Thursday, April 17, 2014

THE NEXT FIVE YEARS OR THE REST OF OUR LIVES...

I live a privileged life; I won't lie about that. I probably don't know the tribulations one has to go through to earn a daily meal (and sometimes, not even that). And yet, deep inside, I feel a rage welling up which threatens to overthrow the barriers of apathy, blame & caution. I feel strongly about the state of affairs in my motherland, India. She is a beautiful & exotic bird trapped in a cage forged of many a personal, selfish ambition. She is a mother who dutifully provides for her children even though they have turned into ravenous, greedy demons.

Ironically, this seething anger only first took seed when I was vacationing in Greece in 2012. Very akin to a typical country hopping snob, I ranted about how everything was better there than here, there being anywhere but here. The stark difference between what we are & what we could be overwhelms me, and there's not a single day when I don't rue that fact. Then a voice of conscience strikes me like a sledgehammer, asking me to show some respect, to be proud of the country that gave me everything irrespective of the state it is in today and make a positive difference, small or big, rather than wallowing in worthless grumbles.


But try as I might, I could not stop indulging in good-natured comparisons and had to wonder: WHY can't my country be proportionately better than this? Why can't the standard of living & human-rights quotient be higher? Why can't I be as vocal of the virtues of my land (of which there are many) as I am of its vices?


It could be because I tire of government apathy where the bishops spend more time & effort hoarding wealth than putting it to appropriate use, and of pawns who're looking for a shine of green or are just plain indifferent to issues that could very well plague their lives too. It could be because we conveniently put the blame on others while we are blind to our own moral decay. I'm saddened by the fact that when I look for a solution that is my fundamental right, I'm faced with an impervious wall or suggestions to “grease some palms”.  If I refuse, out of some “outdated” utopian sense of an ideal world, I'm cursed to face that roadblock for way longer. I'm sad the world cannot be a more honest place and I'm sad that 9 out of 10 times, we will slip in the green & yet complain about how corrupt the netas are.

Is this a perfectly timed blog on the back of the impending general elections? Is that what influences my words? Maybe. We're optimistic & perhaps putting all our eggs in one basket, hoping for a miracle now that a new, comparatively honest & principled political party is in the fray. With righteous, better-informed & open-minded people, they are our best bet today & can help us help others, the nation and ourselves. However, at the end of the day, they are but a helping hand. We the people must not turn them into a crutch, expecting them to rid our society of all evils, or into an excuse when it does not meet our lofty expectations.

Please do go out and vote intelligently for the right candidate & party. Know that it may change our lives for the next five years. But to change how we live for the rest of our lives, let us be better people and influence a better tomorrow, every day & every year henceforth. Today we are a hundred, tomorrow a thousand & soon the millions who'll bring in a new age...




*****

Friday, April 04, 2014

THE CITY AND ME

Wisdom & popular belief have us convinced that one really gets time to absorb life & it's true meaning when they travel far & wide. 

Logic dictates that jaunts out into the big, bad world beyond the warm, comfortable womb of home provide space for reflection. 

A person is undoubtedly busiest in their own home & untrammelled by shackles of responsibility when they travel. All of this indicates the obvious, and yet, while I love travel more than most things, Mumbai my city is the only place where I get TIME to THINK.  

Some travel to forget, some set out to fill the mind with fantasies & the fantastic. Yet others seek the unfamiliar & the treacherous, the thrill & adventure of experiences both enriching and wanton. Many a writer, poet, musician, stand-up comedian etc find inspiration in their sojourns. There's no doubt that my mind too is most at peace on terrains both familiar & otherwise; the silent mountains, the sunny beaches, the cobbled streets. 


But it is here in my city, within the chaos, heat, traffic and people both innocently bare & craftily concealed, that I get an omniscient sense of clarity. In a tough to explain way, I find special peace & a zeal to excel in this madness. And predictably enough, in this serenity within the chaos, I too wrestle an all-consuming weariness & a prodigious urge to relinquish my ceremonial throne.

In that convoluted, contradicting island of humanity that is Mumbai, I bite into my manna and sip freely of my poison. I die a little now & then and rise from the ashes every single day.


I'm a May fly & Phoenix rolled into one. 

I am me.

I am many people.



Thursday, March 07, 2013

POST WOMEN'S DAY GIG, MUMBAI


Come join us for a relaxed, non-Bollywood set at Renaissance, Powai, Mumbai on the 9th of March 2013. I'll be trying something different for a change, hence my excitement :)

Friday, January 18, 2013

IT'S NOT ABOUT THE ALCOHOL ;)



So even though this TV commercial is about 5 months old, I just realised I never shared it with you! Gosh, I do hope it doesn't come across as too much self-pimping but a man's gotta do what a man's gotta do ;)

I don't drink much. I have an alcohol allergy (unbelievable though it may sound) and so I keep my intake to a minimum and my social drinking stints few & far in between. And trust me, I was drunk but only in one scene for my role as the alcoholic Zing in Badmaash Company. However, this commercial is not about that (even though it is for... ahem... a popular brand of alcohol) but about friendship and the fun moments that come with it. I had a great time shooting for it with Farhan Akhtar, Purab Kohli & Cyrus Sahukar and learnt some nuances just by observing Farhan. Here's a man who doesn't overdo one bit, is a complete natural & yet does not come across as underwhelming in his films. Those of you who know him know that he's a fantastic director with a very clear, modern vision. I like the fact that he makes fun, youthful films with a cinematic edge and an underlying message without being preachy. I'd love to work with him some day. It'd be an absolute privilege. There, I said it ;) Now let the Gods hear me!



Ah well, gotta rush now. Must sleep enough to be alert enough for an important audition tomorrow. Hope you like the TVC if you haven't seen it already :) Cheerios!

Sunday, January 13, 2013

RUNNING FOR A CAUSE; THE STANDARD CHARTERED MUMBAI MARATHON ON 20TH JANUARY, 2013



Only one more week to go & lots of funds to be raised! So without intending to sound like a politician campaigning for votes, I appeal to you to step forward & contribute to this noble cause. 

Contribute HERE: http://www.unitedwaymumbai.org/1597-meiyang-chang.htm

The proceeds go to Concern India Foundation who in turn will ensure that they are used judiciously & transparently for the welfare of the elders in need. You can have a look at the good work they have been up to at here at http://www.concernindiafoundation.org/

Change someone's life for the better. It'll feel special :) Please share & spread the word

Thursday, January 10, 2013

MAKING IT A HAPPY NEW YEAR FOR THOSE WHO MATTER

Wishing you all a VERY HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!! Can you feel it in the air? The concept of a New Year may be cliched & over-hyped but there's no denying the joy & optimism it fills one with. And it is with this positive thought in our minds that we must take our first step forward in 2013.

In my previous post, I'd mentioned I'm running for the Mumbai Marathon to raise funds for the elderly through Concern India Foundation. With 10 days to go for it, I urge you to continue helping me raise funds that will make life more comfortable for our elderly folks, those who have been an integral part of our lives & who deserve a happy, fulfilling walk into the sunset.


Please contribute at http://goo.gl/dLsZg ☺ for a good, transparent cause in this good new year. Do share & spread the word.

You can also have a look at the good work Concern India Foundation has been up to at here at http://www.concernindiafoundation.org/

Aside, I do wish all of us leave negativity & bad news, if any, of last year behind and start afresh as if this year BELONGS to us. God bless & God speed 


Friday, December 14, 2012

CHARITY BEGINS AT HOME

Friends & well-wishers, this blog has always been about what is going on in my mind & life. Some of them have been deep & meaningful; others, superficial & shallow. This short post, however, is about a strong belief & I would request you to patiently go through it.

I am running the Mumbai Marathon 2012 in the capacity of a Dream Maker, supporting the cause of the Care for Elders via Concern India Foundation. The elders don't need our pity but they do deserve our selfless support in making the twilight of their lives a joyous one. It is imperative that we be there for them when they need us the most. For our elders have, for far too long, given us their all so that we could thrive, even at the cost of their own lives & desires. It is only fitting that we help them in every way we can. While taking care of them in a personal capacity & treating them well is the best thing you can do as a human being, reaching out to help those you can't aid directly is the next best step.


Standard Chartered Mumbai Marathon 2013

To this end, I have pledged to raise necessary funds for Concern India Foundation who will ensure its judicious distribution & make the elders they reach out to, self-sufficient & as fiercely independent as they were in their youth. These funds will make resources & medical facilities more easily accessible to those in need, and God knows there are many of them out there.

Please support me by contributing to this noble venture. You can click on the following link to donate:

http://www.unitedwaymumbai.org/1597-meiyang-chang.htm 

For something you believe in, no contribution is too small. I've already made mine, monetarily & otherwise. I now urge you, my well-wishers & friends to open your hearts & make someone's life better.

Monday, September 10, 2012

DREAM DESTINY

You've heard this one before. I've read it at different places at different times & texts, but when I put the two together, it makes more sense than it does individually.

"To make it big, you must dream big. And to turn your dreams into reality, you must wake up & go for it"

Remember when as children, someone would ask us what we wanted to be when we grew up? We'd give answers like "astronaut, scientist, movie star" & the people wouldn't take it seriously, terming them as ridiculous. Why were these fantasies deemed so? Why were they dismissed as the ramblings of one who did not know what they were talking about? Who is to say that if a child wants to become the biggest media mongul in the world, they can't? I feel that as we grow up, we begin to limit ourselves to focusing so much on a single-minded life that we forget that we are more than just a 9-to-5 job, that we are beings of infinite possibilities. In school & college, most of us handled academics, extra-curricular activities, sports & then some more with equal panache. Then what is stopping us now from going beyond it? The burden of age? Extra responsibilities? Lack of time? Really, is that the best excuse you can come up with?

I stepped outside my comfort zone of art & music and began exploring public speaking, debates & theatre whilst in school. Then after college, I moved from a possibly lucrative & secure profession like Dentistry to an uncertain, volatile but creatively fulfilling one that I breathe in today. Within this, I moved from what I knew I was good at (singing) to something I took a risk with (public speaking & acting) and then something I was petrified of (dancing)! There is so much to do yet, and I'm no star. There are people who've done much better & bigger and they are beacons of inspiration for us. They show us that if you will it, it will happen.

All of this might sound pretty fantastic and it is! It's not easy at all, but its not impossible either. And when has anything easy ever been fun? Remember, the joy lies more in the challenge than in the prize. When I speak to you through my words, I'm also having a conversation with myself to birth inspiration. Tough as it may seem to do so much, it would be grave injustice to waste a single moment or opportunity in our lives, whatever the outcome or degree of success might be. We have one life, and we must live it to the fullest. Our interpretation of that could be limited, and it widens every single day we're truly "alive". Learn, read, write, observe, travel, experiment, take risks, be unreasonable, DARE! Soak all life has to offer. Be a sponge, not a duck's back.

"The reasonable man adapts himself to the world. The unreasonable man persists in trying to make the world adapt to himself. Therefore, all progress depends on the unreasonable man." George Bernard Shaw

I remember dreaming big as a kid. As a child, it wasn't about riches or success; those are dreams we get programmed to have once we start growing up & start believing that survival, wealth & power are all there is to in this world (which, by the way isn't true). My initial dreams were colorful like most Hindi films; no story to speak of but with lush, open, gigantic spaces/structures which you could drink eyefuls of. I interpret that as the freedom of my mind, unfettered, uncluttered and willing to explore. That has been responsible for my exploring new avenues in spite of being settled in what I am.

I want to be a man who never stopped dreaming, for in our subconscious lies our bare desires, unmasked by norms & notions. We all have the capacity to outdo ourselves & exceed our wildest expectations. We just don't know how powerful we are, or how fantastic our mind is which can overcome every damned hurdle. Self-doubt is the dark cloud that obscures our ability to deliver & the best of people suffer from this. These are vulnerable moments which suck at you like parasites, making you believe in everything but your own worth. Mind you, it's not a disability; rather it only proves you're human. Nevertheless, the fear of failure is debilitating & can stop us from taking those chances that could change our lives, mostly for good. This monster must be overcome & slain, for it is not undefeatable.

I could quote more wise men from over the centuries but since I'm a huge Batman & Christopher Nolan fan, I'll quote from Batman Begins, the first of the Dark Knight trilogy:

"Why do we fall Bruce? So that we learn to pick ourselves up"

In each of us lies the strength to overcome all odds, against all odds.
Tell me now, what kind of a person do YOU want to be?

Dream, my friend. Dream the big dream. And when you wake up, work hard & smart to make that dream a reality. I will continue dreaming big, and so should you.

A slight modification to one of my favorite quotes: "Reach for the skies. For even if you miss, you'll still be among the stars, far above the barren land of buried ambitions."

खुदी को कर बुलन्द इतना
कि हर तक़दीर से पहले
खुदा बन्दे से खुद पूछे
बता, तेरी रज़ा क्या है

Friday, September 07, 2012

THE GIRL IN WHITE

Artwork by Samatha Zaza : www.cldfx.com
Let me narrate a recurring memory in my life. There was a senior of mine in Wynberg Allen (a boarding school in Mussoorie where I finished my Plus 2), who I deemed the most beautiful girl in the whole wide world. Now there could be many reasons for that. I'd been in a boys' school for 8 years and hadn't seen too many pretty girls. Heck, I'd hardly seen any girls till then. Nevertheless, there was something special about her. Perhaps, it was her confidence in the knowledge that she was  desired by pretty much all the boys at school. Perhaps it was her natural athleticism, or that she could look so beautiful in spite of no make up & with the compulsory, nerdy double-plait. Every time I'd lay my eyes on her, I'd blush. The warm, comforting sunshine of Mussoorie had nothing to do with it. Rather, it seemed to dim every time she'd walk by, as if paying homage to a form more radiant than itself!

I was a painfully shy boy in school, and she seemed to enjoy that. She'd deliberately engage me in conversations to see  how I'd respond and burst into peals of giggles at my timid reactions. And then one day, fate brought us together in an English play, "The Mousetrap" by Agatha Christie. It had a fantastic premise, a brilliant cast (of which she was one) and a good director in our English professor. I, by virtue of being a meek newbie, was thrust the responsibility of being the prompter (a position no one desired) and I accepted with some degree of glee. It not only allowed me to bunk sports hour to watch a play come to life, with the fleshing out of it's characters but also to see her in the flesh every single day. 


I never, for once, had the stomach to tell her how besotted I was, but I guess some things are so obvious that they need not a word. Oh, to silently sit in the wings like a mute, secret admirer and catch a glimpse of her occasionally smiling at me. Yes, it was a massive, MASSIVE crush, and something close had never happened before, never after.  When she passed out of school, my first thought was (I kid you not): "How am I going to get through one whole year without seeing her every single morning?" At that tender, innocent age, a term like "this too shall pass" did not exist for me. Heck, for that one crush, it hasn't till today! Since that overwhelmingly cheesy encounter 13 years ago, I have overcome my awkwardness around women & met extremely smart, talented & gorgeous ladies. But something about that time, the circumstances & her face refuses to let up.

What is my one indelible memory of her? Accidentally bumping into her in a dark alley on the eve of the annual Hindi play. I was running late (as usual) and was hurtling full speed down the path to the auditorium when I almost knocked her over; she in resplendent white, like an angel sent from the purest heavens, just for me. She held her breath; she wasn't allowed to be outside & obviously feared being caught. I, on the other hand, was awestruck; arrested by her downcast eyes and the strands of hair blowing over her face. Even though it was dark, I could see her pale skin glow ever so bright.  And I wondered, where is the goddamned background music when you really need it? We stood there for what seemed like an eternity, locked our breathless gazes for the briefest of moments and walked our ways. And to think that this could happen only in a film! Those surreal moments stay locked in my memory to this day...

I wonder where she is today. All attempts to trace her have lead to nought in this seemingly small world. Then again, perhaps I'm not meant to find her. Because some memories are best left unperturbed, fresh as they were in the morning dew in the hills of Mussoorie...

Wednesday, August 08, 2012

OF FEARS AND DREAMS


Tim Burton's Infinite Dream by Delirium77.deviantart.com

I've believed for the longest time possible that my greatest fear is that of drowning, for that's how close I've come to death not once, but twice (aged 6 and 21)! But then, a recurring dream has made me reconsider. And since there's no one around who'd analyze it (definitely not looking for Freudian analyses), I have come to the conclusion that it stems from a fear of being unprepared

This fear is not so uncommon. It invades the private realms of everyone's dreams; at least once in our lifetime. Me? I've lost count. And every time, it plays out a hauntingly familiar pattern. 

I'm back in school/college, walking around nonchalantly in a buzzing crowd of excited students. There is a palpable tension in the air & I can't fathom what the fuss is all about. I enquire about it & the answer makes my blood freeze. There's an examination I knew nothing about, or one whose preparation I have repeatedly postponed, in five minutes. I panic! I want to scream but alas, it's a soundless dream. 
          A dream.   

         Just a dream. 

          Wake up! 


WAKE UP!!!

One would think that being suckered many a times would alert you that it is indeed a dream the next time you have it. But fear is stronger than reason, which is why it trumps common sense again and again and again. And teaches you something about yourself. There are no prizes for guessing what must be done to conquer that fear. A dream is a technicolored manifestation of our innermost thoughts. Whether that lesson is imbibed or not, remains to be seen in thoughts & actions thereforth. 

Heed your dreams; they sure aren't mere unconscious entertainment!

I'd sure hate to have this one again though...