Tag: India

Effective Strategies to Watch Padmaavat Without Getting Killed

Sanjay Leela Bhansali’s period drama Padmaavat is finally cleared by the CBFC and the Supreme Court, and is now slated to release on 25 January 2018. But, there are still some zealots out there who may prevent you from watching it.

So here are a few strategies to adopt so that you can enjoy the film and at the same time be prepared should a sword catch you off guard. There’s a high chance that your viewing will be interrupted by machete-wielding attackers, so if you care for your life, read and adopt these strategies.

I have never been so apprehensive about going for a movie before, and if it’s not an indication to the rising extremism in the country, then I do not know what it is.

Anyways, without further ado, here you go:

  • Book the movie ticket at the box office. This way you can gauge the situation and see if there are any religious extremists keeping a close eye on the patrons. If there are, don’t think twice. Go to the next theater in the next state
    • Don’t pre-book on BookMyShow as you can never know if they’ll cancel the show at the last minute, or if they are tracking who all are booking the tickets so that they can finish you before you leave your house
  • Book a movie ticket for PadMan and then, when you don’t see any danger, enter the screen that is showing Padmaavat. Unfortunately, your money will not reach the Bhansali crew
    • Or book a ticket for films like Nirdosh or Vodka Diaries that are definitely going to bomb at the box office. At least the artists of these films will get paid
  • When booking the ticket, don’t focus on comfort, and instead reserve a seat that is closer to the EXIT door. This way if they come to get you, you can run for the door quickly.
    • The one problem with this is that some cinema halls have ENTRY and EXIT doors adjacent to each other. If this is the case, you are screwed
  • Carry the holy book of those people
  • When entering theater, avoid the water flask and carry a pepper spray or a mace
  • Ask one of your religious friends to accompany you so that when push comes to shove, your friend can at least talk to them in their language using religious annotations. This will not work if the sword reaches your throat first
  • Apply for a job as an usher at your nearby theater right now and enjoy Padmavaat not as a patron but as an employee. Danger still exists here, but you at least know where to hide when they come
  • Observe them as they have appeared in the news in the past few weeks and mimic their dressing style when going to the theater. When terror breaks in, take their side, but don’t kill anybody
  • Choose a movie theater that is isolated. Chances of them going there to kill movie-watchers is low as compared to them going to popular locations. If not anything, these folks care much for publicity
  • Wait for a day or two and then head to The Pirate Bay.


There you have it. The best possible strategies to watch Padmavaat on or around 25 January. I usually don’t say this, but if you are really planning to go, it won’t hurt to be a little alert at all times. For all you know, the sword may be sitting waiting for blood in the bag of the person you came in with.

And if you don’t already do it, don’t go in until after they have played the anthem.

No Indian Author in the 2016 Edition of Man Booker Prize Longlist

I have been following the madness behind Man Booker Prize ever since I started reading literature few years ago. It began when a friend of mine handed me Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things and later after finishing it I looked it up on the web. The book cover had informed me that it had won the Booker Prize in 1997, which Wikipedia confirmed, but I had no idea of its importance in modern English literature nor the heated discussions and the pomp and circumstance that surround the event, which usually starts in July and climaxes in October every year. Subsequently, I read a lot about the literary award, so much to know that the Guardian has created a parody award, aptly named ‘Not the Booker Prize‘, and that the Man Booker International prize is different from the one we are talking about here. For the uninitiated, in the most basic sense, the Man Booker Prize is awarded every year to a work by an author writing in English whereas the Man Booker International Prize is awarded to a translated work by an author and its translator. Both awards have been reconfigured a couple of times, and now it suffices to say that authors of all nationalities are considered for both. Interestingly, the Wikipedia article for The Vegetarian by South Korean writer Han Kang and British translator Deborah Smith, this year’s Man Booker International Prize winner, was created and edited by me with help from fellow Wikipedian Josh Milburn.

Coming back to our topic, for anyone who has gone through this year’s ‘Booker dozen‘, the most vivid observation will be that most authors are upcoming talents. Honestly, despite of having closely following the literary scene, I had only heard about 3 of the longlisted 13 authors (which embarrasses me). The statistics tells us we have six women, four debut authors, one previous winner (J M Coetzee), and one previous shortlistee (Deborah Levy) in the list. The general review of the list has been good, with pundits straining on how the committee is continuously (since 2013) selecting underdogs rather than big names. For example, people all over the web were hoping that biggies like Ian McEwan, Don DeLillo, and Julian Barnes would make the list. But, fortunately for the up-and-coming, here we are with a list so diverse and interesting, it will be fun to predict which 6 will make the shortlist in September.

Last year I was first rooting for Anuradha Roy (Sleeping on Jupiter), then for Sunjeev Sahota (The Year of the Runaways), and eventually for Hanya Yanagihara (A Little Life), but they gave it to Marlon James, whom I tried to read but found the prose a bit too difficult. Nine months later, it still is on my TBR list. But, that’s no surprise. What surprises me is that this year no Indian name is on the list, not even a PIO. We had Neel Mukherjee (The Lives of Others) in 2014, Jhumpa Lahiri (The Lowland) in 2013, and Jeet Thayil (Narcopolis) in 2012, all three frontrunners for the coveted prize. While Eleanor Catton became the youngest winner for her crime story, The Luminaries, Mukherjee was possibly robbed by Richard Flanagan with his dull Burmese chronicle The Narrow Road to Deep North. Haven’t yet read Bring Up The Bodies, Hilary Mantel’s follow-up to Wolf Hall, so let’s not comment about that. India has not experienced any luck since 2008’s win by Aravind Adiga for his brilliant The White Tiger, a story taking place in Delhi, which I incidentally read while touring Kerala. 155 novels were apparently submitted for the prize this year, out of which the baker’s dozen were chosen. Amitav Ghosh’s The Flood of Fire must have been submitted, but the reviews were mixed, so no luck there.

Something that’s dawning upon us right now is that there were very few books written by Indian authors in the first place. Karan Mahajan’s The Association of Small Bombs sounds nice, but again, the reviews said it is average. Adiga’s last book came out 7 years ago and Arundhati Roy has seemingly decided to perpetually continue kicking the political hornets’ nest. The fact is that we haven’t many authors left who write good literature. Just when I was researching for this piece, I scanned through a list of Indian authors that one should read in a popular website. It started well with Vikram Seth, Amita Ghosh, and Suketu Mehta. But then names like Preeti Shenoy were being listed and I had no courage to scroll down for the fear of finding Chetan Bhagat. Frankly speaking, both Senoy and Bhagat are decent writers, but when it comes to literary criticism and comparison, things will take a murky turn, and people will have to use harsh words. It’s not like Devdutt Pattanaik will draft a fictional story about some God and he will be longlisted or Ravi Subramaniam will finally stop accusing God of being a banker. We need authors who will scribble words and incite thoughts, not be complacent and churn out garbage. Only then can we find our place back in a longlist, let alone a shortlist.

Patriotism never bothered me, so as a book reader, I do not much care about an Indian novel not being longlisted this year. What matters is that we appreciate good literature so that writers like Ghosh and Seth can come up with new books and enlighten us with their thoughts. Enough of pulpy romance drama screenplays written in the disguise of 99-rupee novels. We need strong literature, we need strong storytellers, we need ideas, we need new authors, and we need them now. Who knows we may just be next year’s winner?

I will start reading The North Water by Ian McGuire this week and will hopefully publish a prediction article before September. This year, at this point, I think I will root for Serious Sweet by A L Kennedy, who was previously associated with the Booker as a judge back in 1996. The novel’s premise sounds very interesting.

The Moral Folks create a National An(a)them(a)

While I have always wondered why our National Anthem Jana Gana Mana is played in the cinemas before a movie starts, I haven’t yet been able to find the reason behind it. All I came up with was that the tradition is being followed since the pre-Independence era, simply out of patriotism. It was the British National Anthem then. After finding many things else but an answer to that wonder, I next wandered to another question: What are the different types of videos that accompany the anthem? There are at least 4-5 different videos that play, the most patriotic one being the Siachen Glacier edition. Unfortunately that one was dismissed recently and now we have either that of the animated tricolor fluttering unnaturally or the one where the two greatest female singers of India sing gracefully.

There are lots of people who crib about the selection of edition when they go for a movie. And if the movie is a big-time bore, they discuss the various editions instead. The clear loser we can deduce from these discussions is the animated fluttering Indian flag edition, hands down. But, the scope of this article is to not care about such people. I am more interested in the guys who take moral policing in their own hands as if we don’t already have enough policemen who are behooved to act against women adopting immoral dressing trends. Whom I like to call the “moral folks.”

Lets keep the actual police out if it and focus on the case in hand: is it wrong to refuse (or voluntarily choose not to) stand up when our National Anthem is being played, irrespective of the place or situation? The debate will be meaningless. The recent cases against people (including foreign nationals) who refused to stand up in a cinema hall during the National Anthem puts light into the lack of law awareness we all have. It is in a person’s intellectual freedom to stand up or not for the National Anthem. It is not something to be dragged into a court or a police station. There are tens of students (at least from where I stand, on a particular day) in my college who don’t care at all when the National Anthem is sung (not played) every morning. Maybe it’s because they can’t hear it as it is sung in the first floor and people here in the third floor are losing the flow or restarting it out in the middle. So, the anthem goes on for about 10 minutes and we reach the climax with a bad taste in our mood. Change the situation: lets put these tens of students in the first floor, near the potential patriotic students (2 males, 2 females) who are singing and you will see all of them following the tradition of halting (if they were walking) and standing up (if they were sitting), and ending it with powerful tri-chants of (Bharat Mata ki) “Jai” with fisted hands in the air whereafter the most physically and visually fit guy (who shouts the chant’s prelude) prides in his strong voice and looks around if all the cute girls (1 or 2) saw how wildly patriotic and strong a man he is.

So, there we have. The students just followed the tradition not only just because they wanted to and to prevent making a spectacle of themselves by not following what every other person seemed to follow without protest, but also because there is a tiny speck sense of patriotism that is evoked from respecting and listening to the anthem. It is an intellectual thing. Ask an Indian which is the most patriotic national anth…? Before you complete the question, the reply will be “India.” Ask a Brit or an Oz or a Scot and we all know what they will say. There is nothing moral about the gesture. If you want to stand up, stand up. If you don’t, lets not be Preity Zinta, the latest voice of our moral folks.

The reason behind not following the tradition could be either an intellectual issue, like I have mentioned before, or a religious issue, a topic which I hate to touch. Taking a step forward and charging a person for sedition for not standing up to attention during the anthem is as bizarre as the laws which these moral folks have created as their weapon. There is only one legal provision relating to dishonour to the anthem and it criminalizes intentional prevention or disruption of singing of the anthem. So, surely, someone who does not subscribe to the notion of standing to attention, without disrupting or preventing others, would never be guilty.

This whole drama concerning our anthem has been a mockery of our own little act of showing patriotism and has been turned into people’s latest anathema by the moral folks. Now, people will stand to attention out of fear. Out of fear for the thing they previously used to love and adore and respect. Between this hullabaloo, we are risking to lose a small but important part of our patriotic tradition. Standing up to attention and singing along the anthem has always been a lovable activity for me and mostly all the people I know, but blame these moral folks, we might have to handle this aftermath with utmost care to restore the national decorum.

Note: With certain sentences, verbatim, from Somasekhar Sundaresan’s October 24, 2014 Mumbai Mirror article “Worshipping false Gods”.

A Theater Habit

Last day I booked three tickets for the largely hyped Hollywood space drama film “Gravity” at an INOX Cinema (formerly FAME Cinemas) through an online portal. Not only was the 3D excellent, but the film also was worth the price. I rated it 10/10 here! And guess what, the 3D goggles cost me nothing. Everything was brilliant, until the film hit an abrupt interval…

The 90 minute science-fiction film has to be seen in a single stretch for two reasons: one, it is made so & two, the enjoyment factor. The screenplay requires you to focus on the story in a single setting. Introducing an abrupt, yes you heard right, an abrupt interval just so the patrons go and burn a hole in their wallets purchasing heavily priced popcorn and tiny samosas is the modern-day malevolent technique these theater owners adopt. At least they could find a pre-planned apt seek position for the interval! And what’s worse, the so-called interval goes for 20 minutes playing ridiculous commercials of beauty products and stuffs. Imagine the latest Idea cellular 121 advert on big screen! Disgusting! It took me around ten minutes to get into the flow of the film after it resumed. Few minutes later, credit roll diminished my whole experience. I had planned to watch it once more, but now I think I will wait for the rentals!

The level of exasperation cannot be expressed in words, although my friends could write a book about that. I would understand if during a movie like “3 Idiots,” you give me an interval; the Indian makers also include the word starting with an “i” for being friendly, but when short movies are screened, theaters should act accordingly. They need to generate revenue, all right but what about the ultimate purpose of theaters? It gets obliterated completely. But the people behind this business know that aficionados will return to catch the next week’s big release.

A solution can be made, but it will only materialize if like-minded people start building theaters. Or is there any way that we can coax these theater owners to shun the “i” word? Is there?

Independence Day Is A Day Off!

Today I bid goodbye to my friends and joked about how I was gonna change my Facebook profile picture on account of India’s 66th Independence Day. I would Google the tricolor and upload it.

(Photo credit: Akshay Shah)

It’s a shame, and even I am totally into it, that we consider completing our pending jobs on this day or that day in January. Most people my age either don’t know or have forgotten about why we celebrate the Republic Day. Can you write 500 words about Indian Republic Day or the Indian Independence Day? The excuses are numerous and I cannot even list one because of the humiliation. Out of humiliation, I had to write this post as is what I feel.

Also, many of us might have forgotten our national anthem, had we not gone for the movies. And above that, we still complain about the versions that play before a cinema at different theaters. Shame! I am not complaining because I was one of them. My alma mater’s MD always used to force us to go watch a flag hoisting, if not in college, elsewhere. I did not know or realize the patriotism related to the sight. But now all seems clear. What showed the way? Nothing in specific. I just discovered the importance of being present while our tiranga is hoisted. That feeling when that tricoloured cloth sways in the breeze is a moment to capture.

So I suggest, instead of watching Border movie on TV (mostly SAB TV or SONY MAX), shun your useless ignorance & go attend a flag hoisting session, spend few minutes with people who care. They distribute sweets at the end. Happy Independence Day!

PS: If you are a person who took offence when I dubbed our tiranga a mere cloth, then I salute you! Jai Hind!