Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The heroine



"An innocuous smile that forayed deep and captured millions of hearts
A ravishing silhouette that augmented her screen presence
The acting prowess the made her the hailing icon of Indian cinema
A name that is intertwined with most of our childhood memories"

A woman who fought ageing to appease the growing demands and scrutiny of the Indian obtuse media.She clambered all the way up through dirt and gossips to lead a respectable life in the Society.

One morning the world woke up to the shocking news that this amazing soul has rested down in peace forever under the most mysterious circumstances.

What exasperated me was not her death but on the brutal aspersions that attacked the reputation and integrity of this woman who has had an elusive success in the field of Indian cinema.

Few weeks’ back I was surprised to see a few of my very own friends having a debate in social media if she deserved to be draped in Indian national Flag and that it was an insult as she has not contributed anything for the nation and that she was just an actress.

I m suffering from an intense ambivalence from the moment I saw these debates.
This outburst of mine is not because I m movie buff or an ardent fan of this actress but how younger generation in India is becoming highly judgmental and intolerant towards almost everything these days.

None of these friends I know have done anything either for their country. Most of us work abroad after the coveted degrees in engineering and science. Patriotism soars high in these individuals only during Indian cricket matches. Most of us visit India once in a year to meet our abandoned aged parents who have spent most of their lives earning hard to meet our needs.
And we jump at every chance to offend, instantly judge, compare and stomp at fellow Indians who seem to be doing better than us at work or in life.

Are we really worthy enough to debate if the late actress being draped in Indian national flag for the funeral is right or wrong?

She has acted in almost 300 Indian films, received accolades, state, national awards and Padmashri, India’s fourth highest civilian award recognizing her distinguished contribution to Indian arts. She married an Indian producer and lived in India 50 years of her life, definitely not a brain drain. She was fondly remembered in the memoriam section of the Oscars this year.

Why is not befitting for her to have a state honored funeral with her body draped in tricolor flag?

Why were such debates not raised when Shashi kapoor, another late Indian superstar was given a 3-gun salute during his funeral?

Anybody who loves their country irrespective of the lives they have led or mistakes they have done in the past, if they wish to be wrapped in their country’s flag after they are dead, should not be subject to any judgement from any one.
Respect the dead and grow up from those tiny statures you call mind…

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

My Adieu to the Leader


Clad in her favorite green sari she was laid to rest in peace. Her face looked all pale but she seemed as though she was calm and confident even about her last journey.

While I believe that charisma and transformational leaderships are two different and broader aspects of leaderships style what this woman has achieved seems phenomenal as she was a superlative leader demonstrating both styles. This seems evident from the fact that ‘amma canteens’ were open even on the day of the cremation of their magnanimous leader.

Her demise has made me reassess what has made me a staunch admirer of this audacious spearhead. Was it her political knack or her sparkling screen presence in over 140 evergreen films? It’s neither of them for me for I believe she has many more shades that have added to her radiances than her much gabbed roles as a Politician or as an actress.

Some years back I watched an interview in a talk show “rendezvous with Simi Garewal”
Where the iron lady admitted that she was dominated for one thirds of her life by her mother and another one third by Dr.MGR. To choose acting as a career was foisted upon by her mother owing to financial troubles and then hurled into politics by her mentor Dr.MGR.
These were not careers she desired to be in.However she managed to become proficient and successful in both these careers that she was hemmed into.

When she was asked why she chose to remain in it when she didn’t have her heart in it? Her reply was that whether it is something she likes or not, all she knows is she has to be superlative in what she gives back to these professions. This answer was exactly which drew me towards her.

As youngsters we are given a lot of choices these days, be it careers or life choices, unfortunately most of us grumble about how life has been uncannily cruel in giving us bad choices or how fate has screwed our lives. What if we all for a moment adopted her perspective towards life – ‘to try to be successful at whatever life throws at us?’

Living in social media age we all are humiliated or depressed when our picture has not gained enough likes or when your status on facebook is mocked upon.
This woman endured a humiliation of a worst kind when she was brutally attacked and molested by the ruling party members on March 25th, 1989 inside the Tamil Nadu Assembly and pledged that she would return back as the chief minister of the state. And she insanely achieved this not just once but six times since then.

Living abroad for several years now, I get deeply saddened everytime someone addresses India as a country dominated by men and how brutally women are raped in our country. But when she said “Most men are terrified of me’, followed by with a vicious laugh in one of her interviews, it made me feel proud that I was sharing the world where she was, proud to belong to a country where this impetuously bold woman existed.
All her party men touch her feet and treat her like a queen. She achieved this not by bowing down but by being forthright and appearing tough.

This is something we all women have to try to embrace from this departed leader. The moment we are seen vulnerable we are preyed upon by people who have beastly thoughts.
Audacity, cognitive decision making skills and the spirit to never give up are the qualities that have made this self-made politician and a tall leader with a purpose.

I have always wondered if she was consciously attempting to appear tough in several occasions where women generally break down.I was amazed at the way she confronted Karan Thappar and left him speechless when she was asked a lot of humiliating questions. To me she is a highly emotional and sensitive person behind this image of being tough with which she has successfully managed to shield herself with. She endured whatever came her way with fortitude.

Maybe she was actually this little girl at heart, who just wanted to hold on to her mother sari while sleeping like she did when she was a kid or a dreamy teenager who believes that one day she will be snatched away by her prince into a world of unconditional love. Maybe all she wanted was a simple life as a housewife and have kids.
But life threw her back an awful lot which she never expected and she accepted them with grace and transformed herself to face the inevitable challenges that came her way.

Her closing words during this talk show with Simi Garewal were “When I say goodbye to Politics, I will be free“. She looked rested when she was laid in her coffin with her lips slightly parted as if she was heaving a sigh of relief “That she is free at last”

I wish she is happily humming her favorite song from chori chori (1956) and resting in peace in her grave ,now that she is across the stars and perhaps not lonely anymore.

Aaja sanam madhur chandni mein hum
(Dear, let's dance in the soft moonlight)

Tum mile to wirane mein bhi aa jayegi bahaar
(The forest will come to life)

Jhumne lagega aasman
(The sky will twinkle with joy)

Jhumne lagega aasman
(The sky will twinkle with joy)

Kehta hai dil aur machalta hai dil
(My heart speaks and dances)

More saajan le chal mujhe taaron ke paar
(My beloved, take me across the stars)

Lagta nahin hai dil yahan
(I am lonely here)

Lagta nahin hai dil yahan
(I am lonely here)


Rest.in.Peace J. Jayalalitha

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

My Favourite Goldie



The thought of growing old was always appalling to me, in my early twenties it seemed to me very much like a topic that was repugnant, a topic so contemptible of discussion as if I was never going to grow old.

Well Life is always the best book to learn from and it gave me some wonderful occasions to spend time with Goldie (that’s how I address my favorite great uncle). Though these meetings were brief but the learning curve has been steep and those moments will stay as chronicles in my mind.

I haven’t been very fortunate in sharing a deep bond with my own grandparents, as we were a typical nuclear family. It was only for festivals and family occasions we met our grandparents. As kids I hardly remember spending any quality time with them as I was more engrossed in playing with my cousins. Days passed and even before I realized that I was so strayed away from them, they were dead.

However I always felt close to this one person who happens to be my great uncle (maternal side). The bond I have felt with him was inexplicable. I had an instant liking to him the moment I saw him as a kid. He has these passionate eyes and the positivity that spreads in the atmosphere when he is around gives me immense pleasure and joy. I had a chance to occasionally meet him for every couple of years since my teens.

I happened to meet my great uncle again during a recent family occasion who is in his late eighties now. I was lucky enough to quickly catch up with him. As I recollect that beautiful encounter I felt an instant urge to lay down my thoughts of how gracefully a man can grow old .I had embraced years ago this great uncle of mine as my role model.

The innocuous smile that I see on his face through years lights up my mood instantly making me feels way younger than I am. It sends me through the reminiscent moments I spent with this Goldie as a kid; trying hopelessly to impress him singing songs that I learnt in my music class, all for those accolades he gave me at the end of my performance.

As the bus stood stranded for more than half an hour on the ghat road uphill amidst a huge downpour that seem to be pounding parts of Southern India for several weeks, I was eager to meet this Goldie who was the only reason I travelled amidst all the chaos created by the torrential rainfall.
As I walked through the passage of the hotel room to greet my favorite Goldie, I saw him sitting and the room was filled with guests. His face instantly lit seeing me and welcomed me with a warm smile.

He looked more tired and fragile than the last time I saw him, which was about 2 years back. But the positivity and warmth remained intact. Age has definitely taken a toll over this vibrant personality but my thoughts left me pondering if this is what people often refer to as ‘to age gracefully’.

With a beautiful gracious woman as his wife, grandsons, granddaughters, sons and daughters great grandkid too, adorning him all around, the life that this person has sailed through was not that easy one. Through ups and down and hard times he stood as a firm pillar of support providing the best to his family.
He stands as an epitome of the words that I have felt were a bit chauvinist when I heard it first in one of my favorite TV series ‘Breaking Bad’. …Where the lead actor Bryan Cranston says in one of the episodes ‘A Man provides’. But as I try to assimilate my thoughts about this fine gentleman I think he is definitely a Man who provided the best to his family and lent them his positivity when they were in dire need of it.

About a couple of years when I was going through a low phase in my life I got quite lucky to have got a few minutes to spend with him. And I happened to share the highly negative vibes that seem to have clouded me over. He heard intensely every word I told him and leaning forward towards me he told if I had got weakened like you have at such a young age I would have never succeeded in giving happiness to this family. Everybody goes through a low phase at some point but he asked me to remember that it was not permanent. Neither good nor bad that happens in life is permanent. And asked me to stay strong during all times and blessed me that I will jus breeze through difficulties if any in my life.
Those words I am sure were going to keep ringing in my head forever.

I had thought during my late teens that during old age one defines success in terms of career accomplishments and wealth he/she has gained but every minute I spent with this divine Goldie made me accentuate my thought process over the idea of ageing that ‘to age gracefully really means the positive attitude people develop as they go through the various stages of life’.
And I sometime feel envious that he isn’t my own grandfather all to satisfy my greed to spend some more valuable moments with him. But have been lucky to have such a great uncle who is one of the most optimistic person I have met.Goldie is going to be favourite for forever