Does nation really needs a law abiding Jolly LLB?

“The lawyer with the briefcase can steal more money than the man with the gun.” – lines from the crime novel ‘The Godfather’

This quote from crime novel ‘The Godfather’ holds true for the corrupt practices happening in law system. It is easy for a Don to fill the pockets of a crafty lawyer and get his goons released on bail in the nick of time. But is every lawyer corrupt? Recently advocate Harish Salve was in news for charging Rs 1 to fight the case for Kulbushan Jadhav. This case is in headlines on social networks. The biggest victory for justice was the death sentence for all the convicts who brutally raped and killed Jyoti Singh ‘Nirbhaya’. Justice is delayed but never denied.

The Jolly LLB movie series has created its own new franchise. The Akshay Kumar starrer – The state VS Jolly LLB2 has a lawyer Jolly fighting case against fake police encounters. The courtroom drama is a satirical take on the judicial system where reputed lawyers have their own special packages (Silver, Gold, and Premium) to fight cases. A struggling assistant lawyer Jagdishwar Mishra fondly known as Jolly cheats a pregnant woman with an assurance that his senior lawyer will fight her case. He even charges 5 lakhs from her. When the truth is revealed, the pregnant woman commits suicide. From that point, Jolly’s conscience awakens and he goes to the depth to seek justice for his deceased client. Jolly is pitted against a powerful corrupt lawyer Pramod Mathur (played by Anu Kapoor). How he seeks justice forms the crux of the film. The verbal wars in the courtroom are humorous, hard hitting where evidences are manipulated, forged and witnesses bribed.

Justice is delayed but never denied and Jolly finally wins the case with convincing arguments. In movies, justice is sought easily but reality is harsher than the fiction. Today there are lakhs of cases pending in the court waiting for justice. It is easier for a rich tycoon to bail out his spoilt kid. On the other side, a poor man can’t afford to pay money for even one proceeding.

The infamous hit and run case was an inspiration for the makers to pick the topic for the first Jolly LLB movie which had Arshad Warsi playing the lawyer Jolly. It highlighted the sick mindset of the rich masses who never bother to care about the poor working people staying on footpath. There are many cases pending on some spoilt celebrities who have crushed poor people under their car wheels in a drunken state. Will these white collar criminals be ever brought to justice?

Nation really needs a law abiding lawyer like Jolly LLB who will fight the cases for the poor and the needy. This article is an appeal to God to seek justice for the oppressed through his judgement.

A face in the dark and other hauntings – An anthology of ghost stories by Ruskin Bond

‘I see dead people’ – lines from Hollywood movie ‘Sixth Sense’

Did you ever experience paranormal visions of seeing departed people? Have you witnessed seeing your long lost loved ones in your dreams? Dreams are route to connect with departed people. Whether ghosts, spirits or apparitions really exist is a matter of debate. Ruskin Bond’s anthology of short story on ghosts in this book is not just scary, but also has a nostalgic and romantic touch to it.

‘That night there was a thunderstorm. My bedroom window kept banging in the wind. I got up to close it and as I looked out, there was a flash of lightning and I saw that frail body again, swinging from the oak tree’ – excerpt from short story Topaz from this anthology

The ghosts in Ruskin Bond’s stories are frightening, but not disturbing. The stories are memorable, hilarious and sometimes heart breaking. Especially the short story – A face in the dark is the first chapter in this anthology recounts the story of an English teacher witnessing paranormal encounter with a faceless ghost. This story has been beautifully crafted with a touch of humour that will make you read these stories again and again. Some stories in Ruskin Bond’s collections are really spooky – especially the stories ‘The Monkeys’ and ‘The Topaz’. Ruskin Bond has written one ghost story in this collection which is dedicated to his father.

‘There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio.
Than are dreamt of in your philosophy’
– lines from Shakespeare’s Hamlet

A rare photograph of Ruskin Bond with his mother during his childhood

In this nostalgic chapter, Ruskin Bond recounts the supernatural event of seeing his dead father coming back to meet him. The ghostly form of his dead father not only guides him, but also protects him at several instances. Ruskin Bond has included this nostalgic episode in several of his short story collection. The 1998 Hollywood movie – Jack Frost is also based on such a premise where a dead father returns as a snowman to reunite with his little son and fulfill the wishes of his child and wife. The role of the ghost father was played by Michael Keaton in this family movie. Even the 90’s movie – The Ghost had a similar plot where a dead man returns as a ghost to establish contact with his soulmate and make her aware of upcoming dangers. The Kevin Costner Starrer movie – Dragon Fly was more gripping on topic of afterlife and how a deceased wife tries to contact with her husband through paranormal signals.

Dreams are also a way to connect with your long lost loved ones. In my dreams, I had nostalgic experience of seeing my long lost maternal uncle who is no more with me. Whenever I was sad or depressed, I always saw my uncle in my dream, assuring that everything will be all right. The bond that I shared with my uncle in my childhood days is really memorable, especially accompanying him to buy comic books. I miss his presence really in these difficult times. Ruskin Bond also has also written a short story, describing his experience, meeting a long lost friend who is happened to be dead years back.

All the 28 ghost stories in this anthology are unique. Whether it is connecting with ghost of Rudyard Kipling or meeting the mysterious Madam Sussanna who has killed all her seven husbands under mysterious circumstances, the stories gives you a glimpse at the supernatural elements in a very entertaining way. The most entertaining chapter in this anthology was the surprise entry of Detective Sherlock Holmes in the story ‘The Daffodil Case’. In this story, Sherlock Holmes teams up with Ruskin Bond to solve a case involving stealing of Daffodil flowers. The short story ‘Something in the water’ and ‘Night in the millennium’ are really creepy.

The ghostly settings in these stories send scary goosebumps, giving a feel of ghostly presence around you. The recently released Bollywood movie – Phillauri draws inspiration from a spooky story ‘The Topaz’ in this anthology. Science may have denied the supernatural existence, but paranormal activities do keep happening in some corners of the world. If you love reading ghost stories, this anthology by Ruskin Bond is definitely a treat.

Wonder Woman – Movie Preview

‘Give a girl the right shoes, and she can conquer the world’ – Marilyn Monroe

Gal Gadot as the amazon princess in the 2017 action movie – Wonder Woman

Looks like this quote is well applicable for Hollywood actress Gal Gadot as she steps in the shoes of the popular DC comic character – Wonder Woman in the upcoming movie adaptation. When Gal Gadot made a cameo appearance as Wonder Woman in the 2016 movie – Batman VS Superman: Dawn of justice, she took my attention and I knew this girl is going to rock. The way she made her entry in the climax as Wonder Woman, I knew she was born for this role. A born warrior, Wonder Woman is a fusion of beauty and courage.

This beautiful amazon princess who is rumored to be daughter of God Zeus is brought up by her mother Hippolyta. The plans of making a stand-alone movie on Wonder Woman was in the news for several years until director Zack Snyder decided to helm the project with Gal Gadot in the lead role. There were several top notch actresses in talks to play the role of amazon princess until it went to Gal Gadot. Even top names like Angelina Jolie, Megan Fox,Catherine Zeta Jones and Priyanka Chopra were considered for this role. I guess the lady luck was in favor of Gal Gadot. Gal Gadot’s energetic presence gives an edge to her role as Wonder Woman. I had the same gut feeling about Christian Bale when I saw him for the first time in the Batman Begins promotional poster. I knew he was born to portray the dark knight with conviction.

Also known as Princess Diana of Themyscira, this warrior goddess rescues an American military pilot Steve Trevor and joins hands with the pilot to stop the world war. Though Wonder Woman may be a fiction super heroine/warrior goddess, the inspiration of creating this character is drawn immensely from Indian mythology.

Before Wonder Woman made her appearance in the comics’ world, Indian mythology already had Devi Durga, the supreme Goddess who took various avatars to destroy the demonic race. Thus the roots and origin of Wonder Woman is hidden in the books of Hindu mythology. With a lasso, sword and shield as her weapon Gal Gadot will be seen stopping the world war in the 2017 as the bold and beautiful ‘Wonder Woman’.

Gal Gadot will be seen portraying Wonder Woman again in Justice League which is scheduled to release in November 2017. DC is all set to release the 2017’s most awaited super hero movie – Wonder Woman in June 2017. The big screen is ready for the arrival of Wonder Woman worldwide.

Remembering Vinod Khanna (6th October 1946 – 27th April 2017)

Blessed with a physique of a Greek god and a charming smile that would make girls fall head over heels in love with him, a dashing young man debuted in 70’s movie – Man Ka Meet as the leading antagonist along with Sunil Dutt’s younger brother Som Dutt and actress Leena Chandavarkar. The antagonist got noticed and went on to become the successful star of 70’s and 80’s. He was Vinod Khanna. He started his career with portraying villainous roles in movies like ‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’ and ‘Aan Milo Sajna’. Probably he was the only handsome villain who could outlive the hero. Vinod Khanna went on to become a lead hero in countless successful movies like Mere Apne, Qurbani, Parvarish, Amar Akbar Anthony, Achanak, Garam Khoon, Lahoo ke do rang, Chandni, Dayavan etc.

Vinod Khanna’s portrayal as the rebellious youth in Gulzar’s Mere Apne was a cult in its own where he was pitted against Shatrughan Sinha the other young angry young man of 70’s. Their fierce performance not only made the movie successful but also established both these actors as tough contenders against Amitabh Bachchan. Vinod Khanna later acted along with Amitabh in Khoon Paseena, Parvarish, Muqaddar ka Sikandar and Amar Akbar Anthony. I got acquainted with his power house performance during my childhood days when I first watched ‘Mera Gaon Mera Desh’ where he played the role of a dacoit and had literally knocked down Dharmendra. That was the movie that introduced me to Vinod Khanna.

His memorable portrayal was the role of Shakti Velu in Feroz Khan’s movie – Dayavan. A remake of Mani Ratnam’s movie – Nayakan, Dayavan is story of a generous godfather who reaches out to help every needy. Dayavan was a successful movie of early 90’s. Amitabh considered Vinod Khanna as his toughest contender and competitor in 70’s. Both were mighty in their respective movies. I remember one scene where Vinod Khanna literally beats the life out of Amitabh in movie ‘Amar Akbar Anthony. Vinod Khanna played the role of Amar, the elder brother of Amitabh and Rishi Kapoor in Manmohan Desai’s ambitious movie. 70’s cinema was all about lost and found formula, pick pockets, smuggling and this plot was recycled several times. Whether it is Parvarish or Haath Ki Safai, Vinod Khanna conquered the moment with his dynamic presence. In mid-eighties, Vinod Khanna quit Bollywood to seek meditation in Osho’s Ashram. If he hadn’t quit Bollywood, the story would have been different. He made his comeback several years later with Insaaf, Satyamev Jayate and Dayavan. Though his second innings was successful, Bollywood had already changed with entry of actors like Sunny Deol, Sanjay Dutt, Anil Kapoor, Govinda and the Khans. (Aamir, Salman, Shahrukh).

With times, he shifted to playing character roles in Wanted, Dabanng, Risk and Dilwale. His last appearance was the role of an ageing don in Dilwale along with Shahrukh Khan. Vinod Khanna shared a good rapport with his friend and actor Feroz Khan in Qurbani and Dayavan. Yash Chopra’s Chandni was another memorable movie of Vinod where he played the role of a heartbroken businessman. Though his character arrives in post interval, he literally steals the show in Chandni which was one of his memorable roles. Whether it was playing the convict in Gulzar’s Achanak or the dacoit in Mera Gaon Mera Desh, he nailed every role to perfection.

‘Koi hota jisko apna hum apna keh lete yaaro, paas nahi to door bhi hota, lekin koi mera apna’ – lines from movie Mere Apne

Though he couldn’t survive the battle of cancer, he has already become immortal in world of Indian cinema. In these 5 years, Indian cinema has lost two great actors – Rajesh Khanna and Vinod Khanna. One was a romantic star while other was a dashing hunk. Today not a single actor can compete the charm of Vinod Khanna. It was disheartening to know that very less people arrived to pay respects on his funeral. Nevertheless, an artist never dies. He lives on through his works.

Through this article, I have tried to pay respects to a great artist of Indian cinema. Legends like actor Vinod Khanna are born only once.

Khullam Khula: Rishi Kapoor Uncensored – Biography review

For people, the cinema actors are larger than life. They are demigods who adorn the wall of every cinema lover. The craze of fans for stars is hysterical. Legendary actor Raj Kapoor was one star who took nation by storm with movies like Awaara, Boot Polish, Mera Naam Joker, Aag etc. The legacy started by Prithviraj Kapoor was continued by his next generation kids – Raj, Shammi and Shashi. Among the crowd of these star studded family, a small kid made his work noticed in Mera Naam Joker. Though Mera Naam Joker flopped, the kid aspired to make it big on silver screen one day.

In the 70’s a chocolate boy debuted on the silver screen with his romantic venture – Bobby. Rest was history. He was Rishi Kapoor, son of the legendary Raj Kapoor. Bobby’s success made him an overnight romantic hero and heartthrob of generation. His debut in movie was a fairy tale story, but his struggle-some journey to maintain his success in Bollywood was not a bed of roses.

Every Friday, a new movie releases and a new star is born. Rishi Kapoor’s debut movie – Bobby made him a talk of town. But his second movie ‘Zehreela Insaan’ was a disaster. Here his real journey began to sustain his image in the unpredictable Bollywood. In his official biography ‘Khullam Khula’ Rishi Kapoor recounts his early years, his rise to stardom, break up, cold vibes with Amitabh & Rajesh Khanna and his second innings as character actor in Agneepath, Kapoor and Sons, Student of the year etc.

What intrigued me to read was the prologue written by his son Ranbir Kapoor, the current heartthrob of today’s generation. In the prologue, Ranbir reveals his strained relationship with his father but still respects him as one of the great actors of the Indian cinema.

The prologue conveys a lot about Rishi Kapoor as a human, caring husband and a doting father. What makes this biography worth reading is its friendly tone that breaks the ice between the star and the reader. Here Rishi Kapoor is more of a human and less of a star who recounts his childhood days, his first movie as a toddler in Shree 420 and second movie as a teenager in Mera Naam Joker. Through this biography, we learn a lot about the legendary Raj Kapoor and his passion for cinema through the eyes of Rishi Kapoor. It is a treat to know about Raj Kapoor’s fondness for movie making and his struggle to make RK studios a leading banner in movie making. Post the success of Bobby and his fairy tale wedding with actress Neetu Singh, Rishi’s career witnessed a dark phase when his ambitious movie – Karz didn’t fare up to his expectations. He literally went into depression and was unable to face camera. It took him a plenty of time to come out of his dark phase and re-emerge as an actor. This biography is not just about Rishi Kapoor, it is also the story of his family, his co-stars, music directors, choreographers and the big movie banners that supported him through his journey. Apart from talking about his successful journey in Bollywood, he also spills the untold stories about his breakup with his girlfriend Yasmin Mehta, his cold arguments with his close buddies – Jeetendra and Rakesh Roshan. He even admits about the rejecting the negative role in Darr which eventually went to Shahrukh Khan.

A rare pic of Rishi Kapoor with his family. (The little Ranbir Kapoor looks super cute)

What left me tear eyed was the story of R.D.Burman whose music was getting unnoticed due to the entry of new generation music directors in 90’s. He once requested Rishi Kapoor to get him some work. Though R.D.Burman was financially stable, it was the idleness that was bothering him. Sadly R.D.Burman couldn’t make a second innings and died a quiet death in 90’s. What a sad phase for this legendary R.D.Burman. Rishi Kapoor was miserably written off every time a generation of actors arrived in movies. Despite the stiff competition, Rishi Kapoor survived in the race. The epilogue is written by his wife Neetu Kapoor about her journey with her husband. It is very heart touching to read that epilogue. To the world, he is a star, but for the family, he is a difficult man to handle who lives by his own terms. We knew Rishi Kapoor as a star, but now we know him personally as a human who is eccentric, outspoken and a reserved gentleman.

His second coming in Do Dooni Chaar, Agneepath, Student of the year, D-Day, Kapoor and Sons fetched him lots of praises. Among all the movies, Karz and Yeh Vaada Raha are my favorites which were based on English Novels. Karz was based on Reincarnation of Peter Proud while Yeh Vaada Raha was based on Danielle Steels’ novel – The Promise.

The biography ‘Khullam Khula’ is an honest effort by Rishi Kapoor to write down about his journey as an actor. It is really worth the read to know about the 70’s star whose legacy is been continued by his son Ranbir Kapoor.

The legend of Jhalkari Bai, the look alike of Rani Laxmibai (22 November 1830- 1858)

‘Khoob ladi Mardaani woh toh Jhansi wali rani thi’

These lines uttered in praise of Rani Laxmibai still send courageous goosebumps among masses even today. Rani Laxmibai’s firm stand against British in 1857 war of independence not only awakened the masses from slumber, but also changed the course of history. Though Rani Laxmibai breathed her last while fighting with British, the 1857 war of independence was continued by Tatya Tope.

There are some speculations by historians who claim that it was not the real Laxmibai who fought with British. It was her doppelganger, a body double or a look alike. No one knows how much truth is in the statements made by the historians. According to historical sources, there was a female Indian soldier ‘Jhalkari Bai’ recruited in Rani Laxmibai’s army. It is been said that Jhalkari Bai was quite similar to Rani Laxmibai in terms of appearance. In simple words, Jhalkari Bai was the mirror image of Rani Laxmibai. Equally courageous as the queen, Jhalkari was born on 22nd November 1830 in Bhojla village near Jhansi. Jhalkari Bai was deprived of motherly affection in childhood due to the untimely death of her mother. It was her father Sadoba Singh who brought her up with love and care, encouraging her to train in horse riding and sword fights. Legends say that Jhalkari had killed a leopard with just a stick.

As she grew young, she got married to Puran Singh, a soldier from Rani Laxmibai’s army. This gave an opportunity to Jhalkari to enroll in Rani Laxmibai’s army. It was Puran Singh who formally introduced Rani to Jhalkari. Both were quite similar in terms of appearance. Her resemblance to Rani Laxmibai gave her an advantage to get recruited in women’s wing of army. At several instances, Jhalkari disguised herself as Rani Laxmibai and confused the British army. It was hard for British army to identify whether it was the real Rani Laxmibai or it was her body double. It was Jhalkari who helped Queen Laxmibai to escape from fort safely.

During the 1857 rebellion, Jhansi was attacked by large army of British under the command of General Hugh Rose. Despite giving a tough resistance to the large British army, Rani Laxmibai didn’t receive any military support from Peshwa Nana Sahib. The capture of Tatya Tope was another setback for Rani Laxmibai. In midst of this tense situation, Jhalkari Bai and the women army helped Rani Laxmibai escape through Bhanderi gate. To trick the enemy’s army, Jhalkari Bai disguised herself as Queen Rani Laxmibai and arrived in British camp. This action not only helped the real Rani Laxmibai escape safely but also left the British army puzzled till they finally realized it was Jhalkari Bai, the female soldier in Laxmibai’s army.

It is been said that Jhalkari Bai was hanged to death by British in 1858. Though the 1857 war of independence was a discouraging defeat for Indians, but Rani Laxmibai’s courage had given a tough fight to the alien rule. Rani Laxmibai died fighting with the British army on the battlefield while her comrade Jhalkari Bai was brutally given the death sentence. Sadly, Jhalkari Bai’s legend is unaware to the young masses. Her story is yet to find the light of the day. For historians, Jhalkari Bai was just a soldier in Rani Laxmibai’s army. The history may be label her as a body double or a look alike of Rani Laxmibai, but Jhalkari Bai has made her presence felt with her courageous feat. She was no less than Joan of Arc.

The story of Jhalkari Bai was narrated to me by my friend during a discussion on historical events. It was this story of Jhalkari Bai that triggered an interest to research on the unsung warrior of 1857. I hope that this article will be a justifying tribute to Jhalkari Bai the unsung hero of 1857.

The rise of feminine power in movies

Neerja Bhanot’s biopic in 2016 showcased the underestimated feminine power of an ordinary flight attendant who not only saved the lives of passengers on board, but also sacrificed her life defending the terrorists. Not only the audience loved the movie, but also applauded the story and the performance. The recent movies like ‘Pink’, ‘Naam Shabana’ , ‘Phillauri’ were all about the various shades of feminine spirit. Some were courageous, lovable, unsung and some even waiting for love after life. Bollywood has definitely started recognizing the role of feminine power in movies.

Priyanka Chopra as Mary Kom in the sports biopic

An actress is no longer an oppressed victim or an eye candy. She is a fearless hero in herself who can overshadow even a celebrated star. It is not that Bollywood hasn’t made women-centric movies. There are countless movies dedicated to feminine spirit. Classic movies like ‘Pakeezah’, Sujata’, ‘Mera Saaya’, ‘Sharmilee’, ‘Seeta aur Geeta’ were testimony to the several faces of womanhood. The 90’s movie – Damini directed by Rajkumar Santoshi was a cult movie which highlighted the struggle of a woman to seek justice for her maid who was brutally raped. Since 90’s movies were all stuffed with item songs, action and comedy, there was no place for woman oriented cinema.

Neerja showcased the extraordinary courage of an ordinary girl

Yashraj Films gave a new lease of life to feminine power with the sports movie – Chak de featuring Shahrukh Khan as coach for women hockey team. Inspired by a true story, Chak de India recognized the unsung power of femininity. Not just movies, but even television has shown some of the inspiring serials. In late 80’s, actress Kavita Chaudhary came up with an inspiring TV show – Udaan which was based on life of Kiran Bedi, the courageous female cop. Even Rajni, a popular TV show on Doordarshan was based on an ordinary house wife who solves the issues happening in society. The 2011 movie – Dirty Picture exposed the dirty side of cinema and the story of an actress who will go to any lengths to find her mark in the movie world. This movie was based on Silk, a forgotten actress of South movies. Though Dirty Picture was a successful at box-office, the bold theme was not meant for family audience.

Phillauri was an entertaining movie focused around a ghost bride

In today’s society, a stud is admired for his flamboyant skills, but the same admiration doesn’t apply for a tomboy natured girl who has too many male colleagues in her social circle. She is labeled as a slut. What a low-leveled mindset of today’s society !! The movie Pink highlighted the dark truth of today’s 21st century women and how they are subjected to molestation, verbal harassment if they don’t agree to the lusty demands of spoilt aristocratic boys. Pink was a hard hitting movie highlighting the plight of girls staying in Delhi. The upcoming movie – Maatr will see actress Raveena Tandon as an avenger seeking vengeance on the people responsible for raping and killing her daughter. The 1998 movie – Dushman starring Kajol was based on Hollywood movie – Eye for an Eye. A brilliant projection of feminine spirit, it showed Kajol avenging the death of her twin sister who is killed by a psychopath. Other woman oriented movies like Chandni Bar, Astitva, Satta were topical and highlighted the struggle of woman for her identity. It is not that woman oriented movies have to be just serious. It can be a rom-com too. Movies like Aisha, Jab we Met, Hasee toh Phasee showed the jovial side of femininity. The Sonam Kapoor starrer – Aisha was based on Jane Austen’s best-selling novel – Emma, a match maker who ends up messing the lives of her friends by choosing a wrong partner for them and confusion erupts.

Naam Shabana is story of a undercover field agent

Now the dynamics of movie making has changed recently. Movies like ‘No one killed Jessica’, ‘Piku’, ‘Jab We Met’, ‘Highway’, ‘Neerja’, ‘Fashion’, ‘Mary Kom’ , ‘Mardaani’, ‘Akira’, ‘NH10’ have strong content focusing on female power. The recently released movie – Naam Shabana is loosely inspired on life of a real field agent. Even the romantic comedy ‘Phillauri’ featuring Anushka Sharma as the ghost bride is winning the hearts of audiences’ worldwide. The upcoming movies – Maatr, Noor, Mom, Begum Jaan are all topical showcasing the different strength of women coming from various walks of life.

Sonakshi Sinha will be portraying role of an aspiring journalist in upcoming movie – Noor

Bollywood is all geared to come up with more topical movies which will not only be entertaining, but also focus on the feminine power that was trampled by egoistic masculine star power. There will be a time when audience won’t need any Dabanng hero anymore. A powerful story will be enough to attract the audience to theatres.

Scary movies!! Not scary anymore

Fear is not what scary we see; fear is what we can’t see. It’s all in the mind.

Scary movie is a spoof on all the horror movies in a hilarious way

Gone are the days when horror movies scared the hell out of us. Haunted Havelis, Old temples, ruined post offices and forts were the residences of ghosts – Especially white gown was the favorite outfit of female ghosts  May be even ghosts wanted to stay in trend. Were these white gowns designed by Manish Malhotra? The ghosts were categorized in various forms – the cursed ghost, the avenger ghost and the waiting ghost. The waiting ghosts are mostly romantic, waiting impatiently for their soul mate who has taken birth somewhere in rich mansions. The most popular of this category of movies was ‘Bees saal baad.’ It featured the gorgeous Dimple Kapadia as ghost waiting for her lover Mithun Chakraborty. She looked more as a model, less as a ghost. The scariest of them all was ‘Woh kaun thi’. Though it was a suspense movie, the settings and storyline looked spookier. Nowadays, even such female ghosts will be noticed, our young kids will ask for Wi-Fi password from her. According to the current trends, even ghosts have to stay net-savvy. May be, they too click selfies with their ghost friends in haunted bungalows and share it on FB. Earlier, the hairy ghosts in movies like ‘Jaani Dushman’ looked more like beasts. Maybe the appearance of these hairy beasts evolved into a mutant named ‘Wolverine’.

The arrival of new horror genre with Ramsay Brothers changed the face of scary movies. It had sensuality, steamy songs, haunted bungalows, spooky faced servant named ‘Ramu Kaka’ and comedy scenes to add more entertainment value. Most importantly, the ghost had to be disfigured, grotesque and fearsome. The ghost preys on his victim mostly at nights. The night has to be ‘Amavasya’. Rest of the nights, the ghosts are working in haunted call centers  Ramsay Brothers gave several hit movies like ‘Darwaza’, ‘Purana Mandir’, ‘Saamri’, ‘Veerana’, ‘Tehkhana’ etc. These movies ran to packed houses in 80’s and 90’s. With the passing times, people got fed up of seeing the same disfigured ghosts in Ramsay Movies. More the ghosts tried to scare audience, more it started getting hilarious. Sad part is that Ramsay Brothers didn’t change their movie making according to current trends. Their movies looked more humorous. The most tragic part is that even kids are not scared of watching their movies.

Directors like Ramgopal Verma and Vikram Bhatt created their own horror movie franchise with movies like Bhoot, Darna Mana Hai, Phoonk, Raaz series, 1920 etc etc. The ghosts in these movies were caricatures of ‘Exorcist’, ‘Unborn’, ‘Conjuring’ and ‘Insidious’. The movie ‘Raaz’ was based on Hollywood movie- ‘What lies beneath’.

Majority of the Indian horror movies are copy of Korean horror movies. The heroines in Indian scary movies don’t do anything except screaming and running helter skelter. The funnier part is that the ghost can be killed only through some divine trishul, knife, or fire. To save his heroine from the spirit, our hero will go to any length to kill the ghost with the divine weapon.

Movies like ‘Conjuring’, ‘Insidious’ and ‘Ring’ have changed the concept of fear. May be there will be a time when these Hollywood movies will turn hilarious. No one will want to play the video cassette and wait for the wet ghost to arrive from TV. Our kids are brave enough to kick her back in TV. The recent movie that I watched was 1920: London. What a fun-filled spooky movie!! May be the makers will come up with more series like 1920 Bengal, 1920 Bihar, 1920 Africa etc. The recent movie to hit the theatres this month is ‘Raaz Reboot’. How funny!! Was the director running short of ideas for the movie title?

It is time for Indian makers to re-invent their style of horror movies and give some scope for our desi ghosts. Like the tigers, even our ghosts are getting extinct. Please save our Indian ghosts 

Phillauri – A ghost bride in waiting

‘I see dead people’ is one of the cheesiest lines written by Hollywood writers for M.Night.Shyamalan’s 1998 movie – The Sixth sense. Do ghosts really exist? I won’t go further deep in theory about supernatural elements. Here Shashi Phillauri has decided to become my ghostly muse to free me from my writer’s block. She wanted to see her story featured in my upcoming article. Here I am now writing my exclusive article on Phillauri. After all, I can’t mess with a ghost, especially when the ghost is a hardcore Punjabi Kudi. Here you go baby!!

Kanan, a Canada based Punjabi Munda (played by Suraj Sharma the boy from Life of Pi) returns to his hometown to get hitched to his longtime girlfriend Anu. It is a fairy tale wedding going to happen for the couple. But Kanan can’t marry his sweet heart as he is ‘Manglik’ (according to horoscope a Manglik’s marriage is never prosperous). The only remedy for this astrological hurdle is to get the groom married to a tree. After much insistence, Kanan performs the ritual of getting married to a tree. The real trouble begins for Kanan when he realizes that unknowingly he is married off to a ghost who had made the tree her abode. The ghostly encounter of Kanan with the apparition makes him go crazy.

According to rituals, the tree is chopped off once the Manglik’s marriage is done with the tree. Since the tree is chopped off, the ghost loses her abode and now chases Kanan. The bride ghost ‘Shashi’ starts narrating her story to Kanan and the story moves to pre-independent era in 1919. The movie swings between two timelines – 1919 and 2017. Shashi, a lovely poet from a village called ‘Phillaur’ in Punjab publishes her poem under a pen name which is famous among the readers. (Shashi is Jane Austen of Punjab in this movie) 

Coincidentally, Rooplal a street singer with a heart of Casanova sings the lyrics and poems penned by Shashi little realizing that she is the same girl he has fallen in love with. When he discovers her identity, he promises to return back on Baisakhi festival when he has enough money to get married to her. But destiny has different plans for Shashi. Rooplal never returns. In a fit of depression, Shashi commits suicide by hanging from a tree. Her untimely death turns her into a ghostly bride in waiting (This bride has nothing to do with Tim Burton’s Corpse Bride). Now Shashi can’t get freed from the mortal world. Her quest for long lost love is unfulfilled. Will Shashi find her long lost love? Will Kanan help Shashi to find her long lost love? All these queries will be answered in the 2017 movie – Phillauri. Shashi had strictly ordered me to not write any spoilers about her story.

What fascinated me to watch ‘Phillauri’ was Anushka Sharma. Secondly the premise of story is set in Punjab. My fondness for Punjabi culture, food and beautiful gals was second reason why I wanted to watch it. In terms of storytelling, ‘Phillauri’ is a refreshing change from stereotyped Bollywood rom-coms. The story takes time to grow. It is a novel plot brought on screen. For those who love masala rom-coms won’t sit through the movie. The movie has a poetic feel and is slow paced. The slow-paced narration is the beauty of this story and here the viewer bonds with the tender love story of Shashi and Rooplal.

The look and feel of this movie is timeless. The visual presentation of the 1919 Punjab is breath taking. If you love your roots, you will connect with the story line. The story of this movie is connected with an actual historical incident happened in 1919 on eve of Baisakhi. The infamous incident changes the lives of both Shashi and Rooplal. After so much warning given by my ghostly muse Shashi, I am giving spoilers for this story. (She will literally kill me after reading this review). ‘Phillauri’ has drawn inspirations from several movies (Lovely Bones, If I stay, Invisible, Corpse Bride etc and even a Ruskin Bond short story). Actress Anushka Sharma has donned the hat of producer for her second production venture and hasn’t left any stone unturned to make Phillauri a delightful watch. Apart from Anushka Sharma, Suraj Sharma and Diljit Singh Dosanjh make their presence felt in their sincere performances. After Udta Punjab, Diljit is the new emerging talent in Bollywood. What attracted me in this movie was Mehreen Pirzada, the new fresh talent who shines in her first movie. She plays Anu, the love interest of Suraj Sharma.

Phillauri is a delightful and visually appealing rom-com that is winning the hearts of audience worldwide. This movie is far more entertaining than Paheli and Bhootnath.

If you love watching entertaining ghost movies, then watch the 1992 movie – Chamatkar and 1995 Hollywood movie – Casper. Apart from this recommendations, do watch Demi Moore’s movie – The Ghost which was a cult movie in 90’s.

I want to sincerely thank my ghostly muse Shashi for becoming my inspiration and guide to pen down this story. Inspiration comes in all forms even if it is ghostly. For now, I am freed from my writer’s block. I guess it is time for Shashi to return back to heaven. Hope I have justified her story and I strongly request her to share this review among her ghostly circles. I guess Mark Zuckerberg must have developed a social networking site for ghosts. No wonder it may be called ‘GhostBook’.

Do watch ‘Phillauri’ at theatres near you. You will fall in love with Shashi, the lovely ghost.

Writer’s block – A mental block or a creative booster

After destruction, there is a new creation. After separation, there is bonding. After slavery, there is a new freedom. To attain happiness, peace and success, life has to go through bad patch. Same thing applies for writing process too. They say ‘Hard writing is easy reading’. How true!! A writer toils day and night to make his words meaningful, readable and easily understandable. The one thing that obstructs a writers’ writing process is his inability to put down his ideas on paper or word document. This inability is termed as writer’s block.

Is writer’s block really a barricade in writing process? Not really. Or is it? When we shift from our old city to a completely new city, it takes time for us to mentally adapt ourselves to the surroundings, people, weather and the facilities. Even in writing process, our mind needs time to adapt to new theories, ideas and techniques. When we absorb new ideas through reading or seeing in books or any electronic medium, our mind reboots like a computer to operate efficiently with new updates. In writing process, if your mind is getting stuck due to lack of ideas, it doesn’t mean that you are facing writer’s block. Actually, our mind needs time to accumulate the new ideas that we have collected in our thought process. It is same as a mobile app gets updated every week or month with new features and utilities. In my beginning days as an emerging writer, I too faced writer’s block. There was a time, when I couldn’t come up with a single article even for months. It was my misconception that I was facing writer’s block. After the phase of writer’s block, I came up with interesting write ups which were far better than my previous works. It was a Eureka moment for me. I realized that the writer’s block is nothing but a resting phase for our mind to come up with better ideas. This creative block applies for painter, visualizer as well as for a sculptor.

Usually when I face a mental blockage in my writing process, I stop my writing activity. I divert my mind towards music or books. It is seen that majority of creative people sip lots of coffee to boost their creative process. I don’t know how much effective is coffee in arousing our creativity. Actually coffee helps our mind to stay awake for a long phase. It has nothing to do with creativity. For writers, reading is really a must. Especially writers should read at least 100 books a year. The reading activity keeps our mind channelized to absorb new ideas on daily basis. It is like charging your mobile. Same applies for mind too. Occurrence of writer’s block is natural and harmless. There is nothing to panic. Just divert your mind towards other activities like planting, traveling, praying, meditation, exercising, shopping, hangouts with friends, cooking etc. There is lot to explore in your life. Typing words on computer is not writing. Even a data entry operator can do that. Your words differ from the data entry operator. Your words inspire, motivate, encourage and bring a positive change in someone’s life. That writing is actually my friend, your real forte.

Be proud to be a writer. Keep the world inspiring with your words.