Saturday, April 25, 2015

The Destiny of Dinosaurs

A friend passionately recommended Jurassic Park, the book. Of course, like every other child, I had watched the film earlier. But, the book is my friend's all-time favourite. And, so, I plunged into it. (Perhaps, I lied. I started rather reluctantly. Sorry, K.)

But, I must admit. I wanted to slap whoever tried talking to me while I was reading it. I wanted to keep my phone switched off till I finished it. I wanted Boo and Calvin to keep quiet for a couple of days. The book was... so fucking absorbing. Intriguing. You may use every nice adjective here.

For some reason, I didn't want to write a traditional review in my book-blog. I wanted to try something impish.

Since the time, I began reading the book, the tagline on the book's cover kept crossing my mind.

"In the future there will be dinosaurs!"

How different our world would be, if there were dinosaurs now? Or, how different our lives would be, if there were dinosaurs in India?

You are going to be heavily disappointed if you are expecting anything philosophical, or rational here. I am going for something light and silly.

If there were dinosaurs in Chennai, and if they weren't a threat to us...
  • Humans would include one more day to Pongal holidays. Dinosaur Pongal. Who doesn't need an extra day off.
  • Something like jallikaatu would be held for dinosaurs. No prize for guessing that actor Raj Kiran would tame the dinosaurs. And remember the patta-pattis, okay.
  • People, who visit pottikadais, would buy a couple of butter biscuits, and feed the dinosaurs on roads. I am sure the animals would be slobbering. I kind of find that image awww.
  • Government would ban dinosaurs's meat. Then the Facebook activists would post pictures of them attacking Dinosaur 65 and Lollipop Dinosaur.
  • Director Shankar would make films with dinosaurs. He would make them wear skimpy clothes and make them dance to the tunes of AR Rahman. And, you know who would be the hero. Our very own Ramarajan. It's okay if Maybelline and Loreal would have to manufacture more lipsticks. The film's title would be... erm... Ko Dina Engal Kula Dina.
  • Like cows and buffaloes, dinosaurs would zen-walk on roads, eating posters and leftovers in garbage yards, and taking monstrous dumps everywhere. Nice
  • Animal Welfare organisations would allow dinosaurs to share their shelters. They would be put up for adoption. Humans would name them Tiger, Tommy, Ramu, Mani, Blackie... and feed them curd rice. (If I had one, I would pamper her -- from buying squeaky toys to letting her sleep on my bed. And, I would NOT tie her up when scared visitors drop by. Learn to pet a dinosaur, man. Please!)
  • Dinosaurs would learn to cross roads in a self-aware manner. But, humans still wouldn't bother trying. 
  • And, finally, The New York Times would write about the queer lives of dinosaurs in Chennai and Steven Spielberg would read that article and suffer a cardiac arrest.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

A Sunny Day: Of cliches and cleavages

Today, till 10 am, I was sulking. There was no purpose to life. I was reading The Trumpet of the Swan, and that's when my best friend pinged, "Movie polaama? Ek Paheli Leela? Sunny Leone's film?" A conundrum surfaced. The Trumpet of the Swan (a children's book) or Sunny Leone's film? I have never watched Sunny Leone's movies... erm... mainstream movies. So, I said yes.

I was excited. I was curious to know how Sunny Leone would look in regular movies. I quickly stuffed my face with Tamil New Year's Day special saapaad and rushed to Sathyam Cinemas. Damn! I was 10 minutes late. Stamping 10 pair of feet in the dark, I went to our corner. While I sank in my seat, my friend said, "You missed Sunny Leone's introduction scene..." Fuck! My universe collapsed. My life lost its purpose again. I was mad at myself for stealing my own little pleasure. But, I am trying to be pragmatic these days. Hence, I decided to be happy with what I could see further. In truth, my excitement wasn't extinguished. My God! My first Sunny Leone film at a regular theatre. And, it was houseful. Everybody loves Sunny Leone no? Okay, maybe, secretly!

Right! So, how was Ek Paheli Leela? (Loads of spoilers here.)

Talaash was the last Hindi film I watched. If a colleague didn't spoil it, I wouldn't have learnt that Kareena Kapoor was the ghost. Because I understand just about a couple of phrases in Hindi. Like tum, pyaar, mujhe, paagal, hum aapke hain khon, kuch kuch hota hai, dil chata hai... Get it? My inability to comprehend the language didn't thwart me from watching Ek Paheli Leela. After all, it's a Sunny Leone film man? Who wants to pay attention to words?

On the other hand, it's not the usual Sunny-Leone-film that you watch on those 'You' websites (of course!). Ideally, there should have been a story, screenplay, and some dialogues. Ek Paheli Leela has all of it too. But, it can be noticed only when Sunny Leone is not shoving her cleavage in your face. That happens in the last 15 minutes, because she marries a Rajput prince and becomes a bahu of sorts. She wears designer salwar that reminds me of nighties. Something like this.

The funniest aspect is this: Indian cinema will make Sunny Leone a kudumba vilakku too, if she gets married. (Not judging her here. But, just highlighting the absurdities in film industries.)

The story is also reminiscent of Anegan. Like some of the important characters still remember their previous lives. Sunny Leone too reincarnates. But, it doesn't really matter. She wears super skimpy clothes in every reincarnation, and in each life there is cleavage galore. At one point in time, I felt suffocated. Because there is just too much cleavage. Why the fuck did they even bother writing a story, when they could have managed the show by playing 10 songs of Sunny Leone flaunting her cleavage? My friend was upset that her favourite song - Glamarous Ankhiyaan - was not used completely in the film. That director had one job. Sigh!

Sunny Leone is a super model, living in London, in Ek Paheli Leela. Her friends con her into flying to India by lying that they were going to an Airport themed restaurant. Because she has the fear of flying. They make her down numerous shots, and the naive lady believes them too. What a twist! How intelligent! But, the stony-faced man beside me doesn't wink, doesn't move. His eyes are fixed on her.. erm... cleavage. No surprise there!

Then a lot more things happen. The film doesn't worry about plot and all that. It has got Sunny Leone and it is all that matters. In her current life, Sunny Leone wears a lot of dresses, which have got windows close to her neck. One can look out of the window... no! Actually, one can look inside the window and find the very thing that we are discussing now. Am I now objectifying a woman? But, man, it's an erotica. I don't want to think that I am watching KR Vijaya or Ramya Krishnan play amman right?

In her previous life, Sunny Leone is that super hot, horny, village belle. And, she wears a skirt like the one that Sivaji Ganesan wore in Kandhan Karunai. Have you seen it? Like this.

All the women in her village appear normal. But Sunny Leone looks like she has viagara as three square meals everyday. But, I shouldn't complain. If Sunny Leone played a Revathy or Vidya Balan, why should my stony-faced neigbour come to a theatre to watch a Sunny Leone film? His mobile Internet should suffice.

There are myriad flaws in the film. However, that doesn't matter. After I watched Ek Paheli Leela, a realisation dawned one me: Story becomes superfluous in a Sunny Leone film because of the very brand called Sunny Leone. It's as simple as that!

Monday, April 13, 2015

What I Talk About When I Talk About Walking

The virtual world now knows that I walked 5K at a marathon yesterday. My virtual friends sent me ponnaadais, poochendus, and bro-hugs online. A couple of close friends couldn't stop raving about my 'feat'. "Proud of you, Deepika! Way to go!" all of them said. A good friend went a bit overboard. "I am not surprised at all. You can do more!" he observed. (He didn't know that I might not have returned home if I had walked 21K. Because of ambulance, Apollo and all that.) Anyway, I accepted all the compliments. Perhaps, sheepishly.

I was a bit more glad, as Milind Soman flagged off the marathon. M i l i n d S o m a n. Milind Soman. Okay, I should stop before Boo drowns in my sea of slobber. Also, Milind Soman had two advices for the runners. (I was a walker. But, who wouldn't listen to Milind Soman, man. Please.)

His advices:
"First timers, take it easy!" - Whatever that meant!
"Make exercise a part of your life..." - Point. 

I reminded myself again: Exercise will be a part of my life henceforth. Not just because Milind Soman advised, but also because a friend warned of severing everything between us, if I fail to look after myself anymore. For some reason, she thinks I might kick the bucket at 35, and she might have to prepare herself to deal with the loss. Sigh! But, point.

Above all, I had that moment. That moment when I sat straight, looked around, thought of everybody who loves me, launched a heavy slap on my face, and yelled at myself, "Why the fuck won't you care for yourself, moron!"

So, I reckoned that the marathon was like an unofficial beginning. 

But, after I went to bed last night, my memories assaulted me. 

I saw images of me doing floor exercises at Slimline Gym nine years ago.
Just when I was beginning to feel sad about not being allowed to use a fancy elliptical trainer because I was too heavy, Dr Jalaja told me I should stop gymming. Asthma attack. Dr Jalaja said I could resume in a couple of months. But, I ignored that part of her advice. (I liked using that name. Jalaja.)

I saw images of me panting on a manual treadmill at an all-male gym seven years ago.
I quit because I dropped the gym-ball on my trainer's head. Of course, accidentally. I couldn't apologise because I had a fit of laughter. And, I never went again. I saw that man once after the disaster. So, he had survived.

I saw images of me trying to row faster at Pink three years ago.
Since the elite-women discussed their bra-sizes too many times everyday, I quit. (Thus, I always could blame others. Conveniently!)

The mishmash of images formed a face. A face with knitted eyebrows, and clenching teeth. That nameless thing shot an accusatory glance. Then, the misty face broke into a sardonic smile. It stifled a yawn and asked me, "So, you have started again? But, this stunt is not going to last long, is it?" 

Fine. I exaggerated. But, it was that kind of a cynical, discouraging thought. One of those times when one chooses to not believe oneself because of the ghosts from the past. Then, I recalled that moment, when a friend told me about preparing herself to deal with my death. That moment, when I chose to not ruin my loved ones's happiness. That moment, when I thought I should do it for myself. After all! 

Later, I vowed to myself that I shouldn't let my shoes be covered by cobwebs. When I swore, I heard the ghost say, "A stunt again?

I told the ghost something in a polite manner. "You would never know! You might be exorcised."

There are also those times, when one surprises oneself by doing the very things one once detested. Because...

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Why I Would Never Go to Majayaal Again

I realised it's been ages since I wrote anything funny. I mean, mildly funny. I have been writing serious stuff. About childhood memories and why Padukone kept yelling, "My choice!" and all that. So, I have decided to write about a series of strange things that happened yesterday. They were frustrating, yet funny in some ways.

Disclaimer: Everything you read here is true, and definitely not a figment of my imagination. Thank you.

At 3.45 pm yesterday, I left home to watch Chennai Ungalai Anbudan Varaverkiradhu at Mayajaal. The multiplex is 14 kilometers away from my place. But, the ride was great. It wasn't too hot. It was pleasantly windy. I liked the evening sun. About 10 minutes into my smooth ride, I wanted to post a status on Facebook. Some cliche like, "Wind in the hair..." Then, I remembered, I was wearing a helmet. And, I have promised to a friend that I won't check my phone, while riding. So, I halfheartedly dropped the idea. It took just about 25 minutes to reach Mayajaal. I was sad that the ride ended. I wanted to go longer. Maybe, till Mahabalipuram. But I had work to do - reviewing Chennai Ungalai Anbudan Varaverkiradhu. Sigh!

Till I reached the theatre, I wasn't sure if the film would release. I was told that the show might be cancelled. Because, only five tickets were sold. I went to the counter, and asked an employee, "Chennai Ungalai Anbudan Varaverkiradhu show irukka?" She was nervous for reasons that I couldn't comprehend. Women usually think I am a man, and maintain one-arm distance from me. But, I was wearing a kurta yesterday. A kurta that women wear. However, the employee was still nervous. "Enna padam madam?" she asked. Man, why would anybody give such a LONG title to a movie. I said the film's name again. She became more nervous, turned to her colleague, and asked, "Annan, andha Bobby Singhaa padam odudhaa?" The lean man at the next counter shot an incredulous look at me. "Andha padama?" he laughed. "Odudhu. Odudhu. Ponga. Ponga," he said, stifling a giggle. I don't like when people laugh and refuse to say what made them laugh. "Madam, thaniyaa paakireengala?" the girl asked. When I nodded, the young man said, "Appo, enjoy pannunga!" I didn't ask tickets for Paapa Potta Thaapaa or something no? I had no fucking clue about why they laughed. I snatched my ticket from them, and rushed to Screen 14.

The owners of Mayajaal don't like Screen 14, I suppose. It's hidden in a corner, and the hall smelt of every bad stuff I couldn't name. Cinema halls in Mayajaal usually smell bad. Every once in a while, rats say hello. But, Screen 14 was the most deplorable.

I was 10 minutes early. Unlike Sathyam Cinema, adverts are not screened at Mayajaal. Watching jewellery ads that throw pompous ass words at you, is a lot better than seeing a dark room. I began to hear rats screeching. I was sure that bugs were making their way into my bag. People started coming in. There were about 15 people in the theatre. And, a couple dropped themselves in the seats beside me. Their adventures began.

She removed her dupatta, carefully folded it, and put it in her bag. They placed their helmet and bags next to my feet. It was still dark, and I heard the first strange noise. Pichuk. Then I heard more. Pichuk. Pichooook. Such loud kissers! When the sound reached its crescendo, I turned, and saw them over my shoulders. I didn't throw an accusatory glance. I promise! I was plainly curious. Without warning, the hall was lit, because "Enna dhaan aachu nam naatukku..." was screened. The man, who removed his hand from a spot that I choose not to name (sorry to keep you guessing!), shook his head like questioning me. "Neengellam idhu panna maateengala?" he asked. I ignored his question, and looked at the screen. There was no noise afterwards, but my chair shook. Several times. I couldn't complain.

Chennai Ungalai Anbudan Varaverkiradhu was so directionless, as though the director, who had multiple stories in mind, was indecisive about which one he wanted to film, and ended up including a bit from every story. It was random. So random like reading the text on a paper that we use to remove oil from bajjis. I was beginning to feel slightly upset for watching a dud again. That's when someone's phone rang.

It wasn't kasamusa couple's. (I think they were tired of making love. So, they chose to watch the film for a while.) The phone belonged to a man, who sat behind me. Before answering the phone, I heard him say, "Ayyo, machi, wife phone panra da. Enna soltum. Padathukku vanthurukkennu avalukku theriyadhu." His friend offered a sage advice. "Meeting-la irukkey-nu message pannu." Till the time they arrived at a suitable decision, the man didn't think of silencing the phone. It kept ringing. I am sure it was a Korean phone. Kalyaana Maalai Kondaadum Penne... was the ringtone. The man was probably ignoring his 'Gowri'. Shit, for once, I wasn't ashamed of myself for eavesdropping. But no! They were really loud.

The couple next to me seemed okay for a while. I settled comfortably to watch the film, although it was shitty.

Then, it was time for a break. The couple went out and came back with puffs, black-forest cakes... a handful of snacks. I think they do everything in excess. Okay. Never mind! The men, who sat behind me discussed, "Machi, oru dhummu dhaanda irukku. Seri, share vuttukklaam!" Their public display of mustafa-mustafa seemed a bit too much. But, everything appeared normal. Finally, I thought I could watch the second half in peace. In a second, I was taught that it was too much to expect.

A brawl broke out.

The couple stopped munching the snacks, the mustafa boys stopped discussing their wives, and two more couples, who were ensconced in corners sat straight. "Otha, naanum paakuren, darru burrunu korattai vidra..." scowled a man in one of the front rows. He was livid, and employed beautiful Tamil swear words. And, he sounded admirably natural, when he uttered those words. "Olagatha marakkanumnu dhaan inga vaarom... Ingaiyum vandhu, summa darru burrunu korattai vittugunu..." he scolded his neighbour, who was still half-asleep. Bobby Simhaa was on screen again. But, the men were oblivious to it. The angry man was more pissed because the sleepy man didn't apologise. "Manners therdha unugu?" he asked. Finally, the sleepy man chose to speak. "Naan enna darru burrunu kusu vuttu naasthi pannena..." The angry man became angrier. "Oh! Otha, adhu vera pannuviya nee? Koopduba andha ticket kizhikkara paiyana..." he told his friend. Bobby Simhaa was shedding buckets of tears in the film. The men didn't want to think of that sad man on screen. The war of words went on for a long while. The usher came in.

"Koratta vuttugune irukaanba ivan," said the angry man. The usher - a young boy - couldn't manage the situation. "Anna anna please na! Vutrungana!" he beseeched. The snorer was silent, and the angry man was still furious. However, something changed his mood. Maybe, it was the poor face of the usher. "Ayyo! Panjaayathukku ivana koopta ivan nammala edho vuda solraan. Thambi, adhu dhaan prechanai. Ivan over-ah vudraan..." Those 15 people in the theatre, including yours truly, burst out laughing. The sleepy man was later asked to vacate his seat.

And... and... and... he sat right beside me.

He went back to slumber, and rendered a snore-song. Chennai Ungalai Anbudan Varverkiradhu was getting more terrible, and so, the couple went back to doing what they liked doing. He snored more. My chair shook harder. And, I couldn't endure that shit anymore. So, I got up and sat in another seat. I could still hear somebody snore. I leaned forward and found the angry man now snoring away to glory. I wanted to borrow his words. "Otha, appo enna mayithukku da sanda poteenga!"

An hour later, I bumped into that couple at the parking lot. They ignored me. But, I will never forget them. As he unlocked the bike, the man said, "Kovalam polama? Anga innum konjam privacy irukkum." I was like, "Innuma!"

So, they went South to do more stuff. And, I went North, with a puzzling thought on mind: Which weird soornam or laigyam could motivate a couple to that level! They couldn't wait to reproduce another India, man!

Saturday, April 4, 2015

What Rain Did To A Child

For dad's birthday, I wrote a quick status message on Facebook yesterday. I thanked him for everything, but for some reason, I thanked him more for making me bunk school on rainy days. Later, I realised, a blog was lying in that post.

I am a pluviophile. Rainy days can have a great impact on my outlook. Just like every other rain-lover, I whine about going to work when it pours down. I would want to curl up at home, read a nice book, and generally feel content. It makes me immensely sad to do anything mundane when it rains. On such unkind days, I try to feel better by reminiscing about the way I used to delight in rainy days, when I was in school, when all I had to do was enjoy the weather, and when life was incredibly simple.

There is something comforting about lounging on the bed for a while, before actually waking up. The feeling appears only more pleasant on cold, rainy days - to keep lying on the bed, listening to the torrential rain that patters against the windows, and to bask in the thought that 'a long day lies ahead, and that it's all mine.'

When I was in school, even before I could raise from my bed, dad would tell me, "It's okay. Sleep more. You need not go to school today. Relax at home." Most mornings, I would wake up to see him applying cologne on his carefully shaven face. If I jumped from my bed fast and ran to him, he would sprinkle some cologne on my palm too. Such a lovely, unforgettable fragrance! Shuffling my legs, I would smile at him to pour more, and he would always indulge me.

Sometimes, I would make subtle protests when I was not allowed to go to school on rainy days. "Appa, I might miss the Mathematics class. It's important. I must go..." He would smile naughtily. "I was told that government has declared holiday. Don't fret," he would say. Although I was a child, I always knew that it was a lie. But, I chose not to protest further. After all, it was his way of caring for us.

Regardless of the kind of clothes I used to wear on rainy days, I would always keep myself warm by sporting granddad's sweater vest, even if it wasn't really cold. A mischievous rat had eaten a small piece of the sweater. I never really gave a damn. The sweater vest was black, charmingly vintage, and I was madly in love with it. Whenever my sister and I wore it, mum would offer her brightest smile. It was her dad's belonging. I would also go a bit overboard by wearing a pair of my favourite socks.

I was never a lover of breakfast. So, I would wolf down an early lunch. Then, I would go out, and stand at the threshold for a long while, gazing at the grey sky, and colourless rain. On such occasions, gazing meant gazing. Thoughts would never go astray. As a little child then, I wouldn't have known how Zennish such moments could have been. In retrospect, I realise how rain had inspired a child to just be.

Around noon, I would sprawl in front of the TV. There was a channel that telecast old Tamil movies every afternoon. I was the kind of child, who watched a lot of Discovery, National Geographic, and Tamil movies. Even then, I was a sucker for classics. Sampoorna Ramayanam, Poompuhaar, Kandhan Karunai, Nenjil Oor Aalayam, Kadhalikka Neramillai, Iru Kodugal, and many such old films were watched. Guilt never enveloped me for bunking school, and watching movies that were beyond my age, because dad wanted his children home. (I was prone to too many infections then, and he always chose to prevent.)

By 5 pm, mum would make some delicious snacks. Thattai, Thenkozhal, and such munchies. After the taste-buds were sated, I would go to the terrace, and find shapes in the clouds. I would retire at 9.30 pm again. Despite doing nothing (technically), I would fall asleep in no time.

There was nothing striking about those days. I might have done what most children would do on rainy days. Maybe, I am just romanticizing and glorifying the past. But, what looks extraordinary is that the liberty I enjoyed, the ability to be happy, carefree, and sleep with a silent mind. I was not laden with the onus of managing myself. I didn't have to wake up and rush to work the next day. The days seemed more peaceful, and the nights seemed longer. Life, in general, seemed blissful. Perhaps, it was just the rain. Or, was it the childhood?

I finished reading Neil Gaiman's The Ocean at the End of the Lane a couple of weeks ago, and I am still nursing a hangover. I particularly love this passage that goes with the theme I have just explored.

“I do not miss childhood, but I miss the way I took pleasure in small things, even as greater things crumbled. I could not control the world I was in, could not walk away from things or people or moments that hurt, but I took joy in the things that made me happy.”