Monday, July 22, 2013

vipassana - looking forward

Just last week, I received a confirmation for the vipassana meditation course that starts day after tomorrow. It is 10 days of meditation and the testing part about this course is that you aren't allowed to speak to anybody during this period. No phones or emails either. And in case you are wondering, this has nothing to do with religion, caste or belief in God. It is just a technique that helps you live & transform your life and it's open for all.

I have been struggling with a lot of things over the past few months so thought this will really do me good to cleanse my system. After doing some research on the course on various blogs and websites, I learnt that it helps you to focus on the present moment and to see things "as they are" which is what "vipassana" literally means. I need to learn to focus on the present moment so much!

Seeing things "as they are" is so important because a lot of times, we perceive things as per the stories we have built around them in our head, completely ignoring their true form. This is something I must learn to do all the time.

There are some rules of vipassana that I already follow though.. one of them is to always speak the truth. Now, I do almost always speak the truth when it comes to others but this involves being true to yourself too and a lot of times, we don't realise it but we aren't true to ourselves or to the present moment. The other rule is to lose the importance of 'self' or 'ego'. This is something I have been practising since quite sometime now as it helps to accept/transform dark thoughts such as anger, resentment, revenge, jealousy etc. Everyone has a dark side and it is important to embrace it all the same. Just the other day, Reeti & I were discussing how we almost naturally think of what is good "universally" and not just about what is good for ourselves. Sometimes, though, the ego can get the better of us and we need to work on ourselves again.

So a lot of spiritual healing & cleansing awaits us. I am doing this with another friend of mine (Alisha) so that's some comfort. Though I won't really get to speak with her, it's nice to have someone you know around. Worried about the nights as I am not used to spending nights alone especially in an unfamiliar place. Hope they put me in with someone. A partition is okay too. I should just be able to reach out to someone!

Excited and nervous both. Wish me luck. Might blog about the experience once I get back! :)

To know more, visit

And for the course schedule (for the Mumbai centre), click here:

Saturday, July 13, 2013


Don't remember when I reviewed a movie last.. but this particular movie deserved a review -- not because it is worth a watch. In fact, I wouldn't really recommend it unless you're a film critic. But just because it left us feeling doomed. Like we didn't know what happened in those two & a half hours! (Thank God movies aren't 3 hours long anymore..) This review will not tell you how the movie is or how I rate it. This should not be taken as a base for whether you should watch the movie. Perhaps you'd like reading it better after you come back from watching it.

So here's my take on Raanjhanaa.

The first half of the movie is mostly about Kundan Shankar (Dhanush) pining for the unattainable Zoya (Sonam Kapoor).  I found this to be a sort of a power play where Kundan gives Zoya power over him by loving her even though she does not feel the same. Zoya uses this power without fully realising it. Love, when obsessive, can be destructive. The audience naturally sympathises with Kundan because "all is fair in love & war". Well, it's not. There are a lot of questionable/objectionable scenes in the movie such as Kundan threatening Zoya that he'd slash his veins if she does not claim her love for him. And the one where he almost harms her, driving her into a river and leaving her in the waters alone when he finds out that she loves someone else (Abhay Deol). After which he slashes his veins again, by the way. The scene also made for a movie poster :

The first half also includes scenes where Bindiya, Kundan's best friend is handled roughly. Kundan is Bindiya's childhood love and yet he makes her do things she doesn't entirely approve of but later feels happy about.. because it makes Kundan happy.

I think all the women in the movie are handled roughly by the lead men in the movie at some point or the other in an acceptable manner. So it feels like an irony when we learn that Zoya's lover (Abhay Deol) is an activist who fights for social causes.

The second half of the movie is mostly about revenge & violence. It's about Kundan taking revenge on Zoya, then paying for it by being involved with her activities & work and oh yes, Zoya slashing her veins, she feeling jealous of Kundan's growth, her taking revenge over Kundan.

The problem with the movie is .. all of this is shown to be legit. The obsessive love, the rough handling of women, the slashing of veins, revenge, violence.. all of this is shown to be okay. Like it's acceptable. Like this is how love is.

There is enough proof of this on social networking websites with status messages like "Finally a true love story!". People who strongly feel this way should introspect.. Because such movies make you work less on yourself and treat your behaviour to be acceptable (just because it is out of "love"). But, this isn't love. Love is wanting to see the other person happy even if it means sometimes curbing your emotions because you don't want the person to see they hurt you.. because that'd make them sad and you don't want that.

The good thing here is, Kundan realises that he wants to help Zoya, he wants to let her be happy. He wants to do the right thing so he helps her out by talking to her dad regarding getting Zoya married to her lover (Abhay Deol). But he fails when he reacts impulsively almost always (before doing the right thing) e.g. when he first hears about Zoya being in love with someone else, when he first learns that her lover is not a Muslim. It does happen so in life that you want to be strong & want to do the right thing but you push yourself so much to do it that you end up doing the wrong. In the movie though, he does the wrong every time. Rest of the time, it feels like he is paying up for what he did wrong. It's like a cycle.

Consequently, a lot of innocent lives get hurt / taken away in the end.

I feel they should have shown a small 'alternate reality' segment at the end of the movie.. something along the lines of the Butterfly effect.. just one segment at the end. Something like- "What would have happened if Kundan had just decided to be a friend & helped Zoya unite with her lover or decided to go his own way".

With regards to acting, I wouldn't say much about Sonam. It's cliche now to say that she doesn't act well. Sadly, it's true. She will make a great model perhaps but she isn't a very good actress. She may try working on it some more if she wants to make it. Abhay Deol has acted fairly well but not as good as he was in DevD or Oye Lucky Lucky Oye or Ek Chaalis ki Last Local. I feel his part didn't do justice to his acting potential. He is a good actor, otherwise. A lot is said about Dhanush's acting in the movie but I felt like he played the part well because it came naturally to him. He has a mediocre personality and he played the part of a mediocre Benarasi guy. Plus, he was shown to be the son of a Tamil priest. That covered up for his South Indian accent as well, in certain parts of the movie. So I don't see reason to glorify his acting in the movie. I found it average.

I like Kundan's friend Muraari's character in the movie. He's shown to be straightforward plus he always stands by him. Just as a good friend would.

Bindiya is both innocent and strong. It is actually Zoya's character that is most confusing. They have shown it with respect to Kundan (how his love makes her manipulative) but not as an individual. They could have worked on that more.

The good tidbits : I like the Benaras backdrop of the movie. There is so much colour and tradition. A couple of the tracks are really good too. I was hooked to "Tum Tak" for a long time because of the variations in the song. The track takes me to Banganga waters in Walkeshwar (Mumbai) for some reason.. "Benarasiya" is also a pleasant track. Some of the dialogues are really funny/catchy like the one they show in the trailer: "Vitamin humse khaao aur aashiqui inse ladaao". I like the warm colours of the movie (in the first half i.e. Benaras).

Here's Tum Tak for you :

I like the music from 1:27 to 2:46 :)