Friday, May 29, 2015

The Heart of Summer

I worried this morning at the torpor that had overcome me. What did I do wrong? Was it the food that I ate? Was I unwell? It was a stupor that should send off warning alarms to any sadhaka – subject though we are to the three gunas, it is best that we keep our states hovering at Sattva. I accept that Rajas is sometimes inevitable but Tamas is deadly, and unacceptable.

I did have rice last night but very little… about a quarter of the quantity I happily consumed every night in my former life without any ill effects whatsoever. But now the system has become so sensitive; it responds so promptly, so unequivocally, it calls for tight discipline.

But that can't account for it fully, and I’ve now decided that this stupid lethargy must be the heat wave. I happened to go out walking twice yesterday and it has been torrid across India this fortnight. Everyone has been miserable.

Less from tradition and more from a need to exclaim over it, I find I make an annual ‘agni nakshatram’ post. Counting the days, counting down to the rains… in spite of wanting to be stoic about it, the last days of May defeat me.

But there is a haiku to go up. Poet Brent Partridge puts down an inscrutable little gem:

as much forever
as we've got—
the heart of summer

Does he mean what I think? Is he talking of the interminable way in which summer stretches out? Or that this intense season so forcefully pins you to the moment that you glimpse eternity? I can’t say. But I like poems no less because I can’t understand them.

A few hot blasts from the past:
And, a re-up of a Senryu I'd written.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


मैंने एक मुस्कान सजाकर राज़ को पर्दा दिया
प्यारा तुझे है मेरी सूरत से मेरा नक़ाब पिया…
ज़रा सा है फर्क पिया…

Friday, May 15, 2015

Reporters: First Impressions

Cross-posted from Critical Mass


We – a group of childhood friends I grew up with, my mother, my sister and I – have been huge fans of Pakistani serials ever since we came across them. They seized our imagination and we sighed over how subtle they were, how same-same and yet how different! Naturally, Dhoop Kinarey held pride of place in our hearts. We binge-watched the whole series – a thing, let me tell you, that is very difficult to do with a large group belonging to three different households. Ours was the drawing room that hosted this orgy, and we would break reluctantly for meals and other necessities, enduring some rather uncomplimentary comments from everyone who wasn’t involved.

This was to show our history, and the extent of our nostalgia with Pakistani serials, particularly this one. So a few years ago, when production house Director’s Kut announced that they were going to remake it (with permission and blessings of the original makers) as an Indian soap, we were both fascinated and aghast. As we feared, Kuch toh log kahenge didn’t work too well; it couldn’t have. Kritika Kamra was perfectly cast, but Shweta and I were particularly unhappy with the choice of hero. Mohnish Bahl as an Indian Dr Ahmer Ansari… no! We were casting about mentally for someone else who could have done something approaching justice. It should have been Rajeev Khandelwal, I said. Shweta (passionate and intense about almost all matters) all but doubled up in agony at the hallucinatory nature of the prospect. Oh, why didn’t they think about it, she groaned, and declared the pairing looked so right in her mind, she couldn’t watch the soap after all!

That dream comes somewhat true now. Sony TV’s new series Reporters is just about 20 episodes old, it packs a punch and ta da! it has as its lead pair the evergreen Rajeev Khandelwal and effervescent Kritika Kamra. And the chemistry is everything we hoped and knew it would be.

Of course, Reporters has nothing to do with Dhoop Kinarey, but there are parallels. Like Dr Ansari, Kabir Sharma is her superior, and considerably older. And Kritika Kamra, even more in Reporters than she did in Kuch toh log kahenge channels that free spirit, that foolhardy courage that epitomised Zoya Ali Khan.

Reporters is exciting for many reasons. It sets itself backstage of television news as it is today – amidst a horribly-gone-wrong recipe of hysterical melodrama, screechy sensationalism and narcissistic anchors. The series is able to borrow so many aspects from real life that it strikes a chord at once.

As the series begins, star journalist Kabir Sharma makes the transition from print to television. He is ambitious, thirsty actually, for fame and success. We get a hint that he has a point to prove to someone. Ananya Kashyap, cub reporter at KKN, has long hero-worshipped Kabir – she is young, a touch naïve, very idealistic and starry eyed.

It is my reading that she intersects Kabir’s career at precisely the right moment – he is hell bent upon doing anything he can to achieve professional glory. Without Ananya’s questions, without her innocence to check him… he would have gone over to the dark side, and yet retained enough humanity for self loathing. But she is here and here we are… to sit on the sidelines and see the battles between pragmatism and idealism, professionalism and conscience, between experience and naiveté. To see each temper the other. And to wonder if they can come together to become something better.

It may be too early to speak but so far, it has been fascinating. The star power of the leads is compelling, the support cast varied and charismatic, the writing is detailed and nuanced, and the plotlines are engrossing.

Every episode ends with a small, direct comment from Kabir Sharma – sometimes he argues for sensitivity, sometimes for toughness, sometimes he remarks on the integrity we’re losing in every sphere of our lives. In that very style then: jaane se pehle, Reporters seems to have its heart in the right place.