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03 January 2015

Happy New Year - Belatedly

Image Courtesy: Clipart
For my first post this year (and in a long time), I wondered what to write about. Do I review a film? Not in the mood. Ditto for one of my themed lists. My husband, as jetlagged as I am, is not in the mood to write one of his ditties for me either.

But I was in India for a much longer time than usual, and enjoyed every minute of it. (I could have done without the bronchitis though. Perhaps I should travel by air conditioned cabs instead of auto rickshaws. Or perhaps it was divine retribution for my snarky remarks about the travelling Ninjas.) I still ate pani puri, drank gallons of ganne ka ras (my neighbourhood juice-wallah learnt quickly enough to give me two glasses of juice), or mosambi juice. I walked the length and breadth of my old neighbourhoods, took the local to town, walked around old haunts - Rhythm House, Strand Books, Jehangir Art Gallery... we bought books, music, DVDs; I mourned the disappearance of my second-hand bookwallahs...

I was supposed to go to Delhi. I had planned to meet up with fellow bloggers Dustedoff and Bollyviewer. Unfortunately, that trip did not materialise. Perhaps another day. But we did meet Akshay Manwani, the author of Sahir Ludhianvi: The People's Poet at The Prithvi Cafe in Bombay. I forgot to take my copy of his book - I could have had my own autographed copy. But I did have the theatre cafe's famed samosas and lemonade. No, not the equally famed Irish Coffee... it was too early in the day.

We went back to Prithvi the next day, to meet the lovely Banno of Banno, Dhanno and Teja. I had a doctor's appointment and had left more than enough time to get from Bandra to Juhu - or so I thought. I hadn't bargained with my doctor running late and had underestimated the traffic. Poor Banno waited graciously for us, while we trooped in half an hour later than we had agreed to meet. But we did have a fine time after that (she too, I hope!), and we chatted about films and theatre and books over cups of tea. We also ran into Shashi Kapoor, now a mere shadow of his old self. (S didn't recognise him!) Old, ailing, but still charming, still a flirt... And no, I didn't take photographs. He seemed imposed upon already. I do wish I had taken one of us with Banno, though. I never remember to take the camera along; I hate watching my experiences on film instead of living them.

I watched two movies. Both blockbusters. One day, when my sister and I trooped in at 9 p.m. one night. We were too tired to do anything, even eat. We needed a break. My sister wanted to forget about anything to do with weddings. And so, we walked up to the multiplex just behind her apartment complex. Our only movie of choice then was Happy New Year. I came back with three thoughts: Farah Khan has never been able to meet the promise she showed in her debut film Main Hoon Na. HNY was filled with some doubtful slapstick, some very regressive lines of dialogue, and some definitely unfunny 'comedy' scenes.

Two, Shahrukh Khan really needs to revisit his career agenda. Is this really the sort of film he wants to be remembered for? He looked wan, tired and totally disinterested. And his much-hyped eight packs? He looked physically ill.

Three, I came back more in love with Deepika Padukone than before, and feeling sad for Abhishek Bachchan - the man has more talent than he's been given credit for, and so much potential that is being left untapped. Where are all those directors who mourn the lack of talent in the industry and why aren't they giving him more work? Truth be told, Deepika and he were the best things about that film. (Even the usually competent Boman Irani seemed to be sleepwalking through his role.)

The second film was PK. If there is one 'star' whose films I eagerly await, it is Aamir Khan. (Banno, I think, disagrees with me.) Like him or hate him, his films are different. And Rajkumar Hirani is a director whose previous offerings have appealed to me. But this outing was a letdown - PK could have been better. I do not think they were being disrespectful to Hinduism. But there were moments, during the film, when I felt that neither Hirani nor Khan would have dared make a film like this about a maulvi.  We are an easy religion to bash. (And deservedly so, in the context of the film.) But there was an earlier film, a film called OMG  with Paresh Rawal and Akshay Kumar that took on the religious establishment much better. The satire was sharper, the dialogues were crisper, and the plot tighter. (I wish Anushka Sharma hadn't botoxed her lips [or whatever it is she did]; I wish Sushant Singh Rajput had a better role than he did; I wish Parikshit Sahni would stop playing the father who doesn't understand his progeny and has a built-in redemption at the end of the film.) I must confess to liking Aamir in the film, though. I thought he did a fantastic job.

I read many books in quick succession, hogged sweets by the dozen (kilo?), met aunts, cousins, and other assorted relatives, many of whom I hadn't seen in years, some of whom (the kids) I didn't even recognise... We survived the wedding and its aftermath, by literally and figuratively letting our hair down - so for three riotous days (nights?), my siblings and I, our spouses, kids, cousins, their kids... all sat around in my aunt's living room, laughing, drinking, remembering old times. We have some perfectly outrageous photographs to offer as proof -  but my sister vows to disown us if we make them public.

But finally, the wedding reception was also over, and one by one, it was time to leave... with a promise that this will not be the last time we meet like this. It would be a shame if we had to wait for another family wedding in order to have a family reunion of sorts.

Then came the awful chore of packing - again! And if I have my way, I will never again fly out of Kochi. Let me fly in and out of Bombay, and I will be an infinitely happier person! But we managed to keep our luggage well within the allowed baggage limit despite buying tonnes of books, arrived at the airport with more than enough time to spare, and landed in the US five hours after we were supposed to land. One day before the old year wound down.

The new year hasn't heralded us much joy - a very close family member is not keeping well; a very dear friend's health is of grave concern... hopefully, it can only get better. Keeping fingers and toes crossed for a better tomorrow.

There's a feeling of gratitude towards my readers, without whom this blog would cease to exist; a very Happy New Year to all of you. Thank you for continuing to visit even though I haven't posted anything for more than a month. Perhaps we all needed this break. But it's good to be back! And I will soon get going - more reviews, more lists, more reflections... so much to do, so little time. For as long as I have readers, this blog shall continue - with its fits and starts, and with built-in sabbaticals...  

To make an end is to make a beginning. (TS Eliot) 


  1. ...and it's good to have you back! (Though the two of us, at least, haven't been absolutely out of touch all this while). ;-)

    You know what an idiot I am? I met Akshay Manwani back around Diwali, when he was in Delhi - and completely forgot to take my copy of his book along to have it signed. I feel like such a fool. But he's promised to meet up again the next time he's in Delhi, so will do that then. Must.

    Good health to you and yours, Anu. I hope you're all better now.

  2. Was eagerly waiting for a post from you. Now that it's here I feel that the new year has begun. Sorry to hear about the health problems of your relatives, I pray they get better. Reading your post makes one feel like they know a little bit more of you. A glimpse into your life is deeply appreciated. Thank you for your blog, it's become a part of my life. Almost like a friend that I turn to in good times and bad.
    Happy new year :)

  3. Oh, don't be disappointed, Miranda. It is/i> an entertaining film, and I did enjoy it; it's just that I have such high expectations of AK and Hirani. I just thought they could have tightened the plot. Do watch - I wouldn't mind watching it a second time.

    Thanks for missing me. :)

  4. Thank you, Madhu. :)

    You are in good company, Madhu! I took out Akshay's book (which I had already packed) so I could take it with me when we went to meet him, and then forgot to pick it up as I left. I could have kicked myself!

    Things are better in one direction and worse in others, Madhu. Will write to you.

  5. Happy New Year, Ritika. Your comment brought a grin to my face. Thank you. Yes, I'm back and will soon resume blogging. It is the first step that is daunting. When you have not blogged for weeks, it is very easy to let it slide. :)

  6. Nalini Ikkandath5 January 2015 at 04:13

    Hello Anu and a happy new year to you too. Glad that you had a good time in India and glad also that you're back (so that we can hope for some more posts). Yes, family reunions are great. Suddenly you realise that these guys with whom you spent some of the best bits of your childhood are still there for you. We just finished one wedding (mom's side) and are looking forward to another one this month (dad's side). Last weddings of our generation and we plan to have fun. So looking forward to hearing from you again.
    BTW, I have always felt that AB junior has the potential to be a great actor. I have seen him in odd roles and comedies and he's great. Never understood why he's being sidelined.

  7. Anu,

    Welcome back, and Happy New Year. Your wedding memories reminded me I have also been attending several weddings in the family the last few months. Now each wedding involves at least two visits: engagement or ring ceremony or any name you give it is quite far from the main event. The last event is due next month. But since my visits are within the country, there is nothing of the chaos you would have gone through. Hope to hear from you more regularly.


  8. Happy New Year to you too, and welcome back, Anu! Glad to see that you are still in one piece, albeit a tad frazzled! I will be looking forward to your lists and reviews.

  9. Thank you. :) Another reason to smile....

  10. Weddings are fun but exhausting. I'm seriously considering asking my son to elope. I doubt I can go through this again.

  11. Thank you, AK, and a very Happy New Year to you too. The 'ring' ceremony is getting irritating, or I'm beginning to be the cranky old lady on the verandah. The truth, perhaps, lies, as it always does, somewhere in the middle. We adopt new customs without giving up any of our old ones, and everything seems to be a hotch-potch of rituals with no particular meaning attached to anything.

    I hope you have a blast at the weddings though. You probably will, especially if you do not have anything to do with its planning. :)

  12. Thank you, Lalitha. Will call you one of these days when I'm less frazzled. :)

  13. Happy New Year, Anu... As usual, I come to your post really late. I am subscribed to your posts but never get a notification! I should set a weekly reminder to check your blog... that way wont miss them!

    Good to know you had a very nice trip.... movies, books, family, friends, what fun! Weddings are fun only if one isn't involved in the planning - else like any other function, they can be absolute nightmares!

    Look forward to your reviews and lists and posts... Glad that you are back. :-)

  14. Anu, Happy new year to you too, and S. I thought of it too, why didn't I take a photo? But I am the same, always reluctant to take a photo, I'd rather just live the moment. And I did have a wonderful time, chatting up with both of you. Until we meet again.

  15. Happy New Year, Harini. I'm sorry to hear that the subscriptions to my blog aren't working very well. I use FeedBurner, so there shouldn't be these issues. :(

    Thanks for missing me, though. :)

  16. Thanks, Banno. :) I wish you and yours a smashing year ahead, free of all buerocratic hurdles. :) :) Next time, perhaps we can plan better. (And I won't underestimate the time it takes to get from point A to B either!)

  17. You forgot the bun muska chai and ginger biscuits at Yazdani Bakery. I am still relishing the biscuits. I hope Yazdani bakery goes on forever. At least beyond my lifetime.

  18. Ooh, yes, I did! :( I relished bun muska after ages too, and it was nice to see that the bakery hadn't changed one bit!

  19. Happy new year!
    Doesn't the world already remember SRK for DDLJ? not me though. I remember him for early tv roles and those anti hero characters which even Aamir didn't perfect. (got panned in Dhoom 3). Apparently his next 2 films are different.
    I hope that is the case.

    I agree with the 'mini reviews' of both the films. But Hirani is blatantly repeating himself in his every film and not just Mr. Sahni's character! too much same same in every direction venture of his. can he do a social film without any humour/comedy?
    Hrishikesh Mukherjee his idol wasn't like this, was he?

    and as for Aamir , I have an aversion to him since he put on some mannerisms in the last decade which were not there before 2000. despite those good films. I also never understood why 40+ actors like him and SRK were first choices for college student roles. for star power? the young actors are so bad?
    anyway, he was good in PK and after a long time the lead actress in his film has a strong role. (Even Rani was wasted in Talaash and that irked me).

  20. Couldn't help noticing that you were a bit upset at the loss of the second -hand book walas, actually they haven't completely disappeared, most of them have relocated to the pavements outside the American Express bank and Thomas Cook. Last time I saw some of them outside the University building too.

  21. Oh, I wish I had known. In fact, for the longest of time, I had the visiting card of one of them, but I lost it. :(


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