Dilli, बड़ी रफ़्तार है

बड़ी रफ़्तार है तेरे शहर में

हर इक ठहराव पे गुस्सा निकलता है
बड़ी रफ़्तार से
हर इक तकरार पे चलते हैं खंजर
बड़ी रफ़्तार से

कभी गर भीड़ में रफ़्तार धीमी पड़ गयी तो
कोई चिल्लाता है फ़ौरन से,भइ
साइड को हो ले दिखाई को ना देता
पलट के आती है गाली बड़ी रफ़्तार से

कभी पीले से कपडों से दुप्पट्टा जैसे सरका
तभी झोंके से आई एक सीटी
बड़ी रफ़्तार से
चिपक के एक फब्ती कस दी किसने
मिली बेशर्म आँखें फिर
बड़ी रफ़्तार से

दिलाया याद सबको कौन हैं वो,नाम क्या है
दिया ठुल्ले को सौ का नोट
क्या रफ़्तार से
जो बच कर आँखों से छुपना हो मुमकिन
तो मारी केडी क्या रफ़्तार से

अगर भूले से आँखें मिल गयी तो
किया इनकार क्या रफ्तार से
जो उसने ज़ोर डाला सच का जालिम
दुहाई दी तो क्या रफ़्तार से

जो देखा सामने कमज़ोर कोई
दबाया उसको किस रफ़्तार से
जो देखा सामने भारी सा कोई
दबाया सच को भी रफ़्तार से

ये रफ़्तार तेरी है न मेरी
ये न सच है न कोई झूठ ही है
ये है रफ़्तार अब इस ज़िन्दगी की
ये है रफ़्तार तेरे इस शहर की

बड़ी रफ़्तार है तेरे शहर में
बहोत डर लगता ही तेरे शहर से

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Book Review: The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

I picked up Paula Hawkins’ “The Girl On The Train” for just one reason – for the last several weeks, I have seen the book perched on top of the NY Times Bestsellers list (Fiction). Lately, my reading has gone down significantly. Some of it can be attributed to paucity of time, but the bigger reason, I hypothesize, is a distracted head-space. Sometimes, I believe, reading fast paced fiction helps you get back in the groove. And TGOTT seemed to fit the bill. Also, I had seen a rather interesting promo image sometime back – of several ladies sitting side by side on a subway train reading ‘the girl on the train’.

TGOTT

Image Source: http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/books/2015/01/28/american-sniper-the-girl-on-the-train-usa-today-best-selling-books-list/22464365/

 

Rachel, the girl on the train, loves looking out of the window and weaving stories about what she sees. She gives names to people, imagines stories about stranded items like clothes or shoes, and obsesses over them. She is a divorced alcoholic with severe depression and confidence issues, who cannot seem to get over her broken marriage, and just cannot get her life back together. She is the central protagonist. Most of the chapters have been written from her perspective. The male characters in the book don’t get chapters of their own. The other two girls of the story are Anna – the new wife of Tom, and Jess/ Megan – a girl Rachel has seen many times from the train’s window. Tom is Rachel’s ex-husband. And Scott is Megan’s husband. Kamal Abdic is Megan’s therapist. With this much, here is a poll for you to consider – Column A is the murdered. And Column B is the murderer. Take a guess.

Victim Perpetrator
Rachel Rachel
Megan Megan
Anna Anna
Tom Tom
Scott Scott
Kamal Kamal
Some other person briefly mentioned Some other person briefly mentioned

TGOTT excels at its broader plot contours. It delivers a taut murder mystery. The book works well as a single session race to the finish. It uses the standard narrative of a shifting timeline and multiple vantage points to create a sense of darkness, foreboding, and suspense. More often than not, it succeeds. Paula has created a book which is ready to be adapted into a movie (and Emily Blunt will be starring as Rachel). All the right elements. But it is no “Gone Girl”. It neither has characters so grey or flawed, nor a suspense so riveting. Moreover, the central characters are not “that” smart. Megan is a bored seductress, Rachel is a broken alcoholic, Anna is an insecure home-maker and a new mother, Scott an overbearing masochistic husband, Kamal a flawed therapist, and Tom is the ex-husband who doesn’t like anyone touching his phone or laptop. The darkness that permeates that entire narrative of Gone Girl is missing here, save for the end where you see the untapped potential of some of these characters.

Let’s revisit the poll with the additional information I just threw at you. Has your opinion changed?

TGOTT’s problem for me was its predictability. The victim’s too obvious, and so is the perpetrator. The haste in introducing the suspects, and the choice of crime scene makes it a little too obvious. The decoys and breadcrumbs are not the most engaging. Yet, the storytelling is gripping. I envy (and respect) people who can write such engaging stuff.

TGOTT’s other problem is the long drawn moping of Rachel. The continuously repeating montage of her getting drunk, reprimanding herself, and the wine and the gin and the tonic stops serving its purpose beyond a point, unless you are too absorbed to notice the conflict that is established in each such cycle. In the end you might just say – oh yea! remember that?

All in all – It’s a middle of the road – 6 on 10 – kinda thriller. I enjoyed it. I would not, though, go out of my way to recommend it. I won’t diss it either.

In a world where “The Girl On The Train” by Paula Hawkins is a long standing NY Times Bestseller #1 (Fiction), I worry about the quality and quantity of what is being read at large. Am I being extremely critical of the book? No. I definitely do not want to. Do I think the book is an undeserving bestseller? Not at all. It probably is the best thing visible on the shelf right now. My problem – the #1 for weeks should have been a little less obvious.

The novel has quite a few loose ends, which I hope get resolved some day. Someone once told me that to be a good writer, the need to be a good storyteller is way higher than the need to have a good story. So there! More power to Paula, because I do believe that the survivors of this novel can come together for another twist in the tale.

Bajrangi Bhaijaan – The Jaan Is Shahida

bajrangiI think it has been forever that I got down to watch a movie on its release day. And that is not to say that I was so excited by the prospects of watching Bajrangi Bhaijaan on Day 1 that I broke the well-defined norms of parenthood. I went down to watch Baahubali (having heard people rave on and on about its scale and grandeur), and since there were no shows of Baahubali, or any other movie for that matter, I watched a significantly overpriced Bhaijaan. Overpriced has a definition here. Each ticket of PVR Gold Class was 800 bucks. Without any popcorn or cold-drink included in the ticket price. Why did I not turn back? Because I don’t do that. No, I don’t. And if I try to, the missus does not let me do that. Not when movie watching events with just the two of us have become so preciousssss.

Now, you know, I am a fan of Bhaisms. That mindless over the top drama with dialogues like “main dil mein aata hoon, samajh mein nahi” or “mujhpe ek ehsaan karna…”

The movie is about a mute girl from Pakistani who finds herself stranded in India, only to be rescued by Bajrangi Bhaijaan, urf Pavan Kumar Chaturvedi, a naïve lad from Pratapgarh, who lives in Delhi, but finds the girl in Kurukshetra. Bhaijaan promptly decides that it is his duty to take the girl back to Pakistan, against all odds, and help her unite with her parents.

Can you imagine the hand pump sized opportunities here? A Pakistan full of stereotypes, an army full of good for nothing soldiers, an occasional world-unifying-Muslim-with-a-heart-of-gold, and Bajrangi Bhaijaan going “Hulk Smash” on them? The number of grey haired preachy sermons being delivered to tikka and akshat wearing nincompoops?

It does not happen that way.

 

Read the rest of the review with the sarcasmometer aside.

The movie is fairly heart-warming. But for the last 15-20 minutes, its reasonably well-toned and not over the top. The kid-Bhaijaan equation is not full of melodrama. In fact, it’s lovably cute. In fact, it is this that makes the movie very very warm. It’s not a typical Salman movie. [Spoiler alert]: Salman does not bare it all this time. There is a total of 2 minutes of serious Salman kinda violence in the movie at the end of which one guy is found hanging by the electric wires of purani dilli, and a policeman in Chawra, Pakistan is seen nursing his neck and apologising for letting a jasoos escape. Few broken tables and a few broken glass doors. That’s all.

Salman tries to act this time, and not play Thalaivar. And for most of the movie, gets it right. By his sheer charm, not by his acting skills. There is something about his chemistry with Shahida (the kid, Harshaali). Their scenes together are almost perfect. Shahida, by the way, without a dialogue, is so awesomely perfect and cute in this movie that even before she is stranded in Pakistan, you start waiting for her to cheer for Pakistan Team. She is not just a cute prop. It is she who really elevates the movie to being a genuinely lovable movie. I can safely imagine quite a few tears being shed across the theatre, so heart-breaking her pain is in quite a few scenes. On second thoughts, it’s good that she does not have dialogues. Most adult script writers don’t get kiddy dialogues right. They make them either too cute or too preachy. Kareena Kapoor Khan  is an unrequired prop in the movie. She provides enough support to the emotions of the movie, and her eyes still light up the best in the industry.

Nawazuddin Siddiqui. You were waiting to hear about him, right? I think Nawaz confessed in an interview somewhere that commercial movies help pay the bills better than the movies with great scripts and direction. Nawaz is spot on. He more or less always is, these days. He pulls off that “Eid mein Karachi se andruni mulkon ki” video copy. Interestingly, his character is named Chand Nawab (just as it was in the original video here). I was so hoping that they allow him to swear freely, but I guess censor board would not have liked it. In a way, he owns the screens when he is there. And he may just have the problem that Irrfan Khan had some time back. He overshadows the “superstars” too easily. The only place where he falters a bit is that last passionate appeal of his exhorting people to come support Bhaijaan. But by then, it’s all over.

The others in support – Rajesh Sharma, Sharat Saxena, Om Puri, etc. are extremely well cast and right on the money.

For a change, Salman decided to start off with a script this time. Or, maybe, Kabir Khan decided not to throw away the script in his excitement of having signed Salman for a movie which was getting an Eid release.

One of the biggest positives of the movie – it’s neither preachy nor pedantic. Mostly.

The movie has its flaws, the biggest of which is its ending, and the long standing gripe I have against the “need to conclude”. I don’t think there was a need for Shahida to get her speech. I don’t think it was important to have the army general drama about forcefully trying to prove Bajrangi a spy. I don’t think there was a need to apologetically convert a staunch Hindu Bajrangi and make him do an Allah hafiz slow-mo. More importantly, I don’t think there was a need to stretch the movie too long to accommodate all this.

The music is not much to write about. Bhar de jholi meri + Adnan Sami is the high point. Selfie le re will always be the song that you don’t confess to liking, but are bound to hear on every radio channel 15 times a day, just because it’s so popular and catchy.

Camerawork / DOP deserves some mention too. The opening shots, and some of the shots of Pakistan part of the movie (the corn truck scenes/ the sunsets, etc.) are beautifully shot. For some reason, the last shot of the movie, between the two borders, reminded me of Henna.

The movie runs much longer than I would have liked. But the charisma of Bhai is such that directors always think more is better.

 

In short – it’s a very decent, un-Salman movie which has done well to encash his stardom. I do have my doubts about it being a 150Cr movie though. And – “pehle pata karo ye Boo Ali kaun hai”

 

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