dragged his sore and weary spirit just up those last few steps, and sure enough, there were the pearly white gates of Heaven! He was rapturous. Tears of joy, gratitude and overwhelming emotion, flowed unrestrained down his spirity cheeks. "O Lord, thank you for taking me into your arms and your fold and making me one with you," he uttered a prayer with joy filling every pore of his being...err...sorry...spirit.

But something was again not right. Pearly Gates, yes, but St. Peter, no? Where was the custodian of the Pearly Gates, who kept a record of all one's earthly deeds, took an interview and then let people...sorry again...spirits inside the pearly gates? He peered further into the mist and saw a pot-bellied, balding middle-aged man, sitting at an enormous desk. He was wearing a striped shirt with a tie which seemed a little askew. To the right of the desk was another smaller desk with a thin nerdy man sitting behind it. He had paan-stained teeth and a huge stack of files on his small desk. He had a computer too on his desk, but Gudman saw that it was not working. 

"Excuse me, Sir, but where is St.Peter?" Gudman asked the man who clearly looked like the Boss there, with his nerdy Right- Hand-Man to his right. 

"Hmm. I'm him." The Boss replied with authority.

 Gudman was aghast. "Then where are your white robes and silver beard?"

"Look here, whoever you are. It seems like you left the earth a long time ago and were lost somewhere in the mists of time. My name is Sin Peter, and I am the new CEO of the 'Pearly Gates Inc'. Now I'm a busy man. Don't waste my time and tell me what you want"

"Sin Peter, Sir, my name is Honest N Gudman. It seems I've left my earthly abode and now I'm here before you to allow me to enter the gates of heaven."

"Gudman?" Sin Peter broke out into loud guffaws, which jiggled his pot belly to the left and right alternately, and rhythmically. "What kind of a name is Gudman?" He looked at his assistant who, on cue from his boss, started laughing too. "And if you are a Gudman, what are you doing here at the gates of heaven? Didn't you see the sign for Hell? It's much easier going there, specially for someone with your name." He laughed some more.

"Sin Peter, Sir, I deserve to be in heaven. Can you please check my name in the arrival manifest? I'm sure Fate must have put it there before allowing my spirit to take off from earth." Gudman asked politely.

"And what makes you so sure about that?", Sin Peter picked at his teeth with a pencil point.

"Sir, I have always been an honest man. I've always worked hard and sincerely. Though I was just an officer in Govt of India, still I have discharged my duties with utmost integrity and without any thought for reward or any motivation. I have been a good husband, a good father and a good son. I have always been God-fearing."

"God fearing? Who fears God any more?" Again he broke out into guffaws in chorus with his assistant. 

"This is blasphemy!!!" Gudman was indignant. "Everyone fears God, the all powerful Almighty"

"Hey SickPick! Throw this spirit out. Put him out of my eyesight. He is beginning to irritate me now. Pata nahin kahaan kahaan se chale aate hain!!! (Don't know where such people come from)" Sin Peter bellowed at his assistant. 

"But what did I say wrong? God is Almighty. The Creator and Protector of the Universe", Gudman stood his ground.

"Have you seen God? Have you seen him create the Universe? Do you have any proof that GOD even exists?" Sin Peter leaned over his desk and asked Gudman in a hawkish tone.

"No. But surely you would have seen God. After all you are St. Peter. Oh, I'm sorry, Sin Peter"

"Yes, I'm Sin Peter. And that's why I get to decide who goes inside these pearly gates and who gets to see if GOD really exists". Sin Peter said smugly and with the entire weight of his authority.

"Ok. So why don't you go ahead and check if my name is on the manifest?"

"Why are you stuck like a CD? Didn't I tell you to buzz off like a fly spirit?"

"Sin Peter, Sir, I insist I want you to check the manifest. If you don't, I'll file an application under the RTI Act. I know all about the Act because I was the CPIO (Central Public Information Officer) in my office before I ....err...died....and came here".

"Sir ji, let us not take a chance with this spirit. He has been CPIO so it may be difficult to throw him off easily", SickPick whispered to his Boss.

"Hmmm. Ok. Just check in your computer. The latest manifest email would be there."

"But Sir Ji, my computer is not working since two months. It is 10 years-old. There are no funds for repair and as per the contract we signed with Pearly Gates Inc, we can condemn it only after 12 years and buy a new one."

"Then look through your files." Boss commanded.

"Files? That will take forever. Just look at that pile. It is higher than even N Korea's nuke stock pile!" exclaimed Gudman. "I may have to be reborn before you finish going through those files" Gudman almost spat with contempt.

"Sir Ji" SickPick smiled an oily smile. "What about that iPad Mini 2 which the spirit from China brought last week for you? If you let me use it for just 5 minutes, I'll be able to check the manifest".

"Do you even know how to use one? You nit-wit!" Sin Peter wasn't enthused at the thought of his assistant using such sophisticated gadgetry.

"Yes Sir. Actually the Indian industrialist brought me one last month", Sick Pick said in an embarrassed tone. He was almost apologetic for having received the same gadget a month before his Boss.

Sin Peter wasn't amused. Handing over his iPad Mini to SickPick, he muttered "I'll see that industrialist at tonight's role call". He sounded quite menacing and even Gudman, who so far had stood his ground, felt chilled.

SickPick powered up the device and his fingers started dancing on the touch screen. After 10 minutes of search, he said with a triumphant smile, "No, Sir Ji. His name is not there."

Gudman was shocked. He could have been knocked down by the harpist's feathers. "How is that even possible? Can you please check again?" He pleaded with SickPick. 

"Well, see for yourself!" SickPick smiled his oily smile again. Gudman went over and checked the manifest database himself. SickPick was right.

 Honest N Gudman was not on the manifest to Heaven.

                                                          (Cont'd) The Sinner Takes It All - II