Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Mahabharat - Not anymore obvious

Once upon a time, Indian mythological stories used to take centre stage amidst the growing kids. As generations and generations of children grew up, it was not anything out of the way to have the characters of Ramayana and Mahabharata etched in the young minds. Tales of valour and honesty were retold by grandmothers and it was one of the key factors of the growing up process for Indian kids. I had the good fortune and privilege to be associated with several such narrations at various stages of my childhood. My mother retold several hundreds of mythological stories, and my grandmother supplemented with more during the summer vacations. Summer vacations were fantastic, in the sense that all the cousins used to sit together to get the briefing dating back to good old times. Grandmothers are the best companions for young kids, and we were awed and surprised by the turn of events in Indian Mythology. Apart from this, we also had Amar Chitra Katha to look forward to. The Amar Chitra Katha series truly represents the powerhouse of Indian culture and tradition. I could get a lot out of those comic strips, and simple narration and style got me hooked to the fascinating journey taking me down the memory lane.

But, today is a different story. Almost in every conversation, while taking the reference of any character from the great epics, we do not owe an explanation to the other party. It is taken for granted that you have grown up with the epics, and that it is embedded in you. I was in for a rude shock today, as I got to know the extent of epics some of them knew. Draupadi - Oh! I know, she is the wife of the Pandavas. Panchali - Of course, I know! She is the mother of the Pandavas. Who is the eldest of the Kauravas? Karna! Now, this is something new in Mahabharata. Who won the war? There is a slight gap, as the thought process is getting ready. After some sighs and gasps comes the answer - Pandavas. Thank God! I did not have the courage to pursue with the second set of characters like Kunti, Madri, Pandu or Vidura. There was this classic. Atleast, tell me who is Yudhishtira? Come on, I know this. I am not that ignorant. He was the person who is blind right, came the answer! By this time, I realised that the Mahabharata discussion had to end before the characters were marauded and crucified, and of course, before the mythologies were replaced by their own set of characters with a new storyline.

In India, we can't have these epics in our classroom studies, else we will be accused of favouring saffronism. But, people should realise that India is heading in a totally flawed direction or rather in an absolutely erratic, westernised path. There should be a sense of pride in us to preserve the glory of the yesteryears, else we will be lost forever.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Writing style

Writing is a favourite pastime, and it is highly variegated for obvious reasons. No two individuals are alike, and it is not a surprise that no two people have the same style of writing. All the same, it fills me with awe to look into different writeups on the same subject, but with very different and contrasting styles. This can be easily observed when in your school days, you look into your friends' essays and wonder How I wish I could have written it that way! But, at that point of time, you don't realise that the feelings are mutual. It is all the more interesting for school teachers to examine hundreds of essays, see the various viewpoints and thoughts originating from such a big group, and observe the subtle and not-so-subtle differences in style.

The popular authors of the last century have inculcated within them a style of writing that makes it easy to identify them through their works. A topic can be approached in many different styles - humour, wit, sarcasm, philosophical, sentimental, superficial, intense, terse, descriptive or simple. Writings influence people, and it is easy to determine the nature of a person, by just knowing his favourite author. His favouritism to an author conveys so many different things that may go unnoticed when you observe the person through your lens. It is also important to notice from where a person gets his school of thoughts. There definitely is that intricate source which propells him to write the way he writes. But, ultimately, the way you put forward your thoughts ultimately rests on the writer. It is very difficult for a person to change his way of writing come what may. A person can write on many different subjects with ease, but the underlying style remains consistent for any topic.

At a point of time, it becomes easy to identify the author from his works. It is easy to read a particular sentence, and attribute it to a particular author with authority. Be it journalism, movie/book reviews, essays, novels or short stories, the writer would have stamped his seal in his composition. At the end of the day, it is this style of writing that tends to bring the fan base to the writer. The content is the same, the meaning conveyed is the same, the views are the same, but it is the style that makes the final difference.

Saturday, October 21, 2006

Deepavali Dhool

Diwali, inarguably the biggest festival in India, evokes strong emotions from all parts of the country. Truly a momentous occasion, it sparks off sentiments unmatched by any other Indian festival. The country truly comes to life with a great feeling of goodwill and happiness harboured by one and all. It is a festival that treads past religious barriers, bringing together a feeling of communal harmony and certainly a harbinger of peace. The baton is passed across generations and generations of lineage without any distortion and break up. The spirit has remained the same always, without a trace of boredom. In spite of that, Diwali is not just a routine every year, with every year being a fully filling experience.

In India, Diwali is directly related to the economy. Almost everyone is attracted by the magnitude of the festival, and nobody wants to be left behind. Shopping is taken to new heights with attractive offers from every superstore lined up well in advance, and the post Diwali shopping scenario takes it well past Diwali. People take time to come out of the frenzy and they take a long time to do that. In the current age of the software industry, and pressing deadlines, with a fast pace of life, people still do not compromise when it comes to spending time with family members during Diwali. The official holiday for Diwali is just a day, but people take almost a week off from the daily repetitive walk of life to come out of the blues of everyday life. No wonder, everyone gets charged up and excited about Diwali more than a month in advance of the actual festival. On the day of Diwali, even a bat would get up early in the morning to stay in tune with the events for the day. The television programmes would start from early morning and continue well past midnight. This is the best time for everyone to make money - starting from the street vendors to multinational advertisement companies. The feeling of togetherness is taken to new heights with every festival and Diwali adds spice to this wonderful moment. The telephone does not stop ringing in the morning, what with numerous calls from numerous relatives and friends. During Diwali, people make it a point to wish as early as possible and the calls arrive right from 4 AM, as anything beyond 7 AM is considered late! Though, there are talks from environmentalists about the cons of bursting crackers, pollution and its hazards to the surroundings take a backseat amidst children and elders alike, and everyone gears up to wake the neighbourhood with a 100 wala. It is a wake up call to the sleeping thugs.

Staying away from home makes you realise the importance of customs and festivals back home with a renewed vigour and energy. The unimaginable feeling during Diwali sinks in deeply as you sit back the night before Diwali, thinking about the wonderful things happening back home. The aura of the festival just binds you tightly with everyone around, and for a moment, nostalgia takes centerstage like never before. Diwali - spirited, colourful, lively and unexplainable in words. If in India, bask in the glory of the most important festival of the year, and just cherish the good times. Wishing you a very happy and prosperous Diwali!

Monday, October 16, 2006

A Generation Gap

I just had this feeling sinking in when in my final year of my Bachelor's programme, and that was way back in 2003. The incoming batch really had me in a complex, what with heavy put on accent and jazzy gadgets accompanying them always. They had a perpetual tilt with their head resting on one of their shoulders. Obviously, it is no easy task to talk all the time on mobile phones, what with terrific mobile plans in the offing. If Airtel and Hutch was trying to popularize something, SPICE used to be one notch above. Having a mobile was no longer a status quo - and we were really thrown into the oblivion. All of us were a bunch of jokers, carrying ourselves with utmost ease without a care in the world. Virtually, all of them had migrated from the good old bike days. There was a constraint of space due to the increasing number of four wheelers. By the way, Maruti was out of vogue. People had jumped to WagonR, Santro and the other new sleazy vehicles. Of course, cars had backseats!!!! Almost everyone hung out in pairs. The idea of being single was looked upon as a joke. My mind was whizzing thanks to the transition. Everything seemed out of place. The way the new set of kids carried themselves around left us in a state of ancient time frame.

Things did not quite change much when I started to work. Atleast, I felt I was still the same. I really had to look upto things. One year into my work, and in front of my office emerged a glossy mall. It was one of its kind and the first in Bangalore. Forum Mall had hit the headlines in Teenage Times. It had everything. Once you entered the place, you needn't come out for anything. Movies, Restaurants, Clothes, Music, Books and almost everything found its way into Forum. The concept of Multiplex found a new meaning with the launch of this sophisticated building. PVR hit the right chord with the movie goers. It is right in front of my office and how could I miss it. I loved to go to Forum just because of Landmark. The range of books that adorned Landmark was truly amazing. It was a reader's paradise. During my visits to Forum, I just used to get amazed at the purchasing ability of the public. Go to any movie, and all you could see was a house full board. By the way, tickets in PVR is not all that economical. You had two range of tickets - one costing 100 rupees and the other an exhorbitant (that's what I thought) 500 rupees. Almost all the software sector, and the college youth found their way to the PVR cinemas. Every individual had a supporting individual! Yes, it worked only in pairs. On one hand was a mobile, and the other hand rested on his girlfriend, and the shopping spree continued to impress the better half. I mean, the better half for that day. Things change in life and so do these things. Imagine us from the office, going in a big group to Forum, and getting involved in nothing more than window shopping. After all, what more can we do? In order to maintain our stability, we stopped our visits to Forum over a period of time and decided to move on with time. Life @ Forum was too fast for us!

Today, all of us have a hearty laugh(with concern too) looking at the cultural change that is gripping Bangalore. Money is pouring in abundance, and with the booming economy, one can get almost anything he wants. It is not all that surprising to see people flaunt their wealth on anything that is trivial. Everything seems so ethereal, unrealistic and unsure. Pubs, Booze and Party have all become trite. Social drinkers have emerged from nowhere, and everything seems to be alright under the current scheme of things. Discos and dance parties are the order of the day (rather night). The young kids want a good nightlife, and they complain if the pubs close at 11 pm in the night, as if that is the most outrageous thing in the world right now. A teetotaller is met with a response You don't drink? with aghast. Looks like I am out of place with a serious generation gap!

Sunday, October 15, 2006


I remember those days when my parents used to go out on important functions to travel out of Bangalore. It used to fall on a weekend, and generally, my brother and I stayed back home fighting out minor squabbles. I would make it a point to tell my mother not to tell the news of her travel anywhere outside, lest neighbours and relatives invite us for lunch or dinner. Anything appealed to us, except going out to somebody else's house for the sake of food. That has somehow not fascinated me or my brother much. Both of us would rather shell out that extra money on a good hotel outside and fill our stomach. But, going out to somebody's house exclusively for the sake of food is a strict NO NO.

OK! If a couple of extra bucks have to be saved, save it on other things. Why cringe to buy good food? In all my years, anywhere, I have never cared to find out what my neighbour is cooking or what is going to be offered by whom. I still remember the times when my brother and I used to stay back at home, and find excuses to avoid other people's homes. Thanks, aunty! We are just going to my friend's place for dinner. Thanks a lot for the invitation. We will make it some other time. What are you planning to do for tomorrow? Oh! That! We have been invited by someone else. Please don't worry! With a blatant lie, both of us would head to the hotel. It is not in the food that lies the difference. It is just that with certain people, you wouldn't want the relationship to extend beyond basic courtesies. So, when that happens, your conscience would not permit you to go to their place just for the sake of food. It would be an uncomfortable proposition for the giver as well as the taker. Again, it is a different matter that if I go to some people's homes, I have asked them what is there to eat. That is altogether a different relationship. I would hate to go somewhere, get involved in family talk when least interested, with deep sighs and grins leading nowhere, with one part of the face staring at the food, and the other part of the face askewedly facing the person, all in heights of unexplainable unpleasantry. A half filling meal, with half hearted smiles and answers, and then fleeing the place as if you were getting chased by a lion. That's being a thorough diplomat, and for nothing in the world would I want to invoke diplomacy from my side or from the other side.

Inspite of all this, there was an interesting incident which still fills me with rage and laughter. Contrasting, yeah, but that's the way it turned out. Once, my parents had to go to a function during the weekend. As usual, my brother and I opted to stay back at home. Sadly, Mrs. X got to know about that. After having run out of lies, and having been caught red handed, we had to go to Mrs. X's house for lunch. We were writhing uncomfortably, when Mrs. X came to me with a plate of adai. It was delicious no doubt but the supporting statement had me transfixed in amazement. Do you want one more? followed. Now, we were sort of people who wouldn't move out of the house even if there was an earthquake without eating atleast 4-5 adais. How could we explain this to Mrs. X? My brother and I exchanged furtive glances sealed in a concealed smile. Thanks to her generosity, we had one more adai on our plates. How in the world could I explain to her that it had not filled even 10% of the quota in our stomach! But, we walked out thanking her profusely for the "hearty" meal. We came out of the house, and instead of heading home, we took to the nearest hotel, ordered everything we wanted and the whet appetite was finally toned down with great difficulty.

All this done, the next day, my mother had to bear the brunt of my anger. I told her that the next time she is going out of town, let alone other people, she is not going to tell even us about the travel plans.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006


Ramanujan stood on the terrace of his house observing the gully cricket played out by the small kids in the neighbourhood. He was fascinated by the amount of satisfaction the game generated to the young boys in such a small area. It was hardly a place to park a car, and the kids had created a playground out of the space. The wall adjoining to the landlord's house served as the stumps, with the mark made by a red brick serving as a perfect debatable wicket. As always, the player who wielded the bat missed the ball more often than once, and was caught in a dilemma as to whether the opposition is going to appeal him out or not. He was, as usual, ready to confront an argument with the close in fielders, an argument finding all the unknown words in the local language, and irreproducible. Summer holidays was generally the busiest time for the kids, and for the mothers, an unexplainable agony. The game generally progressed from 9 in the morning to 1 in the afternoon, with about an hour for lunch. The kids assembled back at 2 to play out the rest of the day, which usually ended well into the night. In the midst of the game, there used to be several head banging arguments, which could easily bring down the neighbourhood. Just like any other neighbourhood, there were these elements, who never fancied young kids playing all day.

Ramanujan watched all this with the eye of an artist. He loved their games, their fight, their arguments, and he also appreciated at some of them for the way they played the game. His son and daughter-in-law left early in the morning for work, and he after a good breakfast got ready to watch the day's proceedings. His grandson went to school, and his parents dropped him on the way to office. He would eagerly wait for him in the evening, so that he could narrate to him about the day's events. He had been doing this for the past many years, seeing generations of kids grow up to adults. He had never been bored by the game, since there was always some difference in the fresh batch of players. After his morning walk and breafast, he would stay on till about 12 in the afternoon, grab a quick lunch, read some philosophical subjects, and get back in the evening for the game. If there was an international game, then the area would be deserted, and the lunch session would witness some pathbreaking analysis. Ramanujan had found perfect peace in the world, and so, was at peace with himself. He always felt that the time he spent with his grandson were the best moments of the day. He would tell him about all the teachers, about the homework, about his fight with the other boys, about his sports events, and about all the things that had no special significance in anybody else's life. Ramanujan would be an avid listener, adding suggestions to the conversation. His relationship with his grandson, he considered it to be invaluable. His son and daughter-in-law had given him complete freedom at home, and he was free to do what he wanted. He was never questioned about anything, and they felt it to be their duty to take advice from him. Ramanujan, on his part, never really troubled them with unnecessary criticism and sarcasm.

His morning walk to the Malleswaram Railway Station, he met many people whom he knew for many years. He would strike a conversation with them in the most friendly way, inquiring them about their day to day activities. He never got bored with the talks even though it had been that way everyday. He was treated with respect wherever he went and people appreciated his non-interfering attitude. The stationmaster in the railway station was a good friend of his and both of them would spend some time discussing about the current state of affairs in the country.


His routine fell in place to a nicety and he was happy with the way things were progressing in life. But, in life there are many a hurdles to clear and it is how one manages to steer his way through them is what really defines life. One day, on his way back from his morning walk, he saw a group of violent elements manhandle a guy. He walked away unconcerned, with a feeling of animosity and hatred towards the tough guys. He went back home with a very disturbed mind, feeling totally uneasy with himself. He was feeling guilty for having not got involved in the issue someway or the other to rescue the person who was getting thrashed. For a second, all the principles and values that he had lived for all his life seemed to be waning away. It was the moment of truth for him, as he realised that what you preach is useless unless and until practised in the same vein. It is tough to point out when a person is doing something wrong, than to go around telling people not to do wrong, when they are not doing anything. That was the situation Ramanujan faced that day. He felt that the entire system crashed on him, and he would never be able to be the same again. The least he felt that he could have done was to call the police, and walked away from the scene. He did not even do that. He sat back reclining on the chair wondering what else he could have done. He then got up, opened the door, and headed to the station. But this time, it was a different one, the police station. He went to the inspector and narrated the situation that took place sometime back. He also told him how he did not have the sense of duty to call him earlier, and that he regretted for his actions. The inspector listened carefully and listed out the event in a report. He thanked him for his social concern and appreciated him for his help. Such was the nature of Ramanujan. He was an idealist, with a very socialistic approach towards life.

There were times when he would be in disagreement with his son and daughter in law over certain issues. But, the argument would always end in a positive note, with Ramanujan not hesitating to pick the positive points from the discussion. He liked to be a liberal man with a very simplistic way of living, and never cared for what others thought about him as long as he was on the right path. The border issue had taught him a lot of things in life. His good friend had purchased the adjacent plot of land and constructed a nice and sophisticated building. Everything was good with it, except that a part of the building encroached Ramanujan's area. He tried reasoning with his friend, explaining to him that he did not feel comfortable with the encroachment. His friend never saw from Ramanujan's perspective, and both the families got into a feud that threatened to wreck the peace of the environment. The families entered into a court case that meandered for more than a year, without any conclusive agreement in sight. Ramanujan saw that the court case was serving as a hindrance to everyone concerned. So, one evening, he decided to strike a conversation with his friend and reach an agreement on the issue. He went and told him that whatever may be the outcome of the case, he has no issues with his part of the building jutting into his compound, and that he has no problems with forging old ties. People and values have meant a lot to him in life and he did not want to lose them over something materialistic. Both of them spoke about their old days together. The talks gladdened their hearts and filled them with ease. The next day, his friend removed the structure that was reaching out to Ramanujan's house. The court case was withdrawn and both the families are enjoying the best relationship since then.

Ramanujan's attitude towards life focussed more on people's lives and their well beings. Materialism and wealth creation are just a part of the package towards a good lifestyle. They are not the be all and end all of life and can never be so. People like Ramanujan who have understood this basic fact of life are always bound to do well and suceed in life.

Monday, October 09, 2006

In all Glory

It is not easy to relinquish your position when you are at the peak of your career. There is always that urge to carry on in life, even though you know that the end is not far off. It is normal for any individual not to give up when in your final phase of what you are doing. The inherent selfishness in an individual rises to the surface on such occasions. One has to realise that all good things must come to an end. But, one also has to know how and when to put a stop on everything.

Michael Schumacher, inarguably the word's best F1 driver, is going to step down after this season from Formula 1. The F1 fans around the globe have become so used to the Ferrari cap adorned by Michael Schumacher, that it is going to be very difficult to imagine F1 without Schumacher, and more importantly, to see someone else wear the red cap for Ferrari in his place. It would never be easy for Ferrari to replace this amazing driver, who single handedly has got Ferrari victories from the jaws of defeat. It was also fascinating to see the Ferrari-Schumacher combination beat the guts out of the rivals by simple and effective pit stop strategies. The passion in Schumacher will definitely be missed by all sports buffs, simply because of the way he carried himself in the large arena. There were times he hardened his stance by taking certain uncompromising decisions, which was rebuked by all critics. But that's the way he has always played the sport. In an era of high competitiveness and "result is all" attitude, it is not difficult to realise why Schumacher carries his passion on his sleeve. He was loved by many and equally, or rather more than that, hated by many. Obviously, he has got into many controversial situations in many many races. But then, imagine for how long he has been driving. He is in the F1 circuit for more than a decade, and in such a large span of driving, one is going to face many stirring situations. Schumacher too was not different in this aspect. He has been a part of too many races and each race besets a new problem.

Alonso was on a roll last season with Ferrari struggling to cope up with the speed of the Renault. Renault was walking away with the championship with more than half a dozen races to come. People were speculating about Schumacher's position in Ferrari. Ferrari obviously did not want to let go of the genius. Schumacher too did not want to leave Ferrari with a big low. He stayed on for one more season, and in 2006, showed why he is regarded as the best in the circuit. With just one more race to go, Schumacher might come second in the championship, but there is no denying that what he did in the last decade will be remembered by every F1 fan. It is also good to see the sporting genius retire on a high, when things are working in his favour. Rather than being kicked to the sidelines, he has chosen the right moment to come out in all glory. That's what is needed from a true sportsman.

There are a lot of people in the global sports arena who want to squeeze out the maximum from their playing days, and stick on till the end, even when they know that they are not giving their maximum to the game. But, Schumacher with perfect timing is walking away with all respect and accolades.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Bus Number 188

He stood waiting for the bus at the Malleswaram Circle bus stop with a sense of restlessness and uneasiness. He was already late for the morning bus, and he just hoped that the bus is late than usual. As such, he was getting used to coming to the bus stop more than ten minutes late, since the bus driver never kept his time. The bus was supposed to reach the bus stop daily at quarter past seven in the morning. The routine late arrival by about ten minutes meant that he never came before twenty five minutes past seven to the bus stop. Now, his normal time had shifted to the new time. He started timing his arrival at the bus stop to this new time, which meant that he was not able to meet the ten minute delay schedule too. Expecting a bus to be more than fifteen minutes late was something that was not extraordinary. Buses were never meant to keep up time. It was not the end of the world if he missed his bus, but that would mean an additional travel time to the main bus stand, and catching another bus from there would result in inevitable delay for his class. To spruce up further, delay for his classes meant a lot for him, as he would end up losing his morning nap that added as an extension to his previous night's sleep. The extension seemed to stretch as long as he was seated in class.

Today, it seemed that the bus was definitely on schedule. He cursed his lack of time sense that seemed to inhibit his daily mode of functionality in some way or the other. He always regretted having to take the bus to the main bus stand. It meant changing two buses, and he never knew, whether he would be able to make it to the first class on time, if he had to catch the bus from there. He had little time to think about his next course of action. He could either wait for five more minutes for the direct bus to college or take the next immediate bus to the main bus stand. There was always this borderline case whether the bus would still make its appearance or not. Since Malleswaram circle bus stop was an important point, there was an average of three buses every minute. So, he had to make sure that he did not miss his bus in the melee of other buses and large commuters. He could see the different buses heading in totally different directions - To Yeshwantpura, Mathikere, Shivajinagar, Koramangala, Ulsoor, Jayanagar, JP Nagar and other such places. But he could not find that elusive bus that was supposed to take him to Hosakerehalli. Though the direct bus did not yield him any extra benefit other than not having got to change the bus, it did not provide him with any luxury either. This bus was fun since all his classmates who were from Malleswaram and Suththa Muththa boarded the same bus to meander off in endless conversations and stories. Each had his own share of comments and tales to supplement the endless chatter from other fellow passengers. At times, the driver would be so irritated that the conductor would have to shout at the top of his voice at the students to keep the students from the aimless talk. Of course, there used to be days when all of them used to be busy with internals and exams, that the bus used to resemble a silent zone with everybody having their gaze fixed sternly on their books.

Bus number 188 provided a lot of comfort in such aspects for its commuters. Once the students got their seats, it assisted them in their quest for exam preparations. Everyone would get busy discussing the various concepts that had kept them elusive until the day before. Comments such as Yaako concept bagge yochane madthiya! Marks Mukhya Concept amele nodkolona. (Why do you think about the concept? Marks are important. Let us worry about the concepts later) This is not an important question. This example problem is important and other such talks would do the rounds. Each comment would be lapped with special significance as each one of them would not like to be left behind in his preparation. Thought ultimately what each one of them got in the internals and externals is altogether a different blog topic in itself.

So today he waited endlessly for the bus. He just had one more minute to take the decision. He would be taking the next bus to Majestic (Main Bus Stand). He knew it would be futile to wait for a longer time. There were two buses coming one behind the other. He saw that the first one was definitely not the bus taking him to the desired destination. The second one parked itself atleast twenty yards away from the actual bus stop. The usual hustle and bustle of commuters made it difficult for him to enter bus number 188. He heaved a sigh of relief and greeted his friends.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

When Black touched my heart and "Gandhigiri" stemmed

In the midst of a hectic schedule, I caught up with a recent movie which received rave reviews from all quarters, and an other one, released in 2005, which took the nation by storm. The two movies I am refering to are Lage Raho Munnabhai (2006) and Black (2005). Both of them are emotional and touchy, with fantastic messages passed across.

After watching Parineeta, the simplistic Vidya Balan had hit the right chord with the masses. Her elegant and graceful South Indian looks was enough to bowl out almost any stone hearted individual. The grace and elan she evokes is so different from the other heroines. She plays the lead role in the sequel to Munnabhai MBBS. The other characters had the star cast lifted from the prequel - Bomman Irani, Sanjay Dutt and Arshad Warsi. Arshad Warsi had his career going to great heights after the first part, and to be honest, he deserves all that he is getting and more. He has played a terrific role in this one too, with classy dialogue delivery and the typical maamu stuff. Sanjay Dutt, as an emotional goonda, listening to Gandhi has been dealt in a very subtle manner. Now, why is Lage Raho the most talked about movie of the year? Rajkumar Hirani has shifted away from the monotony of the routine Bollywood masala and has come up with something highly entertaining and meaningful. In the days of violence and monstrous activities committed everyday, Hirani has tried to convey the importance of non-violence through simple examples. The theme is totally refreshing and more importantly it is handled deftly, without any strings attached. It is never easy to live upto the expectations of the people after the first part. People never expected the second part to be as good as the first one. I am sure even Hirani wouldn't have expected the movie to evoke such a tumultous response. Terms like Gandhigiri has found its way through some catchy sequences. The catchy term used for the first time in the movie was enough to generate considerable curiosity.

This movie aims to convey to the society the harsh realities in a subtle way. A preachy philosopher is never accepted in the society, but a clown with a smiley is sure to attract the masses. This is what Hirani has employed to convey a strong message to the community. He does not get bogged down with preachy dialogues aimed at the critics, but the end product has resulted in such a way that it has pleased the critics as well as the usual cinegoers. Unlike Rang De Basanti, which conveys a totally flawed message, this movie can walk upright with a socially strong message appealing to the masses. Hirani and crew have hit the jackpot here without attracting any hint of negative publicity for the movie.

Coming on to Black, the first thing I felt after seeing the movie was, why this one wasn't sent to the Oscars? I could not even think of how this movie was thrown out of the equation by a totally lacklustre movie like Paheli. Where is the comparison? Guys, give me a break! No movie can come close to this movie in any way not just in 2005, but maybe for a decade. This movie talks about the life of a handicap (blind and deaf) child, who is pruned to the social life by a teacher. The child grows up to be Rani Mukherji, and the teacher happens to be Amitabh Bachchan. The emotional trauma faced by the child is sure to bring tears to the eyes of the viewers. The emotional hardship juxtaposed with the harshness of the reality which the child is not able to understand left me dumbfounded. I can go on and on about this totally flawless movie, the cinematography, the theme, the picturisation and everything. It made me realise for an instant as to how lucky I am to be bestowed with the gifts of God - the ability to feel, sense, see, hear and talk. They undoubtedly can be bracketed to be the greatest gifts to us. Everything else materialistic pales in comparison to this natural wonder. Both Rani and Bachchan have essayed magnificient roles, and have shown how the handicap can be overcome to play a significant role in life. There are moments while watching the movie, I was thankful that there was nobody else watching along with me. The first time the child understands what it is to relate meanings to words left me with so much happiness like never experienced before. The way the family forgets everything around them to realise that their daughter was learning the ways of life is unforgettable. The classroom activity, where Rani explains to the class that it is not the eye but the mind that has to imagine things is brilliant. The family dinner, where Rani and her sister who is getting married, realise how each feels in the other's company is truly touching. The point where Rani realises, that she would never understand what it is to be loved by a man, is superbly capturised. One really feels for such a girl, who has to forego all happiness in her life because of her handicap. But the final speech made by Rani on her graduation is the scene of the movie, which can really lift your spirits and instill a new found inspiration and motivation in your life.

Black is one movie in recent times, where from start to end, it was taken in near flawless fashion. It also made me realise the trauma associated in the life of such individuals. If I have to say that I was moved by this movie, it would be the understatement of the century. A class movie with an awe-inspiring message, and I really don't understand what made me miss this movie for so long. It is also sad to realise that we kicked a potential Oscar winning movie due to our foolishness.

On an overall note, Black takes Indian cinema to new heights, and it would be just not possible to compare this movie with any other movie I have seen. Sanjay Leela Bhansali has stitched an highly compassionate movie in the finest fashion. A heart rendering, soul searching and an emotional shake up that left me asking for more.