Wednesday, December 30, 2015

LUCKNOW: GANJING AND TUNDAY KABABI

The last 10 days have been a whirlwind & I could say I was beginning to feel a little rudderless before the journey came to a conclusion and brought me back to Mumbai. I love traveling, but this is one of those junkets I'm so pleased with as well as exhausted by that I'd now rather stay low for a few days and embrace my bed as I've never done before. And yes, probably even (gasp!) do absolutely nothing on the (over-hyped) New Year's Eve. (But as I type this, I'm secretly hoping for some plan to materialise. Heh! I could well be the brand-ambassador for hypocrisy ;)

The 10 day junket began with Ganjing & Tunday ke Kabab in Lucknow, progressed into a cousin's wedding in Delhi and culminated with a visit to extended family in Indore. But I'm getting ahead of myself; more on the wedding & family get-together in one of the next few posts. On a mid-December afternoon, while I was talking nine-to-the-dozen with my co-actor (actually, she did most of the talking. I'm more of a writer), I got a text from my friend Shilpa Rao asking me whether I'd like to guest-perform with her in Lucknow for something called "Ganjing." At first, I was amused by this Chinese sounding activity in Uttar Pradesh and owing to bad network, the clarifications of what it was exactly were hard to come by. I didn't think much of it and over the next few city-hopping days in Udaipur & Varanasi I finally said yes, I'd do it. Anything for a friend. Till this moment, I hadn't bothered to find out what exactly Ganjing was. In retrospect, the self-imposed ignorance was a blessing in disguise, because the experience that followed came as a surprise, and a pleasant one at that!


On the afternoon of 20th December, Shilpa & I flew into Lucknow. A quick lunch later, the organising committee apprised us of the evening's schedule. Some government formalities, fireworks, an interactive drum-circle, hand shadowgraphy by the very talented Amar Sen & Sabyasachi Sen, who I've had the privilege to interact with when I hosted India's Got Talent (called a silhoutte act here & pronounced as sill-ow-tee by the locals; no joke! Find the video of their ad for MP tourism below) and a musical performance would be part of the evening. Previous editions have had a gamut of eye-catching, ear-pleasing & mind-wowing attractions. In this particular edition, Shilpa would be the headliner and I, for lack of a better term, her celebrity guest on a few songs.





Ganjing, as far as I can comprehend can be crudely defined as chilling at Hazratganj in Lucknow. This state-sponsored public entertainment & engagement program was initiated mere 6 months ago. Celebrated every third Sunday of a month, this is now officially called the Ganj Carnival. On this day, a massive chunk of Hazratganj transforms into a pedestrian-only festival space for all-and-sundry to indulge in. In my opinion, such events should become an integral part of the fabric of every town & city in India; logistics & security permitting. Every culture & society must encourage and involve performers as well as the public, and such a melting pot can only lead to a happier, artistically satisfied populace. 

As the evening progressed, we made our way to the venue amidst
tight security, passed barricades & headed backstage. Even though we couldn't see the audience at that point of time, their enthusiasm was very vocal & palpable. It is interesting to meet fans & folks alike in smaller towns & cities where you can get the true measure of your following as well as gauge the insane reach of television. These are places where people have seen you on big shows as well as little projects that even you'd forgotten about. It was also good to have a casual chat with the police-on-duty at the venue; I dread to think how a conversation with them would go on any other regular night ;) An event of such a massive attendance must be tough for them but they get to rightfully enjoy the night as well. Our stage was set bang in the center of Hazratganj and made for an impressive sight. If my words fail me, perhaps these pictures could tell you a better story; people as far as the eye can see, cheers that resonated off the skies and appreciative roars that warmed the cockles of my heart. Oh, and did I forget to mention a footfall of just under a lakh, despite the late hour & dipping mercury?
How the Hazratganj streets look like, leading up to the Ganj Carnival. Pic by Sajal Sharma
Audience as far as the eye can see, cheers & roars for miles around.

Like every government  undertaking, a lot of things left much to be desired & inadequate prep-time provided for meant that neither the band preceding us nor we managed to squeeze a sound check in (and from what I hear, it was a nightmare to have the stage ready in time in the first place). Nevertheless, the sight of people all the way up to the horizon cheering, screaming, singing along is the best mood-elevator, aphrodisiac even! Shilpa started her performance & I could feel the deafening roar of appreciation on each & every song shake the stage up! This obviously had me quivering with excitement to go join her. Unfortunately, a technical snag meant I could do only two songs instead of the planned three but it was well worth it. The two duets? Yaariyaan & one of my all time Vishal-Shekhar-Shilpa favorite, Khuda Jaane. Man, I can never get over that song (the fact that it also has Deepika Padukone in it could have a strong bearing on it)! I could barely hear myself over the crowd as they sang along on every word, every line. Phew! What else can an artiste ask for? Thank you for being there Lucknow & I hope to be back again soon with a longer performance for you :)


It's a Bird. It's a Plane. It's.... AUDIENCES numbering just under a lakh! Picture by RJ Preteek

A ringside view. Picture by Naman Singh Bisht
Picture by Meraki Inc.
Once the gig was over, we were immediately whisked away in our vehicle lest the surging crowds overwhelm us. A quick drive later to Aminabad market, we got off the car & greedily rushed into Tunday Kababi. Packed to the rafters, heads started turning, people started getting excited & a palpable hush was evident. The very gentle & sweet owner of Tunday and our friends in Lucknow ushered us into a separate (and new) family section where we could dine in peace. The company, weather, time, preceding events & how hungry you are do affect the delectability of the food on a given day/night. I was here with the close friends I've mentioned in the previous blog post for yet another wedding on an excruciatingly hot summer afternoon a few years ago. This time it was a cold winter night with just a few familiar faces and many, many new ones. Both so different & memorable in their own ways, but of course the food seemed much tastier this time round. 
With my buddy Shilpa Rao, her mom & brother, her band members and Piyush & Meenu from Meraki Inc.

We gorged on galouti kababs (I being the only one trying the beef variant as opposed to everyone's mutton, although there is barely any difference in the flavour of either), parathas, tandoori chicken & mutton korma. We pigged out so much that there was no space left for biryani, but as a wise man once said, there is always space for dessert. And hence, kheer was ordered ;)
TUNNNNNNDAAAYYYYY KE GALOUTI KABAAAAAAB!!!
Dear Tandoori Chicken, I knew that the moment we'd meet, SPARKS would fly ;)

Mutton Korma

Parathas being made at a brisk pace. Missed trying the orange Sheermal parathas this time. Agli baar...

Koi Kheer Ko Kaise Na Kar Sakta Hai ;)
The mandatory "I AM AT TUNDAYYYYYY" selfie :D

The food was served with brisk enthusiasm & I'm thankful to Tunday Kababi for feeding us famished souls. The meal was topped off with a ginormous meetha paan which was delicious & painful at the same time (painful because the silver/aluminium foil on the paan created a galvanic current every time it came in contact with my saliva & pre-existing silver amalgam restorations. If this sounds Greek to you, it's because it's the Dentist in me talking again. Haha!).

A quick word of appreciation for the team that had Shilpa & me for the Ganj Carnival: the very sweet and recently betrothed Piyush & Meenu and their team at Meraki Inc. I'm sorry I don't remember all the names but thank you for being respectful, affable & protective at the same time. Again, as I've mentioned in my previous post, every subsequent visit to a place teaches you something new about it, and I came back from Lucknow with something new as well as something old & familiar.


Before wrapping up, I'd like to share my new music video Kya Yahi Pyaar Hai with you. It's a beautiful recreative rendition of a classic melody & I hope you like it. Carry it on your lips & in your hearts, and until we meet again in 2016, here's wishing you a very Happy New Year! Stay healthy, stay happy :)



Wednesday, December 23, 2015

VARANASI: SWEET CHAOS


The entrance to the Kaal Bhairav temple
I absolutely LOVED this last visit to Varanasi! Quite possibly the best thing about weddings is that friends from far & wide finally make the time, get together in one place, have fun & create some more indelible memories! These are some of my closest friends from two very important & eye-opening school years in Wynberg Allen, Mussoorie. If organising a wedding is a huge logistical nightmare, then getting your friends together for one is just as big a headache, if not bigger. In the end, it's more than worth it. 

I've been to Varanasi before: once for a day-long peaceful shoot for India's got Talent & then again as a transit point for another friend's wedding. However, this current visit has been the most immersive & explorative of the lot. It started on an ominous note when I got stuck in a massive traffic-jam owing to Narendra Modi & Japanese PM Shinzo Abe's visit. Shuffling through multiple barricades put up to facilitate their smooth passage, the narrow ramshackled & brick-lined lanes reminded me of my hometown Dhanbad which is just as small, crowded & charming in that special small-town way. Finally, hours later, I got together with the buddies I cherish spending time with: a big gang of friends laughing, drinking, reminiscing, cracking the same jokes which never get old. I realised that there was so much to catch up on: our lives, our relationships, achievements, troubles. Since I'm one of only four remaining bachelors in the group, I was gifted some valuable relationship and marriage advice, if I choose to tie the knot anytime soon. Some married friends advised me to avoid matrimony like the plague! I think I'll take that advice for now ;) 

Months before this visit to Varanasi, one of the highlights of the then-proposed plan was to have a wild drinking night-out on one of the hired boats at the ghaat. That was obviously put paid to by the security surrounding the PM's visitI had thought, however, that we'd still go ahead with this wild plan the following day, but to my amusement everyone went into a religio-spiritual mode instead! The morning after took us to the Kaal Bhairav & Kashi Vishwanath temples (I was disheartened to see the 30 foot high metal barricade around the latter, the story behind it & the eternal feud it has ignited between the Hindus & Muslims) and the evening to the ghaats. The mischievous monkeys at the Kashi Vishwanath temple gave everyone a tough time, swooping in & snatching the milk kept aside as offering for themselves! A visit to Sarnath was planned as well, where Lord Buddha had given his first sermon, but that got canned while scouting gastronomic stops in the marketplace.


Kaal Bhairav Temple
Gyaan For Free!
Guess who went temple-hopping!!!
That's where the garlands go. Volunteers urge you to garland cows & dogs 

Like with every small town, the food and the love & diligence involved in making it tell their own story. Also, like with every small town there are bound to be endless recommendations of which place serves the best sabzi-kachauri, paan, thandai. To an outsider like me, a place which comes second, third or even a distant fourth would be palatable, but for a local it's sacrilege to go for second best. Why, when you can have them at the best shop in town? However, one's preference of food is subjective & I personally loved the food, tea & desserts we had at certain shops, thanks in turn to one of my more enthusiastic friends who did the research & asking around to get us there. The thing about small towns is that, with polarised opinions and uniformly decent-to-good food, it's difficult to point out where the best grub might be found. Therefore, no matter how many eateries you explore (and enjoy), someone will always come up with another (exclamatory) recommendation!
"Lovely Ladeej, banarasi kachodi-aloo sabzi & Jalebi!

Simple yet delicious snack: malai & sugar on toast!

                                             दुनिया इधर की उधर हो जाए लेकिन गुलकंद में कंजूसी मत कीजिएगा! Cue song


                                                                         Saying cheers with कुल्हड़ वाली चाय!

सरकारी है, जायज़ है।

I also had a bemused time navigating the crowd, chaos, extreme noise & seemingly rude (but actually generous) people with so many stories to tell. One could be fooled by their seemingly indifferent demeanour but under that tough exterior they actually have a warm, hesistant smile for you. And if you get them talking, they will tell you more about the city than anybody else can. Varanasi's streets are places where you fear going deaf with the incessant honking or getting run over by the perambulatory traffic of people, vehicles, carts & cattle (but you don't)!

Things one does to navigate the traffic!

This was also the first time I came to the ghaats with a big posse of friends, and did the entire sojourn from end-to-end, albeit on a boat. I think I even remember the names of some of the ghaats: Assi Ghaat, Jain Ghaat, Dashashwamedh Ghaat and most importantly the Manikarnika Ghaat (fresh in my memory from the film Masaanwhich has incidentally just won its' first set of commercial awards in India). There was a sudden, all enveloping silence on the boat as we passed this cremation ghaat, punctuated only by the loud whirring of the boat's motor; as if everyone on the boat was digesting the fact that one day, everyone has to return to the ground. It is believed that cremation in Varanasi helps the soul achieve moksh. Quite a sombre sight, with many funeral pyres alight simultaneously, the grim, contemplative mood was broken by our maajhi cum guide who mentioned that the funeral fires on this ghaat burn non-stop every day of the year. Shaken of our reverie, a friend wondered where they found so many dead bodies. I, for one, proceeded to ask a logical question (slave that I am to logic) that how do the fires stay alight in the open ghats in the monsoons? The boatman just smiled & said, "They just do." Another one of those legends based on faith as well as stories passed down generations. One can never travel enough, even if it is to the same place because you discover something new about it every time. 


Dashashwamedh Ghaat: Picture by Sanchai Kumar

Jain Ghaat
The Ganga Aarti that followed was fantastic & familiar, with all the boats huddled together in a cluster around the banks and hundreds of devotees, whether on land or in water, watching in rapt attention, silence & devotion. The only other time when I've felt such an aura of absolute peace in spite of the hordes of people around was at the Buddhist festival of Kalchakra a few years ago at Bodh Gaya, with only the sound of the chants permeating the cold air.
Ganga Aarti
Thereon, it was regulation stuff: get back to the hotel, dress in ethnic finery, dance like a rowdy maniac, lead our friend's baraat to the venue (and delay it by hours while doing so), click loads of pictures and over the next few hours reluctantly say our goodbyes. I must admit though, that I was shocked to witness an actual mujra (or a watered down version of it) as part of the wedding function. Now that is a wierd memory my mind will have to work doubly hard to expel! 


Another wicket down!
I must take this opportunity, however, and punctuate this otherwise cheery narrative with something that has been bothering me for years; probably instigated by a visit to this holy place. I have always had strong reservations against the extreme commercialisation of religious institutions as well as the rampant mutation of laws that apply to such places. Films like PK and Oh My God have accurately depicted the corruption, hypocrisy & dichotomy of those who pose as faith's holders or God's messengers. Faith moves mountains, but many make a business out of exploiting our faith & there is no denying that this is the bitter truth of our country. To put it out there, in the last couple of religious places I've been to, I've had arguments over principles & perversion of values. Two incidents stand out in my mind: the ruckus created over an accidental extra cup of prasad at ISCKON Bangalore and over a volunteer demanding donation & threatening me with dire consequences if I didn't pay up at the Ajmer Sharif dargah. In terms of commercialisation, underhand dealings & disrespect to the offerings, this place was no different.

At the Kashi Vishwanath temple, a policeman standing guard surreptitiously asked me where I was from, since according to him, "foreigners are not allowed in this temple." This, after I'd already crossed the mandatory security check & pat downs. Cop number 2 added his version of the rules that foreigners are indeed allowed but only through Gate number 2. Cop number 3 summed it up with his version that irrespective of nationality, only those who believe in Hinduism may enter. That last bit was so bizarre that I almost laughed in his face. I didn't want to point out the fact that I'm as Indian as any of them but by the end of the conversation, I wasn't sure as to which version I should believe in. If they were having fun at my expense then I'm not amused, as it created the wrong impression. And of course, while I totally respect the need to clear the surge of devotees at popular religious destinations, being herded & shoved like cattle is just not cool. Nor is the absolute wastage of the offerings which are either trampled under foot or flushed down the drainage.

Some might ask why I bother to go at all if I have such reservations. It's because it's my right to visit such places if I want to, for my belief or lack of it. I like to explore these places to absorb their history, the stories behind them, their architecture. And while I may not believe in God per se, I do believe in a supreme being. I respect others' beliefs & wouldn't dream of belittling another's religion or faith. At the same time, blind faith is a concept alien to me, and those who would mercilessly exploit the faith of others are nothing short of villains.

Ah, but I digress on a path that is so full of debate that it would never end. Centuries down, our descendants will be discussing the very same things, and the loop shall never close. Let me conclude this post by reiterating that I really enjoyed this trip to Varanasi & saw the city in a new light. Even after jet-setting from megapolis to megapolis, the charm of the small town shall never end, and the small-town boy from Dhanbad, in the recess of my mind as he may be, will very much stay alive.

Self-enlightenment: using the torch-app to provide extra light


Friday, December 11, 2015

ANGRY INDIAN GODDESSES

It's been a long, long time since I wrote about something that I've watched or attended. Way back in college, I'd write regularly about any play, movie or concert that tingled my senses. I guess I had more free time then. Now, with profession-building, other distractions & the microblogging convenience of 140 characters, one tends to abbreviate their feelings into mere like or dislike without any depth to that assessment. I watched Pan Nalin's "Angry Indian Goddesses" a few nights ago & I liked it. I sat down to write about it & here are my thoughts. This may or may not be a regular feature on my blog, and it is not a "review", for lack of a better term. However, if it feels truncated to you, blame my Twitter addiction for it!

Make no mistake, Angry Indian Goddesses is not a festival film, even though it started off as one. It's every bit a commercial Hindi film with no stars but a bunch of good and/or natural actors and a great team to back them up. More importantly, it's one of the very few films in India revolving around all-female-bonding. We've seen the highs & lows of male bonding in Hindi films like Dil Chahta Hai, Zindagi Na Milegi Dobara, Rock On & countless others, so it was refreshing to explore the "other" perspective for voyeuristic pleasure as well to perhaps understand the female psyche better.

Angry Indian Goddesses' premise is simple. A group of diverse friends get together in Goa for a friend's wedding & learn more about each other than ever before; their trials & tribulations, their personal demons and their anger at what it means to be a woman in today's India.The narrative may occasionally seem contrived but it's engaging & entertaining. I particularly relished the way it has been shot (must do some additional research on the cameras & techniques used here). We've seen innumerable movies shot in Goa but this was different, refreshing & pleasing to the used-to eye. The rapid edit, multiple cuts, the just-right colour saturation & constant dialogue flitting between the foreground & background was delighting and constantly teased the creative person in me. I'm assuming a lot of the dialogues were unscripted; a certain basic guideline was given & the actresses took over with some excellent improvisations (a fact corroborated by the credit given for "additional dialogues" to them). 

I guess the best measure of good acting is when you can't tell whether the actors are "acting." Sandhya Mridul and Tannishta Chatterjee are strong & reliable as always, and a worthy mention for Amrit Maghera; it takes a special something to let go like she does. She was very real even in her excesses. I know a couple of UK based friends who came to Mumbai with lofty dreams & became disillusioned with our perception of them, before picking themselves up again. In a film with good, honest acting all around, it's tough to pick favorites. Mine are Sarah Jane Dias (strength, vulnerability & those mesmerising looks), Pavleen (adorable) & Anushka Manchanda (honest, carefree & that voice; she's a natural here. What many people don't know is that, just like her character, she has a great talent and body of work outside Bollywood music, even though she's mostly known for it). 

There were many scenes where I could personally relate to the elation or pain the women went through, and the horrors in their reel lives felt palpably real. There is a point in the film where (spoiler alert) the issue of same-sex love & marriage is introduced into the narrative. Kudos to the makers for doing so subtly & matter-of-factly; even joking about Section 377 & our ignorant inability to differentiate one law from the other. Having said that, a big boo to the current censor certification team for some very silly and unnecessary cuts, blurs & beeps which would embarrass even the most conservative & narrow-minded viewer. What were they smoking? And how do such people even get appointed to these posts? Wait, don't answer that question.

A lot of what is said in the film is something we've already heard repeatedly in real life for ages. However, it's important that we continue hearing it until it registers, because it hasn't yet. I didn't necessarily like the way all the characters were painted as victims, but then again it's a 2 hour film with a lot to say, which is why it may seem excessive but in reality, it's not. It is an important film; preachy, screechy and too teary at times but important nonetheless. Many or all the things depicted in the film are a part of our country's reality. The film highlights the new-age Indian woman & the society's antiquated perception of her, social ills & discrimination against them, sometimes subtle, often blatant. This is not merely a feminist piece or a gang of girlfriends ranting away (although it comes close at times) but daily conversations given life on celluloid. Even though it packs too much into one film, we know in the depth of our hearts that these perceptions, crimes & mentalities do exist in our country. 

Will this film change anything? I don't know, and I doubt that Angry Indian Goddesses consciously aims at that. However, knowledge holds the key to change and awareness is an important aspect of that power.

With Goddesses like these, who needs heroes?

Definitely worth a watch.


Tuesday, September 08, 2015

RISE

Photo credit: Ritesh Uttamchandani
Rise.

Rise - above pettiness, hypocrisy and lies (unless they’re white).
Rise - above envy, hatred and everything that makes us fight.

Rise - above the person you are today, to become a better version of you.
Rise - beyond your reality; let none say you can't live life anew.

Rise - above your ego, before it rises above YOU.
Rise - above your possessions, because many have only a few.

Rise - higher than the sun; that, is your place in the sky.
Rise - because the question is "WHY NOT?", not a silly "WHY?".

And if all this seems too difficult, take my hand.
Together we ought to,
Together we must,
Together we can!

Virtue, integrity, morality; our battle hard-fought,
A better world is not a myth, a lost ideal it is not.

So,
RISE.

(This particular poem is inspired by my very talented friends Ritesh Uttamchandani & Victor Mukherjee.)

Saturday, August 01, 2015

आज एक कवि से मुलाक़ात हुई

आज एक कवि से मुलाक़ात हुई।
बहुत अच्छा लिखता है।
लब्ज़ों का सहारा सहारा है, बैसाखी नहीं उसकी,
मगर उसे अपने हुनर पर इतना यकीन भी नहीं।

पढ़ने वाले जान जाएँगे दोहराई-दोहराई सी उसकी सोच है,
सुनने वाले जान जाएँगे गहरी कोशिशों में कितना संकोच है।
लिख पाना अपने-आप में एक सफ़र है,
और सफ़र में आभूषण व औज़ार ना हो,
तो कवि सजाए कैसे, क़दम बढ़ाए कैसे?

अनुभव और स्मृति-स्तुति-सामग्री,
तुम्हारा कोश उमड़ता हुआ, मेरा कुछ ख़ाली है अभी।
जिऊँगा कुछ और, और गुज़ारते ये दिन, शब, सुबह,
अनुभव की झोली को भरता जाऊँगा।
शायद कवि कहलाऊँगा, और फ़िर कोई और कहेगा...

आज एक कवि से मुलाक़ात हुई।
बहुत अच्छा लिखता है।
लब्ज़ों का सहारा, सहारा है बैसाखी नहीं उसकी,
मगर उसे अपने हुनर पर इतना यकीन भी नहीं।

Wednesday, July 01, 2015

CONVOLUTED REALITY... OR IS IT?

Image Courtesy: wernerstudio.com
As I descend into the darkness in that imposing elevator, I wonder where I am and how did I get there. I have absolutely no recollection of taking this elevator before, and I must have done so to get to the upper echeleons (unless I landed on the roof in a chopper, which I don't remember either). The lights in the elevator are dim & flickering; it's occupants grim & sweaty. It has no walls and it is easily 20 X 15 feet in its entirety. I have been here before! Many times over the years, but where am I? Is this a dream?

Before I can comprehend the gravity of the question, the elevator comes to a roaring halt! I am the only one to alight; right into a dark room devoid of any furniture. The place looks like it hasn't been cleaned in months. In the center of the room is a television set hooked on to a contraption that makes it swing like a pendulum. Only, the movement isn't horizontal but vertical. This throws shadows across the room & rectangles of light on the floor & the ceiling, and blinds me every time the screen faces me. 


Once I adjust my sight to the alternating darkness & light, I notice the screen. Blank, only static. There is another man in the room, on a mound of moth-eaten mattresses, staring at me with disgust as if I am responsible for the shitty cable reception. With nothing on TV, I step out.....


....into bright daylight, right into a horde of children in uniforms returning from school! Neatly lined up in single files, they are eerily soundless. I turn around to look at the building I've just come out of: "Jamuna Apartments."


Wierd! What am I doing in Dhanbad? This is one of the apartments in my old housing society. Well, now that I'm here, I might as well go meet Mom at her salon. I'm running towards her now, with no apparent hurry to get there. And yet, I'm running. While I zip across the children & familiar sights of my hometown, I calmly ask myself a question: 


How did I get here? I remember sleeping in my bed in Mumbai last night & yet, here I am, thousands of miles away in Dhanbad. I rarely come here anymore. Did I just fly over on a whim? If so, why don't I remember it???


It was a dream. Real; and yet, as convoluted & fantastic as one can be. Why am I documenting a dream in such vivid detail? What is so special about it? We dream every time we sleep, don't we? Therein lies the catch, at least for me.

I haven't dreamt in a long time, or have been unable to retain a single fragment of my dreams. It has been documented that even though we dream everytime we sleep, we retain or remember only a minuscule percentage of that. Hence, the extremely frustrating memory of having had a great idea in your dreams. If only you could remember it. 

Ergo, either my dream adventures have been cut short, or I cannot recall them. Then again, why I was excited by this particular dream was that it was set in my hometown, in the housing colony where I first lived. Shanti Bhawan was its name, and it became a recurring character in my dreams when I was drafted to a boarding school. Perhaps, in spite of years of drifting through wonderful schools & a purgatory college experience, and finally having settled in the chaos of the entertainment industry, home is never too far away from my mind. And that in the deepest, more colorful recesses of my mind, there still remains that awestruck comic book fan, whose dreams take the shape of all the imagination locked up inside him.


And oh, my parents come visiting me in Mumbai tomorrow :)