Saturday, November 24, 2007

The story of a mystic…

He was born in a small rustic town in the Punjab province of Pakistan. He came at the time when Muslim rulers were ruling a predominantly Hindu country and the tension between the two religions were bordering on a break-down. He wandered around the world from an early age influencing people from all walks of life. His stories known as sakhis are still part of folk-lore of Punjab on both sides of the border.

Gurudwara Nankana Sahib in Punjab province of Pakistan where the mystic was born

One of his most famous sakhis that my Mom used to narrate me during those hot summer evenings of Jodhpur was when He left his house to go around the world. He was very close to his sister and he promised her that when she will remember him from her heart, he will come back to meet her. One day when she was making roti, it puffed and she started crying because she remembered how her brother loved puffed rotis and next thing she knew He standing outside the door asking her to serve the roti before it went cold. Maybe because I never had a sister, I always found this story the most heartwarming of all his sakhis.

Bibi Nanki, the mystic's sister, saying him goodbye before he left for his travel

He literally traveled around the world from Pakistan to South India to Sikkim to Kashmir to Ladakh to Tibet to Mecca to Iran to Iraq. Like a true mystic he learned from the world around him and passed his wisdom to his followers. He saw how people were discriminating around the world with each other. The world was divided between castes, between Brahmin and Shudras, Shias and Sunnis. Religion was being used around the world to divide people more than unite them. He himself believed in Raam as much as he believed in Allah.

The mystic with his two followers, Bala (a hindu) and Mardana (a muslim), on his numerous travels

Influence of women on his life started from the love he shared for his sister. His view of women can be rightly summed from one of his writings, where he said, “From woman, man is born; within woman, man is conceived; to woman he is engaged and married. Woman becomes his friend; through woman, the future generations come. When his woman dies, he seeks another woman; to woman he is bound. So why call her bad? From her, kings are born. From woman, woman is born; without woman, there would be no one at all. O Nanak, only the True Lord is without a woman.”

His stories have remained but his teachings have been forgotten. His followers are now more interested in saving the religion rather than understanding his teachings. The tension between Hindus and Muslims have only increased with time. While His remains, which turned to flowers when Hindus wanted to cremate his body and Muslims wanted to bury his body, still bloom in another rustic town of Pakistan.

Gurudwara Darbar Shib, Kartarpur, Pakistan, where the mystic turned into flowers

Happy Guru Nanak Jayanti !!

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Savitri, Savitri...

Some of the Ads that have come out of India are truly innovative. Its amazing how people Tivo their shows here so that they don't have to watch Ads and we look for Ads from India on Youtube. Anyways, these days my favorite Ad reminds me of an old show on Doordarshan about reincarnation. There was a story how a young boy goes to a new place for the first time only to realize he has been there in his last birth. The way that story has been incorporated in this Ad with humor is awesome. Love the young sardar jee boy in the Ad and his expressions. Check it out and try guessing what the Ad is about before the end...

Savitri, Savitri, I am also coming to India soon. Watch out **wink**

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Diwali Dhamaka – Om Shanti Om

Suno suno bhaiyon aur unke behno, hamare shehar main aa raha hain Shah Rukh Khan ka Diwali Dhamaka – Om Shanti Om. Isme ladkiyon ke aur kuch ladkon ke chahte atomic bamb Shah Rukh Khan hain. Unke saath patli kamar waali nayee phuljhari Deepika bhi hain. Aur villain ke bhoomika main hain rocket ke tarah lambe Arjun Rampal. Yehi nahin isme 31 seetaron ke ek ladee bhi hain, jo aapke suni zindgai ko chaka chanundh kardege. Toh aaye iss Diwali hamare saath seetaron ke patakhe jaalayee…

If this was 70s then this would be the best publicity in the villages and small towns of India. Actually, it reminded me of the movie scene from Swades and whatever one may say about Indian film industry, the fact is that it is one source of entertainment that has entertained Indians from all strata of life. Whether it was K L Sehgal or Dilip Kumar or Madhubala or Rajesh Khanna or Rekha or Amitabh Bachchan or from today Shah Rukh Khan or Rani Mukherjee, movie stars have always provided an escape for people from all walks of life. A child labor in Dharavi maybe working 14 hours a day to make a shirt for retail giant GAP but when he sees Shah Rukh Khan on the big screen after saving his every penny, he feels like the King himself.

This Diwali we decided to celebrate the festival with the patakhas of Bollywood. The choice was between Om Shanti Om and Savariya but the reviews made it obvious that it will be Shah Rukh who will prevail over the grandson of India’s first film family, Ranbeer Kapoor. All the publicity of the movie Om Shanti Om had made us all the more excited. We booked our tickets online and decided to goto theatre one hour in advance. We first stopped at Ricky’s (I thought they would at least serve me for free) for our dinner. We reached theatre on time, grabbed our tickets and stood in the line of all desis, which is an experience in itself. I think people in India are 10 times more civilized now then desis living here. The moment the door opened people started crossing the line to go ahead. It took me back to the days of single screen theatres in India where as soon as the ticket window would open people would start running as if Shah Rukh himself is the person issuing the ticket. Inside the theatre it was worse with people grabbing chairs worse than our politicians. Finally we were able to find some decent chairs and were able to see idiocracy of desis from the vantage point. After 45 mins of mindless Ads the movie started…

I won’t give away anything about the movie but it was indeed a Diwali Dhamaka. From the first shot till the last, it was a celebration of Bollywood. The movie had everything that every desi crave to watch. The best part of the movie was the colors, it was like watching a rangoli on screen with so lively colors of clothes and the stars themselves. The storyline though borrowed in parts from Karz (and those who don’t believe it needs to watch Karz again) was very well executed. From the bell bottoms of flabby 70s to the torn jeans of abs-induced 2007, the movie was rocking in ever sense of the way. Even though the story was unbelievable it was executed to perfection by Farah Khan. The comedy parts, the senti parts, the music, over-the-top acting, the dances, were all very integral to the storyline.

Farah Khan has indeed hit the bulls eye this time. If I thought Main Hoon Na was the worst superhit then Om Shanti Om is gonna be her best superhit movie. She has grown in leaps and bounds as a director. The camera angles, the lighting, the colors, the visuals were all stunning to say the least. She has shown that she can make a male-dominated movie with as much conviction as any other director in the country. Hats off to her!!

The music of the movie was the most rocking and yet melodious of this year. The picturization had to be good as it was Farah Khan’s movie and every song was picturized as beautifully as it could have been. My favorites were Main Agar Kahoon, which has been picturized in the style of 60s and 70s, Ajab Si, which is the most romantic number and will make girls drool over SRK’s dreamy eyes and Deewangi Deewangi, which was the most exciting number with 31 stars adoring the screen (with my favorite being Mithun Da).

This is a Shah Rukh Khan movie all the way. I think every theatre should keep the medical kit handy as many girls will faint after seeing his dreamy eyes with shirt-less abs. There were few girls sitting beside us who would almost jump on their seats whenever SRK was on screen (and believe me he is there in almost every shot). So, if you are a SRK fan then this movie will make you his a/c and if you are not then this movie has the potential to make you one. This movie required over-the-top acting and there is no better actor than SRK for that. Watch out for his over-the-top South Indian acting sequence, it will make all kind of knots in your stomach from laughing so hard. SRK may not be the best actor but his movie has proven that he is the best entertainer.

I don’t think there have been a beautiful debutant as Deepika Padukone. She is the daughter of India’s best badminton player till date, Prakash Padukone and believe me if this is how it works, every guy in India should take badminton. She is oh-la-la **whisting** **howling oooooooooooo** **drooling** *sighing** **huffing puffing** . Ok ok, I am getting over the top too but this is only in the spirit of the movie. Deepika doesn’t only looks great but she can act beautifully too. I think her eyes speak the language that only we guys can understand. Watch out Bollywood!!

Arjun Rampal as a villain is great. The role suited him to the T. I don’t think anyone could have done better than him. Shreyas Talpade was a revelation in this commercial affair and will go long way. Kirron Kher was perfect for an over-the-top-melodramatic Mom. Infact, casting of every character was just about perfect. But for me among all the special appearances the one that took the cake was none other than Akshay Kumar. He is indeed the comedy king of Bollywood and no wonder why.

I think this was the best way to celebrate Diwali by watching patakhas on the screen rather than polluting the environment by blowing them on streets.

Haan toh bhaiyon aur unke behno, agar aapko yeh review padhne main mazza aaya toh phir movie dekhne zaroor aayeega kyunki “Picture abhi baaki hain mere dost”.